The Road That Makes Us

Feign; Gait; Torn; Press; Left; Labyrinthine adj. complicated, torturous, resembling a labyrinth; Look; Embed; Malformed; Gritty; Natural; Dead-reckoning (In navigation, dead reckoning is the process of calculating one’s current position by using a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time and course.)

A malformed heart

Made for awkward gait,

But felt natural to her

As she made her way

Here and there; pressing on

By near-fatal dead-reckoning,

Through labyrinthine life.

She feigned mute courage,

Gritty strength, till it solidified,

Set—armor real and true;

Kept a scowling look at the ready…

Frown more than failing acuity’s view.

For, embedded in torn cardiac chambers

Where pulse keeps up resilient beat, was

Verbal shrapnel left from monsters masked

To hide murderous weapons of menage.

Sixty decades’ journey, wanderer’s path—

Gains, losses; pain, victory; faith which

Couldn’t be rent by ill winds, human

Treachery—offered an “in spite of”

Nurture, God’s seed flowered late.  A

Night Blooming Jasmine blossomed within

Unfathomable dark, deep buried beneath.

Her petals drip sparks, iridescent lights shine

For a certain few strangers who see that smile…

Not entirely extinguished, after all.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

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Too-Close Crimson Trees…Fear

“A word and photo prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  Use the prompts separately or together.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Word Prompt Fear”

Sammi Cox, author/photo


I still see, feel it as a grove of too-close

Dark crimson trees, their airless heat singeing,

Imprisoning me…blood’s black-red fear

Of this stranger, my mother, who openly

Despised me; controlled me with consuming

Fright that taught me much.

Striving to be “unseen and not heard”,

I learned to take breaths oh-so-shallow;

To move without apparent motion, static as

Wallpaper; to weep without wails; clench my

Jaw against unbidden words which would be

Deemed impertinent—no matter their

Innocence, ignorance, or truth.

To be afraid of one who gave you life—

All day, each day, and every night—short-circuits

Brain’s wiring, melts insulators, so that nothing

In the world is perceived as safe, trustworthy.

Mental-emotional abuse, neglect of nurture

Burn unseen scars…with long-term ramifications. 

They leave a child stunted—no sense of true identity,

Self-confidence.  The ability to learn is compromised,

Followed by swelling fear of responsibility:

How could I concentrate to excel in school;

Learn social skills to be accepted by peers;

Or ever drive a car; maintain employment to

Support myself; choose a stable, loving spouse;

Or even imagine having children myself?

The fear, and its accompanying hurt never left me. 

To a significant degree, I yet live in the too-close,

Suffocating red trees…unable to walk out.

I still feel the full-body-quaking terrors:

Sometimes when wind blows through branches,

I hear her shark-teeth-tearing words—barbed

Voice that stings like hailstorm on bare skin.

Sometimes she echoes in the thunder…death did

Not muffle her…she returns some nights, in dreams.

Faith is my comfort—but it doesn’t erase,

Eradicate cruel ghost of my mother.


The red leaves glow in September, God’s

Reminder that He selected that season

For my birth; intended it to be

Bright-beautiful celebration of promise.

And for that reason, His creative love unique,

He surrounds me daily with His song*

That while autumn leaves fall, I will not;

I’ll overcome winter’s sleep, be resurrected

To see glorious Cherry Blossoms in spring;

Hear wind chimes dance in summer trees…

My heritage assured, God’s precious daughter,

I’ll gleam like a field of forget-me-knots, sapphire’d.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

New American Standard Bible
*You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.  Psalm 32:7

Psalm 31:20
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 9:9
The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble;

Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 119:114
You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.

Psalm 121:7
The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.

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Hoarfrost, Legacy of Shame

Absolute; Precede; Blip; Cabal (n))  a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority. the plots and schemes of such a group; intrigue. a clique, as in artistic, literary, or theatrical circles.); Paper; Asomatous (adj.)) Having no material body.); Hum; Stand; Above; Item; Opaque; Fremdschämen (v)) To feel ashamed about something someone else has done. )


The mother wore Fremdschämen

Like a locket beneath her blouse…

Unholy item, yet somehow sacred, an

Amulet warm against her opaque heart

Which—cut by her perfect hand from heavy 

Paper mysterious—made no hum, nor recorded a

Blip as she coldly stepped around, removed

From, her daughter—first-born child.

What shame had the girl brought on her?

Life-long enigma, this (held in confidence

Reserved only for the girl’s brother, the prince

Who looked to be his sister’s twin); though not

A figment of her imagination.  It was as

Absolute as the mother’s stone visage, had

Perhaps preceded the girl’s birth…how would she

Know?  But she felt its substance, an asomatous

Hatred standing above her every moment, waiting

For merest opportunity to demean, humiliate,

Castigate her with fearsome angry words which

Rang like razor-sharp clawed blows, stripping

The skin from small nebulous soul.

Time passed, the inexplicable cruelty grew

Heads and limbs, a monstrous entity which

Formed a shunning cabal—mother and

Siblings communicating secret looks—

From which the girl was silently excluded.

So it would remain…this unexplained, and wordless

Mutual agreement—banishment to tundra. 

Death claimed the mother, who bequeathed

The girl nothing…not one lone loving,

Or last remorseful, thought.

By then, the girl’s center had iced over—

Tears of wounding, grief, buried beneath

Decades of hard-packed snow, hoarfrost…

Incapable of loving, she wore the

Mother’s hand-me-down frowning rime.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

Image credit: Pixabay

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A simmered color flushed Calla’s

Cheeks and throat to match the punch

She’d mixed to a tsunami froth.

What was the matter What was the matter??

The matter was that she was meeting her

Mother-in-law for the first time…

The mom from the nether world,

A documented nut-case whom family

Members kept in chains in the cellar

When she’d burst into fits of glossolalia.

And this very moment she was

Walking through Calla’s door.

Calla mopped her face with cool water,

Smoothed her apron-covered house dress.

On the surface, Mrs Giblet looked nice enough.

The two women smiled nervously at each other.

“Calla, I’m so pleased to finally make your

Acquaintance.  I wasn’t sure what to bring—

Hope you’ll like it.”

She handed Calla a bottle which looked to

Hold fancy liqueur…but Calla was wary:

Might be toxic, stirred up in the cellar’s cauldron…

Mother Giblet tapped the label lightly—

“Forgive my bragging, I created and named it,

And it won a gold medal:  ‘Lovers Punch’—

Would you care to try some?”

Calla glanced surreptitiously at her own

Punch bowl, discreetly covered.

“Why, yes—it couldn’t hurt to have

Just a sip before dinner.”

She discovered it had the smoothest

Fruity blend she’d ever tasted.

Calla looked at her husband, Moke—

Who was trying to hide a grin—then

Realized the truth:  she’d been pranked.

This warm and lovely woman wasn’t a

Dungeon Queen who boiled potions…

And possibly daughters-in-law.

She wasn’t scary at all.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

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Polly, from Forgotten River

Climb; Vague; Sadness; Perish; Pangs; Nepenthe (n.)) A drug or drink, or the plant yielding it, mentioned by ancient writers as having the power to bring forgetfulness of sorrow or trouble. anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, especially of sorrow or trouble.); Neolithic; Four; Offhand; Reappear; Sallow;  Abdicate (v)) to renounce or relinquish a throne, right, power, claim, responsibility, or the like, especially in a formal manner ).  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.  Tag: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie and Wordle.

It was no doubt the nepenthe

Polly ‘secretly’ swilled at 10, 2,

And Four, in her warm Dr Pepper*,

That had turned her rose milk

Complexion sallow; made her

Soft mind go vague, prompting

Murmured offhand non sequiturs.

She had all but abdicated Life;

Climbed backward into hull of

Heart full-broken by less suave

Swain, who swept what small

Sense she might have possessed

Into barn loft’s fallen hay….

Now ‘n again, you’ll see her

Reappear—near-ghostly figure

Of abject sadness—penning

Pitiable lines when pangs of

What she can’t-quite-remember

Assail her with longings to bury

Guilt (murky), and perish beside

Forgotten River…where neolithic

Stones sometimes still glitter.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

*In the 1920’s and ’30’s Dr Pepper advertised its soft drink by that name, with a slogan to “drink Dr Pepper at 10, 2 and 4 o’clock…”

Image credit: Pixabay

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To My Hearth Returned (#writephoto)

Thursday photo prompt – Messenger #writephoto

From Sue Vincent:  Use the image below as inspiration to create a post on your own blog… poetry, prose, humour… light or dark, whatever you choose, by noon (GMT)  Wednesday 19th July and link back to Sue’s post with a pingback. Please make sure that the pingback works and if not, copy and paste your link into the comments section of Sue’s post. Don’t forget to use the #writephoto hashtag in your title so your posts can be found.

Image:  Sue Vincent

Tender harbinger,

You winged across an ocean,

Untiring, faithful in your mission

To deliver me sorrow, news of

Heart’s worst loss… The world

Stopped turning—still, soundless—

Even my weeping, mute river.

You blotted tears with onyx pinions,

Sat near, promised to stay awhile…

As hours lengthened—dusk’s blue-gray

Chamois, to inky ebon-indigo—

I feared grief’s fatigue had

Unhinged mind from logic.

Avian voice had altered, become much

Familiar—precise pitch, timbre, tempo.

From youth I knew its reassurance,

Embrace—despite dreams, distant reality.

Wide warm wings wrapped ’round

Me, close—I startled, pulled back to

Peer deep into black pearl eyes;

Watched them change to sea glass hue,

Holding pensive sapphire’d miles—

And then I knew.

Finally in death, risen as raven-feathered

Phoenix, you’d chosen for your return, my hearth.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

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Don’t Swallow the Stone!

A stranger, I’d been advised

Not to expect warm welcome

From the village tribe

I stood far back at the edges

Of the crowd that gathered

Around a stone-bordered hole,

Waiting for anticipated moment

When The Quake would send

Rippling wave ‘neath their feet—

Thus signalling the elders to step up, 

Spit a pebble into abyss of lost souls.

The man whose spit stone caused

A reverberating echo, would own

Treasure yet undisclosed, unknown.

It might be money, property, or the town’s

Youngest virgin—his bride-prize to wed.

Aside from this celebratory event,

There was possibility of secondary,

Quite shuddery, happenstance.

It hadn’t occurred in the past 7 years—

Perhaps, some folks whispered,

The day was well due.

A man too excitable, who lacked stern

Control—might swallow his pebble, and

Choke till he turned death’s dim

Indigo…toppling fast and forever

Into the Hole.

©Jael Sook, 2017 All rights reserved.

Image credit: Pixabay

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