My Backyard

Curled-up dead leaves rustle on gray branches. Black crows caw, redhawks chase each other while humming birds appear to stand still though their wings flap wildly.


No lizards on my backyard concrete wall today; the heat is on holiday. I feel sorry for the asphalt workers as they slurry seal our road, frustrating parents picking up kids from school. They detour the motorcycle riders rumbling by.


By day, the sky boasts a robin’s egg blue. The clouds are either finger painted on with acrylic white and gray or puffy with glitter glue and cotton balls.


But at night, constellations play connect the dots. Possums and neighbors’ cats balance themselves on our rotted out fences till they get to my wrought iron gate. They stop at thorny rose bushes when my dogs come leaping and barking.


The Jewel – Dallas, 1963

The following is an online writing assignment. We used the first sentence to see where the jewel took us. The book Dallas 1963 influenced my writing. With racial tension in the news lately, I thought it appropriate to take a trip back to see what segregation was like over 50 years ago.

She found a jewel down inside herself and she wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around.


She thought this time people are gonna see it, not like last time when she swallowed the goldarn thing, You know how hard it is to pass a daggum jewel after it travels the happy highway?


First, she’d walk by all the snooty girls in English class and sit by the sunny window. Then a ray would hit the jewel and blind them all so bright it’d burn all the hairs on their heads, ruining their bouffant hairdos.  She bet Johnny Taylor wouldn’t ask any of them to Homecoming then!


After that, she’d take the bus with her friend Violet down to Neiman Marcus. They’d shop in the art department and buy paint brushes and sketch pads. Then they’d go down to the lunch counter.


The waitress would say, “I’m sorry, I can serve you but not your friend here.”


She would say, “But she bought something. Why can’t she eat here?”


“That’s just how it is, Miss.”


Then she’d shine that jewel right in that waitress’ eyes and hypnotize her into taking Violet’s order. Not only did that waitress serve her, she didn’t charge her neither!


She and Violet would walk out Neiman Marcus that day and anyone that stared got a real good look at that jewel.

a tongue-twisting tale of terrific terror

Catherine Cummings contracted a condition called cowpox;

she coughed the color of carbuncle and cut a contusion from convulsions.

She caught cankers and cold sores and cavities from caries,

cataplexy from collywobbles,

and cholera from chronic colitis.


Christopher Columbus came cruising along,

he gave her chlamydia, crabs, and the clap.

She concussed and collapsed into a coma.

Catherine’s cousin contacted Columbus to crack the code

of Catherine’s casket of commodities.


Columbus quickly cracked the code of Catherine’s casket

only to see a clear, cold curse:

May he who cracks this code contract cowpox, convulsions,

caries, collywobbles, cholera, colitis, chlamydia, crabs and the clap.