Essays. I have to remember I’m writing essays now.

But I prefer poetry.

Poetry allows me to express feelings without being worried about getting facts right. Or grammar. Or where the hell to start and end paragraphs.

I have no idea where paragraphs should start or end.

Like the idiot I am, I agreed to write essays for National Blog Posting Month, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

Fortunately for me, sweet and supportive people (i.e., other CheerPeppers) subtly help me out. They reprint a bit of an essay I wrote, changing the paragraph structure of what I wrote into what it should have been. When I do a Facebook post, I neglect to tag the people it is about; one of the moderators gently comes in and does it for me.

Essentially, I was raised by wolves and I am now attending tea, but the people here are really nice and don’t comment on my manners.

All through public school, whenever we were asked to do creative writing assignments, I was told, upon completion, that I just was not a writer. This was true in college as well, except for one professor, my Creative Writing teacher, who saw something in my writing no one else saw. Everyone else saw an inchoate mass of undeveloped ideas, poor sentence structure, and dizzying leaps from subject to subject.

They weren’t wrong, it’s just, with poetry, that can work in my favor. With essays, those things detract.

As I’ve mentioned to some people in comments here, I got my love of poetry from my mother. She, however, did not think much of my own efforts in the genre. My mother is not a critical or judgmental person – not at all – but she also was and is not prone to the common maternal habit of feigning enthusiasm, either.

Asking for an honest evaluation about something you’ve created from a loved one can create a significant tension in them between love and truth. They love us, so they want to say things that will make us feel good; however, honesty may impel them to say things that have the opposite effect.

I’ve solved that problem in my own life my never showing anyone who actually knows me in daily life any of my creative efforts*. They don’t need to lie; I don’t need to get my feelings hurt or wonder at their sincerity if they are positive.

It’s not exactly a “win-win”; it’s more like a “what the hell kind of choice is that” thing.

* Other than music.

Some people are analyzers; they take things apart to see if they make sense, examining them from as many angles as they can. I am a synthesizer: everything, to me, is related to everything else, and my mind is constantly trying to unify things into a coherent whole.

Which is crazy, of course. There is a “whole”, but any unity we find is liable to be one we put there.

I tell stories about my life, or the lives of those around me, trying to make sense out of it all. I feel like the story I’m meant to tell is in some way unified. My writing, however, is more like a mosaic than a single thing, with bits of this and that, discrete in themselves, that maybe, when examined from a distance, might form a single picture.

Love is what it is all about, of course. I was a young person in search of love, who wandered in and out of relationships, eventually becoming very ill, depressed, and broken; but, through a series of events having little to do with my own merit, gradually found a better life.

Even though I’m still ill, and most likely, broken.

So. I will continue to write more broken, love-seeking essays that border on poetry in my complete disregard for the rules of structure and paragraphing.

Then go back to live with the wolves.



For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.


the vision’s fleeting

sometimes, the vision’s fleeting;
sometimes, the picture’s clear —
the here and now is then and gone,
and such is life, i fear.

for where the flower’s blooming
the snow is soon to fall;
and struggle though we may to hold,
we cannot slow at all

the march and rush of soulless time.
the near becomes the far:
for though the moment’s fleeting,
it’s all we were –
or are

The Choice to Be

Photo credit : © Borjairas | – Coca Cola Cans, Coke Photo

She knew I was broken when she met me. Broken, but functioning.

The simplest choices had become agonizing. What to wear in the morning. What to say to someone. What to buy from a vending machine.

She knew all of this about me, but she liked me anyway. In fact, she said she loved me.

I hadn’t heard those words in a long time.

It was like a song you might have heard long ago; the tune seems familiar, now, but you just can’t remember where you heard it, or even, if you liked it. You think maybe you did. I thought maybe I did. Like being loved.

She became my first wife, and part of the choice I made to be with her involved, first, choosing to be, period.

The choice to be. We make it every day.

She, too was broken, by the way: broken into pieces so expertly put back together that only close inspection would show how thorough the shattering had been. But her breaking was, in many ways, more thorough than mine. She thought she was rescuing me by loving me, but she was only building up pressure within herself that eventually gave way, and we gave way with it.

She loved me, she told me at the end, so she thought she could live a straight life. But she was gay, and she was in love with someone else.

So, six years after we each said “I do”, we didn’t.

You won’t read a stream of negative words from me about my ex. She tried her hardest when we were together, and she’s tried hard since then. She already had a son when we met, and we had one together. Both of them are broken, too, in their different ways — particularly the one we had together. Broken but functioning. Moving forward. Choosing to be.

Ours was a tempestuous marriage; our personality types were very similar, both being what might charitably be described as “prone to wide mood swings”. Temperamental. Feisty. Confrontational.


You stand in front of life’s vending machine, and you see all the pretty colors and flavors, and your money goes in, and you push a button.

You make a choice. I made a choice – we made a choice.

We chose to be together. We chose to have a child. We chose to be apart.

We chose to be.




For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.


Among My Many Poor Decisions…

[Warning: adult(ish) content.]

I was twenty-eight years old, and one of six guys in the groom’s party at a friend’s wedding: we were to wear black tuxedos with pink cummerbunds. I was paired off with a bridesmaid who had long wavy brown hair, deep red lipstick, and who would be wearing the obligatory pink bridesmaid dress.

I had met her the night before at the rehearsal, and sat next to her at the rehearsal dinner, where we spent some time chatting, mostly about the bride and groom. Late in the dinner, she casually asked me if I was single… I said yes… I asked her the same question… she said she would be as of tomorrow, the wedding day, as her divorce was final then. Without really thinking about it, I asked her for the first open dance the next night. She said sure.

The church where the wedding was to be held was way out in the country, more or less in the middle of a wheat field. We had to stand outside for pictures, which were taken prior to the ceremony. I honestly felt like a scarecrow standing in a field like that.

I noticed, though, that she (my assigned bridesmaid) really took to getting her picture taken — and she looked good doing it.

I also had the impression the bridal party might have gotten an early start on the champagne.

I typically love weddings where I don’t have to be the one providing music: I actually get to watch. When the bride came in, she looked radiant, and the groom looked completely love struck. I remember glancing across the way at the bridesmaids; all of them were looking back and forth from the bride to the groom, some with tears in their eyes — except for my bridesmaid, who was looking squarely at me. She smiled when she saw me looking back, then turned to watch the bride, her eyes shining.

The reception was about ten miles away. When the bride and groom arrived, we began the usual festivities. First open dance, my bridesmaid and I danced, and the next dance, and the next two. We went back to the table holding hands. Several other of the bridal party were watching with interest. The rest of the groom’s party was at the bar, as I recall. There was food; there were toasts and speeches; and champagne was flowing freely. The bridesmaid and I danced again and drank again, back and forth, for several hours, and, well into the reception, when some slower dances came on, there wasn’t any doubt any more that she and I were ‘together’.

When we got back to the table, she told me she wanted to talk to me outside “for a minute”. I was fine with that. We took our champagne with us, and two glasses.

And went to my car.

And, umm… experienced each other’s bodies fully.

And were noticed.

And then went back in and tried to play it off.

I don’t exactly know who it was that saw us – given the way that car was made, it would have been virtually impossible, to really see us – but everyone there seemed to know what had happened. Particularly the bride, who was looking daggers at her rather unconcerned friend, the one with the long messed-up brown hair.

The groom caught up to me a few minutes later in the bathroom.

“Man — Elise is PISSED.”

“About what?”

“You and Redacted. Everyone knows what you two were doing out there.”

I looked at my watch. “Yeah, what you and Elise should be doing, by now. Do you know how long it has been for me? It’s been, like, years.”

“Dude, I don’t care what you were doing. I know Redacted’s ex, and he’s the world’s biggest prick. It’s nice to see you two having fun.”

“Then what’s Elise’s problem?”

“This is her night, nothing is supposed to detract from her.”

“Should I apologize?”

“Nah, just take Redacted and go. It would have been better if you two hadn’t come back in.”

I went back in and quietly suggested to my bridesmaid that we should go. “I’m not ready to go yet.”

“I think we’ve caused quite a commotion.”

“Good. I have to be sure enough people know that they tell my ex.”

“I am pretty sure everyone here knows, and the news is way the hell across town.”

“Alright, we can go, then, ” she said breezily, if unsteadily.



We were going to go back to my place, but I ended up taking her directly to her house because the champagne caught up to her in the car and she started to feel sick. She asked if I wanted to come in, but I honestly didn’t. I told her I’d call the next day to see how she was doing.

When I called her late the next afternoon, she sounded like she’d swallowed an entire bottle of remorse.

“Ugh. I’m so embarrassed about last night. Aren’t you?” she asked.

I wasn’t, but I thought it only polite to say, “We’d both had a lot to drink.”

“Too much,” she said, wearily. “Well, sorry about that. I appreciate you calling to check on me. I’ll be fine.”

And that was that.



Unbeknownst to me, my eventual first wife was at that wedding, and that wedding reception. We did not know each other at the time.

Three years later, we were planning our own wedding and realized that both she and I had been there.

“Oh, I remember that wedding!” she said, “One of the wedding party couples were, like, gettin’ busy in one of the limos during the reception. Do you remember that?”

“It wasn’t a limo, it was my car.”

“You let them use your car?”


“Well, I didn’t want them using the bathroom,” I said.

“I guess that’s right,” she said, turning back to the invitation list.



For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.