Her eyes opened and we were bound for life.
My baby girl, so precious and innocent,
A blank canvas about to be painted.
As her Dad, my role is to teach and protect,
Teach her responsibility and let her learn.
My shield became her shield as she matured.
A beautiful woman with a huge heart,
Giving and joyful to others in need,
Never asking for anything in return.
As she spread her wings and soared,
I knew there would be awkwardness in flight,
And, perhaps, even a crash or two.
Independence wasn’t found in first flight.
There were turbulence, voids, and gusts
That knocked her around and struck at confidence.
Each hard landing, created another runway,
Off on a new journey to find her way.
The struggles were daunting, yet she persevered.
Today, she is reflecting, hard love meant as inspiration.
She’s furious, scared, wounded, and reserved.
She took her first steps of the day, but is grounded.
She’ll fly again. She’ll soar. She’ll be amazing and free.
I might have wounded her precious heart with love,
I’m her parent and her firm ground, her beacon of hope.
My parenting will never end for my baby bird.
I’ll stop feeding her and providing shelter,
And, I’ll stop checking on her flight pattern.
She’ll find her way someday soon,
I hope it’s through the air of least resistance,
A journey I can now watch, only from a distance.
As I walked on a path through the mangroves, I could hear a guitar being played in the distance. I thought it a bit odd, but I continued on my hike. The music would stop and then resume without any sense of rhythm. There were more birds on the key than previously seen in the past. Perhaps, they were there for the private concert. As I finished the final steps through the salt marsh, I came across a man with a guitar. He was just admiring its shape in his lap while he sat on a wooden bench.
“I knew I heard music,” I said to the stranger.
His quick response, without missing a beat, “At least you’re not hearing voices.”
I chuckled and he smiled. There was a minute of silence as he continued to stare at the guitar and I was anxious to see if he’d pick it up and strum a few notes.
The park bench was full of what I presumed were all of his worldly possessions – a guitar, carrying case, an Army-green canvas satchel and a jacket. He had an overgrown, unkempt beard, yet his hair was combed to perfection and not a single gray for a man I was guesstimating to be in his fifties.
My eyes kept wandering back to this acoustic guitar in pristine condition. I know the music I heard in the mangroves had to com from this guitar.
“My name is Joe,” said the man as he extended his calloused hand in my direction, ending the awkward silence.
Without hesitation, I replied, “My name is Brett.” And, we shook hands.
“Do you play?” I asked with wide eyes and a glimmer of enthusiasm.
“I’ve never learned how,” replied Joe as he looked again at the guitar.
At this point, I’m thoroughly confused. Here was a guitar and I knew for a fact that I heard the guitar from the mangroves section of the trail.
“You’re pulling my leg, right Joe?”
“Brett, this guitar was my best friend’s. He’d play the most beautiful music you ever did hear.”
“What was your friend’s name, Joe?"
“Pete,” replied Joe.
“Did Pete give you the guitar,” I asked.
There was suddenly another awkward silence between us as Joe dropped his head and closed his eyes. After a couple of minutes, I broke the tension and offered an apology.
“Joe, I’m sorry if I’ve struck a chord.”
Joe lifted his head very slowly with his eyes still closed, but I could see the trace of moisture across his chaffed cheek. I was starting to realize that Joe was probably homeless as I started to put the pieces together from his possessions, to his hands, and now his cheeks.
When Joe opened his eyes, I could see that they were full of tears from heartbreak.
“Pete was my best friend and this morning he didn’t wake up,” expressed Joe.
“He went to sleep last night after playing this guitar, like he did every night, under the stars and with the sound of the waves filling in the background. He loved this guitar. It was his way of sharing his story with me,” continued Joe.
As Joe was sharing his and Pete’s story, I couldn’t manage to speak. He was captivating.
Joe told me that he and Pete served together in the Army. They had seen battle and great loss of human life on foreign soil. No matter what gut-wrenching experience they experienced in war, it was Pete’s guitar playing that always brought them peace until the next day.
Now Joe’s heartache was the loss of his best friend, the man that played a therapeutic tune for Joe since their first day in the military.
Bouncing around in my head while Joe told me about Pete’s quiet demeanor was the burning question, “Who was playing the guitar?” as I walked in the mangroves.
I finally broke my silence and asked Joe this very question.
“Brett, I know we’ve just met,” said Joe. “But, can I ask if you are a spiritual man?”
“Yes, I believe in a higher power,” I replied.
“Well, I pulled back on the zippers of this guitar case to open it. Then I pulled out the guitar and embraced it as if I were giving Pete a hug. As I held it tight, I heard Pete playing music.”
Joe continued with his story as more tears flowed from his weary eyes.
“I could feel the strings vibrating against my body as the song played. Pete was here. Pete was playing this guitar. I know it without a doubt.”
This didn’t explain why I could hear the music.
“Brett, you heard Pete today. Maybe he thought we were alone or perhaps maybe the music was meant for both of us.”
As I thought about what Joe said to me, perhaps he was right. This particular trail has always brought me peace. Maybe the peace I found was also found by Joe with the help of Pete’s spirit and I just happen to be in the right place at the right time to hear the story of two lifetime friends that always shared a song.
A green flag waves over forty-three charioteers
Waging war in their battle taxis for a treasure chest of fortunes.
Escalating up to 200 miles per hour, Rubbing wheels and tugging
With both hands on the reins of more than 750 horsepower.
The burning sunshine blazing down on a blistering speedway of asphalt,
The field of warriors appear to anchored in a 200 mile per hour parking lot.
Equally matched in skill and determination, jockeying produces little gain.
Little encouragement can be heard from their screaming fanatics.
Over the 500 mile contest, some expire and retreat to their stalls,
While the remaining fatigue through the tips of the white-knuckled fingers.
As the flag of black and white checkers waves in the tropical air,
A sole charioteer is embraced by the glory of victory.
I live for today for I know tomorrow is not guaranteed.
We are man and we are vulnerable.
Religion may even be the death of us.
It’s getting harder by the day to imagine a world without war.
Countries are fighting for religion in the name of peace.
They believe there’s a right and a wrong.
I still dream of a day when we can be one,
When nations stand together for humanity,
Not for power and possessions, but to free it of poverty.
I know I’m not alone in this dream.
I imagine an end will someday come
When the planet will face a mirror, dark and worn.
We’ll close our eyes and open our imaginations,
Reach across lands and shake hands.
We’ll give peace a chance.
Rest in peace.
The scene through my living room window is quite deceiving. Bright and sunny blue skies. Not unusual for Florida. The mercury is reporting 50 degrees, down a few degrees in a mere hour's time. The tall palms are swaying this way and that way with a sustained gust out of the deep north. The 'feel like' temperature is now flirting with 40 degrees. Fortunately, I wasn't planning a visit to the beach today. Yet, I have this urge to see the naked white sand, as I know there isn't a soul strolling on a morning walk. The chop in the Gulf was rocking yesterday and is likely tearing at the shoreline with it's salty teeth today. A wet suit or two may have found the adventurous thrill seeker to scale the waves. Weather has the power to attract or to deter. I feel like I've been caught in the tractor beam of the Death Star. This force is drawing me into a powerful environment. Camera in hand, I'm ready to start shooting, capturing the elements of Mother Nature being her bad self.
This morning, I sat down to write this story as that one moment in the day for reflection. After I was done, I noticed the message in the photo below this poem. Not quite sure this is what they had in mind. But, I found it quite amusing. Enjoy!
She had a scent of addiction,
A pheromone penetrating
A brisk breeze that reached
The cockpit of the silver bullet sportster.
Enticing a mind-altering
Change in direction
Onto a path familiar
To the senses,
Smell and taste.
A mile of contemplation,
Resisting an urge,
A desperate desire to
Her voice was common,
Her question perhaps
A bit of prostitution -
“May I take your order?”
No escaping the line,
She had her way with me,
Cool and intoxicating,
Smooth to the last drip of
Her flavor still present
On my tongue,
Her fragrance still
In the air.
A bit of guilt,
She was my morning seduction,
She was my drug,
Not my addiction.
Clarity in silence,
A wicked series,
Lost in silence.
Rain pouring down,
Washing away the pain.
Emptying bottles of booze,
Curing depression and blues.
Pull on weathered boots,
Spreading the news, grassroots.
Thank the Lord,
Cut the cord,
To a man that used to be.
A man that used to be.
Rise up tall,
Show them all,
that needs to be.
Change a broken life,
There are kids and a wife.
No more drunken nights
And late night fights.
Thank the Lord,
Cut the cord
To a man that used to be,
That used to be.
Today's a shining day,
Here to stay.
One more chance to pray
For a man that needs to be.
The roof on Higher Ground in Burlingtion, VT is gone! Arleigh Kincheloe blew it off last night! With help from her Dirty Birds gang, this five foot small vocal seductress captured the audience in her soulful net of rock, funk, and blues, rendering them mesmerized and defenseless to resist the captivating onslaught of music. It was a 90 minute journey led by a songbird going by the alias of Sister Sparrow. Be warned, she and her gang, disguised as exceptional musicians, are on the prowl and will sweep away the innocent with their talented talons and soar you away to Funkyland. You just may not be able to Let It Go.
Love whispers you asleep,
Daily, without a sweet treat.
You are embraced deeply,
Daily, without a greeting card.
Your smile is adored,
Daily, without a bouquet.
It’s Valentine Day,
Today is the same,
Daily, I love you.
Robert Stanhope started creative writing during his Junior year of high school. In his twenties, he became a motorsports journalist and was published in a number of local, regional, and national trade publications. Now in his early 40s, Bob has returned to creatively writing, including embarking on his first novel, The Last Lie.