Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939


During the war we talked about “after,” but we didn’t realize that for some of us, there will never be an after. I remember one survivor who said the past was like a festering wound, but “she’d had it sliced away–leaving a scar, it’s true, but barely noticeable.” She said, “You cover it up and go about your life.”

But at night, I’d hear her tossing and turning, and sometimes crying. I recognized it for what it was—the past haunting her. It doesn’t go away. It’s a movie playing on an endless, repeating loop. It’s a ghost that visits each night, or an illness. Paul is that ghostly contagion. He haunts me at night, visits me in my dreams, and he’s infected me with dangerous thoughts. Sometimes I’m no longer sure if what I did was right.

It’s Prosery time at dVerse, flash fiction of no more than 144 words using the given poetic prompt line. This is another episode of my ongoing (and going, where is it going?) spy series. Sarah has asked us to use the line:

“she’d had it sliced away leaving a scar”.

From a poem by Michael Donaghy. You can read the original poem here: https://rihlajourney.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/liverpool-michael-donaghy/



Vincent van Gogh, “Sorrow,” 1882 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Now years have passed, the pain is gone–

physical pain, the dreams remain,

demons, terror, always the same.


Family gone–denouement

of war, of destruction, of fright–

she mourns them still, alone at night.


For evil men, she was a pawn.

They took her youth, left no trace

in tattooed arm and withered face.


The past is gone, she won’t dwell on,

memories–peace comes, with a book,

a cat, some tea, a quiet nook


in which she sits, sometimes till dawn,

longing to die, willing to live,

she tries not to hate; she tries to forgive.


This week, Jane asked us to write about pain for her poetry challenge in a poem using the rhyme scheme: abb acc add aee, etc. I didn’t use the prompt words or the image she suggested. I think this Van Gogh drawing conveys the mood of the poem. The model was pregnant and abandoned by the father of the child. She was forced to prostitute herself to buy food. Van Gogh took her in as a model, paid her rent, and shared his bread with her. The Wikipedia page has more information.

Drinking to Peace

Monday Morning Musings:


Heritage Vineyards by Sheryl Began ©2016


We sit not far from the vines,

in wrought iron chairs round a table,

the summer sun still lights the sky,

engilding the end of the day

so that it glows, golden with promise

of sweet nights and gentle dreams,

a gracious breeze blows.


I face west, watching the sun slowly fall,

but we drink to sunrises and love,

Coeur d’Est, Heart of the East,

wine with flavors and aromas of blackberry, coffee, and pepper,

fruit and spice,

rich, but not too heavy for this June evening

rolled on the tongue and savored

like life.


My daughter takes photos of us

documenting the moment

as we sit there, relaxed

enjoying the wine,

enjoying the company,

enjoying the musician,

singing of angels that fly from Montgomery,

our thoughts fly, too,

flitting here and there,

then hovering,

like bees when they find the right flower,

her husband mentions his sessions in New York.

Is it okay to ask?

Yes, I’ve wanted to tell you, he says.

And so he does.

He talks of the incidents,

the particular one that caused him the most trauma

and others,

foreign words to me,

convoys, gunners, and Vehicle-Borne Explosive Devices

the language of war,

foreign words and foreign lands

known to me only through books, movies, news reports.


I learn more later,

when I read some papers he gave us,

I learn of a mission to deliver clothing and supplies

to Iraqi school children,

a humanitarian mission, but still dangerous–

he volunteered.

I am proud of this man,

who is my son “in law,”

but who is becoming the son of my heart, as well

my daughter loves him,

and that’s what matters,

but I discover, he’s officially a hero,

as well as one to her,

but he has paid the price.

Coeur d’Est, Coeur de lion


Becoming a combat soldier involves many skills—

I already know, he’s an excellent driver—

But conflict zones require more,

turning off emotions

learning to kill

learning to hate

fearing that hate

fearing killing and expecting to kill

fearing death and expecting death

becoming used to—craving–

the rush of adrenalin that comes from danger,

then having to turn it all off,

stimulation, the drug of war,

duty and bravery, comrades at arms,

but there’s a cost,

the trauma born of war

for soldiers and civilians

who must go on, and live after.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Pro patria mori.*


Are we coded to wage war

to defend our homes, our honor, our families

to endure

death, destruction, injuries to body and soul?

To battle through conflicts and then feel conflicted?

Shell-shocked soldiers in WWI

the horrors of WWII,

back through the past

and up to the present,

we humans are intent on finding new,

and better ways to kill.

I don’t have an answer,


there must be a better way.

instead of building walls and spouting hate,

hate that nourishes more hate

and makes it grow,

a noxious weed,

requiring little care to flourish

but some skill to eradicate.

Why do we listen?

Perhaps it’s easier to blame others,

the demagogue’s favorite trick.

The candidate’s quockerwodgers

dance when he pulls the strings,

the expert puppeteer,

gorgonizing in soundbites,

but we have to remember to think on our own,

be the voice, instead of the puppet,

perhaps then we can create a better way,

set our phasers to stun, not kill


let peace guide the planets

let the sunshine in


imagine all the people

living in peace,


the lion’s heart swelling with love.


But now, on this beautiful summer night,

our dreams are of life and the future,

of houses and homes,

we drink and talk,

smile and laugh,

birds fly overhead, singing lullabies,

slowly dusk falls and settles lightly,

a soft blanket to cover us,

and we travel home.


*It is sweet and right to die for your country. “Dulce et Decorum Est” is the title of the well-known poem by WWI poet, Wilfred Own. You can read it with notes here. 

Today is the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944, and though I wish for a peaceful world, I do not want to slight the heroes of that day—or indeed, any day.

This article discusses some of the forgotten African American heroes of D Day.