What If Became What Now

I haven’t been inspired to write
since this contagion invaded. My energy
has waned with a low-level anxiety
as the what-ifs take over my mind.

Scientists and many others
foresaw what was ahead but
provisions were not made
and now our world is tightly
enmeshed in grave suffering.

There’s a pall hanging over us all
and I feel it as it creeps its way inside
my subconscious hijacking my peace.

Some days I feel an almost panic
as it spikes like the fevers of those
inflicted. Others I’m resigned to this
new way of life and accept what is
for my safety and the benefit of others.

I’m isolating because I want to give
that virus as little ammunition
as possible to take aim at any of us.
There’s a mark on each of our backs.

Duck and Cover!


Photo: Google Images; Duck and Cover drills in the 50s

I grew up in the 50s and 60s and during the Cold War between Russia and the United States school children were taught the “duck and cover” method to save our lives in case of nuclear bombing during school hours. Huh?  I vividly remember these drills that would come randomly during the school year in addition to our fire drills.

When the alarm sounded we were instructed to quickly and quietly (always quietly) to get in a huddle down on our knees underneath our desks with our heads protectively covered by our arms. I’m sure I wasn’t aware specifically of the reason for these drills at my young age but the energy surrounding the drill left me fearful and shaken.  Sometimes the exercise had us lined up and following our teachers out to the parking lot where waiting volunteer parents lent their cars as getaway vehicles to whisk us away off campus.

Not only would these drills be useless in protecting anyone during a nuclear blast but they added fear to an already too fearful child. We also had the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60s…I lived in very close proximity to Cuba, and the Vietnam War was on television during the evening news.  It’s no wonder that I was well acquainted with anxiety as a child.

fire whips hysteria
crackling, consuming calm
frightened doe huddles

Join us today at 3PM EST as Toni presents Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.

How to Cultivate Compassion

Take a childhood of abandonment and mix that with equal parts of anxiety and panic.
Fold the child within herself and leave her ashamed and confused.
Have her cry every time you leave her, ignoring her pleas and staying out extra late.
Add to that alcoholism and narcissism and beat well into a frothy mess.
Top this off with screams of hatred in the middle of the night, waking the child.
Send your child out into the world fearful and insecure yet expect the best from her.

Take a now, young adult who follows her own path and add self worth.
Stir in copious amounts of sensitivity for those who suffer.
Enlarge her already sweet heart and add two darling girls of her own to love.
Give her a voice.
Give her a stronger voice.
Add courage, strength of survival and allow her to find joy.
Mix well and let her compassion flow out into the world.

Join us for Poetics where Mish prompts us on writing recipes of life, love, misery, compassion…what have you.

Dark Beast

Pervasive thoughts
swing me from peace
and calm off the
abyss into the depths
of fear and panic
where my heart
in my ears
my muscles
and my
clutch each other
in a vain attempt
to console
but tension
does not
bring about
I must
s l o w l y
and, if need be,
sequester myself
away from well-meaning
people who are NEVER
able to restore my calm
by their good-intentioned
words of rational beseeching.
What I fear the most is this dark beast that creeps up on me without warning.

Mish is our host at dVerse Poets and asks us to write on “What are you afraid of?”

Peeping Tom

One night as I silently watched you through
the window that was open to the night air,
you gave no sign that you knew I was there.

Your pretty innocence excited me even
though you were only reading a book.
It became a compulsion to watch you

or one of your sisters. However, I had to
be extra careful around your older brother
and not alert him to what was going on.

Once there were a couple of your girlfriends
along with all of you four sisters in your
bedroom and I made the mistake of showing

my face at the window. The screaming that
erupted made me tear out of there like my
life depended on it. I had never run so fast before.

I laid low for a few days but soon showed up again.
It became a compulsion to watch you.
I also had another compulsion and I acted it out

one fateful night when I donned a bra and panties
and crept up on that window to that room where
you liked to read. What I didn’t know, and you

were so cool about it, was that you had heard
my step falls on the crisp, autumn leaves
and had gone and told your brother and his

friend out in the living room that someone was
outside the window. I was caught that night,
embarrassed, threatened with great bodily harm

if I showed up there again. Maybe that night was
a turning point for me, I needed help for my
compulsion to watch you.

Kelly invites us to write from the view of the opposite sex over at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/29/poetics-gender-bender/

It’s Time

Image from Bing Images

Panic gripped and I hid away;
I turned tail and ran and tried to keep it at bay.
But it’s useless I know, it’s happened before,
the cycle continues and the pain I deplore.
I know I am judged as weakness overcomes,
the shame that envelopes me, dark and tiresome.
My stuttering excuses fall on deaf ears,
they’ve been said many times, when the beast has appeared.
A lifetime has evolved into a habitual disgrace,
and a pushing against instead of embrace.
It’s a painful admission to put this out here,
but it could help someone else who may disappear.

Come, I say, beckoning to myself, let me hold you in love;
you have much that is worthy and are a sensitive dove.
This reality was created by a small, frightened child,
let go and relax, live a life that’s more mild.
You know it’s your thoughts that have brought this about,
and your worst judge is you, of that there’s no doubt.
So turn them around, make it a practice
create a bright world, and let go of the blackness.

Mary is our hostess today at dVerse Poets after our 3rd year anniversary celebrations. She is inviting us to write something on the subject of time or clocks and use either word in our creation. Thank you, Mary! Join us here: http://dversepoets.com/2014/07/22/poetics-time-and-time-again/


He only showed up
after we girls went to bed.
We heard him outside…
always at the window.

The hedge and shrubs
would rattle loudly.
The windows…open to the
night air would be tapped.
A grunting and
shuffling could be heard.
Other times he was under
one of our beds.
There was always scratching,
snorting and bumping.
The mattresses would
heave and rumble.
We screamed…LOUD!
We YELLED for Mom!
She came storming into
the bedroom.  She knew who
the monster was.  She had
nabbed that rascal before.
RUSTY!!!  Are you
teasing your sisters again!!!

Brian Miller encourages us to face our monsters over at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2013/04/13/poetics-monster/#comments

Small Stone # 6

Hearing is failing.
I couldn’t hear her.
Mortified, embarrassed
ashamed, feeling
deeply separate;
hot tears fell
as I shared
with a friend.

I’m projecting fear…

Small Stone # 6 for our Mindful Writing Challenge at Writing Our Way Home: http://www.writingourwayhome.com/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00Z&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00Z&max-results=5


mangled • fencing

Mangled Fencing; Flickr License Creative Commons Non-commercial

asked by a friend to write an elegy
for her niece killed in a
New Year’s Day car crash,
my eyes fill with tears

thinking of my elderly mother

My small stone for Writing Our Way Home’s Mindful Writing Challenge:http://www.writingourwayhome.com/2013_01_01_archive.html


Several hours spent with the baby girl,
three of those hours she spent sleeping.
A growth spurt has her needing more
rest and ravenous when she wakes up.

She didn’t want to go for a walk in
the stroller so I parked it by the
pond–the one where the fish
immediately show up in the
shallows, hoping for a tossed snack
and I held her on my lap.

She quieted as I pointed out
the turtles’ heads poking up out of
the water, watching us, they too
hoping for a tasty handout.

Look how the lily pads lay so flat
on the surface of the water.  Look,
there’s the hawk being chased by
an angry blue jay.  Hear the bamboo
clanking quietly (the wind is low today).
Smell the delicate fragrance wafting
from the colorful bed of petunias.
Feel my arms around you, my heart
matching beats with yours.
Home, I fix leftovers from the night
before for my late lunch, Taco Soup
and homemade corn bread and a small
side of cranberry, orange relish–my
mother’s recipe made during holidays.

Turning on the television, I see a “Special
Report”, they’re talking about a shooting
and I think briefly that it’s an update on
the recent mall shootings.  But no, I learn
of a more current lethal and senseless act of
yet another taking of multiple, innocent lives
that happened while I was babysitting
my own precious, innocent life.

I sob as I listen to our President offer
his condolences to more grieving citizens.
I cry for the parents who don’t have
another day with their children.

What will it take to bring a halt to these acts?
What the hell are we waiting for?
My tears change to outrage.

Brian Miller hosts today at dVerse Poets asking us to try our hands at “the small stuff”…paying attention to details: http://dversepoets.com/2012/12/15/poetics-sweat-the-small-stuff/

What Are We Thinking?

Photo by Terry S. Amstutz/mobius faith 2012http://mobiusfaith.wordpress.com/ 

The exit was marked plainly…
but had something broken in
or had something broken free?

It’s interesting the different
angles and feelings that your mind
can lead you to in your discernment of life.

Now, in looking at that
doorway, one person may
perceive an opening to
freedom…the light—an
awareness that empowers
him toward peace.

While another will see
a direction, a path, that is
unattainable, filled with
obstacles and all those
myriad things that hinder
and keep him from reaching
his potential.

A soul can soar or it can despair,
all within an instantaneous thought.

Each of us will have to
choose…what do we see?
What are we thinking?

Claudia introduces us to Terry S. Amstutz aka mobius faith and asks us to use his photography as inspiration at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2012/11/17/poetics-photography-by-terry-s-amstutz/#comments

Step, Scrape, Drag

Musty, moldering mewls
could be heard from
niggling, hallway floorboards
and something like walking,
and dragging the dead.
Moaning, rasping, groans
whispered from every,
darkened corner.
Hidden beneath the covers
gripped tightly over my head,
quaking, shivering panic
held me fixed feeling dread.
Coming closer it seems,
in the jet-black of this
morn–I can’t tell if I’m
dreaming or in a
nightmare of real hell.
This inn I thought was quaint
during daytime’s friendly light,
has twisted  and transformed
into a terrifying night.
Now daring to entertain
just one eye out from under,
I catch sight of an apparition,
undulating–drifting free
below the chandelier.
Dressed in top hat
and tails, ready for a
formal occasion or
scaring the hell out of
a traveling sightseer.
Breath catching in my throat,
I gasp in abject terror at
the grimace on his face
and the mocking of my fear.
I flail and fling crazily,
wildly trying to gain
momentum to flee and suddenly
come to find myself
awakening on the floor.
Just a dream it must have been,
now calming my ragged breath
I look around and steady myself
with assurance and relief.

Now starting to climb
back into bed–I spied it
trailing off–the vestiges
of a phantom figure
vanishing through the wall.

Joy (Hedgewitch) is our hostess today at dVerse.  I guess I’m getting a step up on Halloween.  I felt like something spooky for today’s Open Link Night at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2012/10/02/open-link-night-week-64/



enemies (Photo credit: MGShelton)

it bids,
you believe.

you take
the bait. 

It doesn’t exist
but you’re
being used;
fear comes

You can’t
break free,
a pity.
Your own
free will
has rendered
your weakness.

Social Anxiety


“Image by roeyahram via Flickr”

Anxiety floods over me;
I can’t do this.
Society insists that I must join in.

I prefer not; I don’t know you,
banal chit-chat puts me
under duress.

Heart starts a-thumping,
adrenaline’s at full power,
sweat springs forth,
while my mouth turns to cotton.

You’ll scoff at my inability
to speak glib small talk.
And my uncomfortable
demeanor just makes
you back up.

Your eye of judgment
passes over me
while the one that
I own, does the
same thing back. 

I’m shy.
I’m sensitive.
I don’t know who you are
and rather than try and
find out you’re a nice person,
I’d rather stay home with myself.

My entry for Write2Day–Writing from the Dark Place:  http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/write2day-writing-from-the-dark-place/


Awakened startled, jabbing pain assaults
my back, quickened stabbing brings loud exalts.
Alas!  Alas!  The pain exceeds,
it’s all too intense to concede!
Worrying beads of perspiration pop,
my convulsive breathing makes me stop.

Across my brow, within the furrowing,
fear seizes me now, magnitude growing.
Help me! Help me!  I cry aloud,
death is encroaching with his shroud!
I beseech you aid me, this pain is sick;
emergency aid should be gotten quick.

Hunching my way over to our large truck,
I gingerly lay across from the clutch.
Hurry!  Hurry!  Drive your fastest,
I’m almost done; no one pass us!
Crumpling now, in a tight ball on the floor,
I feel as if I’m giving birth once more. 

Stifling groans keep escaping unbidden
as unknown doctors sweep for the hidden.
At last!  At last!  I feel relief,
diagnostics held the belief!
A kidney stone had inched along but cleared.
Go home and rest, there’s nothing more to fear.


This is based on my one and only experience with passing a kidney stone.  It really did feel like I was in labor–torture!

Form For All with Beth Winter hosts Staccato Form:    http://dversepoets.com/2011/11/17/form-for-all-beth-winter-hosts-staccato-form/

Being Saved

I joined her on that day
to a luncheon,
to church,
where she prays. 

It’s been years
since I’ve been here,
no longer enraptured
through this fear. 

Entertainment was
offered too,
a man of Jesus sang,
played piano and mused. 

Around me sat
the elderly and aged;
my mother’s peers
are being saved.

I listened intently
to the message given;
does it soothe my soul
as bidden? 

So closely tied with
illusion, I felt more
pity than love for
this religion. 

Belief in sin,
to me, is a ruse,
to impede us
from knowing the truth. 

But awakening
will come as it may,
our own paths
we follow each way.

My entry for dVerse Poets;  Free Write Friday–Taboo Subjects:  How to be Fearless and Nothing Less:  http://dversepoets.com/

It Wasn’t Us

Stopovers at the local bars

Showed your favoritism

It wasn’t to us–your family

Your preference was to befriend

Strangers by buying rounds of drinks

And playing senseless games of chance

Shallow bonding with those who did not reciprocate

Who took advantage of a drunk

You not only were an addict of drink

But one of narcissism

Money needed for the household

Was squandered on “them”

We were left with no escape

From our saddened, empty entrapment

Void, hollow, so divest

Of care and trust

We floundered and thrashed

In the tidal wave of your selfishness

Ending up bruised and battered

We represented responsibility

Real relationships with feelings and needs

We amplified your anxiety

Your detachment was blatant

Everyone else was your friend

Other children and people on our street

Thought the world of you

Handymen who came to repair

A broken pipe or the waitress

At your favorite place to eat

You were their best buddy

Your equilibrium steady

Chatting them up, having a laugh

A façade of friendliness

Hours spent sitting in front of the house

Waiting, watching

For someone, anyone

To come by and with

A wave of your hand

And a friendly smile and witty charm

You would reel them in

And once again forget about us

Unseen Predator

Unseen predator looms from the shadows,

as I fumble with the door latch, frantic with fear–

hidden apparition approaching ever near.

Now in a panic, the door still will not lock,

as I anxiously open and close it, praying it will.

Over and over, through many long years,

this nightmare assaults me–

awakening me in tears.

Based on a long ago incident

it comes to me unbidden,

reminding me repeatedly

when a late-night stalker prowled

and crept around outside.

Finally he was stopped

and brought down to his knees

but the fear still seems to pursue me

through my mind it’s still enshrined.

Public Image

I’ve impeded my progress

My fear holds me fast

Hesitation of the unknown

Has brought me standstill

I won’t make a move

I don’t know what I’ll face

It’s safer and more comfortable

To not try at all

I might fail

Someone may laugh

I’ll be ashamed

With blaming derision

I think to myself

The message is clear

Don’t go out the door

No one likes me out there

So I’ve made up my mind–

My best friend’s my computer

I can show my fearless side

Safe behind my public image

Baby Cardinal

Baby cardinal at the feeder

Crying piteously to his parents

I’m still just a fledgling–I’m still not quite sure

Don’t leave me alone yet, the world’s a bit scary!

My entry for Monkey Man’s Sunday 160:  http://petzoldspracticalprose.blogspot.com/


Unplanned pregnancy

Brings tears, guilt and intense shame.

A day later–peace.

Day ten of Haiku Challenge:  http://pendownmythought.blogspot.com/

Roller Coasters

A Vekoma Boomerang roller coaster at Wild Adve...

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t like roller coasters that go fast up-and-down,

or trying to hang on–flying around and around.

It’s been this way from my earliest years,

all the fun that you’re having just brings on my tears!


Go ahead and enjoy, I never mind–

I’ll be right here waiting with both feet on the ground.

When the ride is done and we are united,

my head will be steady

while yours is still spiraling.

It’s OK, I am patient,

so we must take a break,

to settle your belly’s upside-down state.



The cat without a name

Image via Wikipedia

I have a reoccurring nightmare where I am frantically trying to lock the kitchen door at the house where I grew up, while an unknown, sinister presence is fast approaching.  I fumble with the latch, opening and closing the door, and I am beside myself that I just can’t get it to lock!  My heart is pounding with fear as I realize the presence is drawing closer and closer through the outside darkness.  This dream has been haunting me for decades.  This is how it began:

It was the summer of my seventeenth year when it started–we were being “peeped”!  We were a household of four, cute sisters, as well as an attractive mother which, I’m sure, added to the appeal of being targeted.

One of my sisters had a couple of friends visiting one evening and they were all in the bedroom yakking and giggling when my sister spied a man’s face peering in at them through the open window.  Screams ensued, the man ran off and we tried to forget it.

But some weeks later, while I was reading in my parents’ bedroom one night (they were not home); I heard footsteps slowly approaching the window.  A brother and his friend were out in the living room, so I went to them and whispered urgently that someone was prowling around outside!  They stealthily crept out the front door and around the side of the house and surprised a guy that they then chased across the neighbor’s backyard and tackled to the ground.  He was dressed only in bra and panties!  After my brother threatened him with “stay away from our house or else”, he sent him packing and he never showed up again.

But it was the next incident that scared us the worst.  After falling asleep one night on our enclosed porch with one of our Siamese cats snuggled in next to me, I was awakened abruptly to find my cat leaning over my head, peering intently through the darkened window, growling quietly under his breath.  I froze with fear when I heard the now-too-familiar sound of foot falls, and then, with my heart pounding in my ears, heard the door knob being jiggled back and forth inches from my head!  Someone was trying to get in!  (Thank God the door was locked.  It was rare that our doors were ever locked in those days).  After a few suspenseful minutes where I couldn’t bring myself to move, the bathroom light suddenly came on.  I leapt out of bed and ran to the bathroom where my mother had gotten up to go–and breathlessly told her what had happened.  That same moment, one of my sisters came home and I anxiously recounted what had just occurred.  It was there, where we were gathered talking, that we noticed the outline of large, dirty shoe prints on the living room carpet!  We tracked them through the dining room and on into the kitchen to find the kitchen door wide open to the outside!  He had actually come into the house within feet of where I had just been laying!

This episode began a series of events that started with someone providing my brother with a shotgun for our protection!  Our father was mostly an absentee one so my brother took matters into his own hands.

One evening he decided to lie in wait in the dark shadows of the backyard and see if our intruder would show up.  His ammunition was rock salt so it really wouldn’t do much bodily harm if he did manage to hit him.  Well, lo and behold, after a short wait, here came our guy!  My brother took careful aim from his hiding place in the shrubs and fired–hitting the backdoor!  The guy took flight with my brother in hot pursuit.  They ran down the street and around the corner where my brother again took aim and this time hit his target square in the buttocks!  At this point, our intruder really became frantic and sought sanctuary with one of our close neighbors, screaming that there was a madman after him trying to kill him!  When my brother caught up to them and set the story straight, the neighbor and he detained the guy until the police arrived.  This man turned out to be a different prowler than the previous underwear clad “peeper”.  I don’t remember if he was ever identified as the one who had earlier entered our home.

We had no further incidents after that and no charges were filed against my brother.

But the nightmare remains for me.

The Crashing Down the Mountain Story

While attending “ladies’ camp” in Espanola, New Mexico one summer, it was decided that we would all take a drive up a nearby mountain, have a picnic and enjoy the warm, summer day.  An old school bus had been chartered to take us up but I somehow missed the bus that morning and ended up riding with a couple of other women in a pick-up truck driven by one of the hired hands at the camp.

We enjoyed our relaxing and uneventful afternoon and when it was time to return, one of the women approached me and asked if I would mind taking her place on the bus so she could ride back down in the truck (I think she had a crush on the cute truck driver).  No, I didn’t mind; so I boarded the bus and we began the hour-plus trip to camp on the tightly twisting, mountain road.  I took a seat at the rear of the bus and shortly after we got started, a friend and I heard a car’s horn blasting persistently.  We turned around to look out the back window and the people in the car behind us were frantically trying to get our attention.  It was then we saw the smoke–and at that same moment we realized something was terribly wrong.  The brakes had gone out!

When we realized our predicament of terror–we grabbed hands, clutching at each other and started praying and chanting out loud to God and guru.  I remember briefly thinking–is this the way I’m going to die?  In looking back, though, I’m amazed at the calmness that came over me at that moment.

We quickly gained speed as we lost all ability to slow down, and as we hit bumps and dips in the pavement were being violently jostled and bounced.  Our driver was actually thrown out of her seat twice (and managed to get back into it) as she bravely maneuvered the bus, repeatedly “scraping” the out-of-control vehicle along the face of the mountain in an attempt to slow us.  There were areas along one side of the road where cliffs fell steeply into ravines and she was trying to avoid us going over them.  She had her one year old baby on the trip with us that day and I’m sure that that had something to do with her valiant efforts to bring us to safety.

The driver’s attempts finally paid off as we came to a tumbling halt, the elderly bus heaving one last time as we flipped over, landed upside down and skidded off the side of the road.

Help arrived in minutes and several of us were driven in a police squad car to the nearest hospital to be checked out.  I had suffered a bloody cut on my foot which required a tetanus shot and had sprained my neck as I landed on it sideways.  I had to wear a neck brace for several weeks while it healed.  One of the baby’s arms was broken but no one was seriously injured.

Upon returning home to Massachusetts I suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.  I felt a real sense of loss of control while riding in vehicles that I perceived as going too fast, especially if we “bumped” at any point.  I would become aware of my right foot pressing deeply into the floorboard, unconsciously trying to slow us.  Riding on the subway could also induce panic as it sometimes felt we were blasting along at excessive, out-of-control speeds.  I became one, big “white knuckle”.  The fear has lessened over the years but can still rear its head at times, instantly returning me to that day on the mountain.

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"On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea"

All Is One With Our Creator


Take Control of Your Health

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging


Mumblings of a Middle Aged Madwoman


if I go around more than once then ...

I Rhyme Without Reason

I live in words

Soul Speak

'You may say I'm a Dreamer, but I'm not the only one' ~ John Lennon

~ Dragon's Dreams ~

Carpe Noctem Quod Tempus Fugit!

Dreamwalker's Sanctuary

A Sanctuary for Enlightenment and Peace through Poetry and Inspirational Thoughts as we go through Life


laughing at the malfunction of the universe is better than crying about it

Olivia's In- Mind Whirls..

"It's all in my mind"


Poets Pub

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