A PEN WITHOUT A MUSE

by Kristina Stanfill

Where has my inspiration gone? Has my muse left me longing for a feeling? I never knew that inspiration could be so fleeting. My pen wishes to hear the whispers of my muse and paint them into existence. What happened to that fire that fueled my pen’s desires? Oh how my pen and my muse used to dance and create beauty that only few could admire. Muse, return to me. Inspire me once again. Ignite the spark that set my pen ablaze for it misses dancing with its companion atop a clean white page. 

A MEMORY OF TIME GONE BY

by RAH

They’d never really liked waking these paths. The lands where mortals tread were so strange: constantly changing whether by the influence of of nature or man. They felt the cracked stone beneath Their feet as They walked and They could swear They heard the sound of solders marching along this old road.

They could see them in Their mind. Waking in rows of four, the metal of their swords and shields glistening in the summer sun as they marched onwards. Tens of thousands of men marching home in victory, having just conquered a new land.

They sighed and slowly faded from the hand made Roman road. As the mortal plane cam into focus again, They felt a sad smile on Their face as They looked out over the staggered rows of broken stone. They looked at the large play area where the finest actors of the day would preform for the masses.

They closed Their eyes, and when They opened them again, it was as if They were watching Medea again. The shine of the masks as they flaunted along the play area, coupled with the frightened chorus cowering about. It was art. They watched the present fade back into focus and sighed. It was such a shame that the place where it all happened was in such ruins now.

They continued on their journey, making their way to China. They found Themself on the Great Wall and smiled at the memory of it’s frantic construction in a span of 200 years. They could still see the workers hauling bricks up to the top of the wall and sealing it in.

They remembered another marvel of engineering, and soon found Themself in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza. All of this land had once been great. They wondered around Egypt, taking in the hieroglyphs and remembering the days of the pharos. They stopped at an old run down church and shook Their head as They remembered what was supposed to stand there. A great library filled to the brim with scrolls and tapestries. They found Themself  near tears as They pictured the beautiful library going up in flames. With that, They left Alexandria. 
Instead They traveled north, to Moscow, and smiled at the beautiful sight that was the Kremlin Palace. It housed the Russian president now, but it was a home for Kings when it was built. They grimaced as that thought brought Them back to the horrible night when the Russian Monarchy was overthrown. 
They sighed and moved on. They sped their way through Germany, in an attempt to avoid the haunting memories of the Holocaust. They jumped around in India, recalling the construction of the railroad. They admired the tower of Pisa in Italy, smiling as They remembered how panicked everyone was when it started to tilt. They walked through the Louvre in Paris, smiling as They took in the memories each piece of art held with it.

Finally They made Their way back to the place They should have been in the first place. The old man was sitting with a box of photos, a small smile on his face as he gazed at his parents, wife, children, and grandchildren. They walked up to the old man and he smiled at Them. “Thank you for the extra time,” he said. “I just want to make sure I won’t forget any of them…”

They thought back to all the centuries of human history They’d seen and They could understand the old man. It was important to remember, especially in the end.

“I’m ready, now,” The old man said, taking Their hand.

Death smiled as They led the old man away from the mortal realm, just as They had done so many times before.

A BUTLER, A STRANGER, AND A PRIEST

by RAH

There are exactly five people at their wedding, including themselves. A bride, a groom, a priest, a butler, and a stranger. 
He’s paranoid, constantly glancing over his shoulder, as though his family will burst in at any moment to put a stop to it. She’s reassuring, holding her groom’s hand tightly, and refusing to look backwards. He’s giving up everything for her. She’s got nothing to lose. He’s dressed for the occasion. She’s in what used to be a white nightgown, and is now a makeshift wedding dress.
William was the one who altered the dress for her. The butler had done everything he could to make this seam as normal as possible. Of course there isn’t much normal about attending a secret wedding at midnight.
William looks at his brother, a stranger to William’s master and his bride. Alexander had offered to bare witness to the ceremony after learning of the young lovers’ predicament. The groom, it seamed, had found himself falling for a girl he never should have.
It’s not as if there was anything terribly wrong with Delilah. The young bride happens to be a beautiful girl, with curly dark hair and amber eyes that had melted Matthias’ icy heart. The problem was never really Delilah’s beauty or personality. It was just the unfortunate way her groom was raised.
William had never in all his life seen a person change as much as Matthias had. The butler had served Matthias’ family for years and practically raised his young master. He watched the bratty child grow into an entitled teenager, and firmly believed he would be just as bad, if not worse, than his parents.
That all changed when Delilah came into the picture. Matthias began to appreciate the small things and cherish the time he spent with other people. Practically over night, William watched him turn into a kind, caring, and humble individual. Delilah brought out the best in Matthias, and if William didn’t know any better, he’d say she was a witch, for only magic could have changed his young master so drastically. 
Unfortunately, William wasn’t the only one who noticed the change. Upon learning of Delilah’s interest in their heir, Matthias’ family was outraged. They forbid the two from seeing each other, and made multiple threats on Delilah’s life. This did little to deter them. William was an active participant in their late night meetings on Matthias’ balcony in a reverse Romeo and Juliet fashion. 
Unlike Romeo and Juliet, this lasted for quite some time. Three years of seeing each other in private. Matthias never showed any interest in any girl but Delilah. This raised suspicion amongst Matthias’ family, until they realized he’d been seeing Delilah all these years.
That’s why they have to do this, and they have to do this tonight. Come tomorrow morning, Matthias will be sent away to live with his cousins on the other side of the country, and Delilah could very well be killed in her sleep. They have to do something to keep the pair from being separated.
William had asked Alexander for help, and now here they stand watching the young couple be married a the stroke of midnight.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife,” The priest says. “You may kiss your bride.”
The look Matthias gives his new wife erases any doubt William might have had about the whole situation. Delilah reaches out to cup his cheek, her face soft, and full of love. The pair lean in and seal their marriage with a kiss. Matthias is holding her within seconds, his arms wrapping around her full waist and hands tracing patterns on her curves. His pale hands stand out against her dark skin, and William thinks it’s the most beautiful contrast in the world.

PTSD

by RAH

I can’t help but stare at you. I wonder how everyone else can go about their day without a single thought of your cold, unfocused eyes staring back at them. Why do you always follow me? I find you in places and situations you have no right to be. Just because my lover has to pause to take a breathing treatment, doesn’t mean you can just start looming over my shoulder for the rest of the day. Just because someone scratched my back, doesn’t give you the right to drag me back to that night.
You’re making my life hell. I can’t sleep with you watching me like that, with you playing the sounds over and over again. I can’t bare the silence anymore. I have to fill it with something to keep you at bay, or you’ll just keep me there forever. I just wish you would go away. I wish I could forget you.

It’s not that I hate you. I loved you back then and I still love you now. Still, all the love in the world won’t keep your ghost at bay. I am forever haunted by the memory of your loss. The sound of your breathing machine falling from your lips. The sight of you slumped over so suddenly. The feeling of your weight on my legs as you were pushed back on the bed. Your cold eyes staring, unfocused and unblinking, upwards towards the ceiling.
I can’t get you out of my head. 15 years I’ve been trying, and failing, to get rid of you. I can’t do this anymore. You died that night, and yet I’ve been fighting to get my mind away from the ghost of your memory for most of my life. I wish I could force you away, but I don’t think I can. I hope you might go away on your own, but I doubt that at this point. 
Please, Grandma, I just want my mind back to myself. Please let me go so that I can let go of you too.

A HOOK

by Jacqueline Wheeler

A crochet hook is a connection, a healer, a creation and at times even an emotion. Others may view a crochet hook as a piece of metal that varies in size, color and even style, used in knitting or crocheting a textile art. This is a true description of one. However, in my hands it’s just a little something more. 

When I hold a hook in my hand, I am not a 30-year-old woman. I am a small child sitting on the floor at her Great grandmothers’ feet with hook and string in hand learning the fundamentals of crocheting. The proper way to hold the hook the best way to hold the string tight. A double stich is starting with one loop on your hook and looping the string again to create two loops, working your hook under another stitch to loop the string again and pulling this string threw the under stich and one loop leaving two loops on the hook. Then looping the string again and pulling that string threw the two loops leaving one loop on the hook completing the stich needed. Even the trick of remembering to add a single stich (one extra loop) before turning your corner. Otherwise your perfect square will start to shrink and become misshapen. Even more than just the need to knows of crochet I am also laughing and joking, making memories with someone who will not always be on this earth. And every time I hold that hook, I’m right back to laughing with my Great Grandmother because my square is not so square. And seeing that smile on her face because I was keeping my work tight in my stitches, while holding my already done work loose to prevent tension on my string.

I also suffer from P.T.S.D. I have moments of extreme anxiety and depression. Over the years I have learned to cope with it for the most part. I have found the most effective way to calm down and heal from an attack is to pick up a crochet hook and just loop string repeatedly never really making anything particularly. The repetitive motion of looping the string with my hook until the only think I can think about that motion. Some people are known for breathing deeply or counting to 10 to relax and calm down. I crochet, doing something with my hands to distracted me from the over whelming feelings I have going on in my head or even my chest at times. Focusing on something outside of my own body is the key and crocheting over and over till my mind and sometimes my body is healed from an emotional attack is the greatest way I have found for coping with my illness.

I also do it as a hobby. Where I just pick up a hook and make a blanket for my Husband. A beanie for my daughter or a baby blanket for my nephew. Where I can just be creative with my string colors and patterns and just create and be expressive. The feeling I get when I have accomplished a project, or the feeling I get when a loved one is excited for something, I took the time to make just for them. Being able to pass on the same experiences that I had as a child with my Great Grandmother with my children, makes that hook almost magical to me.

CONFESSIONS OF A POOR BLACK GIRL

by Tia Jones

September 26, 1999

Being black and poor. I hate everything about it. I hate it with a passion. I hate Bridfayette because there’s not enough jobs here for people who are willing to work. I hate it because there’s so much underline racism. I hate the utility department because they scrutinize us for not having enough money to pay the bill. I hate the housing authority because although they provide us with shelter, they still treat us like trash. Unnecessary fine here, leaving us to live there. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US!!!! I dislike most of the people who live here, they’re filled with so much arrogance that it disgusts them to look at us. Most of them came from rags just like we did! They didn’t have a dime! Now that they have a little cash and a fancy title to their name, they don’t know who we are! And you want to know what hurts the most? Do you really? Some of these people, I’m related to! THEY’RE ASHAMED OF US! THEY’RE JEALOUS OF US! They don’t want anyone to know were related and to be frank with you, i could care less about the subject. If you don’t want the world to know were related, then disown me! It will do my soul right nicely. I hate Bridfayette because no matter where I go, there’s always a marker labeled with humiliation and embarrassment. There’s always something constantly reminding me that im black and poor and people will always look down on me. But most of all, I hate brownsville, because it has installed so much hatred in me…..

Sincerely,

A poor, hurt black woman

MAYBE

by Desirae Costigan

 

Maybe if I was better for you.  If I could bat my eyelashes and stare into your eyes deceitfully I would have you tagging in my wake.  Maybe if I gave false hope to fill up the void in your heart till you were overflowing, spilling in at the seams.  If I could crack that million dollar smile or pout my lips softly, I could keep your love.  But, my dear, for you I cannot flutter my lashes, for I have trouble in the seconds we don’t share a gaze.  False hope has never meant much in my reality, and I know oh so well that it will not fill a hole for long without spilling and seeping through the cracks.  My love, my smile is far from perfection but it bares my tongue, that is where my words are forged.  And if I were to pout, tell me, would the innocence portrayed be real?  If I am not enough for you, then at least I have offered all that I know.

COME ON IN, STAY A SPELL

by Rob Howell

Winter. Oh, how I love winter.  The feeling of the warm and cool fighting for dominance and me not caring who is victorious.  Just watching the snow fall outside.  Feeling the cold radiating from the glass.  Seeing the frost on the window.  Walkign outside in the dead of night and feeling the freezing concrete on my bare feet.  The smell of Winter Lodge burning in the air.   The taste of the salty winter ham or the sweet pumpkin pie.  The bright reflection of the sun’s light against the white ground.  Cuddling the one you love and watching a film.  The sound of the snow crunching under both of your feet as you take a stroll through the park.  That is why I love winter.