The Question Mark Tree

question tree 1


Carmella May Sweet,

Climbed to her seat,

Up in the Question Mark tree.

She was given a task,

Her teacher had asked,

Just what she wanted to be?

As she wondered, “Why?”

Her brother played spy,

Watching her, way down below.

Grandma came home,

Daddy dug loam,

Her thinking was sorrily slow.

A small forest newt,

In a bright red suit,

Crawled happily in the shade.

Carmella knew,

The day would be through,

Before her decision was made.

The farmer next door,

 Swept his barn floor.

As daylight turned to dark.

Suppertime near,

No answer yet clear,

Her dog was beginning to bark.

All day had passed.

She walked home at last.

Troubled ’bout who she would be.

Homework undone,

She started to run,

An answer came through suddenly.

No need to decide,

But simply take pride.

In all that she is everyday.

So much of what’s you,

Is more than you do.

So this is all she could say:

I’m a sister, granddaughter, daughter and friend.

A neighbor, love Nature, these things have no end.

I think I’ll simply wait and see.

For now, I like just being me.


Random Word Story # 28~ Testy Terms

Random words generated by:


Here’s my story:


There was nothing Mia could do once the agreement was signed. She needed a roommate and Holt was the only one who had answered her ad. So she overlooked his testy attitude which was a big mistake.

Holt had answered her invitation with questions galore. Some like, “Would he have bathroom access between 6:00 and 7:00 am?” were understandable. Asking her not to ever chew bubblegum, in his company, was bizarre. But, his references checked out and were stunning, to say the least. Even his credit score, which he should have embossed on a medallion and worn on a chain, was as close to perfect as she’d ever seen. Mia worked, afternoons and evenings, at a savings and loan and she was impressed. His testiness could be overlooked in favor of paying the rent on time. Mia was hopeful for the weight of debt to be lifted.

As Holt set up his basement abode, his tidy nature served as a refresher course in organized behavior. Everything had its place and she found his labels, which of course he laminates, quite efficient. Holt was going to be a life saver.

He hadn’t even cared that the basement was dark. He assured her that he could adequately light it with fragrant candles and a bare 25 watt bulb.

Months went by and Mia never saw Holt, never heard him either, but she was very happy to discover his rent money placed in her mailbox with a laminated note, FOR RENT, on the first of each month.

When she received her Amazon purchase wrapped in many layers of bubble wrap, Holt was the furthest thing from her mind. With a child-like grin she playfully stomped the heck out it beneath her shoe.

“Pop, padda, pop,pop!”

Seconds later, Holt burst through her door carrying an assault rifle. His eyes were wild and his attitude was, well, the testiest! Mia dove for the floor as he sprayed her apartment with bullets until all that remained was the clicking of an empty magazine.

Within minutes, police surrounded her building and extracted a blubbering heap once known as Holt. Mia would be nauseated and light-headed for days.

It was three months before she recovered. The accumulation of new debt was enough for her to try out a new roommate. This time, she presented the prospect with her own questionnaire. The woman read and answered every question, then giggled, “What does bubblegum have to do with anything?”

Random Word Story #26~Not for Profit

Infrared remote control receiver for Arduino

profit…ticket…old man…vet…sofa…war

There was a battle going on and Ben, this time, was only a spectator. He felt powerless…

As he wrapped himself in the afghan and settled into the sofa, he automatically probed the spaces for his TV remote. He considered what to watch realizing, only then, that he was unaware of the day and date. How long? His mind scrambled for a recent event that he could use as a landmark. Nothing… He was a military vet, now at  war, with himself.

A chopper roared overhead and as the dust cleared, he was back on base. The US flag gave a crack, as the wind wrestled with it, straight above his head. #1 mess hall was emptying. There were fly boys everywhere. He was momentarily startled but smiled broadly when his “brothers” approached him. They were cackling with laughter and he couldn’t wait to hear the joke.

Ben raised his hand to wave and brought the remote from between the cushions. He wasn’t quite sure where he was until he noticed that Comedy Central was on. The TV was blaring laughter … now applause. Clap, clap, clapping…

Snap, snap, snapping went the artillery. It was dark. He was so afraid.

Covering his face with his hands, he felt wiry stubble and tried, oh so hard, to remember his last shave. An image of himself in the bathroom mirror pressed through the fog. He was wearing his Air Force uniform. Blood trickled from a shaving cut at the corner of his lip. He was no longer a ragged old man. His posture was stiff and his eyes were steady. As he wiped the blood with the back of his right hand, he noticed the TV remote was still in his grasp. Behind him was the sun coming through the living room window. He was wrapped in the afghan and standing beside the sofa. He licked his lips. They tasted like iron.

Benjamin decided to make himself some tea to calm his nerves… the warmth and flavor always helped to anchor himself in the “here and now”. Whatever and where ever that was.

As he returned to his well-worn place, he felt steadier. It was Monday…yes, he was sure of it. He had reached to the bottom of the tea container for the famous quotation ticket and noticed he still held it in one hand. Ben shook, a bit, as he read it. Then he tore it into tiny pieces and tossed it into the air.

“Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane.” Henry Miller

Spontaneous Writing: My Dilemma

English: This is a Venn diagram showing the re...

English: This is a Venn diagram showing the relationships between pronunciation, spelling, and meaning of words, for example, homographs, homonyms, homophones, heteronyms, and heterographs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever find that the monologue in your head is so much more brilliant than you? The words flow with an amazingly beautiful voice but faster than the hand can reproduce. There’s an exercise called spontaneous writing that, I believe, tries to capture what’s in your head.

Certainly, spelling has no use there…at least not for me, I cannot presume to know if you “see” words in your head when my head is filled only with my voice. BTW- I do see numbers and charts in my head in a three-dimensional and, what I have come to understand, bizarre fashion. But, I’m on a word search today.

My dilemma, most of my writing is prompted by my personal dilemmas, is the act of spontaneous writing. The NANO month of November is one example. There’s also a blog , Magic in the Backyard by author Kellie Elmore, which asks for raw prose. The prime directive of these writing prompts is to write without any focus on grammar, spelling or corrections.

I want to do this! It sounds like a fun, and such a freeing, act but I somehow cannot make the final leap. My inner editor won’t shut down and I won’t do it and cheat. In order to take part, I have to be willing to produce material that is “unclean” and share it.

Does this come from an arrogance? I ask myself. Am I afraid to be seen as imperfect? My answer is, not exactly. Some of it IS from not wanting to be terribly imperfect. If you’ve seen my spelling errors even when I use spell check, then you may already suspect it. BUT, I believe my hesitance is more about being misunderstood.

Words are such an anemic medium. It takes careful placement and timing to reproduce the author’s meaning. In my case, I want meaning to be as clear as words allow and I cannot envision my writing being shared when I have not reread and edited it for meaning ,and yes, I believe incorrect spelling does dilute meaning. At the very least, it interrupts the flow and pleasure of the reader. And who of you doesn’t realize how very important the placement of commas can be?

So there you have it. I want desperately to play and I will not cheat which makes it so very hard for me to try.

Do you suffer the same struggle when asked to write spontaneously?

PS…this post was spell checked repeatedly and was corrected every time. 🙂

Random Word Story #25~Carl’s Adventure

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by

bird…threat…shadow…capital…sand…chewing gum

Here’s my story:

The jungle was thick, steamy and oppressive. Carl had no idea when he’d become lost. Guess that’s how getting lost happens. It poses more of a threat, though, when you’re in a jungle rather than on the highway.

The humming of insects was deafening. He faded back and forth, noticing the din, then ignoring it …feeling afraid, then exhilarated. His vacation was almost over and his adventure was only beginning. He fumbled through his backpack taking inventory of his supplies. A compass…dang, why hadn’t he asked someone how to use it?… One unopened apple juice box …and one piece of chewing gum.

He felt helpless, yet for a moment, he was amused.

He thought, “MacGyver would even fold with these tools. Sucks to be me.”

Carl was a level-headed fellow. He considered himself safe until he wasn’t safe. No need to panic.

As the grin was fading from his face, there came a shadow from over head. A brightly colored bird was circling. It reminded him of a vulture from those Tarzan films he watched as a kid. When vultures arrived, folks knew they were in trouble with a capital “T”. He decided it might be a good idea to follow the bird. When he looked up again, he was hit in the face with a tremendous, wet dropping!

It was sandy and warm. His arms flailed! He couldn’t see! He couldn’t BREATHE!

“DUDE! Chill! It’s just a towel.”

Carl’s first sight was a purple kite flapping in the wind overhead. His next sensation was sound. Waves of the approaching high tide were drumming. His heart felt as though he’d just run a marathon. There was an afternoon steam rising from the over-baked sand in front of his beachfront accommodations…

It was then, the lifeguard retrieved his wet towel from Carl’s chest and walked into the sunset.

Random Word Story #18~A Story for Kids

Random words generated by


cucumber-01 (Photo credit: geirf)

My task is to create a story, in one sitting, using randomly generated words.

My words are:... moss…attack…spike…anchor…pirate…cucumber

Here is my story:

Spike grew redder with anger. His attempt to move across the Bay had been foiled again! An anchor, from an ancient pirate ship, was blocking his forward progress.

Now what?

His mother had always whispered, “Slow and steady, slow and steady.”, to him. He had no choice but to move slowly! He was just a sea cucumber after all.

“Great crumbling hull! ” he shouted in frustration. He was glad that his mother could not hear him resorting to foul language but if he didn’t release some anger he felt he’d burst.

“Yeah, chum THAT you old creepy anchor!”

There was nothing to do but take the long way around. Heck, every way is the long way when you’re a sea cucumber.

Mother had stayed right where she grew up, in a small depression where all her family had grown. Not Spike. He had ambition. He wanted to see the world if only one inch at a time.

“I have better things to do than be depressed with my whole family. They can kiss my moss!”

So on he went. It had taken him a week to move this far.

He enjoyed where he was now. Just one cucumber in a strange new universe.

“Pssst! Yo dude!” A tiny blue crab was peeking from under a white scallop shell.

“What do you want?” Spike snipped.

“If I were you I’d turn around, stop all that complaining and cussing and go home. You’re not very bright for such a colorful creature. You stick out like a clam in a coral reef!  There’s safety in numbers. When the migrating squid come through and attack you, I ‘ll bet you’ll wish to be back home. Dumb cucumbers are their favorite dish!”

“Who do you think YOU are telling me what to do?”

The crab raised both arms. One held a beautiful large claw. The other was just a stub.

“The voice of experience and reason. THAT’S who.”

It took Spike 10 days to return from whence he came. On the eleventh day, he watched the squid migration overhead. He didn’t stand out any more but that fact was a good thing.

Random Word Story # 17~Wasted

Two Towers Las Vegas

Two Towers Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by

My words are:  switch…vinegar…wardrobe…bottle…dice…fountain

Here is my story:

Randolph McMann was too old to switch careers. His elderly mother still hounded him daily about his wasted intellect and shabby attitude.

At 61 years old, he was still a window washer and expected that he would be “laid out” in his white coveralls when he left  this world too. Even when he was off duty his wardrobe was the same.

Mom had moved in with him 5 years ago when Dad died. Despite his Irish name, he was a Native American through and through. His mother was a full-blooded Navaho and he was very proud of that lineage. His grandfather had called him “Little Pigeon” because he had enjoyed walking the ledges untethered since he was a kid.

Grandfather’s breath always smelled like vinegar. Randolph asked him repeatedly for a more noble Indian name. He’d hoped for something like, “Walks on the Wind” or “Fearless Falcon”.  But Little Pigeon stuck and he continued calling him that until the “bottle” claimed his life.

Today  Randolph was at the top of his game you might say. 27 stories above the Las Vegas strip. There was quite a warm wind blowing as he anchored himself to his scaffold and began cleaning. He’d made a very good living as the stereotypical Indian climber. He had no fear of heights even now that the “bottle” was his companion too. The nips rattled in his over-sized pockets as he knelt to grab a scrub brush. He’d emptied three of them before arriving.

He’d never gambled or ran with wild women. His mother’s complaints nagged him though. As he worked in silence, his mind tossed over many missed opportunities. He’d shown a real gift for art and math was so easy for him, in school, that he would skip the class and sit on the roof only to show up for finals.

He concluded that he belonged among the clouds no matter what anyone said when the scaffold tipped suddenly to the right.

“Damned thing. I’d do better without this contraption!” He reached for another nip and downed it while investigating the problem.

His vision suffered miserably once his blood alcohol level rose yet he swung himself upon the ledge and unhooked his “safety strap”.

A nearby fountain had sprayed a mist upon the wind which had settled on that very ledge. Randolph was falling before he even realized.

Luckily, he made it to the pavement without hitting anyone. His final thought was about the safety of others. He never heard the screams and commotion that followed. The man who never had rolled the dice, never even tried, had lost.

Random Word Story #16: Cold or Hot?

Random words generated at

So my story writing exercises continue. I use random words and produce a story in one sitting.

Here are today’s words:  night…Indian…bowl…dock…metal detector…ravioli

This is my story:

South coast of Barbados, West Indies.

South coast of Barbados, West Indies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The intricately carved wooden bowl was definitely Indian. Dagmar found it at the bottom of a box marked $1.00. The Flea Market was packed and as she dug for four quarters, she felt faint from all the commotion around her. Dagmar despised disorder and the scrambling and grabbing were almost too much to bear. But Rumpus would have the most stylish water bowl ever. That is, if Dagmar could get through the crowd and safely home.

She was known as D.K. at the office. Dagmar had always disliked her name and D.K. sounded more CEO-ish.  Rumpus was her elderly black and white cat. Actually, her cat was Rumpus III. Dagmar knew that the name was cool and didn’t think it should be wasted on just one cat. All of the others had been black and white, as well.

“If it works, don’t fix it.” was one of her favorite philosophies.

As she drove home along the water front, she noticed the same guy that she had seen every morning on the beach with a metal detector. This time he was digging furiously in one spot. He was waist deep in sand and looked very tired. She realized that she’d always secretly found him handsome. He certainly wasn’t her type at all, of course. Cutoff jeans, a tank top and a ponytail. She’d be the laughing-stock at the office with a man like that.

D.K. knew him only to wave to. Heck, she didn’t even know his name but her curiosity won and she pulled her efficient little electric car to the dock. It was odd to see him at the beach on Sunday, though.

She was hardly dressed for beach combing. Italian heels and a coral-colored suit. What was wrong with her anyway? She’d had her short mahogany hair permed only yesterday and the sun and wind would be her ruin. As she thought better of this rare spontaneity and was about to pull away, he waved at her.

It must have been meant for her. When she looked over her shoulder, there was no one else to claim it.

She waved back and while she considered her next move, he motioned for her to join him.

“Now what have I done.” she groaned.

Dagmar stepped out of the car. She planned her path to the beachfront in her head as she wobbled awkwardly into the sand.

“I must be crazy. He’s probably burying a body!” she said under her breath.

Her inner voice spoke to her. “Calm down Dagmar, you’ve been watching too many movies on the Lifetime channel. It’s broad daylight after all.”

This is when she slipped off her heels and knee highs and decided to continue. Her many years of order and prim were vanishing and she found the whole process very scary but amazingly scintillating. Her heart was pounding and several times as she walked forward, she almost turned and ran back to her car, to her comfortable self.

When she reached the man and stood beside the hole, Dagmar was out of breath, mostly from excitement. Her fear faded quickly when the man smiled at her with faint laugh lines emphasizing the deepest brown eyes she’d ever seen.

“Hey. I’ve been trying to get you to stop for sometime now. You’re D.K. Frost, right?”

“Why yes, that’s me. How do you know my name?”

“I’ve been hunting more than treasure on this beach. My name’s Brad. Nice to meet you D.K.” He offered a sandy hand and she took it.

Dagmar felt herself melting. The order, the schedules, the neatness suddenly all seemed very silly to her.

“You can call me Dagmar, Brad. What are you digging exactly?”

“At the chance of creeping you out and scaring you away, I must admit there’s nothing here I wanted more than to meet you. This hole was meant to stir your curiosity since I have noticed you watching my daily rituals from afar. I’ve been wanting to introduce myself. I live over there in the  blue beach house. I’m a judge in the fourth circuit  and really don’t care to know “beach babes”. Hope that doesn’t sound hopelessly sexist.”

Dagmar couldn’t believe her ears. This wonderful man had wanted to meet her all along. She’d been so busy judging his appearance that she had ignored her gut attraction. Seems she had been ignoring many things in her life.

Later that night, they were both still on the beach. They built a campfire and were sharing a can of cold raviolis with one plastic fork from her glove box. There was a palpable sensual air around the couple but they were both dignified and happy to take it slowly.

As they sat shoulder to shoulder with the pounding surf serenading them, Dagmar turned to Brad and asked, “Do you like cats?”

Random Word Story 14~Just the Facts

Random words generated at

These writing exercises have been great fun for me. At first, I was using 5 random words. In order to challenge myself , I have been adding extra words. Lets try 8 random words today.


Jury box in courtroom of Hamilton County court...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s my story:

Debbie was going to be the leader. She’d never led anything and being appointed as the jury foreperson was very intimidating.

At breakfast that morning, she’d considered that her day off would be a quick release from court and an afternoon of shopping.  She had always gotten out of jury duty early before. Why would she consider a different scenario? Ah, but the day was still young and she was now wearing a crown of responsibility she had never imagined.

After being seated in the courtroom, her knees began to jiggle and jump. Could this be a caffeine induced jitter from 3 cups of coffee or nerves?  Debbie HAD considered taking an Ativan but was afraid it would make her sleepy. Horrifying images of falling asleep in the jury box had helped her decide against it.

The case they were about to hear was high profile. A nanny was accused of the murder of one of her charges.

The defendant sat red-eyed and trembling at the table before her.

She didn’t look like a monster at all. Debbie’s instinct was to console her until she caught sight of the parents of the child, huddling tightly, with equally red eyes. It occurred to her then, that her day was not tough at all. Those poor folks were living a nightmare.

The defense lawyer began laying the foundation of his case with his opening statement. God, what a leech. Debbie could tell right away he didn’t really care…didn’t really feel anything. His matter-of-fact speech which amounted to the t-shirt slogan “Shit Happens”, really put her off.

How was she going to be the carriage of justice with so many feelings attempting to rule the day? Nausea was beginning to take over.

Suddenly, she felt outside of herself. An awful truth came to her. Justice, HA!  There was not going to be anything swift and final in this courtroom. Justice was only a word. She was only, one, fallible human being with feelings.

When Jack Webb used to say,”Just the facts, Mame.”  He didn’t know what he was talking about!

Random Word Stories #13~Finding My Voice

Beaver pond on the Thur river between Pfyn and...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words were generated by

Let’s try 7 words this time.


Here’s my story:

The rented cabin stood beside an old mill-pond. As ramshackle as it was, the place seemed to open welcoming arms as I stepped inside. My novel would have no choice but to write itself here. The musty smell was not unpleasant…it reeked of peacefulness and solitude. Could it be that this was the odor of  introspect?

“Ah Thoreau, your secret’s safe with me, my friend.”

My own voice sounded unfamiliar. I realized that I could talk to myself, out loud, all that I desired here. No raised eyebrows could ground me now.

After my nose grew accustom to the new surroundings, my ears tuned in to the chorus of frogs outside my door. An opera that no single frog could create.

” One for all and all for one, huh guys? Hope you sing all night. I’d enjoy that serenade at bedtime.”

My novel had been on hold for, well, all of my adult life. It had poked me in the ribs, every so often in the middle of my personal “rat race” ,  finally becoming too annoying to ignore any longer. Gosh, suddenly the realization that I’d be writing it by hand, struck me like a hammer.

“Henry, what might you have accomplished with a computer and printer?”

Yes, I liked the spirit of my favorite author beside me. Talking to him would clear those cob webs for sure.

I straighten up the place and made it my own. Then sat beside the pond in the springtime sun. Something magical in the sunshine in Spring. It is welcomed and comforting. The summer sun was overbearing and cruel in comparison.

A rustling in the brush brought me back from my poetic musings. Whatever it was, it was coming closer. I studied the wooded bank and saw brown fur headed toward the water’s edge.

As I was cleaning the cabin, I had found an old rifle with one unspent cartridge still in the chamber. For a moment, I debated whether I just might need it after all. My “peaceful harmony” mood had dismissed its value, originally, but my survival instinct made me make a mental note of where I’d put it. I now figured, it would take 10 seconds to lay my hands on it.

“Henry, were YOU ever afraid?”

My utterance made the beast pause.

“Fight or flight.Yup, what’s it gonna be fella?”

As my heart rhythm made a dramatic spike, two beady black eyes glistened followed by a splash and a slap on the water. A head surfaced just before it ducked into a pile of sticks and brush at the pond’s entrance.

I laughed at the terror I’d experienced for naught.

“Henry? Meet Beaver Cleaver…I think we’ll be spending lots of time together.”