Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Story

Black Ice

Cat’s hands tighten, nails digging into palms as the van’s wheels slip sideways. She can see the edge of the road as they careen toward it, and the border of compacted snow like a concrete wall. Her hands unclench, shoulders loosen as the vehicle’s trajectory shifts away from the wall. When she realizes they’re now lurching toward the icy river on the other side, her fingers squeeze shut again. The tires finally regain their grip on the road and Cat breathes. Clearing her throat in disapproval, she glares at the driver. Steve pays no attention to her or the patch of ice.

Cat tosses a glance at the other college students sprawled asleep in the back before speaking in a voice low and falsely pleasant. “Why don’t you let me drive a while?”

Steve turns toward her, his stubbled jaw hanging slack, a hint of drool moistening the corner of his open mouth. His blue-black eyes are puffy and sunken at the same time. Cat wonders if he’s really sober yet. He stares thickly, not speaking or moving, and in that moment of dead silence gravity is interrupted again.

Her stomach floats up and down, back and forth, like the bubble in a spirit level trying to find its balance. The vehicle makes a deceptively graceful arc as it spins counter-clockwise. Cat’s eyes blink against the glare of headlights reflecting off solid snow. Images from her past flash across the frozen wall.

Leaving for college, her mother helps pack her suitcase, cramming in as much advice as clothes. She triple folds Cat’s shirts and stacks them in delicate layers. Her voice is a knowing sing-song. Honesty is always the best policy.

Cat claws for a hold on the dashboard as the van spins past the black void of the cliff to illuminate the snowy wall again. Another scene from her life is displayed with each rotation.

Sitting in cool grass under the warm Autumn sun, Cat catches a glimpse of narrow green eyes in a tanned face. She smiles at that first slow drawl of Steve’s voice and the brush of brown fingers against hers. Men only want one thing.

A dark hall leads to a cramped room where her back presses into a bed under the weight of strong arms and legs. Cat flies with the soaring freedom of being wholly possessed by another. Nice girls don’t put out.

A piercing screech, like an ice scraper across a frozen windshield, forces the air from Cat’s lungs. The van jerks as it grazes the barrier of snow, then bounces back into the road and continues to spiral.

Cat faces Steve but sees only the past three days. The sweet, salty odor of beer and sweat, the moist heat of young bodies filling a ski cabin. She tosses restlessly in a bed that seems too cold, while the trace of a high-pitched giggle and Steve’s drawl trickle down the hallway. Never trust a man who says ‘trust me’.

The encounter with the wall has slowed the van. Cat opens her eyes as the final rotation winds down. Bright lights blind her once more, accompanied by the squeal of brakes and the smell of burning rubber. The impact carries the force of a truck.

When her eyes open, Cat is lying in the road. A monster of contorted metal sighs steam into the frozen air. Groans, wails, and muffled voices float from the darkness. In the slanted beam of an unbroken headlight, Cat watches Steve pull himself to his knees.

He looks directly at her, then turns and crawls to the inanimate body of her best friend Gail. In their reverberations, his sobs echo off the icy wall and become her mother’s voice.

Beware of black ice; it's what you can't see that's most dangerous.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Give a Little

What is the one thing that all writers crave (aside from fame and fortune, of course)? Feedback! When a poem or story is published, we're thrilled. But most of the time, we never really know how many individuals have read our work or been touched by it, so it's always gratifying to receive comments, compliments, and congratulations.

All writers are readers. So the next time you're reading and something strikes you, take a moment to let the author know. Some ezines make it easy by offering the means to comment immediately and directly on the work they feature:

NOÖ Journal


Blue Almonds


Or find the author's email or postal address and drop him/her a line. Let a writer know that a line moved you, that a character was real enough to be your friend/mother/husband/self, that a scene was so vivid you saw it in your mind for days. Give a little encouragement and appreciation to a fellow writer, whether a friend, stranger, or even someone famous. You never know, maybe you'll even find fan mail in your own inbox.

Monday, October 24, 2005



It was one of those days when the waves
crown one another, white upon
roiling white. When water
bites the shore, chewing sand
into a turgid stream of brown
to leave bone-bright flotsam
clasped between reedy green fingers.

It was the minuet precision
of a lone gull
dancing with the surf.

It was sun and cloud and sun and rain,
morning mist, afternoon fog,
the silent roar of drowning land.

It was the wicked laughter
of friends, the blush of a girl,
a boy emerging mother-naked,
stripped by sea.

It was the long walk
from nothing
to nothing.

It was watching the planet breathe.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I'm off...

For the next three days I will be completely internet-free, unplugged, disconnected, sans communication. Here's a little quiz as to why:

I'm off...

a) my rocker

b) and running

c) to the beach with my husband for our first weekend ever away from the kids, to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary

d) my meds

e) the charts

f) all of the above

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Breast Cancer Awareness

Along with falling leaves, pumpkins, and the candy-sweetened faces of little goblins and ghouls, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There are many ways you can help yourself and others in the fight against this disease. Check out the American Cancer Society to find just a few.

One easy way to make a difference is by simply clicking the pink button at The Breast Cancer Site. For every click, sponsors donate money for one free mammogram. They are currently behind in meeting their goals, so please, take the time for one quick click.

Another way to help is by purchasing Melissa Etheridge's new single I Run for Life from iTunes. Through the first part of November, Melissa is donating 100% of the proceeds from this song to breast cancer awareness and prevention.

If you are one of the lucky few whose life has not been touched in some way by breast cancer, count yourself fortunate. At the same time, give a little -- a click of the mouse button, a 99 cent song -- and join in the fight to rid everyone's life of this disease.

ADDENDUM: I just found this and had to share it. For those who've been through breast cancer and had a mastectomy, you can now take up needles and yarn and make your own prosthesis. Yep, that's right -- a knitted titty.
Don't knit? Have a prosthesis hand knit just for you at Tit Bits.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Gator Springs Gazette

If you missed getting a copy of the "Alligator Chorus" print edition, you can now read my story Love Changes Everything, as well as many other fine stories and poems, live at Gator Springs Gazette.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


More than the Sum

I’m not your usual bird-of-prey:
a squint into the sun, a flinch
from the unexpected flit
of dragonflies
and time.

I weep hope and home and joy.

I am grit
in the rattling red bed
of a dusty pickup truck.

I fling foible and folly,
practice sloth and bee.

The rusty square-headed nail,
the weathered grey board, the discarded
shard of violet glass – all extrude
from my skin, for I am
empty mine,
ghost town,
proud and silent mountain.

I want to remember four things:
aspen leaves shushing the wind,
the tangible voice of dry bone,
a baby’s milk-curdled breath,
the swell and dissolve of my body
lying like a sideways figure eight,
like the stretch of infinity.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

NaNoWriMo 2005

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.
-- Proverbs

I must be insane, because despite the fact that I can barely write one poem a week at this point, I've signed up once again for NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November. The goal is to write a novel in a single month, or perhaps more accurately, to write a draft of a novel in a single month.

I'm going to underline that word, draft, and stick it to the edge of my monitor, along with words like inspiration, perserverance, uninhibited, possible, and achieve. And I'm going to write. A lot.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Meanwhile, back in the Shire...

Remember that strange little fossil 'hobbit' I told you about back in April? Well, Homo floresiensis is in the news again. This time, it's being interpreted as the result of disease rather than representing a new species of human.

A group of scientists is arguing that the skeleton of a 3 ft-tall female found last year on the island of Flores is nothing more unusual than a modern human with microcephaly, a condition characterized by very small brain size. Dwarfism and abnormal facial structure are also associated with this condition, which these researchers suggest could account for the morphological differences between floresiensis and Homo sapiens.

To me, this argument bears a striking resemblance to Rudolf Virchow's misinterpretation of Neandertal fossils in the mid-1800s. Virchow, the founder of modern pathology, proclaimed the remains of Neandertals to be those of Homo sapiens suffering from severe rickets.

As Erick Trinkaus and Pat Shipman point out in their book The Neandertals:

"By proclaiming several normal Neandertal fossils to be pathological, he delayed their archaic humans until the late nineteenth century."

Based on this new interpretation of the Flores remains, it seems there is still a certain reluctance to add more branches to the human family tree.

Members of the original discovery team, however, have found additional 'hobbit' remains, including a jaw which displays the same morphological characteristics as the first one. This complicates the sceptics' argument, as they now have to invoke the occurrence of microcephaly in multiple individuals.

Did a miniature species of humans evolve on Flores, much like the pygmy elephants and other small fauna of this isolated island?

Or are these simply the pathological remains of an individual stunted by microcephaly?

Hopefully, further fieldwork will reveal the answer.

Saturday, October 01, 2005



Then sweep me off my feet into your palm.
With your fallow smile are hearts broken open
like watermelons, split apart
to spill ripe red skies winking black stars.

At your fallow smile, young hearts break open –
easy fruit hastened to maturity,
ripe and red. Skies wink black, stars
spark tiny lies of bright existence.

You found it easy – fruit hastened to maturity
too soon – but I am not blinded
by your sparkle, by lies hiding a tiny existence.
I set you at my feet, sweep you into my palm.