Retreats, Re-treats and a Vampire’s Thoughts on Writing

traditional vampire

Once upon a time, I kissed a Vampire. I wore a bustle dress but he did not have wings. It was lovely.

victoiran bats

In popular mythology Vampires have bat wings and turn into bats. Nice idea.

in your room

I was never one for creeping into bedrooms either, of course unless… unless it was a bed I wanted to stay in for a while. Hey, you know, even Vampires multi-task.

So do moms like me. So do most modern parents (Vampires or not.)

I usually don’t comment on the blogs of others… I try not to be rude or snarky (HA HA April Fools on that one) but I just read a blog post about “Writer’s Retreats.” There were thoughts and quotes from “experts.” I have no beefs with the author. She was lovely. I do have it with other things about retreats and “experts.”

Today has been one of those days when I read about “Writer’s Retreats,” and I think of myself and my writing friends and I think “WTF?” I’m f___ing busy. I have an independent mind. I need coffee. I’m a bitch. But…

Perhaps when I was younger but I would have just found love the idea of a retreat. I also would have found the cutest guy at the retreat and slept with him. I would have written a bunch of lofty angst filled crap that nobody would ever want to read. Yes that is blunt. It is. Deal with it. Or I would have instantly gotten writer’s block and totally bored, or spent the entire time trying to impress everyone else there, and maybe drained the blood from the cute guy and left in the middle of the night. Maybe not. It just has no appeal to me anymore. I don’t want to be lofty. I don’t want to be deep. I don’t want to be literary.

So anyway…

What would my retreat be?

My retreat is in those hours before the sun comes up with just the company of my cats and my coffee.

My retreat is in those times when the kids are practicing their sports, or I’m waiting for, well, just waiting for someone or something else.

It is when I walk the dog and let my mind fill with ideas.

My retreat is looking at pictures and art and music. Filling my senses completely full.

My writing retreat is when I lay next to my husband, our arms around each other. I close my eyes and drift off to a place where everything is perfect and as it should be.

Sure I’d like the luxury of spending a lot of money and time off in a cabin in the woods (but not like that silly movie of the same title) with like minds… but then I think not. I’d rather spend the time with like minds that I already know or who live in my circles. I’d rather be with other bloggers and short story writers, those I know and those I don’t know yet, who live in a rushed world with so much variety and activity that they can hardly think, much less escape from it. They’re the ones who inspire me.

My writing friends and my quick messages to them and their feedback is my retreat.

Reading the works of others, no matter what the content, point of view or genre is my retreat.

The joy of learning the craft of writing (the stuff you don’t see here) is my retreat.

I guess I’m just not a follower. There are those who inspire me but I’m sort of old and I have teenagers and life is extremely serious and at the same time so whimsical and funny and amazing that… that if I went off by myself to write I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I like my alone time. That said, as a writer and an artist, it has to be MY time. My place. My thoughts that rattle around in my brain for hours and days before anything goes down on paper, even if those hours and days are only a split second.

You might not agree with me. I wouldn’t go on a marriage retreat either. I wouldn’t go on a Vampire retreat. I don’t do retreats. I despise the very idea of self-help retreats. Spiritual retreats make me think of cults totally creep me out. But if you like that sort of thing… well go ahead but don’t ask me along. I’ll just smile and say “have a nice time.”

I have to say that my husband feels the same way about these sorts of things. We came into this relationship with this view already. And don’t even get me started on most parenting books, experts, seminars and retreats. My fangs will come out when that subject comes up.

My husband always says “Everything annoys you.”

I respond with, “Why yes it does.”

I’m not going to pretend I’m perfect or my views and life are perfect (like some people in the news) but it is my life and I’m feeling a little snarky right now. My regular readers know I’m usually pretty sweet and sensitive. I am. Really. Most of the time. OK I try.

But I do like TREATS and I like sharing so I guess that could be a nice Re-Treat. A nice bottle of wine, some cheese, some tea or whatever you like… I could go for that. We’d talk about our writing then maybe we wouldn’t. We’ll just end up talking about our dogs or roller skating or books we’ve read or those day-to-day things that make up the contents of good writing (fact or fiction or those odd bits that live in both worlds.) Or you could send me a link to something cool online or a story you’re writing or I could read your book and then you could read mine. THAT is the perfect retreat – to share treats – the treat of our thoughts and creativity.

And to think this was going to be an essay on being a Modern Vampire… oh well.

Have a good week everyone and don’t listen to me if you don’t want to, but I’ll be here if you need me.

And on a serious and thoughtful note… I hope all of you have your own small retreats, those places either mentally or physically that are yours and yours alone.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

clarke dark

Wrong Number

This isn’t a tall tale or something from the mysterious paranormal or gothic side of life.

It is just a story of something sort of sad.

It isn’t even my story. It is the story of someone who is alone. We think this person is alone. We don’t know for sure. It is a mystery.

It is a story of missed connections.

I didn’t make this up.

Smart phones don’t always reflect the situation of the people who are calling them. When we get a new phone number more likely than not somebody else had that number before we did. Or our number is close to another more popular number. When I first go my cell phone number about 12 years ago I kept getting calls from people speaking Spanish and Chinese. I got calls for a bakery. I got calls for a tire store.

My daughter has been getting calls from a local mental hospital. They are looking for a man named Thomas. He needs to pick up a patient who is only called by a number. No name. Just a number. This has been going on for two weeks.

If we were in a movie or a novel Clara, Garrett her 17-year-old brother and their friend Randy would go to the mental hospital and get the mysterious patient only known by a number. Then they’d have a strange and wild adventure and it would all wrap up after a lot of violence and car chases. But this isn’t a movie or a book.

Unfortunately the mystery isn’t unfolding. It is just a sad situation. Somebody is at a mental hospital for teens and adults. Someone is alone. So alone. They need a ride and the only number the hospital has is the wrong number which belongs to the phone of a 14-year-old girl. Nobody seems interested in finding the correct number or perhaps a different contact. Isn’t anyone talking to the patient only known by a number? Clara has spoken to people at the hospital explaining the situation but she keeps getting calls for asking for the mysterious Thomas.

This mysterious phone number (with the prefix of 666) also receives calls for a young woman I’ll call M. These are also sad and weird. M missed a court date. The parole officer is pissed off to no end. M deals drugs.  M owes everyone money. M is a go between for drug deals. M has an ex-boyfriend who is looking for her. M is a train wreck. M gets a lot of phone calls. I’ve heard these phone messages too. It is not a life I’d want to be part of or want my children to be part of. I don’t even want M to be part of it. It is an unfortunate life full of bad choices that nobody should be part of.

It is strange and sad that by accident we have seen into sad lives of people we will never meet. We don’t know anyone like M. We don’t know who Thomas is. We don’t know who the person is who needs to be picked up. We never will know. Clara has told the callers that they have called the wrong number. That is all she can do.

I was going to write about Vampires and darker subjects today, but these calls are pretty dark.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

In that hour before sunrise…

It is dark and quiet in the hour before sunrise. The only sound other than my computer keys is the sound of a cat playing with a twist tie. How can a creature have so much fun with a twist tie? And the real question is: Why is it so cute? Now he is trying to bite the corner of my laptop monitor. Cute kitty indeed.

This week so much good news, sad news and work has drained my brain of any story telling skills (or so it feels.)

I’ve been swamped.

The kids are super busy with so much activity that I can hardly keep up with them. The talk is of friends, relationships, and the chunky-monkey winterized cat Oscar who has been renamed “Gato Gordo.” One of them is going to do a music video in Spanish and we’ve been listening to 50 years of Spanish language songs, then the day the music died and great guitar solos.

We’re talking about picking a college and skating (and a lot of practice due to a big meet this weekend) and being different in a different kind of world (not just because we roller skate) and a million other things, including farts because I live with teens and farts are always part of the conversation. Farts and butt cracks and stupid things other kids do (naked selfies) and say (you don’t want to know.)

One thing I’m grateful for is that we talk in this house. Everybody talks. There are no filters here. It is a safe zone. Yes, a safe zone even when the parents are in the room. Don’t think for one minute my husband and I didn’t work hard and plan for that one.

I think that is why I write – because it is the only time I can get any quiet time … that isn’t true, they talk to me when I try to write too. In fact that, when mom writes, is PRIME time to talk to mom.

Teddy (the dad and husband) is also crazy busy but seems to be keeping a sense of humor…They’ve all been laughing all night. It is a beautiful thing. I hope. He is exceptionally sweet these days but can still drive me nuts. And then there are others I need to take care of and check on and watch over…

Soooooo, I’m reposting something I shared in September, 2013 about taking care of the old folks and being a Vampire and being me. You know how it is. I’m busy. I take care of everyone because I have to, well, and want to. I’m sure you can relate, even if you aren’t a mom or a Vampire.

slowwriting

 

Delivered to your door…

I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.

Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.

I was reading on my deck, a glass of wine in my hand, my eyes closed for just a second…

I was three years old and someone was throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.

Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.

I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.

“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.

My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.

I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”

“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.

“No. What is going on?”

My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”

I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”

Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.

Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.

They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.

Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.

“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.

“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.

I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.

“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.

“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.

“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.

“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.

“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.

“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.

“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.

“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”

Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”

Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”

“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”

“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.

“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.

Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”

“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.

Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”

“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.

I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.

“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.

They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.

In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.

Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.

I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”

“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”

I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.

In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.

Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”

Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”

We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.

Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”

“I just worry about you two,” I told him.

“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”

“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.

Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”

I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…

“Mom?”

I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.

I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.

 

 

 

 

Have  a good weekend everyone. Relax and get some rest.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

gothic design

 

 

And another adventure of mine…click here for “If You Want Something Done Ask A Busy Person.”

 

And for more on the Elders do a search on the blog under “Elders” or “Tellias” or “Eleora.”

 

In memory of a poet – Daniel Tanzo

Dan passed away March 27 at 2:50am. A nurse who checked on him at 2:30 said he was sleeping peacefully. When she returned at 2:50, he was gone.

From his dear friend Tina Benson:

His sister Tracy, brother-in-law Mark, and I arrived within the hour to bear witness to the full military honors he was afforded before they took him away. It was quite moving, actually.

When I got there, he was clearly at peace…I had no sense that he was holding on, hanging on. or hovering around at all…seems the last few weeks surrounded by all the loving care he received, allowed him to move through the bardos and be on his way. He felt very peaceful, and very gone…as if he’d already taken flight and was well on his way.

To all of you who sat vigil at his bedside over these past weeks, and to the many more of you from around the world who lit candles, sent prayers, and bathed him in love, please know that it gave great comfort to Dan and his family. Dan knew in the last weeks of his life how deeply loved and cherished he is.

I will post Memorial Service date, location, and time, as soon as it is determined.

In shared love of this crazy, gentle, giant of a man…”

~ Thank you Tina for all of your updates and for being there with Dan. The love will always be with you. Wishing you peace.

Vampire Maman

525953_10150695139433144_1297171329_n

I’d like to introduce you to a poet, a bear of a man, a free-thinker, a man with a loud laugh and a gentle touch. A man with few filters, but a man of great words. Daniel E. Tanzo.

Celebrate with me the poetry…

If You Really Want to know

Poetry is the gauntlet of the human existence,
from agony to ecstasy, mundane,
profane and sacred. From Christ on the cross
to Dionysian orgiastic debauchery
with nymphs who rend his flesh,
to the cry of a newborn babe,
reaching in and attaching itself to your soul
Poetry is life squared,
brought to existence,
through an oft times inadequate medium.
So we try to connect soul to soul,
with the ink from our veins.

Copyright © Daniel E. Tanzo

Daniel is a tough, ornery son of a bitch, often called The Grizz (after the bear). He also has a softer side…

View original post 538 more words

Secret lives and private stories

Vampire Maman

There was a room full of books in the back of the Elder’s farmhouse. The adults would be gathered and I’d be back looking at the pictures. I couldn’t read well so I looked at the pictures and imagined what the words might be.

The volumes, old even then, held years of uncommon history, adventures, tales of people who lived lives that seemed far more exciting than mine. But I knew, that one day I’d be living the life of one of those people in the books – those books I could barely read.

During one of my girlhood book searches I found a large Bible. There were a lot of words in fancy lettering. What I remember was the pictures. There was a picture of a group of naked men building something. I made out the word Noah and knew that was a man who built the ark and gathered up animals. The story made no sense to me to begin with and now seeing a bunch of naked men doing construction work made even less sense. Wasn’t it uncomfortable to be sawing and hauling lumber completely naked? They didn’t even have shoes. I asked my brother Valentine about it. I think he was 6 or 7 at the time (about a year older than me.) He told me that it was hot in the Holy Lands. It was hot so they took off their clothes and built a giant boat. It still made no sense. It made no sense that books were filled with pictures of naked people no matter what they were doing. Nobody went around naked where I lived. In fact they wore too many clothes in the world of our childhood.

Years later I did read the books in the Elder’s farmhouse (and many more) and marveled at their content. In the dark of the rooms on hot summer nights I’d read for hours on end, escaping into a world of another century.

In town I’d go to the book shop and buy popular fiction, cheap novels that would take me to places of romance and lovely girls in swishing dresses who held tight to their virtue, least they be ruined forever by a handsome man with a dark and evil heart. Then on occasion I’d find something more frightening than losing one’s virtue. I’d read tales of disasters, prisons, insane asylums and Gothic horrors and mysterious strangers. I thrived on that. It was nothing like the books of today, but those stories influenced the stories we now read (and write.)

Stories weren’t limited to books. I’d always find a corner in a room full of adults who’d talk into the night about everything they’d ever done and who they’d done it with. And if they weren’t telling their own stories they were talking about somebody else. I’d listen, quiet as death, imagining I was unseen by the grownups.

When my brothers and I were small my mother would read books to us using voices and accents for characters, then a slow steady voice for the narration. On alternating days my father would tell us wild tales he’d make up on the spot and keep us laughing. Each story also came with a song. We were surrounded by stories and worlds other than our own.

There came a time when I could read more complex books (around age 11.) In an elaborately embroidered canvas bag (my own stitching) I’d carry a well worn and repaired copy of Jane Eyre. I’d imagine myself in her place. The story in my mind would change as I read the story on the pages over and over. I’d tell the brooding Edward Rochester that I didn’t care if he had a crazy wife. I’d save him from the fire. I’d turn him into a Vampire and we’d roam the hillsides forever and lay under the moonlight in fields of fragrant flowers. Or I’d leave him alone and make my way to America with my new found wealth and marry a rich man in New Orleans. I’d burn down my old school. There were 1,000 different versions of the story in my head, but I’d always go back to the original version. To this day I’ll still find myself in Jane’s shoes as I walk the dog in the meadows and oak woods near my home. The gentle winds through the trees transport me to another time, in a huge skirt with hair I’ve unleashed from my constricting bun flowing down my back.

As you can see it doesn’t take much to get my imagination fired up or much to entertain me.

I’d do the same with many other books over the years. Everyone in my family and all of my friends devoured books. I have to admit that when Dracula came out we all had to get copies. We read and shared what we read. Books circled around and around.

As learned to read I began to write. Not well at first, but in earnest. I’d write innocent silly stories typical for most kids. I’d write poetry and draw pictures to go with it. I’d write plays and find others to perform with me.

From there I discovered real romance and love letters. Everyone wrote letters then. It was a daily activity as well as an art form.

Over the years plays were produced, poems were written and mixed in were sketch books filled with illustrations of yet unwritten stories. Then I stopped.

I was just struggling to find myself, or at least find some sort of direction. A lot of us go through that. The thing I remember that stands out in a weird sort of way was how men I met would almost become angry at me for not being creative. More it was that i isn’t being creative for them. Then again, few of them added any value to my life. Not back then.

My writing then was one of my secret lives. My stories were private. It was the person inside of me that I didn’t share.

I always read. I never stopped creating stories and keeping notes on paper and in my head.

After I became a mother those memories of childhood came back, along with memories that spanned several centuries.

Then I started to write again. It started out as a story for a friend… and ongoing tale… just for fun. Now it is my heart and soul.

We all need something that fills our hearts and soul. It doesn’t have to be writing or art. I’m the only one in my family who is creative that way. One of my brothers is musical. The rest have other passions.

I think back to what I used to write. Then I look at the writing of the children in my life (now teens.) I marvel at the sophistication and complexities of the stories they write. I’m amazed how mature their words are compared to what I was doing at their age. I hope I’ve been an influence. Or maybe they’re just more mature souls than I was at their age. I’m so proud of them.

I continue to write because I’ve found a measure of success that feeds my ego. Yes, I’ll admit it. Mostly I write because I have stories to tell and face it…. I do this because it is fun. Yes, FUN. Really really really fun.  And it is mine. Of course I want, and try to entertain you too.

We all need to find something that we sense is our own, even if it starts with a book with words you can’t read and pictures you can’t understand. Your brain will make it all come together and it will work. Eventually it will all work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

old friends

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

The Eagle Cried

I’m honored to share a poem from my friend, Northern California writer Richard Turton.

eagle

The Eagle Cried

 

The acrid smell of cordite

Still hovered in the air.

No breeze to wash away

The scent of Satan’s hair.

 

The Medivac’s are fading now,

Their cabins filled with dead.

So many grisly pictures

Are surging through my head

 

Another hill’s been taken

The earth all charred and black

We all know what’s coming;

Tomorrow…”Give it back!”

 

The Eagle cries from barren trees

His tears, he cannot hide.

Where once a proud, young soldier stood

My Warrior Brother, died

 

The scorched ground that surrounds me;

Am I in Dante’s Hell?

This skirmish now is over

We saw them as they fell.

 

My Warrior Brother, Donny,

Died that gruesome day.

He took the bullets meant for me

With his final words did say,

 

“Tell Mom and Sis I loved them!

Please! Don’t let me down!”

I promised I would tell them

A promise I’d soon drown.

 

The Eagle cried that tragic day,

Back in Sixty-Eight.

A promise made…un-kept,

To my Warrior mate.

 

One thing that I’m sure of,

A thing that gives no rest.

The hounds of Hell still battle

Deep within my chest.

 

 

 

A bottle’d been my address

For forty years or more.

I’d take ‘most any drug,

I couldn’t find the door.

 

Somewhere there’s a record,

Of drugs and booze and tears.

When I crawled out of the bottle

I’d been buried in for years.

 

Half a decade sober.

Not a real long time.

That’s how long I’m clean tho’,

My life’s becoming mine.

 

The winds of war are blowing by;

In history books they last.

I’m in the winter of my years,

My best days…they have passed.

 

The one thing that I’ve never done

One thing I cannot face:

To visit the Memorial,

The headstone for that place.

 

My daughter said, “You have to go,

To honor those who died!”

I said I know I should…

But that I’d go…I lied

 

Then one day the phone rang;

A call I knew I’d dread.

It was Donny’s sister,

“Please help me!” Karen pled.

 

“I’ve spent these years just searching

I even hired a sleuth.

I finally found out where you live…

I need to know the truth.”

 

“The Army’s always been real vague,

And their answers never matched.

I need to know what happened;

They always seemed detached”

 

 

“Our Mother has passed on now,

But I still need to know;

I’d really love to meet with you,

Please…just show me how!”

 

The hounds of Hell are roused again;

Their howling has re-started.

I force their shrieks out of my mind,

My path, it has been charted

 

Quiet now, you dogs of war!

It’s time for a new quest!
It’s time for me to wrestle you,

And lay your souls to rest!

 

Then I thought the one thing,

A thought I’d never say,
Should I meet her at The Wall,

And put my hounds at bay?

 

I finally said I’d meet with her,

With a voice that was not mine.

“The Wall is where I’ll meet you.

I’ll see you there at nine.”

 

I saw flowers in her hand,

As she walked my way.

“Yellow roses were his favorite.”

Later she would say.

“Hello, my name is Karen.”

She said when we did meet

“Donny wrote me many things,

I knew that you’d be sweet!”

 

“I know this must be hard for you,

But I really need to know.

Please tell me how my brother died,

That day, so long ago.”

 

The moment had arrived.

I could hide this fact no more.

I said things I’d kept hidden,

Behind my mind’s locked door

 

 

 

She took my hand in hers,

And waited patiently.

My head bowed down as I thought

Of words I had to say.

 

I knew my words would stab her heart

But she would not look away.

She watched me as I told her

Of that ghastly day.

 

“Your Brother died in my arms,

In that nameless place.

He took the bullets meant for me

And died as we embraced!”

 

Her head dropped down, when I was done

Her chin upon her chest.

A single tear rolled down her cheek,

“Now Donny’s laid to rest.”

 

I walked with her as she made her way

To the Wall of Stone.

She laid the flowers at the base

Her silent prayer was sown.

 

At last I’ve honored those who fell,

Whose names are etched in rows.

We touched the name of Donny,

Who died so long ago.

 

And we cried…

 

The Eagle’s cry is heard again;

It lives within the Wall!

Each time a name is touched

The Eagle gives his call.

 

 

© Richard Turton

 

warmemorial wall

 

Note from Juliette:

I met Rick Turton through his son who was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. Rick joined a writing group I’m an administrator for.  We all soon discovered Rick is a talented writer and a man with a sharp sense of humor.  When I first read this poem I had no idea … I ended up choked up. A few years ago I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It was such a moving experience – a difficult experience – even though the war is long over. For many it will never be over. Thank you to Rick for your words of love and honor and for allowing me to share this poem.

 

Richard Turton and one of his sweet grand babies.

Richard Turton and one of his sweet grand babies.