Lowest Common Denominator



Dear Mary,

Thank you for the card after the delivery of my twin girls. I appreciate your congratulations though I somehow think a Good Luck card might be more appropriate. Already, I find the need to steel myself against the lowest common denominator of our society that seeks to undo all the gains our gender has worked tirelessly to secure. Have you read the Twitter comments on a recent Jeopardy contestant’s breasts? But, I must not despair. With luck, hard work, and fine role models my girls will not be cheerleaders, and will eschew every hue of pink.



For Tara’s 100-Word Challenge. The word is Luck. Try it… Join in the fun!


Thanks for reading!

Main Street in a Small Rural Town


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I want to do magic. I want magic to be done to me.
I didn’t say perform magic, but do it, make it happen.
Real magic. I want to shout, abracadabra!
And have the whole world listen.

Walking down Main Street in a small rural town
It doesn’t matter where, the Midwest, the South,
The Center of this vast country, I overheard a man
Talking to another man.

Fuck them, he shouted, grabbing the other man’s elbow.
I’ll take them out, every last one of them, if they try to tell me
What I can and cannot do.
It doesn’t work that way, said the other man, gently pulling away.

You’re either with me or against me, the red-faced man roared
Through clenched teeth, the sinews at his neck bulging
Like rope so taut it begins to fray, to split, to rip
On the edge of bloodletting when the capillaries burst.

Chet, the gentle man says, I don’t believe it’s as bad as all that.
I don’t believe anyone is coming to get you or wants to take what is yours.
I don’t believe what I hear on television.
And Chet replies: At your peril you dumbass motherfucker.

Hearing this makes me want to believe in magic.
I want to utter “open sesame” and open the closed mind.
To snap my fingers and part the clouds
And watch the light rinse the dark of intolerance.

I want to do magic. I want magic to be done to me.


OctPoWriMo – Day 4…. The prompt is “magic.” Will I ever lighten up? Maybe. Tune in to find out!

Thanks for reading!   Poetry5



Guns in the Classroom



Standing tall in front of them in his combat boots
and camo pants

His clothes stiff, unwashed, stained with the sweat
of anxious days

A golden beam of sunlight glinted off gray metal
blinding them

Stand up he commanded, if you’re a Christian,
and they did

Believing they might be safe from harm, from death
from bullets

They fell, nine of them, not from strict adherence
to their faith

But from the cold hard steel of a mental illness,
endemic in the USA

An evil malady of easily, legally obtained vehicles of slaughter,
of guns

We content ourselves, this time, that no one said:
he seemed like such a nice guy.

OctoPoMo – Day 2. We were prompted to write a cinematic poem. You be the judge. How many times have we witnessed this scene on the screen? A reality horror show.


Thanks for reading.






“I forgive you.” Shelly pressed her hands together in prayer, or Namaste, Zane couldn’t be sure. She bowed, deeply, like the Japanese.

“You forgive me? That’s rich.” Zane stepped backward.

“I know you didn’t mean it the way it came out.” Shelly’s beatific smile was real. Zane could see that. Not a hint of irony or sarcasm.

“Shelly, you tell me I’m an uninformed, poor excuse for a male dolt. And I’m the one who ought to ask for your forgiveness?” He was beginning to wonder if Shelly’s smile, she was showing teeth now, was something more sinister.

“You called me mean. Though I was only being honest.” She frowned as if Zane were a dolt, and just didn’t get it.

“Ooof, Shelly, punch me in the gut again…” Before Zane could complete his euphemism Shelly punched him in the gut. Zane crumpled to the floor where he lay in the fetal position.

Shelly blurted in surprise, “Why did you make me do that?”

Zane opted to say nothing, believing that the best tactic until he could get out of there.

“Zane? I didn’t want to do that. Why did you tell me to do it? You really are a poor excuse for a male. Like many males you lack empathy.” Shelly leaned over to peer in Zane’s face. He winced.

He’d always thought of Shelly as eccentric or quirky. She had a flair for hippie fashion that suited her. She had always made him laugh. But, this… what was this? Was she on medication, or rather, off her medication?

“Shelly?” Zane squeaked.

“Yes, Zane?”

“Are you on medication?”

Shelly kicked him in the chest. Zane groaned.

“Maybe I was a little too spontaneous with that kick. At least you didn’t ask me if I was on my period.”

“Are you on your period?”

She kicked him again, this time in the knee. “You really are quite hopeless, Zane.”

“Is this how you forgive all male dolts?” Zane shielded his face with his arms, just in case. But, no kick was dealt.

“You’re the first one I’ve met in a long time. Before, I ignored their innuendoes. You’re the first I decided to try to get through to. Wake you up to the reality of your doltishness.”

Shelly circled Zane who guarded his body parts as she walked.

“Shelly, tell me what I did. I thought our relationship was progressing to the next level.”

Shelly pushed Zane with her boot. He turned over, and she kicked him in the back. Zane grunted. “Grabbing my crotch is your next level?”

“Shelly, I thought you wanted me to. The way you looked at me. And that low cut t-shirt you’re wearing. C’mon. I know you wanted it. You’re just a little scared.”

Shelly kicked him one more time in the back. “Does it look like I want it, you dolt? Does it look like I’m scared?”

Zane moaned. “No, I guess not. I’m sorry, Shelly.”

“I forgive you. Now get out.”


For the Light and Shade Challenge. Click to discover the prompt, and read the other interpretations. Very different takes.. that’s what makes life interesting! 🙂


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Empathy for the American Dream

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”   – F. Scott Fitzgerald


At unexpected moments anxiety sneaks up on me like a feral cat. The “attacks,” to use the parlance of the affliction, range from mild to (rarely) incapacitating. They come out of nowhere, are just suddenly there.

If you were nearby during an episode you might not realize I was in its’ throes. I take a deep breath, and tell myself it will pass. When all else fails I have an anti-anxiety drug. Many others have far more debilitating attacks that they are unable to hide. But mine, so far, I can control. I might become quiet, excuse myself from the room, or exit a social event (though I rarely attend social events).

But, you may notice that I’d suddenly changed my demeanor. It’s possible you may find my behavior rude. You may think that I no longer cared about what you were telling me. I could tell you I was having an anxiety attack. But, I never tell strangers, rarely open up to acquaintances, sometimes admit it to good friends and family. I shouldn’t be embarrassed, but I am.


Do you ever consider what some people have had to overcome to function as a productive member of a civilized society? Or what they can’t overcome? Do you ever look at someone and see, not their behavior, but the possibilities behind that behavior?

A few weeks ago I received a comment on a post that referred to “the masses.” The context implied that this amorphous entity was anyone with not enough money or resources to take care of their basic needs, like food and shelter: the poor, low income, the disabled, those that require welfare or food stamps.

Sounds like a Wal-Mart employee, doesn’t it?

The commenter suggested that providing “the masses” with welfare and food stamps was not helping them.

I often wonder about our capacity for empathy. It seems to be disappearing as fast as the polar ice caps. Facebook diatribes, red-faced TV pundits, we no longer respectfully disagree, we condescend and ridicule.

Whenever I hear someone use “the masses” in the pejorative I wonder what sort of household they were born into. Did their parents put food on the table, pay their school tuition, provide them with books, televisions, phones, a car? Did they have at their disposal the tools to make good on the American dream?

Credit: Tony Giovanni
Credit: Tony Giovanni


Did you know that dreaming is good for your health? I’m talking about dreams that visit you in the night. It’s a time to work through the tough issues. Is that the simple message we ought to send to “the masses?” Go to sleep, and dream. This is America, land of innovation. Pull up your bootstraps, and soldier on. Don’t expect any help.

Have you ever listened to JK Rowling, author and billionaire of the Harry Potter series, speak on the subject of welfare and taxes? As a single mother she depended on financial help from her government to feed and clothe herself, and her child. As a billionaire she has no interest in shuttling her cash offshore to avoid taxes. She’s happy to pay them, to give back what had been provided to her when she most needed the assistance.

How often do we understand the perspectives of other people? That person next to us acting a bit strange, what are they up to? Why are they anxious?

When we witness an accident, our amygdala is activated, that emotion-rich region of the brain. We hurry to help those in obvious distress.

What about those not in obvious distress? They become “the masses.” The masses become “the takers.”

We are all “the masses,” aren’t we? Maybe not 1% of us, but the other 99%? We are one big happy family. If your neighbor’s house was on fire wouldn’t you help him put it out? What if he lost his job, and required food stamps to eat?

What if you met a 6-year-old boy born into abject poverty through no fault of his own? His parents abandoned him. He’s dispatched through foster care. Would you begrudge your tax dollars helping him fight his way out of poverty?

Where is our empathy for that American Dream? Are we not all “entitled” to our dreams?