Short Takes

From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

Introduction: Spring is in the Air (Erotica)

“In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of” …. sex. So, as the following Short Takes lusciously demonstrate, do the thoughts of many an older woman. The difference is: wow, these women can write about it!

 

But, be warned! These Short Takes contain what podcasts coyly refer to as “explicit language.” Do not read them if you blush easily. Definitely do not read them on a crowded bus, in a theater before the curtain goes up, or, for that matter, anywhere in public. Unless you want strangers reading over your shoulder – and forming an opinion of you that you might not want them to have. And, come to think of it, do not read more than one or two at a time. One will set your heart racing, two will stir your loins, and, after three or four, it will be a long time before your partner and your vibrator can recover from what you will do to them.

As we said, you’ve been warned. Now … enjoy!

 

 

 

Tema del basso

(Exposition and Undertone)

There is no such thing
(Touch me again)
as love.
Love is no thing,
But a damned
(Your hand delights)
abstraction.
Nothing is love,
Love is an
(Answer my lips)
action.
Love is a word,
And alive.
(Kiss me. Listen)
Love
Moves in time.
There is no such
(Look. It is dawn)
thing
As love.   Alone
We languish;
(Wind is blowing)
Love
Is conjunction.
Love is not there
(Are you awake?)
to be
Handled, won’t be
Caught, can’t be
(Look at me)
branded.
Love is thought.
There is no such thing as
(Touch me again)
love.
(Again.  Again.)

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

Silicone

He was always nursing small scratches in those days, on his chest, his arms, his back. I would grab him, nails digging hard, holding tight as my body shook and spasmed outside of time. I was somewhere otherworldly, lifted like a ghost, only to open my eyes and find I had ended up on the kitchen table without any idea how I got there. Those were the days she was with me, my desire, living in my muscles, my blood, in the threads that connected to my heart, longing to be transported, arriving with ease.

I could feel the weight of her while walking down a city street or cleaning my bathroom. But mostly, when I’d spent an evening over dinner and wine, with maybe a candle on the table. That weight would push downward, a press of warmth and moisture, propelling me to his place, or mine, for release.

That’s before my body turned wooden, when it went grey and muddy inside. When I searched for that flame and could not find it. I was no longer her and she was no longer me. Desire had disappeared.

One night, I saw the women on the flatscreen being wooed in front of millions by the 72-year-old golden one, fit and toned, his hair the color of hot sand. They kissed long and hard with full lips and focus, their eyes glistening with longing. They spoke of heat, touch, and yearning. They were ready, expectant. They were my age, and I believed them.

That night, in the spare room, away from the spouse’s snoring, I found my hand rummaging through my nightstand of pandemic mistakes – things I had pronounced useless once they arrived. An ice blue thong, a flimsy lace bralette, funny-smelling foot oil, and a six-inch hard white column with a round orange top, like a sorbet ice cream cone.

I had hit Buy Now without thinking, sparked by an article in an online magazine for women younger than I, an impulse born of loneliness, boredom, nostalgia. It was made of silicone, sleeker and smoother than the ones in the windows of Times Square adult toy stores in the ‘70s that made me feel cheap just to look at them. It was stylish and modern. Suitable for TikTok and Self-Care Sundays.

I lay down, spread my legs— careful not to aggravate my tight hips—and fumbled under the covers for the On button. The ice cream cone buzzed softly, like the bees near the porch flowers. I moved the bright orange ball up and down gently at first, and then with purpose, careening, spiraling, and ending in a place of brutal, nearly painful, joy. I cried and rolled to one side, astonished.

Catching my breath, I looked up at the ceiling and silently welcomed her back.

I missed you, desire, and all the fun we had together. Next time, let’s invite my best friend. You remember him. He’s the one snoring in the room down the hall.

 

 

 

Mister

A smoking jacket would become you
corny and dated I know
A brown pipe with creole herbs
Your neat frame hanging in a sweater
I could waddle with my spicy panties
I shouldn’t want you at all
not before nor I pray since
I told you this before
I should want claiming
A captured kiss
my silent songs
I stop myself from buying
a cheap imitation of what you wear
My face red velvet shame
You travel in my fingers

 

 

 

Strip Poker

Scheherazade was imprisoned in a room for 1001 nights. Days, she rehearsed her next tale. She wasn’t afraid of death but of failure. If she failed, the sultan would kill more women. Then the sultan visited her while the sun was new in the sky, and there was no pressure to entertain. They got to know each other. They talked about foods they loved. They played games like Strip Poker.

One afternoon, Scheherazade created new rules. “Each of us gets to ask a question of the loser. If the other doesn’t answer or does not give a satisfactory answer, an article of clothing comes off.”

“No double questions.” The sultan knew her mind was as sharp as his sword. “Put on all the clothes you wish. I will remain like this.” He wore his underwear, his capris, his top, a vest, and sandals. His sword hugged his thigh as if it were his lover.

Scheherazade layered herself: two pairs of panties, a camisole, two slips, a multicolored skirt, and a silk shirt. “Answers have to be specific,” she primly said. “You cannot generalize by saying `Because I like it.’”

“I know what it means.”

For over a year, Scheherazade had saved other women because she could tell stories that the sultan liked, but she was not the ruler. She took off her socks and won the first deal. “What is your real name?”

“Your sultan.”

“What your mother calls you.”

“My boy. Then she kisses me on the cheek like this.” On Scheherazade’s cheek he tasted salt and desire. Perhaps his. He laid his sword at her feet. “Safe keeping.”

Scheherazade had three queens. The Sultan had a straight. “My turn,” he laughed. “Do you like to masturbate?”

Her finger touched the sword’s blade. She shuffled the cards once. Twice. She built bridges and watched them fall. “Yes.”

“I do it, but it’s lonely. I’d rather be with a woman.”

She thought of the women whose deaths he ordered. Her three fives beat his two tens.

He took off his vest and answered a simple question. He preferred dates to figs. Then he beat her. Once. Twice. Three times. Scheherazade discarded her skirt. She confessed how she started masturbating when she was twelve. She liked to drag a finger over her breasts. She stared at her naked self in the mirror. “I don’t know what my rear looks like,” she admitted.

He lost the next round.

“If I don’t entertain you enough, will you kill me?” she asked.

Quietly, he stripped down to his underwear. “Please come here.” He would not make demands. Everything depended upon freedom. The new thought struck him.

Before her sat a man she was yet to understand. “My sisters say you can have a meal on my ass. Nothing will slide off.”

“Only a fool cares about your ass. It’s your stories that matter.” Gently, he slid off her clothes.

That night he began his tale. “Scheherazade, my name is Shahryar.”

 

 

 

The Scent of an Ear

Always available for kissing or a love bite, the ear—
what power on early “dates” discovered, easing
my tongue along such warm tender skin and feeling
undisguised reaction in trembling lips, shaken breath,
even a clenched leg tightened against my own. To blow
the soft exhale of desire against tiny hairs; to suck
an exposed lobe, nibble, exult. I have been so
empowered by years of ears. Widowed now, I slide a finger
along my own, recall for a heart-clutching moment
the aroma of my salty love, in a vulnerable nuzzled curve.
How close, and heated? The air of love hovers, musky,
thick scent of longing—lingering, just within reach.

 

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

Third Ear

Kalingan love begins with touching, stroking, and kissing the ear, not with a kiss on the mouth.”
The Third Ear, by Joachim- Ernst Berendt
 
If only I had stroked his ears―would our love have been more harmonious?
would he have been kinder? less inclined to anger? the expression of his eyes gentler?
I might love him still despite the reek of garlic the stench of cigarettes on his breath
or those horrid mints.
 
His sharp teeth might excite me—perhaps even his dentures—
and I would play at braiding and unbraiding the thicket of his hairy chest.
If I had fondled his ears, that duo of comical, protruding organs that retain the echo of that ancient past, he might not have rejected its music, nor let it molder in the recesses of his heart.
If I had simply kissed his ears I might have cracked open that vault―found the combination by licking, rubbing or squeezing the cartilage, tickling the pendulous lobes, chewing on their adipose tissue—whispering words of passion.

 

 

 

Scandal at Sunrise Nudist Resort

Naked, glistening with suntan oil, guests at Sunrise Nudist Resort soak up rays of sunshine, romping free and unabashed as if in the garden before the snake. As these sun worshipers enjoy tennis, swimming, barbecues, and dances, they showcase God’s children experiencing life in many various body types.

Carefree as jay birds, they display round bellies, saggy bellies, tanned skin, scarred skin, chest hair, pubic hair, rings on clits, tattoos on tits.

Middle-aged Maggie smiles confidently after her mastectomy. Dick, an elderly bald man, struts by wearing knee supports, his dangles free from any support. And as CeCe, a perky young brunette with breasts down to her waist, arrives at the pool, Jack confides, “I make it a rule never to date a girl with boobs bigger than my head.”

Then the bubble of noise pops as silence settles over the guests cavorting in the pool. A whispered rumor circulates as small groups cluster, murmur, wonder.

Can it be?
Is it really true?
Someone called security?
On who? And why?

 

A heartbeat later, two resort guards stride nakedly past the sign touting the club’s rules, marching stoically toward the offender. An unlikely criminal, Evelyn’s sitting atop an apple-red beach towel spread over a pool chair, auburn hair tied back in a ponytail, reading a whodunit through Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Standing erect, the guards insist:
“Come with us.
You must leave.
Now.”
 
“But why?
What rule have I broken?
I’ve done nothing wrong!
Please!

 

But she’s unceremoniously cast out. All eyes stay riveted on her. Not a single sound or even a splash occurs as her bare butt-cheeks are escorted away. Not because she hadn’t shaved her privates, although no secrets there—not the issue. Not because of forbidden or drunken behavior—only 7up had touched her lips.

But because she had violated rule #1 at Sunrise Nudist Resort, prominently posted on the sign guarding the pool: “No clothing in pool area.”

Rebel Evelyn had draped over her sunburned shoulders, to protect them from more sun—
a blouse.

 

 

 

Then and Now

I remember our summer of love
when you taught me to detassel corn.
I followed behind, distracted by your shoulders and swagger.
You turned around —
your voice a rumble, your eyes an invitation.
 
The raspberries you tended in the garden
that was as big as our house!
Bushes fat with ruby fruit,
each bite painting our lips with red.
 
Often I watched you speed down mountain slopes,
your face bronzed by the sun,
your hips shifting from side to side
with a rhythm I could never rival.
You were my handsome boy, my dare-devil!
 
Remember the veranda in that Victorian hotel in Norway,
where we drank wine while watching the fjords?
Soft blues bled together like a painting by Helen Frankenthaler.
I told you I had never seen anything so beautiful.
 
I wore your favorite dress when I greeted you at the airport,
after we had been apart for four months.
But why were your movements so stiff, your voice so soft?
I missed your smile when we made love.
 
Yesterday, I helped you put your arms
into your sleeves and waited
as you slowly made your way –
your shoulders stooped,
your face a mask.
 
The thrill of the past, the heartache now –
What will I remember
when you are gone?

 

 

 

 

In a Flash

There were unspoken rules for the secluded Italian beach where my friend and I gathered one lazy, summer afternoon. The left and right were, respectively, for gay and straight nude sunbathers; the middle, or center, for the shy or undecided. Reserved by nature, and still stinging with humiliation from my recent divorce, I steered us to the middle.

Once settled, I noticed two men in swimsuits seated together on beach towels. One, especially, greeted our arrival with acute interest. Now he stood up, removed his bathing suit, and began vigorously swinging his arms in a circular motion. He then walked slowly past us, meeting our gaze with frank appraisal.

He entered the water and waded a short distance from shore.  He stopped, stood in profile and hand on hip, gazed imperiously into the distance.

I pictured his balls, bobbing gently on the water’s surface.

“What’s he doing?” my friend asked.

I shrugged.

“Exhibitionist,” she said.

“It’s hot,” I said.  “I want to go in the water.”

“Me, too,” she said.

“I’m not going near him,” I said.

“Me neither,” she said.

We walked into the water together, gingerly cutting a wide arc to the rear of the rear of our naked Napoleon.

At sundown we dressed and, with other exiting sunbathers, began climbing the steep path back to the parking lot. I heard a sound and turned to find our now-clothed swashbuckler and his companion walking a short distance behind us. My friend walked ahead, draped in an ankle-length, makeshift sarong. But I was wearing a short black dress; if I did not hurry, the men soon would have a clear view of my panties.

I continued to walk – slowly – up the hillside.

 

 

 

What I miss

What I miss is this:
waking up giddy with joy.
Absurdly smiling
because we breathe the same air,
inhabit this earth
together.
 
Because your mouth
now smiles in other places.
Because your eyes
now see other eyes.
 
I miss
the sudden gladness of the room
when you walk in.
 
I miss
the wet warmth of knowing
you are near.

 

 

 

 

Here

for Shu

my last birthday card from you announced
You are my favorite Bitch. To bitch about other bitches with.
 
which kind of sums us up though we didn’t bitch
we had other things to talk about
 
like gardens and birdfeeders and sex
the moon gate already covered in vines
 
lantern festivals goddess candles
books how you fell in love with new things
 
as if they were created just for you poetry
fabric honeybees in the roses
 
had we lived in older times they would have burned us for sure
we would laugh at the restaurant and give our names
 
as Gorgeous and Lovely and laugh 
knowing that when we were called 
 
those two words would ring out 
and we would answer Here

 

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

My Chiropractor

I’m not in love with a personal trainer or yoga master, as the rom-com cliché would have it, but with my chiropractor. I see him twice a week for hip pain and always dress carefully, with perfectly applied makeup.

Forty-ish, tall and slim, he has black hair, Mediterranean dark skin, and mesmerizing eyes. He gives me home exercises and, to show him I’m a good student and get well, I do them religiously. But my real motive is to get strong enough to wrap my legs around him.

I lie face up on the treatment table waiting for the acupuncture needles to dissolve the inflammation. I loosen my belt buckle and slacks and (modestly) lower a side of my panties. He presses the needles into my skin and turns up the electromagnetic dial. At home, breathing hard, I tear the needles out of his hand, grab it, and shift it further down to the center.

He has me roll over on my side, fastens an ankle weight to my affected leg and, for strength and mobility, directs me to raise and lower it. “Roll over more,” he commands, but sometimes I can’t. So he tucks an arm around my waist and pushes me further. At home, breathing hard, I draw him down toward me, sliding his hand inside my shirt.

He demonstrates squats and does a deep one, knees wide apart. At home, breathing hard, I stare at his crotch and see a huge bulge. I lunge for it and unzip his fly to give it the freedom it deserves before I taste it.

He gets a set of square steps and, for building up my legs and regaining balance, has me stand in front of him. He then demonstrates, stepping up and down, one foot at a time. Holding his arms in front of me, he explains, “if you need steadying.” At home, breathing hard, I grab his well-developed forearms. I seize his shirt front, pulling him toward me. He twines both arms around me. I kiss him hard, mouth open, tongue active.

He adds another step for more challenge and extends his arms again. I take hold of both forearms and manage a wobbling step-up. Then he lowers one arm. “I’m here. My reflexes are quick. Used to be a wrestler, so I can grapple you.” At home, I say, Grapple me any time.” I draw him down to the floor, and he kisses me hard, mouth open, tongue very active.

Okay, he’s younger, a lot. So what? Many older women have had successful younger-man relationships: Joan Collins, Tina Turner, Mary Tyler Moore, Kris Jenner, my mother’s frizzy-haired friend.

Finally, after months, my hip pain vanishes, and my leg has strengthened. At the last session, he shakes my hand. I give his an extra squeeze and look long into his eyes. I haven’t been bold enough to ask him out for lunch or even coffee. Maybe I’ll twist my other hip and have to return.

 

 

 

Feasting

The first time you drizzled olive oil
over bare dry pita bread
I wheted my appetite in anticipation
You rubbed the oil with practiced precision
fingers still scented
still
tasting of newly spread garlic cloves
of biting lemon
subtle saltiness
cinnamon and allspice
 
You implored me to taste
my mouth lingering over
cucumber and yogurt
klehar and leban you said
teaching me your tongue
I reached for plump ovals
dark olives
like your deep eggplant eyes
both upon me now
as I appreciate culinary skills
Bukurra, tomorrow
you whispered
we’ll have tabouli

 

 

 

 

Return

She’s lazy this morning. Loose clothes, just enough cover until the lawn crew leaves. Then she can go out into the morning to turn earth and plant the fern in the shade bed.

At sixty-one, her body is soft. Her belly held children, is mounded, cushiony. Large breasts drift south, rosy nipples that harden and drive a mind to distraction, shapely legs. She is at a place of no apology, without shame. She has not showered, blonde fuzz on her legs, thigh healing from the ravages of a swarm of angry ants in the garden. Outside, lawn equipment buzzes. She hears the knock at the door, a thrill moves up her back.

He is fifty-one with a thirty-five-year-old physique, dark eyes, olive skin. She opens the door, bringing him in. Locking it, she moves into his arms.

His mouth seeks hers; she responds, delicious. Pausing just inside the bedroom, he lays his sunglasses on the dresser. Moving together, she sighs as their mouths join, tongues entwined.

In a brief movement she sheds shorts and panties, he drops his trousers. Laying her hands on his thighs, she skims under his shirt, caressing the warm silk of his abdomen and chest. She pulls up her tank top, breasts loose. Hands sliding under their heavy cushion, his mouth catches her nipple, in a luxurious long draw, seeking as much of her as he can hold.

She explores brown skin, spreading her fingers wide, satin with hard muscle beneath.

He is hard; he groans when her hand folds around him, she sinks down. His hands drift to her shoulders. Reaching into her own warmth, softly rubbing herself, she smooths her wetness onto the head of his aroused member, she pulls him into her mouth. Sucking, rolling her tongue around the head; she hears him moan. Her hands hold his hips, fingers pressing into his backside. He moves with her rhythm, penis smooth, exquisite in her mouth.

He murmurs “I want to come inside you.”

Moving to the edge of the bed, she opens her legs. His hand finds her wetness; his heat throbbing against her, he enters, thrusting hard.

Sensation builds in her. Stroking slowly, he watches wet, pink folds wrapping his penis, plunging in and out. She gasps his name, he grasps her legs, lifting them high on his shoulders.

Pumping into her, he cries out. Gently lowering her, he remains within a moment more. Her hand brushes his groin as he pulls out; she feels stubble.

Catching her breath, she holds his shirt while he washes; he pulls it on, kisses her once more. He goes out the door, she locks it. Pulling on undies, gardening panties with a hole in them, she looks in the mirror. Her body trembles, she’ll remain stirred for a while.

For two years they have continued, sharing lusty gifts that explode and leave them breathless. He returns when he can. They open their mouths wide to drink in the other. The taste is so very good.

 

 

 

Lullaby

Moist air clings.
A man and woman.
One laconic, quiet; the other vivacious, emotional.
He a friend of her husband’s.
His words, voice, tone,
buzzes, drones, soothes, lulls
warms her as a bath.
 
She slips peacefully into stillness.
Her limbs quiet, her hands lie silent, her head nods.
She dreams, drifts, floats on waveless water.
Blue.
No sound, no land.
She fantasizes a life overlooking the sea.

 

 

 

 

Encounter

The doctor spoke slowly
enunciated carefully
alert to being misunderstood.
 
I love this country, make no mistake.
But we are different, older, so much older,
our religion, our culture.
 
The frail woman inclined her head.
Wisps of gray hair framed
her once pretty face.
Yes, I understand, she said.
 
My father knew exactly the day
he would die, told all of us,
his children, many years before.
No offense, but spiritually,
you Americans are far, far younger.
 
The woman nodded.
Her breath was slow and strained.
She gazed at his smooth cheeks,
the dark skin that seemed to shine,
his eyes, even darker, wide set
and staring into her own
and at once
she felt surprise:
a catch in her throat,
her pulse quickening,
but just for a beat or two, and
warmth spreading deep between her legs.
The word splendor crossed her mind.
And a sleek antelope floated by.
She clasped her hands tight.
A thin smile creased her worn face.
She leaned just a bit closer.
 
None taken,” she whispered.

 

 

 

Partial View

All Nadine could see of the Mediterranean from the balcony of their new hotel room in Santorini was a sliver of blue.

“Steven, don’t unpack. They gave us a partial view.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll call the front desk.”

It was their last night in Greece and she was beyond tired. But it wasn’t the traveling. It was that her husband of 47 years had turned into a sex machine.

It had started at a statue in a museum in Athens. The goddess Aphrodite glowed as the satyr Pan grabbed her thigh and the cherub Eros hovered over them. And when her husband stepped back to take a photo he slipped, fell, and hit his head on the marble floor.

“I’m OK,” Steven said when he came to. “I just need to rest.”

When Steven lay on the bed at the hotel, she lay down next to him and said, “It’s not safe to sleep if you have a concussion.”

“Who says I want to sleep?” He turned and rubbed his marble hard penis against her and slid his hands between her thighs.

That night at the restaurant, he reached under the tablecloth, pushed his knees into hers and stroked her vulva.

“Steven!”

“Just keep looking at the Acropolis,” he said as she came.

When the waiter arrived with the food, he smiled and said, “Can we get this to go, please. My wife needs to get back in bed.”

While everyone else at Delphi looked at the mouth of the cave, he grabbed her ass. They made love three times that day. At home, three times a year had been more like it – for them and everyone else in her book group. They had all been married forever, except for one woman who was divorced. They felt sorry for her, until her high school sweetheart found her on Facebook and she was too busy having sex to finish the book every month. Now they sent each other snarky texts like “Next book Lady Chatterley’s Lover?”

The next morning after Steven surprised her in the shower, Nadine said, “So, you’re like a different person . . . down there . . . I mean, here.”

“Don’t know. I just feel. . .  alive.”

. . .

After two weeks of nonstop sex, Nadine felt alive too. As she leaned against the balcony railing looking at their sliver of the Mediterranean, she heard Steven yelling.

“We paid for a full view. We’re moving. Send the bellman.”

There he is, she thought. The guy who pops Prevacid and eats corporate attorneys for breakfast.

Steven came up behind her and lifted her skirt.

“We can’t mess up the bed!”

“Who needs a bed?” He pulled down her panties.

“What if the bellman opens the door?”

“He’ll think we’re having vacation sex. I want to make sure my love goddess gets everything she’s entitled to, Nadine,” he said and entered her like a satyr.

“Mm-hmm,” she said. And melted like warm saganaki.

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

End with a Kiss

I fell in love with you on Netflix,
loved how you curved your lips
into an Elvis grin when you were
overcome with passion. Look,
I began as an innocent, sitting alone
in my easy chair, wanting nothing
more than rest and relaxation.
The small room, stacked with books,
the myriad of stories all read
and then forgotten, only the flavor
of love remembered, made me a vessel
in need of filling. As the incense of love
wafts over me, I am one in a million,
worthy of blessings. In my eyes,
you could do no wrong as you simply
took this woman in your arms,
let your hands feel forgotten hills
and valleys as if she were holy
and you needed the kiss of a saint.

 

 

 

Torch Red

Torch red
touted by Corvette’s
current color wheel
is a rich orange red,
quite a deal
 
That car,
that color
would make
a nice red streak
through any
bleak city street or
countryside,
 
well, with me inside
 
I’ll admit right to your face
the part of me held in reserve
that preaches “Gas, oh gas,
we must conserve!”
 
is bein’ pushed hard back
into that seat by the power-hungry
honey steppin’ smack up
to the side of this sleek mama
 
and I just know
my killer black stiletto
can find that sweet spot
where the ball of this
 
oh, so right foot
can kick this night
in the pants and find
that road-purrin’ stance;
I’m one cool kitten, at last!
 
Straight on, baby,
straight on!
 
I’m talkin’ the kind of hum
that’ll put those cicadas
to shame and
who would blame
them if they stopped
 
all their sex chatter
and listened to this
new surround sound,
rumblin’ newly hatched ground
 
Nothin’ off the rack
about this brand new
factory-fed frenzy
of fiberglass and custom,
I mean, custom specs
and keys
 
My only requirement
the firm touch of flesh
on this wheel of fortune,
oh, yes!
let the four spin, let’em slide!
as long as
I’m the one on this
earthquaking
ride
 
where I control
the roll, oh yeah,
take me round that corner
and I’ll show you,
Jack, you,
sittin’ there with your thumb
mid
stick
waitin’ for
that plum,
 
as my cherry flies by,
 
I crow!
pretend the birds and I
have, at last,
something in common
 
These fiberglass feathers
smoothly kiss the air
and my Oscar-winning hair
is part of the stream
of consciousness that
this dream films,
 
oh, baby!
 
in torch red technicolor!

 

 

 

Halloween

Twelve kids in costumes had made the rounds of the Park Service compound that evening. Neil’s wife loved Halloween and had gone all out, as usual. Three carved pumpkins glowed on their doorstep, a plastic skeleton hung by the front door, and she was dressed in a French maid’s costume, with fishnet stockings, a perky little hat, and a very short skirt.

Now, having blown out the candles in the pumpkins, and with their sugar-crazed kids finally in bed, she was watching Neil as he sat on the couch, getting ready to make his nightly rounds of the lodge and cabins. She was pouting because Neil didn’t want to go to the party in the bar and didn’t want her to go without him.

“There’s going to be all kinds of disgusting things going on up there,” he told her.

“Lots of drugs, lots of drinking. And I like your costume, but it isn’t really appropriate to wear in public. Especially since you are representing the Park Service, sort of.”

“Oh pooh,” she answered. “Just because you’re thinking dirty thoughts doesn’t mean everyone is.” She picked up her pink feather duster and shook it.

“I’m not thinking dirty thoughts,” said Neil.

His wife strode over to the couch and leered down at him, causing him to drop his shoe. “Au contraire, Pierre,” she declared, tossing her head. ”I think I see something dirty; something absolutely filthy dirty right here in front of me.” She flicked the feather duster at his crotch. “Good thing there’s a maid in the house.”

Holding the duster in her teeth, she leaned over and unzipped Neil’s pants. His penis sprang out of his white briefs like a jack in the box. “Oh, this is terrible,” she murmured, moving the duster lightly up and down his shaft.

Neil closed his eyes and laid his head back against the couch cushions.

“I’m going to have to do something about this huge, enormous, filthy mess,” declared his wife.

She waited till Neil opened his eyes again, then slowly unrolled her stockings, twirled them around in the air a few times, and draped them around his neck. “Us French girls, we never wear underwear. So, luckily for you, we are always ready for great big emergencies like this.”

Neil slid his hands up her thighs as she climbed onto the couch, straddling him, and bit by excruciating bit, lowered herself onto him, until he was in as far as he could go. She stopped, her body tensed, then leaned forward and breathed into his ear, “I’m going to give you a deep, deep scrubbing with some very special cleaning fluid. And I don’t want you to move until I’m done.”

 

 

 

Pulpy Love

She once rubbed a ripe open persimmon
Along her body, sitting on her living room
Floor, blinds closed so no one could see her
Naked… legs outstretched she leaned forward
 
Flinching as the cool wet flesh laid a faintly
Rosy trace on her porcelain skin, catching tiny
Black hair stubbles, as she slid it up her thigh
She felt the pull of where the limbs met and
 
Thought: did she want to run this fruit through
The brambles, the thick dark triangle that
Was calling out yes! And she obeyed, pushing
The further ripening lush, orangey-red pulp
 
In that declination, deep between limbs not
Of a tree but of she; the persimmon screamed
For it was losing its sense of self, it was meant
To be savored with a tongue, nose, and teeth, not
 
Urged by a hand gliding it along like a Ouija
Disc, as if her future could be seen, deep
Down in the thrusts of pleasure, of lust, of
Stories told with multiple endings.

 

 

 

 

Hot Stuff

The orchid’s named for
orchis, Greek for testicle,
their tuberous root balls
clearly visible on wild plants
perched in trees.
 
But here, in potted privacy,
their penile air roots
catch my eye, engorged and
pointed straight at me.
 
(After blooming season, I will snip some
older, shriveled roots, and re-pot
these randy boys to give them space.)
 
Ladies are also present: flowers
popped out, tongue and labia look-alikes,
in luscious pale pinks and brazen purples.
They yawn open, panting and licking the air,
flashers without raincoats.
 
A front row seat to this hermaphrodites’
burlesque required patience.
I waited years between blooms,
watered just enough for leaves to plump and darken,
roots to wildly multiply,
 
checked each plant daily
for a tiny node between leaves
to herald the birth of a flower stalk—Oh,
that’s when my pulse raced,
that’s when I quivered with anticipation!
 
For weeks, the stalks grew infinitesimally. Finally,
a smattering of tight green buds sprouted and
hung like hard excited nipples expecting a caress.
 
One morning buds began to open. Inside
their green cocoons, a glimpse of blush.
Soon, a crescendo of petals spread wide,
reproductive parts pushed forward,
rivaling a belly dancer’s pelvis.
Sensuality made manifest!
Fertility, from barrenness.
Lust quenched after long abstinence.
 
My orchids bloomed—belatedly,
flamboyantly, bisexually, miraculously—
hottest flowers in the hot house.
 
And I, voyeuristic devotee, a lucky viewer
of their prolonged display. Partner in pleasure,
I waited. I watched with adoring eyes,
until in their own time, the orchids came.

 

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

Their First Time

Paula leaned against the back of Will’s door, her eyes adjusting to the dark. She smiled when she heard his breathing, deep and even. He was already asleep. No need to be nervous that night. Propriety would have dictated that she take herself out the door, up the hall, and into her own room. But she wouldn’t have been there at all, if being proper was her main motivation in life.

She unzipped her ski pants, slipped them to the floor, and left them in a pile. Pulling her sweater over her head, she tiptoed to the bed, lifted the covers and slid in beside Will, still in socks and long johns. Paula snuggled against him, and without waking, he shifted and wrapped his right arm around her shoulders. She nestled her head onto his chest and listened to his heartbeat.

Hours later, Paula whispered, “Will, you’re snoring. Roll over.”

Nothing.

She put the pillow over her head, but it seemed even louder. The bed vibrated with his snorts. Surely that couldn’t be good for a person.
She reached over and rubbed his arm.

“Will,” she said, not whispering this time, hoping to rouse him enough so he’d roll over. She squeezed his hand, trying to wake him tenderly. Later, she would find the spot on his right ribcage where a well-aimed elbow would get him turned over and quiet; but that was their first night together, and she hadn’t figured it out. Besides, she did like caressing him. Paula leaned in and kissed Will’s shoulder. She ran her hand along his arm, feeling the definition in his muscles, the strength of his forearm, the smoothness of the skin on the inside of his wrist, and its contrast to the rough skin of his hand. She kissed his neck and nipped his earlobe. And then his other hand covered hers and pushed it down. And she wasn’t rubbing his arm anymore.

In a sleepy dance, he pulled her long johns top over her head. She slid her hand into his boxers. And somehow they were off and so were her bottoms. She felt him swell in her hand. She swung her leg over, glided on top of him, and guided him inside her. He moaned. She sighed. She held still, letting her internal muscles relax around him. As the tension eased, they found their rhythm. They rocked together in the dark, in the warm tangle of the blankets. And after a while, when they were done, he whispered, “Thank you” in her ear. Then they fell back to sleep, as if they’d made love in a dream.

Will wasn’t much of a romantic, but he always said “thank you” in a husky whisper whenever they made love. Always. That was romantic enough for Paula.

But they would forever remember that first night with laughter.

“Rub my arm?” he would ask.

She would answer, “It was your arm.”

And then he’d wink, and they would laugh.

 

 

 

In Their Absence

Hands
should probably be involved
and eyes and lips and various other
body parts
too numerous to list
 
but in their absence
I like the way clouds
move
with and over
and through
each other
 
the way plants
across a garden path
dance
without touching
 
how camellias wait
their buds
welled up with song
one touch
away
from opening
 
how apples endure
their sweet
separation
ripening
slowly
apart
 
picked early
just before frost
 
their skins touching
all winter
through paper
in the basement’s dark.

 

 

 

 

Six Tiny Poems

1) Was It Lilacs?
 
Was it lilacs
outside the window
of your bedroom
on West Street?
Was the window
facing south? Was
there really a soft
breeze floating
through sheer
curtains, carrying
the scent of the
purple flowers?
Or did I imagine
it all this way?
 
2) Were the Neon Lights Pink?
 
Were the neon lights
from the deli on West
Street flashing pink
through the window
of my apartment,
two blocks down
from yours? Or was
the sign fluorescent
yellow? Was it snowing
when you knocked
on my door saying
you’d heard I needed
a couch? Was I blushing
when I invited you in?
Or did I imagine it all?
 
3) Was There a Green Couch?
 
Was there a green couch
in your bedroom on West
Street, or was it blue? Did
you mean it when you told
me you loved me, or were
you saying what you
thought would convince
me to open myself to
you, right there, in that
moment, on that couch.
Was the window open or
closed when I said yes?
 
4) Was It Summer?
 
Was it summer when
we stumbled into the
photo booth in the deli
across the street from
my apartment, kissing
in front of the camera,
still flushed from the
heat in your bedroom
in the apartment on
West Street? Is that
us in the tiny pictures
or a memory of young
lovers we knew long
ago? Was the deli smoky
and mysterious or am
I imagining it all?
 
5) Did I Fall to the Floor?
 
Were those phlox outside
my mother’s window when
she told me about your
accident? Was it July?
Did I fall to the floor in
disbelief, my heart still
loving that version of
you, the one on the
green couch on West
Street twenty years
before, you who were
so tender, so cruel. How
could I feel such pain
for your suffering even
after all this time?
 
6) Did I Imagine It All?
 
I am sure it was lilacs,
the smell so sweet
and strong, coming
through the window
of your bedroom in
the apartment on
West street, steam
rising off our young
bodies, summer heat
heavy as we entwined.
The scene has faded.
Was it us? Was it lilacs?
Did you ever love me?
Or did I imagine it all?

 

 

 

 

In Search of Uncomplicated Love

I used to think that vibrators were the answer to the question, what is the perfect lover? Humans are too messy, complicated, and unpredictable. Frankly, another human lover seems like too much work at seventy, yet I have needs and the virtual reality sex of science fiction hasn’t yet been invented. Where’s that orgasmatron from the 1970s Woody Allen movie when you need it? The vibrator seems to be the best solution.

Alas, years of personal research reveal that vibrators are not that different from human lovers. When they are shiny new, they give you powerful, fast, and reliable orgasms. You call them by endearing pet names. You think they will be that faithful and steady lover that you have been seeking, one who does exactly what you want when you want it. The lover with no demands, no conditions, no need to process the daily misunderstandings and annoyances. They don’t get headaches or hurt feelings, and they are always in the mood and leave you alone when you’re not. They don’t notice the signs of aging: the sagging body, the age spots, the wrinkles, the tendency to lose focus and attention at critical moments. They are the love you think will last forever, never disappointing, always patient. Your solo-mate.

They are the one thing in your life that has the sole purpose of giving you pleasure, needing nothing from you in return but a new battery or a recharge now and then. They are a secret pleasure. You hope you don’t die suddenly and leave behind a box of sex toys for your unsuspecting relatives to find.

But inevitably, one day the magic is gone, the buzz diminishes, the novelty wears off. The sex feels routine and dull, and you get discouraged by its inability to meet your needs immediately. It makes too much noise or feels wrong. Sameness and familiarity become the enemies of desire. You know that there has got to be something better out there. You shove the vibrator in a drawer to gather dust, or toss it in a box under the bed and go on the search for novelty. The hunt for “the one” is exciting. Unlike the old days when you had to enter an “adult” store and buy one from a real person who you knew was judging you, or order something from the back pages of a magazine that turned out to sound like a lawn mower when you turned it on, now you can search anonymously online. You scan profiles, read reviews, and compare qualities, trying to find the one that does something the last one couldn’t do. You hope that this is the one that will satisfy your longings happily ever after. But getting that new vibrator puts you into another cycle of sex toy serial monogamy, the never-ending search for the perfect lover.

 

 

 

lust

inside outside mmm…
sidewise backside
eyehigh mouthwide      
lipslide cockhide ooohh…
spreadwide ass-stride
fastride wet-tide
inside outside ahhhh…

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

Sacrament

When our bodies arched to ecstasy
and the hours were of no consequence,
sunset arrived as a surprise,
a gift, a message
only for us,
and then white light
drifted over our nakedness
like a sheet tossed down from the moon.
 
Again and again we turned to each other,
then dozed,
and awoke to find
the dog star following Orion
shining for us,
only for us.moun
 
My leg over your hip, quiet,
a knowing rose in my skin.
Under my fingers
signs of something holy
in sweat trails,
stained, wet sheets.
Here was the buried animal.
 
How fine to hang my mind
on the hook, behind the door,
and walk to you over a carpet,
naked, into your bed
into desire, into animal,
into you.

 

 

 

 

Ketchup Lust

See, the thing about ketchup is, it gives a gal an appetite. Take me, for instance. I’m hot to trot for the sauce of pommes damour. That’s French, baby. Love Apples. You got that right.
Tomatoes.

I don’t just eat them. I paint with them. My body, my boobs, my butt. Look, I’m an artist. When I paint myself with ketchup I become one hot artistic love apple, an 83-year-old love apple. Hottest Heirloom you’ll ever taste.

If you tried it, you’d know how ketchup makes you dance wearing nothing but sauce. You swirl and twirl. Like you’re a Jackson Pollock dream. It’s an art form I call “Ketchup Lust.”

One spring night last year I ketchuped myself to March madness splendor, scarlet and ripe. I sashayed outside to shimmy in the Carolina twilight.

Then a flash storm hit. I was unprepared. I was unpainted. Whitewashed by rain.
“There’s a better way, apple cheeks.”

I looked across the street. A stout little fellow in turquoise Bermuda shorts waved to me from his open front door. He shouted over the storm. “Me, I’m crazy about green pickle relish.”

The guy picked up a cane and maneuvered down his porch steps to stand under a street light. He turned around slowly, displaying jade-colored shoulders. Looked like a wrinkled Monet water lily, saggy and soggy, but, still, a Monet that smiled.

“I’m Dill.” He laughed. “I’m vintage pickle, be 91 next week. Just moved in here.” He bowed. Despite the rain his skin stayed emerald bright.

“How—?” I eyed his nicely rounded paunch.

“Ever thought about getting tattoos? Waterproof. Gherkin green works for me.”

Well, I do like a man with spice on his spine. And elsewhere, if you get my drift.

So I made a decision. Right then and there.

“Thanks for the tip, Dill. How about you come over to my place and I’ll show you my etchings?” Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right. There’s a reason they call me Fireball.

Now, a year later, the two of us are still making hot sauce with love apples and plenty of relish. But tattoos? Not for me. This dish is sticking with the real stuff, of which my Dill has become a well-trained connoisseur. I do enjoy a man who knows how to handle his pickle.

 

 

 

The Man with Hair of Smoke

I’d like to make love to a man
with long hair—caught behind his head,
tied with the false cord of commitment.
Capturing his eyes, I’d slip the noose,
thread my fingers through dark silk,
listen to his lies.
He lifts me    
his hair swings forward
sears my cheek
becomes smoke
In the half lighted forest
his skin burnishes to bronze
I hear drums
taste sweet tallow on his shoulder.

 

 

 

 

The Bus Driver.

The heat is unbearable as I wait for the bus. I feel the sweat trickling between my breasts and begin envisioning fingers tracing them when the sound of the bus startles me.  Flushed from more than the heat, I board, pay my fare, say my customary hello to the driver and realize I hear my voice still speaking. “So, do you have plans for the weekend or are you working?”  “No not working.” His voice is sexy.  I turn to find my seat. The jostle of the bus pulling into traffic causes me to fall on his shoulder. He doesn’t respond but electricity crackles.

There is one seat left in the back in the middle of the last row. I glance up and he is staring at me. He knows that I see him. My clothes are clinging slightly from perspiration. I reach under my dress revealing more thigh than necessary and adjust my panties. I smooth my dress and adjust my breasts enough for him to see.

People enter and exit. I miss my stop and startle when the engine stops. I look up and he is walking toward me.

He roughly pulls me to my feet and kisses me like a man dying of thirst, stopping long enough to look in my eyes, then kisses me again. I seize his tongue and suck and caress the thickness. He pulls me closer, and I feel thickness pressing my flimsy dress. I want to rip his shirt from his body but restrain myself. He whispers, “Do what you feel.”  I hear moans escaping my lips. His voice is husky with desire. I pop every button from his shirt. He reaches up and rips my panties easily, his fingers searching for what is now a mound of moisture. He sucks one and spreads the rest over my mouth and kisses me. My hand finds the bulge pushing his pants to capacity. He moans, “Release me.” I fumble with the zipper. The juice flowing from the entrance is too much to resist. I squirm until he releases his grip. I slowly lick the juice and feel his body tremble. I pull him in my mouth. His hand grips the back of my head and pushes. The strain is too much, and I gag. He pulls out and slides down to his knees. He caresses me before parting my lips and gliding his tongue over my clitoris. I gasp and grab his head and force his face deeper. He kisses, licks, and sucks until I am a waterfall of juices. He continues until I explode and fall forward. With the smoothness of an animal he stands, lifting me to his waist. Our eyes fix as he penetrates. I forget everything but him, thrust after thrust, pounding relentlessly. We cry out in release. I sit down knowing the ride home will never be the same.

 

 

 

Making music

It was a splendid instrument
and he loved to play it through
solitary days and lonely nights.
 
But he was not so good
at tuning
and found she surely was.
 
She knew the keys
and chords
and struck the notes
 
to heaven’s edge and back 
up and down the neck —
all along the frets she went.
 
Together then, the music came.
She assured the pitch
as he unwrapped the melody.

 

 


From the suite, Mounds, photographs by Merry Song

 

 

Chance Encounters on the High Street

So, I’m strolling on the High Street, minding me own, when this bloke appears, sudden like, and keeps time with me, pace in pace, and he’s grinning at me like I’m the most cunning éclair in the bakery window.

“Eh, whazzup,” sez I, caught off me guard which is ordinarily a bit like Old Bailey, if you catch me drift.

“Well,” sez he, zip leather jacket and face like an angel, “See, I’m sauntering behind you for a time, just la-di-dahing, observing the wild life in the shops, and I find m’self becoming entranced by the hitch of your hips and the snappy red boots you’ve got on.”

He’d gobsmacked me! And here’s me feeling like an apple long past its sell by date, quietly turning all colors and wrinkled in the fridge.

“Well,” sez I, “ain’t you the honey-tongued swell.”

“Indeed,” sez he, “and I got more of those sweets on the back of me tongue, just waiting for the right moment to tumble them out. Fancy a pint?”

Swept away was I, and next thing you know, we’re lapping up hops in the Hope and Anchor, him gazing at me like I was the aforesaid éclair and him likely to take a healthy bite in another tick.

Flattered girl me, so one thing and another, we goes up to me flat all jolly, and both of us have a proper leg over, beast with two backs and all.

Jim, he says his name is, when we get to the post-snuzzle, a car mechanic from the next village. He stretches his lush torso like me mother’s old cat, and moans with the pleasure of being alive.

“Must go,” sez he, lifting off, his round backside rippling with jaunty muscles as he reaches for trousers and shirt. Looking at me, he has a halo of golden hair, and could be the age of the son I forgot to have.

“Gotta go, m’ love,” sez he. “Meet me in the ale house later? I’m off work at 6.”

“And, why would I not?” sez I, rolling over to watch him. “Don’t forget your keys on the bureau.”

He grins a big one, comes over to plant me a last juicy one and off he goes, into the surprising afternoon.

 

 

 

We Didn’t Have Time for The Next Stage

I would have danced for you
at the foot of our bed.
 
Afternoon light just right, for me
to look at you, you at me.
 
Kids grown; daily life slowed.
We’d have shut off the phone,
smoked a joint, listened to music,
 
Explored who we had become,
old lesbians, ripe with desire.

 

Thirty Years Hence, A Novel
by Denise Beck-Clark
  This debut novel provides a wonderful sense of the New York City of the 1970’s. Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, squalid six floor walk-ups and posh co-ops, streets crowded with hustlers and cabbies, all come to life. The bars Michelle frequents have characters right out of central casting. The reader becomes submerged in the sights, sounds, and smells of NYC. Beck-Clark does a great job of tackling weighty topics in a way that inspires introspection without detracting from the narrative flow. Given the exploration of trauma, it might not always be a comfortable read, but it is an important one. - Erin Britton, San Francisco Book Review 
 The novel’s plotlines are excellently weaved throughout, and the novel’s narrative moves ever forward, with several twists and turns maintaining the interest of the reader. The characters are fully developed as the reader gains a large measure of intimacy with them and identifies with their struggles and motivations. At the end of the day, Beck-Clark succeeds in spinning a true to life tale of Holocaust memory, trauma, and recovery, that is both sad and inspiring. - David Keenan, Manhattan Book Review Available at Amazon.com, B&N, Apple, Bookshop.org, and most booksellers online and in bookstores. For more information: www.denisebeck-clark.com

Bios

WRITERS





Jennifer L. Abod’s poems have appeared in Sinister Wisdom, One Art Journal, The Metro Washington WeeklySilver Birch PressWild Crone Wisdom, Artemis Journal, and are forthcoming in Spillway Magazine. Dr. Abod is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and radio broadcaster.  She is a singer and former assistant professor of Communications and Women’s Studies. She lives in Long Beach, CA.
Jan Bartelli is a former journalist, an attorney, and a short-form writer for the long haul.
Miriam Bat-Ami has published one picture book, two middle grade novels, a young adult novel that won the Scott O’Dell Award, and a volume of adult poetry. She is a retired English professor, and has penned several Scheherazade stories. She reports that “this topic has made me ask questions about love, the erotic, and the pornographic.”
Denise Beck-Clark writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and loves to draw and take pictures. Now retired, she earned her living as a social worker and psychotherapist. She still spends time as a mother to her adult son who has a cognitive disability.
Gayle Bell’s work has been featured in numerous anthologies and print and online publications.  In 2018 she performed “Black Betty, That Thang’s Gone Wild,” with Cara Mia’s Storytellers, Building Communities. In 2013-2014, she was a co-docent for “My Immovable Truth--A Dallas Lineage.”  She facilitated her own and other GLBTQYs’ oral history and performance, sponsored by (MAP-Make Art with Purpose) and displayed at the African American Museum in Dallas, TX.
Julie H. Bolton was professor, stage director, and teaching artist at Augsburg University in Minneapolis for 35 years. As an actor she performed with professional theatre companies throughout the Twin Cities. She was an Artist-in-Residence in Hawaii where she wrote, performed, and toured a play about Princess Kaiulani. She lives in a Minneapolis suburb, where she raised two sons and two stepsons.
Martha Bordwell’s poems and essays have been published in MinnPost, Motherwell, Agates, Gyroscope Review, Of Rust and Glass, Persimmon Tree, and Amsterdam Quarterly. Her memoir, Missing Mothers, interweaves her memories of losing her mother, who died when she was a child, with her experiences mothering adopted children.
Believing you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, Sharon Brandon is a prolific storyteller, public speaker, writer, and life coach. Sharon uses a heart-centered approach in all her interactions and endeavors. Reading has always been a fundamental part of Sharon’s life and continues to be one of her passions.
Elisabeth Brennand is a woman over 60 who lives in the rural west and loves being outdoors. Her submission is an excerpt from a novel she is writing, set on the Olympic Peninsula in the ‘70s.
Maureen Clark is retired from the University of Utah where she taught writing. She was the president of Writers@Work 1999-2001. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Alaska Review, The Southeast Review, and Gettysburg Review among othersHer first book, This Insatiable August (Signature Books), was released in February.
Suzanna C. de Baca (she/her) is a native Iowan, proud Latina, author, and artist, who is passionate about exploring change and transformation. She is an inaugural member of the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative; her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines and journals.
Shaheen Dil is a reformed academic and banker. She was born in Bangladesh, and lives in Pittsburgh. Her poems have been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She has published two full-length poetry collections: Acts of Deference (Fakel, 2016) and The Boat-maker’s Art (Kelsay Books, 2024.)
Mary Alice Dixon is an award-winning writer, Pushcart nominee, and former professor. She leads Grief Writing Workshops and is a hospice volunteer. Her work is in numerous publications, including Gyroscope Review, Main Street Rag, and Stonecoast Review. Mary Alice lives in Charlotte, NC where she delights in growing tomatoes.
Judith Dorian has published scholarly articles, book reviews, and program notes for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and other music organizations. Her poetry has appeared in several journals and online. In 2015 she wrote and illustrated A Tiny Little Door, a book of poetry for children (excerpts on YouTube). She’s narrated poetry, often accompanied by chamber ensembles, at several  venues in and around Pittsburgh.
Mickey Eliason is a retired professor turned writer of memoirs, personal essays, and creative nonfiction, and the author of several self-published books. She lives in San Francisco, CA.
Sally Frances is a retired psychotherapist, living in Brooklyn, New York, she tells us, “with my delicious math teacher husband of 35 years.  I find myself writing all the time because if I don't I get downright twitchy! I am in the final edits of my first novel.”
Diane Funston, recent two-year Poet-in-Residence for Yuba Sutter Arts and Culture, created the online “Poetry Square” which brings together poets worldwide. She has been published in F(r)iction, Lake Effect Magazine, Synkronicity, and Still Points Quarterly among many others. Her chapbook Over the Falls was published by Foothills Publishing.
Patricia Garrison, a former communications professional, is an essayist and journalist who has found joy in writing for herself after many years doing so for corporations and executives. Her work has appeared in Next AvenueHerstry, HuffPost, YourTangoInsider, and Delaware Beach Life.  She lives in Lewes, DE.
D. J. Green is a writer, geologist, sailor, and partner in Bookworks, an independent bookstore in Albuquerque. She lives near the Sandia Mountains in Placitas, NM, and cruises the Salish Sea on her sailboat during the summers. Her debut novel, No More Empty Spaces, will be released April 9, 2024.
Shirlee Jellum is a retired English teacher who publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her poetry and nonfiction have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. When not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and gardening.
Beth Kanell lives in Vermont and writes features, novels (This Ardent Flame, The Long Shadow), and poetry. Her short fiction shows up in Lilith and elsewhere. Find her memoirs on Medium, her reviews in the New York Journal of Books, her poems in small, well-lit places.
Lorelei Kay is the author of a multi-award-winning memoir, From Mormon to Mermaid—One Woman’s Voyage from Oppression to Freedom. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, online publications, and magazines. She also won the 2021 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Contest with her poem, Straightening Flower Fields.
Helga Kidder lives in the Tennessee hills with her husband. Her poems have recently been published in Cumberland River Review, Orbis, Gyroscope, and others. She has five collections of poetry—Learning Curve, Loving the Dead (which won the Blue Light Press Book Award), Blackberry Winter, Luckier than the Stars, and Wild Plums.
Sally A. Kilgore is a columnist, blogger, and writer. When not writing, gardening, or designing at a Dallas flower shop, Sally devotes her time to serving Bob Kilgore, a well sized Tuxedo cat with panache. Sally is married to her long-time flame and lives in Fate, TX.  As she says, “Yep. It’s Fate.”
JoAnn Koozer writes from the countryside of Nampa, Idaho, where sexy might be a romantic patio dinner with a partner, curling up with a steamy novel, or glimpsing a fast car power its way down the road with her inside!
Jackie Langetieg is the author of six books of poetry and one memoir. She has won awards such as the Jade Ring from WI Writers’ Association, and received a Pushcart nomination. She’s had poems in journals such as Bramble, Blue Heron Review, Verse Wisconsin, and the WFOP calendars.
Sally McClellan is an actor and retired special education teacher. Her poems and non-fiction have been published in Wild Roof Journal, Querencia, The Ulu Review, and Human Parts.  She graduated from U.C. Irvine with a degree in drama and lives in the foothills of the Stanislaus National Forest in California.
Denise Osso’s essays and short stories have been  featured in Dorothy Parker’s Ashes.com, pigeonpagesnyc.com, The Los Angeles Review, Persimmon Tree, and The Los Angeles New Fiction Emerging Writer Series. She is an alumna of the Tin House Summer Workshop, Ragdale, and VCCA. 
Sara Palmer is a retired psychologist and an active writer, reader, hiker, grandmother, and volunteer for literary and health nonprofits.  Her poems have appeared in Yellow Arrow Journal, Pen in Hand, The Ekphrastic Review, and two multi-author collections: Fractured Hearts, and Poetry is Life. She lives in Baltimore, MD.
Rosetta Radtke lives in Savannah, Georgia, with her two cats. Her interests include design of any kind, mosaics, plants, and feeding and watching the birds who visit her yard.  She has previously published in Persimmon Tree.
Judith R. Robinson is an editor, teacher, fiction writer, poet, and visual artist. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 100+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection, and one novel, and edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. She teaches at Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest poetry collection is Buy A Ticket (WordTech Editions); her most recent gallery exhibit was at Square Café in Pittsburgh in 2021.
Ursula Shepherd lives in Ashland, Oregon. She is the author of a book, Nature Notes: A Notebook Companion for the Seasons, as well as poetry, essays, and non-fiction pieces. Her poetry has appeared in, among others, Unbroken, MinnowGrim and GildedEkphrastic ReviewPassionfruit, and The Orchards.
Noelle Sterne is an author and editor. She has published in many print and online venues. Her handbook for doctoral candidates, Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation, is based on her own professional academic editorial practice (PhD, Columbia University). In her spiritual self-help book, Trust Your Lifeshe supports readers in reaching their lifelong yearnings.
Elizabeth Zimmer writes, mostly about the arts; teaches writing wherever she is invited; and edits manuscripts of all sorts, including those on this site. She holds a B.A. from Bennington College, where she studied with Howard Nemerov, and an M.A. from Stony Brook University. She practices the Feldenkrais Method, and works as a standardized patient in hospitals and medical schools. Her ambition is to flourish as a stand-up comic. Elizabeth serves on Persimmon Tree‘s editorial committee and is the magazine's chief proofreader.
MUSICIAN

Gena Raps, Persimmon Tree Music Editor, has performed internationally and across the United States.  Her performances of Mozart, Brahms, and Dvorak have been recorded by the Musical Heritage Society, Arabesque and Naxos among others. She has taught at the Juilliard School, Sarah Lawrence College, and the Mannes College of Music and has received numerous prizes and honors. She has been on the jury for competitions at the Juilliard School and the Fulbright Fellowship.
ILLUSTRATOR

Merry Song began creative writing at the age of six and started in on photography at 14. Now, as she heads toward the age of 70, she has found new, exhilarating energy for both fields. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a BA in Broadcasting and Filmmaking. Merry Song is a spiritual teacher for The Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon.

4 Comments

  1. Brava! Good for you and your explorations! My essay was in the book “Gray Love” where over 40 participants wrote of dating and engaging after 50 plus. It is good to share our wonderful experiences and yours were beautifully written.

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