The Inner Dialogue of a Dancer By: Brooke Caswell (presented below in italics)
Brooke Caswell [front/right]
Her eyes were bleary; but her mind was sharp. She dreamed of a time she danced. Poised and ready. How's my hair? Is my bun smooth and tight? Remember, face, be expressive. Five, Six, Seven, Eight...
En pointe with wings aflutter, she was majestic in her grace. I forgot… Can I dance? Music starts… Now...begin!
Float my arms and then my head. Are my arms in perfect form? Concentrate. Concentrate. Five, Six, Seven, Eight...
Squeeze my core. (Don't fall down.) Hold it—Hold it. Flex and point. Flex and point. (Be crisp and precise.) Five, Six, Seven, Eight...
"Time for dinner, love." "Not yet, dear. I'm rehearsing." Arms and legs flow together. Back leg in high attitude. Don't drop, knee. Arms in fifth. (Are they too close to my head?) Five, Six, Seven, Eight...
Plie here! Keep my leg up. Hold it—Hold it. Kick out now! (Don't look messy.) Five, Six, Seven, Eight…
Drop down. (This will hurt.) Quickly roll. (Ouch! My bruise.) Extend. Extend. Extend. Extend. Move my head. (Show emotion.) Five, Six, Seven, Eight…
Now the turns. (This is fun.) Prep. Turn. Turn. Turn.
Point now. Point now. Five, Six, Seven, Eight…
"Are you tired? It's getting late. Let's get you off to bed" "I'm exhausted, dear. I've been flying." Jump up high. (Don't fall down.) Higher. Higher. Up-Up-Up.
Floating down. Floating down. Spot. And breathe.
She glided and twirled and leapt to the stars as she dreamed of a time she danced.
Lisa H. Owens and Brooke Caswell A collaboration between writer and dancer. Coming soon: Brooke Caswell's Bio July 2021
Hands spotted by age, veins prominent, knuckles no longer bendy. Up early, before first light, pounding and kneading dough into submission. Using the ring of a mason jar lid to form perfectly rounded biscuits. Gnarled hands struggling to hold the baking sheet steady as the hands placed the pan in a tired oven, as tired and worn as those hands.
Though not really needed, a timer dinging, the hands using a loopy-kid-crafted potholder, already setting the pan on the stovetop. The scent—how heaven must smell—wafting through the tiny house. Hands buttering golden biscuits. Perfection. Melted butter running down chins. Using rough generic paper towels to dab butter-sheened mouths.
Me telling Grandmama "Thank you," using manners she had taught me.
Me asking Grandmama to draw with me. Grandmama, pulling down—then climbing the shaky attic stairs to find her art supplies. She was an artist once upon a time when her hands were smooth and nimble. Us sitting at her kitchen table, covered with a new strip of butcher's paper, ripped from the roll she always seemed to have on hand. Me drawing cartoon figures and flowers and doggys, she'd taught me well. No stick figure mommies and daddies. Her encouraging me, and drawing her own cartoon people, one looking like me with a mop of auburn hair and one looking suspiciously like my Daddy with his thinning flame-orange hair. He was holding my hand and I was smiling a wide goofy cartoon grin.
By Lisa H. Owens 6/12/2021 Inspired by my Grandmama.
He sat in her chair. The faded floral chintz with Queen Anne legs. It didn't really suit him. The curves and bumps touched him in the wrong places. It was her chair, embodying her shape.
He shifted, settling deeper into her chair. A light pitter-patter of raindrops brushed the windowpane as he sipped tea, focusing on a lone goldcrest splashing and preening in the lush garden's puddles. Together they'd turned weeds and rot into a wonderland of flora and fauna. Built a life from the ground up.
It soothed him to sit in her chair. Gazing at his chair. Sturdy. Its umber leather worn thin by time. Decades of nights by the fire. Quiet. Just the two of them at first, becoming three, then four. As time moved on, how he missed the laughter of children.
They'd once traded chairs and laughed at the wrongness of trying to fill someone else's shoes. It was a silly thing. They embraced as they crossed paths, to switch to the comfort they had each created. Apart, yet together. Comfort together; not losing themselves. Creating chairs worn by time. He rose from her chair to fill his own. It was a lonely thing, seeing her chair empty. He watched the goldcrest shake off rain and soar.
By Lisa H. Owens 5/29/2021 Inspired by a Music Prompt. See video narration on the Home Page Narration, Production and Music by Alan Johnson
A mother. Raising children. Tending to their every need. Teaching them to be strong and independent. Leading by example. Protecting them. Always putting herself last.
A wife. A help-meet. Loving and caring for her spouse. Overlooking his weaknesses and annoying habits. Building him up—at her own expense—when things get tough. Too stubborn to ask for help. Too stubborn to admit that she cannot do it alone, at times. Always putting herself last.
A friend. A gentle soul exuding kindness. Aware of the moods of those around her. Brightening a room with her presence. Encouraging—while still holding her ground—on the things that really matter. Defusing situations with a kind word, a stern look, a hug. Always putting herself last.
A warrior. Willing to fight for her survival. Unwilling to leave those she loves behind. Realizing that sometimes it is selfish to not tell those around her what she truly needs. For once putting herself first.
An artist. Filling the world with beauty. Watching the sunrise...
By Lisa H. Owens May, 2021 Pending Publication in "Coping Magazine." Dedicated to a neighbor battling breast cancer.
(*warning - triggering subject matter) Cry me a river. Okay, so they forgot it was your birthday. What’s the big deal? Not quite the sweet-sixteen you expected, but ...it was sure cheaper than one of those Sweet-Sixteen blowouts that seem to be the norm now. Spending your birthday alone in the park by the railroad tracks, eating a Little Debbie Cake and sulking. Alone until that boy showed up.
Speaking of the norm, why is it that getting raped seems to be treated as normal?
Oh, boo-hoo. Cry me a river. Next time, maybe you’ll think twice before leaving the house with your tits... (I hated how they used the word "tits," as if a woman's breasts were dirty.) hanging out for all the world to see, the Defense Team’s entire stance.
Those people have never woken up feeling shame with nightmare-swollen eyes. They don’t know what it feels like to awaken each morning, young and beautiful with the whole world at your feet, and to finally step out to create a new life—completely covered—wearing long-sleeved turtlenecks and baggy jeans. Then, to finally realize, it wasn’t the clothing you wore; it was the sickness of the college boy.
Let them laugh at your bungling ways and shyness and aversion to men wearing Izod shirts. Now, there are not enough clothes in the world to cover wounds that are invisible.
By Lisa H. Owens April 22, 2021 A Micro-fiction directed at the injustice of certain crimes against humanity.
I tested the water, gingerly skimming the surface with my big toe. It was a delicate balancing act to stay upright, one foot held aloft ready to flee at the first sign of trouble just past the break, or ready to step down into a gentle tidal pool. It was an exercise in trust. Trust in the sea—my fickle friend. Placid waters could be deceiving.
Would the sea betray my trust? We’d always been so close, the sea and I. We shared memories of midnight swims. The sea kissing and cradling my bare skin as I sought tranquility. I trusted the sea to give me what I longed for, a place to rest. I submerged into a roiling turmoil hidden just beneath the surface. The sea pulled me down. Held me under. It was beautiful to let someone else decide my fate.
I felt happy, then confused as the reality came crashing down, smothering my senses. I was drowning. A gentle swirl—two waves kissing then mingling as the two became one—transformed into an angry undertow. The two covertly clashing like the mighty Titans. My life flashed before my eyes. We’ve heard about that happening, one’s life flashing before one’s eyes, just before a life altering accident. Floating as if in a dream, I saw a vision of my wedding day, standing at the altar in Mama’s wedding dress as we repeated vows to be faithful:
"I take thee to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith."
Two becoming as one.It was a farce. I was as lonely as I’d ever been; but the Lord works in mysterious ways. With arms open wide, I welcomed a gentle death. They say drowning, after the initial panic of it all, is akin to sleeping. You take in that gulp of water and relax into it. It would feel like heaven, in a way, to let it all go. The sleepless nights. The loneliness. The exhaustion. Is it giving up to not fight with all one’s might to break the surface? To not struggle to launch out of the depths, gasping for breath, releasing the saltiness of it all? My eyes fixated on a ray of light as the sea called me home.
By Lisa H. Owens Inspired by a near-death experience in the Pacific Ocean. See Video Narration by Alan Johnson on the Home Page
The eyes are the window to the soul. The eyes looking out, reflecting flowers for all the world to see. A brain stem? Nay. A flower stem. Brain-Crocuses? Yea. A brain-filled perennial, carefully cultivated through winter. Kept warm through its dormancy. Roots protected under a shroud of wavy hair. The eyes will reflect it all.
By Lisa H. Owens @LisaHOwens Twitter @Random_Sample Photo Prompt: We hope to see this become a thread of written works inspired by Hailey Brabazon's work. Our editors will be monitoring this thread and we will let you know when each editor has made their selection. Chosen works will be featured on our website!
I thought you were my knight in shining armor. You swept in, taking me by the hand; You gently pulled me out of the abyss. I waited and waited to be your one and only. As I waited and watched, your collection grew. It was then that I realized you like broken things.
You keep your life compartmentalized. In boxes. Each box unaware of the existence of the others. I make a discovery. A discovery of boxes, Each containing a toy, broken.
The boxes are silent, waiting for you to speak on their behalves. I hear laughter in on one box. This box is different. This box contains joy. A broken toy tending a child. The child healing the toy. A broken toy mended by a child. The child created by my knight, now their knight.
I love this broken thing. This unspoiled child. This broken toy. Now unbroken. Not broken. Now mended strong. She will take their daughter’s hand and walk away.
[Reddit Writing Prompt] You have accidentally died. No, no, no, you didn’t die in an accident. You’ve accidentally died, as in, the Grim Reaper has no idea what you’re doing in the underworld.
Oops… What the heck, Bill? Why are you here? According to the list, it should be a year. ‘Til deep in the night, my scythe you shall see. I must do research, on how it can be. That you are in line, at the Pearly Gates. Awaiting to hear; what might be your fate? Will it be Heaven? Or will it be Hell? You're not on the list; so there’s no way to tell. Back to your home, in limbo you'll be. Until the right time, December, twenty-three. But until that date, you'll exist as a spirit. No purpose at all, you'll not want to hear it. So sorry. My bad. Ashamed I must say... It wasn't my fault... ‘Twas my very first day.
By Lisa H. Owens Inspired by a Reddit Writing Prompt
When you ask me to be funny, my mind fills up with dread, and Thoughts flash through my head, of baby bunny dead, and The neighbor's house on fire, and my husband is a liar, and My nephew failed his test, and Dad was laid to rest, and Mama Has dementia and is living with my sister, and My mailman is a dick, and I hope I don't get sick, 'cause the virus don't discriminate. Don't want it to eliminate, the one causing my heart to break, but that shit isn't funny, now I'm back to the baby bunny. Don't ask me to be funny, 'cause I'll fail every time.
By Lisa H. Owens Runner-up in a Reddit r/poetrycritics writing prompt - 2020 Humorous Poem Contest.