This essay comes from Phil Kline, a wonderful playwright and author of the recent book of essays, Growing Old, Ungracefully. The writing prompt that inspired Phil was “Unmatched socks.”
After having served in the army for twenty-eight years, when my dad died, he was buried in his full dress uniform except for a pair of socks that didn’t match his uniform. They were bright red. He had a remarkable record, having served on the staff of General Dwight Eisenhower, Commanding General of the Allies during World War II and on the staff of General Walton Walker, Commanding General of American forces during The Korean War.
For his display in an open casket, my mother decided she would have him wear his favorite pair of socks, the red ones.
I kept the tradition going by wearing red socks each of the eleven times I rode DALMAC, a three hundred and fifty mile bicycle ride from Lansing to and across The Mackinac Bridge. Sixty miles into the last day of the trip, one year, I was stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road. It was Noelle Clark, a friend. She saw it was me from a distance because of the red socks.
When my two sons were married, they and their wedding parties wore red socks. At my daughter’s wedding, she didn’t wear red socks, but her future husband did. I still have a pair, which I’ll wear one more time, but someone else will have to put them on me.
©2015 Phil Kline
As we move into August, the remembrances of past July evenings and the faint echoes of mid-summer storms are fresh in our mind. This poignant poem by WATL member, Mary Fox, appeals to all of the senses.
Sometimes on a summer’s
eve, you can hear the thunder’s
rumble creeping in, but you still gaze
at a star-studded sky hung with a sliver
of white-pie moon.
Under that canopy, you inhale
deeply the damp, worm-scented,
air. Rain will come;
you might feel
it in the stillness or in the warm
dampness of a clinging
shirt. You might even see
it in distant flashes backlighting
the yard, but there, by the deck,
in the glow
spilling from the kitchen
window, the leaves are green
and the flowers poise
for sleep, serene and lovely.
Summer’s Eve; © 2014 by Mary Fox
Photo of Lake of the Clouds, Ontonagon, MI; ©2013 by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
Sometimes we wish or dream for something that may take us to a place we didn’t expect to be. The prompt for this poem was “Some dreams are dangerous.” The poem was written by WATL member Mary Fox, who is a very gifted poet.
cloud our morning coffee
with foggy intentions
then exhale distorting mists,
cloaking barriers to blind us.
We grope through them
and find bruised knees.
Some dreams are seductive sirens;
they coo and entice us with sweet promises.
They are heart-pounding kisses,
embroiled in passion,
depleting us, infecting us, and leaving us bereft.
Some dreams grow relentless;
unheeding, treacherous vortexes,
they tornado around us, spinning us
dizzy in swirling kaleidoscope potential.
Some dreams are just reckless.
They hijack us at crossroads,
and, brakeless, run stoplights,
and ping-pong the curves.
Some dreams just slither round our hearts,
and wrapping themselves in
squeeze us breathless.
just too dangerous
©2014 Mary Fox
©2014 Photo of Lake Superior taken by Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
A few months ago, the group had a good time writing to the prompt of “Stolen Kisses.” This short fiction piece from Lori Hudson made everyone smile.
“Get out of my office!” I screeched at Betty Westhouse, who jumped, tossed a message on my desk and scurried toward the door.
She cast me a wary glance as she edged by, and I glared at her. Did she have something in her hands? No, she was clean.
I went to my desk and surveyed by belongings. Everything in place.
Then a noise made me turn and look behind me. There was Joe Benny, a terrified look on his thin face.
“What are you doing?” I bellowed.
“Um – emptying the trash?” answered Joe, holding up a black plastic bag.
“Hiding while you do it?” I snapped.
“Well, no,” he stammered. “I was in the…” He gestured over his shoulder at the broom closet.
I gritted my teeth.
“Everybody out! Out, out, out! This is not a public gathering place!”
Joe dropped the bag and ran.
Quiet at least. And alone at last? I looked around. Yes – alone. I sighed and sat down, gazing at the little china chest by the blotter.
Then I slid it toward me, my hands trembling. Reverently, I took off the lid, reached inside, and pulled out a beautiful, beautiful Hershey’s kiss. I unwrapped it and set the chocolate on my tongue – so sweet, so smooth.
What if they had been stolen? It was a prospect too terrifying to contemplate.
©2014 Lori Hudson
W.A. Spooner was an English clergyman noted for accidentally transposing sounds within words and phrases. An example of a Spoonerism is when you say crooks and nannies when you intended to say nooks and crannies. The writing challenge was to use a pair of Spoonerisms as bookends for a timed writing by starting the writing with one, and then ending it with the other. This delightful story by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, radio announcer for the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team, was the result of this exercise.
It was at a bakery, the aroma of fresh bread canceling out the depressing gray skies and driving rain outside. A woman stepped in from the dankness, pulling down her hood and wrestling miserably to close a defeated umbrella. “I need three pies,” she said to the man behind the counter. “Three lemon meringue pies of your highest order.”
And because she had the sort of face you didn’t turn down, even with raindrops still dripping down her cheeks, the man behind the counter gave her a winning smile and said, “Most certainly.” Off he went, through the doors behind the counter, into the kitchen area, and there he made a call. “Three lemon meringue pies,” he said over the phone. “We’re all out in the shop, but there’s no way I’m telling this customer no.”
At the other end of the phone was me.
“Really?” I said.
“Really,” said my roommate. “Now bake the three best lemon meringue pies you’ve ever made and sneak them in the back.” He hung up the phone and, as I found out later, delayed the customer expertly with jokes, descriptions of how good the pies would be, and assorted probing questions of a personal fashion.
It might’ve worked, too, except I was intrigued and impulsively came in through the front door instead of the back. That led to conversation, which led to a cooking sort of date, which led — in two years time — to a ring.
All because of a lack of pies.
©2014 Jesse Goldberg Strassler