One Less ‘Why’

No planned city, this happenstance of one way streets, alleyways where housewives gossiped over backyard fences, and one wide antebellum avenue lined with elms and mansions wearing the town’s best face.

Streets are cobbled beneath accumulated layers of asphalt. The town has survived war and pestilence (and Ms. Harper’s penchant for the profligate) with patches on the rough spots.  Its roadbed has risen faster than the hemlines of rebellious teens. The economy is steady in its decline.

In ‘the day’ of pulse rate with a rowdy rhythm, there was a promise of a burgeoning metropolis. Such passion now has faded like the cabbage rose wallpaper ; design worn thin but mindful of its glory. As if by some tacit agreement, tourists don’t get past the front room;  all secrets are held in protective custody.

Molly was here for a visit.  She was born here,  but it didn’t feel like home. It was just a town, a dwindling memory reignited by funerals and weddings, but not high school reunions.  She had said ‘nay’ to those many years ago…that night of the juke box theme when she suddenly realized that everybody there was drowning in their desire to be a kid again.

After that one, she refused to travel five hundred miles to feel so alone. No, no more reunions.  This was just a random destination. No one was getting married or being buried, no one was dying of some mysterious disease previously unknown to science. It was just a few days at the beach, a time to relax.

There will be no mysteries to solve, no romances pursued. The rise or fall of the stock market and the commodities projections  are irrelevant. Projects great and small are put on hold. Footloose with a glass of iced tea against her temple, she sighs contentment as she wriggles her toes in the sand. It is only now she realizes she has found what she had come home to find… anonymity.

In the Face of Bad News

They told her
and suddenly she knew
what it was like to get out of the elevator
on the wrong floor.

The doors
were different, the numbers
upside down or maybe her vision
was skewed.

She only knew
breathing was a chore.
Before, when she stood
at the alter of the unknowing

it was easier
but one can’t unring a phone.
A distant voice spoke in a language

There was no eye
to the storm, only feet with shoes that don’t fit
on a road that wore blisters
and sharp pointed stones.

After that
she searched for a map
for where she was going or where
she had been.

She told me
that direction
is the first thing you lose
in the face of bad news.

Cariad and Marwolaeth

Cariad was seldom far from Marwolaeth’s thoughts,
and she kept him close in hers.  In the solitude of his lonely room,
Marwolaeth dreamed long poems that had no words.
He heard them in his head on evenings when the dark came early
and he invited the wind in for a cup of tea.

Those poems, wondrous odes to Cariad,
were like the tiny diaphanous-winged faeries
that sometimes flitted about in his room
making sounds that rivaled his magical music boxes,
so sweet and soft their song.

On his best days he would walk past the cottage
where she lived with her aging father, and catch a glimpse of her
at the window.  Her beauty was both words and music
and more.  He felt compelled to share the song
so he’d walk through the streets
to where the tiny cottages gave way to hovels,
singing and tipping his hat to the hungry children
as if they were young aristocrats.

How was he to know there were coins and sweets
that dropped each time he tipped his crown?  He only knew
it filled his heart with joy to hear the children laugh
and so he tipped the top hat at every stoop.

Back in his room he wondered
if it were good for a man such as him to be so alone.
Certainly solitude is good for the poet,
the painter of canvas, and the deep thinker,
but he realized there is more to any being
than those most graceful attributes.

Still, he’d rather a quiet hike
through the heather, studying the flora and fauna,
than a night at the club downing warm beer
and bored to tears by the insipid banality
of the jaded membership.
He liked everything at a distance,
especially beauty and love
which he craved as only a poet can.

Thoughts of Cariad
made his chest ache with confusion; such exultation
in the thoughts of her loveliness of face and manner,
and such sorrow in knowing
that those feelings were a ticket to disaster.
It was like loving the sun; if he approached too closely
he knew someone was going to get burned.

Likewise, after years of being alone
he knew he must remain alone.  To give in
to his desires, to succumb  to the charms
of the guileless Cariad would result in a perfection
not destined for this earth.  One such day
could not be followed by another like it.

On the day in question, as he walked past her window,
Cariad’s eyes met his. He forgot about the children,
he forgot about the wisdom he had accumulated
over all the years of his life. He went right up to the door
and opened his mouth to silence.  Without question or assent
she placed her hand in his.

The sky opened onto a band of angels
with glorious rays streaming around them.
They reached out their arms and lifted her into their midst.

From that time on the poet Marwolaeth composed dark verse
in the loneliness of his room.
The tiny winged faeries no longer visited with their song
and he no longer remembered the sound
of the children’s happy laughter.

Just as Cariad had been claimed by heaven,
Marwolaeth, confined to his now stifling room
lived in eternal limbo.


The title translates to “Love and Death”

A House Near Luccoli© by Diane M. Denton is available at Amazon in Paperback and Kindle Edition, and at Barnes and Noble as a NOOK Book.

Most of you will know Diane as Bardessdmdenton. She is a talented artist, poet, and novelist. While waiting for her novel to arrive, I have been reading excerpts and I wanted to share one with you. Her name on it is enough to make me know it will be an excellent read, but if anyone does not know her work (visit her blog at ) here is an excerpt from the novel to whet your appetite for more.

Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli by Diane M. Denton:

In the middle of the night Donatella rose to a dare and the third floor, bare steps as uncertain as candlelight on an unknown artist’s commission of cherubs and festooned fruits and flowers in muted greens, grays, and sienna. The floor of the apartment didn’t keep her entry quiet but it seemed only her carefulness was disturbed. The trestle table was set up in the salon, too close to the fireplace with its escalloped oak mantle and triangular copper hood illustrating Vulcan and Venus. Windows on both sides were almost hidden by red curtains with gold scrolling around the Garibaldi coat of arms, the moon somehow casting light on the secrecy of her endeavor. She unpacked Signor Stradella’s clothes, carrying the pieces one at a time or in piles to the bedroom and shelves of the wardrobe that threatened to be too small. He has more of what’s necessary and unnecessary than a woman, a much indulged woman. She opened another trunk holding the rewards of beautiful music, smiles and connivances, too, doubtful he carried the family heirlooms while by invitation or escape running around and hiding. Whatever explained the collection, he was aristocratic in everything but bedding and especially fortunate in moveable assets, even indifferent about some of them with silver candlesticks and snuffers, trays, bowls, spoons, toothpicks, and boxes as tarnished as his reputation.
Silver wasn’t unusual in a city where even the lowest had the chore of it in their homes, while gold wasn’t to be seen in any ordinary way, and she supposed he took pride in what he had of it, from buttons and medals to a locked tobacco caddy studded with diamonds.
She sensed some fraud, too, and quickly deposited a reliquary with the scapular in the chest at the foot of the bed. Otherwise she arranged with an eye for practical and creative importance, or just not knowing where else to put things without cluttering incidental surfaces and the narrow mantle. A candelabrum belonged on the trestle table as did a bookstand and bundle of folders with ribbons untied for a chance of revelation, placed next to a decorated writing slope for composing more than little notes to honorable ladies.
Three lutes huddled against the emptiness of a corner, stepsisters born separately of rosewood, maple, and ebony, sharing an inheritance of long necks, head backs, full bodies with rosettes like intricately set jewels on their breasts. Theirs was harmonious rivalry, recalling a master’s touch and understanding. On the settee a leather case contained a violin resembling a dead man on the red velvet of his coffin, not mourned but celebrated by nymphs dancing through vines on the friese high around the room.