Feeding the Birds… By Carla Blaschka


Feeding the Birds

        “So, where are you getting off?”
        The question came from the woman beside me. We were riding the Route 359 bus across the Aurora Bridge from downtown Seattle, and she’d been trying to make conversation with me the whole trip. She seemed a happy, bouncy type, with her hair a riot of black curls tied up in a shocking pink ribbon. There was a time I would have responded to the interest in her eyes, a time before I died.
        I’d just come from a meeting at my lawyers. We had a sit down with the other side to discuss my lawsuit. The builder of my dream home had brought his brothers along for moral support, or immoral support to be more exact. All three brothers sounded like wise-guys from New Jersey, and probably were. Both brothers had that squared off set to their shoulders that said; “Don’t mess with me unless you want some.” It was a popular look in prison and with newly-released ex-cons.
        I thought they should pay for putting my parents in a coma and killing my dog. They didn’t.
        I said you built my condo on top of a toxic waste dump; it oozed out and killed the people I loved. I included Frazier in that, of course. As all pet owners know, pets are people too.
        They said it was an Act of God that a minor earthquake had broke the acre-sized baggie that sealed in the waste, and that they’d fixed the problem as soon as they knew, so what more could they do? They had complied with all state & federal regulations, the state gave them permission to build on that site. If we wanted, we could sue the state for allowing it, but if we pursued this with them, they would tie us up in litigation for years. They weren’t paying, it wasn’t their fault.
        If not theirs, then whose fault was it? I wanted to shout. My dog’s for running through the sludge and jumping up on my dad? My mom’s, for cleaning up the mess? She thought it was funny. Since I was fixing dinner, she cleaned it up. It was their first dinner in my new home. We were having steak with caramelized onions, green beans and baked potatoes with all the fixings and I had it nearly on the table, so Mom washed off her husband and Frazier, my little Jack Russell terrier for me.
        He started vomiting that night, and in the morning I took him to the vet. While I was there, Mom and Dad collapsed on their walk, unconscious. Their neighbor called me. It took them three weeks to die, Frazier just one day. But then, he didn’t have any insurance. They never did regain consciousness. I never got to say goodbye. My fiancée Tina was so great. She stayed with me at the hospital the entire time, and kept me fed. She liked to feed things, to see them grow. She was always feeding the birds, and kept a handful of seed with her always to feed the LBB’s, the little brown birds at the coffeehouse. I had some of her seed with me now.
        She’d just stopped to pick up some dinner for us at a take-out along Fourth Avenue before coming back to the hospital when a semi went by and spun up a piece of debris. It wasn’t a very big piece of metal, but it was sharp and spinning at 50 miles an hour. They said we could use a turtleneck to hide the damage if we wanted an open casket, but her family went with closed. They never did find her right sneaker. I guess it ran away. Ha, ha, or it went where she went. I had the other one with me.
        I felt for the seed in my pocket. I wanted to make sure it was there before I got off. My face felt plastic but I tried to smile.
        “The next stop,” I said. “I’m getting off at the next stop.”
        She smiled back, a little uncertainly. There wasn’t much there to get off for at the end of the bridge. “You must be transferring,” she said.
        I smiled and nodded, wondering if I looked like what I felt like, a bobble-headed doll. I pulled the cord, but nothing saved me from stopping. I got off with her cheery ‘good-bye’ following me and started walking back across the bridge. When I got to the middle I spread Tina’s seed, so critters that flew could live because of her and I clutched her left sneaker. With such a talisman, I could fly. It was my ticket between worlds, my guarantee of finding her.
        Where am I getting off? I clutched her shoe and looked down at the water 167 feet below and climbed the rail. I was getting off…right…here.


Copyright © 2009 by Carla Blaschka


Source / Challenge: 5/28/09 Edition of The Stranger
Cover Art: by Atticus Jackson
Story Theme: Feeding Birds
Prompts: Feeding The Birds:                                                                                         

  1. Location: Toxic waste site turned condo.
  2. Plot Point: Parents in coma and die, lost pet and other family member the same week
  3. Quote: “So, where are you getting off?” From “My Year of Hitler” by Erica C. Barnett.
  4. Rhetorical Element: “Sneaker.”
  5. Character Trait: Squares their shoulders when threatened.



Stacking Wood with Walt Whitman… by Patricia Babbitt


Stacking Wood with Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman leans against the woodshed gazing long,
Panama hat cocked daringly to one side,
displaying his full poetic length, I sigh!
That muse-inspired half-grin that spreads across the America of his face,
I pause to admire the egalitarian vision before me.
But the woodpile calls.

Walt Whitman says the snow will soon fly
as back and forth I trod
selecting each individual log for its
cut, color, texture, ease of use, and burn potential.
Stacked neatly there outside the kitchen door row upon row,
Walt Whitman, with raised brow, finger-combs his grizzled beard,
and nods in approval.

Searing summer heat yields to the glory of Indian summer.
Beads of purifying sweat skitter down my forehead
as the stack reaches higher and higher.
Walt Whitman yalps and celebrates my pioneer spirit!
Gray beard flying, arms outstretched,
he spins in circles with wild abandon
in the green and golden field of tall summer grasses.

Soon my body pleads like a child for one more day.
I mutter soft-spoken promises to revisit the woodpile again.
Walt Whitman concedes that Rome wasn’t built in a day
And invites my soul to loaf.

Lying in the crook of his elbow,
his blue-velvet voice quenches my thirst.
The sonorous nightingale warbles verse upon verse of
“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,”
decreeing our oneness with everything.


Patricia Babbitt is a contemporary science fiction/fantasy author whose works span fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and educational writing. As a freelance writer, she has worked as a copy editor of novel manuscripts for Pendium Publishing and as an independent copy editor for authors seeking publication. She has written and published poetry, short stories, and is now working on two manuscripts in fiction and non-fiction for publication. Visit her blog on the web for insightful ramblings, and, at times, writing-related topics at patriciababbitt.wordpress.com. Her writing journal offers a sampling of her works.

Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Babbitt


Cavern of Anger… by Sharon Meixsell


Cavern Full of Anger

The empty house holds shameful sins
Human slabs of mind numbing madness
The souls that lived here rarely
Heard the voice of love
Instead, they learned that love lies
Leaving behind bull dozed hearts and
Mangled Spirits spewing a mouthful of garbage
Forcing them to live in the prison of their minds
Shadow wounds ever present
Despair sets in, feelings of
Aloneness fill the rooms
They cry out in the night
Desperate for companionship
But wake to a cavern full of anger
Everywhere they look, they see
Shapes of imaginary dangers
They stay inside hiding places completely
Drowning in their days
Living in a Pandora’s Box of Evil
It leaves them wanting to be elsewhere
But everyday is the same
And soon they just stop being

Copyright © 2011 Sharon Meixsell

Also check out William James’ blogger page Pen Head Press.

Beautiful Pieces by Jenny Smith


A Million Beautiful Pieces

Star soaked deep cobalt sky,
you are the wanting and the entwined love
that holds my place here.
We will need to step through the garden gate,
but it is not today.
Instead, we sip the trees, ocean and soil.
Such love, the wind touches
our hair. What is this magic?
I can feel it move through my
body and spill out like mercury.
It almost breaks me into a million
beautiful pieces.
The clouds and earth all gravitate
to it, but become shy and hide their eyes
from your sunlight.
You just laugh and smile
at me through rippling puddles.
You are amused and make me dance deeper
into this life.
You have lost no sleep over me, because you
permeate me and saturate every piece.
I am the mirror that can only see you.


moon severed
from sight
behind coal dark
hills waiting
for the appearance
of dawn.


twilight dipping its spoon into night
grass sways to rhythms
of evening and songs of crickets
the moon kisses
all goodnight with her
rays shining through
windows and cracks in walls


Like torches in the sky I greet you every night
Replacing darkness with only light.
I look upon you with great admiration
Your brilliance fills me with inspiration.


waves rippling over rocks
sun gazing at the water
light stroking waves
shadows appearing in the
orangish sky
the sun fades
and the waves darken


Jenny Smith of San Francisco, graduated with a B.A degree in history, anthropology and sociology from Washington State University. Interests are: Italian motorcycles, traipsing the world, music and early Christianity.


Copyright © 2011 by Jenny Smith

Also check out William James’ blogger page Pen Head Press.