Thursday, September 25, 2014

What a Woman Should Have ...

Victorian Woman

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to, or needs to...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

something perfect to wear if her employer, or the date of her dreams, wants to see her in an hour ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a youth she's content to leave behind ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

one friend who always makes her laugh ... and one who lets her cry...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ....

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored ...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...

a feeling of control over her destiny...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to fall in love without losing herself ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and how to confront a friend without ruining the friendship ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

when to try harder ... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents, or siblings ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

that her childhood may not have been perfect ... but its over ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she would and wouldn't do for love, or more ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

how to live alone ... even if she doesn't like it ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ...

where to go ... be it to her best friend's kitchen table ... or a charming inn in the woods ... when her soul needs soothing ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

what she can and can't accomplish in a day ... a month ... and a year ...



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Friday, September 5, 2014

Poem: Taps for my Soldier

Douglas "Doc" Kempf





In Loving Memory

Douglas Scott “Doc” Kempf
KIA Vietnam
September 5, 1969

Sp4 US Army
Combat Medic
199th LIB D4/12

7/12/1947 - 9/5/1969







Taps for my Soldier

by CJ (Kempf) Heck

A gentle breeze chatters the leaves
as birds sing their greetings.

The sun shines 
on a day like any other,
and yet like none before.

Two mirrored rows of uniforms
line up like blue dominoes,
white gloves holding rifles at the ready.

A lone bugle cries. 
Twenty-four notes.
Each note, slow as a tear,
blankets ears and heavy hearts.

In the silence between,
even nature holds its breath.

Gone is the breeze.
Gone are the bird songs.
Gone is her hold on composure,
all lost in the bugle's lament.

Solemnly a soldier approaches.
White gloves present a tri-fold flag,

and in one final mournful note,
legions of silent voices unite
to call a comrade home
and a young wife weeps.



[From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by CJ Heck]
  
"Taps for My Soldier" was included by an invitation from Master Sgt. and bugler, Jari Villanueva, for The Taps Exhibit, “The Taps Project”, Arlington National Cemetery, May 29, 1999.

"Taps for My Soldier" was included in the book, "The Other Side of Sorrow", by Cicely Buckley, Edited by Patricia Frisella (Poetry Society of New Hampshire, 2006).


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Remember Autumn ..

The Autumn Leaves
Autumn is (almost) here. What a wonderful time of the year!

Temperatures drop at night, making sleep more comfortable and the days turn cooler and less humid.

Leaves cover the ground in varying shades and those that can, will be nearly nude again, even here in Florida.

This time of year I get pleasantly caught up in all of the things I love most about fall.

As a child, I loved the leaves. I remember building houses and forts, then playing hide-and-seek in the noisy piles that had been the walls.  But what I remember most was the pungent scent as they burned after daddy raked and then ceremoniously lit the piles with a match -- something the powers-that-be sadly don't allow these days.

There was apple picking at the orchard and choosing the perfect pumpkins for carving, and drinking apple cider from little paper cups while you waited for mom, or dad, to pay for your special finds.

My Hometown County Fair
And who can forget the county fair? In my hometown, small as it was, they even closed school for an entire week because of the fair.

I loved going on the rides, playing the games on both sides of the midway, and (ugh) the animal barns with the hold-your-nose smell of manure that followed you everywhere, all day long.

I'll never forget the sweet smell of cotton candy and I loved watching the guy behind the glass as he turned the white paper cone around and around along the edge of the silver vat and, miraculously, the cotton candy slowly grew on the paper cone into a huge pastel cloud -- and you just had to have some.

My favorite fair treat was the thick, long french fries you squirted vinegar on and ate with your fingers. Those fries to this day are my yardstick for measuring a really tasty french fry.

The coup de gras of autumn was always the haunted house, which was set up in one of the barns after the fair was over.  Ghosts! Werewolves! Dracula hiding in a closed coffin that suddenly popped open, just as you walked by!

Monsters in the Haunted House
Every autumn, I counted the days until the haunted house would open.

I remember walking through the doorway, my adrenalin pumping, heart racing, and my mind silently screaming ...

"Go ahead, scare me! Scare the living daylight right out of me!"

... and it always did.



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Monday, September 1, 2014

Alfie: by Michael Domino

Pompapoo (Like Lacey)
The tall man looked pale and tired, and his little dog looked dazed and confused as they meandered about the perimeter of the grassy, sloping dog run in Madison Square Park.

My dog approached them and I followed her, but they moved further away, both seeming to be in their own separate worlds.

He had earplugs on, listening to music, taking him even further away from where he actually was. The dog led the way, sniffing and snorting at the weeds with no particular direction. What a pair.

The fenced-in corral is where people take their pets to exercise. It’s not large, so our paths would invariably cross as we meandered.

My dog, Lacey, got nowhere with the pint-sized wanderer. The dog’s eyes were glazed. The two small canines passed like ships in the night without the customary sniffing greeting – the handshake of the doggie world.

I raised my sunglasses above my head to make eye contact with the man with tired eyes. After all, dog parks are not just for dogs. People meet people there, too. This particular morning the cool mist, and damp ground were keeping the regulars away, so it was just the four of us.

As we approached from opposite directions the man removed his earplugs and looked up: “He’s Alfie,” his tired voice whispered.

“Excuse me? Good Morning.”

“Alfie, his name is Alfie.”

“Great dog name. I like that. My dog is Lacey.”

Lacey is a fluffy white Pomapoo (Poodle mixed with a Pomeranian). That’s what the sales guy told us when we paid 100 bucks for her. She weighs about 20 pounds.

Alfie the Bichon
“His full name is Alfalfa but we call him Alfie. He’s a Bichon.”

Alfie was even smaller than Lacey and sort of runty.

“Oh, like Alfalfa, The Little Rascal?”

“Yes, you see he has a bump on his head and that makes his hair stick up like Alfalfa’s cowlick.”

“Ha, yes I see that – his mark of distinction.”

“He ran away once and we put up posters and got a call. They said ‘we think we found your dog.’ I asked them if he has a bump on his head and they said yes. So I said ‘That’s Alfie, I’ll come get him’.”

Alfie’s owner’s speech was very dry.

“Well, he looks like a nice pet. He walks around and doesn’t bother anybody or other dogs,” I said.

No response.

“He can’t be left alone.”

“What do you mean?”

“He goes crazy if we leave him in the house. He tears the place up. If we put him in a crate, he chews that up and all the stuffing too.”

“Why not put him in a wire mesh one or plastic, that he can’t destroy?”

“We tried but then he hurts himself. He will chew out his toenails and bite his own legs. He has extreme separation anxiety. I think the bump on his head goes into his brain. My wife and I can’t leave him. If we go out for a few hours we never know what we’ll find when we return.”

I could see now why the man looked so tired and withdrawn. This little dog was ruling his life. He told me this has been going on for nine years. I could not imagine such a life. Pets are supposed to bring you joy, not make you miserable.

“We used to have a German Shepherd but he died a few years back,” he told me. “When we left him home with our Shepherd, Alfie was okay. We could go out and he’d be fine when we got back. But Shep died, and now Alfie goes crazy again.”

I really felt bad for the guy. After nine years of being under Alfie’s tyranny, I assumed that every possible remedy must have been considered. They had consulted a number of veterinarians and dog trainers and even a dog shrink. His dilemma nagged at me, and challenged me to think of some new solutions. Then it came to me.

“Why don’t you get Alfie a cat? They are low maintenance and self-managing. You said Alfie was okay with Shep the Shepherd, so maybe any live body will do?”

For the first time, the man’s face changed from a sullen mask. His eye showed some life – and hope.

“You know, I never thought of that. That’s a great idea!”

With new energy, he reached for Alfie’s leash that he’d hung on the fence near the water guzzler.

“I think I’m going to go home now and talk to my wife. Alfie, Alfie come on, boy, let’s go – let’s go see Mommy!”

I said goodbye and good luck, feeling pleased that maybe I did something to help this one person, this one day, in this one life.

Days went by and there was no sign of Alfie and the tired man. A week passed and Lacey and I were there early the day they finally arrived. The man was not wearing earplugs, and his shirt was neatly tucked in. He looked like he’d gotten some good sleep and a little suntan maybe from a full round of golf.

He bounded right over to my sunny bench with Alfie in tow.

“Hey, how’s it going?” I said.

“Listen, I’m glad I ran into you.”

“Me too. How’ve you been?”

“We got a cat – like you suggested. Alfie is happy and we can leave him home now – we even played a full round of golf yesterday. Thanks a lot!”

“No need to thank me. It was my pleasure. I like to believe that there are no problems, only solutions. I’m just glad it worked out.”

Alfie chased Lacey and the man walked over and threw them a well worn tennis ball as both dogs chased and slobbered on with great excitement.

No big thing, perhaps, but seeing them like this sure made my day.



[from the book, "Park Avenue to Park Bench", by Vietnam veteran, Michael Domino]


Michael Domino
About the Author

Born in New York City but raised on Long Island, Michael Domino is a product of the great post-WWII American suburban experiment.

Once described by his Aunt as a curious loner who never appeared to be lonely, Michael was always drawn to rebels, outcasts, and the downtrodden.

Fortunately for the budding writer, his father, an amateur photographer and film buff, often took him to Manhattan where his imagination could run wild.

His mother, a voracious reader and graduate of Hunter College in Manhattan, encouraged her son and he wrote short stories and experimented with photography. After graduating with a degree in Industrial Arts from SUNY Oswego he went into the plastics recycling business.

For three decades he channeled his creative energy into giving new life to old scrap. He also married and raised a family. Meanwhile, on the sly, Domino’s writing simmered and he kept a journal of his impromptu bohemian adventures. 

He published Cadillac on the Bowery and Loud Whispers, before moving onto a Vietnam memoir co-written with his cousin Michael Primont.

His latest collection of eclectic Manhattan stories is titled Park Avenue to Park Bench. Michael Domino is also the writer and producer of dozens of music and spoken word videos and two short films.


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Poem: Anatomy of a Poet

Poetry bares us to the soul ...




A poet is a lonely being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music ... and then people crowd about the poet and say to her: "Sing for us soon again;" that is as much as to say, "May new sufferings torment your soul." ~Soren Kierkegaard









Anatomy of a Poet

by CJ Heck

Go in through the eyes of a poet
deep into her alphabet mind.
Ideas like flotsam and jetsam
dodge poetry fragments and lines.

Beware the dark shadows of memory,
knife-sharp and bloodied by time,
or gentle, orgasmic and sensual,
swirling eddies, some without rhyme.

Softly notice the spirit in hiding.
Tiptoe past the bruised heart mending there,
knitting poems, pearls strung on a necklace,
unfinished jewels everywhere.

Take note on your tour of this poet
the outside no different you see,
but inside, my God, a passion's abyss,
the poet, the woman, the me.


[The poem which gave the title to the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by C.J. Heck]

Read a Preview of "Anatomy of a Poet"


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Poem: Full Circle

Playing Dress Up




If I was asked to name the one thing I'm most proud of, it would be my three daughters.

Being their mother was the most rewarding experience of my life, and they've grown into the most exceptional women that I know and have ever known. I thank them for such a prestigious honor.










For Carrie, Bethany and Heather, my 'mirrors' ...


Full Circle

by CJ Heck

A little girl clops in mommy's heels,
her dress, a floppy hat.
The borrowed pearls she's chosen
dangle halfway down her back.

Her face a shining rainbow,
ruby lips, cheeks tinted pink,
blue splashes on both eyelids,
powder snowflakes in the sink.

She'll go twirling in a ballroom,
a princess with her knight.
Or better still, be mommy
out with daddy Friday night.


In a child's imagination
everything is crystal clear,
yet the truth beneath the surface
is revealed in mommy's mirror.

That little girl is all grown up,
clothes and shoes are now my size ...
but the mirror of maturation
is now my daughters' eyes.


[From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by C.J. Heck]


I love you, girls.
Mom



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Monday, August 11, 2014

Poem: Waiting for the Greyhound

Lady Waiting in Bus Terminal





"You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I'll rise." ~Maya Angelou












Waiting for the Greyhound

by CJ Heck

Red-coat lady
waiting for a bus,
your hat pulled down
to hide a swelling
monument of love,
handbag gripped two-fisted,
leaving only the sleeves
to wipe the sadness
from your eyes.
So much misery
shares your dingy bench.

What happened
to make your life fit
inside a suitcase ...
and why is it the only thing
between your legs
at two a.m.?
Maybe wasting minutes
feels better here
with your suitcase between,
instead of him.

It's merely speculation,
but I suppose yesterday's hopes
and tomorrow's dreams
die just as easily
in a one-way ticket
and anywhere's a better place
than where you were.

Greyhounds may be late
but they don't punch or yell.


[From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by C.J. Heck]



“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Happy Birthday: by Mike Dooley

Birthday Flowers!


Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday Dear CJ,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu!

A few years back, not so long ago, heaven and earth erupted into a major celebration with the news of your impending adventure into this very time and space.

You see, someone like CJ Heck doesn't come along all that often. In fact, there's never been a single one like you, nor is there ever ANY possibility that another will come again. 

You're an Angel among us. Someone, whose eyes see what no others will EVER see, whose ears hear what no others will EVER hear, and whose perspective and feelings will NEVER, ever be duplicated. Without YOU, the Universe, and ALL THAT IS, would be sadly less than it is.

Quite simply:

You're the kind of person, CJ,
Who's hard to forget,
A one-in-a-million
To the people you've met.
Your friends are as varied
As the places you go,
And they all want to tell you
In case you don't know:
That you make a big difference
In the lives that you touch,
By taking so little
And giving so much!

CJ, you are so AWESOME! For your birthday, friends and angels from every corner of the Universe, including buddies you didn't know you had, will be with you to wish you the HAPPIEST of days and an exciting new year in time and space. You won't be alone!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CJ!

Mike Dooley
Orlando, Florida

P.S. This is going to be YOUR year!! 


**Thank you, Mike! ~CJ


“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


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