One Monkey Part Deux


The following is the post I wanted to submit for Day 4, but it was well after 11pm when I started typing. I knew and knew it would not be done by midnight – so here we are..


My sons and I enter a diner on the Upper West Side after seeing “Logan”. Usually having a both available it was surprisingly crowded so relented to being seated at a table in a tight corner adjacent to a table with a solo diner. As I squeezed into the corner, the back of  my coat brushed against a coat laying across the back of a chair at that table. The owner of said coat, an older caucasian male apparently not liking that my down coat made contact with his , shoved the chair in a way that caused the chair to strike me in my left cheek. 

I was in a good mood, I was with my boys and some people are just assholes. I said a pointed “Excuse me!” at his rudeness and started removing my coat. I  heard him speaking to the busboy, but was not really paying heed until I saw the busboy bring him a damp paper towel to which he proceeded to wipe down his coat.

Wait, what…? 

My eldest was standing next to me with his back to the man and did not see it, but by the way my youngest’s entire demeanor changed as we sat down, I could tell he had and that I was not imagining things.  It’s not as though the coat somehow slipped to the floor when I passed and was now dirty, the man was wiping it down because my down coat covered ass accidentally brushed up against his down coat.

I glared at the man about to say “You know even if I touched it directly, my Black won’t rub off on it, right?” when several thoughts rapidly crossed my mind…

.0001 seconds: Fucker, I should take your coat and drop it on the floor. Then it will need the wiping. 
.001 seconds: We’re on the only people of color in this place who aren’t workers here. Let’s not get ethnic and become dinner gossip fodder.
.01 seconds: I don’t have bail money.

Determined not to live up to the stereotype, instead I turned my face to the window the fingers of my right striking the table with a rapid steady staccato that put both sons on notice, my youngest grabbed my other hand to keep me, or perhaps himself, from getting up.  It became a bigger issue when the man spoke to the busboy and got up from the table to stand-off to the side. The diner’s greeter/host came to inquire and while the man’s voice was too low for me to hear, he waved his hand between our table and his with obvious disdain. Whatever the man said to him, the host clearly was not getting it.

“He can’t sit at that table anymore because we’re sitting at this one.” I spoke up indicating both tables. At the host’s continued lack of comprehension I expanded further “He was fine until you sat us here, now he has a problem and cannot sit there.” I can see understanding cross the latino busboy’s face as he looked from the man to us,then locked eyes with me and gave a sad little knowing smile “You get it don’t you?” He nodded once before clearing away an adjacent table.

The man stood there for quite a while, glaring at us, before going to stand in another section of the restaurant. I suspect he was hoping either he or we would be reseated elsewhere. The place was packed with people waiting by the door for a table – it wasn’t going to happen. The host, finally getting the gist of the situation, came over to us. I distinctly heard him call the man “scum” under his breath before asking if we were ready to order. All in all, glaring beside, it’s as though the man somehow knew not to say anything to us directly. I could all but guarantee you that had he said anything to us we did not like, all bets were off. Alas, God protects fools and children, and he was not a child.

Normally, after a movie, I’m famished and looking forward to a good nosh.  Not surprising the three of us suddenly had little appetite. We had not even picked up the menus to peruse the options. Yet, the three of us knew –  to get up and leave means he wins, and we were not having that. We eventually each ordered something. Still, something of a pall -perhaps because we were appalled?-  loomed over the remainder of dinner that we could not fully ease even with his eventual departure.

In the interim,  my thoughts and our conversation filtered through how our reactions may have been different were we three train stations north in Harlem, versus the posh Upper West Side. Would we have been more boisterous in expressing our anger if we were, say, in a McDonald’s as opposed to a nice diner? Would I have policed myself had it be I alone confronted with him? For that is what is was, self-policing. Or perhaps by silencing the stream of viciousness going through my head in that moment clamouring to get out God was protecting the three of us.  Either way it sticks in my craw a little even now hours later.

To top it all off, in the Insult to Injury Files – upon receiving the check, the host, this same one who called the man “scum” earlier came to our table to explain to us that the man was actually a germophobe and that was excuse for behaving the way he did.  And with a page right out of Get Smart the host had the nerve to end it with “And would you believe he’s a doctor?” He must have seen the triple sets of deep eyerolls calling him out on the bullshit of his, well, bullshit as he apologized and walked away. Even the busboy, who again happened to be near our table and heard it, just kind of looked at his boss as if to say oh please! 

Last month there was a mini documentary of sorts circling the web where African-American celebrities told of The First Time I Realized I Was Black. Ging through the various stories, it was poignant, it raised some ire, some sadness and memories. Were I asked, I may not recall the very first time, but thanks to this one man, I can tell you the most recent.

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 5

Nobody Knew

Nobody knew
Those curtains so dark
Hid dirty deeds so stark
The silence is broken

Nobody knew
That which made me strong
Was learned from all your wrong
For no words are spoken

Nobody knew
The sins in midnights past
Have come to roost at last
The silence is broken

Nobody knew
The depth of the danger
Was from kin not stranger
For no words are spoken

Nobody knew
The truths that were shun
Until the cock of the gun
The silence is broken


At dVerse Victoria prompts us to say it again with the use of repetition.

dVerse ~ Poet Pub | Meeting the Bar – I’ll Say It Again (and Again and Again)

Real Toads: The Tuesday Platform

You Must Remember This

I find myself the owner of treasures of value to no one, but history and as the unofficial family historian – me.

My late-husband was a semi-hoarder, a trait well earned from his mother as I came to learn over the years. In a series of happenings in the two years after his passing that I will not go into here, things were put into storage for what I hoped would be for a few short years. Eight years later I in turn have inherited all of these things and have finally begun the arduous process of sorting through them.

Some things were easy to decide what to do with, such as the receipt from Sears & Roebuck. Think about it, I said Sears & Roebuck. The receipt is so faded, I could barely make out the date (06/01/68) and the cost ($27.00), but not the purchase item itself. I’m reasonably sure -were she alive now- Laura, my late mother-in-law, would not be too put out that I tossed it. Reasonably sure – I think. $27 was a hefty amount for a S&R purchase back then. A part of me sincerely feels that she could likely recall what the purchase was for – with the steel trap that was her mind before Alzheimer’s took its toll.

The birth certificate of a brother-in-law, deceased long before I met my husband, is another story. From the 1940s, I can still feel the raised seal of its stamp, letting me know it is official if not the true original. Marriage certificates, note the plural on that. My erstwhile mother-in-law was quite the dish, let me tell you! Old dog tags, family photos, more documents, family letters etc. were also unearthed. Two letters showing some serious animosity between sisters-in-law, shed a light on tensions I had sensed, but could never put name to back then. Letters from my late-husband to his mother while he was in the army nearly made me cry.  I am the only living person who can be the bearer of these captures in time for these specific people.  At least for the moment.

Bill was estranged from nearly every single person he was related to by blood. I know he has, (or knew he had?) a brother in San Diego. A falling out over twenty-five years ago has sealed the deal on my wanting to find him now. Some physical wounds heal, but the emotional scars can still fester. Somewhere out there is a niece with whom I did get along. Regrettably, as life has a way of doing, in with Bill’s passing I am ashamed to say we are no longer in contact. Her father’s birth certificate, among other items are things are rightfully hers and I would love to give them to her. Thus, I simply cannot let them go for I have hopes of finding her and being able to do such someday. But what do I do with this treasure trove now? Had I a private home with the ever useful basement or attic, there would be no question as where to put these in the meantime. However, the reality of living in an apartment where storage space is at a premium I find myself at a personal cross road.  For I also have my own treasures to add to the mix.

In a bin from storage I found the tops Bill and I wore for at our wedding. My best friend presented Bill and I with an heirloom clock. It has the traditional marriage vows printed on it, with our names and wedding date on a plaque attached to it. It is too obvious what it is, and after ten years of being a widow, now living in an apartment he is not a part of, I could not hang it on the wall. So it, the tops and a few other things I’ve deemed a part of “that time” yet feel should not be thrown away, has been stored up on a shelf in a closet. Out of sight, if not entirely out of mind.

As I am still sorting through the cache, currently all are boxed, taking up space on in front of a bookshelf in my living room. I fight the cleaning urge to just toss them and be done with it. It is treasures like these, mementos held onto and passed down are how people trace family. Not just the who someone was on the family tree, but who someone was as a person. The family tree can tell me Dorothy and Laura were sisters-in-law. Only finding those letters tells me that they were not fond of each other and how long that animosity ran between them. The letters tell me how much Bill loved his dogs. The family tree will tell you that Bill and I were married and when. Only the photos will give testament to the not exactly traditional aspects of the wedding itself.

In the interim, my not-so-immediate goal after the sort, is to scan and document everything I can. And perhaps laminate some of the older, more delicate paper items that are in danger of being lost forever. That is fine in and of itself, but while I can scan a photo of my three-year-old child wearing it, I cannot scan the “child-abuse” shirt itself.  Or scan the wedding clock, or the dog tags, or… or…

Most people can easily trace to their grandparents and perhaps back to at least one set of great-grandparents, but not much further.  One of the reasons sites like and the television series “Who Do You Think You Are?” exist is because there are many who understand the importance of documenting these things, at least the paper things, while you can. In this throwaway society of new or nothing, it becomes harder and harder as people cannot or just don’t hold on to these pieces of the everyday anymore.

The thought that many years from now another family member will come across these previous timelines and enjoy these revelations as I have, fills me with joy. For while the photos and letters can be documented electronically, it is not the same feeling that raised seal or the texture of an old shirt under your fingertips. It is my wish that long after I’m gone, hopefully future great-grandchildren, will come across the old photos, the clock, the “child abuse t-shirt” and other treasures saved and smile just as fondly on them then as I am smiling now thinking of their stories.

That alone tells me I will be holding on to these treasures for a little while longer – throwaway society be damned.

Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 Challenge – Week 2


A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

And let’s see how others are slicing it up this week:


Slice of Life Writing Challenge|Two Writing Teachers

Photo Challenge #145: Just A Little Tighter

– Painful by Natalia Drepina

– Painful by Natalia Drepina

Holding onto hope
What it once felt like
I wrap it just a little tighter
But it’s a slippery rope
Trying to cope

With so many sins acquired
Every time I remember
I wrap it just a little tighter
Around the sorrows in which I’m mired
But my hands are getting tired

My soul the garrote
Sometimes untangling
I wrap it just a little tighter
Around my throat
In desire of Charon’s boat


Today at  MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #145 we are prompted to use above image as inspiration for a poem or short story. This is what came to me.

Fourth Rule

In a posh hotel that all but has avarice etched into its über sophisticated decor, a very shapely body in an expensive little black dress, with very shapely gams in equally expensive high-heels, sits legs crossed at the bar in all her expensive glory. Her ebon mane is relentlessly coiffed in an updo that looked like it took some time to accomplish. Naturally long lashes hood piercing eyes that seem to see everything and zilch simultaneously. Other than her sanguine lips she is barefaced. Beauty such as hers, really doesn’t need much else. One set of red taloned fingers lay casually on her sparkling clutch, the other holds a drink, its contents mini tidal waves of motion as she swirls it idly.  The drink could have been premium top-shelf or basement level swill for all the attention she appears to give it.

The bartender tries to strike up a conversation. I can tell his sandpaper voice is as grating to her as her voice is dripping with honey to him as she politely, but firmly blows him off.

Everything about her says bored sophistication.  The been there / done look that of one who truly has  been there and done that repeatedly. Even as she sits in a casual lean, there is a correctness in her posture. For all her apparent boredom, there was a remoteness about her. Something irrevocable, festering just beneath the surface. I know that look.

Crap. Not tonight.

Taking a seat two empty stools away from her, I curse under my breath while ordering a club soda for myself. Without a word or looking, I slide the small bottle with Amphetamine towards her. Just as silently and blindly she stops it before it crashes into her hand. She downs a couple of pills, downs her drink and slides the pill bottle back to me, her motions full of the apology she can’t speak. I pocket the bottle and shrug taking my drink back to a side table to observe.

In the mirror behind the bar we see when her date-to-be enters the lobby.  It’s not even five minutes before he hits on her. I’m sure the mark thinks it’s his charm, but I can see when the pills start to take effect. The remoteness morphs into a subtle wildness that adds to her appeal as they chat aimlessly for a few minutes more. Eventually he offers a gentlemanly elbow and she accepts. She nods at me once nonchalantly in passing. It is the only direct look my partner and I have exchanged since first entering the bar, signaling the sting is a go as she head to his room, hopefully to arrest him.  The pills rattle in my pocket as I stand to follow them a few moments later. Rules are rules – I know it’s wrong, she knows it’s wrong, but it’s Fourth Rule time, we need to get through this. We’ll deal with her possible addiction tomorrow.


Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Wordle #134 “December 19th, 2016”

Relent, Wildness, The Fourth Rule (There is an exception to every rule.), Barefaced, Amphetamine, Swill, Tidal, Sanguine, Irrevocable, Avarice (greed), Zilch, Sandpaper

Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem. The words can appear in an alternate form. Use the words in any order that you like.

And I Know…

I hear his footsteps coming towards me and I know…
The words he is saying
The rules he is laying down
The fears I am betraying

…it’s not right

I see him in the dark before me and I know…
She does not make a sound
As his fist takes its first pound
And knocks me to the ground

…it’s not right

I smell him as he lowers towards me and I know…
This time won’t be because of drink
Inside myself I start to slink
I must go where I cannot think

…it’s not right

I feel his arms around me and I know…
How many cracks are in the ceiling above
Not to ever resist or push becomes shove
Only open my mouth for the depth of his love

…it’s not right

I taste more than tears on me and I know…
All the lies I’ll contrive
The pleasure he derives
In taunting “Why you still alive?”

…it’s not right

My senses overload when he leaves and I know…
When a fourteen-year-old is no longer sad
Cannot be so bothered to be mad
When ordered to coo “Goodnight Dad”

…it’s not right

Don’t Give!

I look at him and I see a face:
One that’s covered in silent tears
His voice is in the deepest bass
Every word riddled by silent fears

Don’t give!

Always so cautious, always trying
never to give himself away
And yet I can see, he’s dying
a little bit more each day

Don’t give!

And the thought stabs my heart like a knife
Time put him in this spot and only time can heal
That all I can do is pray that the strife
Does not push him past where he can deal

Don’t give!



Real Toads | Tuesday Platform

The Beholder

Beauty: sells tanning lotion in one area and lightening creams in another
the TVs, magazines and runways of thinness attainable
In: a
 land where the curvy is passable, yet too fat is unacceptable– too? 
rhinoplasty done to make noses look smaller while
get surgery to make them look wider. 
braids deemed unprofessional or locs truly dreaded in
root of – the problem?And if it can’t grow is it clip, glue or sew to a
Beholder: in the mirror who wonders…

But who is the beholder?


At dVerse an interview with Anthony Desmond, and Gayle hosting, prompts us with beliefs; pondering what we might believe in, or had believed in.

I was struck by a conversation among friends of the (in)constant state of beliefs in what is considered beautiful and by whom.

dVerse  Poets Pub | Part Five: Revisiting Anthony Desmond

And It Has Come To This

We once thought this was heaven, why are we going through such hell?

For now I find I’m opening myself like wound on skin
And on the cusp of everything at our beck and call
Feeling how deep the well that’s held within
I’m giving everything I’ve got , but is this your all?

And it has come to this, we’ve reach this bittersweet impasse
Too far gone to start over, not far enough to see a path clear
This could be all we’ve wanted, but now it’s so close to being trash
And from that I’m not sure we can recover, I fear
And it has come to this

One night we disturb the neighbors with the sounds of our passion
The next night it’s with the anguish of our fights
We nod like mimes faking life in our own fashion
Seems like we can never find a balance that’s just right

And it has come to this; can we keep our eyes on
The prize of happiness a magical love to bewitch?
We sit here hoping for a sign on this horizon
When the horizon looks as bleak as the execution’s switch
And it has come to this

Sometimes we look upon each other and we both know we can still feel it
But we’ve dealt each other mighty blows – is there enough left to heal it?

Knowing me all too well you exploit all that makes me weak
Knowing you even better, with a precision I play your game
Have we the courage to love the love of which the old folks speak?
The ring is in my hand, but I’m not sure if you still want my name

And it has come to this, you’re facing my white light
Am I here to let you in – or to get you out?
Am I warm, comforting? Or a sudden fright?
I could be your sinner or your savior; what is this about?
And it has come to this


At dVerse  Mish wants the random song in us to come out.

dVerse ~ Poets Pub | Poetics – The Music in You



With twirling thoughts inside my head
In knowing each step I took was right
I lay here gazing at walls instead
There is no sleep for me tonight

This first night without you here
Coldness where warmth beside me lay
I find myself in anguished mood
With twirling thoughts inside my head

In this desolation of my thoughts
I mourn the path that brought me here
To blame is futile and pleas unheard
In knowing each step I took was right

The bright moon scoffs at my attempts
And shines its light on the truth of it
Watching its path travel this room
I lay here gazing at walls instead

Somnolence will not be found here
In midst this turmoil of my soul
Dawn will find me as dusk left me
There is no sleep for me tonight


Today I Cascade.

In a Cascade a poet creates the initial stanza then takes each consecutive line from that first stanza and makes those the final lines of each stanza afterward. If the first stanza is sextet, then the complete poem will have seven stanzas of sextets. A tercet results in four stanzas of tercets and so on. Beyond that, there are no additional rules for rhyming, meter, etc.



dVerse Poets Pub | Open Link Night #183