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As I take a breather from the bustling wing-flaps of October’s Month of the Dragon frenzy, and let my election angst fade into a welcome memory, I thought what better time to throw the spotlight elsewhere, on another writer I know and enjoy: Karen S. Elliott.

Karen is a short-story writer, with a wicked sense of humor and a darkly twisted sense of horror. She is also an exacting editor whose services I can’t recommend too highly.

Today, though, I am pleased to showcase her lyrical side, both playful and poignant, in the following trio of poems.

Painful Process 

Can’t write
I’m blank
Last typed
      It stank

Sitting here
Fingers quiet
Cursor blinks
      Creative diet

Tapping keyboard
Marking time
Can’t make

Fingers stiff
Head full
      Set to lull

Beers swilled, shots tossed
Slouching now
      Completely lost

Slammed closed
Deadline missed
      I’m hosed

Grab pen
Ink to page
No sense
      Growing rage

Rip it up
Start fresh
Stanzas done
      Still a mess

Note to self
Bury head
Give it up
      Go to bed.


Desert Canvas

A stranger’s first glance at a sandpaper land,
To the untrained eye so stark
They think our God forgot to wave His generous hand.
But go within the seeker’s slow embark:

Touch and venture forth upon the endless expanse
And excavate where ancestral cultures fade.
Interrogate the cliff mystery’s romance
And lose your step in ruins adobe made

Hear the insistent flutter of looming raptors’ wings
Spooks lizards under rocks of ginger veil
Brings a prick to jack-rabbit springs
As roadrunners skitter to quick avail

See the honeydew and sapphire skies on copper-penny peaks subsist
Sleeping violet mantle sprinkled with heaven’s dreamy eyes
From a yawning dawn’s foggy mists
To awestruck travelers this vista lies

The scent of desert blooms wrapped in lemons tart and peaches warm
Meadow hues blushed and painted wild
Beware the sly and patient cactus’ unforgiving thorn
Unsuspected, drawn to their scent, beguiled

The moon rises from amethyst mountain cloak
Winds howl denouncing the mesa’s plateau breeze
Arid powder of lost, wandering animals, now bones,
Summer dust awaits the overnight freeze.


Mom and Bocelli

Mom introduced me to Andrea Bocelli several years before she died,
And he comforted her throughout her final days.
He’s blind, you know. I did not.
I loved to watch her, sitting in her favorite chair, body rocking, eyes closed.
I imagine her still, mouthing words she could not pronounce,
Italian opera coming through the speakers of her silver boom box.
Before I left the coast, before she died,
I bought two tickets instead of paying several overdue bills.
She said, Dear, I haven’t been to a concert since the Dorseys.
And I said, Well, we’re going.
We drove to Philly and talked about mother-daughter stuff,
And listened to his tender voice melt through the speakers of the silver sedan.
We had two tickets and two tuna sandwiches.
At the over-under bridge, there was a back-up,
and we started to laugh about needing a bathroom,
and we agreed that you should not laugh when you need a bathroom.
Then we laughed harder still.
Inside, we sat above,
And there he was.
We were close enough to see the grizzle in his beard.
Before long, Mom and I cried and held hands.
Near the end he sang our favorite, “Nessun Dorma.”
We squeezed hands and sobbed and soaked a pile of tissues.
Through those tear-stained eyes, I will always see my mother.

Andrea Bocelli – Nessun Dorma


Karen S. Elliott is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, historical, literary, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA and University of New Mexico, and was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.