jocowrites

By Judith Bader Jones

R.I.P. Paul Wayne Masterson

Many moons ago, in the town of my youth, he said, I Love You, to my fifteen-year-old self. This week, surrounded by his loving family in Louisiana, he died. I took out his old I Love You and repeated it to my garden.

I Love You's rest stored away in my heart's vault- for safe keeping. Some worrisome days just need to hear those sweet words repeated again and again.

By Kathryn

“Don’t let your meat loaf.”

I still get called down to set the table and have a mandatory, sit down dinner with my family every night. If you had told a 15-year-old me that I would still be living at home in ten years, she would have said you were wrong. Now that I am in my mid 20s and working on a graduate degree, I am happy to not be paying for food, bills, or home maintenance. Colorful dinner conversations are one of the things that makes living with my parents less painful. A few days ago, we were on the topic of personal statements we live by when my dad simply let out his favorite personal statement: “Don’t let your meat loaf.”

There are only two things on this planet that are allowed to “loaf” in my mind, and that would be bread and cats. If you do not know what a catloaf is google it and thank me later. I do not like the concept of meatloaf so I can get onboard with the not letting my meat loaf statement, but what is the proper definition of “your meat” in relation to the statement? I did a lot of thinking on this and here is what I came up with:

Meat is (unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan) the centerpiece of the meal. So let’s put that into the context of everyday life. What is the centerpiece of your day? Is it the morning walk with your dog? Watching the local weather with your cat? The smell of the coffee brewing in the kitchen? No matter what it is, those are the types of activities that make your day feel put together. Complete, almost. These past few months have proven that it is important to take care of yourself and not neglect the pieces of your life that make you feel complete and happy. Google defines loaf as to “idle one's time away, typically by aimless wandering or loitering.” Doing things that make you happiest should never be done aimlessly.

So, don’t let your meat loaf.

July 2020 Prompt

Words Matter – Words hold weight, and the words we choose to say (or not to say) matter. Tell a story about a particular word or phrase and why it matters.

Submit your piece here and, Read other responses here


Thanks for responding to our June prompt!

By Chris

Taco Cat Takes a Wander

Last Friday after dinner, our younger (just turned 5) asked me if I would join him in biking to our local park. It's something we do often, though not usually on Friday evenings when everyone is worn out from a long week of work and school. I agreed. He enthusiastically started packing a backpack with some of his favorite things, including a singing birthday card (Taco Cat) he'd received from his (19 months older) brother (who signed it with the birthday message: “POOP”).

“Are you sure you want to take your card to the park? You can't really do anything with it there and it might get damaged.”

“Yeah. I want to show it to Colin.”

“Colin?”

“Yeah! From school. I told him to tell his parents to take him to the park so we can play. I made sure he knew the park's name and that it's across the street from our school.”

“Umm. That sounds great and I'm sure Colin wants to do that. But you know there's a chance his parents have other plans or might choose a different time this weekend to go to the park, so he might not actually be there?”

“I know. Let's go!”

So away we went.

As soon as we arrived he started looking everywhere for Colin, riding his bike to different parts of the park and checking out every person. We spent at least half an hour darting back and forth, me tagging along behind him and his series of frequently repeated exclamations.

“I think I see Colin!”

“There's a new car pulling into the parking lot. Let's go!”

“That has to be Colin!”

“Let's check over there!”

“Let's take a break and wait here—by the parking lot.”

That has to be Colin!”

We repeated the process at a random time the next day, though with less conviction and assurance. Through it all he kept his spirits hopeful. At the end of that first evening there was a moment of slumped shoulders, head hung, quiet mourning, but not actual defeat. I did my best to find a balance between being supportive and not disillusioning him while offering bits of realism to soften the expected moment of final disappointment.

This child is our joyful optimist, always ready (unless angry) with a cheerful comment and an offer of empathy, but this might have been his most daring act of optimism ever. And it so much took me back to my own youth of fortyish years ago in a small Kansas town. Before cell phones, of course. We rarely planned play dates or even called on landlines, just wandered about hoping to bump into friendly faces or, at most, knocking on doors hoping it was a good time to hang out. Now everything is so much more scheduled and connected and intentional. Despite its disappointed ending, something about following him around the park that evening from person to person, place to place was so full of innocence and hope that I felt it too. I don't usually do nostalgia and a desire for “the good old days,” but that moment felt special to me.


Some other recent anecdotes with the kids . . .

[Younger] heard a lyric in a song this morning.

“Dad, what does 'ramshackle' mean?”

“It means old and run-down and falling apart. Kind of like the siding on our barn.”

“Haha! You're ramshackle.”

I . . . I can't really argue your point . . .


Just heard [Older] in the other room tell his piano teacher during their Zoom lesson: “I am not [Older] I am just his skin.”

This is the same kid who not long ago designed his toy train track to be the shape of the infinity sign surrounded by a spiral. He seems to have a metaphysical bent.


I asked [Older] tonight if his brain was getting bored doing a nature camp for summer, with no academic learning. “Nah, that's okay. I'm pleased with the amount of snakes.” Well if we'd known that was going to be your criteria for judging camps . . .

At pickup he'd asked me to stay so he could show me around, then proceeded to point out each of the 9 places that he has seen snakes (counting the dead one) so far (in 7 days), one at a time. “I was the first to spot 4 of them.” He described each sighting in explicit detail. Then asked me to search for more.


[Older] told me at camp today he spun the merry-go-round so fast he made a girl throw up and get sent home.

We've determined he did spin her, she did vomit, and she did go home. We're not sure about his claim of causation.

Though given the other potential causes and the possibility of contagion, we're kind of hoping his story is true.

By Jamie Lynn Heller

Front Windows

A woman who lived here before stood at this front window and looked at trees not yet towering over the roof tops then draped across the wide glass a curtain that couldn’t be parted. Hung like a modest skirt the cream-colored lace muted the little light allowed to come through.
Was the view too much?
The sky too expectant? The road with its on-routine drivers a daily reminder of the contrast between her life and her plans? Was the unfurling of spring leaves reaching to itch the glass too optimistic for her cocoon? Was she fearful of who would try to peep at the bare legs of her life?

Jamie Lynn Heller

June 2020 Prompt

Wonder: “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” — What makes you wonder?

Submit your piece here and, Read other responses here


Thanks for all the thoughtful responses you submitted to our May prompt!

By Jim Porter

From Walking

Peonies are here The iris are at last, In spring, hope is eternal Has shed the winter's blast!

Yet, covid 19 has been deadly, And spins so many fears, Can we look to flowers blooming To renew our hope and dry our tears?

By Susan Carman

To Truth

Is it fear That makes us turn from you Retreat Into ourselves Like a cowering dog Head lowered, ears flat?

Forgive us You are like water Cupped to parched mouths Like breath On an airless night Starlight bending To illuminate the corners Of our dreams.

I implore you Refrain from dying. How easy it would be To let you drift away Our attention elsewhere Like a cat grooming itself, absorbed Only with its tongue’s own path.

Forgive us our negligence You matter Like water Like breath Like morning as it breaks Over the hills Scattering seeds Along this, our curve of time.

Stay.

By Matt Mann

A Live-Action Dystopian Novel (a Poem) (part one)

And as May the 22ndth came to an end Biological Diversity celebrated, Something sinister stirred from within. UH OH we said! OH NO, we rue thst day! For the Manhattan Mole-weevils marched forth From the sewer’d depths of… (Well… Manhattan obviously.) A new threat to the world Mole-weevil’ing themselves through our fields. Just as their infestations began to grow, Here came MORE! THE WOE! The Self-Service Cashier Computer Catastrophes Of June the 24th! Sentient now, Laser scanners now deadly, Tired of mass amounts of user errors And receipts printed, taken by no one. Just as we reached to pull proverbial plugs To get them under control The Bombardments rained down From massed Parisian pestilence pigeons …um, where’d they come from? No one knew their origin But oh the devastations left in their wake. Windshields white and caked; Not one single white frosting’d pastry baked. Industry groaned… Governments moaned… Who was going to control all of this? Where was man’s hope? Ah, Listen… From the hills… Wait… that… that sound? Flowed from the mountains, The horror of all of them… Which we historically note as The Invasions of August, The Spurned Billy Goats. Seeking refuge from the wiles of life They’d sought refuge in their cousins’ cliff homes. Rejected, dejected, they rushed the earth, Ate everything, took fields for their own. Mankind now weakened, Weary from the invasions The Infestations And infections all around. Coexisting with creations abominable Seeking cures and concocting plans To just make it on their own.

…now, dare we discuss October and more?

By Matt Mann

A Live-Action Dystopian Novel (a Poem) (part one)

And as May the 22ndth came to an end Biological Diversity celebrated, Something sinister stirred from within. UH OH we said! OH NO, we rue thst day! For the Manhattan Mole-weevils marched forth From the sewer’d depths of… (Well… Manhattan obviously.) A new threat to the world Mole-weevil’ing themselves through our fields. Just as their infestations began to grow, Here came MORE! THE WOE! The Self-Service Cashier Computer Catastrophes Of June the 24th! Sentient now, Laser scanners now deadly, Tired of mass amounts of user errors And receipts printed, taken by no one. Just as we reached to pull proverbial plugs To get them under control The Bombardments rained down From massed Parisian pestilence pigeons …um, where’d they come from? No one knew their origin But oh the devastations left in their wake. Windshields white and caked; Not one single white frosting’d pastry baked. Industry groaned… Governments moaned… Who was going to control all of this? Where was man’s hope? Ah, Listen… From the hills… Wait… that… that sound? Flowed from the mountains, The horror of all of them… Which we historically note as The Invasions of August, The Spurned Billy Goats. Seeking refuge from the wiles of life They’d sought refuge in their cousins’ cliff homes. Rejected, dejected, they rushed the earth, Ate everything, took fields for their own. Mankind now weakened, Weary from the invasions The Infestations And infections all around. Coexisting with creations abominable Seeking cures and concocting plans To just make it on their own.

…now, dare we discuss October and more?