I’m sorry

You didn’t quite stick the landing
so now you’re caught by the sky,
floating toward some hungry star,
but down there, you can still see
home and all the years you didn’t
meet. Somehow, someone spots
your drifting away, and your eyes
catch each other with this moment
but a cloud pulls you in. The earth
moves behind the sun, you pass by
the hunger of millions of stars,
and the universe huddles to a silence
in your eye. There you are, moving
across a space death and reality
haven’t touched, and maybe
never will. But you’re here, God
can’t even believe it so he ignores
it. I don’t know how to end this
but at least it will end, unlike you
and your loneliness, the greatest
mistake ever discovered, and the last.

Written for the Stream of Consciousness Saturday with the prompt being “stick.” This poem ended up having a ton of cliches, but you know.

Pretending to Drown

He isn’t fully taken
by the water’s gray;
he’s still a face with eyes
that can define various skies.
But there is something different
drifting beneath the surface
of sight. Memory sends him
to the day that nearly claimed
him, when he was a boy
and no one noticed
his unintrusive dying
among the lake’s quiet
hands. Somehow, he was
able to leave their grasping;
he never told his parents,
withholding disappointment.
He removes himself
from the Pacific and joins
the beach’s silence, tired
of this performance, his
commitment slipping,
and the unseen day.

Was that really me?

Yes, but it’s now
gone. You’re just
the radiation, lighter
than the sun stepping
through evening’s window.

No, not gone. The past is
a twisted mirror trying
to bend its way back
to meaningful shape, a face
made of its own grammar,
and you watch as it attempts
to pull coherence into eyes.

Sometimes a word comes
through the glass between you
and shimmers across your blood
and moves into moment. But then
the past falls into itself and you’re left
walking alone, shuffling to a future
and a self that doesn’t yet speak
but can be heard.

Written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge #279. The prompt was “Was that really me?”

No Place but In

Erik Johansson

No inspiration comes
and the stars decline
to be seen. The moon is
asleep in grass, dreaming
of the sun. The artist
looks outward but the sky
is sealed-off. He walks
down the beach, the ocean
as dead as glass.
The city looks away.
All that remains is his
room and its memories
waiting in the corners.

Written for dVerse Poetics. The prompt was to write a poem inspired by the surrealistic photography of Erik Johansson.


In my troubled days,
God did not come.
Instead, a man named
The Devil sat beside me
and asked about my dreams.

I knew who he was,
he followed those in need
begging for the roles
too small for the almighty.
We all knew The Devil.

He would pass
by our doors, seeking
our lonely lights, wanting
to simply talk. We would
refuse. Refuse.

“God does not come
for me,” the Devil said,
“never in my troubled days,”
he told me as we sat
waiting for the bus.

“I have no troubles,”
I told the demon, “I don’t
need you or God,”
and watched from my window
as we left The Devil behind.

Written for OLWG #311. I originally intended to write something based on the photo. But, um, that didn’t happen.


I am tired of being
a lie planted by my parents,
woven by friends,
indulged by teachers
and spread through anyone
who knows me.
I’m not anything that is
said. When I die, can you
eradicate this corrupted air,
and divulge the skin of my souls,
even if it kills me twice?
Or would you unfurl
another mistruth?

Written for Weekend Writing Prompt #310.

Reflections – A-Z Challenge 2023

Thank you to everyone who read my contributions to this year’s A-to-Z Challenge. My theme was “Ekphrasis” where each post was inspired by a work of art, mostly paintings but there were a few photos, sketches and prints I used as well as jumping-off points. I’m mostly satisfied with what I was able to produce this month though I was starting to get burnt-out towards the end.

One of my goals was to experiment a little bit more, which I managed to do though not to the extent that I hoped. I played a couple of solo-RPG sessions which I recorded for my “K” and “Y” submissions. And I wrote one piece in a script-like format for “I”. But, of course, I ended up writing mostly poetry. I also wished I had used a larger diversity of art; most of the art I used were works from the late 19th/early 20th centuries. I guess maybe that’s just the stuff I gravitate towards.

For the A-to-Z crew, I didn’t really use the posts with the blog lists since I mostly used the master list, but I still think having the blog list embedded on certain posts is a good idea for quick access.

Overall though, I think this was my best year in terms of quality and time management. Below is the full list of this month’s posts.

Favorite painting/work used: Not to be Reproduced by Rene Magritte

Favorite thing I wrote:Winter Visits the City” after The Octopus by Alvin Langdon Coburn

  1. Across the Common on a Winter Evening
  2. Bluebonnets at Dusk
  3. Conversation at the Cafe
  4. A Dirigible
  5. Elbrus in the Evening
  6. First Row Orchestra
  7. The Gross Clinic
  8. Hera
  9. Inspection of the Old House
  10. Jacket on a Chair
  11. The Knitter
  12. The Letter
  13. A Man in a Room
  14. Not to be Reproduced
  15. The Octopus
  16. Prisoners Exercising
  17. Quiet Cloister
  18. Rauchender Schweizer
  19. The Soldier’s Memory
  20. Two Acrobats with a Dog
  21. Under Escort. On the Muddy Road
  22. View of Mt. Fuji
  23. Willows
  24. Xanthippe
  25. Yvette Guilbert
  26. Zena Fotke

Zena Fotke

Zena Fotke – Matej Sternen


What does it mean, that my face is only
seen in the mirror? Yes, you can see
my profile staring, but that’s not the point.
And why did you position me so? I never
sat there. Only the spiders did. You cannot
satisfy these questions now, but even if
you were still alive, would answers come?
Maybe it was just mere practice for a later
masterpiece. Maybe artists don’t have
a reason; it’s all just movement. It’s not
me, this woman and her reflection.
It’s a construct; I try grasping for a memory
every time I come back to it, but the years
cannot easily be framed. The past is
a construct too, I guess, even when
it stares back.

My final entry for this year’s A-Z Challenge. This year, I wrote stuff inspired by works of art. For “Z” I wrote this poem inspired by the above painting. I will write a reflection post soon but I’m glad I participated this year and of what I produced this month.

Feel free to check out the previous posts I wrote for this year’s challenge.

Yvette Guilbert

Yvette Guilbert, 1894 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

The Performer

For “K” I played a short solo-RPG session as a detective trying to find the location of a serial killer who’s on the loose. Today, we’re continuing the detective’s case.

Basic rules: For our purposes, I’m just going to keep things simple. I’m going to play a character and whenever I try to do something with the possibility of failure, I’m going to roll a 1d6 and add it to the relevant stat. I will then compare my result to the challenge dice which will be a 1d10. If my result is greater than the challenge dice’s result, I succeed; if I roll equal to or less than the challenge then I fail.

I’m going to keep the same stats as last time. Eakins is a young, baby-faced detective with a fedora that doesn’t work on him at all. No one has ever taken him seriously at first glance; fortunately, he’s adept at deception.

Smarts – 4
Deception – 4
Diplomacy – 3
Intimidation – 1

Francis Eakins is still on the search for that same serial killer mentioned in the previous session. He knows the killer’s identity, but his current whereabouts remains a mystery. However, he has a new lead. Apparently, our killer had been a frequent attendee at The Evening Sparrow, a nightclub that regularly hosts comic and musical performances. Not exactly high art.

He has also learned that he was a fan of one its singers, Joanna Levitan, and may have conversed with her a couple of times. And tonight she’s performing. Well, it’s worth a shot.

It’s evening and the place is fairly packed. He attempts to gather some information, mainly seeing if anyone knew anything about the killer, Thomas Hopper:

Attempt: Diplomacy (3)+1d6=5
Challenge: 1d10=7
Result: Fail

Either people are feigning ignorance, or Thomas really just kept to himself. Anyway, Joanna’s performance is about to start. Francis grabs a seat towards the back.

She’s plainly dressed, except for her black gloves which go all the way to her elbows. She sings a couple of romantic songs accompanied only by piano. She moves her arms frequently and her facial expressions are large, almost to the point of comic exaggeration, as if she’s mocking the subjects of the songs, but her voice seems to be appreciative, as if she’s an outside observer to their fates.

The audience is silent, transfixed, until she slips in a gaudy line, then some of the audience members gasp or chuckle. This isn’t exactly Francis’s thing. He’s more into guitar solos and violent drum fills, but he can see her appeal. At one point, however, towards the bittersweet end of one of the songs, her eyes seem to fix onto him. Does she somehow know the reason why he’s here?

Soon, she is done and the room applauds. Francis heads to the back in order to speak to her but he is besieged by a bespectacled man guarding the door.

Man: Excuse me, Ms. Joanna is not speaking to anyone at this time. Anything you want signed you can leave with me.

Eakins: Sir, I’m with the police. This is important, er, police duty. I would like to speak with Joanna.

Man: Like I said, she isn’t speaking to anyone at this time, especially the police. But, I can tell you this, she has no affiliation with that Thomas Hopper fellow.

Eakins: Excuse me?

Man: Yes, everyone knows who he is and what he’s done. And we also know you’ve been bothering guests and staff with your questions. I’m surprised you haven’t been kicked out yet.

Eakins: Well, I usually pay my tab, so that helps.

Man: Good for me, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave, officer.

Eakins: I’m actually a detective.

Man: More reason for you to leave.

Welp, time to use some trusty intimidation:

Attempt: Intimidation (1)+1d2=3
Challenge: 1d10=2
Result: Success

Eakins: Sir, um, whatever-your-name-is, it’s going to be easiest for everyone if I simply ask Joanna a couple of questions and get out. Or, I can make things difficult. And us cops, well, that’s what we do best, as you probably know. Is that something you really want for yourself, or Joanna?

The man’s eyes shift.

Man: Fine. Fine. Let me just talk to her first.

Eakins: Thank you.

The man enters the green room and quickly closes the door behind him. A moment later, he opens the door and motions Eakins in.

Joanna is at the vanity, removing her makeup. She seems unfazed by Eakins’s presence and barely looks at him in the mirror’s reflection. The man stands by the door.

Eakins: Um, is it OK if you wait outside?

Man: No, I don’t think it’s OK.

Joanna: It’s alright, Gustav, I’ve handled my share of police. It will be fine.

The man nods and steps outside, shutting the door behind him.

Joanna: Yes, officer, we’ve chatted.

Eakins: You’ve spoken to Thomas?

Joanna: A couple of times. After all, we met when we were kids. He helped me when I was in a couple of jams, and I’ve helped him in turn.

Eakins: OK…have you helped him recently?

Joanna smiles and glances over at Thomas in the reflection of the mirror.

Joanna: How did you like the show?

Eakins: It was good. Not really my thing, but it was good. But let’s steer the conversation back to Thomas.

Joanna: I apologize, detective.

She continues removing her makeup.

Joanna: No, it’s been a long while since we spoke. But that’s what happens, friends, no matter what they say, will always float off into their own worlds. It’s tragic, but sometimes it’s for the best.

Eakins: Soooo, did you ever get the sense that he was a serial killer?

She snorts which, for some reason, surprises Francis.

Joanna: You’re really new at this, aren’t you?

OK. Francis is starting to lose the edge here. He needs to steer things back in his favor:

Attempt: Diplomacy (3)+1d6=6
Challenge: 1d10=1
Result: Success

Eakins: Sorry for being so blunt. I’m just trying to figure out what you know about him. That’s all. He’s extremely dangerous and it’s a matter of time before he finds another victim.

Joanna doesn’t say anything, suddenly seeming more serious.

Joanna: I don’t think he did it. Or is doing it. Whatever.

Eakins: Well, regardless of what you believe–

Joanna: He’s a creep and, at times, a psycho, but I know him better than you.

Francis sighs. He suspects that she is hiding him, or at least aiding him in some way. Time for another diplomacy:

Attempt: Diplomacy (3)+1d6=9
Challenge: 1d10=10
Result: Fail

Oh wow. Fuck me.

Eakins: Look, if you know where he is, we would be eternally grateful. And if he is innocent, he will have the opportunity to show us.

Joanna smiles again.

Joanna: Like I said, I haven’t spoken to him in a long while, and I haven’t the faintest clue as to where he could be. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. It’s been a long night. I hope you understand.

Francis leaves her his card and leaves, Gustav shooting him a look as he does.

Francis knows that Joanna is withholding vital information. Maybe he can get her to come to the station. But time is running out before Thomas takes another victim. But, what if she’s right? What if we’re searching for the wrong guy. Doubtful. The police are never wrong.

Man, I–I mean, Francis is not the greatest detective, is he? Oh well.

Anyway, I ended up posting this late either because I’m lazy or burnt-out. But don’t worry, tomorrow’s post is the final one. And it’s going to be a doozy. Maybe. I don’t know yet. If you want to check out what else I’ve written so far for this year’s A-Z Challenge, you can click here.

For more info on what the A-Z Challenge is, click here.