Friday, July 30, 2010


I woke up this morning feeling homesick for my dad. It was 5:30 and way too early to call him. At his age, he doesn't hop out of bed quite as easily as he did when I was a child and growing up amidst all my siblings on Elm Street in Coshocton, Ohio.

When I was a little girl, my dad was ten feet tall. He had all the answers for all of the questions you could ever think of. He could fix anything that broke. If you got a boo-boo bump, he would have you soak it in Epsom Salts and it got better -- if it was a cut, he painted it with "daddy's red paint" (Mercurochrome) and the cut got better, too. In this child's eyes, my dad was the smartest man in the whole world and he could do anything.

He was a quiet, man. It took a lot to make him raise his voice, and believe me, with six children in the house, an assortment of foster kids in and out over the years, plus all of our friends, you would think anyone would blow, but he kept his cool, no matter what.

Here's an example of his temperament: When daddy taught each of us how to drive, we had one cardinal rule. We HAD to wear our seat belt because he loved us and wanted us to be safe -- that was like one of the Ten Commandments, #11 -- and NOT to wear our seat belt meant losing our right to drive for two weeks. If we broke that rule, he never said a word. When the guilty party drove home, parked, and got out of the car, if he saw from the house we weren't wearing our seat belt, he met us at the front door silently with his hand out for us to deposit the car keys. He didn't have to say anything, we knew -- the rule had come from his heart and we knew it.

I remember one valuable lesson he taught me when I was about ten -- I never forgot it. In our home, dad did the grocery shopping. Mama made her list and gave it to dad, and then he took one of us along to help him with the grocery bags. This particular day, it was my turn. When we got to the cash register, the cashier announced that the bill was $122.56. In 1959, that was a lot of money. To me at ten years-old, that had to be at least the price of a new car. I watched the expression on his face turn to firm resolve as he reached into his wallet and handed her the money.

As we put the groceries in the back of our station wagon and climbed into the front seat for the drive home, I thought about it. I was thinking of ways I could help save money since he had spent so much at the store. I remembered all the times I had heard mama or daddy tell us to turn off the TV or lights if we weren't using them, and I vowed to myself to do a better job. I must have been uncharacteristically quiet, because right about then, daddy asked me if if I was okay. I told him I was fine, but then asked, "Daddy, are we poor?"

Daddy only thought about it for a second before he reached over and patted me on my arm and said, "No, honey. We're not poor. We're not poor at all. We just don't have a lot of money."

I've thought about that day so many times in the years since. It taught me an invaluable lesson about life -- I even kept it in my heart while I raised my own three girls. His message was so clear: we had everything that was truly important.

For most of us, we have a tendency to take life way too seriously. As Jimmy Buffett says, "I just wanna live happily ever after, every now and then ..." Puddles are there for splashing in and mud is for making mud pies and a hug ... well, a hug will fix just about everything else.

Daddy taught us that no matter what, love is what's important. Love is measured in so many precious minutes -- it's important that we not miss any of them, for no one knows, life might be metered in hours.

... oh, and he's still ten feet tall. I'm going to go call him.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Big Toe ...

Stubbed Toe - Ouch

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing ...” ~George Bernard Shaw

... hmmm, guess that means, I'll never grow old ... CJ

I can't think of anything worse than stubbing your toe ... well, that's not quite true. (I'm sorry). I can think of one thing worse and that's stubbing your toe at my age.

I don't know about you, but I hate wearing shoes. I think I spent my whole childhood in my bare feet ... well, that's not quite true, either. (I'm so sorry). We did have winter in Ohio.  It was cold and we got snow so, knowing my parents, I'm sure I wore both shoes and boots all winter. I'm willing to bet though that as soon as I came indoors, the shoes and boots were kicked off by the front door.

I can say with all honesty that my summers were spent with at least one, if not both, big toes bandaged the entire summer.  Anyway, I'm getting myself all side-tracked here. Today, it's summer and it's hot and, as usual, I'm barefoot.

Well, I went outside in my bare feet to do one simple little thing. I heard the mailman's truck while I was sitting here writing, so I ran out the front door, across the front porch and down the steps to get the mail. Damn, if I didn't stub my stupid big toe on the sidewalk.

I remembered that dancing around for a while always helped -- you know, while you're waiting for the pain to subside -- so I did that first. Then, I hobbled back up the front steps, across the porch and inside the front door where I had to hop on one foot all the way through the house to the kitchen sink to rinse it off so I could see the damage. Darn thing bled like a sun-of-a-gun!

Here I am, a senior citizen, with a big old bandage wrapped around a boo-boo on my big toe. I can't believe I did that. Thank God it's summer and I can wear my strappy sandals ... but if you see me out and about and you dare to laugh, I'm probably going to punch you in the arm ...

I have to go. I see I left a trail of little red drops all the way from the sidewalk to my kitchen sink and now I'm the grownup, so I have to clean it up.

Geez-Louise, it looks like Hansel and Gretel were here and they left a trail ...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Short Story: The Return

Bed and Breakfast in The Keys

Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight." ~Rossiter Worthington Raymond

The Return

by CJ Heck

Gillian grabbed her bag from the luggage carousel as it noisily passed in front of her. Finally. It had been well over an hour since her flight landed. The airport had grown and changed since she was last here, but then so had everything related to travel since the fateful day of 9/11.

Pulling the handle up, she tilted the suitcase onto its wheels, and pulled it behind her through the terminal to the automatic doors and the sidewalk. There, she hailed a taxi. It was time to face the memories.

It had been more years than she wanted to think about, since Gillian had been in the Keys. She had made a fateful decision here twenty years ago, one that would change her life forever.

Until now, she had been unable to gather the courage to face the Keys again, or the time she had spent here. With a sigh, she knew the truth was, she had been unable to face him again.

Not so, the memories. Unbidden and haunting, she carried them with her always, treasured and fiercely guarded. She realized with a deep and growing resignation, now she would hold onto them forever, because it's all she would ever have.

The decision she made so long ago had turned out to be the wrong one -- it had only taken her a few hours to see that, but sadly, by then she thought it was too late.

Coming here today was no mistake.  It would be devastating, and the hardest thing she would ever have to do, but now it truly was too late.

Gillian was jolted out of her reverie when the cab driver suddenly stopped the cab at a corner directly across from the beach. She had forgotten how really beautiful it was here. There was so much about the Keys she had missed.

She was surprised and yet glad, the building still stood; however, the once brightly painted facade was now badly weathered, now only a faded patchwork of condemned signs and crumbling plaster. Its boarded windows were long past feeling any warmth from the sun. 

She felt a clash of emotions, finally standing here after all these years and remembering. Only by steeling her heart with a deep breath, was she able to climb the steps to the spacious and once vibrant veranda.

Looking around for a safe place to prop her suitcase, Gillian noticed that the front door was literally hanging off its hinges. Why anyone could just open the door and step inside. Gathering as much resolve as she could muster, she pushed the entrance door aside, being careful not to allow it to fall to the floor.

The once magnificent foyer brought another flood of memories and her breath caught in her throat in a sob, surprising Gillian. She could almost hear the soft music coming from the dining room on the right, where they had danced until three in the morning.

The stairs that rose to the second floor from either side of the foyer were higher than she remembered, and also very rickety. Ignoring the obvious safety hazard, she began to climb and now realized that the trip up was almost as difficult as the trip back in time.

In ruins thick with dust, and thicker still with memories, she felt her past and present collide. Gillian sat down hard on the top step and allowed her tears their freedom. The pain and sorrow flowed for all that might have been, and she watched as each cleansing tear dropped on the dirty floorboards.

It had been right to return. Here was where she could allow herself to remember and grieve and the healing could finally begin. Gillian's memories enveloped her, one after another.

Barefoot and holding hands, with all of their dreams fresh and new, they walked down these same steps and then across the street to the water’s edge. She remembered looking down at their clasped hands, wondering where her fingers stopped and Michael's began and how wonderful that felt.

With their pants rolled up mid-calf, they had flirted with the waves, stashed baby sand dollars in their pockets for safekeeping, and he wrote her name in a heart in the sand with his big toe, and they had talked and laughed until they cried.

Sunset on the Gulf
She thought again about that last night, how the colors of the sunset had blended the blue-green water of the Gulf right back into the sky as hand-in-hand, they walked back to their room.

[We were so happy, Gillian thought, as a fresh wave of pain gripped her heart.  

And after making love, we would lay basking in the afterglow, my head resting in the cradle of his shoulder, and we would whisper long into the night.] 

Her heart ached as she thought about that last night together. She realized that she had never felt such joy and sweet abandon before, or ever since.

They had talked about him, and her, and they whispered of us. They never spoke of anything that might get in the way, or if something ever were to, how they would push it aside -- they never gave a thought to an end at all.

They even assumed her abusive marriage was finally over. After all, she had left Theo for Michael. She had called and told him it was over.

To Michael, kind and good, a truly honest man, he knew instinctively how to treat her. Abuse wasn't even a word he knew. A gentle and caring lover, Michael had known how to both give, and receive love. What they had together was tender and beautiful and she had loved him with all her heart

Then out of the blue, Theo had shown up, intending to play his trump card. Weeks after she had left him, he arrived unannounced on Michael's front porch when they returned from the Keys.

He reminded her they were married and he wanted her back. He had appealed directly to her keen sense of right and wrong -- he had been a master at pouring on guilt for even the smallest infraction. 

In his words, Gillian had been adulterous and he would be magnanimous. He had decided he would forgive her. He promised things would be different and he told her she owed him another chance.  

Michael had begged her to stay. He warned her that Theo would never change. Against everything her heart was screaming, she had listened to Theo and she made her decision.

She hurt Michael beyond words and she had also hurt herself -- and there wasn't a day that went by that she didn't regret her decision.
With a sigh, Gillian realized it had been right to return to the Keys -- even if it was twenty years too late. It was time to face the past. 

How she wished she had called and told Michael she had made a mistake, but there are some things that once done, can never be undone. 

Getting through Michael's funeral today would be the most painful experience of her life. 

Swiping at her tears once more, Gillian had a sudden realization. 

Some days are diamonds. Some days are dust. And some days ... well, some days will never, ever, be anything but both.

Michael, I will never be able to go barefoot without thinking of you ...

[A short story from the book, "Bits and Pieces of a Writer's Soul", a collection of short and flash fiction, by CJ Heck]

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

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Afterglow

When love is accompanied with deep intimacy, it raises us to the highest level of human experience. In this exalted space, we can surrender our egos, become vulnerable and know levels of joy and well-being unique among life experiences. We attain a glimpse of the rapture that can be ours. Boundaries are blurred, there are no limitations and we rejoice in our intimate union. We become one and, at the same time, both. --Leo Buscaglia

The Afterglow
by CJ Heck

Lying in bed
holding off
reality for
a while
I’m caught
in the place
between dream
and fantasy
heart slowing
back to a walk
I'm wondering
does it get
any better
than this?
a lingering taste
man-woman scent
in the air
it's no wonder
the mind’s eye
is still open
what is past
it's stunning
how the brain
lays a path
to the senses
so they remain
still alive
though the moment
is now but
a sweet memory
his body
warm and
spoons mine
as he sleep-sighs
in a dream
here in my

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Poem: The Changeling

Sooner or later we begin to understand that love is more than verses on valentines and romance in the movies. 

We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true, and the most important thing in our lives. 

Love is the creator of our favorite memories, the foundation of our fondest dreams, a promise always kept, a fortune that can never be spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most unlikely of places. 

This radiance that never fades, this mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all -- one known only by those who love. ~Anonymous~

Changeling: (noun): 1. One who, or that which, is left or taken in the place of another.

The Changeling

by CJ Heck

At dawn,
I looked
with eyes
wide open.

The color of
his hair had
a wintery grey,
crowded out
to who knows where
to join
a master work
in perfect granite,
his finite features
raisined to
that buckled
into nose
and cheek
and brow.

Somehow spared
by nature's cruelty
are steel blue eyes,
eyes that walk
my dreams,
and lips
that taunt
and tease.

Where was I
when all this
a changeling, too,
and robbed
as well?

when morning
slipped inside
and kissed
my eyelids,
I felt blessed
it reached across
to touch his too.

From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet"

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Role of a Writer

"The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say,
but what we are unable to say.” ~Anais Nin

The Role of a Writer
by CJ Heck

This quote is truly
the mark of greatness.
But, have all the
noble poems been written
by classical masters
and those gifted
poets of today?
Are there still
meaningful works
left to pen,
not merely big words
from our swollen egos
spilling their contents
at the whim of a moment,
nor simplistic meanderings
of joy, or grief or love?
To answer my own question,
I say, write on, dear poets!
Allow not your words
to decay, unwritten
in the brilliant minds
of today, where
they’ll lie barren, unread,
only to wither
and crack and parch
as clay in the desert.
I do believe
there are jewels
left to be written.
But, if we must write,
it should be
for the future,
for the common man
who will gain most
from these words
he cannot write.
As writers,
we poets
have an obligation
to write in a way
that he may glean
what he can
from writings
of poetic merit,
not stumble through
obscure words
which are, to him,
as bird droppings on
a splintered windowsill,
left to die in obscurity
gathering nothing but dust.
If we must write,
let us write for those
who are unable,
so the future
might find our words
alive and fertile,
their tilled soil begun
as thoughts and feelings
first seeded in keen minds,
then sown into black
and then white,
with imagery rich
and green and lush,
to live on in
future hearts and minds
even as we crumble,
bones to ashes,
then blow away,
dust to dust.
May we always write,
not to say
what we can all say,
but what we are
unable to say,
and not just for now,
but for forever.

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Monday, July 19, 2010


"In the end, these things are what matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?"
~Siddartha Gautama

by CJ Heck

Barefoot and
holding hands
we waded
the water’s edge.
I remember
looking down
at our hands.
I couldn’t tell
where your fingers
and mine began
and how good
that felt.
Pants rolled up
we flirted
with the waves
and you wrote
my name
in the sand
with your big toe
and we laughed
until we cried.
We talked
about you,
and me,
and whispered
of us.
The colors
of sunset
blended the
of the water
into the sky
as we packed
our things
and put on
sandy shoes
and I had never
felt such joy
and sweet abandon.
Sometimes at night
when sleep
is a stranger
and the covers
are up chin tight
thoughts turn
to a beach,
talk of you,
talk of me,
and how the us
is now the
sweet abandon.
We never spoke of
things that could
get in the way
and how to
push them aside.
We never
gave a thought
to an end
at all
and I can’t go
without thinking
of you.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

I am a Lady

“I think ''taste'' is a social concept, not an artistic one. I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in someone else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another's brain in silence, and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves.”
~John Updike

...Oh yes, my sentiments exactly. ~CJ

I Am a Lady
by CJ Heck

First and foremost,
I am a lady,
but I am
so much more.
I am capable
of great insight
quiet wisdom,
undying devotion
and love.
I am willing
to give more
than receive
as long as
it doesn’t
become habit
and you
take and take
and never offer
anything in return.
I am a lady.
I am more than
a receptacle,
a body
to be viewed
and screwed
at your leisure
with no thought
to what goes on
above my neck.
I’ll not be
your window
nor a
bobble-head doll
who nods
in agreement
with everything
you say and do.
I am a lady.
I’ve heard it said
that to kiss a man
when he wants
to be kissed
is like
scratching a place
that doesn’t itch,
but I can guarantee
that I’ll always
have an itch
and not
just for kisses,
but only
if I am loved
and the love
is shared
with respect,
honesty and
Rest assured,
it will
all be returned
to you
you see,
once the
bedroom door
and the passion
in my blood,
I don’t
have to be
a lady
any more.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Touch Me

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~Angela Monet

May we all blaze with a fire that is never extinguished.

Touch Me ...
by CJ Heck

let me feel your body quicken
a sensual journey we will make
to explore each other’s inner curves
and all our outer planes

make our senses come alive with it
we’ll breathe each other in
set free all inhibitions
lovers loving till we're spent

so touch me, wake me, take me,
make me cry with sweet desire
show me why I was made woman
make me scream with skin on fire

let me taste you deeply, fully,
let me set your soul ablaze
I want you, need you, have to see
raw passion on your face

touch me, let me feel you
fill me up and set us free
to soar to heights we’ve never been
and again, may never see

I ache to feel your heartbeat
as it beats above my own
when love explodes, imploding
our two bodies into one.

I hope this wasn't too riske' ...
Hugs, CJ

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Poem: "A Nickel for Thoughts of You"

An Almighty Pile of Nickels
Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they're trying to find someone who's going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take. 
~Anthony Robbins

A Nickel for Thoughts of You

by CJ Heck

I wish I had a nickel
for every time
I think of you
watching TV
in your creaky chair,
chin parked on your chest,
"... not sleeping,
just resting
my eyes for a minute ..."

or with brows furrowed,
chasing an errant whisker
through the foamy white
on the stranger
in the mirror,
or your gnarly hands
working leather
and the amazing precision
of the intricate designs,
considering the size
of your hands,
or you
secretly watching me
from across the room,
and me
secretly catching you
secretly watching me,
or your gentle touch
when you pass my chair,
just because you're glad
I'm here.
Love is measured
in so many little minutes.
It's important
we not miss them,
for who knows,
life might be
metered in hours.
It isn't really about
the nickels,
but it would be fun
to see
the almighty
pile of coins.

(from the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by CJ Heck)

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

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lance Sheridan: Rogue

Lance Sheridan is a remarkable man, a good friend, and a caring person to all he meets. He is also a published author, writer, and poet. He pens in many different genres of poetry, but his greatest passion is writing dark poems, poems that often take the reader on a wild roller coaster ride down a darkened alleyway -- and just when they think they have it all figured out, they have succumbed to an unexpected conclusion.

When I asked him to please honor me with a contribution to my blog, he graced me with the following poem:

by Lance Sheridan

The sea doors open wide
Opens wide for thee
I am mischievous, a rogue
Not obedient, I seek and destroy.

I pace the sea in a wondrous cold
Round in shape with a dismal sheen
Tread the salt water, a shadow, a foe
I am very explosive by nature.

The sea breeze blows
Then comes the fog and mist
The furrow follows thee
I diminish hope as it withers at the root.

Shipmates that spot thee
In their sore distress
Fain from speaking
As if choked by fire and soot.

I take the form of a
speck, a mist, a shape
I plunge, I tack, they veer
As the ship approaches, the horror follows.

Throats un-slake, lips blacken and bake
Into the sea the shipmates plummet
The ship sinks with upright keel
In an unheard whisper, into a watery grave.

2007 RLS

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.

Thank you, Lance!

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Friday, July 9, 2010

We Need to Get Away

Feelings bring us closer

I was thinking:  Though we may think we know each other well, when we neglect feelings in a relationship, we neglect the deepest, most intimate part of ourselves.  Sharing our feelings leads us to greater closeness, because feelings are very personal.  They are the most intimate part of us and the greatest gift we can give to each other.

We Need to Get Away

Have I told you lately
how good you smell
when the shower
spits you out?

I can't recall
the last time, but
it wouldn't surprise me,
considering what time
we actually have to spend
alone together these days.

I do know, I remember
how intense it used to be.

We need to get away,
just the two of us,
before we grow any ruts
in this lovely road …

Let's go somewhere, now,
before talking dirty
really means:
"You doing a light load?
Can you grab my pj's
from the hook
on the bathroom door?"

Before wanna catch a quickie?
really means:
"I'm pooped. Wanna take a nap?"

Before Oh God, I'm coming!
actually means,
"Don't nag me, I'm almost ready!
Go ahead, start the car."

Let's go somewhere while
Baby, that was fantastic!
still means more than
a Sunday Scrabble win.

It's not too late ...
I remember.

[From the book, "Anatomy of a Poet", by CJ Heck]

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Thoughts, His Whispers

It seems to me that the songs that have been any good, I've had nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page. ~Joan Baez

I read that quote years ago and it's always been one of my favorites.  So much of writing, especially poetry, really does seem to "just crawl down the sleeve and come out on the page".   The following poem was totally experimental -- I just wanted to see if I could write one poem within another poem.

My Thoughts, (His Whispers)
A Poem Within a Poem
by CJ Heck

Warm breath
and whispers

("Sweet gentle woman)

in my ear
waking up

(my forever love )

so much more
than my mind

(I’ve never been)

love and energy
flow through

(so happy)

dreams to fill
an open heart

(I’ve never known)

arousing the her-parts
slow as a sigh

(such trust and love)

yet fast as
hummingbird wings

(I now know)

and once awake
passion takes hold of ...

(the purpose of ...)

my life."

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. ~Dennis Gabor

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Unsleep

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. ~Robert Frost

The Unsleep
(Thoughts During)

by CJ Heck

two o'clock
in the morning
he's snoring
like a buzz saw
my mind is full
of the day
gotta get some sleep
it's just out of reach
beyond those thoughts
I can almost feel it
almost taste it
slipping away again
you get so close
damn brain
can't turn it off
it's late
have to sleep
much to do tomorrow
think of love
sensual too
like making love
in the morning
like making love
at night
at noon
any time
the way he feels
the hard slow pace
then the faster
oh man
how about
when he just stops?
how that makes me
stop it!
enough already
get some sleep!

then again

I could
just roll over
and wake him up

love at 2 a.m.
maybe then
I can get some sleep.

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. ~Dennis Gabor

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Children's Poem: "Muddles"

The Joy of Finding a Mud Puddle

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. ~Walt Streightiff

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

I thought it would be nice to give children a poem today, especially since I predominantly write for children.

I feel safe in saying this poem is based on the childhoods of every adult, (male or female), all across the country.

I think everyone can remember the joy in finding a fresh mud puddle ... and the battle we lost to our self-control.

Oh, and if you would please read it out loud in your best four-year old voice ...


by CJ Heck

Splashing-sploshing the mud in puddles
I will call what I made "muddles".

Run and jump, my feet go splishy.
Bare toes feel good, squashy-squishy.

Uh oh, muddles frickled my new pants!
I wiped it worse 'cause it’s on my hands!

Dripsy-drops are EVERY place!
It’s in my hair! It’s on my face!

It’s on my shirt, and there, and THERE!
Muddles got me everywhere!

Muddles bubbles in my smell.
Is it in BOTH holes? I just can’t tell,

and every twirl I go, it goes!
Ewww, here comes Mommy with the hose.

Mommy said just LOOK at me!
I can’t cause muddles are in my see,

but there's no muddles in my ears
and Mommy’s yells fill up my hears!

Now dripples are raining down, oh well,
it’s raining muddles off my smell.

My poor muddles ... now they’re moosh.
I slippered and sat right in the goosh.

The hose rains muddles off my thumb,
it's raining muddles from on my bum,

now there’s NOwhere muddles stayed
cause dripples made it go away.

I can’t play now, not here OR there
cause I’m in a corner on a chair

and Mommy’s washing ALL my clothes.
She said, "Why mud? I’ll never know."

Would I still have so many troubles
if I called it something else, not muddles?

(from the book, "Me Too!  Preschool Poetry", by CJ Heck)

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