20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


that day

    She arrives


    through the door

    light on her toes

    despite our

    few days of


    for years the

    weekly ritual.

    Our eyes meet
    grey to grey and
    her skin color mine,
    though reaching down
    to kiss her forehead
    seemed easier that day.

    Hands could always effortlessly wrap around
    my fingertips meeting at her sometimes ponytail,
    or mingling among those tangled golden curls.

    And when did her head snug in at my chest when we hugged?
    Like the kitchen door frame penciled ever higher in our old house,
    maybe our bodies will mark those imperceptable passages now?
    Time it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn’t.

    my first poem
    written April 2012,
    revised April 2013

After My Son Was Gone

Originally posted on Living and Lovin:

After I had my son there was no reason for me to stay in the hospital.  He was healthy and beautiful and nurses,  bless them,  kept bringing him in only to say OOPS, sorry, do you want to hold him?  I asked the doctor if I could get discharged,  he understood and said it would be OK,  good thing as I was going anyway.  I had things to do.


It was mid February and there had been snow. Mom came to get me as I had stayed the last 2 months at home and my car was there.  I was in a hurry to find an apartment.  I needed to get out of the family home,  no reason to cause them more pain seeing me each and every day in pain and tears.


I worked at  the factory where I had been for three years.  They had taken…

View original 1,858 more words




The dragon was adjusting to his empty lair. He swept away some of the ashes. 

He spent a lot of time wondering what had gone wrong. He loved the princess and had protected her as best he could. Now he was so angry with the princess. Why hadn’t she appreciated his devotion? He had spent so many years devoted to her. 

The princess knew he was angry. It was familiar, because he was always unhappy and angry. But he had never been angry with her; he had quietly seethed with fury at life around him. 

She still loved the dragon and was grateful for his devotion. His devotion had actually kept them together because she had always felt safe with him. 

But now she could not live with him anymore. One day, it became clear to her that in order to live again, she was required to leave the safety of their castle. Not only would he no longer protect her, his anger would follow her. 

She knew what had gone wrong even though he did not. 

Although she was safe, her protective dragon was incapable of affection. Whenever she came near him, the fire of his breath burned her. His scales were so sharp, that she never moved close to him. So many times, she came close only to have sores and wounds. Eventually, she learned to be careful and developed thick armor to protect herself. 

When she left the safety of the dragon, her armor became too heavy to continue wearing. But she was afraid to take it off. Even though she was not living with him, his anger invaded her heart. 

She knew that, because at night the princess felt her wounded heart pulsating. 

For such a long time, she had accepted her fate. She assumed it was ‘til death do you part. Her heart had shriveled and carried the scars from so many years of being wounded. But then she realized that long ago they had already parted when he became a dragon. And inside, her love for life had slowly died after that. 

A long time ago, he was her prince. Perhaps he should not have married a princess. As a girl, she never imagined that someday she would be living with a dragon or that she would be a princess. All she had ever wanted was to be adored. 

Now she suffered because she believed the wicked spell that had caused him to change into a dragon was her fault.

Burning Castle

© Judy Unger, http://www.myjourneysinsight.com and 20 Lines A Day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




1 Comment



She hated the dragon and wanted to escape. There was no mistaking his entry because he always caused her pain. The creature roared and fire shot from his nostrils. The interior of the home where they lived was filled with tinder. With the dragon’s arrival, embers burned everywhere and she choked from the thick haze of smoke. She put out the smoldering areas to prevent fire from engulfing everything she had. The realization came to her that it was important to get out before the flames consumed her. 

She was not afraid of the dragon; she just avoided him whenever possible. She knew he was wounded and in tremendous pain. Although she was sympathetic, she wished she never saw him again. Tears squeezed her eyes shut, which was a relief because she did not want to see so much pain. 

After she fled the castle:

She was grateful she had finally escaped and fled to new and peaceful surroundings. But still there were certain times when she returned to his lair. Each and every time was draining and stressful. The dragon was even more furious and blamed her for all the ashes. 

A long time ago, things were different before her lover became a dragon. When he began to change, she accepted and understood. She did not believe she deserved anything else and felt safe because the dragon was tame. He protected her, but her loneliness and isolation became oppressive over time. 

She had found peacefulness, but often felt his presence in her new surroundings. Unfortunately, she brought much of her armor with her. It was difficult for her to free herself because she was now a prisoner to her sadness. 

She cried because although he had become a dragon to her, she knew he still had a heart beating inside. It was horrible for her to see his wounds. He was bleeding, even though he pretended he was fine. 

But then she realized that she was bleeding and pretending she was fine.

 Dragon revised

© 2012 by Judy Unger, http://www.myjourneysinsight.com and 20 Lines A Day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


She remembered when love was like a blanket. In the beginning, they were both wrapped tightly and snuggled in it. Their faces brushed so closely together that she could feel his breath upon her cheek.

Over time, things began to slowly change. She realized that although they were covered with the blanket’s warmth, now their faces were turned away from each other. It was more comfortable that way. But even when they were not facing each other, their bodies still touched. They often rubbed each other’s toes with their feet.

With the passage of more time, they began to pull at the blanket in order to find comfort.     

While sleeping, they would both take turns grabbing at it. He would become upset if she pushed it off and lay on top of it. She would wake up and find herself cold without a blanket nearby; then she would pull it back.

Eventually, they both adjusted. But she realized that neither of them found the blanket to be comfortable anymore.       

When it was time to leave, it felt to her as if all of the years of adjustment had caused the blanket to simply become a fabric. It required unraveling in order for her to leave. 

She began to pull apart all of the threads. She cried for each and every one. He did not show her that he was crying, too.    

When she pulled apart the last thread, she turned to leave. As she went through the door, she wrapped herself tightly with an imaginary blanket so the memory would sustain her.

© 2012 by Judy Unger, http://www.myjourneysinsight.com and 20 Lines A Day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Pictorial Guide To Bird’s Latest Crisis


Sharing my thoughts through pictures…

Originally posted on Everyone Has A Story...:

Lately, I believe it would be fair to say that I’ve been on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to this blog thing. One thing that I’ve really come to value about writing here is the therapeutic nature of getting my bottled up thoughts out of my head and in front of my eyes, and the eyes of others. It tends to make the monster in my head look smaller and less destructive than I’d originally supposed.


I’ve been dealing with two major problems in my marriage, and as I tend to do, I keep my secrets well guarded. It is one thing to blab my own shortcomings and failures to the world…I’m okay with people taking pot-shots at me, because I embrace my ridiculous mistakes and try to use them as cautionary lessons for others. But when you’re getting into the problems that a marriage goes through…

View original 646 more words

1 Comment

Sometimes, it’s just one line.

My parents’ divorce is on page twenty-two.

(Oh yeah, most definitely a fragment.)

Sometimes I just get one line at a time from the invisible fount  where poetry lives.  And I rush with my tin cup to catch it.


What’s In A Name?

Daffy Duck, as he appears in The Looney Tunes ...

Daffy Duck, as he appears in The Looney Tunes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) - Also a name I would have agreed to while I was sedated!

I know this is going to be a shocker, but I occasionally choke on the foot I stick in my mouth at times. I thought I’d share one of those bright, shining moments in my life.

When my son DJ was born, he was very, very premature, and due to a loss of a lot of blood, I was unconscious the entire delivery. Because it was a little country hospital, DJ had to be helicoptered to a larger hospital in Dallas, some two hours away. So, when I woke up, my son was not there. Very distressing for a new mother, to say the least.

To transfer hospitals, a child has to have a name on his birth certificate, and normally, the mother is the one that fills this form in. However, because I was clearly out of it, my then-husband, Dennis, had to fill out the form. And being Dennis, he decided to trash the name we’d agreed on — Michael Anthony — for a name that embodied his own family — William Harold. :-(

Now, in fairness to Dennis, he insists that I told him this was okay sometime that drugged night, and I am going to even say that they may have been possible. But I was heavily sedated, so I would have named the kid Daffy Duck or Mickey Mouse at that point. He should have stuck to the name that we agreed on.

It took me a month to heal from the birth of my son, and all along, as I’m talking to my family and friends, I’m calling my baby Michael. Dennis, obviously nervous, says nothing to me, until I’ve finally been released from the hospital and am headed to Dallas to meet my new baby. That is when I find out that my son has been named William Harold Bell. And that Den’s family is calling him Billy Bell. O.M.G. I was pissed. Billy Bell???

Sure enough, there was my absolutely beautiful little boy with a placard on his crib with the horrifying name Billy Bell. Immediately, I made the nurse take it down and put up a placard that said William Bell. I needed some time to fix this, but now wasn’t the time. In the end, I changed his nickname to DJ. It doesn’t stand for anything. I just didn’t want him to be called Billy. Being poor, we were stuck with the name.

Flash forward to a couple of years ago, I was telling this story to some new biker friends of Chef’s (my present husband). In the biker culture, almost everyone uses biker names, so you almost never really know what the people around you’s real names are, and such was the case with the guy I was talking to. His reaction was odd when I finished my story. Slowly, he pulled out his wallet and showed me his identification. William Harrold.

I’d just insulted this man’s name. I totally suck.



So, A Child Molester and a Little Kid are Walking into A Forest…

Update: I was confused about why the pope picture kept coming up on my search…I figured WordPress was goofing with me, or misunderstood what my post was all about.  HOURS LATER,  I finally get the Pope picture..I used the words child molester in the title..Sorry! I didn’t do it on purpose..lol. I don’t think all priests are child molesters…..OMG!!

So, I was reading this: Why Do Comedians have A Higher Suicide Rate and it reminded me of a therapist that I once visited.

Unimpressed with my witty diversions in our conversation, she point-blank told me that I

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia) -- Evidently, WordPress thinks this pope uses humor to divert..Every time I ran search terms related to my article on humor, comedians, suicide -- this guy's picture showed up in the first frame. LOL...

hide behind my humor. I made some quick-witted retort, and promptly left her office, but I knew she was right. In the past, the more unhappy I am, the more hilarious people around me have thought I was.

What is this phenomenon that causes the broken-hearted men and women of this world try to make others laugh? You got me. I have no idea why. I only know that it is true, because I’ve watched it happen time and again in my own family.

Hands down, my father is the funniest man I know. He sugar coats absolutely nothing, and he is irreverent, crass, bold, and given to the darkest forms of humor I’ve ever known. And believe me when I say, I have laughed at some raunchy stuff. I can’t help myself…I know, I know. Somethings aren’t funny. But in my dad’s world, nothing is off-limits. If you were to look at his life, though, you would think this man should have been living his days in the fetal position in someone’s basement. A physically abused child, he became a criminal before puberty. The one time he tried to change his course in this life, and join the Marines, he was unable to fully assimilate to the life. He married my mom, a beauty queen, who left him high and dry for a guy who made more money. She hid his kids, bankrupted him in court and emotionally as well, and, in my perception, never gave him a second thought. His only son changed his last name to his stepfather’s name, and refuses to this day to even have a conversation with him. All he has is me… (personally, I think he is lucky, because I’m clearly awesome..but who knows?) His life has been filled to the rim with pain and hardship, and yet he makes every one around him laugh, even if it is somewhat nervously. Hands down, he had the hardest life of all of us. Does his pain decide what level his ability to make others laugh is at? I have a feeling that it does.

My brother Mike was raised in the same home as I was, but his journey involved different problems. He is very close-mouthed about our childhood, choosing to focus on his future instead of sorting through his past. Yet, as a fellow survivor of that household, I see the scars on him too. He has built for himself a successful and happy family, and he is a pastor of a pretty impressive church in Colorado. He even wrote a book called How To Knock Over A 7-Eleven and Other Ministry Training. You should read it if you ever get a chance, even if you have no interest whatsoever about churches or church building. The things that have happened to him are hilarious. The guy can tell a really good story. Again, I have to ask, would he be so funny if he had had a Noodle Salad life? Don’t know what a Noodle Salad life is? Read this: Noodle Salad People.

I am told I’m funny too. I have my moments, I guess. The more nervous I am, or the more I am trying to divert your attention away from something I find uncomfortable or painful, I am pretty damn witty. The difference, though, is that I am generally a happy, peaceful person. Yes, I bear the scars of childhood sexual abuse, neglect, and a ton of other painful experiences. But, those scars are healed up, and I find that when I get rolling, I’m genuinely happy to make others laugh, and in turn, I enjoy the happiness I am feeling because they are laughing. When depression rears its ugly head in my life, I generally ride it out by sleeping or coaxing my mind to pursue happier thoughts. I hope that is what Dad and Mike are doing to. Again, same question. Did my past have anything to do with this?

It is an interesting diversion to life’s pain — humor. Does everyone, to some degree, use this tool for coping as well? I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject.

– Bird


Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire….

It would be fair to say that I have had a pretty complicated relationship with lying. Now, I’m sure that most people will readily admit that they’ve lied before. Because, seriously, we all have lied to some degree or another at least once in our lives. And for the majority of the rest of the human race, we’ve lied too many times over our lives to keep count.

My thoughts on this matter stem back to my mother and my father. Both of them were in


the United States Marine Corp during the Vietnam war. And, as war tends to do, they found themselves in a marriage without really getting to know each other first. In my parents case, this was a pretty big problem for them, and later for my brother and me.

My father is so blatantly honest, even about the most private things we tend to lie to ourselves about, and my mother was not. Being from a somewhat wealthy family, image was everything to her, and little white lies were just tools to be used to create a favorable image for her, and for her family. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. When my brother was a toddler, and I was six, they parted forever, and I can honestly say, I was never really the same again. But maybe I’ll cover that another day…It isn’t my point today.

Now, I truly love to explore the history of a person, and of course, I have always been interested in why I do what I do. It isn’t that I want to blame one of my parents for my own bad behaviors…I don’t. Nor do I. I can own my mistakes without a problem. But, when your dad is the polar opposite of your mother, and they have a World War III custody battle for years over you, you start kind of rooting for a side when it comes to your own characteristics. But at the same time, you love both competitors, so it all can get kind of dramatic and confusing in a young girl’s head. And I am the kind of person that will believe what I want to believe; to hell with the proof. :-)

On the one hand, my father and I had a really close relationship punctuated with all kinds of little rituals we did together. He was a talker, (like me :-) ), and we both loved animals, Dennis the Menace, Honky-Tonk music, and the list goes on and on. We shared a lot of bad characteristics as well — quick tempers, rude presentation of opinions, somewhat careless attitude towards others. I was a consummate Daddy’s girl, no questions asked.

But on the other hand, my mother possessed the qualities that I didn’t have, but wished I did. She was stunningly beautiful — (she won Miss Congeniality in the Miss California beauty pageant before I was born), kind, gentle, soft-spoken, and lady-like. She oozed sophistication and dignity. People loved to be around her, and she always made a person feel like they were the best human being she had ever met….( until she divorced you. She could be a worthy enemy as well).

It is my opinion that we always think the grass is greener on the other side, and I was no exception. I looked like my dad — Irish — while my mother was exotic looking — Italian. She was able to command the attention of a room by simply walking into it; I commanded the attention by falling over something and breaking it. Her hair was long, dark, and straight. Mine is a long,reddish-blonde afro of curls that rarely do anything I want them to do. For a kid, it was really hard to see how that creature was really my mom.

But they say we get wiser with age, and I was able see some of the flaws of the two people I loved so much, and the blaring one I usually had to personally deal with was my mom’s habit of lying. To her, if her motivation for lying was to keep the peace, or to not hurt someone’s feelings, then it wasn’t really lying — It was Lying For The Better Good. But, to be honest, my brain never really could wrap around that…To me, if it wasn’t true, it was lying. The bad kind….

During the Custody Battle, my mother and father were enemies of the worst kind. My mother had remarried a week after their divorce was final, and my father was eternally bitter about her for the rest of his life up to this very day. Every time my dad would find out where we were living, we’d move, leaving him to try for months to track us down again. My mother frustrated him at every turn, and each time I was able to see him again briefly, he would be a little different — harder, more bitter.

Now, because of her priorities, my mother wanted to portray for the world a happy, well-adjusted cohesive family with her new husband. And a blended family image wouldn’t do. So, I went to first grade with my last name the same as my father’s, and the second grade, I was using my stepfather’s last name. There was no even mentioning my dad in the house or to anyone ever, and thus I began my journey down deciding if I wanted to be a liar or not. Life in my home with mom would be easier if I just went with the status quo. But my basic nature couldn’t fully embrace this, and I seemed to be in a constant flux of indecision and confusion. But, as I loved my mom, I learned what most people in my situation learn — I learned to be a chameleon and tell everyone what they wanted to hear.

After years of legal maneuvering, the judge had had enough, and a hearing was set to bring me in to see him, and the judge was going to decide who was going to get custody of me based on what I wanted. I am ashamed to admit that both of my parents were supremely confident that I was going to choose them, because obviously, I was a decent little liar by that time. And while they both were at ease with the up-coming hearing, I was flipping out. All that lying was coming back to bite my little butt, and ONE of my parents was going to be really, really pissed at me. And I was really having a hard time choosing which one was going to kill me in the least painful method. I most assuredly was going to devastate one of them, and it was up to me to choose which one. I loved both of them. This was going to really, really suck.

As the days marched forward toward my nightmare, I did some soul-searching about myself. Of course, I was an 11-year-old kid, so it wasn’t all that poetic and earth-shattering. But, I knew I was going to have to decide what kind of person I really wanted to be. This playing for both teams garbage wasn’t working for me, and only my parents were peaceful with what I had been doing — I was in hell. Soon, neither of them were ever going to believe me again, anyways, but I couldn’t get away from myself. Big decisions were going to have to be made.

I decided to be honest and embrace the characteristics I had been naturally born with, instead of trying to mold myself into a pale version of the mother I idealized. All I had managed to do with the one rather glaring flaw she possessed was make a great big mess for myself. And it was just easier to be myself, than to deal with this whole disgust-for-myself emotion I would have to endure on a seemingly daily basis by saying what people wanted to hear, instead of just telling the truth.

At the last-minute, the hearing was called off. I don’t think I ever knew why, but I’d been given a reprieve. My road back to honesty did not happen over-night, and I was knocked off-course a few times growing up, but it was a good lesson for me in the end. Nothing like true terror to set you straight… :-)


– Bird



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,334 other followers

%d bloggers like this: