Don’t mind me–it’s just another day to avoid

reflection, to engage in deflection

not answer the phone or check the mail, because

it’s just another day of the same questions over and over

from the same faceless drone in an office

200 miles away, getting cocky with impatience

It’s not my fault you don’t know how to frame a question so that

it can be answered correctly

But I swallow all those elegant curses that would pour

so eloquently from my lips in order to

maybe, just maybe

get that pittance you withhold with apparent glee

I hang up and feel the flush start on my neck and my arms

get prickly from repressed rage

Is it too early to start drinking??  Is it too much to ask

that you just stop with the “i” dotting and the “t” crossing

for the tenth fucking time?


A fly buzzes just above the kitchen sink

I don’t want to smack him just yet

The cat watches and chatters like crazy with frustration

Her prey is just beyond her reach

When she swats it, stuns it, eats it

In less than a second

I understand how fast life can change

And it goes on still

for the rest of us

I made my way through the throngs of tourists at the market, nodding at some of the vendors I knew.  The heat was not quite oppressive but the addition of suntan oil, perfume, sweat and that lovely velvet humidity made me more than a little short-tempered.  A fat family of tourists completely blocked my way.  All around, I heard voices, vendors, tinkles of wind chimes and gew gaws, tired shouts of basket makers, and the occasional car horn.  I tried to dodge a Japanese man snapping pictures of the glistening black vendors, but the baby carriage stopped me.  Damned tourists.

A small pink faced woman appeared at my elbow.  She held up a clear plastic bag dotted with condensation and announced.  “Miz Carol!  Here the fudge you wanted us to make!”


I said thank you, but she stood there while we were jostled by lines of people.  I opened the bag and took out a piece.  It was still cold from the marble and I bit into the wetness.  It was cool and full of texture, and I savored the piece even while my throat went dry and begged for a tall glass of iced tea.  The heat hit about the time I tasted a hint of pepper.  That heat spread through my mouth, down my throat and blew off the top of my head.  The fudge was unbelievable.  My southwest taste buds sighed and settled in for a long snack.  Sweat rolled down my temples.  Ole Rhonda had outdone herself on this fudge.  I smiled and nodded, not wanting to miss a single flavor.  It was deep chocolate and bold furnace.  It was exactly what we had talked about just a week before.

She beamed.  “Da boy worked on dis fuh days.  Is ca’lina peppuhs, miss lady.  What ya think?  Mebbe get us some peoples over yah?”  I just closed my eyes.  It was indeed a winner with me.  A few sweating tourists took our picture.  I hugged her, overcoming my automatic revulsion at wet bodies and handed her a twenty.

Her face fell.  Damn it.  Another faux pax in the convoluted southern tradition.  I said, “Honey, if you could just find me a tea, I would be most grateful for your gracious hospitality.”  She beamed, then.  She disappeared in the crowd.

I closed the bag and coughed discreetly.  Damn, but the fudge was hot.    I moved between two tables to get out of the way and all of a sudden, a man appeared in front of me, smiling.  I smiled back.  He held his smile for a beat too long.  A quick, strong revulsion sprang up before I managed to hide it.  His smile faded so quickly I didn’t recall it.  His eyes looked dead and yet alive.  He was relatively young but not so much that his youth showed.  I memorized his face, a dough ball of white skin, dark brown eyes, wispy eyebrows.  His lips were too red and full to be real.  He looked like the main character in a John Kennedy Toole novel without the noticeable bulk or ridiculous hat.  In fact, his hair was receding just a bit.  In those few seconds, something happened between us.  He leaned toward me, his height nearly mine.

“I wanted to tell you how much I like your books, but I see you are just another uppity bitch”.  Fear sprang up dark behind my mind.  It was primal.  I couldn’t get away, trapped as I was between the tables.  A red mist appeared to suffuse his face.  Instincts kicked in and I pushed him out of the way, not caring who got knocked over.  The ripple of protest echoed behind me as I ran blindly east through the market.

The sun was slanting through the windows by the time I finished outlining my characters, specifically the character lounging in my Queen Anne at the foot of my bed. Her robe was mine. Her slippers were mine. She sipped the last of my Johnnie blue, swirling the dregs in the old fashioned glass. My mouth tasted like I’d been eating a sweetgrass basket. Come to think of it, my head was throbbing, too.

I stood, feeling the effects of liquor and well, the appearance of an apparitioin. I swayed a little. In a flash, she was at my elbow, holding me with a strong hand.

“Let me help you to bed.”

Her voice sounded smoky, slightly geechee, through her nose, like my friends sounded when they gathered for cocktails and shrimp on John’s Island after their boats pulled up to Rutledge Carteret’s dock at his winter plantation.  I pulled away.

“Wait!” I staggered back to my desk. Scraps of paper looked like a print shop after a hurricane. I rifled through the papers, getting increasingly agitated when I didn’t find the one piece I needed. maybe I didn’t write it down. maybe I put it under something else.

“Shit. Shit. Shit!” I tossed papers on the floor and spun around. Vertigo floated in and siezed what was left of my equlibrium. A hand touched my upper arm, held it again. I rubbed my eyes with my other hand and sank back into the puffy robe. God, this was too much. I’m a fucking writer. A drunk writer, but a writer nonetheless.

The house grew dark, heavy with portents and omens

Not a breath of air stirred outside in the descending gloom

a pause, a holding of the world’s breath

Thunder marched with cannon booms from thirty miles out, then twenty miles out

and then it was on top of the house, descending with a majestic roar

Hissing rain that slapped gleefully on the roof until it dripped energetically from the eaves

what a roar.  what a smacking of hail.  It’s a symphony.  it’s a battle of elements that bring

me to my primordial knees in awe and fear of the power

 a gauze of memory  wraps my day in a warm cocoon

when it gets too shitty outside to keep putting up with shit

I remember how the sun coming through the oak leaves made bright splashes

on the grass and how they would disappear like magic when clouds floated by

I remember the oozing mud at the bottom of the fill dirt backyard and the oily

sheen that seemed to be liquid rainbows at low tide

I wanted to build a little raft and float down the marsh to unknown parts

explore like DeSoto did, see things for the first time before people were around

That wanderlust grew into an unbearable sense of desperation to escape, to run,

to be in a place where nobody knew me and I could be who I was

Then I turned 9 and real life smacked me right between the eyes but the desperation

just buried itself in my intuitive sense of powerlessness to do anything just yet