Tag Archive | dreams



It isn’t always a mother who does the mothering in a family. Sometimes it’s a father; often it’s an older sister who fills in for an absent or lacking parent. In this scene from PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Penny wakes from a terrible nightmare. She’s dreamed her little sister Kit is dead. She hears noises in the dark, and follows them into Kit’s room. Young Kit is crying, perched on the edge of her bed in her favorite green nightgown, herself having just awakened from an awful dream.

“In seeing Kit, it was as though a great weight lifted off Penny’s shoulders. She had never, ever been so happy to see her tiny sister. She held out her arms to Kit, who was miraculously unhurt and alive and safe. She gave her the hug of a lifetime.

Rubbing her eyes, still waking from her dream, Kit cried, “Penny, I’m all alone. No one cares about me. I could be dead and no one would even notice.”

Penny didn’t know why Kit felt this way or why she said the things she said. They were Kit’s feelings, and couldn’t be denied. But she knew that Kit was wrong. There was at least one person who cared that she was alive. She was not alone.

Penny stroked her small sister’s teary cheeks. She rocked her back and forth and softly hummed a favorite tune. “Greensleeves was my heart of gold, and who but my lady Greensleeves?” She sang the words over and over, calmly and sweetly, until Kit returned to the bliss of a young girl’s deep sleep.

Then Queen Penny the Good closed her eyes, and slept like a child until the morn.”

To mothers everywhere, real and imagined, young and old, perfect and not. I wish your families the wisdom to understand that you are trying your best, you are working so hard, you need their love even if you are flawed. Mothering is not easy. I want the world to understand.

Happy Mothers Day


The Gray Lady


I have to admit to being a tad weird when I was a teen. I grew up in a pre-Civil War era house with no insulation and lots of cracks and crevices where mice, rats, squirrels, and spiders roamed. I’d often hear scurrying in the walls and the creaky groans of a cold and tired old house. Once or twice, I recall even stranger sounds, perhaps cats that got stuck in the wall joists and died there. Something sounded like human babies moaning and crying in the dark. There were enough strange sounds emanating from my old home’s walls and attic eaves over the years to permanently scar my psyche.

And then one night when I was 13 or 14, the Gray Lady appeared. I’ll let my character Glory in PERSEPHONE IN HELL describe the experience.

“Gloria woke up with a panic. She tried to calm herself. Just then, the closet door next to her bed opened, and a ghost, all in grey, appeared from the dark.

She is floating into my bedroom. No, walking – well something in between. The ghost has a sternness on her face and a pointer in her hand. But she isn’t menacing; she doesn’t seem to mean any harm.

The Gray Lady didn’t stop or look around. She didn’t appear to notice the girls in the bedroom. She walked right past Gloria, took a turn at the bedpost, and passed by Penny sleeping in the next bed. Then she floated out of the room with a whispered wind-like tune. “Sur le pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse, l’on y danse…”

In the course of a few seconds, the ghost was on her way to someplace else. Glory was in shock. Her forehead burned. Her cuts felt razor sharp. I don’t believe it. I must be going off my rocker. In la-la land, for sure.”

I took to keeping a baseball bat next to my bed just in case I had to defend myself. And I was visited by the Gray Lady for many years, though no one else ever saw her. Was I insane? Psychotic or schizoid? Simply bursting with an imagination that couldn’t be controlled? Or, perhaps, I was in tune with an underworld I couldn’t begin to understand. Hades, messing with Persephone yet again. That old goat just can’t leave her alone.

Have you ever seen a ghost?


The Exhaustion Factor


My face in my hands, eyes blurry, gums sore, neck fatigue. Headache, upper palate itchy, front teeth aching, feeling strained. Chills. Tired, very tired.

Yawning, eyes closing, fingers typing from memory. This is not my best writing, but tonight I don’t care. Wine in my glass going down, down, disappearing. Elijah, where are you? Pass me over, find the matzoh, wish for better days.

My face in my hands, eyes blurry, gums sore, neck fatigue. Headache, upper palate itchy, front teeth aching, feeling strained. Chills. Tired, very tired.

Yawning, eyes closing, fingers typing from memory. This is not my best writing, but tonight I don’t care. Wine in my glass going down, down, disappearing. Elijah, where are you? Pass me over, find the matzo, wish for better days.

A vacation, that’s what I need. Or to go to sleep before midnight. Maybe waking up late will help. Or buying that cranberry bog and putting my old weary body to work. Get some exercise, woman! I think I need physical labor, to work the land. I need to rely only on myself with no one for miles around me. I could make cranberry wine that might put to shame the Beaujolais in my glass. Not too likely, but it is possible.

Do you like the name for my farm? Merrymeet. Merrymeet Organic Farms. Or should I invoke Cape Cod or old Plymouth? Olde Pilgrim Road Bogland Cranberries? Merrymeet Native Cranberry Bogs? Olde Plimouth Organic Farms?

I’m so tired. Must rest. Must think of things other than the real world around me. Must envision a better world, a utopian world filled with organic cranberry wine and chocolate covered cranberries. Wind power and perhaps some solar panels. Why do I get so excited thinking about the wind? A geeky wind freak, that’s me.

I think I’m coming down with a fever. My face feels hot.



High Expectations


Spring tulips and daffodils

Spring tulips and daffodils

Over the years I’ve set some high standards for myself, goals that became more like self-imposed requirements than ideals to strive for. College, graduate school, a healthy family, a beautiful home, a satisfying career. I’ve worked hard and achieved most of those goals I set out to attain.

I’m wondering though, why I think all these accomplishments aren’t enough. Maybe it’s the Chinese fortune cookie I picked out of a takeout bag that has me yearning for more. ‘Your success will astonish everyone’ it said. Perhaps I expect greatness from myself. I crave brilliance. I’m disappointed with my mere competence and above average show. It’s a personality flaw of the highest degree. One of my sisters said it well – “I’m happy with the small things in life,” she said, “while you are not. That’s the difference between us.”

In PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Glory has just named her sister Queen Penny the Good for saving their tiny brother Davey from a car fire at the dump. But somehow, Penny can’t accept the title. Fear that she is not good enough invades even her nightmares.

“Penny woke up with a start. Tears streamed down her face. Her little sister Kit was dead, in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. She couldn’t save her. She had saved Davey but she couldn’t save Kit. Penny was heartbroken. She knew she would never be good enough, not for this family with their high expectations.

But she couldn’t save everyone – how could they expect it of her? She was only a girl herself, not a queen or anyone’s mother. I’m not Penny the Good, she thought. Not good or brave or strong. She hated her family for imposing this burden. Hated herself for her inferiority, for not being able to live up to their ideals.”

Where does this burden of expectation come from? It’s a load so weighty it can rob a young girl of the very desire to live. A goal so high it becomes a dream destroyer. A demand so insidious it paralyzes with fear of failure. I do this to myself, I know I do. I couldn’t save my brother from taking his own life. A personality flaw in the highest.

Is there greatness in me? Is there greatness in me?





The Queen of the Nile. A goddess beholden to no one. Left to float down the river on her own if she so commands, or to read sci-fi novels in bed with a pack of cigarettes. Joyce is Glory’s mother in PERSEPHONE IN HELL, my novel set in 1968. Glory has stayed up late, waiting for her mother to come home from work. It’s hard to gain Ma’s attention. And Glory’s lonely. She despises her name, hates her life, wishes for an existence she can only imagine.

“Ma?” she wondered. “Have you ever wanted to be rich and famous, like a movie star? Have you ever wanted to be someone besides yourself? If you could be a queen, Ma, who would you be?”

Glory’s mother considered the exhausting day she had just finished. “I suppose Cleopatra,” she replied. “Why? Cleopatra floated down the Nile on her own barge. She could be alone anytime she wanted. She made rules to suit herself.”

Ma took a drag on her Chesterfield and flicked the ashes into the kitchen sink. “Oh, and she drank lovely coconut milk and ate figs dipped in honey. Egypt is hot but not ungodly humid like here in summer. She had the gentle breezes of the Nile to keep her cool. Yes, I’d be Cleopatra if I had a chance.”

Joyce scraped her scrambled eggs onto a plate and took a last drag of her cigarette. She looked for an empty ashtray. Every one of them overflowed. She dropped the butt into a coffee cup left on the table from breakfast. She closed her eyes for a moment and luxuriated in the notion of being all alone.”

Joyce doesn’t mean to neglect Glory. It’s just that she, like her daughter, is broken by the circumstances of her difficult life. And don’t we all wish at times that we could be someone else, anyone else?