The Power of Habit


Emma wonders if any of the others are thinking of Macbeth and his witches. The kindling takes hold with a loud crack. Sparks flash, and rise into the night. Someone has thought to bring food this time: a pot of chili in a small cast-iron cauldron. Emma cannot imagine anyone will taste it. Their hunger is not for food. The pipe sizzles at the touch of the lighter. The itch of anticipation glides along her forearms. They all say they want to kick the habit. But, they’ve all been through rehab, at least once. It’s where some of them met.



For Tara’s 100Word Challenge… the prompt this week is Habit. So many interpretations… what’s yours?





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he gets his ire all up
in her face
yowls at the voices
but she plays it cool
allows him to unwind
she takes his hand
zeroes in on his green eyes
tells him she loves him
crystal clear, and calm ascends
quatrains of reassurance
does he believe her
when she tells him he is her
xi her lucky star that
everything will be all right
nervy that’s what he is
jumps out of his skin
like wild prey on the run
kindness, it’s the only way he’ll
follow her lead
prayer, such as it is to her
goes some distance to
mend just a little of this
vexation at his malady
of his demons it’s her only
recourse or she’ll come


OctPoWriMo – Day 12. Prompt was to write 26 lines using each letter of the alphabet. I didn’t put them in order, but they’re all there. I missed a few days, but I hope to get back in the groove!

Thanks for reading..Poetry5


Cat’s Eye

For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is REMEMBER: 3 a :  to keep in mind for attention or consideration <remembers friends at Christmas    b :  REWARD – <was remembered in the will.




The night her blood pooled on the deck, she gave her husband a reason to live.

It’s not what you think. He did not go on living hoping she might die.

On the contrary it was his dying that made her so bold; his dying that propelled her in search of answers to questions she knew had no answers.

They were the perfect couple. Do you feel the dread that phrase occasions? You will not be surprised then to learn that the perfect couple, as always, was doomed.

In the third year of their marriage a routine blood test revealed a rare genetic mutation. A physician’s prophecy granted him a few years at most, at worst, a few months.

Maybe his subconscious gave up. Fact is his body began to deteriorate within weeks.  She could not bear witness, and so she took to long walks in the fragrant woods behind their house.

One night she found herself at the rear of her neighbors’ house. Mesmerized, she watched them move through the well-lighted kitchen. She had never been invited inside. Nor had she and her husband invited the couple to their home. She would not have been able to say exactly why. Shadowy reasons beyond comprehension.

Then she crept across the wet lawn for a better view, and that’s when it happened.

An animal trap. You know the sort. Sharp, serrated teeth that attack the foot. But, she didn’t even cry out. She pulled the chain from the ground; half ran, half hopped to her house.

Her husband was asleep on the deck. She spoke his name. He was at her side. Somehow he summoned the strength to unhinge the jaws, and release her mangled foot.

Only when she was fully recovered, and no longer needed him, well, you know..

She will remember him with marbles. One new cat’s eye every year. “Have you lost your marbles,” they used to laugh, right before they collapsed onto the bed in a tight embrace.

Something Positive

For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is ANIMAL:
3  :  a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also :  this nature –


“If you were tied to a spit like a pig, and slowly roasted over a fire would you choose a god and begin to pray?”

Ray picked up his pint of beer from the bar, downed half of it. He didn’t look at Adam.

Adam studied Ray’s profile. Adam was straight, but could easily understand why gay guys were constantly hitting on Ray. His prepossessing cool blue eyes, like Paul Newman’s, were reason enough to want to hone in, get up close to the perfect symmetry of his face. Adam’s wife described a few of her girlfriends as able to look good in anything. That was Ray. Tonight he wore dark jeans, a black t-shirt. He looked like a movie star rather than the corporate accountant who found innovative ways to channel income offshore.

Ray was also straight, as far as Adam knew, but was always polite when approached. “I’m straight, man,” he’d say, “but I’m flattered, thank you.” And then he offered the shake of a hand, man to man, a gesture never refused. Wanting to touch any part of him.

On occasion a self-confident woman offered to buy him a drink, or pretended they had met before, or crashed her shopping cart into his in a supermarket. Sometimes it worked, and Ray invited her to dinner. They’d enjoy a few weeks of dates until inevitably he’d rage against the Darfur refugee crisis, or over the story of a kidnapper who buried his victims alive.

Adam said, “Ray, have you ever paid close attention to the feel of a woman’s fingertips on the palm of your hand, on your pulse?”

Ray looked at him. “A lot of evil out there, Adam. It overpowers us. What if that animal is in me?”

“Channel it, Ray, into something positive.”

At that Ray reached for Adam’s hand, traced the path of a vein. Turning it over he placed it in his own hand, rested his fingertips on the pulse, and waited.

Sous Chef

For Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word is CRACK:  3a : a narrow break : fissure b : a narrow opening —used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out <a player who fell through the cracks in the college draft> <children slipping through the cracks of available youth services> – 

©Gerhard Richter
©Gerhard Richter








His hand encircled the glass. His whole hand, not merely his fingers like most people held a glass. He gripped it as he would a baseball. His middle finger kissed his thumb. Not only that, but he held the glass at his heart, as if he feared someone might snatch it from his grip. As if instead of some generic cola it held hard-won blood diamonds.

He stood at the swinging door, half in, half out of the kitchen. He laughed at a joke Claire couldn’t hear delivered by someone she couldn’t see. Watching him jaw with the cooks she thought his easygoing demeanor belied his clench of that glass. His arm rigid, wooden, the tumbler pressed against his chest, the dark liquid sloshed, adding to the topography of stains on his white sous chef jacket.

He had lost someone, Claire was certain of it. He seized that glass so tight she thought it might crack from the compression of his wide palm. Determined not to lose anyone again he hugged that thing to his heart. She thought about the cola, the damage it wreaked on his organs, eating away the lining of his stomach, amplifying the effort on his liver to filter out toxins. She wanted him to bring that glass to his face. Drink it, she whispered. Drink it.

How did she know he had lost anyone? She was notoriously inept at reading people, always misunderstanding a gesture or a laugh, believing it aimed at her for some awkward faux pas she had no idea she’d demonstrated.

Her sous chef, if that’s what he was, he could have been the dishwasher for all Claire knew had not quenched his thirst. She wanted to shout, Take a sip, take a goddamn sip of that sweet, chemical concoction. Kill the loss inside you!

Claire reached for her diet soda. The ice shifted, the slick cold traveled up her forearm. She downed the liquid without a breath.