The Fate of Happiness



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Black Out Poetry: c.b.w. 2015
Source: The Saint Intervenes by Leslie Charteris (1934)

More Black Out Poetry


The Dirt Road


A smooth road just isn’t my style. Steps are too silent, too easy, there’s no mystery.  Blacktop streets are made for more than just one traveler. They are meant for followers, for those who like a solid ending. No harm in that. There’s something to be said for a clean path that leads to a known place.

I like the sound of gravel beneath my feet. The crunch and grit remind me to feel the earth and know my place.  My steps are small, but full of wonder. When stones bounce off my toes, I watch them roll and skip across the ground. Did fate choose their resting place or did chance?

Blurred edges blend the dirt road and wild borders. It’s easy to wander in the shade of leaves or challenge the blocks put forth by trees.  It’s just me with the wind and my pulse running wild.

My dirt road is not aimless, for it always leads somewhere. Whether a dead end or a side street to well-trod tar, the gravel must end, too.  Regardless of the twists and turns, it follows me wherever I go – a standing invitation for when life gets too quiet.

A dirt path near Minocqua, Wisconsin
Photo by: c.b.w. 2013

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c.b.w. 2013

The Last Page


The rocking chair sits still and empty.  I lean against the doorframe and promise myself I’ll give it a fresh coat of paint one of these days.  I make this promise every evening, just as darkness descends over another day.

When the first star appears, that’s my cue to go back inside. As summer wears on it takes longer and longer for that star to appear. I let the screen door slam behind me and I listen for the two usual taps against the jamb. The rocker remains alone and the paint will peel for at least another promise.

The house is quiet save the snores of Moose. The old black lab sleeps on his side in the middle of the living room floor and chases rabbits in his dreams.  I turn on one lamp and leave the rest of the house dark.  It’s just me tonight, just like always. Aside from polite hellos and thank you’s I haven’t spoken with another human being in as many months as I have fingers and toes.

Cicadas buzz through closed windows, their calls so constant it’s as if their mates never answer. I pick up my book and notice there are only a few pages before the story is over. I mark the last page with a bookmark so I know when to stop.  The final pages are always where the characters either solve their problems or are dealt a final blow. Life seldom comes together in such a predictable manner, so I plan on leaving the fictional Miss Hatty Jenson dangling without an answer.

What was it my mother once said?  I tap my chin and think back to my eight-year-old self.  The little boy across the street had just kicked me in the shins and spit in my hair before he dashed away laughing. I limped home with tears in my eyes and bloodstains on my socks.  As I bawled in my mother’s arms, I kept asking her if he would be punished for what he’d done.  It only seemed fair that he should pay for being so mean.  Between her gentle cooing she whispered,  “Fate decides what will be and what will not somewhere between always and never.” Her answer seemed like a crock back then and life has proven to me more than once that the answer is never. The little boy is a bitter man and the little girl still cries.

Miss Jenson has just found out her betrothed is only marrying her for her money and she is heartbroken.  There are worse things, but judging from how little of her story remains she will never have to experience them.  I pause as Moose rolls on his back.  He’s a faithful old friend who has filled the void, but not all holes can be filled.  The house is still empty and the rocker remains unpainted.  This isn’t how I imagined things to go.  I don’t need a prince or even a happy ending . . . just a little certainty would be nice.

Never. When did fate get so vindictive?

My bright red bookmark is one page away.  This is where I read slower and more carefully so as not to overstep my boundary.  Miss Jenson now realizes her best friend’s infatuation with her fiancé as the cause for false rumors. She immediately recognizes the folly in doubting his love and sets off to catch him before he departs for far away shores . . . but, I will never know how it ends and Miss Jenson will forever be on the cusp of her conclusion.  I close the book and place it on my bookshelf next to all the rest.  Hundreds of books clutter rows of shelves, each with a bookmark holding the last page.

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c.b.w. 2011

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Note: This story was inspired by a previous post, Wonder Lines.  Inspiration really does arrive in the most unexpected places, even somewhere as strange as a random set of self-generated questions.

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c.b. 2012

Wreck This Journal: Memories


Wreck This Journal started as an individual experience, but it didn’t take long for my friends and family to get involved as well.  The phrase, “the more the merrier,” has never been more true.  As I look through my journal, I turn pages that hold multiple epiphanies and pages that hold memories for which I’ll always be grateful.  Creativity is as much an artistic endeavor as it is a human experience.

At one point in the journal, there is a page that says, “Give away your favorite page.”  I have been the lucky recipient of two favorite pages, both of which are securely fastened to my journal.  One comes from my good friend Rita, with whom I have fond memories of writing together and completing Wreck This Journal.  Her page always makes me smile as I think of the friendship, inspiration, and moments we have shared.  As a bonus, trees have always been a special source of inspiration for me (even as a child).  Fate always pulls us in the direction we need to go and Rita, my friend, I will always be thankful I fate brought me to you.

The second page comes from my grandmother and has recently taken on much more significance. When I first started this journal two years ago, I bought one for her too, so we could have something to do together.  She’d had a stroke the previous year, so it was important to keep her active and exercise her mind.  Besides that, my grandma loves to play and go nuts with crayons and markers (its my favorite thing about her).  Every Friday, I brought my journal to her house and we worked on our pages – laughing and experimenting happily the whole time.  When it came time for her to give up a favorite page, she gave me a page that asked her to “Sample various substances found in your home.”  She got it mixed up with the page where she was supposed collect random objects, but we had a good giggle over that mishap.  As we always say mistakes are “what makes it homemade,” (long story, family joke).

Grandma’s random objects are strange and have no relationship, but at the same time I can see her in every item she chose to attach to this page. She got the sandpaper from my grandpa’s tool bench where he builds his model trains, the safety pin came from her sewing “tomato” pin cushion, the button came from her sewing table, the Snicker’s wrapper came from the candy pile we devoured while working on our journals, the matchbook came from the kitchen drawer, the gum wrapper from her purse, and the copper “tag” came from her craft box.  Any stranger would deem these objects as worthless, but to me they are priceless.  Over the last year, I’ve watched my grandma slip away as age and dementia stole little pieces of her until there was hardly anything left.  I still go see her, but like everyone else in my family, I hold on for the little glimmers of her humor and feistiness that still poke through every once in a while.  When I see her page, it’s a nice reminder that when she’s gone, my memories of her will be beautiful and full of love.

I know my Wreck This Journal posts are usually much more lighthearted, but when art and human condition collide, emotions tend to run deep.  Yes, its crazy to rip, tear, mutilate, and destroy, but at the core is one simple truth – All of this nonsense really does mean something.

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For previous Wreck This Journal posts, please visit my sidebar and Tag Cloud.  Stay inspired!

c.b. 2012