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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 just hate swimming, I hate you! Amy’s mother never hugged her, gave her encouragement or praise, or told Amy she loved her. Sometimes she smacked her around. Someday I’ll grow up and get away from you!

Amy attended a few of her swimming lessons, but most of the time she thought of a seemingly reasonable excuse to stay home. If her mother still forced her to go, Amy told the instructor that she was just supposed to watch this week. The instructor never bothered to check her story.

*

At eighteen, a brunette, green-eyed beauty Amy met handsome, blond, blue-eyed, nineteen-year- old Ian. They immediately connected. Amy felt attracted to Ian from the first time she met him. She tried to make sure he would like her too. Yes, she loved football. She mentally stuck her finger in her throat. Yes, she loved the beach and swimming — lie.  Yes, she loved Thai food — lie. Amy ‘loved’ pretty much everything that Ian did.

Ian’s family owned a little cabin at a quiet lake. Ian loved going there, so it became Amy’s favorite too. Not entirely a lie this time, as she enjoyed the cabin, sunbathing and lounging in a beach chair reading, digging her toes into the warm sand. She also liked splashing around in the shallow water. The little cabin sat at the top of the beach, just minutes from the shore. Few people came to that part of the lake. The privacy suited the young couple.

Amy and Ian enjoyed a sweet, passionate romance. Ian expressed his love for her often. It felt amazing to be loved and appreciated. Within a year they got engaged. Two years later they married. Her mother refused to attend the ceremony.

They visited the cabin often. Amy didn’t go into the lake deeper than her knees. I need to tell him the truth. She tried several times, but her embarrassment and shame stopped her.  He’ll know I’ve been lying all along. He’ll also know I am afraid of water. “Fear is a sign of weakness and stupidity”, her mother had said. Amy created a list of excuses to not swim: That time of the month, headache, wanted to sunbathe, felt sick, and on and on.

By the end of their first year of marriage, Amy and Ian decided to start a family. Months went by, however, without a pregnancy. Tests revealed fertility issues. They tried in vitro fertilization, with its daily shots, Amy’s emotional roller coaster from the hormones, and Ian’s stress from dealing with Amy’s volatility. Their hopes lifted then quickly plunged when the in vitro didn’t work. They tried again, unsuccessfully.

The third time they tried the news was good! The doctor confirmed Amy’s pregnancy. They waited impatiently for the nine months to pass. When the time came, the birth had been lengthy and painful. Ian stayed by Amy’s side. “I love you, my darling. I know this is hard, but soon our son will be here.” It wasn’t soon, but eventually Nathan Bryan entered the world, the most beautiful baby boy they’d ever seen.

Nathan couldn’t have been an easier baby. He rarely cried, learned to smile and laugh early, and loved cuddling. They knew Nathan would likely be their only child, but with his cheerful, loving nature, he more than fulfilled their parenting dreams.

As Nathan grew from a tiny baby to a chubby toddler, their trips to the cabin resumed. Nathan loved splashing in the water, digging his little fingers deep in the soft bottom. He’d giggle and clap his wet hands together. Amy sat in the shallow water with him, laughing at his antics.

When Nathan turned three, he took his first set of swimming lessons. Ian encouraged Amy to attend the classes. “It’s mostly moms there. You’d have fun.”

“Come swim, Mama,” Nathan added.

Amy made an excuse. She saw the flash of disappointment on Ian’s face, and looked away. I should tell him now, get it over with. She couldn’t bring herself to confess.

By four, Nathan had learned to float on his back and dog paddle. He’d become a water baby and loved spending time in the lake.

Ian finally voiced his frustration, “Why won’t you go swimming with me? When we first met you said you loved to swim.”

Here is the perfect opportunity to come clean. After a long moment, she replied, “I did. I’m sorry, love, I guess things change.” Fortunately, Ian let it pass.

One warm June afternoon, Amy relaxed at the beach in a lounge chair, reading a mystery novel. Ian played in the water with Nathan. “Deeper, Daddy, deeper!”

“Come out, Nate. I need to talk to mommy.” Ian and Nathan held hands, swinging their arms as they approached her chair.

“Honey, I have an awful headache. I need to lie down. Will you keep an eye on Nate? He wants to go in deeper now so you’ll need to watch him carefully.”

Amy hesitated. What if something goes wrong? “I think you should stay with Nathan, or we should all go to the cabin.”

“No!” Nathan stated. “I wanna swim!”

“Come on, Amy. I need to lie down.”

Tell him now! “Okay, love, I’ll watch him.” Ian left for the cabin.

“Let’s go swim mommy,” Nathan pulled at her hand.

Amy followed him into the water. “Please stay in the shallow water, okay? Mommy can’t swim today.”

Nathan pouted for a moment, then he skipped around in the water, splashing and giggling. I’ll keep a good eye on him, and everything will be fine. They played for a long time. Amy didn’t notice the weather change until rain splattered them. She realized that the wind had picked up. The waves had grown angry, crashing onto the shore. “Come on Nate honey. We have to go in.”

Nathan scowled, “No! I want to go deeper.” Amy reached to grab hold of him, but his wet hand slipped through hers. He rebelliously lunged deeper and a strong wave pushed him out even further. The rough waves tossed him as he struggled to tread water. “Mommy help me!”

“I’ll get Daddy!” Amy made it to the cabin in less than three minutes. She shook Ian awake. “Come with me. Nathan’s in too deep.”

“Why didn’t you swim out to get him?”

“Just come!” She shrieked, sprinting toward the beach, Ian at her heels. Please, please, let Nathan be okay.

“Where is he?” She pointed towards her last sighting of him and Ian dove into the waves. Please, God, let Ian find Nathan, and bring them both back to me safely.

Amy sprinted to the nearby payphone and called the police, then hurried back to the beach. Ian eventually reappeared —alone, exhausted, and shaking. Within minutes of his return, rescue boats were on the stormy lake searching for Nathan. Amy and Ian sank to their knees on the sand, crying in each other’s arms.

*

Fishermen found Nathan’s four-year-old body two days later. After he died, everything became a blur. The tears, the people, the funeral, the heart-crushing little-boy casket.

Nathan’s final words ran through Amy’s mind in an endless loop, “Mommy help me!” She didn’t tell Ian about it. 

Days became weeks and weeks became months. Ian and Amy began to pick up the remnants of their lives and move forward. They were sad, lost without Nathan’s cheerful presence, but at least they had each other.

Then, one rainy day, Ian finally asked the inevitable question. “Honey, why didn’t you try to save Nathan?”

Amy sighed, her eyes stinging with tears. It’s time. Ian deserves to know. “The truth is, dear, I almost drowned as a child, and ever since I’ve been afraid so I never learned to swim. I said I loved swimming when we were dating so you’d like me. The longer I waited to tell you the truth, the harder it got to admit. Then it was too late.”

“Too late?” Ian’s voice boomed. Amy flinched. “No! Any moment until Nathan drowned wouldn’t have been too late.” Tears streaked down his cheeks. “Now it’s too late, Amy, now! You knew you couldn’t swim. Why did you agree to watch him?”

“I thought it would be fine, but then the weather suddenly changed and the waves pushed him too far out. I am so, so sorry.”

“With everything we went through to finally conceive Nathan – the only child we can ever have — your lie cost our beautiful little boy his precious life!”

“You’re hurting and furious, Ian, and I don’t blame you, but this is also my loss. I loved Nathan too.” She sobbed, “I don’t know how to go on without him.”

Ian glared at her. “Then maybe you shouldn’t!”  He responded to the stricken look on Amy’s face and immediately recanted. “I didn’t mean that.”

He looked sombrely at her. “I do blame you. Your lies. You had endless opportunities to tell me the truth, but rather than facing reality you chose to lie. What else is a lie? Is our whole relationship a lie?”

“No. But I’ve told other lies — too many to count or even remember. Most were harmless. It’s a horrible habit, I know. Early on I learned from my mother that fear equals weakness, so I couldn’t be truthful without being weak. I thought you wouldn’t love me if you saw my weaknesses. My love for you and Nathan was never a lie.”

“I appreciate your explanation, if it’s true.” He shook his head, “I can’t even think right now. I’m going to call my brother Cameron to see if I can stay with him.”

“You’re leaving?” Amy’s voice trembled.

“For a few days. I thought we were beginning to heal from Nathan’s death. Now I don’t know what I think or feel. I’ll keep in touch with you.” He hugged her, then left.

Amy remained isolated in the house with the drapes drawn for three days. She spent much of her time in Nathan’s room, sitting on his little bed, her arms wrapped around her body, rocking for hours. The tape continued relentlessly: “Mommy help me! Mommy help me!” A river of tears fell as she whispered “I’m so sorry baby,” over and over in response.

Her phone rang several times. Twice someone came to the door. She heard the ping of messages on her tablet. She didn’t respond. 

On the third day, she listened to her phone messages and the messages and emails on her tablet. There were several from concerned friends and two from Ian. Her mother left one telephone message: “You let Nathan drown. You killed my Grandson! Everyone will know how worthless you are, I’ll make sure of it.” Amy’s body shook after she heard the message. On impulse, she phoned Ian.

“Amy! I’ve been so worried about you.”

“Could you come over for a while?”

“Of course,” Amy heard the kindness in his voice, and it made her want to cry again. “I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”

When Ian arrived his face looked haggard and thin. They hugged for a long time, then sat silently on the couch.

Finally Amy spoke. “My mother left me a phone message. I don’t know how she found out. She said she will make sure everyone knows about Nathan and how worthless I am.” Amy looked at Ian, tears brimming in her eyes, her voice flat. “She’ll tell everyone. My family, my friends. How can I face them?”

“Honey, this is a tangled mess right now, but things will improve. You may lose some people over this, but the ones who truly love you will stand by you. We know you loved Nathan. Give it time.”

“I appreciate your kindness and support, but I don’t think I can handle it.”

“Amy, I know this whole situation is awful, but please don’t do anything rash.”

“Like killing myself? You said I should.”

He pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. “I said that in a moment of pain. I didn’t mean it. Please honey, promise me you won’t hurt yourself. We’ll get through this.”

Amy took his hands in hers. “I promise.” She smiled, “Enough of this talk. I’ll make coffee.”

Later, when Ian left to go back to his brother’s house, Amy considered her options. When she finally figured it out, she felt relieved and slept soundly.

*

The next morning Amy drove down the scenic road to the cabin. She walked to the beach, shivering in the October cold. The weather reminded her of the night Nathan died – rolling waves pounding against the shore.

It felt odd wading into the frigid water with her shoes on and fully clothed. Her body began trembling. Amy halted when the water reached her knees. Much further in and I won’t be able to save myself, just like I couldn’t save Nathan. She’d promised Ian she wouldn’t commit suicide, but he didn’t understand. I need to be with Nathan. Besides, Ian knows I lie, so why would he believe my promise?

Amy pushed into the deeper water, feeling panic, but also a sense of peace she hadn’t felt since Nathan died. Here I am, lake. I’m not afraid of you anymore! She took her last breath, then breathed out, out, out. Cold waves washed over her, filling her lungs. It felt painful, freezing, scary and freeing. As her body unsuccessfully tried to save itself, she heard, “Mommy help me!”

Mommy’s coming Nathan. I’m coming!  


Author Bio: Leslie lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. She has wanted to be a writer since she learned to read and write. During her earlier years, she focussed on poetry. Now her interest is primarily in fiction. Leslie has edited several newsletters as well as writing articles to contribute to them. She is currently working towards her Creative Writing Certificate. 


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Enza Vynn-Cara

 

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Flamenco

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Marbles

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Ruler of the House

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Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

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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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Full

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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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The Decision

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Swiftwater

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Cedar White

10

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Minerva Shield

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Seinfeld Moment

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July 20, 1942


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Salvation

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S is for Scintillation. 

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The Goldfinch

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What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

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

 

Rudy left his family...

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My Desk

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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

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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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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

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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...

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Reunion

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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?”

 

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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

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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

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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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Thank You, My Tech Friend

by

Louise E. Sawyer




Thank you, my tech friend,
pretty with back dressed in rose gold
practical with front framed...

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What Is Not Said

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Why do you speak and say nothing?
Say everything when you’re silent?
Am I to...

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Ups and Downs

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Up there
inside the tower
with the air filters on the roof
you watch the...

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Telemarketers

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





those evil scourges of civilization
call morning, noon and night,
harass me every day
...

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Oceanography

by

Wynelda Ann Deaver





Ocean holds secrets close. Millions, trillion, gazillions of droplets mixed with millions, trillions and...

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Mystery Man

by

Leona Pence



I once met a man from a far distant land, so handsome and charming...

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Minotaur

by

Joy Manné

 

Two children, girl and boy,

progeny of servants of King Minos,

...

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Lullaby for a Lost Child

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs




I

I feel you kick under my heart,
soon my special angel child,
I...

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Look Up

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh





Stand back and look up. Do you see it? Do you?
Alice's rabbit checking...

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I'll be a Poet

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





I’ll take my pen in hand

crystallize thoughts into ideas
paint magic with...

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Give Me The Wings Of An Angel

by

Leona Pence





Give me the wings of an angel
To lift me above worldly things
Give...

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Flashing Lights

by

Leona Pence




(My songwriting attempt)


I want to see all the lights upon a flashing...

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Eidolon’s Wind Chimes

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh





I miss our disagreements, laughter and silent times.

Memories of listening to your...

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Don’t Piss Off (or on) a Yard Gnome

by

Leona Pence

Prose poem: This one was inspired by the poet’s dogs, Jax and Luna.


I cringed...

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Do You Remember, AJ?

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs





June 30, 1967, we met on Parliament Hill,
listened to the Centennial music gala,
...

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Deacon Knox Young is Turning One!

by

Leona Pence



 

Everybody’s gonna have some fun.
Aunt Peggy, Uncle Kris, Sydney...

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Daddy Dearest

by

Enza Vynn-Cara




Today, I saw you for the first time, without disguise, nestled in the corner where...

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Boardwalk Excursion

by

Glenda (Glennis) Walker-Hobbs




sunlight diamonds glitter on the lake,
blind me until I don sunglasses,
warm summer...

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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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Get Out the Penitentiary

by

Albert Orejuela

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Tulips or Three?

by

Albert Orejuela

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Rock and Roll

by

Albert Orejuela

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Garden of Hearts

by

Albert Orejuela

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Evil Eye-pad

by

Albert Orejuela

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Portrait of Solitude

by

Albert Orejuela

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Break Time

by

RJ Hembree

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Colors

by

Maggie Fieland

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Wild Horses with the Snow Covered Mountains

by

RJ Hembree

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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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