Creative Writing Workshop: Collection


Mr. Death
Walks right up to you,
Looks you
Straight in the eye
As if he knows you from
Then offers to buy you
A cup of coffee and
A piece of eternity.

Other times
He looks at you
As if he can’t quite place you.
He’s so close
You can feel his breath
On your face.
But he just tips his hat and
Keeps on going.
He’s already had his coffee
For the day.

copyright 8/30/80 by Rebecca F. Sloan


If only I could.
I don’t like being awake
In the middle of the night
When I need to be
I’m always tired.
My muscles ache,
Don’t want to move.
If I could only

copyright 11/4/80 by Rebecca F. Sloan


A bus ride dominates my day–
Two hours of my precious time
Sacrificed to save on fuel.
I plan to read, but
Wind blowing through my ears
From open windows,
Mixing outside worlds with mine,
The patterns of my mind let go,
Relinquish to the roar on wheels.
My opaque eyes
Intently stare at words that
Filter through the air.

copyright 9/28/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


We’re trying to put the pieces
back in place,
reassemble the giant puzzle,
interlocking the edges
of our separate dreams,
hoping for a unity
as yet unknown.
Some great design seemed
meant for us,
but whole sections are lost
to the jigsaw days
we spend together.

copyright 10/2/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


In the corner of my bureau drawer
is a tiny box which holds
the silver pitch pipe my mother
used to help her students
sing on key.  Nearby,
in an aging leather case
my father’s rimless eyeglasses
sit unceremoniously
as if still perched upon his nose.

I often touch the pitch pipe
that touched my mother’s lips and
gaze fondly at the glasses
through which my father
viewed the world.

It’s all I have of them.

copyright 10/5/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


Dreams burst
in the midnight sky
like a fireworks display:
at first the brightest flash,
then slowly fading into
the overwhelming dark.

I had a dream of
you and me.
I watched it glow and dissipate.
Now I spend my midnight hours
reaching into the
chilly, empty air trying
to capture the ashes from
that brilliant spark.

copyright 10/12/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


Your day slips
quietly into the night
with all the fanfare
due a falling leaf.
It makes no protest
against the words
you’ve left unsaid
nor speaks about the
things you might
have done.

In the early morning
hours you tried
to reconcile
the loss of could, and
the shame of should.
Anticipation fluttered
across the azure sky
with your avian spirit
perched on the brink
of maybe, ready
to overtake the dawn.

Your blood was prime
but time had nothing
left to give.
Your mid-air pause
became a crimson
silhouette before
the new beginning
winged its way to that
illogical conclusion
and you became a swallow
felled in flight.

copyright 10/19/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


The last time I saw
my father’s face
it was draped in plastic
as he lay dying
in a bed of white.
My 8-year-old eyes couldn’t
comprehend the scene:
a husky 6-ft. man
who healed the sick but
could not heal himself.

My mother said
he’d be alright
so I didn’t cry.

Even when they lowered
the metal box
into that darkest hole
my 8-year-old mind imagined
him still lying
in the bed of white
so I didn’t cry.

I waited.
I waited for him to be alright.
12,000 days I’ve waited for him
to be my father again.
12,000 nights I haven’t cried.

He made the trek from
Texas cotton fields to Iowa
to be a doctor
and now my 41-year-old heart
let him journey
from the bed of white
to take his place
in the metal coffin
to rest in peace.

And now I’ll cry.

copyright 10/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


You called my lazy
and I still don’t clean
the house the way I should.

You said I talked too much
but you were often silent
as you moved inside your world
outside of mine.

You didn’t kiss my very much or
keep the bogeyman at bay.
You seldom ever touched me,
but I loved you anyway.

copyright 10/29/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


There once were trees.

Now cement monuments conglomerate
in the divested groves
obscuring light
from the cellophane sun.

There once were open spaces.

Now the barren structures
crowd in on each other
with forest density
inhaling all the unpolluted air.

There once was life.

Now all that remains
are steel and ivory towers–
the ultimate sacrifice
to a greedy god.

copyright 11/2/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


Cigarette smoke
Visions of impossible
Wafting upward
From a red-hot soul
Rolling thickly curling
Lacy patterns disappearing
Where the air is thin

Desire burning holes
Deep into the fabric
Of a textured life
Charred edges
Brimmed ashtrays
The only evidence
Of a dream on fire

copyright 11/7/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


The smell of burning
Autumn leaves
Disturbs my memory
And takes me back
To a time when
Hearts were pure
And life seemed good.
My mind is hypnotized
By images of
Orange and gold
Consumed by
Orange and gold,
Somehow a fitting end
For things passe as
Old succumbs to new.
Today, however,
Old displaces new
As leaves, no longer
Sanctified by fire
Are stuffed in plastic
Bags and thrown
Upon the heap.

copyright 11/13/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


There was a time when Christmas
made a difference, distinguished as
it was from all the other days
by things so difficult to express:

Togetherness, but more than just
warm bodies occupying space;
pervasive warmth that filled the room
and all the hollow places.

The smells I took pleasure in
just that time of year–yeast rolls,
caramels, bayberry and balmy evergreen.

And laughter, so much laughter!  Oh,
how I treasured Christmas days.

The one that I remember most I’m sure
did not exist.  Outside,
Currier and Ives had brushed the canvas
with fresh fallen snow.  Inside,
Norman Rockwell had sketched the scene.

The family was together to trim the tree.

(But one of us had always other trees to trim.)

We ate dinner first, all sat around
a table piled high with Christmas treats
and we said a prayer.  And then we joked and
teased and laughed and were filled with
a special Christmas cheer.

(But one of us was sad.)

The tree, selected after all the lots
were closed, stood naked in the hall.
Nearby, in worn and tattered boxes,
homemade decorations each waited to
assume a leading role.  And
when the tree was finally clothed and
standing regally beneath her starry crown,
the house lights were dimmed and
Silent Night played softly on the radio.
Someone plugged in the tree and
brilliance kaleidoscoped the room.

(But one of us was scared.)

Then a sleepless night as excitement
piled high in anticipation of all the gifts
beneath the tree.  And when the house was
breathing in a softly quiet snore,
I tiptoed down the stairs and spoiled all my
surprises as I viewed what was in store
for Christmas morning.

Oh yes, Christmas morning frenzy, the
picture in my mind is ever clear.
Colored paper filled the room and mixed
with gifts and ribbon littering the floor.
And everyone wore faces showing
love and appreciation.

The family was together once again.

(But one of us was dead.)

I don’t like it anymore, but
there was a time when Christmas
made a difference.

copyright 11/16/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


You died last night.
It matters not
that you still walk
and talk for others.
You died for me.

copyright 11/17/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


Drowning in an ocean
Six feet deep;
Waves as tall as your
Six foot frame
Pushing me under;
An octopus with only
Six arms
Pulling me down;
Lifeguard staring blankly
Six miles out
Going off duty at
Six o’clock;
Not a good time for swimming;
My senses should have told me,
All six of them.

copyright 11/19/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


There was an echo in this hollow
chamber–a reverberation from
yesterday ringing in our ears
with a deafening pitch:

Cries from a mutilated slave
resounded ten thousandfold and
somewhere in this dark and fallow
hole six million screams melted
into one bloodcurdling shriek.

Eardrums shattered into four billion
pieces and all is quiet now.

The eyes of hunger make a silent
plea for good and on a lonely
country road, a black man simply
disappears.  His muted cries appeal
to ears that no longer hear.

copyright 12/4/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan


The tiger, caged,
nerves on edge,
the cold cement floor;
looks out
at the steel-bar-striped world
and ponders
the question of freedom.

copyright 12/7/81 by Rebecca F. Sloan

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