NaPoWriMo Day 29: We are challenged to write a poem in which each line starts with “I remember.” We’re asked to focus on specific details, and not whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. 


I remember the youth group, our trip to Vermont. At night, we listened to comedy albums, back when we thought Bill Cosby was still a good person.

I remember the concerts, astounding acoustics for our college choir. Drinks at the Yacht Club (which had no yachts, and no body of water) before…and after.

I remember the Artist’s Café, the heady lunches in late afternoon.

I remember spring break. We got married.

I remember the move to Wisconsin, the blizzard with snow so deep only snowmobiles could traverse. No power or water—only the cheese shop was open.

I remember Main Place, the Saturday brunches that lasted till the bar closed Sunday morning.

I remember dinners with John at the Inn, Friday night fish fries and dance bands.

I remember the trips to Arkansas–warm, sunny Christmases and barbequed goat on New Year’s.

I remember Summerfest and 70’s music.

I remember the divorce.


Backwards in Time

It’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), and I’m completing a challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days. Today, I am combining the daily poetry prompt with the Friday Fictioneers’ photo prompt. The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem that tells a story…but tells it backward. Thus, the first line of the poem is the end of the story. As I see it, I have four challenges: make it poetic; make it tell a story with a beginning, middle and end; make it work whether it is read forward or backward, and keep it to 100 words. You can let me know if I succeeded in the comments!

For more information on Friday Fictioneers, or to post your own story, please visit our lovely leader’s website, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Addicted to Purple.

antique store mary shipman

Photo copyright: Mary Shipman


The nightmare ended as quickly as it began

She turned to watch her pursuer vanish in a cloud of dust

Dazed, she ran through the doorway into the mall

His face red with rage

He turned to look at her in her flimsy sundress

His harsh words echoed through the rafters




He reminded her of her grandfather

A man in Victorian dress berated a young clerk

Dizziness overcame her

Sun peeked through high windows, reflected off dust motes

The walls were as faded and stained as the wares

The antique store looked like a portal in time


To read more Friday Fictioneers’ stories, click the link: 

How to Grow Old Gracefully

Here is another tale in the oh-so-ironic “How To” series for Friday Fictioneers. This one is in the form of a prose poem.

The photo prompt this week is courtesy of Emmy L. Gant. It reminds me of an old building or row house, and it put me in mind of my own 100 year old house. Sadly, the condition of my house seems to mirror my own rapidly aging bones–or is it vice versa?

Friday Fictioneers is a lively and friendly international writing community. Between Wednesday and Friday of every week, we each post a 100-word story to share. To learn more about Friday Fictioneers, or to post your own story, please visit our lovely leader’s website, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Addicted to Purple.

emmy l gant

Photo Copyright: Emmy L. Gant

How to Grow Old Gracefully

by Jan Brown

This house has no more dreams. There are only distant hopes, painful yearnings and blood-chilled fear.

…the fear of growing old.

The piano plays no complete songs. It is dusty, like my vocal cords. Two shallow breaths, a hoarse wheeze, to sing half a measure.

…the silence of my voice.

There are fragments of poetry in the corners. I pull them out with cobwebs. Piece them together clumsily.

…the frailty of my muse.

Etchings line the walls, crucified on wires and nails. My soul is searing in artists’ shades of molten gold and cutting crimson.

…the color of my pain.


To read more Fictioneers’ stories, click the link:

Carrying the Light

I’m late with my Friday Fictioneers contribution this week. The photo prompt, as some of you may know, is published Wednesday morning. I contemplated the ornate light fixture in the photo and copied it onto my hard drive, as usual.

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The photo reminded me of some lovely chandeliers I’ve seen in churches, but I had no idea what to write.

That night, I procrastinated and scrolled through my twitter feed instead of writing. I came across breaking stories from various news media and was horrified to learn of the vicious hate crime in Charleston, a mass shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The cold-hearted shooting of a church prayer group…how do we reconcile the irony, the inhumanity?

The historic status of the church and its founder, Denmark Vesey, was mentioned in the first two articles I read. This church has suffered unthinkable losses in the past. The church was founded in 1816 by black congregants who left their predominantly white churches over issues of discrimination. It was burned down in 1822 when its pastor was convicted of planning a slave revolt. When the laws of that era prohibited all-black churches, the members had to meet in secret. The church survived all of this and was rebuilt at the end of the civil war, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. In the twentieth century, the church was the site of seminal civil rights speeches and demonstrations, including a mass arrest of more than 900 protesters in 1969.

Now they have suffered more unthinkable losses. As I read the articles and watched the news videos, two questions gnawed at me: 1) Why are we the only advanced nation to have mass shootings on a seemingly regular, if not frequent, basis; and 2) Why, in a country that has the most ethnically diverse population of any country on Earth, do we still have racial hatred? The answer to the first question is fairly obvious.  The answer to the second is so complex as to be incomprehensible, but I’m sure we’ll hear many sociologists, psychologists, journalists, pundits and random internet trolls try to break it down for us in the coming days/weeks/months.  I welcome that discussion with open ears.

Meanwhile, the only answer I have is love.

I try to wrap my head around the so-incredible level of love and forgiveness displayed by the families of the victims at the shooter’s bond hearing. No one said it better than Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of one of the victims. She spoke directly to the shooter, saying, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love. Hate won’t win.” (Source:

Mother Emanuel will be open for Sunday services today. The light they carry into the world is witness to God’s love and to our human potential to love, rather than hurt, each other.  I hope my little poem reflects that light.

Photo by Stephen Hyatt

Photo by Stephen Hyatt
Source: photos/

Carrying the Light

by Jan Brown

Why do churches have such lovely chandeliers? Perhaps…

To remind us there is something irresistibly beautiful, something higher and more permanent than our imperfect selves.

To remind us of the beauty that can shine from just one beacon, even in a world otherwise devoid of light.

To focus the still-bright light of  our lost loved ones, so that we will not flounder in the dark.

To infuse love, the kind of love that shines on every living being, the kind of love that will never falter, never flicker out, never discriminate and never be darkened, no matter how deep the night.

shooting victims


Mother Emanuel’s light shines now, this very moment. I pray that everyone will let it in.



Friday Fictioneers is a lovely community of writers from around the world. My blog this week was a departure from the usual form. Normally we post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read more stories of every conceivable genre, or to post your own, click here.


O’Reilly – NaPoWriMo Day 12

Abstract alphabet

A couple days ago, when I was busy writing haiku and thinking about my taxes, the NaPoWriMo challenge was to write an abecedarian poem. Today I am answering that challenge. Is it also a prose poem? Possibly! Hope you enjoy it!


by Jan Brown

As I pause the news to plop some
butter on my frozen diet meal, I wonder:
can Fox really be called “News”?
Does anyone watch this shit sober? Bill makes it seem so
effortless to be a
flaming asshole. He just doesn’t
get it.
How did he grow so bitter?
I wish he could acknowledge that
just because a family is poor, they’re not the enemy. He must
know that democracy will not fail if we
let people have basic human rights. And he
must know that liberty is for all,
not just the rich.
Oh, Bill, you cantankerous
Quick, hand me a Zoloft so I can watch the
rest of this moral quagmire they call a
show.  I think I just agreed with him on a
talking point. I must be hallucinating.
Usually, at this point in the “show,” I am
very worried about his health.
What did they replace his heart with, to turn him into a
xenophobic blockhead?
Yes, they fucked with his brain as well. As to mine…where’s the damn

Lost and Found

Day 19 – National Poetry Month

I’m doing a little catch-up here! The challenge for April 19th is to write a personal ad or other type of ad that might appear in a newspaper or other media. 

By the way, if you find this item, please let me know 🙂



Heart, size XL.  May seem confused. If found, please handle gently.  May turn into mush at first touch. Whispered promises of love may cause cloying neediness. Big fat lies likely to cause breakage, bleeding and public retaliation. Return to owner as soon as possible to avoid unwanted bonding or attachment.

What a Drag

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, when writers from around the world post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.  This week’s photo is by David Stewart, and it is full of intrigue. The sculpture makes a very powerful statement about human interaction.

You can read other Friday Fictioneers’ work by clicking the link that appears below my story.

Copyright David Stewart

What a Drag

by Jan Brown

The harder he struggled, the more she dragged him down.

She latched onto him like quicksand.

He paused too long, allowing pure physical attraction to get a momentary edge. She convinced him there was a difference between temptation and addiction, between enjoyment and overindulgence, between a drink and a drunk.

She said she wanted love. What she really wanted was a place to stay, an endless wallet, an ardent admirer, a defender of all her misdeeds. She needed a comrade, a cohort, a co-dependent.

She latched onto him like quicksand.

The harder he struggled, the more she dragged him down.


[FGC #19] Faith Healer

Every night she prays for sleep. She prays for the pain to recede just enough to fade away in sleep. For just a few heavenly hours. Her faith teaches miracles. She’s experienced one or two. She’s hoping for another.

Every morning she prays for energy. She prays for the pain to recede just enough to accomplish the basic chores of living. For one more day, just one. She has faith that she will be healed. Someday. Maybe today.

Every day she prays for healing. She prays for the pain to recede just enough to start her therapy. Not to finish the exercises, just to start them. She has faith that she can feel better. Just a bit better.

At dusk she prays for His touch. Her faith assures her that she is loved, that she will always be loved, by a God who will take her in His arms and give her rest, the blessed rest of a sleeping child.

At twilight she closes her eyes in tormenting pain. She prays to be touched by the hand of the healing God, the One who will give her peace. Her faith teaches that He has the power to heal. To heal those who believe He can. Those who have faith.

Will tonight be the night He reaches out His hand?

Will tonight be the night that she grasps it?

Will tonight be the night?