Lisa Learns the Stutter Step — flash fiction

It was nearly closing time. I was wiping down the counter one time before laying out the paper mats and setups. Val is kind of adamant that we have everything ready for the breakfast crew. It’s a crap diner and the pay is lousy, but in 1981 I’m lucky to have a job, and every now and then I get a decent tip. Every now and then I meet a guy who is pleasant, is happy with the service, and isn’t trying to get into my pantyhose.

I didn’t notice when the college kid in the charcoal overcoat left; just heard the front door close.

Over at his booth I discovered enough cash to cover the check and a decent tip, and the book he’d been reading: “Jitterbug Perfume,” by Tom Robbins.

The check ended up on the spike, the cash in the till minus my tip, and the book ended up in my purse. My dogs were killing me, but it looked like tonight I’d be dancing a bit before I fell asleep.

Later, in bed with a glass of red and Knuckles purring at my feet, I opened the cover and discovered a note:

            “The book is an acquired taste. You anticipated my every need tonight.
            Not trying to pick you up. If you like the book, maybe give me a call and
            tell me why. No strings. — Neil — 822-0820”

Shit! I stayed up all night reading. I liked it. I liked it a lot.

Now what?


* * * 


Trying my hand at a writing exercise — write in a voice different from your own. In this case, that of a woman. Stirring up memories of a diner I knew as a child. I would appreciate feedback on how well… or less than well… I did. Also on how well I placed it in the early 80s (if you dare admit you have any memories of them).

Also posting this on Weekly Scribblings #62.



Process of Elimination — a poem

photo by Charley

tell the truth
but tell it by saying what it is not
rather than what it is.

from “EGGS” by Matthew Sherling


It isn’t that I started out by being a hermit;
or that I discovered a deep-seated distrust
for my fellow human beings — really.

It wasn’t that I felt the need to escape life
as I had lived it, casting off technology,
time, and ever-pressing deadlines.

It won’t be that you’ll come upon me smiling,
looking like years have been peeled away,
in better emotional and physical shape.

It all turned out to be necessary, though.



Ode to the Cha-Cha Salt Life — a poem

“Dance with yourself with all your heart and soul, and occasionally others….”
                                                                                                                                                                     — Homily, by Jim Harrison

“…if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror….”

                                                                                                                         — Danse Russe, by William Carlos Williams


I tripped

along the razored

stone, high above pounding

waves, baptized

in sea spray.


by ecstatic solitude

I performed

charismatic obliques.


by the Spirit of the deep,

I sprang

into an arabesque joy.

When you entered

the sacred dance

floor, we wedding-marched

down onto the soft-shoe

sand and began

to jitterbug

our love, acknowledging

the applause of our adoring

crowd of breakers.

* * *

I owe everything I know about writing from Jim Harrison prompts to my favorite poet, Jilly.

The Lost Vermeer Rediscovered

An ekphrastic poem with a twist — it’s based on a forgery of my own making.

Life in Portofino

The boy walks out of the canvas.

He looks directly at you from under
the shade of a hat, misshapen –
whether from the poverty of material,
the torment of Dutch seasons,
or the disregard of paupers and youth for fashion.

His eyes are what first arrest
you – a clear glance formed
using ultramarine, smalt, a touch
of bone black for the pupil, a swipe
of lead white and lead-tin yellow to highlight.

They peer out from under the shadow
of his hat, under the fringe of dirty
yellow hair.

His face is stern, thoughtful.
Dirt teems around tight lips, nostrils flare
in the cold, reddened by much wiping.

About his neck is tied a white rag
aping a scarf.

The costume of this waif is black peasants’ rags,
noticeably fashioned to appear unclean
and worse for wear.  His feet remain in shadow
as he comes out of the…

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How We Ended Here — a poem

Kristof Ven

Yes, my child!
O, yes, we once
were civilized.

In my lifetime — sadly
not yours — we were held
together by a glue
of, if not love,
at least feigned concern
for one another.

Truly, though, little one,
it was a veneer — a fake

What happened, you ask?

My child, my child!
We allowed our true,
instincts to escape —

Pandora’s chest

or Pandarus’ ploy? 


Here’s a fact, little one:
We weren’t engineered
to get along — we strive,
we grasp, we hate. Trust
no one, little beast —


especially not me.

* * *

Another image was dropped into The Sunday Muse that would not let me be. 



“Pay No Attention….” — a poem

I have moved
on from this cascade
and feel no need,
no desire for reflection.

Horrid events
captured in a pool
at the base of a wall,
only memory’s projection

I am forward looking
to my own, my own

* * *

So, Chrissa at The Sunday Muse brought a prompt: “This is the curtain [see image above] behind which I feel last year was lived (and this year, with exceptions, is as well) and I’m very interested to see what might lie on the other side. Or what lurks on this side. :)”

Why is it I can never do these the easy way?

Mother Losing Her Children — a poem

“Natural Woman” Digital Collage Art “Covid Creations” by Susie Clevenger

Unphased by the moon, she trods
her garden of diminished returns.

Out on a limb, fowl she gathers, cages;
for idiots defoliate helter-skelter erecting
green-friendly blocks of luxury cells….

As she gazes out, derision plainly displayed
upon her face. She wonders aloud, asks,

“Wasn’t anyone listening to Joni Mitchell?”

* * *

Faced with this image posted on The Sunday Muse, and the decimation of what was once habitat and oxygen source around our area, I just had to. Really.

Côtes du Muse* — a poem

image: Charley

“Language is wine upon the lips.” — Virginia Woolf

a small pour, please, in a crystal stem
pull a fresh cork and decant – breathe
it’s not about new but vintage unique
not the bouquet only but the palate
words sucked through the back teeth
the challenge of tastes the first sip
then clink clink clink togetherness

* * *

Another response written as I was falling asleep. Seriously. When I awoke this piece ended with two and a half pages of “ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd”!


* — Yeah, I know the title is probably nonsense in French. I’ve never learned French. If you call me bad names in French, I won’t be offended.

Spirits Adrift — a poem

A spray of ghosts, mists
of creatures unfortunate;
who met their fortunes
at the bottom — at the bottom.

Winds carry no grief
save the Northerlies.
They howl, they moan
through the riggings
and the sheets, crying.

For you on the land,
you are granted grounding
markers that tell location;
you can come back…
and tears as flowers.

But for us, we fly,
flung up on a crest.

* * *

So, a good friend and I have been tossing poetry prompts back and forth. This image drew me and, as I was slowly ebbing towards sleep — hands on the keys — this is what came out.

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