Saturday, September 13, 2014


For Honeybee

It started as a rainy day attic raid, years after the last one.
As a little girl, Reina loved to look through the boxes and trunks with old fashioned locks that lay in her attic, covered in dust. They’d belonged to Gran, who had died when she was six. The whole house had, but when Mom and Daddy had divorced the next year, Daddy had moved into the sprawling house with the huge attic, and Mom hadn’t been there to tell Reina that playing in dusty attics would get her dresses dirty. Reina knew that anyway, but she’d found a costume her first trip up, a long red shirt that she belted at the waist. It was soft and warm, and felt like an embrace.  So she wore that and got dust in her hair and eyes, searching out small treasures.
Once, she found old books, but the writing was in strange marks she couldn’t read. They weren’t Japanese, like how Daddy’s dad had used to write, but they weren’t in English either. So Reina put them aside. Books were boring, anyway. She loved the dresses in cloth wrappings, silks and velvets in different colors. She loved the jewelry, but after dad caught her wearing a shiny gold necklace that looked like the sun, he said she should wait till she was older.
She loved the paintings best, little ones, big ones, on wood and on canvas. The colors were faded, and blurred, and all felt—odd. Like someone painting from a faded memory, the colors blurring at the edges.
There were forests, mountains, a lake that shone with sunlight on the surface. There was a castle.
Reina remembered the castle, tall and proud, and carrying with it the feeling of home.
She remembered it when Dad’s work started taking him on long trips around the world, and she’s had to start living full time with mom.
It because her focus when the attacks started, the despair taking root in her heart. She focused on the serenity, the longing, that the painter had captured. When she was Manic, she drew it, over and over until the image was gouged into her desk and her mind.
When she was 17, she found herself on the quest of a lifetime, something out of fairy tales and the fantasy stories she’d never liked reading. She’d gone to another world, another life. She’d gotten dust in her eyes and hair, had fought bandits and wicked kings, had worn a red dress melted at the waist. But it had not been in her attic, a daydream of a bored child. This had been real. She had been someone, more than just a disappointing daughter, more than just herself. And that—that had felt right. She had felt home in the trees of Celravoc. Returning had not felt like returning. It had felt like leaving something behind.
She’d been grounded after that—disappearing for a month has consequences, above nightmares. And the rain had cut the power, so she’d gone back to the attic. She did not need a flashlight, not with a globe of light in her hand.
The castle was dimmer than she remembered, as if the painter had seen it through glass fogged over by rain. She had forgotten that turret, the color of the roof tiles, the way it sat over the lake. And seeing it reminded her again of home. She knew the castle now. She would not let if fade in her mind again.
She was a year older when she returned. They had Promised, and kept their word, not like mom, not like dad. She’d gone back, her glaive in her hand, her friends at her side.
And on this quest, this journey, she had finally understood.
Because just beyond the Linagard mountains, past the forests of Stars and standing watch over the town of Linina, Reina saw a stone house, like a mother watching over her children.
It was her Castle.

She was Home.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


After a winter of snow,
Grey and white and brown,
Silver skies high with clouds
The sun bursts free, and with it
Life, Colour.
Buds on bare branches gleam gold
And flowers push up, scarlet, carmine,
Heliotrope, azure, the orange of a sunset
The pink of a rabbit’s inner ear,
The world is an oil painting blaze,
Welcome after a life-time
of watercolors through my window.
White skirt, the cotton sun-spun and sun-dried
Silver leaves braided into brittle hair
The sun warms my too pale skin,
As, giddy with the smell of melting snow and growing things
I dance through the mud and soil
Putting down roots and titling my face up

Like a flower reaching for the sky.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

the Hike

For Honeybee

It was a long hike.
Dust and sweat turned our legs grey
And our clothes were stiff
From drying in the sun
But it was—worth that.
Worth the blisters and the sun burn
In the part of my hair.
The ache of my left foot
The pain in my right knee
To see the Falls—

The force of wind and water
working as one to deafen us
The mist rising up from where the rush
met stillness
gleaming like liquid diamond dust
the green and the white,
the blue and the grey
one wash of color through blurred glasses
It was worth every aching step.

And for one moment, captured forever in memory
Mine and a camera’s
More colors glow-gleamed,
A rainbow in the spray.

It was only one of thousands of waterfalls, and I know
There are longer ones, grander ones--
But that .
does not feel right.
This one sits on my heart like a pumice stone, present
But light as mist
Born away by the wind
It was beautiful,
More than any I have only seen in pictures,
Because I felt the wind, the mist, heard
The Roar.

And, of course, because I walked every step,
Surrounded by chattering friends, but I stood there
On the lip, looking down
On my own two feet, even if only one

Is flesh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fog: Three Haiku

From where I stand
The world is gone, a vast sea
Of endless white fog

Nothing remains here
All is still -- and silently
Watching the sun rise

I look out and see
White covering the earth

But—oh!—not the sky.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Childhood Smells

For Honeybee Open Prompt
My Childhood smelled like Dirt.

My childhood smelled like
Dirt, not grit or dust, but
half rotted oak leaves and moist redwood
decay and jungle.

My childhood smelled like
the orange  plastic bat that warped in the sun
and hit the fuzz off tennis balls
 over the fence.

My childhood  smelled like
grandma’s chocolate chip cookies
that came from rolls of dough
and tasted better than Mom’s anyway.

My childhood smelled like
broccoli, cooked long in oil
till we said it smelled like brownies
and loved every tree of it.

My childhood smelled like
hamsters- fur, bedding, seeds
always escaping to roam the house
and having babies under the stove.

My childhood smelled like
cheap serial novel
sthat came in sets of thirty
and 80 pages long I read them all.

My childhood smelled like
Daddy’s TR4Triumph
that belched more gas
than my brother after tacos.

My childhood smelled like
tin bandaid boxes
because you can only explore so many trails
before you scrape your knee.

My childhood smelled like
chlorine and bromine and water
before I saw Jaws, at least
and vowed away from swimming pools.

My childhood smelled like
hamburgers and shake-it salads
and the mill valley Mcdonalds
where dad told stories on the way home.

My childhood smelled like
vinegar, and wood polish
when we’d skate around in our socks
and clean all the floors wrong.

My childhood smelled like
the mothballs that lived
in the closet where I made a nest
and hid from dinosaurs.

My childhood smelled like
brightly colored poster paints
that came in all the colors, even pink
and I painted a thousand rainbows.

My childhood smelled like
reed shavings and violin rosin
and sounded like  an orchestra of two
Mom and dad playing different melodies.

My childhood smelled like
Grandpa’s pink roses
that bloomed into crowns of color
and didn’t have thorns.

My childhood smelled like
Cherry poptarts and hot chocolate
covered with pink glaze and creamed froth
eaten at the window ledge.

My childhood smelled like
grass cuttings we threw like snowballs
and snapped off bamboo
used like hero’s blades.

My childhood smelled like
sidewalk chalk
even though Cragmont avenue
doesn’t have sidewalks to color.

My childhood smelled like
the astroturf field
where I learned to ride a bik
and crashed into the soccer net- goal.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


For Honeybee 1

Grandad grew roses
Peach, yellow, red
And one bush,
The child bush,
We called it,
Of pink buds,
Pale in early morning light.
It was our favorite because it
Didn’t have thorns.
They say love is a rose-
Sweet and beautiful
But fierce
If that is true, then these roses
Were Grandad
All scent and petal silk

No thorns

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I always thought that, if the zombie apocalypse happened, it’d be like in the movies. Something that huge and terrifying, something like that—the world can’t just pick up where it left off, you know? There’d be years of hiding and fighting and trying to find a cure, and maybe there wouldn’t be one, and nothing would ever be the same.

I’d day-dream about it, sometimes. Dad always said I watched too many movies.  But I’d imagine myself, in some ratty, torn up outfit, leading a rag-tag bunch of orphaned kids, looking for a haven, living on old twinkies and stale soda that the looters had left behind because who drinks that Shasta stuff anyway?

I prepared, too, just in case, which is probably the reason Dad said I was paranoid. I kept a kit by my bed, with add-water dinners, and pocket knives, and a massive first-aid kit. I even asked Dad to teach me to shoot a gun, but seeing as how he’s a vegetarian-ex-hippy living in San Francisco, that didn’t go over too well.

I’m Rosemary, by the way. Rosemary Rose. What kind of parents name their kid Rosemary when they’ve got Rose for a last name? Not the point, yeah, yeah, but still, I promise it ties in, a little.

Back to the Zombie thing. I’d always imagined it like in the movies, and that show where the grass is always neat and trim even though there’s this crisis going on? It’d be forever. The end of the world, lasting years and years and years, and leaving this massive scar on anyone who witnessed it and lived.

It didn’t. Last years and years, I mean. It didn’t even last one. The Zombie Apocalypse, as they’re calling it, lasted exactly thirteen minutes, and I was smack dab in the middle of it.

Ok, back to my name, just for a minute. Rose, as in, Clan Rose, of Scotland, which is so tiny it’s a wonder they weren’t swallowed up, but they weren’t. Dad is huge into family history, so every year since I can remember, he’s dragged me to the Scottish Games at the Alameda fairground, an hour away from home. And, since he runs the Clan Rose tent, we have to get there at six AM. Yeah, yeah, I know, zombies. I’m getting there, keep your pants on. I’m telling a story here.

The Games are actually pretty cool, for a couple of reasons. Number one: Meat. Dad’s a vegetarian. I am not, and the Games have some of the best food, much better than mystery meat at the school caf. Scotch eggs, meat pies, bangers, turkey legs, even haggis, which is not that gross. Better than quinoa. Reason 2: if you grow up in SF, the only way to stand out is to be bizarre, which for me, means costumes and props, and the Games have great stuff. Bodices, Fairy wings, shoulder mounted robot dragons, enough buttons and patches to cover a couple tents….It’s kinda hard to run in a bodice, which was a problem with the whole Zombie thing—I’m getting to it, what are you, five?—but reason three negated that: weapons. Booths and booths of ‘em. Swords, maces, morningstars, axes, glaives…it’s sweet. You have to be eighteen to buy one, though. Still, everyone at the Games either has a weapon, or is within a few feet of one.

So anyway, I was at the Games, looking at earcuffs, already sweating because it was like 90 degrees at 9 AM, and I was wearing this bodice which was a little too tight, but still looked awesome. And suddenly there was all this shouting from outside the vendor building, real shouting. At first I thought that someone was already drunk on whiskey and had started a fight, but it wasn’t that kind of shouting, not the laughing kind, but the oh my gosh, earthquake/fire/Godzilla kind of screaming, the panicked kind, and people were rushing through the Young California Vendor’s building but not out the other side. They weren’t running from, they were running to, and they swept me along with ‘em, scattering pretty sparklies on the ground and I couldn’t even breathe. We ended up at this one booth full of swords, the kind that have real sharp blades, and the vendor starts shouting at them.

“No, no! Hands off!” he went, and he was this big scary guy in a bright purple kilt, all tatted up with biceps like my head. But he didn’t get a chance to ask what was going on as these people grabbed for swords and moms shoved their kids under tables, because then, then, they came in.

The Zombies, I mean.

I could tell they were zombies, even though their clothes weren’t rags and they didn’t have missing limbs (at first). It was in how they moved, stumbling, and the blood around their mouths and their skin--waxy and blue, like if they were underwater. And the way they were shouting for brains and flesh.

Cliché? Maybe, but are you gonna argue with a zombie?

So I was right there, next to this glaive taller than I am, and I ignored the “must be 18 to touch weapons” sign and grabbed it, and then, bang, the doors burst open and there were more people, some zombies, followed by Not-Zombies, and it was like in Lord of the Rings or Narnia, this huge battle, right in the middle of the vendor’s building, and I was back to back with Purple Kilt. One of the zombies got real close, her arms all cankerous and blotched, and I swung.

Glaives are heavier than they look, so I missed her head, but I cut her pretty good, and it smelled sick. She staggered back and tried to grab me, and then some guy behind her with a sword took off her head. I’d never seen that happen in real life. Some guys came running in with a caber, the big telephone pole things that people toss, and used it like a ram, knocking into zombies so that people like my rescuer and Purple Kilt could get them.  I charged into battle, my heart like the pipe band’s rattle drum, hardly able to breathe I was so terrified. The tight bodice didn’t help. It was nothing like what I’d dreamed, there so much chaos, and blood…

It was right about then that I passed out. So much for glory.

When I woke up, it was nine fifteen, there were cops in hazmat suits everywhere, everything was trashed and I wanted to puke but I didn’t because I hadn’t gotten my scotch egg before all hell broke loose. They told everyone that no one was allowed to leave the fairgrounds because of contagion and there had to be a quarantine and stuff, so I booked it for the Rose tent where I found Dad, and he just looked at me, all covered in blood and hugged me.

“I told you so,” I said, because I had told him so, that Zombies were real and someday he’d be glad I was so prepared. He made this noise, like a laugh and a sob all together, and we just sat there in the tent with the other Roses who came to be with family.

They made announcements over the loudspeaker system, and my cousin's pipe band played Scotland the Brave while some General or Corporal in the army made a speech, about how this medical facility two miles down the freeway had been doing tests, and then, poof, Zombies, and they’d gone after the nearest group of people, us, and how certainly we had all saved the world by stopping the…yadda yadda yadda. It went on, and the bagpipes drowned him out a little.

Some soldiers, also in hazmat suits, came by to get our names to match to the ticket records so they could see how many people were dead, and told us that if we needed food or blankets, we could go to the big arena where they did the caber toss, because a plane would be dumping supplies there pretty soon.
“Like in an hour? You mean we aren’t on our own, left to fight for our lives?” I asked. The guy laughed.
“You watch too many movies,” he said.

The pipe bands competed, and the sheep dog trials. Life went on. There wasn’t much to do except go on with the Games, since no one could leave. People called family to assure them everything was fine, it was all over. I counted six news copters in the air, too, but mostly people on the ground just tried to pretend it was one of the staged, living history things. It got hotter, the ice-cream stands sold out, little kids cried….just like every year. The Young California Vendor’s building was off limits, but there were still places to shop. I got my meat pie--at twice the normal price, ugh—and bought a book. Unicorns. I was sick of Zombie stories.

So there it is, “how I survived the zombie apocalypse/ helped contain the zombie virus and saved countless lives, etc, etc, etc.” I got a medal, everyone at the Games did. Some people wrote books, about how if it’d been any other group of people but Scotsmen/women, the world’d have been doomed. I’m not sure about that, but it certainly didn’t hurt.  And let me tell you, it made one heck of a “What I did over my summer vacation” essay.