A Sheltered Life – an original poem

A Sheltered Life
by T. K. Jones

“She needs friends,” the mother says.
“But I don’t think she wants friends.”
She takes another long drag from her Virginia Slims
Not realizing it was largely her own fault
that her daughter had no friends.
No, not a single one
Always caged up in the apartment
A sheltered childhood
Preteen years of dwindling invitations
To the beach or to the mall
Not that anyone ever had any money to spend
“I can’t.”
“I’m not allowed to.”
She’d sigh, half whimpering, into the phone.
“She won’t let me go.”

The girl becomes strange.
Stranger than before.
A stranger now
A stranger stranger.
Some days not responding, or even acknowledging
Anyone or anything
A catatonic state.
Other days speaking in riddles and rhymes
In a low, ethereal voice much like a weeping cello

“She doesn’t have any friends,” her mother would tell everyone
as a matter-of-factly at family gatherings,
Leaving out the part about when her daughter was just a child
and asked if she would ever get married
The mother’s reply was, “No.
I’m the only friend you’ve got in this world.”
Destined for spinsterhood
An Emily Dickinson life.
An Emily Dickinson death.

Copyright © 2015 T. K. Jones

Becoming Nick Drake

Here’s a piece I wrote that I actually really like. It was rejected by Indiana Review, though. I will share it here:

Becoming Nick Drake
by T. K. Jones

She played Nick Drake’s “Day is Done” on her outdated laptop. On loop. Mouthing the parts she knew. Even after all this time, she didn’t know all the lyrics. Her fingers jumped on the fast guitar licks which were sparsely sprinkled throughout the song.

As she mouthed the words that came through her clunky Sony headphones, single syllables occasionally escaped from her throat, sounding like a deaf person speaking. Half muted. A moan. It embarrassed her. She was alone in her room but always looked over her shoulders. She would shake her head. Chuckle at herself. No one there.

Sometimes she got so caught up in the song, she became Nick Drake. In a music video or performing on stage. This was even more dangerous, as she would make faces so full of emotion. Going for long stretches of time losing touch with reality. She didn’t want people to see her lip-synching and making melodramatic  faces as she sat at an intersection so she switched to talk radio for drives. Angry, shouting conservatives. Rude lawyers hanging up on nervous callers. Financial analysts quoting Bible verses.

How could she drive safely if she had to make such fast transitions from air-guitar to air-cello and back to air-guitar? How could she listen to her mother in the passenger seat? Her mother had a habit of starting her nostalgic storytelling at the most inopportune times. While someone else was in the middle of a sentence. As an interesting bit of news came on TV.

She needed only to look in the mirror to remind herself that she wasn’t a long-deceased, broody Englishman with a soulful voice. Such a shame.

Driving alone one day, she purposefully crashed her car. A suicide labeled an accident. Leaving her mother one more story to interrupt people with.

(300 words)

Copyright © 2015 T. K. Jones

Disappearing Act – original 100 word flash fiction

Here’s yet another story that was just rejected by 100WordStories. Enjoy. (The rule is it has to be exactly 100 words.)

Disappearing Act
by T. K. Jones

I was back visiting the city where he lives. I don’t know why he stopped contacting me. A year and two months ago. So imagine my surprise when I was in Trader Joe’s and see him. He’s not alone.

He’s with his two kids and a woman. It’s not his ex-wife. I’ve seen photos of her. This woman’s slim. She’s smiling. They’re all smiling. He refused to tell his kids I even existed. I didn’t realize how long I was staring at them.

He looks up. Spots me. His face falls. He slightly nods a greeting. Eyes pleading: Don’t approach!

Copyright © 2015 T. K. Jones. All Rights Reserved.

Why Two Chairs? — an original poem

I wrote a paradelle poem. I think by looking at the poem you can figure out the form. I learned about this form from Poetic Asides in the current issue of WD.

“Why Two Chairs?”
by T. K. Jones

Waited all week for a thunderstorm.
Waited all week for a thunderstorm.
I love gardening in the rain.
I love gardening in the rain.
Gardening, I waited for love in the rain.
A thunderstorm all week.

Some people wait all their lives for love.
Some people wait all their lives for love.
There just can not be someone for everyone.
There just can not be someone for everyone.
Some people can just wait for someone all their lives.
There be not love for everyone.

Would it not be sad to live and die alone?
Would it not be sad to live and die alone?
Wondering why you bought two chairs for the table.
Wondering why you bought two chairs for the table.
Live to die alone. Two sad chairs and wondering why.
Would it not be for the table you bought?

Some people love their lives, for love. For everyone can not wait
All week, all alone, I waited. There would be sad rain
In the thunderstorm, wondering why not. You bought a table for someone,
the two chairs just for it. To be, live and die gardening.

Copyright © 2015. T. K. Jones. All Rights Reserved.

Part 2: Fibonacci Poetry

Here are 4 more Fibonacci poems I’ve written:

“A Reason for Mermaids. A Season for Drowning.”

Sinking Ships
with beautiful songs
No one will save you from drowning.

“What is it That I Want?”

Something more
But how do I get
What I’m not even sure about?

“So This is Dying”

The abyss
with its gaping mouth
I see no ledge to hang on to.

“Easy to Forget”

name is
Terri Jones.
Just kidding. You’ll forget me soon.

Part 1: Fibonacci Poetry

What is a “Fibonacci poem?” It’s a poem that has 6 lines and follows this certain pattern:

Line 1: 1 syllable
Line 2: 1 syllable
Line 3: 2 syllables
Line 4: 3 syllables
Line 5: 5 syllables
Line 6: 8 syllables

Here are three Fibonacci poems I’ve written:

“With Age — Understanding”

I will
why things are this way
and why things didn’t turn out right.

“Lord Bacon: concealed poet”

a Fraud.
Sir Francis Bacon,
He is the poet and playwright.

“It’s One or the Other”

No Gray
In between
There is no middle
No maybe. No uncertainty.

Why don’t you give it a go? It’s pretty easy… and addicting. I’ve written a bunch of these and will be posing them in installments!

Cher’s Lunchbox

(Note: This was my entry for Writer’s Digest’s Your Story Contest #66. The prompt was: “Mommy, I don’t like this.” —750 words max. It was not chosen as a finalist, so here it is.)

Cher’s Lunchbox

by T. K. Jones

After a long day of cleaning disgusting motel rooms, all Lisa Greene could do was heat the tuna casserole she made the night before for her and her six-year-old daughter, Cher. Two cans of tuna. A can of peas. A can of carrots. A can of some kind of cream, maybe mushroom, so thick that it had to be scooped out of the can with a spoon. And probably something else, but she didn’t care to remember. Covered with instant mashed potatoes and voila! Dinner.

Cher shuffled into the kitchen just as her mother was pulling the casserole out of the oven. A long afternoon of staring into the mind-frying television made her groggy. The babysitter had gone home an hour or so before she should have. Lisa decided that it was kind of her own fault. She stupidly left her the $15 to take at her own leisure instead of doing it the normal way. But she wasn’t too mad. She felt like such a cheapskate for only being able to offer the girl $15 for three hours of babysitting.

And this was a new babysitter. Their usual babysitter, Samantha, died in a horrific car accident the week before just two blocks away. Mr. Henderson, an elderly man who lives only four houses down, had a stroke while driving home from a doctor’s appointment, and crashed head-on into her car. She was driving home from a long afternoon of babysitting Cher for chump change. Mr. Henderson made it out with barely a scratch. Lisa didn’t tell her daughter. She lied and told her that Samantha moved to Canada for college.

Cher sniffed the air and wrinkled her nose. “What’s that smell?” She dragged each syllable longer than was necessary.

Lisa felt her muscles tense up and sighed deeply. From Cher’s tone she could already tell that dinner would be a battle. “It’s dinner, Cher. Aren’t you hungry?”

“I am but this smells FISHY!” Cher climbed up onto a chair and stared down into the casserole dish, her face hovering two inches away from the steamy surface. “Mommy, I don’t like this.”

Of course she didn’t. She didn’t like her doctor because he was too nice. She didn’t like that her mother was a maid at a cheap motel. She didn’t like that her father left her and her mother for the school principal, Mr. Kincaid, and never came to see her. She didn’t like Mr. Kincaid’s strange habit of winking at her every time he saw her walking down the hallway, as if they were buddies. She didn’t like her blue lunchbox because it didn’t have any cartoon characters on it. She didn’t like her classmate, Donny, because he made it a daily ritual to kick her shins under the desk. And she didn’t like her teacher, Mrs. Crawford, because she didn’t do anything about it. Cher didn’t like a lot of things.

“What do you mean you don’t like it? You haven’t even tasted it yet!” Lisa threw the oven mitts down onto the counter. She was constantly amazed that no matter how frazzled Cher made her, she never hit her. She never throttled her. She never even screamed at her.

“I can taste it through my nose. It’s stinky and nasty. I’m not eating that!” Cher slammed her little fists on the table top. The glass casserole dish shook.

Lisa felt the sides of her cheek burning. She was confronted with images from earlier that day. Of how she scrubbed vomit off the carpet in room 14. Of how she had to fish a used tampon out of the toilet in room 9. Of how her sleazy manager trapped her in the break room and refused to let her go until she gave him a hug. She thought of her ex-husband, Bill, and Alex Kincaid having a nice quiet evening together. “Then go to your room,” she spoke in a low tone through her clenched teeth.

Cher saw the look on her mother’s face. A look she had never seen before. It scared her. She obeyed.

Without thinking, Lisa found herself sitting at the dining room table shoveling the tuna casserole into a plastic Tupperware container. She placed the container of tuna casserole in Cher’s plain, blue lunchbox. At least she didn’t have to worry about packing her daughter’s lunch the next morning.

© April 2015 T. K. Jones

A Productive Writing Week & Plans for the Future

I’ve been having one productive day after another this past week. I hope this luck continues. Or maybe it’s not luck? Maybe it’s just hard work and obsession. I’ve entered some short story and poetry contests and have been making a long list of others to enter. The hardest part is waiting for the results!

Also, I have found a few writing fellowship/residencies that I would just LOVE to go to. I should just write more and get together my strongest pieces. I need to get published. And I don’t mean self-published. Anyone can do that! (And I have.) I’ve also been thinking (dreaming?) about getting my MFA but have run into a few problems, the largest two being: Money (the lack of it, to be more exact) and Recommendations. I graduated from college in 2008, seven years ago. I hear it’s OK, but I would feel a bit strange asking professors and advisers who don’t even remember me to write me a letter of recommendation. And having been a mix of self-employed and unemployed over the past four years, I don’t really have any professional recommendations. It’s pretty depressing/embarrassing.

I need to balance things better (ie. don’t just write all day but find time to READ more.) I love reading about other writers and their lives. Dead or alive. I highly recommend Kindle Unlimited for writers out there. It’s inexpensive and there’s a pretty good selection of e-books you can borrow. I find myself investing in my writing more which I think is a great thing. Instead of wasting what little i have on junk that I really don’t need, I’m subscribing to writing magazines and paying for contest fees. I feel it will pay off in the future.

If you haven’t already, do check out my Twitter profile. (See the right hand column for my Twitter feed.) I’ve been posting a lot of “microflash” or “twiction” on there. Creative stories in 140 characters or less! You should try it. hashtag or no hashtag! (It’s a little difficult when you use a hashtag… every character counts! I just hope no one reads a fictional tweet I wrote and think it’s real!)

Scrumptious: A Modern Fairy Tale

(Note: This is a short, silly fairy tale I wrote back in 2012. It wasn’t a submission or anything like that.)

Scrumptious: A Modern Fairy Tale

by T. K. Jones

A young, snobby prince lived in a tower made of liver pâté. It was very slippery and no one could climb up the many steps to get to him, though try they did. He declared that anyone who could reach him would win the prize of his hand in marriage. He laughed cruelly as all the townspeople, women and even men, clamored to be with him. But they all slipped off the first few fatty steps.

One day he saw from an opening in the pâté wall what he found to be a most beautiful creature. She was the female version of himself, with piss yellow hair and rosy cheeks.

“It’s like looking in a mirror,” he observed. He shouted out to her to please come up at once.

“But no one has ever been able to reach you. They’ve tried but they only slip because of the slimy liver pâté!” she cried out to him.

He wanted to be with her so badly that he immediately hatched a plan.

“Eat your way up!” he commanded her.

So she did. For forty days and forty nights, she ate. And ate. And ate. As the days went by the prince saw that the pâté tower sank lower and lower to the ground.

The lady stopped eating when the price was finally at ground level and called out for him. The prince hopped out of what remained of the pâté tower with arms wide open to embrace his new love. But he was greeted with a most shocking sight. His beautiful maiden had turned into a large blob of a woman.

“You’re a whale! A beached whale!” he shrieked in horror.

“But you wanted to be with me! You told me to eat!” she panted.

The prince fled the now engorged woman, leaving her panting and wheezing, rolling around on the ground, unable to chase after him.

But what became of the prince? you might ask. Well, he made his way into town where he was seized and molested by all the common townsfolk. Young and old. Man and woman. He was left in the gutter, for the frisky dogs. As sloppy seconds.

© 2012, T. K. Jones