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This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flash-Non-Fiction, Rose Metal Press, p.4-5) where the instructions are ‘Take an essay you’ve been working on and read it aloud to yourself in a fresh place. Reading in the car at a red light … In a coffee shop (best in another country) … In a library …’
 
***
 
Dear Lia,

You instruct me to take one of my essays to a completely new and unfamiliar space and once there, to read it aloud to myself and note what strikes me.

But I do not know how to write an essay in Flash Non-Fiction. I’ve written many essays in my time: school essays, university essays, reaction and response essays, articles on various subjects including Conscious Breathing
Techniques, PhD papers in Buddhist Texts and Psychology. But what you mean is a FnF essay: ‘writing that is intimate and mysterious and compelling too, on an idea or topic in which I will measure myself anew’. You, oh Lia, want an ambitious work that demands attention.

‘Take your essay,’ you command me, as if I have many of these WIPs lying on my desktop, or in desk drawers, or on the floor under my computer, or on the kitchen table, or in the car, or in a folder in my computer—as if I have many, many of them from which to choose the one I’ll take on a date to that unfamiliar place. But I am waiting for you to teach me how to write this essay that only needs an unfamiliar place to perfect it.

The fact is that I have no essay to take, but that is only a part of my problem. Supposing I had an essay, I don’t have an unfamiliar place to take it to.

For example, tomorrow I shall be flying from Tenerife to Switzerland. A friend will drive my husband and me to the airport. The airport, Tenerife Norte, is familiar to me. The Iberia flight is familiar to me. Madrid Airport is familiar to me. Geneva Airport is familiar to me, and so is the train that will take me to Lausanne Gare and the taxi that will drive us home. Our Swiss apartment is familiar to me too, although I have been absent for three months. In the few days I will be in Lausanne, where will I find an unfamiliar place? The coffee shops are familiar to me and so are the restaurants and I don’t have time to go to a village I’ve never visited and hope it will have a coffee shop. The Swiss do restaurants or bars, rather than coffee shops, although there’s one Starbucks on Place St Francois in the centre of Lausanne.
Which makes me think that all places are familiar to me.

I have travelled widely on foot, in trains, on planes, on boats. I have driven from Johannesburg to Cape Town, from Lausanne to Leiden, from LA through Death Valley and down Big Sur. I have travelled widely through my TV screen and National Geographic, BBC Nature, Attenborough, Jacques Cousteau, more. Although it would be unfamiliar to me to read my essay in a car at a red light, I am not willing to endanger life. What if I become absorbed—and I become absorbed easily. I would then forget I was at a red light. And if I read my essay in a stationary car, I’m in a familiar place again. I have read in parked cars, waiting for children to come out of school, or waiting at the airport for my husband.


Dear Lia, you have got me thinking. Was that your sly purpose? Have you led me along a route to realisation—the kind of realisation that lends itself to an essay?

I have seen the world, because I am old and rich in years. And now, I know I don’t need to take my work anywhere but to read it where I wrote it, wherever that was, because the place that is most unfamiliar to me is where I now reside—inside my aging body. Some days that cannot be predicted, grey hair gone dull, swollen ankles, legs that demand raising, fatigue I’ve never felt before, piling-on weight, weariness at airports, preference for trains—I no longer drive. Other days, black hair streaked silver, ankles that swell less, legs that don’t grumble as I sit at my desk, mind lucid, weight down, all forms of travelling taken in my stride.

Nowhere less familiar than my aging body, dear Lia, day after day.

Time to print this essay and read it aloud.

Thank you.


Bio: Joy Manné writes innovative and classical literary fiction. She won the Geneva Writers Group prize for Non-Fiction in 2015. Her story White Hibiscus: A Fugue was one of three finalists in the Arkansas International 2017 Emerging Writer’s Prize in Fiction. She has had more than 35 flash fictions and short stories published online and in print. Joy has published three children’s books.
Joy has published in Village Square: ‘Lesson in Subtext,’ ‘It was a Dark and Stormy Night,’ and ‘Beckett, You asked for This,’ which could be classified as Talk-Backs. She also published the poem Heads I Win.

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www.joymanne.org


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by

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Albert Orejuela

You’re hearing a voice, but no one else hears a sound. It’s a deep distant whisper, soft, safe, and inviting: the words of which you can’t yet make out. The harder you listen, the softer it gets; softer and softer, deeper and deeper. The more you listen to it here, ...

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A Night in Fontana

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TJ Marshall

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by

Luann Lewis

Food. Globes of mashed potatoes glistening with a thin layer of gravy, plump slices of pie gushing with ruby red cherries–food wassensuous. It was sensuous before Abby even knew the meaning of the word.  Sparkling Christmas goodies enticed her as a child. She would sneak from her...

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by

Brigitte Whiting

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Swiftwater

by

Cedar White

10

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Minerva Shield

by

Frank Richards

In July the monsoon rains returned and with them came the little green frogs. Price Aurigena had first seen them in the summer of 1969 when he’d arrived in Korea and now, a year later, they were once again everywhere. Frogs sprang from the ground like exploding popcorn...

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Seinfeld Moment

by

Frank Richards

I have studied martial arts all my life: Karate, Judo, Kenpo Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Hsing-I, but as I've gotten older, I pretty much stick to Tai Chi. I used to study Tai Chi at a park in Washington, D.C. called Glen Echo Park. It's an old...

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Wedding Portrait – Life Portrait

by

Glennis Hobbs

July 20, 1942


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Salvation

by

Teresa Crowe

S is for Scintillation. 

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The Explorers

by

Glennis Walker Hobbs

Black, ginger, and tortoiseshell felines zoom through the open screen door onto the deck. Black Nic pauses and surveys his domain from the top of the steps. Kittens race down the ramp and scamper into the backyard. Glory, the tortoiseshell, runs to the maple in the corner, ...

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Beckett – you asked for this

by

Joy Manné

Here am I, on this grey morning, here I am again, entering this day as I entered yesterday and the day before and unless I am spared by death will enter tomorrow and the day after, endlessly growing older with the anxiety that brings, the fear of coming...

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Reconciliation

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mattie opened the front door. "I'll be back in a while, Henry," she said, then stepped onto the porch and clicked the door shut.

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Road Trip

by

David Snyder

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Why I’m Failing My Innovative Fiction Course

by

Ed Kratz

   

This is from an assignment in the Innovative Fiction Course taught by Karen

I'm just not making it in my innovative fiction course.
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Dear Don...

by

Ed Kratz

   

The Don, whose real name you do not want to know, ever, has vast experience solving problems. Our organization, Don’t Try to Find Us Press, never advocates violence. We take no responsibility for violent acts committed by those misinterpreting the Don’s recommendations.
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Todd’s Miracle

by

Leslie

Todd shivered in the dark, seated cross-legged on the linoleum. Coats and dresses draped gently over his five-year-old shoulders. He flinched as a slit of bright light flashed through the space at the bottom of the door. Seconds later the deep, rolling rumble followed. “Mommy?”

Silence.

“Mommy?” ...

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Mad Hatter Town Planners

by

Margaret Fieland

   

I fell down the rabbit hole straight into the town planning committee meeting. A large basin of Sangria sat in the middle of the scratched wood table in the center of the room, and a keg rested against the back wall. Al, Stan, and Art...

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Dinner at Grandma's

by

Lolla Bryant

You’re at Grandma’s house again for dinner.  As always, the family is gathered together and everybody’s trying to out-talk everybody else.   You ask yourself why you continue to go through this ordeal every week, but you know why; it’s Grandma.  Also, it’s a family tradition that brings you...

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Mommy’s Little Secret

by

Leslie

At age five, Amy told her mother that the thought of swimming scared her. Not surprisingly, her mother poo-pooed the idea, and said that fear showed weakness and stupidity. From then on, Amy said she hated swimming and never admitted any fear to her mother again. I don’t...

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Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

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My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

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My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

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Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

Read more: Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

 

 

 

Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

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A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

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Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

by

Louise E. Sawyer


It is a joy to hold a lovely scene, a delightful moment, in memory.
~Marjolein Bastin

Frank was four and I was five and getting ready to start school when Dad and Mom moved us into a new house on Glasgow Avenue—a three-bedroom home that wasn't quite finished—in...

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Hazardous Happenings

by

Albert Orejuela

At some point, everything comes to an apex.  Status quo can only persist for so long before the natural balance of the universe calls for consumption, and then it all comes down to a choice.  That’s it, a lone decision that ultimately leads down a pathway to a higher level...

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Dealing with Rejection

by

Carolann Malley


Sending your writing out into the world can be scary whether you write poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. But, at some point, if you are a serious writer, you will do it. Getting a rejection letter back can be more devastating than asking a girl out as a teenager and...

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Backyard Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting


I took an hour to walk outdoors in my yard, first to clip dead honeysuckle branches, pluck dandelions, and then to fill the birdbaths and feeders. And to ponder what to write about one of my backyard neighbors, the gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolineses. Its name is derived from the...

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Betrayal

by

Angela Hess


My four-year-old son has a friend over. I overhear my son’s friend tell my two-year-old daughter, “Gracie, you can’t come in here.” Then my son’s voice: “It’s okay, she can play with us. Here, Gracie,” he says, presumably handing her one of the toys they are playing with. My mama...

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The Weight of Emotions

by

Angela Hess

  I can hear my parents’ raised voices upstairs. They are fighting again. I turn on the sink faucet, letting the sound of the running water drown out their voices. I thrust my hands in the nearly scalding hot water and methodically scrub each dish in the sink...

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An Apology

by

Brigitte Whiting

   I'm sorry that I hadn't thought of how I would take care of a puppy. It had seemed like a good idea, accept the gift of a puppy from acquaintances. She had the coloring of a coyote and was named Brindle for those tawny markings. I'd...

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Baby Precious

by

Louise E. Sawyer

It was Christmas Day 1950 and my sixth birthday. Under the tree was an unusually long, large box with my name on it. I was excited to open it. I couldn’t wait. When I finally did, I was amazed to look upon the most gorgeous doll I’d...

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Downsizing

by

M Clare Paris

 
I think about death quite a bit. Not morbidly, nor do I worry about what happens when one dies. Although I enjoy a spiritual life, I am also philosophical about the end of my life. If there is something else, it will be darned interesting. If there isn’t, ...

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Absent But Present

by

Louise E. Sawyer


My father, Thomas George Sawyer, was absent at my birth and absent the first seven months of my life.

It was Christmas Eve 1944 at the two-story white house on Beechwood Drive-my Grannie’s house in Victoria, the capital city of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Grannie Price, my...

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Gathering: A Contemplative Essay

by

Brigitte Whiting

I'm always looking for ideas to use in writing: for that prompt at which I first gulp and then slowly retrieve some thread of an idea, for the poem I need for the Monday morning poetry group, for an essay that's due in two days.

I've heeded...

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Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life

by

Brigitte Whiting

Last spring, a wild turkey hen incubated her eggs for twenty-eight days. When they hatched, she scrambled to keep up with them. Poults to scientific literature. Babies to her. She didn't need to teach them to scratch for bugs—they came with that instinct. Nighttimes during their first four weeks, ...

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Lesson in Subtext

by

Joy Manné and Karen Barr

Roles

Teacher – Karen Barr

Student – Joy Manné

Teacher

WELCOME TO WEEK 8 OF SUBTEXT.

There is no word count, but the challenge is to get all ten types of subtext in as few words as possible. Here they are:

Show don’t...

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Teenage Escape Plan

by

Danielle Dayney

I woke to warm, gooey air smothering me even though the ceiling fan was spinning on high. Dangling lightpulls smacked and banged the glass globe with each rotation of the blades. The base of the fan swayed and groaned, ready to jump from its screws in the drywall any second.

...

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Miracle Baby

by

Harry C. Hobbs

The mother and father watched as the sun rose on a cold morning in February 1945, wondering if their four-month-old son had lived through the night. Could miracles really happen? Perhaps this child they had wanted so badly wanted wasn’t meant to survive. His mother was a month past her...

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Ylva the Úlfr

by

Cynthia Reed

When I flew to California in September, the golden archipelago summer, verdant below and mazarine above, still held sway. Twenty-three days and eleven thousand two hundred and forty miles later, if you’d sat here with me on the back deck this afternoon--you’d know, too--autumn now envelopes Sweden in...

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Late Summer

by

Debbie Noland

The winner of the April 2019 Poetry Contest!

  
Summer gasps its last hot breaths,
panting...

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Teenage Turmoil - (Aged 16)

by

Miss Natalie Sackstein.

Part of the series: #1 THREE AGES OF WOMAN

TEENAGE TURMOIL
by (Aged 16)

My mind is but...

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Frustration - (Aged 28)

by

Mrs. Natalie Liknaitzky

Part of the series: #2 THREE AGES OF WOMAN


FRUSTRATION
BY (Aged 28)

Creation stifled. Each...

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Multipotentailite - (Aged 80)

by

Natalie Knight

Part of the series: #3 THREE AGES OF WOMAN.

MULTIPOTENTAILITE
(Inspired by Lydia Davis to write...

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By Late Winter

by

Brigitte Whiting


My unfinished deck waits beneath two feet of snow.
The driveway is one long strip of ice,
and...

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Joy Crawls Out Of Her Bag

by

Louise Sawyer




In memoriam of Joy, my animal companion, who died January 9, 2018.

Joy crawls out of her sleeping bag,
...

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Cyber Sisters

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

we meet in online classes,
strangers in cyber space,
we share
a love of poetry,
a desire...

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Winter Ballet

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs




snowflakes swirl in a dance
hurl themselves against the window
pine trees rock branches to and fro,
gently, then furiously
...

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Computers and Catspeak

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs


I move the mouse
over the pad
type in password

mouse?
did I hear the word mouse?
where...

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A Soldier’s Letter Home – A Found Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs



Based on letters by Private George Walker, written June 12, 1918-July 17, 1918

I got your letter just about lights...

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Ottawa Reverie

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs



As I leaf through my manuscript of Ottawa poems, “In the Shadow of the Tower,” I decide to check...

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The Room

by

rolly




I hear little drips the leaky faucet makes
amid violent silence of the passing night

how I long for that...

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Speedy, My Reptilian Twin

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




The house seems different, quiet and empty
despite being filled with people, cats, and dogs.
No longer swishing or pitter-patter,
...

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Metaphorically Speaking

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




They say life is like a bowl of cherries
sweet, juicy, tasty. Watch out for the pits.
Isn’t that what...

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Ligature Ideations

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




From the doorjamb, staff had to cut her down,
now she was an amorphous, lifeless mound,
large form lying on...

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Never Sober, Always Arguing

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




Arguing chips away at my soul.
How can I feel half, when part of a whole?
Drink yet another beer, ...

Read more: Never Sober, Always Arguing

 

 

 

Your Call to Say Hi, Gone to Hell

by

Lina Sophia Rossi




Why call, then yell I interrupted?
To talk to you, gives me great displeasure.
My personal peace has been disrupted.
...

Read more: Your Call to Say Hi, Gone to Hell

 

 

 

Waiting for the Rain

by

Helen Rossiter



Mavis Bone with her face as crinkled as a brown paper bag sits quiet and still in the ancestor’s rocker, ...

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Christmas Birds

by

Debbie Noland



Just above the power lines
that stretch along the road, the birds
on Christmas morning swarm, and then

at some...

Read more: Christmas Birds

 

 

 

Stragglers

by

Debbie Noland



Two pelicans left in the cove
this brisk November afternoon
must surely know it’s time to leave.

The dock marina...

Read more: Stragglers

 

 

 

San Luis Valley Sunshine

by

Frankie Colton




Summer sky azure
Thunderheads billow rain falls
Warm sunshine-filled days

Golden leaves falling
Fall breeze whispers winter comes
Crisp morning...

Read more: San Luis Valley Sunshine

 

 

 

Bathroom Ekphrastic

by

Debbie Noland



It’s dank and dark and dingy
in the old cabin bathroom.
The narrow steps stretch downward
with their cold, metal...

Read more: Bathroom Ekphrastic

 

 

 

Ice-Breaking Revisited

by

Christina Huizar



I met my love – my love was fair
His most chance word fascinating
His every move a mystery
I...

Read more: Ice-Breaking Revisited

 

 

 

Boardwalk Stroll – A Prose Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

My morning stroll leads me to the east end of Flinty’s Boardwalk by Del’s Cairn. A replica of ...

Read more: Boardwalk Stroll – A Prose Poem

 

 

 

Adventuring — An Unrhymed Heroic Couplet

by

Brigitte Whiting




I've been where no red squirr'l has gone before,
toheights and depths, despair. Until an opened...

Read more: Adventuring — An Unrhymed Heroic Couplet

 

 

 

Ode To A Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

you start as a blank screen
or a sheet of pristine paper,
words elude me, then
tantalize, taunt...

Read more: Ode To A Poem

 

 

 

The People’s Princess ~An Elegy

by

Louise Sawyer

There was a day never forgotten
When the world, including me, watched from afar
the fairytale wedding of...

Read more: The People’s Princess ~An Elegy

 

 

 

Crystalized Fog ~a Pastoral Poem

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

Of cold air hitting a warmer ground
Yesterday ended in a rising fog
Or was it the other...

Read more: Crystalized Fog ~a Pastoral Poem

 

 

 

Elegy for Judy

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh


I try to hear her voice; its sound has faded.
I see her hair, shining dark, brushing her...

Read more: Elegy for Judy

 

 

 

Portrait of Solitude

by

Albert Orejuela

More Details...

 

 

 

Break Time

by

RJ Hembree

More Details...

 

 

 

Colors

by

Maggie Fieland

More Details...

 

 

 

Wild Horses with the Snow Covered Mountains

by

RJ Hembree

More Details...

 

 

 

Color Cubes

by

Maggie Fieland

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Rest

by

Albert Orejuela

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Camera Smile

by

RJ Hembree

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To Relax Wild Horses Before a Photo Shoot, I Find it Helpful to Tell a Couple of Jokes

by

RJ Hembree

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First Step

by

Karen Barr

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Orchid Alone

by

Albert Orejuela

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Veg 2

by

Maggie Fieland

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All Along the Watchtower

by

RJ Hembree

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Ham

by

Karen Barr

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Winter

by

Maggie Fieland

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Backlit Great White Egret

by

RJ Hembree

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White Lightning

by

Karen Barr

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Wild Horses

by

RJ Hembree

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Cow Gossip

by

Karen Barr

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Cooper's Town

by

Albert Orejuela

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Along with the Sandhill Cranes, American Wigeons Filled the Sky

by

RJ Hembree

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Aleyne Desert

by

Maggie Fieland

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A Favorite Fishing Spot for the Ospreys

by

RJ Hembree

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Wearing a Coating of Ice

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Long Way 'Til Spring

by

Brigitte Whiting

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