Monday, May 15, 2006

On Holiday (Liv Carlson)

Green acres and purple sky
Yellow houses

Island of green hills and sheep
Rainy days

Steaming cups of tea
Uni students in a queue
The flat London sky

Train station
The big clock strikes one
Travelers run

Cloudy moors
Cliffs upon the ocean’s edge
Foggy Foothills

Black and rough volcanic ash
Many brick walls

“Bonjour, merci!”
croissant, baguette, escargot
Eiffel Tower

in Notre Dame’s shadow
Men selling art

Blood red sun
setting on the piazza
smallest country

Volcanic ash
Body cast in cement
At Pompeii

Ride down the canals
Smoke in the air

Dark beer,
Calico cat at my feet

Big fast cars
Large portions of food to eat
WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with poet's permission

Barbie’s Boyfriend (Amanda Dinmore)

(Apologies to Marge Piercy)

Another boy arose
Blue pajamas, blue booties
Dinosaurs and G.I. Joes.
He played football, it was his life.
Then one day his coach said,
You play like a girl, try ballet.

Intelligent from all angles,
Never even needed to study,
Yet he saw nothing in himself.
Nothing but a body,
A body he would never have.

Spent day in and day out trying,
At the gym, on the football field,
Alone no matter where.
People smiled as he waved
But never lifted a hand.
Never sought him out,
So he cut his hands off.

Teary eyed they came,
Never knowing why he left.
They gathered in a line
Each waiting their turn to
Finally lift their hands to him,
Only to fold them over his casket.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with Poet's permission

Friday, May 12, 2006

Desert Sestina (Rachael Noble)

In the heavy silence
Blood in the dust
And on a stone.
Bones already bleaching in the heat,
Life soaked into the earth.
Sun holds a vigil for the dead.

Sun sets, the sky is dead
Still there is only silence.
Blood-soaked earth,
No wind to stir the dust.
The heavy, crushing heat
And blood on a stone.

Blood, bones, and a stone.
All else is sand, stone-dead.
Madness born of heat,
Anger in the silence.
Death in the dust,
Blood drunk by parched earth.

Half buried in the earth
Almost like a stone,
Bones in the dust,
Sign of the dead,
Reveal nothing, only silence,
Burning in the heat.

A blow in the heat
Blood spilt on the earth
No reply in the silence.
Weapon made of a stone.
Now the dead
Lies in the dust.

Now wind blows the dust,
A sandy blast of heat.
The sky watches over the dead.
Bones covered by earth
Now there is only the stone,
And the silence.

Through the silence, in the dust,
By the stone, in the heat,
Under the earth there is the dead.

WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with permission of poet

Thursday, May 11, 2006

According to “The Experts” (Ruth Ann Hake)

(Creative non-fiction)

They spotted the little log cabins on a Sunday drive. The sign in front read:
She hoped they were as nice as they sounded.

They had two days together, and no one knew where to find them.

“I’ll wait in the car. I’m nervous,” she said. “What if they ask for identification?”

“We’re not doing anything illegal. And I have my driver’s license,” he answered, looking more like a teenager than a man as he made his way to the office to register.

This was the first time they had stayed in a motel.

“What was taking so long?” she thought. “I bet we won’t be able to get a room.”
They brought very little with them, an old brown suitcase for her and an army duffle bag for him. It was late, and a summer storm was brewing. The weatherman said: Severe thunderstorms.

“We have Cabin #5,” he said as he returned to the car just as the rain started.

She sighed with relief and he with anticipation.

It was easy to find; there were only eight cabins. As he opened the door to #5, a blast of hot air greeted them. When he found the light switch, a bare bulb shone from the yellowed ceiling.

“It won’t take long to cool,” he said.

The room was sparsely furnished; in fact, the bed was small and uninviting.

“Where’s the air conditioner?” she asked as she sat her suitcase by the door and glanced around the room.

They looked everywhere, but Cabin #5 didn’t have one.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Let’s just sit for awhile and watch TV. That might help us to relax.” Her hair was a little wet from the rain, and she wondered what she looked like.

There was nothing to sit on but the bed.

And where was the color television?

There wasn’t even a black and white TV in Cabin #5! But, there was a radio, a big old cabinet radio.

“We’ll listen to music. Maybe we can find something romantic to put us in the mood.”

She was easy to please even when she got upset. He said he liked that about her.

“This is unbelievable!” he said as he tried to turn on the radio. “This contraption needs quarters. I don’t have any. Do you?”

He was sweating. The heat was stifling. The rain pounded on the little cabin’s roof.

“No, but that’s okay,” she said as she headed to the bathroom, averting her eyes from the bed. “It’s late. I’ll take a nice cool bath, and we’ll go to bed.”

She took her suitcase with her. She brought a special nightgown.

The tension was mounting between them. Their getaway weekend was falling apart. She didn’t ask him to find the manager to complain. She was too embarrassed, this being their first time. And she suspected the manager was in bed in HIS air-conditioned cabin watching HIS color television.

“Honey,” she called. “There’s no bathtub, just a shower behind a plastic, mildewed curtain. I’m afraid I’ll catch something if I get in this shower.”

Maybe these cute, little log cabins trimmed in pink, advertising air conditioning and TV weren’t a good idea.

“I’ll just wash my face and be right there,” she said as she heard the bedsprings squeak.

She would lock herself in the bathroom for a little while to calm her nerves. She felt like she might throw up. Maybe he would fall asleep before she came out.

She didn’t notice when they first walked in, but now she did. There was only a ratty, plastic curtain for the bathroom door. And it didn’t even reach the floor! This was NOT okay! He could hear every sound she made. He would see her feet and know what she was doing. She would hold her bladder, all night if necessary.

“I’m coming out now.” Her voice quivered as she removed some clothing. Forget the nightie!

So in her slip, underwear, and a pair of socks that she brought along, she dashed from behind curtain number two to the bed. She could get through this ordeal if she covered up. She didn’t care how hot she was.

Where were the blankets? The bed was bare. Why didn’t she notice this before?

“What did you do with the blankets?” she asked as she turned her back to him and closed her eyes tightly.

“There aren’t any,” he replied.

She was on the verge of tears when he spotted the blankets hanging from hooks on the far wall. He retrieved one and covered her up to her chin.

“I want to go home.”

He turned off the bug-stained light and lay down beside her without even a kiss.

“It’s okay,” he said, keeping a distance between them. “We can just go to sleep. We have tomorrow, and the day after that. In fact, we have a lifetime.”

He was easy to please also.

A few hours earlier, they were pronounced man and wife, and this was their honeymoon in Cabin #5.
* * * * *

For the next thirty-nine years on her anniversary, she remembered Cabin #5. What a beginning! Maybe they should have waited until they had more money and honeymooned in Aruba, or even the Pocono’s. Cabin #5 was an omen!

Today while she waited for her husband to come home from work, she listened to Dr. Phil and his guest, a marriage expert. Did they marry too young? Would they have been happier if they had more money to start with? But they loved each other in spite of age and money.

As she watched and listened, she made his favorite supper, shrimp lasagna and apple crisp.

They greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek.

He looked tired when he finally sat down to the table.

It was her turn to say grace, and she added a postscript, “Help our table-talk to be productive. Amen.”

“Do I smell apple crisp?” he asked.

She shouldn’t have said anything until supper was over, but she didn’t wait.

“Our marriage needs help,” she said. She patted his arm.

As he bit into a shrimp, he sighed, “What have you been watching now?”

“Dr. Phil. And he had a lot to say about us. We never had a real honeymoon, and our fortieth anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. Remember?” she asked as she took the salad dish from him abruptly.

“Have I ever forgotten an anniversary?” he asked as he put his fork down with a clang.

“You came pretty close sometimes,” she said. “Dr Phil says that to keep a ‘long time’ marriage fresh and teeming with passion we need to be spending quality time together. New hobbies or a shared sport were two of the expert’s suggestions. A second honeymoon also might do us good. You do remember the first one, don’t you, dear?”

“Of course, I remember! Cabin #5, dear!”

“And we’d have to start sleeping together again,” she said. They hadn’t slept in the same bed for two years. That was a big problem, according to the experts.

However, something needed to be fixed before she considered going away with him and sharing a bed. She didn’t know how he would take her next request.

“If we decide to go on a second honeymoon, will you get the operation?”

His face registered fear and shock. The only sound was the ticking of the timer.

“I’ll never let a doctor touch me again with surgical instruments. How many scars do I have from the ‘simple’ gall bladder operation?” he asked. “I can’t believe you asked me that!”

“The surgeon apologized to you for his resident’s mistake of missing the gall bladder with his first incision. And it was the young doctor’s first operation.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” he said. “ I won’t go under the knife again, not even for a second honeymoon.”

“I’ve hardly ever said a word about our first honeymoon, but each anniversary brings back the memories of that fiasco. We could take pictures this time, get a tan, read, and reconnect,” she said.

“Is that one of the expert’s words, reconnect?”

“As a matter of fact, yes! I can’t reconnect with you until you fix the problem that only surgery can cure.” She stared straight into his eyes.

It was his turn to stare back. The timer ticked louder.

“According to the experts, is there anything else wrong with our marriage that we can fix with an expensive honeymoon? We might as well get this all out in the open while my favorite supper gets cold!” he said. He sat back in his chair.

“I wanted to talk to you while the show is fresh in my mind.” She sipped her ice tea before her next announcement.

“We failed the quiz!”

“What quiz?” he asked.

“The Will This Marriage Last quiz.”

“How could I fail The Quiz when I didn’t take it?” He leaned forward, elbows on the table.

“I knew what your answers would be, so I answered for you. Except for question number eight, I wasn’t quite sure.”

“And what was question eight?” he asked.

“I can’t remember exactly. It was something about nudity and lighting.”

“What was my answer?” he asked. “I’d like to know!”

She sensed his interest now. Interest was good! Maybe their marriage could be fixed.

“That question is the least of our worries. According to the experts, we didn’t get off to a good start. We had several strikes against us,” she said.

“I can name a few,” he said as he counted on his fingers. “We were too young, I was still in college, and my father hated you. And your dad thought I couldn’t take care of his first-born.

“Am I right?” he asked as he held up four fingers.

She nodded and added, “Our first baby was born too soon, you quit school, and we had to rent a house from my dad.”

Now they were up to seven reasons.

He continued, “I made barely enough money to support us, I worked an extra job in the evenings, and two more babies came within three years.”

“Why didn’t we know we were in trouble?” she asked.

It was his turn.

“And then for the next thirty-five years, we took care of a handicapped daughter who zapped our energy, our hopes, and our resources. It should have been obvious at that point, that our marriage was doomed, don’t you think, dear?” He ran out of fingers to hold up.

“So I wonder why we are still together, against all odds, dear?” she asked.

“Probably because we didn’t have as many experts back then as the world has now. Stop listening to the experts and listen to your heart.”

That’s all she needed to hear.

“So about our second honeymoon. Let’s see if the cabins are still there,” she said, happy once again.

“If they’re still there, we’ll drive right by!”

They picked up the silverware since the crisis was over. Neither noticed if the food was cold.

“Forget that I mentioned your operation, I’ll keep sleeping in the extra bedroom, just don’t tell anyone. If we go on a second honeymoon, I’ll use earplugs and you can try breathing strips to stop your snoring.”

“And no more quizzes!”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

The timer rang. Dessert was ready.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with author’s permission

The Promise (Christy Torres)

(Short Story)

Cancer…Cancer…the word resonates in Tracey’s mind. It bounces back and forth and cuts the breath from her lungs. Cancer, it feels like a death sentence. She stares at the doctor, numbly nodding as he explains everything. As the doctor leaves the room, she closes her eyes, steadies her breath, and drifts back in time.

It was 1987. Tracey was seven years old. She lay outside in the grass, and stared at the clear blue sky. The sun was shining. Its warmth caressed her skinny arms and legs, and it kissed her freckled face. The blades of grass swayed in the wind, and tickled her neck. She watched the cotton-ball clouds float by. Her eyes fluttered shut, and her body twitched toward imminent sleep. Suddenly a huge gush of frigid water poured over her. She sat up gasping to steal back the breath she had just lost. Goosebumps immediately popped up covering her arms and legs as the scream reached her lips.

As the sound of Tracey’s discomfort echoed throughout the yard, a new sound joined it. High-pitched laughter poured out of Ted’s mouth. He laughed so hard that tears ran down his face, and he clutched his stomach. Tracey jumped up with a yell, startling him. Wide-eyed, he watched his twin sister run full force at him. He had no time to move, duck, dash, or even think. She tackled him to the ground.

Tracey stares out the window of the hospital as the nurse enters the room. “Are you ready?” the nurse asks. Tracey stares at the vials lying neatly on the table, and swallows hard. She nods and lies down on her back on the hospital bed. The nurse wipes her arm with an alcohol pad. The smell stings Tracey’s nose and the prick of the needle fires hot pain up her arm. She clenches her teeth and looks out the window. “I am all done. I am going to take your blood to the lab so they can compare the DNA to see if you are a match. Try to rest; the surgeon will be in shortly to talk with you.” The nurse smiles and leaves the room. Tracey gets up and walks to the window and stares at the world outside. Her mind continues to drift.

It was 1988. Ted walked into the living room. He wore a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and a jersey. He had a huge smile on his face, and cradled something in his hand. “Whatcha got there?” Tracey asked from her seat on the worn-out couch.

“It ain’t anything for you. Daddy got it for me after the game. It’s a baseball card to add to my collection. Ya know it’s probably the best card I got. It’s an original and everything!” The excitement in Ted’s voice piqued her curiosity. She sat up from her reclined position and took her feet off the coffee table.

“Well, can I see it?”


“Please, I won’t hurt it.”

“No. It’s mine!” Ted yelled. Tracey got up from the couch and lunged for his hand. Ted jumped out of the way, causing her to lose her balance. She stumbled forward and tripped over the coffee table; she tumbled to the floor. She sat up stunned. She rubbed her head and tried to fight back the tears stinging her eyes.

“Ha, ha, that’s what you get,” Ted said. He continued to laugh as he walked down the hall to his bedroom. Rage filled her, and her body trembled. She got up and raced down the hall to Ted’s room. She burst through the door and grabbed his new baseball card from his hand. Before he could take it back, she took Ted’s baseball card, an original 1909 Ty Cobb, ripped it into small pieces and ate them.

Ted stood there in shock. His mouth was gaping open, his eyes were glossy with tears; he was clenching his fists so hard that his fingernails drew blood in the palms of his hands. In a split second he tackled her to the ground.

Tracey turns her head toward the door at the sound of a soft knock. A doctor walks in and flashes a toothy grin. He sits on the edge of her bed and extends his big hand to her. “Hi, I am Dr. Smith, your surgeon. You probably don’t remember me, but I helped take care of your family in 1989. Of course I was just an intern then. Anyway, back to business, we got the results and you are a perfect match to your brother. Twins usually are. So, do you have any questions for me?”

Tracey’s mind races, he helped my family? She thinks. She takes a deep breath and clears her throat. “Well, after surgery, will his cancer be gone? Will I be okay with one kidney? Will he be okay with only one?” The doctor pats her shaking hands and nods his head.

“We caught your brother’s cancer early before it had time to spread anywhere else. You are both young and healthy and will do very well with only one kidney. After surgery, I am optimistic that you will both make full recoveries. The best thing is that Ted will be cancer free. I want you to know that I think this is a very brave thing you are doing for you brother. Try to rest, surgery is in the morning. Tomorrow evening you’ll both be right as rain.” Dr. Smith smiles and leaves the room. Tracey sighs and turns on the television. Lost in thought, time fades away to the past.

It was 1989. Tracey and Ted were sitting in the backseat of their parent’s car, thumb wrestling. They were on their way to Disney World. It was the family’s first real vacation, and they were all really excited. Ted had been nagging their parents to go there for years. He was so excited that he could barely contain himself. Their father was driving and their mother hummed softly to the music playing in the background. “Are we there yet?” Ted asked.

Their mother turned and smiled, “We just left home, Teddy. It is going to take us a few days to get there. Be patient, and we will be there faster than you know it.” She turned in her seat and smiled at her husband. He reached over and patted her leg.

“Eww…they’re getting all lovey-dovey again.” Tracey giggled. She turned and looked out her window. They were entering an intersection, and Tracey saw a truck barreling toward them. “Daddy?”

Tracey woke up with a sharp pain in her side and her leg felt like it was on fire. She looked beside her at her brother. His head was down and he looked like he was sleeping. She craned her neck and looked at her father in front of her. He looked like he was sleeping too. Then she looked at her mother. “Mommy?” she asked.

Her mother looked back and smiled. “Don’t be scared honey. The truck hurt the car, but help is coming. We’re going to be okay. Mommy and Daddy love you so much. Be a big girl and always be there for your brother. Okay, honey?”

Tracey was confused, “I love you too Mommy, and I will watch Teddy if you want. I feel sleepy and my leg hurts.”

“It’s okay, baby. I love you.” Tracey closed her eyes and the world slipped away with the sound of sirens in the distance.

The nurse walks in snapping Tracey back to reality. She quickly wipes the tears from her checks. “I’m just here to take your temperature and blood pressure. We have to make sure there isn’t any sign of infection before surgery,” the nurse says. She finishes and charts the information, and then she leaves the room. Tracey turns off the television and then the lights. She closes her eyes and falls into a restless sleep full of haunting dreams.

It was 1989. It was a dreary day, full of dark clouds, fits of rain and rolling thunder. Tracey stared out the window of the car as it drove through the cemetery. Rain splashed off the car, rolled down the windows, and distorted the tombstones that danced by. The car pulled up behind the hearse and sputtered to a stop. She turned and looked at Ted sitting beside her. His eyes were red and bloodshot, his checks were stained with tears, and his lips were bright red from chewing on them. There was a bandage over his right eye covering the stitches he needed from the accident.

Tracey took his hand and opened the door. They slowly walked hand in hand to the two coffins resting side by side. Family and friends surrounded them to offer their condolences; but Tracey and Ted were oblivious to those around them. Ted sobbed and his whole body trembled. Tracey turned and hugged him tightly. “I want Mom and Dad back,” he said in her ear. Tears welled up in her eyes and she blinked them back rapidly.

“I do too, but they’re gone. It’s just you and me now. I’ll watch you, I promised I would. I’ll be there for you always, whenever you need me.” Ted continued to shake in her arms.

Tracey wakes up to the gentle touch of the nurse. She opens her eyes and knows it is time for surgery. She remembers her long-forgotten promise that she made to her mother and brother. The nurse wheels her down the hall to the surgical suite. She watches the lights flash by overhead and the butterflies in her stomach threaten to overcome her. She closes her eyes and sees her mother’s face smiling at her.

Once in the operating room, they prep her for surgery and the anesthesiologist begins to put her under. The drugs wash over her and her fears fade away. She knows that she is about to fulfill her promise to her mother. She is going to be there for her brother in his time of need, and she is comforted in that fact.

Tracey opens her eyes. She feels groggy and tired. She looks over and sees Ted beside her. His handsome face is pale from the surgery and chemotherapy. She tries to speak, but can’t yet talk. She clears her throat. “Hey there Teddy,” she says. His eyes open slowly and he smiles at her.


“Looks like we both made it.”

“Yeah, I guess we did.”

“How long do we have to recover?”

“A week, maybe, why?” he asks.

“Just wondering,” she closes her eyes and goes back to sleep, dreaming of the past.

It was 1990. Tracey was ten years old. She was sitting on a tire swing tied to a huge oak tree in her grandmother’s front yard. She looked down at her white shoes and slowly swung herself back and forth. The autumn sun glowed low in the sky, and leaves fell lazily to the ground. Ted walked up to her on the swing. “Can I have a turn?” he asked.

“No, I was swinging first.”

“Come on, please, let me.”

“No,” Tracey said and smiled while she swung higher. Ted started picking up pebbles and throwing them at her. She laughed as they missed her. Ted sat down and pulled his knees to his chest and put his head down. Tears rolled down his checks and he sniffled. Tracey stopped and got off the swing. She went over and sat down beside him. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly.

“Nothing, just leave me alone.”

“Well, why are you crying?”


“Because why?” she asked scooting closer to him.

“Because you are always mean to me. You never do anything nice for me. Remember when you hurt my baseball card that Dad got me? That was my favoritest thing ever. And now you won’t let me swing on the tire. I wish I would have died with Mom and Dad.” Tracey sat there stunned. She did not know what to say. Tears filled her eyes and she felt terrible.

“I’m sorry Teddy,” she said softly, “You can swing if you want. I promise I will do better. Someday I will get you a good baseball card. Heck, someday I will take you to Disney World. I promise. I’m glad you didn’t die with Mom and Dad.” She got up and walked slowly to her grandmother’s white farm house. She looked back at her brother crying softly in the yard and renewed her vow to him.

A month after leaving the hospital, Tracey drives to Ted’s apartment to pick him up. She honks the horn and he comes out with a suitcase in hand. He pulls open the blue car door; throws the bag in the back seat and gets in. “So where are we going?” he asks.

Tracey smiles and reaches over to open the glove box. She pulls out a small box wrapped in blue paper and hands it to Ted.

“Let’s just say I had a lot of time to think while I was in the hospital,” she says as she turns onto the highway. He pulls off the paper and opens the box, inside is a baseball card, an original 1909 Ty Cobb. He looks out the window speechless, tears in his eyes, and sees a sign that says Disney World 1100 miles.

WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with author’s permission