Monday, September 26, 2016


Jesse's Birdhouse card

The old man painstakingly painted each wooden home with bright colors.  They were more than birdhouses - they were refuge from the harsh conditions of the modern world.  He decorated them with flowers, radiant blossoms, cheery suns - even butterflies so all would know they were happy homes. The neighbors gazed with pleasure at the bright little birdhouses. Set amongst purple petunias, aromatic geraniums and white verbena they were solid pops of color. They transformed the old tree stump from an eyesore into a work of art.

They were cabins for lost souls, pilfered souls - souls the old man caught in mason jars down at the cemetery.

Birdsong and soul screams sound remarkably alike he'd discovered one cold winter night.

Souls were lower maitenance.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Tiny fingers, soft and unblemished, grasped at life with a strength that belied their newness.

A young hand, clammy with nerves, slid the corsage on his prom date's wrist.

Scarred and calloused from daily labour, these hands were steady and sure as he slid the ring onto his bride's finger.

The young father's hands engulfed the newborn's body yet cradled it with care and tenderness.

Strong and patient, the man's hands adjusted his son's gloved grip on the hockey stick.

Wide and scarred fingers wrapped around his daughter's hand to place it squarely in the palm of her groom.

Older hands, still strong yet rougher, support his first grandchild.

Trembling and wrinkled, bent with age, the hands entwine with the arthritic fingers of his beloved as they celebrate their silver anniversary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


The little hound pup's nose twitched.  So many interesting scents, he didn't know which to follow first. He hung back by his human's heels as she opened the gate, then shot through before she could shut it in his face.

His nose led him across the street and around the corner, hot on the trail of two Yorkies, a Maltese, a squirrel - no! three squirrels!  He raced up the street as fast as his little paws would take him. Past the house with the Yorkies, past the yard where a big dog woofed from behind his own fence, and even past the bush that every dog for two miles marked. He raced up to the next corner, his nose promising him squirrel, french fries from the pub and some type of bird.

A loud clang as something lunged towards him. It smelled of steel and grease and angry human. It lunged again, this time clipping his ear.

He peed himself in fright, wheeled around on his back paws and headed straight for home.  His speed easily tripled what it had been on the trail of the squirrel.

Up ahead, his human kneeled on the grass, her arms outstretched as she called his name.

He skidded to a stop in front of her, his body shaking with terror. No clanging steel teeth behind him but it had been a slow beast.

The pup leapt into his human's arms and let her carry him home. She smelled of disappointment, fear and concern. But also of love.  He burrowed his nose in the nape of her neck, rooted through her ponytail so that all he smelled was her.

Terror faded. The scent of squirrel and other dogs lingered, less demanding now. Love filled his quivering body, calmed him.  As long as she held him, he was safe. Content.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mason jars

No one noticed the mason jars hanging around the cemetery. If they had, most people would have assumed they were lanterns or even citronella jars to keep away mosquitoes.  Every night, Jase checked his traps then transferred the confused souls from the graveyard.  Each morning they awoke, jammed into the birdhouses with nine or ten other dazed souls, tethered by string to the perches inside.  Their plaintive wails fill the neighbourhood with the sweet song of imprisonment.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


The stairs of the great wide white porch of the grand old hotel beckoned me forward.  Renowned world wide for its excellent service and Grecian Revival architecture as much as for its ghosts, the hotel had been my home for more years than I cared to remember.

I strode through the lobby, nodded to Gertrude whose wooden needles clacked as she knit by the fireplace.  She began and ended her day there, working on endless garments for grandchildren none of us ever met.

Joe poured lemon oil onto a soft cloth to work it into the banister at the base of the stairs. I tipped my hat towards him then climbed to the first landing, his cheerful whistle tugging a smile from my usual scowl.

I peered out the window.  Violet raced across the back lawn to her position beneath the aspen that stood tall at the gate to the garden.  I waited and watched.  Less than a minute later, Jack followed at a discreet distance to stroll away from the hotel towards the stables where he rarely toiled.  I erased my smile, the couple fooled no one, and rearranged my face into its customary look of impatience.

Joe winked at me.  As the clock began its customary spellbinding charm, we froze in our positions and waited.

A flash from the digital camera in the in the lobby caught Joe in its flare. His smile beamed bright as a ray from the dying sun then he disappeared - released from his penance as tourist attraction.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I am a chameleon.

Ever since I can remember, I had the ability to blend in with any group.  The bigger the crowd, the better my assimilation.  It's not a conscious act on my part. It is as natural as breathing and as difficult to control. I can hold it at bay for brief moments but eventually my natural tendency kicks in and I become part of the landscape.

Gestures, accents, gender, ethnicity, even skin colour - none of those matter. I mimic them as easy as you breathe.

Whether it's a gang of ginger-haired terrors one minute or tea-drinking grannies sharing knitting patterns the next, I have one of those faces. It's familiar to everyone. Often because it's most like the one that looks back at you from a mirror every morning.

I am whoever is around me. Sitting at home, alone, I am barely myself. Music, books, decor are all from the people I have been over the years. I look in the mirror and see no one. Just a blank face waiting for colour and expression.  I do not know my right from your wrong. I am no one and everyone.

I do my best to be around good people. Caring people full of kindness, empathy and compassion. I have been on both sides of most debates. Been bullied, beaten and spat upon because of my gender, colour of skin or clothing. Being a chameleon means I know fear, hatred and violence.  I try to choose the side of love but that often results in more beatings.

I have hidden in my room, away from all the different skins, but that was as lonely as blending in the crowd. Self-loathing is more destructive than external hate.

Tonight, I will shake off the oppressive mantle of self-doubt and join the biggest party of revelers I can find. People who know how to have fun in the face of opposition, pride in who they are, and dance regardless of who is watching.  Tonight I will be a gay Latino and love life.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Box of promises

A well-dressed man ran into me with a box of promises. The rose inlaid box hit my hip then crashed to the wet pavement.  The lid popped open.  Some promises spilled out and broke against the harsh cement.

The promises weren't meant for me.

I still have the scar on my hip