May 31…


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Photo: Space by Johnny Swanson


Dear Best Friend,

I saw a man on the bus today. He moved slowly with a jerk to his right hip. Did he look at his feet to will them to the speed of his cheetah youth or to avoid my probing stare?

His eyes were lowered not closed.

I turned away as he began to look up.

I pressed my face on the air conditioned glass hoping to soothe the burn of my cheeks as my warm tears streaked them.



she acts

as if

her world

is the only

one that

dare not




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May 30…


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Photo: Lock by Johnny Swanson


Once upon a time, there was a prince with a lot to prove.

His older brother’s health, brilliance, and cunning assured he would never be a king in his homeland. His love of honor and family fidelity also assured him a second place in life or so he thought.

One day soon after his eighteenth birthday, he learned of another king in a far land wanting a dragon dead so eagerly, he was willing to offer his crown for the dragon’s head.

The young prince saw his chance to change his destiny.

His three sisters begged him to stay by trying to show him how lucky he was to be a prince in a land filled with so many who were not princes and dealt with much poverty and disease.

He kissed them all on the cheek and agreed not to go.

All night, he dreamed of glory and a queen with flaming, flowing hair.

As her hair grew into the sparks of the dragon’s breath, he awoke knowing he must break his promise and seek a new fate.

Just before dawn he left with his lucky, scarlet cloak and thoughts of her on his mind.



oh holy night-light,

supernova pin prick stars,

stellar reflections.



Her shoulders straighten as she turns smiling clutching a delicate silver chain in her right hand.


Her smile broadens, and she stretches to share her gift.

“So, you haven’t forgotten me?”


“I never left you. You simply stopped playing.”

Claire passes out on the kitchen floor.

When she regains consciousness, she is again alone.

She checks the door finding it locked.

She goes to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face.

As she tries to make sense of what has happened, she glimpses a silver necklace around her neck.

She does not wear jewelry and has never seen this piece before.

“Bianca’s back, and she’s bearing gifts,” she murmurs as she fingers the small dragon head with a smaller crystal ball in its mouth much like a mystical, mythical roasted pig with apple.

She suddenly remembers the boar’s head on the spit in “Lord of the Flies.”

She shivers repulsed and checks for a concussion.

May 29…


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Photo: Man by Johnny Swanson


She knows nothing yet has a beautiful blankness and willingness to please. She will be perfect to wrap in our ways. She is so lonely. She needs her sisters’ arms to embrace her and leap her into our scarlet light.

It’s strange how someone so fragile, young, and naive can be the strongest of us all.


“sand castles”

marine meditations


waterfalls behind me,

i sprout mermaid.


sand castles appear substantial.


i lure seamen to their graves,

so i may swallow and spit souls

birthing them as my guardians

and forever companions.


compassionate ghosts enthrall my childhood.



i simply stand letting the

rushing beads twinkle finger

my aching back.


swimming becomes paralysis.


palaces disappear.


water falls.


Dear Best Friend,

It’s fair to say, I am a watcher of people and not one who is watched. I feel so locked inside myself. Ve says it’s because I am “chasing” instead of “being.” I have a feeling she taught me about peacocks.

I am writing this while pretending I prefer bitter coffee to sweet soda pop.

As I slowly sip, I notice patterns and absences.

It’s funny how people try so hard not to touch each other in public. I watch as people balance coffee and lap tops, traversing the maze of book bags, power chords, and over stuffed chairs, breathing in and slowing when about to encounter another body.

This discovery makes me want to rush around and hug everyone until we all cry. Moved, we now know touch. And, we shall shimmer with unfettered static electricity. Silver magnificence.


“She’s in such pain.”

“Can’t we help her?”

“What do you suggest? Tell her the story before she is ready to believe it?”

“Can’t we at least give her a sweet dream tonight?”

“And, what about the morning?”


She awakes with the sun.

The oranges and yellows connect coi fish, then build to something of both air and water.

Your fire flushes her face. Your sighed smoke ruffles her copper hair.

You dazzle.

Blinded and unsure, she turns away to the cool refuge of her pillow and sinks into deep, dreamless sleep.

May 28…


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Photo: “A Beginning” by Johnny Swanson

I’ve decided to treat my journal writing like I am writing my newest best friend. I can only imagine what that is like, since I have no best friend, new or old.


Dear Best Friend,

I love my brother. I miss how we used to be before the accident. I miss how he used to look out for me without looking down on me. Now, he won’t even look at me, when I visit him at the home. I think calling that storage space a “home” was my first lesson in irony.

Some lessons are so sad.

Johnny, you’re never coming back, and your little sister misses your love eyes.


Why does she look so sad?

Her veil reveals tears

I do not yet understand.

A hidden mouth mutters unheard.


Did he not come?

Can she forget?


Would she bite me,

if I traced her lips?


Would I bleed,

if I kissed her?


Disregarding initial suspicions…

“How do I get her to trust me, when she still does not trust herself. Even if we control reality to match her hunches, her supreme ability of denial would leave her as equally lost as if we had not bent the stars for her.”

“Pray for her.”

“Oh silly, how can we hear your answers over our constant mutterings! Let us be quiet and put on some apple cinnamon tea.”

“Maybe we should read the leaves?”

“We should drink it while hot.”


“Maybe we are like mushrooms, spores ever ready even when ignored. We watch. We wait for our time to explode with meaning and purpose. There are no dead spells just spurting sprouts of rebirth.”

“I hope so.”


Serena thought she had her fill of boring high school boys.

Serena had a dream, not the kind shouted from the mountain tops but one privately pursued until the dawn.

She wanted to be an architect.

She knew her passion for the first time as she visited a large cathedral in Richmond at the age of nine.

She felt her passion for the first time as she memorized pictures of and quietly wept over the beauty of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in her freshman Spanish history book.

Her father had found her crying that late August afternoon. She lied to him and told him it was back to school blues.

He tried to console her by suggesting she wear her hair up more, so boys would notice her.

Boys like him he meant.

Her father believed she should marry someone who built houses like him not design grandiose churches.

Her hair brushed her narrow shoulders the day they noticed each other.

Some Neanderthal had pushed past her, scattering her papers along the hallway.

He knelt to help and casually looked at her designs.

She waits for him to laugh.

“Oh cool. The Piazzale Michelangelo view. My favorite part of Florence. When did you go?”

“I didn’t. I bought a post card.”

“All that detail from a post card? You’re amazing!”

She had not noticed him before.

She now noticed what she thought were brown eyes were rich hazel ones filled with intellect, humor, and kindness.

Serena was in love for the first time.


What is different about her today?

I just want to ask her something and make her eyebrows arch. I just want her to smile at me. I just want to know why I keep tasting Mom’s apple butter whenever I am near her.

Get it together, it is probably some Oedipus complex thing, hunger, and some fruity shampoo.

She is really interesting. And, quirky.

Who wants to be in love with–

Woah, don’t mistake intrigue for in love there, son.

Forget her, she’s fat.

Today, I just want to encircle her thick hips tracing the dips and curves.

He closes his eyes, bites his lower lip, and imagines.

“Hey, ya praying?” Serena teases.

“Something like that. What do you know about Claire Swanson?”

Serena knows she now hates Claire, and must seek her out to be her newest best friend.


May 27…


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Photo: “Evolve” by Johnny Swanson

It was a dark and stormy night. Possibly the worse sentence written in the English language, but now it’s out there. I am not a good writer, but I hope to be one one day.

So, I have been sixteen for about twenty minutes now, and all I have to show for it is a silent parrot, a blank journal, and a business card of someone my father claims is my godmother.

I have decided to call my quiet parrot Princess Sophie.

I have decided to write in only emerald in the journal. I think the color will set off the peacock feathers prints featured on the bottom of each page.

Someone told me a peacock drops his feathers when reminded of his ugly feet. So, the key to staying pretty, at least when you are a peacock, is not to look down. I am not sure what kind of person goes around sharing this kind of nonsense with kids.

Well, I have been sixteen for nearly an hour and am still as judgmental and fashionable as when I was fifteen.

I am tempted to do a double edge hope/curse and wish for something to happen. A brief peek inside my shirt and in the mirror tells me it’s not something I need to happen, it’s me I need to happen.


“Are you there?”

“Only for a few hours.”

“I’ve missed you.”



“I know how you talk when you really feel something, and ‘I’ve missed you?’”

“She scratches me. And, still I hold her knowing her pain is more lovely than her absence.”

“That’s better.”

“How long has it been this time?”

“May I be brief or must I thrust your answer among the buds of May?”

“Brevity works.”

“Sixty years.”

Time goes merrily forward leaving behind wind pulled feathers and fountains of sand whispers.

Until then.

Pages must burn.

When Does the Pain Finally Heal?


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The only extravagance she allows herself after her mother died is a bath tub carved from a single piece of white marble. For some reason, suspending herself in the stone of the Taj Mahal comforts her head as her heart numbs.

Every night she feels like a carved and not yet dusted fossil partially uprooted and exposed.

Tonight on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she stares at her knee and wonders about the real power, if any, of joints or connections.

Suddenly, her mind’s eye summons her first friend a stuffed dinosaur, she received when she was a toddler.

She randomly wonders if dragons are related to dinosaurs.

“Silly, there is no such thing as dragons,” a gentle yet stern voice inside her head chides.

She smiles ruefully and submerges.