20 comments

  1. Ke11y

    When I was eight, or maybe ten years old, I watched summer evenings sprinkle in through the lattice fence that bordered our back garden, angled and leaning, forming diamonds of light on my bedroom wall. I could hear the shouts of other boys still playing in the field, their parents less strict than mine. I remember those diamonds of light in a different way now, as friends vanished from my childhood. They shine still. By fifteen years old, the lattice fence, amazingly still standing and shot through with diamonds just as bright, shone on a young man playing somewhere mid-stream, balancing on stones, thumbs in belt-loops, not sure how to create himself. Come forward forty-years my evenings, too, were filled reading stories to my son, knowing he was hearing the cries of his friends playing soccer long into dusk. I had learned a lesson from my mother, who read to me, sitting on the edge of my bed, long enough to provide a feeling of stability, of peace and well-being.

    1. mcullen Post author

      I just love this one, Kelly. I love scene descriptions that are so well-written that I can see the scene in my imagination. Your writing does this . . . creates such a vivid scene that I can hear the boys’ shouts, hear the ball being thumped and I can see the mother reading to her son. A lovely ending to a perfect day.

  2. Ke11y

    My evenings are different now…the evening of my life…after a day when so much love has crossed my skies, passed a day when my feet trod many fields, breathing the soft scented air, and the grass felt cool under my feet. And yet this evening presents me with a certain majesty, where streams run over rocks, unending to the ocean. Where vagabond memories are welcome anymore, tears have become fountains that refresh, dazzle, and no longer taste bitter. I will not say a word, I will not think a thing, but listen with me, will you; listen to the sound of my evening as it becomes a starry night.

    1. mcullen Post author

      I so admire your writing, Kelly. You are like a chameleon. . . with this writing, your poetry persona emerges, like a glorious Monarch. Indeed, this piece has a feeling of royalty . . . rich with evocative words. So well-written, it’s a pleasure to read.

  3. Ke11y

    Thank you, Marlene:

    I’m lost for words! You’re so kind, so inspiring. Lori, too, she says I always watch out for her after speaking with you! Oh…there she is…calling me…

    1. mcullen Post author

      🙂

  4. Ke11y

    I live up on the bluff, behind the wrought iron gates, at that stage in my life when I no longer fear what the right hand column on a menu says. I buy three copies of books in hardback; one I can keep by the bathtub, one by my bed, and one in the car. I’m free to do absolutely nothing. I never have to do a really disagreeable thing, ever. Some economists and philosophers argue, with merit, that the sum total of a person’s possessions is an incomplete measure of wealth. True wealth, they say, also encompasses someone’s God-given talents and the breadth of his horizons. So I sit on my bench, behind my wrought iron gates, and wonder what a God given talent is?

    Is wealth really just a state of mind?

    After all, I’m not imagining that Mercedes 420SEL parked outside. Nor do I have to imagine what it’s like being a member of a country club. Yet to look at me, well you’d wonder why I don’t use a hangar for my clothes; I make my own wine, grow most of my own vegetables, and breed sheep.

    “Mr. Frank….hurry will you, I’ve brought a friend.”

    Ah, such a sound…such a child as no-one ever knew. Preoccupations of this kind are absolutely engrossing. Dearest Lori…

    “Coming Lori…” I stand my glass of wine on a rock, eager to be touched by her affections.

    I should have been amazed when I saw Lori standing at the gate holding the flipper of a King Emperor Penguin, hardly a native habitant of Northern California shores. My first consideration was to the strength of the wine, perhaps a little too early in the evening. My next, inquire what Lori is doing with such a friend.

    “That’s a fine friend you have there, Lori.”

    Maybe you know Lori as well I do, those auburn ringlets, the glint in the cast of her left eye, set so brightly in the face of a child poet, full of hope and promise.

    “He doesn’t have a name. Mr. Frank. I found him wandering. He looked lost.”

    “And you befriended him, Lori. He’s a very lucky penguin. Where are you taking him?”

    “I’m going to take him to the zoo.”

    There’s nothing complicated about childhood, just love them, hold them, read to them, and fill them up with fun. But most of all…listen to them. I once found a five pound note. My father listened. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that’s a fine find. What will you do?’ I explained I would take it to the police station, hand it over to Jack Rafferty, maybe someone on the island really needs it. My father took me on the tractor. I gave it to Jack. ‘If no-one claims it by the end of the week, lad’ he told me, ‘it will be yours.’ And indeed, it became mine. Anyone who reads me knows what I did with it.

    “That’s a very wise decision, Lori.”

    “Bye, bye, Mr. Frank.”

    Oh those words crush me…she just arrived. I know there’s no keeping her. The dream girl is on a mission.

    “Bye, Lori, take care…come again…promise…”

    The two turned from the gate…and there they went…the King Emperor, and a penguin’s best friend, sauntering down the lane like they’d fallen off the screen of a Disney movie. Poor Lori, she will miss her friend tomorrow.

    Children become so close so quickly…so deeply…it would be painful for a while.

    Generalizations about the lifestyles of the rich and anonymous are hazardous in the extreme. With my children grown I can afford a much more lavish lifestyle. But apart from the farm, my only indulgences are traveling to Europe frequently to visit my grandchildren, maybe vacation in Hawaii this winter. I may have met Lori (and her friend) but as yet, I have not met the Jones’ next door.

    It might have been a moment I’d forget. I could be convinced that the wine was indeed a little more alcoholic than intended, and sitting in these surroundings does encourage the mind to wander. I wondered how I could heal the pain of absence that would find Lori tomorrow.

    “Hey…Lori…wait…what will you do tomorrow?” Wanting to reassure her that she could come by, visit for a while.

    “Mr. Frank…I’m planning to take my friend to the movies!”

    Is there no end to the beauty of a child’s mind?

    I look at my glass, perfectly red. Wealth, I conclude, is a perfect state of mind (and a great Pinot!).

    1. mcullen Post author

      A penguin! What a fun and imaginative surprise! I adore these Lori/Mr. Frank visits, absolutely delightful.

      1. Ke11y

        I know…I know…I expect to be cured in three months…but everything will have to go well!

  5. mcullen Post author

    After Supper by Arlene Mandell

    Summer nights on Hemlock Street were so much fun. Most of us ate supper at five o’clock as soon as our fathers came home from work. Then we raced outside to play again. Stoop ball, potsy (that’s what we called hopscotch in Brooklyn), jump rope for the girls, stick ball for the boys. We clutched dimes in sweaty palms waiting for Joe the ice cream man to ring his bell. My favorite was a black-and-white sundae – vanilla ice cream in a cup with chocolate syrup on top. Some of the syrup would stick to the lid. Licking it off was an extra delight.

    And then, when I was thirteen, everything changed. A seventeen-year-old boy appeared across the street with a Tennessee accent and deep brown eyes. I’d sit on the front stoop near my parents, listening to them chat with his parents, waiting for him to notice me. At the end of that summer, he did.

    Arlene L. Mandell sometimes misplaces her small dog, Ringo, but remembers a certain boy’s voice back in 1954 when he said, “Hi Sugar.”

    1. mcullen Post author

      Oh, Arlene. I just love this! I enjoy stories that take place in the writer’s hometown. Potsy! This San Francisco native played hopscotch, using torts, to mark our place on the squares. When you described the black-and-white sundae and licking the lid. . . I could feel and taste that sweet cold treat. You perfectly captured the angst of a thirteen-year-old girl, hoping he’ll notice her. So glad he did! 🙂

    2. Ke11y

      How perfect, how utterly perfect. I want to sit on that stoop, eat black-and-white sundae, and listen to Tennessee accents…listen to those words: “Hi Sugar.”

  6. Ke11y

    Bodega

    A Pelican swoops
    Sure of its catch
    Lumbers into the sky

    A seal bobs
    Another
    Like apples in a party barrel

    The gull screeching
    Darting for a scrap
    Yapped away by Lucy

    I’m waiting
    A sighting
    Threading through ocean

    d
    e
    p
    t
    h
    s

    God made a plan for mankind
    Decided He could better
    Created Blue Whale nations.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Elegant, Kelly.

  7. Ke11y

    I love sunset colors, evenings that lengthen shadows of who we once were; remembering all those times no shadows were visible. Lately I sleep late, seldom seen in the scarlet mornings, or amid the gold behind the trees. I now depend a lot more on sunsets than sunrise, even when no sunset comes I like to fill my head with all the sunshine past, walking with the shadow of our togetherness.

    I wish I could gather up all the summers that have never known my shadow, fill a bag and take them back to the shore, not forgetting how beautiful winter can be, retracing my footsteps in the sands of what was then my time.

    Racing up sand-dunes, hurrying down shores, flying through wind swept skies to come down where? I seem to have run so fast, I missed the things worth stopping for; so fast I never really thought where I was going, or with whom. I was just running. Things change, shadows stay, and memories are never so old they cannot dart down cliffs like butterflies, or grow like marigolds, or dazzle like dandelions. Hurry up, then, grab my hand…we’ve still so much to do…come, please, grab my hand…let’s laugh, run, and sing our way through a lifetime…come, then, help me leave our shadows on these sands of time.

    1. mcullen Post author

      A lovely romp through memory lane. . . brought back memories when I ran for no apparent reason, other than child’s play. Very lyrical, Kelly and a delight to read.

  8. James Seamarsh

    Pacific Sunset

    Through the evening haze,
    The sun slipped
    Behind a cloud
    To change her dress.

    I peeked beneath the horizon
    And saw the ocean of creation,
    Blue-green, sparkling with life,
    Swirling, hungrily swallowing all she offered.

    I joined the feast
    And let her slip into me.
    Warm, still, and then gone;
    A rainbow of echoes.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Nice, James. Evocative. Love your imagery.

  9. Jennie Butler

    Evening
    —Jennie Frost Butler

    1990’s summer evenings in the Petaluma countryside: I’d step out the south-facing French doors of my water tower home. Then follow the fence line westward, soaking up the afterglow, which shimmered in the valley below, as the sun slipped behind the hills. At such moments, I always felt in an altered state, as if on the brink of some deeper understanding or of moving into a different dimension. Often, these words from a poem (“Evening in the Great Smokies”) would come to mind: “…children in life’s house will open wide a door that lets into a lucent ample land where lips struck dumb will learn to speak again.” 

    1. mcullen Post author

      Lovely, Jennie. Reminds me of sultry, slow evenings when, for just a moment, everything is perfect. Thanks for posting.

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