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Until

until
by: Colette Calapristi Casey

The amber glow stretches

The air prepares to moisten

The clouds alive in brilliance

The sun retreats from day

 

Dusk reveals a new heart

The fireflies arrival

The remnants of fuscia

The dampness of emerald blades

 

Hush is the noise of night

The cricket beckons

The stars silent witness

All now to dream

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A Drop in the Bucket

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 3.16.12 PM

by: Colette Calapristi Casey

The bedroom window rattled as the wind and rain persistently beat against its panes. A rush of wind roared only to be followed by a silence, continued in its rhythmic attack throughout the night. Eli stirred in his bed and rolled to one side slowly opening his eyes. The LED on the clock read 4:44 a.m. Eli closed his eyes and thought ‘again with this time’ and pulled the quilt over him knowing it would be another cold night. He turned restlessly in his bed thinking, remembering and knowing that something would have to be done, but who would do it was the question. He heard the first drip of an old patch in the roof that had apparently begun to fail. The wind and rain continued outside as he got up to move the bucket under the leak. One drop after another entered the bucket. Soon it would be full.

He went back to bed and tried to fall asleep, but only ended up tossing and turning until the first warmth of dawn rested upon his face. He sat up and stroked his beard and sighed. Eli was a simple man with simple needs. He had been alone since his wife Reba, passed away some 10 years before. His bed would forever feel empty from the day she passed. He rationalized his existence as the way it should be when you’ve been blessed with a soul mate, one shouldn’t expect more after they’d gone. He accepted his solitary existence as a realization that everyone would end up alone sooner or later.

Eli shuffled into the kitchen to fix himself a cup of tea. Just as the water began to boil, his phone rang. He rubbed his face in an effort to help him wake up. He reached for the phone on the counter and answered it.

“Good Morning, this is Eli.”

“Eli! Good morning dear friend. This is Joshua. I trust you slept well!” Joshua was Eli’s friend from the community center. He, like Eli was also a widow.

“Oh you know, restless as usual and on top of that, the roof is leaking again.”

“So sorry to hear that Eli. Well you know who to call don’t you.” Joshua laughed.

Of course Eli knew who to call. His son was a general contractor, but he hated to bother him with something as minor as a leak.

“Yes, it may be that time.” He gave a light laugh. “I see that ignoring it has only made it worse. Soon my bed may be a water bed!”

Both men laughed and then a pause hung steady in the air. “Eli, the reason I called is to see if you will join us. There is so much we can still do. We meet them today. They need us and we need you. Please say you will go. I will come and pick you up and we will do it together.”

Eli sighed. This again. What could he do? An old man, he had nothing to offer. The teapot began to whistle. He turned off the burner and moved the teapot to a cold burner. Eli looked to the floor and noticed something sticking out from under the Refrigerator.

“Joshua, can you hold on a minute please?

Joshua agreed and Eli set the phone down on the counter.

Eli reached down to the floor and pulled on the corner of paper. As the aged paper emerged from its place of hiding, he noticed the handwriting was that of his beloved Reba. He felt his heart skip a small beat and a warmth come over him.

“Joshua, I will call you back in a few minutes. Will that be alright?”

“Yes, of course Joshua, but they will arrive at 5:00 p.m. tonight. You have so much to share with them.”

“Yes, thank you, I will think about it.”

He sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the note. Not yet wanting to read it but to bask in it, something undiscovered from her. He read the note in silence.

“For today I will strive to do the following: “And each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).”

Eli read the note twice. He turned it over from front to back, examining the corners and wiping away crumbs of long gone food. He remembered Reba writing daily notes to herself and then sticking them on the refrigerator, but this one felt very new, very much about his life now. Was this a sign among all the others? He picked up the phone.

He spoke softly, “and each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.” A tear filled his eye. This was Reba through and through. He’d felt her presence more so lately. It wasn’t just the Community Center project, or the images of the war that called to his heart, but it was this. This was Reba through and through, trying to change the world one person at a time.

He smiled and the tear that had rested in his eye, slowly poured onto his cheek. His shyness, his loss, his loneliness is not how Reba would have wanted him to live. He spoke again but this time with a smile. “Yes, Reba. I hear you. I will do it.”

Eli picked up the phone and called Joshua. The phone only rang once before Joshua answered.

“Joshua. I will help. I’m not sure what I can do, but I will do my best.”

Eli heard a yelp on the other side of the line. “Eli! This is wonderful news! Your ability to speak Syrian will help these people so much!”

“Yes, but remember my family left Syria when I was just a young boy. I’m not sure how fluent I will be.”

“Eli, I’m positive it will come back to you. But more importantly, we are welcoming those who have lived in great fear for their lives. Our faith teaches us that we must help those as everyone has the right to live without fear. I’m so proud of you my friend. I know how shy you are and it is greatly appreciated. We are only but one, but when we work together we are many. You will make a wonderful difference in these peoples lives. I will pick you up at 4:30.”

“Yes, good Joshua. I will be ready.” Eli hung up the phone and sat back down at the table to read the note again.

The day passed quickly for all the tasks that needed to be done. The call to his son to schedule time in his schedule to look at the roof, clearing out old mail and newspapers and setting up the house in the event of guests, something that hadn’t happened in years. Eli cleared off the living room table and set up four chairs. He went to the bookcase and retrieved his father’s Syrian-English dictionary and set it on the table. He also retrieved letters his father had sent him. He began to read each letter in his father’s native language. It had been a long journey for his family to emigrate from Syria to Israel and then to the United States. So many stories of strength and courage. Pride for his heritage and pride for his family swelled inside him.

Before he knew it, the clock read 4:35. Where was Joshua? He folded up the letters and checked for his house keys and wallet. He was ready. Joshua finally pulled up to the house at 4:44. Eli smiled. 4:44, always that time.   He looked at the framed image on the wall that Reba had hung before she passed. He hadn’t paid much attention to it over the years because it was behind the door that he normally left open for a cool breeze. He saw it now “I Ask Not For a Lighter Burden, but Broader Shoulders.”

Eli took a deep breath, walked toward the door and stepped into the sunshine.

 

by: Colette Calapristi Casey
copyright© 2015
tender-valley

The tender valley embraces the velvet meadow

She waits within a warm and welcoming shadow

My journey long, my struggles a plenty

You soothe that which uneases me

My darling, my loving, my vibrant Jenny

 

Force of wind, pushes against my face

A fire within, fights for her embrace

Too long apart, too much distance

I can’t fight any longer,

I can no longer bear my own resistance

 

Life was new so many years ago

When I was a young man with such ego

Never finding the right perfection

I left and I wandered

Until that day, that lovely day, I saw her reflection

 

The beauty, the soul, is calling me home

Reminding me rest awaits from when I roam

Jenny oh my Jenny the years have been kind

For even though we age

We now will finally have the love that we will bind

 

My lovely, my darling, my bride

Your heart has rescued me from the deep divide

We rejoice in amazement at our new generations

Our children and theirs

Ever growing with each and every new creation

 

Hope embeds in our yearning hearts

Making it so, even with distance

we are never apart

The tender valley embraces the mossy meadow

And there she waits within the warm and welcoming shadow

A Couple of Buds©

Central Park foliage photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 10A Couple of Buds©.
by: Colette Calapristi Casey

Hey, hey Jonesie good mornin’ to ya buddy. It’s another beautiful day ain’t it?

Oh yeah, you know it Smithie. How’d you rest last night Buddy?

Well probably about the same as you, you know. Getting kind a chilly around here at night lately.

Yeah, yeah, I know what ‘cha mean. Not like when we was little eh? It seemed like an endless summer.

Yeah, I hear ya Jonsie, I hear ya. Haha back then we were a couple of little buds weren’t we?

Haha, the whole neighborhood was green, weren’t we back then? Seems like a lifetime ago.

Yeah, yeah, we sure were. Now everything’s changing. We aren’t so green anymore are we?

Naw, naw Jonesie, we’re gettin’ on. And ya know? The neighborhood just ain’t the same either. Everybody is just takin’ off. We’ll end up the last ones hangin’ in there at this point.

Yeah, soon we’ll be goin’ with the rest of ‘em. It’s just life ya know?

Yeah, yeah, I’m feelin old Jonsie. I’m feelin’ old. I don’t feel as strong as I used to, I can’t get enough to drink and hell, I don’t even want to drink. It’s like it’s my time.

I hear ya say it. I hear ya. Oh Smithie, I ain’t feelin’ so great right now. I’m getting’ really weak.

No! Jonsie No! Don’t let go! There ain’t many of us left, you can do it—you can hold on!

I can’t, I can’t bro! Sorry, but I gotta gooooooooo……

Jonsie! Jonsie! Nooooooooo

The Central Park Gardner pulled up the maintenance truck under the giant oak. He hopped out and pulled the rake out of the back of the truck. He began raking leaves as more fell. It was a beautiful Autumn day.

 

A Dark and Stormy Night
by: Colette Calapristi Casey
© 2014
The storm blew violently outside of Justin’s hotel room. He went to the window and pulled back the blinds. Trees were bowed in the eastern direction with limbs collapsing under the pressure. The window panes rattled with the wind gusts and the rain sounded like pellets hitting the glass. Jason looked down at the street and tried to see if anyone was out there. Traffic on the street was sparse for a city as large as St. Louis.

A blot of lightening flashed in front of his window and the thunder was almost immediate. The room began to shake and the hangers in the closet rattled. Jason jumped back from the window with the hair on his arms standing straight up.

“Too close for comfort.” He noted to himself and looked again at his watch. He sat down at the desk, put his feet up and hit the pre-programmed number in his phone.

A woman with a romancing voice answered the phone. “Hello Jason. You’re calling earlier than usual.”

“Yeah, the meeting I had scheduled for tonight cancelled and there’s a nasty storm outside so I came right back to the hotel. Going to hold up here for the night.”

“Alone?” She asked matter-of-factly.

Jason rolled his eyes. “Come on Andrea, that only happened once and it was a long time ago. I told you it was a mistake, a bad mistake. You can’t keep grilling me every time I go out of town.”

Silence was his response until he heard her sigh.

“Really baby, you know you’re the only one for me. And I forgave you after Joey’s soccer coach.” Jason smirked.

“I told you 100 times, there was nothing ever between us, so you don’t need to forgive me for anything. I have been completely faithful to you.”

“Well, that’s up for discussion.” Jason wasn’t going to let her get on top of this.

“Look, I’ve got an early flight tomorrow and have to turn in. We’ll talk more when I get back.”

“Okay, Jason, sounds good. I’m really sorry. I don’t know what got into me. I just miss you so much when you’re gone.”

Jason sighed. “Me too. We’ll talk tomorrow. Give Joe a hug and kiss for me.”
“I will. And Jason, I do love you.” Andrea’s voice was sweet.

“Yeah, I know. See you tomorrow.” And with that he hung up the phone.

Andrea was right, normally, he’d be out at the bar picking up a local girl for the night before returning home to his family. It was just that one time he came home with the clap that screwed things up. Since then he decided he better ‘cover up’ even though it wasn’t as fun.

Jason smiled and thought of Oklahoma City last month. A Rodeo Queen. They were always good for a ride. He recalled his last visit to St. Louis just two months ago. It was a buxom blonde with full lips but he couldn’t recall her name or her eye color. He chuckled and shrugged it off. Tonight there would be no exurcions. The weather had taken care of that for him.

He stripped down to his shorts and climbed into bed. He rearranged the numerous pillows that were positioned against the headboard. Once situated he flipped on the TV and shut off the light.

“You. Are a bastard,” a voice whispered in his ear.

Jason shot up in bed, his heart pounding. His eyes darted across the room. He listened with every muscle in his body. What had he heard? Was it the TV, was it in his mind. He sat perfectly still for what felt like an eternity. He slid back down into his bed as his heart rate returned to normal.

The lightening flashed again and the thunder was immediate and even more severe than the last one if that was possible. The TV went black and the hum of the heater stopped.

“You will pay now and later,” said the voice in a hushed whisper.

Jason reached for his phone and tapped on the “Flashlight” app. He scanned the room.

“Who is that! Who’s there?”

The TV blinked back on with the sound blaring. The heat came back on, but this time it was at full blast. The room became scorching hot in a matter of moments. Jason found it hard to breathe.

He ran to the thermostat and started punched the down button to kick it off. On his way to turn off the TV, another lightening strike flashed and thunder rolled.

The power went out again.

Jason stood in the middle of the hotel room looking wildly around to get his bearings. He made it to the window and through open the drapes he could see that the street lights were still on and other rooms in the hotel still had power.

He saw a light in his window that he tried desperately to make out. He realized he was looking out when he should have been looking in. The light was not outside but a reflection from inside his room. Jason turned slowly and saw a ghostly figure staring at him. He was an older man dressed in overalls and wearing a cap. Jason’s immediate impression was that it was an old time Train Conductor. He’s eyes were intense and set upon him. Jason wondered if this was a dream, perhaps he could just wake up.

“You killed her.” The man said simply.

Jason’s heart pounded. “What are you talking about? Look Bud, I don’t want any trouble. I think you’ve got the wrong guy.”

The man shook his head slowly. “It was you. You gave her the drug, you brought her back here, you raped her and you left her alone, in this room.”

Jason tried to make a connection with what the man was saying until the Buxom Blonde from two months ago came to mind. “Hey wait a minute. You’re talking about that girl a couple months ago? I just asked her if she wanted to party and she said yes. She’s the one who wanted it, I didn’t force her to take it.”

“It doesn’t matter. You knew she was already drinking too much and you moved in on her. She was a good girl and you destroyed her. We have a way of dealing with men like you on the line. We get things back on track.”

Jason backed up holding up his hands, “whoa, buddy whoa! I had no idea. I never heard from her again-honest!”

“You didn’t hear from her because you left her. She woke up and realized what had happened and couldn’t live with herself. She died. Right here in this room. You could have been an honorable man, but you are not. You’re wife and child deserve better so it’s my job to get things back on track.

Jason screamed as he realized this wasn’t a dream and that the man was not a man. The ghost moved quickly towards him, pushing him into the window until it broke, sending him to the pavement below.

The hotel room where Jason stayed had been closed up for over a week when the bellman brought his girlfriend in to see it.

“They say it was the Conductor.” The bellman said.

“Why do they call him that?” she asked coyly.

“Because he thinks its his job to put everything back on track.” The two stood quietly and stared at the police tape and broken window.

Behind the bellman’s ear, he heard a whispered voice. “Treat her right, you hear?”

The Night it Happened

hosue

The Night it Happened© 2014
by: Colette Calapristi Casey

The wind was blowing
The fire was growing
I ran and I ran
the night it happened

My bedroom too high
No chance but to fly
I jumped and I fell
The night it happened

I awoke with a start
Placed my hand over heart
Cried out in sorrow
The night it happened

I wander and wallow
New owners I follow
Wondering why it was me
The night it happened

I look and I seek
Sometimes as a freak
To ever haunt after
The night it happened.

The home I once flaunted
Was now they say haunted
It was me and I know
The night it happened.

Jabber Jaws©2014

cute-red-cat-md

Morning came earlier than usual thanks to the antics of Chester the Tabby of the House. Chester hoped up on the bed and started purring around Jason’s chin. When that didn’t work, he went under the covers and pressed his paws back and forth against Jason’s chest.

Jason pushed Chester away and rolled over to the other side, pulling his blankets with him, leaving Chester exposed. The persistent feline was not one to take no for and answer and hopped over Jason and proceeded to rub his entire body across Jason’s face.

“Chester….nooooo.” Jason’s voice was groggy.

‘purrrrrrpurrrrpurrrr’Chester responded more enthusiastically.

Jason sighed and opened his eyes to a face full of fur. He placed his hand on the cat and then gently moved him away.

Jason was a young man of 29, handsome and fit. He sat up in bed and rested his feet on the hardwood floor of his bedroom. He squinted his eyes open, rolled his tongue in his mouth and looked at the sunrise coming through the east window. He scratched his head and looked over at the Tabby.

“Well, I guess now’s as good as time as any to get up, right Chester?” Jason put his hand atop of the cat who was now purring at full speed and enjoying every minute of attention.

“Let’s get something to eat. Ok?”

Response: Purr and a plunk down from the bed. Chester trotted toward the kitchen with the full expectation that Jason would follow. And, he did.

Jason went to the coffee maker and got it going. He opened a can of cat food, plopped it into Chester dish, and got that going.

While Chester devoured his breakfast Jason went over to the couch to lay down. It was only a few minutes before Jason could feel Chester walking across him.

“Chester! What do you want? Can you just leave me alone buddy?”

Chester walked closer to Jason who felt the Tabby’s paws move closer to his face. He shot up, grabbed the cat and put him on the floor. The cat jumped up and sat at his feet.
Jason groaned. “Leave, me, alone.”

“I do believe that is not an option at this time. You have forced my hand son and I must oblige.”

Jason sat up straight and looked around the room. He got up and started checking the bedrooms, bathrooms and nooks and crannies of his New York Apartment.

“Who’s there!” Jason shouted.

“Who do ya’ll think?” said the voice.

Jason turned and ran toward the living room.

“I’ve got a gun, whoever you are and I suggest you get out of here right away!” Jason declared.

“Now don’t go lyin’. You ain’t got no gun Jason.” Chester turned his face to Jason. And smiled.

Jason stood there staring at his pet who was sitting on the couch matter-of-factly.

“You gonna stare at me all day boy? You know you forced my hand don’t you now?” Chester said casually.

“Holy crap. Chester? When did you start talking?” Jason was started to shake and sat down in the recliner across from the couch and started directly at the cat.

“I’ve always been able to talk, but didn’t need to.” Chester rolled his eyes.

Jason was eyeing Chester as if watching a pot boil. Waiting for the next movement.

“So, so why are you talking now? Oh God, I’m losing my mind aren’t I? I’m crazy!” Jason dropped his face into his hands and started rambling.

Chester jumped off the couch and glided over to Jason. He sat at his feet.

“Listen son, I don’t want to make a habit of this…you know the talkin’ business, so let’s get to the point.”

Jason looked up from his hands and stared at Chester.

“Chester why do you sound like you’re from the south?”

Again Chester rolled his eyes. “Are you from New York City? Naw you’re not are you? Don’t assume I’m from here just because you got me here. Remember you ‘rescued me.’ I had a life before you.

Jason stood blankly. “uhhhh…”

“Super, now that we are all situated, we need to chat. I’m only gonna say this once. I like you. I like living here. I kinda enjoy your company. Aw shoot, let’s face it, I can’t wait until you get home. Now, I know you’ve gone and hit a rough spot. But hey, it happens to everyone. I know you lost your girlfriend, but I lost my whole dog-gone family. I know you lost your job, but heck boy, I lost my home. My days of running around the barn in Virginia are long gone. So, how I see it. you got yerself a place to live and your not too dumb for a human. You just let life kick ya down. I’m here to tell ya, get back up son. You lost a job. Go and get yerself a new one. You lost a woman. Well, you know what, I never liked her anyway. She had cat allergies. That should have told you right off, that she wasn’t right for you. Now, go get yerself a good woman. It’s all up to you, but it ain’t coming to you without you getting’ yer butt up off of that couch. Got me?”

Jason’s look of shock had turned to one of intensity. He nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I got it. You’re right Chester. You’re right.”

“Yea, you bet your sweet patooty. Now, can we please stop this nonsense son?”

Jason nodded again. “Yes sir. I mean Chester.”

Chester smiled and stretched his front paws forward while raising his hindquarters. “Aww good, I don’t want to have to do this meow.” Chester rolled over on the couch.

Jason got on his knees and looked into Chester’s eyes. “Chester, I have one more question.”

Chester rolled back over and faced Jason. “meeoowww, meeooww, purrrrr,” was Chester’s response.

Jason took a step back and stared his Cat who had rolled up into a cozy corner of the couch, yawned and closed his eyes for his mid-morning nap.

One week later, Jason threw open the door to his apartment and yelled for Chester. “You did it Chester! You did it! I’ve got another job!” Jason found the cat laying on his bed and started rubbing under his chin and ears. Chester snuggled into Jason’s affections and then whispered, “Now get yerself a woman Son.”