“A Woman in Time” by Maggie Sue Traynor

Tired, warn out face
Salt and pepper hair sets the pace
The fragile body that I see
Respected lady, I do agree
She lives alone, no one around
A couch, two chairs is all I found
A peaceful soul I must admit

Continue forward do not quit
Life must go on, it’s the way to go
Content and happy this precious soul

You’re above the law
Skeletons in your closet
Defeat will be yours

No where to hang out
It sucks when you are homeless
Oh well life goes on

To live and let live
My brothers and sisters, please
This is the best way

please drive with caution
Innocent lives are at stake
It may even be you

Sun rises again
Dark clouds will turn to clear skies
Victory is ours

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Grit Uplifted at Words Fest!

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Come one, come all! Happening Saturday, October 25th, it’s the Grit Uplifted Writing Session at WordsFest London, celebrating all things wordy. This drop-in writing workshop will provide participants with some insight regarding how our weekly writing group functions: we work around societal and literary themes to incite discussion and provide a safe space to share ideas, thoughts, and of course, writing.

WordsFest London has kindly created the following page to give attendees an idea about what to expect, which you can view here.

Let us know if you have any questions by emailing maeghan.pirie[at]gmail.com.

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You Never Left Me (Allegory) – Alan Blenkhorn

Parents
Separated
Children
Sent away
Others
Stray
To find their way
Out of sight
The quiet fight

A living
Misery
Seemingly
Very, very
Wrong
Everything now gone!

Life
Isn’t
Right
Past
Another insight

A loner
Bi Polar
Without
Medication
To boarder
Needs
Sedation
Any
Mind
Filling
Stimulation
Annulling
His
Sensations
Could
Cause
Dramatic
Fanatic
Inflation

Bi Polar stumbles on
The children’s prison
Sensing
Grieving
He plans on
Just
Leaving
Until
Still…

He remembers
A daughter
Once
Close
Loving
Her most

She could be in there!

No moments
For despair
Thinking
You must stay here!

The guards
Had no time
To even move
Due to
BP’s smooth
Psychotic
Grooves
Twenty or more
Everyone
All left sore

Then a familiar
Voice
His preference
Of choice
Follows
The energy
Vibe
Straight to
The completely
Terrified

He always knows
Where to go
A cold dungeon
Damp and dark
Below
Her voice
Speaks
Piercing
Miseries
Noise
Annoyed

Kicking
Through
Doors
Its kids
Galore!

So!
Everyone goes!

Through
The front
Hanging
Smashed
Doors

Not one kid
Left back
A successful
Manic
Attack

On horse and saddle
This group traveled
Through fields
And thickened
Forest
Tundra lies
Just before
Dust
Under the African stars
Light
Fills bright tonight
Keeps them
In tight
Then a spot
Thought
Right
For
The night

These kids could be the life of him
He doesn’t want a goddamn thing!

Kiss
Hug
Your horses
Thank you
Helps them feel
A little less
Cranky

Tears
Back
Remorse
Using
All
His energy’s force

Through jungles in the pouring rain
Not to mention the constant strain
Requiring no attention
These kids never complain

The group finds a stray
On their pathway
He strolled through
Like a snoop
Too

Can we keep him!?
He lost his kin
So
We let him in

BP’s eyes
Circle like the flies
Thinking
Something
Is shorthand
He truly understands
A lion cub
Brought these kids
Lots
Of
Needed love

Up the trail a ways
Trouble turns in the haze
Pounds and more
Put on this pack
An Awful
Roar!
Then once more!

The size of a Lincoln town car!
Biggest animal
He ever saw
A beast of pride
We should really
Try to hide

He could
Definitely
Kill
With
Chills

Deciding pride
Quiet in grace
In his daughter’s pretty little face
Cried
Wild

She never moved a muscle
With plenty of reasons to scuffle
Then
The lionesses joined in
Gaze
With Lincoln
His daughter
Held strong
He seemed to listen
Like she belonged with him

(A whisper)
He is not a pet!
Cub is our friend
You need not fret
We mean
No harm
Please
Call off
The alarm

Creating smiles
On each and every face
Lasting awhile
For such an awkward space

To find the mothers!
Cried another

Group to group
They’ll show us
A better route
In trust

Lincoln
Lead the pack
He knows
The best ways
To track

Then suddenly
A chemical
Imbalance
Hits BP
Rapidly
As if in
A trance

She must be near
It’s been
Thirteen years
Since
Sharing
Words
Kind or sincere

Now BP
Is talking to the birds
He has forgotten
His words
Sounds
More
And
More
Disturbed

What are you doing here!?

Your story isn’t quite clear!

Are those your horses!?

Have you…?

Any other resources!?

BP looks back
Was there an attack?
I’m not well…
Somebody…
Please…
Tell…

BP never even came close
To the children’s post
An unconscious decision
To steal horses and head for the coast
And live
A ghost
Now
Sits in a
Roast
With
Mother
The most
Up and real
Firm…
And close

No lions
No kids
No heroic
Adventure
Just
Another painted
Pathetic
Depressing
Picture
An episode
Unrolled
Delusion
Stirred
Confusion
In my mind
I know she’s fine
I miss her…
Well all the time

Stable or not
She’s in my thoughts

Confuse Ling
Daddy why leave
Me
It will hurt me every day
There was no other Mae
Can’t cure crazy
The pills make me lazy
I wasn’t enough
Ins and outs are tough
Control the outsider
I let lie
Saying this tells me why
Listen to your mother
No other
What was done?
Running from
Dooming us
Has done something to me
Around how I see
Look on life
Running on the knife
And some guy’s wife
A lot still to learn
One is not to let it burn
Turning at too late
While I made my escape
Not good enough
Kept me tough
No tears
For many years

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“Trinket: A Sequel” by Victor Doxtator

This is a sequel to Trinket, which was awarded an honourable mention in the July 2013 edition of Grit Uplifted.

Trinket was starving. His last decent meal was seven days ago. He wanted to get to the soup kitchen by noon. A hooded dark figure, he slushed through the rain with soaked feet and dampened spirit. With keen eyes he scanned the ground ahead. His black and gray backpack was drenched, as was his winter jacket. The rain also seeped through his hoodie, T-shirt and blue flannel shirt. It chilled him. His stomach groaned and he bent his right arm across it. His dirty whiskered face winced, and like a hooded monk, he continued along the rain-soaked sidewalk while the rain continued to fall.

He was ten blocks from the soup kitchen. He’d be there in about twenty minutes, too early for lunch however. He’d have to find a doorway to wait in, until the line formed, and the doors opened to welcome the people in. For lunch he’d have a bowl of hot homemade soup and a sandwich. A cup of delicious hot coffee would taste so good, he began to salivate. And for dessert? A large piece of cake and another cup of hot coffee. He would eat greedily and be grateful afterwards.  He couldn’t imagine anything more important. A trickle of rain ran down his forehead, then down the centre of his nose to fall and splash on the sidewalk. It almost woke him.

He thought about the wind and the rain that pelted him. The rain made a shhhh sound as it hit the ground and there was that smell of soggy earth, or soggy bog on the wind. He recalled people saying, “May the wind be always at your back.” Heck, he said it himself. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen often enough for him; in fact, he faced the wind so often he began to hate the wind. At times the wind was at his back but his position changed, and soon, he was walking into the wind again. It didn’t matter: the damn wind, a friend on hot days his antagonist on other days.

Another two blocks were behind him. He began to feel warmer. The thought of hot soup and coffee pushed him ahead faster. Then another thought entered his mind. What would he do afterwards? It’d been four days without any get high. He didn’t have money so he would have to be…adventurous in acquiring his needs. He would have to find Frank.  Frank would front him, maybe. He still owed Frank five dollars however.

He pursed his lips as he figured he was good for one more front. He was now five blocks away from the S.K. He’d be there in plenty of time. In fact, he’d have to wait: “Hey pal, you gotta wait in line.” Everywhere he went he had to wait in line. He waited in the soup kitchen line, the Ontario Works line, the clinic’s line and the shelter’s line. Everyplace has its line. Life is a line. He figured he was even in line to die.  He turned the corner and saw the bus shelter at the opposite corner. He decided he’d stop and have a seat.

He would pass the time here and plan his day. He didn’t want another day under the bridge. He sat on a magazine that someone left behind. He searched his inside coat pocket for those “emergency butts.” Damn, they’re gone, he realized. A few seconds later, he recalled smoking them. He felt the aches all over his body. His stomach groaned so loudly, it hurt. His hands began to tremble. His eyes blurred. He whispered, “I’m only twenty-five for fuck sakes.”

He heard the words but the words sounded like they came from someone else. He bent over to put his forearms on his lap. It was more comfortable this way. He stared at the ground and he tried to clear his mind. He heard a noise. Someone was coming into the shelter.He raised his head. A dog stood at the entrance. A black faced dog with short wet fur. He shook the rain out and looked at Trinket.

“Hey, hey, hey, what’re you doin’, comin’ in here and gettin’ me all wet,” Trinket said.

The dog continued to stare. Trinket saw how thin the dog looked. Its black and caramel coloured fur looked ragged and aged. His bushy tail drooped and it was bent at a strange angle. The dog had long thin caramel colored legs and the tip of his right ear was gone. When the dog stared into Trinket’s eyes, Trinket saw the  hurt and fear that lingered there. They stared a moment longer. The dog turned its head then quickly returned to staring. It slowly backed away from Trinket.

“It’s ok boy, I’m not going to hurt you. I think me and you have something in common.”
The dog moved as far away as it could then looked out the entrance.

“Hey boy, you hungry?” The dog’s shiny brown eyes stared back. But there was something else. There was darkness in the dog’s eyes. “Are ya tired boy? Ya tired, just like me?”

Trinket heard himself. He imagined: he was a tired young man, lean, angry, and afraid. He was angry at the world. He was angry because he was hungry and tired. He was angry because he had to sleep under a bridge. He was angry because he was homeless, hungry, and poor and he had to walk through the rain to eat. He was angry because he needed drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and right now, he had none of those things. He closed his eyes and thought: I’m angry because no one cares. He looked at the dog, then his eyes widened. Something made sense to him.

“Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m wrong! I’m wrong. I’m walking to a place that cares enough to feed me, to feed us. And, and there are others. There are other places with people who care. What I mean is, I see a strange dog, and I care what happened to it. I care what happens to me. We’re strangers, but I care. I’ve been wrong for so long boy.”

He stared at the dog. He slid slowly across the seat and whispering, “It’s ok boy, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m taking you with me. We’re going to the soup kitchen.  We’re gonna eat till we laugh. Do ya want that boy?”

The dog stared at Trinket. “You understand me? We’re alike. I knew right off we were. All right…Trash, we’re partners. I look after you and you look after me. And don’t ya go sluffin’ off on yer end, hear?” Trash’s sad eyes looked back at Trinket. “That is, if you want to?” Trinket asked.

For some reason, only known to Trash, he didn’t run away, or try to bite Trinket; instead, he allowed Trinket to stroke his head. After a few strokes Trash  moved to stand at the entrance.

“Well look at you, we just hook up to be partners and already you’re giving me attitude. One of us has a lot to learn.”

Trinket searched his backpack and found the long cord he carried. He looped an end around Trash’s neck, leaving enough room so it wouldn’t hurt him. “There ya go Trash, now this leash shows I care for you. I don’t want no debating the point either, it’s my way of showing I care. Besides, I think it’s the law. You want to get pinched? Huh, do you?”

Trash stared out the shelter’s entrance. “Ok Trash, I’m ready to go. I’ll introduce you to a few people. Now, if someone recognizes you, and knows you, you just give ‘em some attitude. You pretend you don’t even know them. You’re not going back to those that hurt you. Yeah, you just haul out that attitude, just flip ‘em the bird with your tail.”

Trinket rose and straightened himself. He looked around, spat, pulled up his pants and made up his mind.

“Now that I’ve got a partner, we’re gonna have to find better living conditions. After we eat, I’m gonna talk to Nelson. He knows a guy who may be able to help us. But, you’re gonna have to change Trash. You can’t be goin’ around with your bad attitude on display. You’re gonna get me into trouble. We got to change your attitude Trash. It could take a long time, it’s gonna be hard, maybe the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But if you want better, you gotta change that attitude. Ok Trash? Are you ready boy?”

Trinket and Trash stepped out from the shelter. Outside, the rain continued to fall.

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“Progeny” by David Allan Ross

If a sapling could look up at its parent, what might it feel?
Would it be in awe of the hulking presence that it must one day emulate?
Will it be up to the task of striving for the sky, sun and rain?

With the inherent beauty passed on to such a tiny representation of the genus, how long will this offshoot have to languish in the shadow of the monolith it has sprouted from?…By the count of man, it will be some decades.  Nurturing must now come from many aspects of nature, but not from its kin.
You see, all that it can learn it has already been taught.  The continuation of its kind now depends on the imprinting of vital genetic code to assure its place in the world.  Mankind wonders at the magnificent thing that it will become, starting out as a sliver and growing into a tree.

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“Me & Clarence” by Harry Kuhn

In the long line of great western heroes, many outstanding and trusty steeds have been associated with the legends who rode them into adventure after adventure.  Three come to mind as I write: The Lone Ranger and Silver, Roy Rogers and Trigger, and Me and Clarence.  While the Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers were clearly the rightful riders of their mounts, Clarence’s ownership was a matter of some debate.

Clarence was originally given to my sister Olive as a stuffed animal to lay on and watch T.V.  It became clear, though, that at first she did not take a strong liking to Clarence.  I, on the other hand, was a cowboy without a horse and in my eyes Clarence the Stuffed Camel would be a worthy substitute.  So I began a shameless campaign of begging, whining, and pleading to be allowed to have Clarence for my steed.  Eventually my persistence paid off, much to the displeasure of my sister.  My dad took Clarence and gave him to me.  Thus began the legendary adventures of Me and Clarence.

Many a long dusty trail and open plain were traversed with the trusty Clarence beneath me.  Together we fought bandits of all stripes and angry natives too numerous to count.  Often Clarence and I would round the corner at home into the hallway and I would tumble off him in a heap, felled by the arrow of a hostile enemy or the bullet of some nefarious bushwhacker.  In true, heroic, cowboy tradition I would pick myself up while Clarence stood by my side and remount my camel to pursue the despicable varmints.  Secure on Clarence’s back I rode the range and survived many a brush with disaster.

As time went by it became clear, sadly, that the hard riding life of the old west was taking its toll on Clarence.  Eventually I sat on two thin strips of cloth with whatever stuffing remained inside Clarence congealed at either end of him.  Finally, my oldest brother Jim convinced me that Clarence’s time had come.  One afternoon, atop a pile of burning wood and unusable items out in our yard, we gave Clarence a Viking funeral.  Standing by Jim’s side I was silent as he placed what remained of Clarence atop the burning pile and we both watched as he was consumed.  Sadly, an era had passed in the old west.  Me and Clarence rode the range no more.

Over fifty years have passed since that solemn day but Clarence is not forgotten, neither by me nor by my sister Olive.  From time to time I will bring up Clarence in a conversation with her and the fires of disagreement flare anew.  She has never retracted her claim to Clarence and I am adamant that he rightfully belonged to me due to her neglect of him when he was hers.  When I cannot convince her to see my point of view, I resort to an old stand-by position; dad gave him to me making me the owner.  We never agree and the matter is dropped ’til the next time I bring up the subject, still trying to get her to concede that Clarence truly was mine.

This Christmas I received some gifts from Olive.  Among them, safely wrapped in bubble wrap, was a transparent, candy statue of a camel.  A handwritten tag on the package read, “REMEMBER CLARENCE?”

How could I forget the excitement, the adventure, the near disastrous gunfights seated on his back?  Those times will never come again when the west was a safer place because of The Lone Ranger and Silver, Roy Rogers and Trigger, and Me and Clarence.

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“More Resources” by Alan Blenkhorn

It is kind of funny
You can live without money
It’s easy
Come with me
To churches with lunch and dinner
You can even be a sinner
Soup kitchens
Salvation Army and the mission
Helping hands
They really understand
If you need a place
Stay here while you wait
Friendly faces at the door
Always open, for more
Clothing vouchers
Volunteer helpers
Food banks and stamps
There is no reason why you can’t

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“There is nothing funny about hunger” by Alan Blenkhorn

I’ve got the facts under my hat
Acted crazy all day and they didn’t put me away
Exaggerated feelings, function and emotions
Collided in the commotion
Boring
Nothing showing
In a pout, I’m missing out
Something is stimulating our minds to think!
I think
Irrational behaviour
Needs a saviour
You need a plan
I’m on a plan
Grounded grumpy
There will always be something wrong with me.

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“An Oddity” by Harry Kuhn

As I look at my watch curious thoughts pass through my mind. It is a pocket watch, which is not typical in these days, but that is not what I think of most when I gaze at the face of the time piece. It is a white face with black, easy to read numbers and hands. It is actually the hands that draw my attention most often. Not to see the time of day but because they do not move entirely correctly around the numbers.

At the top of the hour, each hour, the hour hand is just behind the number it should be pointing at. When I first purchased the watch I did not notice this oddity and when I did it seemed like it would be confusing if I only glanced quickly to check the time. I thought that perhaps I might have wasted money buying it and that it would not be any good. But another thought struck me and my reaction to the imperfection softened.

The watch does in fact keep reliable time. It has not lost or gained even a minute since I bought it a month ago. I can, now that I am used to it, tell time with no difficulty at all. What appeals to me about this watch is not the ornate, leafy engravings on the dull steel casing and lid or even the easily-read face. What appeals to me is that this watch functions perfectly well but is at the same time just a little off normal. The hour hand showing behind the position it should be in, not noticeable at first but after closer examination clearer, makes the watch an oddity and not a typical time piece to me.

It occurs to me that this pocket watch is a good match for me. I too am a little off. I have a mental illness, but function well despite the imperfection. I have responsibilities which I meet, I do well with people in a variety of settings, I have a good reputation, I write and, to date, people like what I write. But on closer examination, I too have little oddities that make me just a little off normal.

Saying this is not a put-down; my experiences in life have shown me that most people, in their own ways, are a little off. I think the difference between them and I is that my oddities have a label while theirs do not or, if obvious ones, fall under the general label of eccentricities. Mine fall under the much more specific label of schizophrenia.

Finding this watch in a second-hand electronics store only adds to the appeal. It was abandoned in a place you would not expect to find it and sold at a cheap price. It did not match the varieties of other goods for sale although everything else in the store was also second-hand. The low price indicated the store owner also wanted to be free of it. Since I became a little off almost thirty years ago, I too have experienced finding myself in a place no one would have expected to find me, doing things no one would have predicted and, at times, feeling as though most of the people I had in earlier years been close to wanted to be free of me, too.

It is a cheap, second-hand, pocket watch that the original owner did not want and the second owner wanted to get rid of. It keeps good time and is not bad looking, but it is a little off. I have been looking for this watch for a long time.

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“The Phoenix” by Maggie Sue Traynor

From the egg and from the womb, she is born into this world.
Time for her to be taught the survival techniques needed
For her to rise and survive in this world.
Life starts off to be rather enjoyable; everything is as it should be.
As her path changes negativity falls upon her.
She s no longer in a position to control her destiny.
She becomes so overwhelmed she can no longer rise.
She falls into the darkness, the time she has spent in the darkness
Allows her to regain her strength.
She now rises from the ashes, the darkness
And once again regains control of her destiny.

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