John Grey

GOOD AND EVIL

The carving on my wall
is some African devil mask
that I picked up on my travels.
The hollow eyes stare
all day, all night,
at the crucifix on the mantel.
There is good and evil
in everything…
even a room.

LOOK, UP IN THE SKY

Crows on a tree branch,
DC-10 heading south.

One gets roadkill,
the other, peanuts and a beverage.

They both fly
but the cabin service differs.

IN THE NURSING HOME

Each confined
to their own room,
the sick can no longer
suffer together.

No communal TV.
The tables are silent.
Cards put away.

Here is an exile
inside another exile.
Even thoughts
can’t find their way
through to other people.

THE FIELDS SURROUNDING THE MONASTERY

Day flips open the land this morning.
Some fields lie fallow.
Others are anxious to grow.
Monks move about them,
praying and sowing.
In a world made brilliant
by the beneficence of the sun.
it never once occurs to them
that they are the only shadows.

THAT POET IN THE FOXHOLES

He was a soldier.
Made it to sergeant.
Three stripes.
Wore them proud.
He wrote poetry too.
Mostly in foxholes.
Never composed one
before he went to war.
Nor when he came home.
Only when the bullets
were flying, did he think
a bloodroot worth
saying something about.
They bud,
bloom barely a day,
then die.
They never ask
for any of this.

~~~

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

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Secrets Between Lovers – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Departing the plane, I’m feeling a lot better than earlier in the day. But now, I have this sense of urgency as we walk towards the airport’s exit. Normally, I would meander into it with a sigh of relief to have touched down on solid ground, but today it just wasn’t the same. I motion to Connor to grab the luggage then head towards the bathroom, hightailing it to the locker when I was out of sight. Still bummed about cutting our vacation short, but knowing there was an assignment was thrilling. It always was.

Agent Williamson – Your target is Connor Williamson. He is an enemy of the state recently assigned to assassinate President Trump. The attempt is occurring tomorrow at the state dinner at the White House. We need to you thwart that attempt and eliminate the threat by any means necessary. This message will self-destruct in ten seconds.

I was dumbfounded, staring until I saw the tape ignite and a white puff of smoke before me. Connor was an assassin? I’m sure they weren’t making a mistake after seeing all the files on him, but how did I not know that? 

Slowly, I head towards the baggage claim area. Connor sees me and immediately flashes a broad smile, my heart skipping a beat. I returned the smile convincingly—my mind remaining on the details of the mission, though.

“Well, it seems they lost one of my bags, Angie. We’ll have to check with them about putting a trace on it,” Connor said, motioning towards the Lost Bag office. 

“Oh, okay,” I reply quietly.

“What’s the matter, honey? Your hangover still bothering you?” he asked concerned as he looked at me funny.

“No, baby. I’m feeling much better. Just sad that we have to say our goodbyes to each other today. Aren’t you?” I asked, looking up at him innocently.

“Yeah, me too. It sucks.”

After going to the office and taking care of Connor’s luggage issue, we went to the curb to hail a cab. I live close to the airport, but he would get dropped off at the Union Passenger Terminal, taking the next train to his apartment in Baton Rouge. 

When we arrived at my apartment, I gave Connor a long, intimate kiss, grabbing his buns playfully to ward off anymore suspicion he may have had about my demeanor earlier. I asked him to promise me to call me as soon as he arrived and settled in at home to let me know he was safe. He said he would, and slowly let go and turned to get back in the cab.

I turned and entered my apartment to drop my bags being clutched tightly and immediately called for another cab.

TO BE CONTINUED ON FRIDAY…

Hello Readers – Now it’s your turn! Please cast your vote for the type of ending you would like to see in the comments below. Please try to have your choice noted by 5PM CST.
Here are your choices this week:

Tragic
Romantic
Bizarre

I look forward to writing how the story will end! Here’s hoping you enjoy it! 🙂


Secrets Between Lovers – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

“What do you mean we have to cut our trip short?!?!” I yelled at Connor. “This is the only time we get to spend quality time together! I understand your dedication, I’m just as committed to my responsibilities, but you know that they keep us apart way too often. You cannot tell me we have to leave our slice of heaven just because of your job. I won’t do it!” Connor looked at me with a certain amount of guilt but still maintained this vacation would need to come to an end sooner than intended.

“But why is your job more important than the time we carve out for ourselves?” I threw back at him in the heat of our argument. 

“It’s not more important, ” he agreed, “but it certainly allows for our lifestyle. Who else do you know that can take three months off to go on vacation?” he asked quietly. “We’ve been here for a month and a half already, so it’s not like we haven’t had somewhat of a decent get-away.” 

“Yes, but it’s only half the time we normally spend together! Remember, with my current schedule, I probably will not see you again until next year. It’s just not fair!” I yelled again. 

“Look, the job’s scheduled to start next Wednesday, it’s Friday now, and we still have a few more days. Plus, we have that trip scheduled for Sunday to see the ruins at Tulum. Let’s enjoy these last few moments and squeeze as much joy into them as possible. Okay?” saying it with that cute pleading look in his eyes that I can never resist. 

“And I promise, I will tell my boss that nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever interrupt my vacation again. I already give enough blood and sweat on the job the rest of the year,” Connor said, acknowledging my internal fear this might become a regular occurrence.

“Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath right after. “No interruptions, ever again.”

We reveled in Mexico’s beauty those last few days together, enjoying the heat, frolicking in the ocean, and eating as much great food as we could. Knowing work would require his attention; he didn’t imbibe as much as usual. I didn’t care, so the liquor flowed freely for me. Holding hands and each other tight, we said our downhearted goodbyes to our beautiful beach Monday evening before turning in. Our flight was leaving early Tuesday morning. We were not looking forward to it in the least. Especially not me because I’d enjoyed the whiskey a wee bit too much the night before!

The alarm clock rattled us awake, almost shockingly so, as we’d not required it for so long. It felt like I was jarred from a deep sleep very uncomfortably. Add to that a hangover, and I knew this would be an awful day. First things first, coffee.

We both got ready to leave, the concierge came and picked up our bags, getting us settled into the cab. The obligatory tip and off we went. Then my butt began to vibrate; it was a text from my job. Oh, great, I guess I was important too.

Your mission, Angie, should you choose to accept it, will be waiting for you at the the usual locker at the International Louis Armstrong Airport.

How did they know I would be coming home? 

TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…

The Things I’ve Seen

Pixabay-DariuszSankowski

my passion is a mission
documenting the sights in my life
this profession of no words
this visual description of where i’ve been
lets me travel to far away places
and leaves me breathless with gratitude
for the lives lived elsewhere
enhance my own

Inspired by VJ’s Weekly Challenge #98 – No words, Eugi’s Weekly Prompt – Gratitude &
Sadje’s What do you see #32

#Whatdoyousee

Beautiful Adventure

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From here I wish a quick departure
to visit a people alive with culture    

I want to venture to a foreign land
be free to escape the daily demand

A bucket list item for many a year
want to scratch an itch so severe

Blue skies and white beaches beckon me
where lovers and bronze bodies are free

A history rich with art, poetry, and technology
where sophistication spawned prodigy

A magical destination calls my name
oh, Greece, you’re my aim

There’s No Place Like Cancun

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Thanks all for still supporting and reading some older material of
mine this past week while I stepped away for a brief hiatus!

This vacation was the get-away to continue the birthday festivities. Well, it started that way. The hubs wanted to rediscover Las Vegas again after a 13-year absence. Sin City without kiddos – hell, yeah! I was on board and looking forward to it very much.

Now let me begin this Ortensia-like Truly Madly Ordinary tale.

I do hope I can make her proud! 😉

~~~

Day 1  

The morning started like any typical day. The alarm woke us, I showered, and my hot tea with a small bite to eat inhaled. We were out the door like usual except, of course, neither of us had to go to work. All we had to do was make sure we were on time for the plane ride to Las Vegas. We were. Of course, we hoped everything would go off without a hitch. It didn’t.

The first indication was in the taxi ride to the airport. I received a notification from AA that our flight is being delayed two hours, then another bing of my phone to let me know it would be three more hours. Great way to start the vacation. Thankfully, another notification chimed in to say the delay would reverse course to the original delay. But we still would miss our connection in Dallas. A reschedule of that flight got us onto the infamous Strip two hours later than we anticipated.

Getting off the plane gave us a teaser of the weather we could expect during our stay. The wall of heat hit us quite hard. Wow, was the initial thought. Good thing I had packed lots of sleeveless, cotton shirts and spaghetti-strapped camisole-like tops. I would be sweating. On the upside, I thought to myself, “I’ll get a tan.” The husband was expressionless, but I knew what he was thinking – “Oh, god.”

Thankfully, the air-conditioned cab we grabbed came with a charming driver. Abdullah was a pleasant diversion from the heatwaves I watched ripple in front of the car on our way to the hotel. We enjoyed his personality and polite banter. A short-ride and he dropped us off at the entrance to the hotel. We thanked him for his conversation and waved goodbye.

It was after dinner when we arrived, so our first thought was food after checking in and unloading our luggage. The hotel had given us deep-discount tickets to Denny’s. It became the obvious choice for the evening. Being worn out from the extended travel, we decided to eat and then head in for the night. There were a few necessities we needed that Walgreen’s filled nicely. Back to the room, watched some TV, mapped out some possibilities to do during the week, then lights out. The adventures would begin soon enough.

Day 2 

Being Vegas is two hours behind us; we woke up reasonably early. But actually, that was perfect as the crowds were at a minimum. The Mirage offered what we thought would be a great buffet option that morning. And it was. A bit pricey, but the food was tasty. So far, so good. Drinking our coffees, we narrowed down the things we wanted to do versus the maybes. The first item on my bucket list was Ziplining down Fremont Street. I wanted to soar like Super Woman. But I figured we could do that closer to the time we were leaving. It went to the end of the to-do list. The hotels which I wanted to revisit were The Venetian and The Bellagio, but we were determined to get to as many as time would allow. The goal was to walk much of the Strip to see how much it had changed since our last time here. You’ll see why this gets funny in a minute.

With breakfast done, our legs set in motion and we headed in the direction of the next nearest hotel. Harrah’s was the first stop. It looked exactly like ours on the inside – slot machine after slot machine and gaming table after gaming table. It was cool. Not as in “Oh, that’s so cool looking!” but cool as in it was comfortable. Then it was on to the next one – the Imperial Palace. Right after that was the Flamingo. There may have been different lighting, furniture, and carpeting, but they seemed all the same. And just about everyone came complete with the same gift and candy shops too. Oh, and a Starbucks or two, depending on the size of the hotel.

This was when things got tricky.

We’d managed to walk thru one hotel after the other pretty much without having to spend much time outdoors but come mid-morning we were mostly outside. The temperatures were rising, and we were starting to wilt in this dry heat. And running out of patience when the outdoor cantina personnel seemed to ignore us for five minutes after being seated. That was just too much, and we left to find shade and hydration. We walked a bit more to find another sidewalk restaurant spraying us with wonderful cold water as we walked by. That was the deciding factor – we got cooled down. Since it wasn’t quite lunch yet, we opted for a fruit plate and liquids. It seemed to hit the spot, although I felt like I was having a carb-high after eating half the plate. It took a bit longer to recoup, but then we headed back in the direction of our room.

As soon as we entered the hotel room, we stripped and laid down, and promptly napped. We were so drained. With my heart condition and the husband having experienced a previous heat-stroke, we decided – better safe than sorry. Geez, getting older has its drawbacks.

Upon waking, we thought maybe swimming was an option. We’d frolic in the water for a few hours and then head out for dinner and evening activities. Sounded like a plan. Bathing suits on – check, water bottle – check, room key – check. All set, we headed down to the pool area. Thankfully, there were still two lounge chairs available. We grabbed towels and spread them out, and pulled the chairs under the shade of the umbrella. Thinking we could lay here for a bit before plunging into the pool, we sat down but within literally minutes decided to head into the water to cool off. It was 109 degrees out.

The ground was so hot the soles of our feet burned when we plopped them off the lounge. Ok, flip flops on. Proceeding towards the edge of the water and putting my hands on the railing produced a small yelp of pain. It forced me to go to the other side of the pool where the stairs and the railing, were in the shade. It was so nice to dip into the pool! It was good to feel the cool-down. That, however, did not last. Within a couple of minutes being back on the lounge chair, we were dry and over-heated again. The next dip in the pool was considerably longer, but we opted to get out and stay out after that. So back to our room it was until it was closer to dinner time. Light eats that evening and then lights out. We were asleep fairly early that evening.

Day 3

The next day we opted for Starbucks for a light breakfast before venturing out again. Our plan was to stick to the “walk thru the hotels vs. being outside in the heat” route as much as possible. We figured we would start toughening up eventually. Spoiler alert – nope.

We went through all the hotels as planned. Yeah, us! Even stopped and had some alcohol-laced ice cream and soldiered on. But the last bit of trying to reach the Hawaiian Marketplace did us in. Not only were we outside too long (20 minutes, tops), but we had to walk up the ramp because there was no escalator working — bad idea. Sweating profusely we realized we needed air conditioning soon or we would expire. We got to the Aria hotel, rested as long as possible, and then headed back to our hotel. Along the way, we entered Caesars too, but to get to our hotel, we had to cross the street putting us back out in the elements again, sapping more strength. But we continued on.

Back in our room with some food in our bellies, we took a nap again. There we remained until dinner time. Both of us took a much-needed shower and readied ourselves for some fun at the Venetian. Relaxed and looking forward to the sights, we headed out the door. And into the wall of heat. Thankfully, the Venetian was right next door to our hotel.

I stopped to let my husband take a picture of me with Leonardo DiCaprio (wax version at Madame Tussauds) and into little Italy, we went. We enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner at Casanova, complete with wine and oysters. This little bit of information may or may not be relevant to the rest of the story.

On the way back, we passed Madame Tussauds again, where I danced vibrantly to Jennifer Lopez’s song –“Let’s get loud!” A few other women who walked by had the same rhythm move them. Ah, the freedom of being yourself in Sin City! Then we walked back to our hotel to retire again at a much earlier time than we’d expected. Both my husband and I were a little gassy too. This may or may not be relevant to what happened next.

Day 4

The trauma began around 1 AM.

I’m sure that every person reading this will have had first-hand knowledge about what is detailed in the following paragraphs. Whether personally or having witnessed it happening to an infant. Forgive me in advance.

I awoke to extreme pain in the belly region, followed by a sudden urge to use the bathroom. Let me say the operative word – explosive. It reminded me of the show M*A*S*H when Colonel Potter was dealing with his constipated horse. If you’ve seen it, you know what happened after they administered the enema. Between the hours of 1 AM and 3:15 AM, the need to visit the bathroom was seven times. Each painful episode felt like a complete evacuation of all my fluids, leaving me gradually getting weaker. Something had to give, and that something was me giving in and getting some help.

My husband, kind man that he was, jumped into action and called the front desk for assistance. The security team came to the room to make sure there wasn’t some domestic issue going on and ordered that the EMTs be called in.

And then the urge to vomit hit me. There was nothing more to give, but I sure gave it my best effort. I tried so hard that my chin muscle hurt for days after.

The medical team came and checked me out, stating we had two options – either stay in the room and wait it out, or for me to get transported to the hospital for fluids and testing. I opted for the safety of the hospital. We didn’t fully know what was going on, but since it could have also been a touch of heat exhaustion, it seemed the right thing to do. I’m not a spring chicken, you know.

After a chest x-ray (to make sure the heart was good), a bag and a half of saline, blood work, anti-nausea meds, and CT scan on the stomach region, the diagnosis seemed to be gastroenteritis. My cardiologist would have been proud as my BP was better than normal even with the stress of that event! So, long story short and 4 hours later, I was back in my room resting and afraid of the continuing cramps. We both closed our eyes for a well-deserved nap. Sarcastically, I thought – “Happy Birthday to me.”

Once he’d gotten some sleep, my husband stepped out for supplies for me – Powerade, chicken and rice soup, and water. He grabbed some food for himself from Panda Express. The rest of the evening was spent in the room. The cramps continued but had gotten way better. Lights out at 8 PM.

Day 5

I took a much-needed shower, thinking I would be fine. Wrong. As soon as I drank from the water bottle, back to the toilet I went. It went right through me. Ok, time for Imodium. My husband went back to Walgreen’s for medication and more Powerade, and I went back to bed to rest. The room was all I saw that day. And the pain continued.

Day 6

We woke at 4:45 AM to catch our flight back home. My thought was I should be better, or? But no. I soldiered on. The off-and-on grimace on my face throughout the day told the story of the off-and-on pain-producing cramps. I sure couldn’t wait to be out of this airplane. We eventually got back to our final destination at 5 PM. I was relieved to finally be home.

The moral of this story? No more vacations with my husband unless we go to Mexico because every single spot we’ve visited together besides Cancun has involved a significant hiccup. I don’t need this excitement at my age anymore.

Are We There Yet?

faaa Inspired by Hélène Vaillant – What Do You See 1/22/19

beautiful white snow
deceiving
in the dark night

icy and cold
chilled to the bone
layers, way too many

your world is sunny
rather visit there
wanting to thaw out

beautiful white sand
inviting
in the bright day

oh, do let me come stay with you!