Tag Archives: Tragedy

This Too Shall Pass (rough draft)

We seldom remember the beginning of any storm
Those first few drops of rain so inconsequential, the whispering sound of their community falling and gathering all around
Nor does the water ever seem too high or strong or dangerous
Until it is

On the day my Uncle was found dead just such a storm had been building all around my family and I
Each drop piling high, singing the creek out behind the house into a rage
Until finally the water could hold back no more and all its chocolate milk fury came at us with a thunder and command befitting the gods of long before
We were overcome

This was the day I watched the road buckle and like a blister, popped and exploded its tar memory into the all consuming water
And the day I watched my car get filled mere feet beyond my reach
And above all, the day my uncle, homeless and undesired, found dead in a Colorado street.
Momma wailed, not cried, and the water no matter how loud couldn’t drown her out
First she thought she was losing the house and then she found out she had lost her brother
Was there no good left to God?

My mother and father stacked their valuables as high as they could, hoping the water’s reach would not compete
And all the while I thought of Bay Saint Louis down in Mississippi where I had dug just such valuables out of strangers homes
Mad Lady Katrina had a higher reach than any shelf or even roof
But I stacked my stuff too and let my family hold to their belief

We were trapped
The water was all around, there seemed no hope, out back a river, out front a river, all around the rain gathered their community and sang deaths ugly tune
Dad and I ventured out, we had only one chance, “how high is the water papa?”, old man Cash once sang
Too damn high

Momma had a distant look on her face, her brother’s death had stained her soul, and the water that should wash away dirt was instead carrying it and threatening to stain her even more
Dad gave me an ax and a look I’ll never forget
We started chopping down the fence he had built some summers ago, and somewhere between the swings, I had become a man to my father and an equal
And somewhere between the swings, I asked God why and even prayed, and all the while I thought of what I’d done to help others

I had done more than watched, I went down to dig out the buried lives of those drowned poor souls of the south
When Katrina tried our nation, and found us wanting, hadn’t I gone? Hadn’t I done something more than most?

And somewhere in the swinging the rain slowed and the waters went down
We seldom remember when the storm comes and seldom see it’s recline but no truer joy had I felt than when the creek of my childhood had lost its bite
And left me with its gritty hard lesson
There will always be rain and floods but we can weather any storm if we pick up the ax
And no better boat than the family that rows together

Like all great rushing waters, and floods, and all storms along life’s way, the waters shall run their course and in due time, this too shall pass



Just a lil fragment from a work in progress

The old beat up car ran down the sun drenched double lane highway at nearly 80 mph. On one side of the lonesome and hellish hot road was a long line of prisoners chained to one another, pick axes in hand, chiseling away at a nowhere job given to them by the decree of one judge or another. Jake tried not to look at them, and it was getting easier to do so with each passing year that Old Duke Henderson had taken the reign of his big war horse he called, “Order in the midst of chaos.”
What Jake wouldn’t be able to ignore were the telephone poles coming up, once upon a time the only messages they carried were on their wires. Now, their messages were darker, bloodier, and carried in the bounded pierced and beaten bodies of whatever unlucky soul got more than a chain gang punishment. This was the way of the world, and the reason Jake who once preached tolerance and kindness to many, now packed a forty five and a never ending thirst for whiskey. 

Neither Heaven Nor Hell

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever hope

To free me from

This ugly cell

Where now I dwell

In the dark quietude

Of all I once held

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever hope

To punish or free

Neither prevail

Against this heart break

Nor assail upon my gentle mind

Weak and weary

The pain, the sorrow, the woe

My soul to grind

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever tell

A sadder truth or beckoning song

Than this my aching tooth ache

Within my middle

Where once a heart

Did belong

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Cry Silent Night

Cry silent night

Let loose your ugly thunder

And take from me my living heart

Your tragic plunder

Let loose oh mournful sky

Rip from this one

And let die

That sorrow born

And love stolen, selfishly torn

May yet find hope, in some land


Beyond scorn

But not today

Today I cry

Tear open you ugly


You ugly sky

And let mourn

This, your enemy scorn

You thief of all I knew

All I held

All I hoped and

All I ever knew

Ever knew

To be true

Let loose you silent night,

But be not so proud

To think your voice

Will over come

My mourners shroud and heartbroken plight

Silent still, be this night

Old man at the Bar (Exercise)


Use a place with a group of people to observe. Write a single scene inspired by this group. Bring them to life, and imagine out the details.


Old man at the Bar

He stood in the corner of the room, blanketed in equal measures of shadow and mystery. His ball cap hid an old fat pair of fluffy black headphones from easy view. In one hand he held a mug bigger than his knobbed and worn down hand looked able to hold. In his other hand he held a nearly empty pitcher of cheap yellow beer with all the foam threatening to dry up. He stood statue still, transfixed perhaps by all the youth that surrounded him.

The birthday girls and soon to be bride walked by him with a wrinkled nose. It wasn’t clear if they did this because of a smell they both detected coming off the man—he didn’t look very clean despite his perfectly ironed clothing, all bright and free from visible dirt or stain. They giggled to each other and darted furtive glances back at the odd man, saying all they needed about how highly they valued his worth as a person from their damning cold glances.

The man by the jukebox didn’t seem to mind. His eyes rolled about in a slow methodical way. Each young face fell under his ancient gaze at least once or twice as his hands went about the busy work of refilling his mug. The statue still persona of the old man broke up for a few good drinks of his warming beer. Beer fuzz stuck to his chin and upper lip before popping away, leaving only a thin line of drool behind as testament to their existence. His eyes remained ever watchful. The young people that surrounded him on all sides hummed with a bee like electricity, charged up and primed, and giving off a sneaky aura of threat as though they were always ready to sting and hurt.

Three rowdy looking young men came in the door of the bar, talking loudly about all the wonders of their young and ignorant lives. The odd man lowered his mug and let his eyes roll to them. He sized them up and in his fastest move yet, he looked away. His head followed his eyes and with more speed than one could guess the old man capable of pulling off, he walked with rat like worry and speed to the opposite side of the bar, far away from where he had been, and even farther from the door and the young men walking in.

He was just in time leaving too. The three young men who had came in didn’t bother with ordering their brew first—their smell and loud way of carrying themselves suggested they’d already had their share and more. The young men headed straight for the jukebox and fumbled with change along the way. The clang of coins on solid oak floorboards was barely detectable, but two eyes followed the glint of light each fat quarter and paper thin dime caught as they fell to the floor. Each coin reminded the old man of shooting stars, and wishes that had never bothered coming true.

Loud songs came out of the jukebox not long after the young men made their selections and headed to the long skinny bar. They walked up, tried to out order each other, as if the liquor they ordered gave proof to their being more manly than the other. Old eyes watched them from the corner, sizing them up, putting each careful tick of their drunken idiot movement away to some special part of a long and well worn memory.

The music became deafening, screaming out ugly anthems of new generations and the old man found his own headphones almost inadequate to compete with it. He twirled the dial on his old walkman and cranked good old Hank Williams as high as he could. The old man grinned a little possum grin as he found himself slipping away to a long ago youth he himself once had, and a girl with blue eyes and the prettiest blonde locks he’d ever seen. They’d danced often to this very tune, using the loneliness of the music as justification to cling tighter than ever to one another. But summers pass away, and golden locks turn gray, blue eyes dim to ugly ashen familiarity and they too soon vanish from the earth. The old man’s grin slipped off his face, giving birth instead to a slight tremor in one hand a big plop of tear down one cheek.

He made one fatal error. He closed his eyes and lowered his guard. Just one moment is all it took. But in life, chaos only requires a single unwatched moment to slip in and bring hell with it.

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