View from the Top

I climbed my first tree before I was five. Got stuck. Screamed. Daddy had to walk two miles home from work in the middle of a hot West Virginia afternoon and rescue me. Like a cat, I finally learned not to climb down head-first. For the next XX years (I'd say how many, but no one would believe it) I spent time in the tops of trees, where I learned some of life's most important skills -- and pleasures. I'd say what they were (and are) but that would be telling. And you know what they say -- writers should show, not tell. So kick off your shoes and shimmy on up. Join me here surrounded by blue sky and little green leaves. Bring a book if you like, or a notebook. The apples up here are crisp and ripe and free for the picking.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"BANGER'S PEOPLE" NOW AVAILABLE FROM Mary O'Dell and Turquoise Morning Press --

"BANGER'S PEOPLE" (December 2011) is also available as a download from Turquoise Morning Press.

"Every time Dixie Honaker feels that a ride on the love boat with her elegant, silver-haired neighbor Walter may be about to happen, Banger, her rude but good-hearted mutt, does something to splash cold water all over them."

Also from Turquoise Morning: "THE SWEET LETTING GO"

This is the story of Ren and Jessica, who "come to believe with all their hearts that love and family are worth the risk . . . "
Order online at

Second Cuppa Coffee Time

Okay, so it's been a while.  But since I really am sitting here with my second cup, and since I've missed strolling through the fallen fruit of this orchard, I'm making a new resolve to do something here a few times a week.  Ever heard of trying too hard?  I've been guilty of that.  Polish something to extreme and you wear it away entirely.  In light of this truth, I offer something rough:


The facts are these:  the screws came out. 
This dressing table – my mother’s since her girlhood –
has sat in my house for twenty years.
Ornate and curliqued,
it wears a dark veneer once thought elegant.
The mirror’s been loose and rocking for years,
and when the screws gave way
it leaned back lazily toward the wall, 
then yesterday, slid forward,
pushing off everything – the coal oil lamp
that was Great-grandmother’s,
my one bottle of good perfume,
a memorial basket of flowers,
and other stuff, now lost beneath my bed. 
The mirror now lies staring upward,
blind to all but the flat gray ceiling.
This lovely piece is possibly past repair
for its wood has gone to punk.  Gone, Mother
and Great-grandmother.  Gone the man whose death
left me the flowers.  And the good perfume –
evaporation will see to that. 
On the wall, the mirror’s frame has left
a long dark streak,
and for some reason this makes me saddest of all.

Friday, October 22, 2010


In Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being she quotes one Ralph Harper as asking, “Why should one not try to imagine his arms around Being?”  And I wonder, How does one come to consider that?

When, in her on-foot exploration of the Mediterranean lands, Dillard discovers the source of the River Jordan, she describes the spot as a “seep at the earth’s crust.” 

“In all this sober glory,” she continues, “something surprising appeared.  I saw something moving.”

Though my curiosity is fierce – what is this Something? -- I lay the book aside, needing to hold the moment, let the anticiipation seep through me, here in my chair. 

My breakfast is on a small table beside me. I pick up my coffee and take a sip, then lift my eyes to find the dog solemnly watching as I choose a slice of banana. 

I notice, in the black fur of the cat in my lap, a sesame seed fallen from my bagel.  The cat shifts, sneezes, settles back into sleep. 

            My own Being.  My own sober glory.  I pick up the book.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am a fool for story, and so when I was given a small paperback of Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad CafĂ© and Other Stories, I have been reading them slowly, spacing them out as if they were nuggets of Godiva chocolate. 
Last night there was “Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland,” this morning with breakfast “The Sojourner,” a poignant little piece in which John Ferris, businessman and world traveler, stops to visit his former wife Elizabeth and her family and is struck by the obvious joy and rightness of their lives.  Though the story is flawless -- not a phrase or image too much or too little, no unfortunate slide into sentimentality -- and though at the end I was consumed with longing and melancholy, these are not why I am writing of it here. 
No.  What I felt at the end of this short piece was an overwhelming urge to caress the book itself with its flimsy cover, its pulp pages.  If it hadn’t been so melodramatic, I would have clutched it to my breast and moaned.  Now, I can’t imagine doing that with a Kindle.

Monday, October 11, 2010


“If the road is dark and you have not a light, close your eyes.  Rest them for when the light appears.” 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


 Support small press publishing by shopping from this secure amazon store.

All of your favorite FINISHING LINE PRESS titles, including my own, What I Can Count On, are or will be available at this site. 

To view all chapbookss available from FINISHING LINE PRESS, go to link their website,,  
go to the website--at new releases-
scroll down to L, the authors are listed alphabetically.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Don't discount any source that soothes you.  I now own a collection of exotic chickens.  Actually, it's a book on the subject, which lives on my coffee table where, at any time, I can flip it open and lose myself in the -- well, the exoticness of it all.  Here's a little something you might not know: "The Araucana from South America . . . lays eggs that have a faint green or blue tint.  The native Araucas resisted the mating of their birds with those of the conquering Spaniards, thus preserving the character of these chickens.  This breed has ear muffs . . . and . . . wears a beard."  Now, what could be more quirky?  This little blip of arcaneness I can now carry around in my head and focus on it whenever someone starts trying to screw up my day.