A Child’s Breath

We’re only here for a breath.

Some breathe longer than others, of course; like octogenarians shuffling to hit a hundred years.

Others, very little. They gasp -we gasp- and our only son is gone. Our only daughter is still. Our only grandchild grows forever cold.

What do we do when our child is gone? -When we’ll hold them and no longer feel the rising-falling-softness of life against our neck?

What can we do -those of us still breathing?

©2022 Chel Owens

Dedicated to my good friend who just lost her ‘baby,’ her sixteen-year-old son, unexpectedly. I don’t know what happened but my heart aches for her loss.

That Ole Road of Life, Maybe

One day I walked a piece down the road; it warn’t no road of any consequence, see -just an ordinary one with rocks and dirt.

Photo by Onanini on Pexels.com

But mostly dirt.

It were the people I come across what were special. The people are always what makes a road interstin’ (I say) and the people in this case were nothin’ short of that.

First, a-course, was an old woman all full of tales an woes an mind-yer-manners. I brushed her off, also a-course, cause I know more an’ my elders -but the one thing about her I recall was her eyes. She grabbed at my face, see, with her hands; and she stared right into my eyes with hers. I telled right off she was dumb-blind. -On account of her milky gaze hoverin’ somwehere round my shoulder.-

“You take note” she said; or maybe it was, “Watch the road;” or maybe somethin’ ’bout cookies -I confess my stomach felt a mite empty- Leastaways, I’ll always remember those milky eyes: so deep with ‘perience, starin’ off to forever.

Next, I ‘member an old dog. He looked like Coon, my favorite when I was five. (Coon got done run down by a truck when I was eight; dumb dog.) But I loved that flea bag of fur. And he loved me. An’ this dog on the dirt track lifted his head all sad an’ he howled.

-And I remembered that Coon would howl like that when the ambulance ran by, like he knew what was what and was practicin’ for the funeral song that was shore to come.

I patted the dog like I had for Coon (“It’s all right, Boy”) and kept on keptin’ on.

Right past him was a preacher like you only see in stories these days. He waved his arms and spoke of heaven and hell, and did I know where I was going?

“Well, yessir I’m goin on down this road,” I tells him.

An’ he said did I know if I was saved? and I said I didn’ even know what needed savin,’ and afore I turned the bend and left him behind he’d slapped that Bible in his hand and waved a warnin’ finger but I still don’ know what needs savin’: him or me or Bibles.

I passed more people; a cat; another dog. Why they was all stuck where they were, like signposts on the road of life, was beyond me. Why couldn’t they move? Why was they all out there just waitin’ on me? I ain’t no one special, no more’n the next fellow. I ain’t keen. I ain’t got talent. I barely has the brains to carry on conversation -least that’s what my Pa would say.

Down that track I trudged, kickin’ up dirt and rocks. I can’t rightly say how far. I can’t even say how many souls I weaved round or talked to or was talked to. Seemed like forever.

And then, that’s when I realized it was. Forever, I mean. See, I’m walkin’ that road still today -whatever ‘today’ might be. I’s still talkin’ to th’ dogs an’ the granmas an’ the preachers.

Mostly, I aim to be a signpost one day. Maybe it’ll be when I finally listen.

Time in a Radio

“The shadow knows…” cassette-crackles our road trip-bound car, forced upon us by ancient parents. I can’t wait for

“That was Mars, The Bringer of War…” intones the always-calm classical voice, soothing from my bedside speaker. I’ll never change to

“Help! I need somebody…” Another sort of Classic, crooning comfort. “Here comes your ghost again,” cannot be replaced by

“Video killed the radio star…” my teenage mouth moves along. Why kill art; why listen to anything but

“The shadow” bzzt “Mars” bzzt “Diamonds and rust” bzzt “Ohhhh; radio star! Radio staharar!” bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Dial broken, static cleared; I play them all.

©2020 Chel Owens

Reminisced for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: a story that includes something heard on the radio.

September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio. It can be from any station or era. What is heard? A song, announcement, ad? Think of how radion connects people and places. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 15, 2020. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Free: dom, thinker, bird, will, hand, write; AKA How To Get Creativity Flowing

It’s been awhile since I’ve thought to pass on my (very few) gems of writing wisdom.

I’ve been a bit stumped.

So, what better subject that the one I’m sitting under? Let’s explore Some Suggestions for Getting Creativity Flowing.

1. Do all that crap you already know you should.
Do I really have to name them? Okay, okay: go for a walk, read good books, just start writing, be naturally motivated and creative and hard-working, listen to music, and take a short break and come back to it later.

At least go take a bathroom break. You’ll feel better, and avoid nasty infections.

2. Write something.
You may think I listed this as part of Step 1, and you’re right. Good job. I’ve been approaching it a tad differently lately, however, and want to specifically describe that different process.

I often think of it as “word vomiting.”

I’m a very correct, prim, prudish sort who dots my i‘s and punctuates my prose and tries to get the dang span style to look right on WordPress AS I GO ALONG. I’ve realized this anality can impede creative thought.

Nowadays, particularly when I intend to write a poem, I literally “just write.” Or, type. Or, voice-to-text.

No punctuation. No capitals or line breaks or bushy mustaches. I do, admittedly, fix words that were captured incorrectly. I just write the way the words are coming to my mind and I try to think of descriptive passages and words and light glinting from bottomless pools of hazel-green as spanning text scrolls in mirrored right-to-left in infinite white-rimmed ellipses…

I’ve realized that, since I get an odd rise out of correcting grammar, I can please both halves of my conflicting self by freely puking words out, then organizing the mess into something more sensical later.

3. Ask for an assignment.
Back in the days when my “friends” actually responded to my Facebook posts, I asked for writing prompt ideas and received four or five.

Writing prompts are not difficult to come by. Reddit (my favorite garbage heap of the internet) has an entire subreddit for writing prompts.

I give the example of my Facebook query because I was accountable to people I knew for actually coming up with ideas, writing something about a few, and posting a finished product. Someone wanted a story, and was waiting for it.

I’m not personally motivated enough for NaNoWriMo or even GetOutOfBed some days, so the exterior expectation was a good way to go. I may have taken three weeks when I said I’d get them done by the end of one, but I did it.

4. Block out the world.
Now, I never, never, never, sometimes, never encourage extreme measures of numbing, mostly because I’m a teetotaler who considers an entire bag of chocolate candies and an all-nighter to be cutting loose. That, and I have a few mental issues that are exacerbated by really pushing it.

We’re talking about removing all the distractions in healthy ways.

Kids? Pay a babysitter, or fire up the electronic one.
Annoying roommates or houseguests? Go to a café, library, or neighbor with free wifi.
You’re annoying? Read over things you wrote that you thought were great.
Can’t stop distracting? Put the phone, remote, D&D manual, controller, or talkative friend down. Tell yourself you’ll look after five minutes, ten minutes, etc.
Sick? Rest, eat right, sleep, go to the doctor, or take your approved medications.

The BEST way for me to block out and GET WRITING is to put headphones on. We have access to so much music these days. I cycle through my favorites, or suggestions from other bloggers, till something plays that is blocking, beautiful, and yet not distracting in its own way.

Having five steps would really make this entry seem authoritative and mathematically even, but I can sense my creativity is about shot. Even after following my own advice, there are times I am so drained of artistic output that I call the game before someone gets hurt.

That could actually be your Step 5: Give up amicably when it’s just not working out. I DO NOT mean to crumple up your laptop and throw it in the garbage, cry all over your pillow, tell yourself mean things, and NEVER, never return.

Sometimes, there’s a sort of resigned calm one feels at the inevitability of an upcoming event, and an acceptance of its arrival. You may not have felt your Muse, but it’s okay. It’s all right. Go do your other things, especially sleep, and we’ll come back later.

The Essence of Memories

Aurora BorealisInside of me are many floating wisps of memory: the pieces of people I’ve kept when they touched my life.

Sometimes I have time to think. I pull out my evanescent thoughts and poignantly recall those who are no longer corporeal. I wonder who else retained their essence, and who else cares.

Held only by my own organic mind, many evaporate. I assume them forgotten forever; but, maybe they collect heavenwards. During our darkest nights, we see them looping and dancing as Aurora Borealis.

Jigsaw Destiny

I’m told we’re all unique. We are all social misfits.

Instead, I see piles of jigsaw pieces sorted by theme -by groups they belong to. Next, they are formed into their small, cohesive sections of the lake, the shoreline, or the border.

I suspect people of altering their edges in envy. They want to fit in. “Oh, the sky is beautiful! Look how bright and happy they all are up there!” Or, “I want to be deep and dark like the water.”

Borders are fine, skies are lovely, the trees in the background are mysterious. However, the picture will not be whole unless they all come together.

If you feel stress on the arms of your cut, or you don’t quite interlock: maybe you don’t belong in just one scene. You’re the piece between; sky and water, border and shoreline.

You’re the crucial missing piece we all need, finally found under the rug, that completes the fractured world.

puzzle