Monthly Archives: December 2020

The Legend of Aunt Annie

The Legend of Aunt Annie

Every family has one—she’s above the daily fray.
She’s excessive in her grooming—perfect in every way.
Her complexion is unblemished. She is seamless, smooth and pale.
She dare not lift a finger, lest she break a fingernail.
But her understated elegance had galvanized our wishes
that for one time in our lives, we’d see her do the dishes—
put on a kitchen apron over her silken ruffles
and rid sticky hors d’ oeuvre plates of anchovy paste and truffles.

It was our New Year’s resolution to see sweat upon her brow,
so at our family gathering, we made it our vow
to extract some elbow grease from languid Auntie Annie
by urging her to heft herself up off her dainty fanny
to assist us in the cleaning up, for though we all just loved her,
we would not be satisfied until we’d rubber gloved her!

Before the clock struck midnight on this New Year’s Eve,
we’d create a family legend no one absent would believe.
We’d get her drunk on cordial and execute our plot.
We installed her on the sofa and brought her her first shot.
Then we began our web of lies as we spun out the story
of a family legend as old as it was gory
of a New Year’s curse found on parchment cracked and old
stuck in the family Bible, caked with a crust of mold.

It told of an ancient act too lurid to retell—
so vile its perpetrator was consigned to Hell
and forever afterwards, this family had been cursed.
(By what I just had to ad lib, for we had not rehearsed
the details of the story, so off-the-cuff I said
that gone unatoned by midnight, one of us would be dead.)
The family roiled and tutted and feigned a great duress.
Meanwhile, dear Aunt Annie smoothed the wrinkles from her dress
and held her small glass out for another wee small taste,
lest the remaining cordial should simply go to waste.

The rest of us continued with our impromptu telling
of the misdeed and the cursing and the dying and the Helling.
“If every one of us does not atone by midnight,” I then said,
“by the final toll of midnight, our eldest will be dead!!!
Someone jabbed Aunt Annie with an elbow to point out
that she, indeed, was eldest, without a single doubt.
“Quick, Auntie, to the kitchen. You must wash your hands of blame!”
shouted all of us, complicit in this New Year’s game.
“And while you are at it, perhaps you could wash some dishes,”
said the youngest one of us, expressing all our wishes.

Whereupon our auntie heaved herself up to her feet,
strolled into the kitchen, and without missing a beat,
put her plate under the faucet, swabbed it with a sponge,
and the oil of fish and mushroom managed to expunge.
Then she dried her hands and turned around, the best to face us all.
drew her lips into a line, her fists into a ball,
and told us that for years now she’d been longing for just this—
to wash her hands of all of us, and with a final hiss,
she turned upon her heel and marched out of the front door
got in her car and drove away–straight into family lore!

We don’t know what became of her but ever since that night
whenever, at clan gatherings, the kids begin to fight
about who should do the dishes, you can bet someone will tell
the story of how Annie escaped the jaws of Hell
by taking her turn at dishes, and it’s true that not a kid
believes the story any more than our Aunt Annie did!

Word prompts for the last day of 2020 are understated elegance, galvanize, wishes and resolution. Image by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash, used with permission.



In a world that seems a satire of itself,
we come out of our separate closets masked,
as though nature is warning us
not to reveal too much, too soon.

Much as we desire a safer world,
and as much as I yearn to bring you
tidings of peace and good will,

peace is not a goal accomplished,
so though I mask my face,
I do not mask my words.

We are silhouettes
striking out from our shadows,

sharing our pain in retribution.
Hearts fester in their isolation
and communicate through violence—
blowing up the world
they don’t belong to,
than the heart’s

In blasting their way into our world,
they pull us after them, 
and we sink
to the lowest common denominator—
violence, hate and greed.

If wishes were action,
perhaps the world could heal,
but, in fact,
it heels
to the commands
of those who seek to stain and plunder.

My wish for the new year’s birth?
As hearts of darkness

seek to lead the way,
let some bright flash
that is a part of all of us
ignite in common
to conquer their shadows
and strip all masks away.


Prompt words today are satire, silhouette, wishes and tidings.

We Lay Our Friend to Rest

Our friend Jay died recently, as I noted in an earlier post HERE. Today we laid his ashes to rest in Lake Chapala.

The birds were in attendance,
the night heron and snowy egret,
coots and pelicans.

And his friends—
some in the boat, others
gathered on the shore
along with children—those reassurances
that life goes on.

We lifted a glass
and recalled the day he returned the sacrificial ollitas* to the lake,
the words of children sealed in their depths,
giving the lake back what was once hers,
and as if she listened, she swelled her skirts anew,
reclaiming those shores she had long abandoned.

He was Mexican by choice if not by birth,
and we returned him to her,
strewing him between flowers that floated in strings like ribbons
behind the boat.

The ollitas arcing, spilling him home.
His friend spreading the rest of him on the water’s surface
like a blessing and a reassurance
that we are never lost to the world we are a part of.

The birds, who know this, watched
as he was reborn to water, hyacinth and air.

Under a falling sun, we watched him swell his being,
the beginning of that journey to every shore
of this lake that he once gave back to and now
has given his all to.

Rest in peace, dear friend, lover, father, uncle, brother.
We share you with the world.

*Chapala was founded in 1538. The town may have taken its name from Chapalac, one of its earliest Indian chiefs. Or perhaps it came from the Nahuatl “Chapatla,” the “place where pots abound,” referring to the primitive local practice of appeasing the gods by throwing pots, spotted with blood from earlobes, into Lake Chapala. These little pots, called “ollitas” have washed up to the shores from the lake, especially during the years when the lake receded greatly. Years ago, Jay did a project where he had school children write messages which he rolled into tight cylinders, waterproofed and placed in ollitas that friends had found along the lake or purchased from locals. They then took them out in a boat and returned them to the lake. We took the remaining  ollitas that we found in his house along with others contributed by friends and thought it was a fitting tribute to fill them with Jay’s ashes and return both him and the ollitas to the lake, along with the words sent to us by his friends and family.

Click on photos to enlarge.



Though he was a misanthrope,
his beauty gave him grounds to hope
that he could find a sugar mama
to soothe his monetary trauma.
And thus he plotted that he might
seduce an aged socialite.

He charmed her with so little fuss
that he found it ridiculous.
Yet if he wished to wed and woo her,

he knew that he would have to “do” her.
(If he must pretend to love her,
he knew he must go under cover.)

But once he’d done his very best
and thought it time for him to rest,
the dowager was sorely vexed.
“Oops!” she said, and then, “What’s next?”
The price of love, he thought, was steep.

He’d clearly have to earn his keep!


Prompts for today are what next, ridiculous, hope and oops. Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash, used with permission.