20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


Stoop Visitor

A naked bulb illuminates

An empty stoop.

A knock in the night

Summons dwellers to the door.

A wanderer delivered to the steps

Begs a few dollars and

A listening ear.

Leaning in the doorway

Hoping for entrance out of the


Alcohol fresh on his breath

As he enunciates his woes.

Content with just enough

To buy a ride

He turns disappearing

Back into the night.

The front door closes

Leaving only

A naked bulb again illuminating

An empty stoop.


A Vortex of Karma & Humility

I have been unavoidably consumed the last few years with personal strife. Well, that is not exactly accurate. The struggles of loved ones have risen before me and I have helped them. Through illnesses, hospice in our home and their passings, I have also inherited debts and monstrous hoarding homes, plus never ending legal obligations.

It all seems to swirl and darken my views of life and the future. 

As their old house appeared in November last.

One thing I have done for a diversion is to drive by my folks old house and take a peek because it has become an interesting, if sometimes admittedly aggravating, side show. At first it angered me…the wanton letting the property go. Now I care less. I just shake my head and wonder.

I snapped some pictures and shook my head in wonder, again. A few roses poked through with color against the tall brown grass and sowed wild flowers. I looked down at my odometer for some reason….

I used to have a friend that believed in some mystical force of 1’s. The time 11:11 brought everything to a halt to make a wish or offer a prayer…any sequence of 1’s was an omen of gook karma. Well this odometer reading was a kick in the pants good moment then.

As I sat in my rig pondering the possible karma, the over grown yard and in a  mental zone, a little, old lady bundled up against the sunshine (floppy hat, sunglasses, long sleeve shirt, light gloves) walked by. I stared at her. Did I know her? I took a chance…’Mary Lou?’  She stopped and turned and a smile emerged. We conversed about my mom. About the old hoarding house. About the new look…the over grown look. She sighed, chuckled, said some kind remarks about the new owners as she shook her head. She was kind and not sweating the big stuff nor the small stuff. I left her not caring about the tall grass. I had received a nice touch of kindness and an example of positivity.

I drove down the road toward a location where I had placed my outer most ‘epic sale’ sign. There was a man, on a bicycle, slowly following a little boy on a small bicycle. I looked at them but thought nothing of it. I drove ahead and took down the first of many signs for the garage sale we had just had this past weekend. I drove ahead and there was the man and young boy again.

This time when I glanced at them, he looked at me and I recognized a man I had not seen in quite a few years. I had known him via the fly fishing world. His life and mine had pulled us both out of that arena into the obligations of life. I met his sweet son. Remarked that he was probably going to be in kindergarten soon. Where upon I asked where? The man remarked “Well right here” pointing to the school we were stopped in front of. Oblivious, I had not noticed the grade school. My grade school, where I attended classes in the 1950’s. 

All the above happened in the span of maybe twenty minutes. From the first photograph of the tall grass to gazing at the playground where I was taken by the image of pretty girls as a little boy. It was a swirl of bliss. It was so positive and a perfect coming together of events. I was elated.

I said my goodbyes and drove to where my next sign was placed. It was not there.

A Sign Maker, Like Me (SwittersB)

Seated in the shade was a group of men…transients. I noticed my sign in their midst, converted into a beggar’s tool. As the karma flowed, the man said “Are you looking for your ‘epic sale’ sign. I said I was. He didn’t answer back. I had recently noticed that some of the signs were disappearing or torn down. I had been aggravated by this to no end. I envisioned coming upon someone doing this and altering their physical configuration. But, here I was faced with one of my sign’s alterations. I was not intimidated nor flummoxed. Instead I reached into my pocket and pulled out some cash and said go buy some real food. The three men stood up and approached me and shook my hand.

I departed and continued on taking down my garage sale signs. That perfect little karma vortex didn’t just brush across my tired brain. It stopped me, held me in place and purposely penetrated my awareness. Devine Intervention? Cosmic forces? Whatever the cause, it was not random.







Growling with emptiness their

stomachs are burning with weakness

they are hungry.


Staring at their un-easiness

their bulging bellies retrieving us

it seems so defeat less

they say.


This hunger; this depleted health

melting on the meek

starving, incomplete.


The wealthy turn their heads

stuffing their mouths with the dead

homeless and poor, alone they are

writhing in pain.


Fulfilling the stomach on greed

is disastrous, when hunger seems

so vast, so immediate and

where’s the shame?


All of this world’s bounty wasted

on the meaningless — the insane.


© [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s 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 [Jeanette Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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