20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers

Love Lost and Stolen


Though I am not aware of any great love

 beaming down upon me, I hope they are there

My lost son, my mother , her parents,

They speak to me, hear me when no one else does.

I have searched, believed, dreamed, loved

and seen all of that stolen from me.

In misery, drowning in tears, I have lain,

thinking of you, longing for your touch.

Oh, Holy Spirit, one whom I should trust

I often wonder where you are, near, or far

Do you watch over me while I suffer?

Do you not interject yourself in earths troubles?

There was a time when the majesty of your works,

the beauty of the forest and flowers of spring,

carried me to a place of pure delight.

Now, all I do is wonder what I did to make you leave.

Nothing can bring back what was stolen from me.

I try to find comfort in the winds, the sea,

To find you again, but I cannot see beyond the clouds.

I reach up, longingly to find only emptiness.

All you must do is reach down as I reach up,

as you did once and suddenly withdrew.

I hear the winds power, the majestic clouds.

But i want you, and can never ever have you here again.


Unnatural Fireworks


The noisy booms from the sky, streaks of color lighting the clouds,

Yes, it’s the fourth of July, but Mother natures rules this year.

The tiny creek is a raging river, littered with trees, bird feeders, toys.

Our grave driveway is underneath the water that blocks the road.

My dad worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority when I was a kid.

Their job was to try to manage flood control. Where there were floods,

We went to photograph, special phone numbers told river levels.

We filled out charts in the days when a main frame took up a room-did one thing.

It’s in my blood. Two of my sons son and two friends sloshed up the road.

The water running down what used to be roads, way to deep to be safe.

Taking videos, pictures, laughing, giving up on umbrellas, soaked to the skin.

Though we laughed, it was muted, somber. We knew why the yards of mud came.

Our mountain city is obsessed with getting rich people from other places to come here.

Strip the vegetation so they can “see” from houses we couldn’t dream of.

We shout to no one, “GO HOME!” CLEAN UP THIS MESS!” But they keep coming.

The collapsed retaining wall and 8 feet of lost land are somehow “our” problem.

I know how the native Americans felt. For “white folks” we’ve been here a long time.

The 1780 US Census lists us in this county, by 1840, we were on this road.

We have lived in this house 5 generations and now my kids can’t afford to live her.

Something is really wrong with this. It used to be a quiet farming community.

I can’t help it, I am mad. I know good people have come here too.

For all the greedy developers, mostly bankrupt before to long, I have one message,”Go the heck home, glare down on your “lessers”, ruin their land, build mansions, ruin the land,

and don’t forget to take pictures of w=what life was like before you ruined it for them.

Missing Her

She didn’t wear perfume, it bothered her.
But o, her fragrance as she entered any room.
My mother lifted any place to heights anew
by being present. How I miss her belly laughs,
her care for others, and her strength of self.
Yes, I have had to set upon the shelf
the music of her coming to my house,
the look that told me, Honey, I love you.
I harbored anger toward my father after they divorced.
She always told me, Please forgive him. It will set you free.
How wise my mother was. I didn’t understand
this until after she had died. Please, Mom, I want you now to know
I have forgiven him. How right you were, and we undid
the tangles of the years. It was because of you.
Is Thank you good enough?
Of course not. Your soft ways of teaching brought the lessons
gently into terra firma consciousness.
Funny, I the teacher, was the taught.

So long ago… So far away…

So long ago so far away,

there came a new day

of beauty and joy,

of lust and coy-

when everything was fine

and the stars did shine

with their incandescent glow

their beauty, they did show.

Something came along then,

it was the time when

the things started to change,

everything became strange-

that time was when came

a very weird name-

the science beast, so queer

it came from the seer

who visited the lands

and analyzed the sands,

brought upon this anthology

for studying subjects like biology

the people were angry at first

and the cloud of anger did burst

but soon they adapted to this gift

which was responsible for every shift

in the nature of our history-

here comes the bizarre end of my story, so blustery.


The forgetting

When he’s well he walks, but more often not

these days. On bike, his scooter, or, if bad,

he’s confined to barracks, his life is stopped.

And yet, was mostly cheerful, never sad

till lately. Says he feels useless, past it.

His memory’s going, the shaking’s much worse

and pushes him to his very limit,

and for the first time I hear the outburst

Of anger at the disease that haunts him

and from which he knows there is no escape.

He can’t remember things, thinks he is dim.

If we thought so, I think his heart would break.

What twist of fate to seize his brain and yet

Leave just enough to wish he could forget.



Anger is ugly as ugly can be

It quickly took over us both…you and me

Decisions were made in the heat of our will

If only we’d told it, “Be quiet!  Be still!”


Alas, but we didn’t, and so we lament

We feel shame and sorrow, and blame and regret

But there was more to it, things we’d held inside

When we didn’t speak up, but just let it ride


And then came the moment that all of it blew

And came crashing down on our heads…me and you.

You never can take back those moments in time

And that’s what’s so sad about this little rhyme.


I truly am sorry for words that I spoke

Unkind and careless…should have made me choke

When they were being uttered, in anger and pride

Because of the things that were lurking inside


We both acted wrongly on that cruel night

But it shouldn’t have made us both run and take flight

If love is included somewhere in the mix

There’s nothing that comes that two people can’t fix


But pride, it’s as ugly as anger can be

We dig in our heels and will let no one see

The pain that’s inside, we must smile and be strong

And never admit that what we did was wrong


You’re stubborn, bull headed, and I’m just as bad

And when you get down to it, it’s pretty sad

We’re living our separate lives day by day

Both good days and bad ones, and not much to say


Time heals all wounds is a phrase I have heard

Some days I believe it, some it sounds absurd

A sadness will always exist in my heart

At least for a moment, each day we’re apart


Though I do not dwell on what I cannot change

I sometimes remember, and thoughts rearrange

But there are now smiles with each day that goes by

I no longer weep, and no longer ask why


I pray for you daily, hope you do for me

And hope when you look back, that what you will see

In spite of the ugliness that did ensue

That under it all lies a heart that’s still true.


For Tia

No words or poem can console the loss of a loved one so fresh but I share this which I wrote for my mother who died of cancer and my wife’s aunt who committed suicide within a few months of each other. It took another year before I could write this. Let time be your teacher and friend and strength.

What will you see
     When your sight is lost

What will you feel
     Without feelings

How will I sound
    To your deafened ears

How will I hear
    What you're saying

Will you taste:
        My bitterness
        My anger
        My confusion
        My sadness

Will you understand;
     I cannot, right now
Will you smile at me;
     I cannot, right now

Would you watch me now;
     I could use that now

Could you teach me now;
     Would you show me how

When I think of you
     Will you touch me, friend
When I close my eyes
     Will you hug me then

In the dark of night
     Will you stop the cold
At the break of dawn
     Will you wake my soul

During quiet times
     Will you come and stay
When the dusk first falls
     You could light my way

You can count your days
     As I count my years
You can hold me tight
     As I count my tears

As the months go by
        And time presses on
You will see:
        My struggles
        My resolutions
        My perseverance
        My reckonings

When my step first slows
    You will be my cane
When I ache to move
    You will ease my pain
When my light falls dim
    You will lead me on
When my thoughts all fade
    You will bring me home

What will I see
    When my sight is lost
What will I feel
    Without feelings
How will you sound
    To my deafened ears
How will you hear
    What I'm saying

As you lift me up
       And I raise my head
We will feel:
       Our souls
       Our joy
       Our peace
       Our love


Don’t touch the wound so new, so raw. The skin
of Colorado bleeds with angry death.
You can no longer take a mountain breath
without the choke of smoke. Grief’s awful din

sends spikes of sadness through the war-zoned skies
and battered Batman fans throw up their hands.
Aurora, (dawn), sees dark upon its lands
and hears the people’s wretched, wrenching cries.

Serene the setting of this tragedy,
a mountained backdrop, nature’s painted place.
But someone threw black ink upon the lace,
ripped it to pieces. No more filigree.

Six-thousand rounds of ammunition bought,
apartment booby-trapped, the killer planned
a shooting on a scale so wide and grand
that we could not imagine. He’s been caught.

But what of all those people who lost lives?
What of their spouses, siblings, parents, friends?
Their questions meet themselves in shredded ends.
They swallow bitterness that cuts like knives.

Aurora, Colorado, marred and marked,
won’t be the same. The offering of flowers
and candles, teddy bears rains down grim showers
of agony worked out where gunfire sparked.

Blight on a beautiful land



It’s when I act the toughest

That this heart inside of me

Is really wanting someone

Who beyond it all can see.

Somebody who can see that

When I push you all away

I want to be pulled closer

I just want someone to stay.

I want someone to notice

All the fear and pain inside

To see that I am hurting

And I’m just trying to hide.

Is anybody out there

Who will love me anyway?

Won’t someone please convince me

Everything will be okay?


The Bridge

Accusations made

                No compromise

                                Guiltless pride

                                                Ego prevailed

                                                                Reason abandoned


                                                                Forget about pride

                                                                Overcome your ego

            LISTEN WITH                    Regret your actions

                                                                Give it a chance

            OPEN ARMS                      Identify your responsibility

                                                                Voice your regret

            VALUE                                 Extend understanding

                                                                No accusations

            EXPRESS                             Express your feelings

                                                                Stay calm

                                                                Show compassion



                                                Ease of mind




1 Comment


Life hands out disappointments with a spade
and turns bright sunshine into darkest shade.
I don’t want you to know how much I cry,
but dreams I had sprout wings, take flight, and fly

to distant lands where I can’t travel. Nine
times out of ten I can’t have what is mine.
Yes, anger pokes the edges of my quilt,
unbalancing my world. Now all a-tilt,

I ask myself: Does this make any sense?
I can’t see clearly through the forest’s dense,
thick shadowed canopy. I carry bags
of sadness like a ragman carries rags.

The Time When I Got Angry At God

Due to a lack of time today, I thought I would repost one of the stories I’ve already written at my other site. I hope you like it. — Bird

Re-posted from Everyone Has A Story:

I’ve always been able to pinpoint exactly who I was angry at. When my parents got divorced when I was six, I was angry at my mom. When she remarried a guy totally the opposite of my dad, I was mad at her and the new guy. When the perpetrator destroyed my innocence, I was mad at him. When I kept making decisions as a young adult that I knew were really, really self-destructive, I was mad at myself. I don’t have a problem knowing who I’m angry at. I own it.

But through all of life’s hurts, I never once got angry at God. It would be fair to say that I understood the concept of free will from a really early age, and didn’t blame God for what people did that hurt me. Until the Motorcycle Accident.

On June 11, 2005, I was involved in a really bad motorcycle accident. A group of us were

Bird, 2005

travelling down one of Oklahoma’s country highways when a van turned left in front of us. I was on the first bike that hit. It was a fluke that I was on this bike, as I usually never rode with anyone but my husband. But on this day, because I wanted to get pictures of him driving his bike, I was riding in the front with a friend….Two bikes hit the van, and three bikes were “laid down”, which means they basically slid on their sides to avoid impact. My husband, who had been bringing up the rear, was the only one who didn’t crash. Instead, he had the poor misfortune of watching his wife and friends all get hurt.

When the bike I was on hit the van, it catapulted me towards the top of the van, and the frame broke all of my ribs….all of them. Some were broken in more than one place. The broken ribs, in turn, punctured both of my lungs in several places. Needless to say, I was dying, and rather quickly. But, as luck would have it, two off duty paramedics happened to be at the convenience store right there, and had seen the whole thing happen. This is in the middle of nowhere at a tiny, franchised Joe’s Convenience Store kind of gas station. Talk about God hedging my bets! (You Rule, God!) They rushed out, and kept both me and another woman hurt really badly (Rose), alive until the helicopters and ambulances arrived.

My body was really torn up. On top of the lungs and ribs, I broke my collar bone, fractured my neck, bruised my heart, lacerated my liver, and fractured my spine and pelvis. And I was in a coma….thank God! I woke up twice briefly that day just long enough to pull the ventilator that was helping me breathe out each time, thus damaging my larynx. And soon after all of this, I developed ARDS and pneumonia in both lungs. I was dying. The whole experience of being in a coma was terrifying…I wish there was a better word for it, but words can’t express the confusion and terror….

Everything I just wrote had to be told to me by other people, because what I remember is something a lot darker. I was caught in hallucinations. It has long been debated that there are several levels of consciousness between life and death, and I agree. I just want to skip all of those next time and go straight from being alive to being dead. Just saying, God…

I still don’t like to talk too much about what my brain thought was going on. I will say that for the first few weeks, it was nothing good. I was caught in rooms with no doors and no windows, with strange red-lipped women. I was going to be killed by a terrorist cell. Some nurse was trying to rape me…It goes on and on. Had it gone on much longer, I would have probably just gone on and died. It would have been preferable.

While I was caught in Dante‘s head, my husband was not pleased with the doctors taking care of me. And when Don isn’t pleased, he can be a very big pain in the butt. Three times they had taken him into the family room and told him to get my affairs in order. And three times, I just kept hanging on. Don had basically parceled out our three teenagers, and all but blew off his job. Medication couldn’t keep my blood pressure from soaring to dangerous heights, but his voice could. So, he rarely left the hospital — for months.

Three weeks into this whole ordeal, Don had had enough. He and a friend went on a quest and found out that the top pulminologist in Oklahoma lived right here in Tulsa. Her name was Dr. Grace Kennedy. That is another long story, but for times’ sake, lets just say that Don sweet talked her into taking my case, bullied the hospital into giving her rights to practice there, and threatened my team of doctors if they didn’t “invite” her to lead my case.

Dr. Kennedy, after visiting me once, decided to take a risk. She told my husband that all that movement I was making might not be pain; instead, it might be a reaction to morphine. She changed up everything — my bed, my antibiotics, and THANK GOD — my pain medication. She put me on Demerol instead. Immediately, I began to heal. Turns out, I was allergic to morphine and all those horrible hallucinations were being caused by that medicine. Every time I would twitch or moan, the nurses would give me more, launching me straight back into hell.

I have a few vague memories of coming to, but it is really hard for me to separate what really happened during that hospital stay and what happened in my head. Until one morning, a really loud voice said, “CATHERINE, WAKE UP!!” And I was awake. I mean, really, really awake. One, because the voice was really loud. And two, because only my dad calls me “Catherine”. It has always only been used when I was in trouble.

I was alone in the room for a minute, and I realized I was in a hospital room. Just then, a female doctor walked in. (Another miracle. How often do you actually catch a doctor in your room??) She seemed startled that I was awake. I motioned to her that I needed something to write on, and she handed me a pad of paper and a pen. I wrote one word, “thirsty”. She explained I couldn’t drink being on a breathing machine. I wrote a second word, “out”. This is another long story, but in the end, they took me off the breathing machine that very hour, and after several months, my numbers stayed where they were supposed to be. They didn’t drop even one point. Remind me to tell you about the moment my husband came in after that…It is just the most romantic story ever…

But I digress. One really significant thing changed about me the day I woke up. I realized I was angry. No, the word “angry” just isn’t graphic enough. I was pissed off. And I was having trouble understanding why.

The anger was just building and building. I was released from the hospital about a week later. I was supposed to stay on oxygen and cart around this tube of air…yeah, I don’t think so. I was a 37 year old woman…too young to be doing that. I tried going back to work, but lo and behold! I transverse numbers now..This is unacceptable for a bookkeeper. My life had been permanently interrupted.

I didn’t talk to God much those days. This is odd behavior for me. I chat with Him all day long. Well, I mean, He doesn’t chat back, but as you’ve probably guessed by now, I am a talker. That was my first clue back then that there was a problem.

Finally, I had to mentally set myself down and examine my feelings. You can’t begin to fix what you won’t acknowledge. And I admitted to myself that I was mad at God. Why? You aren’t going to believe this one….

It wasn’t because I was hurt so badly, or because my hallucinations scared me to death, or that my poor children had all been farmed out for months to people that were relative strangers to me. Oh no. Nothing that noble, or even understandable. I was pissed that God didn’t allow me to see Him or His angels during a near-death experience. My spirit didn’t get to hover over my body, and I felt like it was the least He could have done for me. Seriously.

Have you ever had to have a conversation with your God that you know is just about one of the stupidest conversations you will ever have??? Well, I did. I told Him I needed help getting over my anger. I thanked Him for what He had done for me and my family, and then I tried to explain to Him why I had wanted that so much, as dumb as it may sound.

You know what? He understood. He showed me that it was okay to be honest with Him and with myself. He can handle me being mad at Him. He showed me that there will be a time that I will be in His presence, but that had He given me a glimpse, I might have stopped living here on earth doing my job, and pined instead for what I had seen. He assured me that some people need the “push” that comes from seeing the other side, but for someone like me, who didn’t need that, it could have worked against His purposes for me. And lastly, He let me know that even this accident would be used to reveal His glory. I felt like He was thanking me for going through it.

It is the one time I have ever been angry at God. I doubt anything could make me angry at Him again. But should I ever feel that way again, I can take my concerns and disappointments straight to Him. He isn’t offended by my anger. He can take it!

Thank you again, Jesus!!

– Cathie


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