Dark and Stormy

Clouds crash
drizzle devolves
into drencher

Temperatures will
shift rain
into snow

Making morning
slippery and slow

crash drizzle
devolves into drencher

He must rise
to weather
his winter adventure

promises urge him:

drizzle devolves
into drencher

Temperatures will
drop shift
rain into snow

Click here to begin this story. Here’s what you might have missed:

1. Three houses
2. Winter’s Arrival
3. Bless This Mess

Winter’s Arrival

“Looks like

She holds steamy mug
with both hands.
The scene from the
warm white-light
framed picture window
warns of winter’s
western approach.

Patches of pink
mingled with 
blue, black and
billowing clouds
reflect sun’s glow
as it crosses
beneath horizon.

“How much
do you think
will fall?”

“Forecast says six
to eighteen inches.”

He doesn’t bother
looking up
from book
when he speaks.
He has become 
accustomed to this ritual.
He reads 
his stories 
as he sits
in comfortable
recliner kids
gifted him
upon retirement.

She stands
at window and watches
stories unfolding
on street just steps
from their
cozy front room.

He listens
to participate
in dear wife’s

to cover 
those weeds,
I hope.”

She lifts her chin
as she looks
at tousled track
of land next door.
Subtle hints of contempt
invade the normally
sweet strain of 
her soothing voice.

“It makes 
the rest
of the us
look so
so trashy.”

“Mmmm hmmm.”

He is tempted 
to say more,
what’s the point?
Expressing true thoughts
surely leads
to injured affections.
The remainder
of the evening
would be uncomfortably
…and quiet.

Easier to
mumble approval
and continue
on his stories.
He enjoys
white noise
his wife provides
as mind escapes
into his stories
in precious books.

of snow.
I hope roads
are clear.
I hate the thought 
of kids traveling
in bad weather.”

“They’ll be fine.”

This time
he looks up
from book
to observe
winter scene 
and swirling outside.

“They’ll be fine.
We’ll have 
a great Christmas

Missed the first part? Check it out here: Three houses. Up next: Bless This Mess.

Three houses

Three houses,
savoring sweet slumber
in clear cold night.

To the north,
a wide rambler
warm, white
light-lined windows.
A bright star
shines centered
between garage door
and pitched-roof peak.

To the south,
suburban split-level.
bulbs blinking red
then green
in front-room window.
Multicolored lights
on ornamented tree
announce joy to neighbors.

In the center,
a solitary fake flame
casts red-gold shadows
on the lonely front door
of a forlorn bungalow.

Continue reading this story: Winter’s Arrival.

The Christmas I Regret

“Is there anything more I can get you?” the server asks after placing the large plate in the middle of our table.

“No thanks,” we say simultaneously.

“Your main dishes should be ready soon.”

We wait for the server to leave before we begin dividing appetizers between the six of us. Eating keeps us silent for several minutes.

“So,” Amber finally speaks. “Who’s hosting the Christmas party this year?”

A few shrugs are the only response as we continue eating.

“I think we should do something different this year,” I speak up.

The idea came to me when he walked past me at Jolley’s Drug Store a week ago. He looked at me momentarily before directing his familiar green eyes to his shabby boots. I knew I recognized that red hair pulled back into a single, long braid and the freckles, but I wasn’t sure why. His name finally came when I found his single portrait in my senior yearbook.

“What if we give somebody Christmas this year instead of having a party?”

“Have somebody in mind?” Luke asks. He nibbles on a chicken wing and then licks hot sauce from his lips.

“Stevie Barker,” I say between bites of mozzarella sticks.

I wait for conversation. Instead, my friends help themselves to more appetizers. 

“Stevie Barker,” I repeat. “He went to Valley View, but he’s a year younger than us.”

“I know him,” Luke says before slurping soda through a straw. He looks around the room, holding his glass above his shoulders. “Server’s never around when you need a refill.”

“Stevie Barker,” Crystal says. “That loner kid? The one who stayed at school all day? Until the janitors kicked him out each night?”

“One and the same,” Luke says.

Attention returns to food instead of us discussing my proposal. 

“I remember him,” Brian speaks up. “Didn’t his younger brother–”

“Shoot himself,” Luke says. “Um, Yeah.”

“Oh,” Amber sounds surprised. She munches on her appetizer then clears her throat and says “this artichoke dip is amazing.”

“Stevie found him,” Luke says. “The body. After…”

I look around the table, and eyes avert to plates or random corners of the restaurant. 

“I saw him the other day,” I say. “I think he rents a room in the old Harper House.”

“The halfway house?” Crystal asks.

“For the underemployed.” I nod my head.

“And druggies,” Luke says.

More silence.

“Why should we give him Christmas?” Luke asks.

“I don’t know. Just felt bad when I saw him. He looked so alone.”

“He has family,” Luke says. “His parents are still alive. They live down the street from mine.”

“I know. It’s just–I don’t know–he looked like he could use some help.”

“So what?” Luke says. “He has family. Less than five miles away. Family first, I always say.”

“He’s practically homeless,” John joins the conversation. “Maybe we should–“

“By choice,” Luke starts getting annoyed. “If he wants help, he should go to his parents. We didn’t pay attention to him when we were in high school. He wouldn’t know us from Adam. I think he would be embarrassed if we gave him Christmas.”

The six of us look at each other. 

  “You can do what you want, but my charity will go somewhere else.” Luke rattles the ice in his glass. “Where is our server?”

Two servers come with trays of sizzling fajitas, prime rib, steaming baked potatoes, and seafood pasta. They refill our glasses as our conversations switch to work and family holiday plans. We more than we should but leave room for overly-sweet desserts.

“Okay, okay,” Crystal says. “I’ll host a party. What night’s good for everyone?”

February 14, 20…

I settle into my annual single’s awareness night of salty snack, soda, and television. My cell phone lights up.

You should read today’s Obituaries. So sad. – Crystal

I scroll through the website until I find the name:

Steven James Barker

I clickand read the pithy tribute.

Steven James Barker left us on February 9.

His parents and sisters loved him completely.

We wish he believed us.
We miss him.


The subtle soft glow
Extends hope
Down life’s dark drifts

And the dim gleam grows
If we simply trust
Shimmer over shadows
As eyes witness wisdom,
Brilliance talks truth
To what the light ignites

This poem was an experiment to see how many synonyms of light I could in include in a short poem without it feeling repetitive. How successful was I? I guess your feedback will help me measure the results.

Read more of my poetry here.