extra cinnamon

startled stranger,
you may be wondering
how it is that quite suddenly
what very much appears to be
nothing other than a slightly misshapen
pumpkin (yes, take a gentle whiff) pancake
has turned up, or rather fallen, onto the stiff
blue wool shoulder of your winter coat

it’s just that
the crows were hungry
and your raucously loud
cell phone conversation disturbed
Charlie (the one scolding you) Crow,
causing her to drop her treasured breakfast
onto the unfortunate shoulder of your winter coat

I added extra cinnamon

© Sarah Whiteley

little fuses of bliss

little fuses of bliss
confides the woman I once
saw flash an oncoming bus
on a different January day

I played in the snow
in my (ha ha!) mini skirt
when the sky turned blue-black
and what’s up with that?

so beautiful, and I hope
you’re blessed, your day
is blessed and full of
little fuses of bliss

sweet lady, I think,
I don’t mind your kind
of strange contagious
and say thanks

© Sarah Whiteley

the rabbits

rabbit watercolor sc

says an orange cat
one clear June day
the clover is sweet
do you want to play?

I do says a rabbit
me too! say two
but one little rabbit
from the burrow below
squeaks no!

why not? says the cat
twitching his tail
together we’ll go
where the crisp carrots grow

yes! says a rabbit
oh let’s! say two
but one little rabbit
from the burrow below
squeaks no!

you lie! says the rabbit
we’ll die if we go!
you’ll greet us with teeth
and eat us I know!

don’t go! chirp the sparrows
who agree from the trees
those sharp pointy teeth!
to him you’ll be meat
we know!

but says a rabbit
carrots! say two
we’re so very hungry
what harm could it do?

no harm purrs the cat
I’m no beast of that ilk
my round belly is full
with the farmer’s sweet milk
come go!

up goes a rabbit
close followed by two
at last! grins the cat
no carrots for you!

egad! cry the sparrows
as the cat shakes the brake
sweet tender rabbits
are much better than cake
oh no!

eep! says a rabbit
we’re done! say two
and from way down in the burrow
tucked safely below
one rabbit says
I told you so!

© Sarah Whiteley

Originally posted in 2010. Had a blast with the little rabbit watercolor and then remembered I’d written something about rabbits a few years back. Hopefully this little guy survived that nasty cat!

squelchy Monday

today I would trade my squelchy shoes
and sodden self for warm dogs
and ticking radiators, steaming mugs
of freshly brewed, nearly obscenely
creamed coffee – there’s even, I think,
a donut on the kitchen counter
with my name on it saying stay in!

but instead it’s frizzled hair,
unending responsibilities, and rain
that managed to drip everywhere

© Sarah Whiteley

Squelchy Mondays are the worst.

the dangers of stargazing

this morning,
before morning really,
before the light had begun
to line the eastern sky,
I walked – feet testing
the crispness of those
first fallen leaves
(someone must, after all,
be the first to fall)
while Orion hung
so impossibly bright,
so brilliant even from beneath
the glare of the streetlight,
that I had to (truly had to)
walk along with head tilted back
ridiculously celestially absorbed
in that darned belt
everyone’s always pointing out
why? I was just wondering,
does no one point out the bow
so perfectly poised
that any arrow loosed
would pierce the heaving flesh
of the great bull before him?

when I wandered face-first
into the very earthy wonder
of a spider web
take heed, my friend –
there are dangers even
in stargazing

© Sarah Whiteley

I absolutely did do this rather recently and after I’d pulled the spider web off my face, couldn’t help but laugh at myself and wonder if this was the Universe’s ever-so-subtle way of reminding me to find ways to be more grounded.

The Embarrassment of Phileas Wensleydale Trout – Chapter 2

***If you missed Chapter 1 of Phileas, you may find it here.***

Mornings in the Trout household typically began when Mrs. Trout, in her pale blue robe with matching pale blue slippers, made her way down the hall and into the kitchen to put the kettle on.  Once the kettle was filled with water from the sink and set upon the stove, Mrs. Trout would stand with her back resolutely turned until it deigned to boil.  She’d once read, you see, that “a watched pot will not boil” and while a kettle was not quite a pot, Mrs. Trout concluded that the same complicated principals of thermo-ocular dynamics still applied and therefore she never, if she could help it, made eye contact with the kettle until it cheerily whistled, letting her know it was once more safe for her to turn about and continue making breakfast.

From beneath his blankets, Phileas could hear the kettle whistling in the kitchen and knew that his mother was even now reaching for pans, cracking eggs, and beginning to mix up what would undoubtedly be another cheese omelette for his breakfast.  It wasn’t that Phileas particularly minded cheese omelettes, but some mornings he couldn’t help but think that a simple bowl of cold cereal and milk would make for a nice change of pace.  Remembering the cheesy noodle casserole, the cheese drenched broccoli, and the toasted cheese bread from the previous night’s dinner, he thought that this was definitely one of those mornings.

Phileas stretched his legs until his bare feet popped out from beneath his blankets.  He wriggled his toes in the cool air and squeezed his eyes shut, knowing that in a few short minutes, his mother would be calling for him to get out of bed and come eat his breakfast.  He’d asked for cereal once or twice before, only to have his father briefly peer at him over the morning paper and utter a rather sharpish “Nonsense, boy!” before going back to reading the agricultural news, no doubt deeply fascinated by the latest in dairy related innovations.

Phileas was just wondering whether or not trying once more to ask for cereal would be worth the look of disappointment on his father’s face, when from beside his bed came plip! plip-plip! plop! “Aww, crud!”

Phileas whipped the blankets off his face and sat up in bed.  “Who’s there?” he called to the empty room.  His books sat stacked upon his desk.  His clothes were piled at the foot of his bed right where he’d left them.  His closet door was shut tight, holding back the mess which stood taller than he was and would no doubt be a small avalanche when his mother ventured to open the door.  In other words, nothing looked any different than it had when he’d gone to bed the night before.

He looked in what he thought was the direction the noises and voice had come from.  He’d heard of ghosts, of course, but as he didn’t know anyone who had died, he didn’t think anyone would have a reason to haunt him.  And really he wasn’t sure he actually believed in them, even if his mother swore they were real.

“Is there someone there?” he asked quietly to the room.

“No,” came a very small voice.

Phileas gave a little jump.  He could see no one!  But he knew he hadn’t imagined the voice.

“I heard you!” he said, half hoping he really hadn’t.

“No you didn’t,” came the very small voice, sounding just slightly smaller than before.

“I heard you again!” cried Phileas, now really hoping he hadn’t.

“Aww, crud!” said the small voice.  “Two-Legs can hear me!”

“Two-Legs?” said Phileas.  “Who are you?” he asked.

“Nobody, Two-Legs,” said the voice.

“Where are you!” demanded Phileas, kicking the blankets off his legs and jumping onto the floor.

“Nowhere!” cried the voice, going up a pitch as if in fright.

“Don’t be silly!” said Phileas.  “You can’t be nobody and nowhere if I can hear you.”

“Crud!” said the voice.

“Tell him he’s sleeping,” said another small voice.

“You’re sleeping!” cried the first small voice, sounding just a little desperate.

“I’m not sleeping!” said Phileas.  “There are two of you now.  Who are you?”  Phileas dropped to his knees and peered beneath the bed.  Nothing but a pair of socks and a small ball of dust.  He crawled across the floor and dug into his small pile of clothes.  Nothing but clothes.

“Better come out before I find you!” said Phileas, whipping his head around.

“Or what?” said one of the small voices.

“Shh!” said the other voice frantically.  “Don’t anger the Two-Legs!”

“Oh, pish!” said the other small voice.  “He’ll never find us in the lamp.”

“A-ha!” cried Phileas, lunging for the lamp at the same exact moment two tiny gray-furred creatures leapt from the shade.

“Eeee!” they squealed as they disappeared behind the dresser.

Phileas was so surprised, he tripped over a shoe and landed hard on his hands and knees.  Mice? he thought wildly.  He’d been hearing mice?  But mice couldn’t talk, could they?  He supposed they must have their own sort of mouse language, of course.  But he couldn’t speak mouse.  Could he?  How could he speak mouse and not know it?  What would people think?

“Phileas! Breakfast!” called his mother from the kitchen.

Phileas sat back on his heels and stared up at the lamp, its shade now tipped at an odd angle.  I must be ill, he thought.  Or mad.  He’d once heard of a man who thought he was a tree.  Everyone had called him mad, sadly shaking their heads whenever they spoke of him, recounting how one day he’d taken an ax to the old oak that once grew on the mayor’s front lawn.  As he was being dragged away, people swore they heard him yelling “My leaves are greener!  My leaves are greener!”

Phileas shuddered.  Was he mad?  Had he gone to bed completely normal only to wake up crazy?  Was that how it happened?

“Phileas!” called his mother.  “Your father says he’ll explode if you’re late to school again today and we don’t want that now do we?”

“I won’t really explode, dear,” Phileas heard his father respond.

“Only think of the mess!” called his mother.

“I am not going to explode!”

“But, dear, you clearly said…” replied his mother.

And then it hit him.  He had become just like them.  Phileas Wensleydale Trout was embarrassing.