Wednesday, March 25, 2009


An eastern sky gives birth to an orange glow and life stirs at horizon’s edge. The promise of day sprouts from the ashes of night. Yet neither night nor day is given to a jealous heart; a wise man realizes they are forged from equal virtue. Today I shall not pass on what lies before me, for it is real. I will sip from its beauty and its sustenance shall sate my ravenous soul. Only the bitter arms of regret will greet a man who waits for tomorrow.

Shadows, slender and frail, seek the seclusion of the woods. Two rolling giants appear before me, never greener or livelier except in the reflection of yesterday’s eye. Twin hillsides careen against one another, entwined like lovers; never less but always more, for content hearts will never know lust for another. Their forbidden dance continues mysteriously below the waterline, but should all things be revealed in one day?

On a journey towards tomorrow the swirling breeze shatters the glass surface into a thousand diamonds, each casting a prism as unique and fleeting as a single moment in time. Hand over hand they pass the baton in a relay to reach the distant shore. Sliding—gliding, never doubting their buoyancy.

A somber rustling of reeds, like the strings of a bass, accompany top-heavy cattails as they waltz to the sweetness of summer’s song. Sorrow-laden branches droop in an irreversible arc. What has she seen that causes the willow to weep? Even the bird cloaked in black is given to song once he discovers the blessing of red on his brother’s wing. He speaks with conviction to his reflection, but only the wind should decipher the words of his heart. Man would only find burden with such knowledge.

I shall become a fixture upon this shore for no commitment is greater than this Eden lying before me. Better I should gouge out my eyes than to offend my maker by dismissing the work of his hands. Perhaps somewhere in the vastness of time there awaits a more perfect union, but more likely it is myth, spun from the silken cobwebs of illusive dreams.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This painting depicts a small country church constructed in 1903. Nestled in the countryside it is as nondescript as a thousand others. While her belfry watches like a worried mother, arched windows whisper of earlier days and simpler times. Her frail voice speaks to a dwindling few. Many that once crossed the threshold now travel to a destination further down the road.

My brother e-mailed a picture of the church we grew up in; her stature and lines no longer perfect as they appear in the painting. Even the holiest of places cannot always escape the forces of nature.

The aftermath of a tornado forces my heart into the back of my throat with a power that words can only dream of. My eyes grow weary, but like the shutter of a camera deliver images that cannot be easily undone. Her brokenness speaks to me with such clarity. For a moment I am with her.

Whistling winds escorted by an eerie darkness roll across the western sky. Quickly the lights overhead seem not nearly enough. There are no tracks yet I feel the rumbling vibrations reverberating in my chest. As invisible as night the train is unmistakably powerful and black. The foundation trembles, even bricks fear the approach of such a force whose course cannot be altered. Plaster strikes the wooden floor with a slap of finality; its last breathe visibly exhaled in dusty plumes. Pushed beyond reason, twisted frames loose their grip and regret displaces oxygen. Colored panes of glass fall from grace in a final, unceremonious descent. Only the howling wind insulates my ears from the morbid, groaning, and grinding within. Antique lights sway sweetly against their chains like a reluctant conductor as the chords of death play on.

I glance from the computer screen as a single thought burrows itself deep into my brain. I envision the Father frowning as I consider why it is he did not spare his own house. Yet I believe he understands completely the frailty of humanity and it is the Spirit that provides company for my lonely thought.

The only face that witnessed the destruction firsthand was that of the clock, hands frozen forever at 10:30. Although the storm passed through on a Sunday morning during regular worship hours, why did the pews remained empty? Perhaps he could no longer bear to see the faithful ten or twelve parishioners languish over the cost of upkeep that meager coffers can longer fund. Perhaps he sent the band of neighbors and Mennonites to retrieve the bell and contents while the tattered frame still stood.

Maybe my eyes see only a fraction of the picture. It is quite possible that tomorrow as I pass the painting hanging on my wall something will cause me to pause, viewing it in a different light. As I stand admiring the past perhaps I will also see hope for the future. Long past due I will take the time to render thanks to the artist for his/her foresight and their view so much broader than mine.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Ralph Conley stood at the window with his hands and faced pressed against the glass. His hands were much larger and less grubby now, but the barrier remained thick and cold just as he remembered. No longer did children play games by counting his protruding ribs. Sleek suit pants replaced ratty hand-me-down jeans and fine Italian shoes knew nothing of filthy sneakers too poor to own laces. Fine clothes alone could not conceal the aching memories of past. While his friends wheeled up and down the street Ralph mumbled and kicked at the pavement, often until weary shoes revealed bloody toes, but how could they have known their gleeful cries were like a dagger in his heart?

Behind the glass, workers scurried like field mice at harvest time, but none of their faces were familiar. Likely they had moved on to bigger things; not Mr. Wilson. He stood in precisely the same spot, adjusting the sprocket and chain until it sang a chorus of sweet mechanical music. Time had etched a few extra furrows in his brow and his skin hung more loosely, congregating at the corner of his eyes and mouth, but nothing in this world could deter Mr. Wilson’s spirit.

Over the last several years financial hardships had struck at the private sector with a vengeance like no one could recall, but with a grease-streaked forehead Mr. Wilson stood staunch; cursing any and all who suggested the closing of his bike shop as an appropriate end of an era gone by. Mr. Wilson did one thing well; he provided a vehicle for young boys’ and girls’ dreams, and that was something you simply walked away from.

A tiny bell above the door announced Ralph’s entrance. A skewed glance from Mr. Wilson’s steel gray eyes stopped him in his tracks. Ralph felt like an intruder, unworthy to stand on this side of the door. He had crossed the moat, but wasn’t convinced muddy boots belonged on the shiny concrete floor of a palace.

“Can I help you, sir?”

Ralph didn’t expect to be recognized and giggled quietly at the notion of being addressed with such respect. Mr. Wilson adjusted his glasses as he closed the distance.

“Well I’ll be damned—if ain’t old Ralphie boy. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

Ralph smiled, “So you remember me?”

“Ralphie, you was hard to forget. Saddest thing I ever seen—standing outside my window, day in day out. I quit wearing a watch—didn’t have to anymore. I knew from 3:20 right up ‘til dark you’d be there, and then again bright and early on Saturday morning; kicking at the sidewalk as if somehow that might fix things.”

Ralph shook his head, embarrassed that Mr. Wilson recalled such detail, “How come you never ran me off?”

Mr. Wilson put his hand on Ralph’s shoulder as he squeezed it several times in succession.

“Don’t suppose it matters if I tell you now—seein’ your momma’s already passed. Ralphie, I wanted you to have that bike more than anything. One day I went to your house to speak with your momma. Told her I understood she had six young mouths to feed, but offered to give her the bike on credit and she’d pay when she could. I winked to let her know ‘when she could’ might never come, but she wouldn’t have none of it. Said the bike was just another sad chapter in a story called life; that you’d have to learn to live with disappointment just like she had. I supposed she was talking about when your daddy up and walked out—but it still didn’t seem right to me; one didn’t have to do with the other. I realized then I couldn’t make her take my gift—sure wish I could have.”

Like morning dew, a misty haze settled in Ralph’s eyes as he carefully considered just what motivated a stranger to go to such extremes in order to remove even a sliver of disappointment from a young boy’s heart.

“I had no idea, Mr. Wilson. I only knew I admired you and the passion with which you greeted each day, but I didn’t come here today for me. Down the street from my home there’s a family in need. The father has been laid off of work and even before that they didn’t have much. Each day I see subtle changes in the young boy; his eyes grow colder, more sinister, he kicks at the ground, and before long even hope will seem too much to ask for. As a young boy I didn’t know how such things looked but I sure knew how it felt.”

Ralph fished his checkbook out of the inside pocket of his suit coat, “Mr. Wilson, I don’t what appeals to young boys these days, but pick out a nice bike and let’s make this Christmas one he’ll remember.”

Mr. Wilson shuffled off towards the back. Soon the old man returned, steering as best he could an old but immaculate Stingray. The fluorescent lights danced against the deep metallic blue finish and sat glistening upon a sparkling white banana seat.

“Ralphie, when your momma took sick and you quit coming to stand at the window I took the display bike down. I couldn’t bear to sell it to anyone else and just looking at it made my stomach turn.”

Ralph smiled until his jaws ached. Even as he signed the check his eyes glimmered, much like those of a young boy receiving his first ride.

Mr. Wilson drew the check closer, giving away his failing eyes. “Ralphie, I can’t take this—$5,000 is ten times what this old thing’s worth.”

“Not to me and certainly not to my neighbor friend down the street. Times are tough, Mr. Wilson. Consider it a loan.”

Before turning away Ralph winked in an obvious manner, “You pay me back when you can.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Patience is a virtue. If you recall, only a few short days ago I posted on Paula’s wardrobe malfunction and expressed my own man-pig desire that it should have been Rachael Ray in the spotlight. As I scanned the news this morning you can only imagine my disbelief when I came across an interview with Rachael in which they were discussing a little spread she did for FHM magazine some years ago (definitely not qualifying as a wardrobe malfunction).

In the vein of good reporting, and for no other reason whatsoever, I felt obligated to view the controversial pictures. By today’s standards the photos reveal nothing more of an eye-full than a casual observer might see on a public street, but it did spawn another observation. A scarce few of these celebrities are willing to do now, what they eagerly offered in the past. Perhaps the inconsistency that wafts through the air is an aroma completely fabricated in my own mind, but just maybe a quick paycheck in the past pales in comparison to jeopardizing a multi-million dollar contract of today.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Darrell stood at the magazine rack agonizing over his choice. ‘Squeaky’s Oil and Lube’ carried a limited selection and normally something as mundane would not have warranted a second thought, but today he sensed the eyes of scrutiny upon him. The unrelenting gaze belonging to a woman seated strangely close to the rack. Maybe she was an editor or marketing representative and as part of some cosmic assignment forced to observe/scrutinize the reading selections of others. In an attempt to avoid skewing the survey too far in either direction, Darrell grabbed a wrinkled copy of Sports Illustrated; an insipid choice indeed.

The chair in which she sat unquestionably suffered its largest challenge of the day, but it was not alone. Gray knit slacks, stretched beyond reason, could not prevent the excess of her thighs from gently rolling over the edges. A cheap romance novel served as disguise, but her occasional glance fooled no one. The book rested on a shelf of sorts, somewhere near a blurred line of where bosoms ended and her stomach began. An extra chin justified its existence by saving her neck the trouble of having to support her head. Soft facial features played quietly to a deepening scowl. The downward draw at the corners of her mouth spoke not only of her immediate physical discomfort but perhaps a frustration with the world in general; a cage designed specifically to exclude the petite and much too willing to browbeat those less eager or unable to conform.

The lack of patronage on a Wednesday afternoon meant plenty of available seating and the primary reason he chose midweek to tend to business. He slipped into the seat next to her as inconspicuously as possible. While Darrell would never have the distinction of being an intellectual giant he plainly knew what he liked in a woman. If the opportunity presented itself, and he knew it would, he fancied the chance to get to know such a mysterious and voluptuous vixen.

She offered only a brief glance in his direction before swiveling her entire body. So much that her knees made it difficult for the mechanics to enter and exit the garage. Darrell truly didn’t know whether to be offended by the chilly reception or to accept it as a challenge. He wrestled with the possibility that perhaps a woman such as this had absolutely no interest in his six foot three one-hundred fifty pound frame. With disappointment still circulating in his mind he allowed his eyes to wander to the magazine in his lap. Reality hit him square between the eyes (he had the 2009 Swimsuit Edition sitting in his lap). At that very moment in time, a sweaty Duane Wade sitting near his privates seemed far more preferable to the glistening, tan breasts of super-model Bar Refaeli. It would appear Darrell had inadvertently sabotaged his own plan.

“Excuse me ma’am. My name’s Darrell Darnell Ward and I’m currently working on a sociology paper about the consequences of marketing bias and the devastating affects on the young women of today. If you would be so kind, could you answer a few questions?”

Truth be known, the only time Darrell had set foot inside a university hall was to attend his older sister’s graduation. He struggled through welding school with mediocre grades and considered landing a part-time at the John Deere dealer a significant milestone, but in the back of his mind he knew if he pulled this off he would be doing himself a serious disservice if he didn’t at least consider acting school. Although Darrell had no intention of seeking a degree in sociology he did find himself enamored with the study of particularly large women and their thought processes.

Before she could respond the young man at the counter announced, “Lily Anderson, you’re Taurus is ready.”

Darrell resisted the urge to follow her to the counter and instead politely waited until she turned to go.

“Come on Lily, what do you say? This final means do or die for me! Tell you what, there’s a bar just around the corner. I’ll buy you a drink and we can knock these questions out in no time. When I become famous someday, and I believe it’s only a matter of time, I’ll remember you fondly.”

She hesitated momentarily, but there was something about his boyish charm and tenacity that intrigued her. Besides it would give her a chance to lash out at what she believed one of society’s great injustices.

“OK, but just one drink.”

Darrell so loved to hear those words. Lily sat down again and together they waited for his vehicle to be finished. His palms grew sweaty and his heart raced with anticipation as he watched her reflection in the opposing window.

While the world remained satisfied promoting and catering to the petite his niche market continued to be the large and loveable. Living large was not without problems, but it seemed too late to change the pattern. It was simple physics, big women required more liquor, larger bones of course required a larger saw, and Darrell knew all too well the extra freezer space required—before the bodies could be properly disposed of.