word scientist

Writing Prompt: Whisper

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Most of what I write is an experiment where I allow words to cascade from my fingertips and walk about in the world, naked and unashamed. I let them roam free so they may discover themselves.

You could call me a word scientist. Forever exploring the strengths and weakness of words, even the history of words, where they were born, how they lived, and how those who use them have been transformed.

I am in a writing lab, surrounded by flasks filled with potentially volatile words. It is quiet there, so that I can meditate on my next experiment. I whisper to the words, and ask them to show me what happens when I mix them together. I add drops of words into an empty flask, then pour a cup of words atop what may or may not explode. The words combine and foam into sentences, then paragraphs rise to the top of the flask and spill over onto the table. I whisper to them, ask them what it was like. Sometimes they answer, in whispers barely audible. Other times, they wait to be rediscovered in new ways.

Dozens of flasks litter the table, each now with varied mixtures of words, reacting in expected and unexpected ways. Some good, some bad. Some inert, others poison to the touch. I continue to delve into the science, to see what it unearths. Words bubble, freeze, catch fire, and sometimes turn to fog. Always, they are there, coming together to teach us that which we didn’t know yesterday.

Sometimes they come in whispers. Sometimes they come without care. But always they come.

the lonely road

The poem below by Frost is the life I’ve always lived, the road less traveled. It keeps me sane, even as it sometimes leaves me lonely in this world. Most times, lonely in a room filled with people.


The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

i will go now

I read this piece by Yeats recently and it struck a cord.


The Lake Isle of Innisfree
W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

the potential for loneliness


Someone called me today, a loved one. She said she was lonely. But I am too far away to just show up on her doorstep and take her out so we can run the streets like school girls. I could hear it in her voice, the loneliness she tried to conceal behind laughter as she told me how she felt.

I will be where she is soon. I promised her we would go out dancing when I see her. Maybe a nice old school step joint, something sophisticated yet fun.

We continued to chat for a while about various things. I wanted to stay on with her, to let her know that I understand loneliness and I was in no rush to get her off the phone. I wanted to be present with her and allow her to laugh (allow myself to laugh) and tell her stories with the excitement of a child.

In a way, she saved me today. She reminded me that I too may one day be lonely again. Even more, if I live, I will one day be an elder. It was humbling and sobering. What will that look like for me, as my children go off to live their lives? Will they call me daily? Weekly? Will they take me out? Will they even want to spend time with me around a dinner table? Or will they be too busy to remember I exist until, like many children, they need something, even if it’s just moral support. I would give it, no doubt. But would always wonder if when the time comes and gray hairs are no longer peppered with remnants of black, but pure snow, would I still be relevant in the life of those whom I love?

Knowing the potential for the future leaves me wondering if loneliness could one day become my best friend, because all my flesh and blood friends have come and gone. And family has come and gone.

I can’t wait to see her. She’s sacrificed so much over the years. The last thing she deserves is to be lonely.

the skies above us

Photograph by zaji

This was the sky over my house yesterday. Such a beautiful sight.

The sky is a constant reminder of my mortality. When I am gone, the sky will go on, into millions of years that I will never live to see. Nothing from this moment in time will be recognizable. No one’s name will be known or remembered. In a million years, even the dust from our bones will be like smoke dissipated into the air. Someone in the distant future will find themselves digging up a femur, discovering it was from a woman, then calling it some strange futuristic name that will itself become meaningless a million years from their find.

We are but shadows and dust. More shadow than dust. A shadow dissipating with the setting of the sun.

the beauty of a teacher, and her students

Every now and then a bit of beauty falls onto my lap and reminds me that there just might be a pinhole of hope for humanity. Very few of us are as lucky as these ex-students to have found a teacher who truly loves them and wants for their success. Sadly, there are far too many teachers who have fallen into the trap of teaching for a paycheck, rather than teaching to save our future. Not all, of course, but many.

I honor teachers who love their students and do whatever it takes to ensure they are properly educated in the subject they teach.

my first and last

Photographer Unknown

It was the mid 80s. I was 18 years old. I was working at a local video store renting out videos for a Prince height Italian man whose accent betrayed his birthplace, which was clearly not Italy. He was a Bronx born Italian, who mixed Americanized Italian with yiddish insults. When I didn’t move to his liking, he would look at me and let slip, fongool, from his lips. Back then I didn’t know what it meant, but it was clearly an insult and an expression of his disgust with my perceived inability to return the videos back to the shelves in a timely manner. At other times, I would get a well timed, mashugana.

At the time, Blockbuster didn’t exist in New York. It would be several years after I worked at that Mom and Pop video store before Blockbuster would open in the very same plaza where I worked. They took the corner lot, several stores away from the old video store.

It was at my local video store that I would meet many amazing people. One woman, who was a Prince fanatic and often told me that her and her boyfriend had an understanding that if she ever met Prince, she would no doubt have sex with him. She told me that her boyfriend understood and accepted his fate if she were to meet Prince in a private space. She was deadly serious and made no bones about it.

One day she came to me and said she acquired tickets to a Prince concert and wanted me to go with her. She was excited about attending and wildly flipped her dusty blonde hair with childlike enthusiasm.

Here I am, nearly 30 years later, remembering my excitement and feeling it all over again. It was the first concert I had ever been to. And from that day to this one, I have never been to another concert. Prince’s concert was one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my life.

Seeing him on stage reminded me of how beautiful, creative and talented humanity could be when not focused on the negative aspects of our psyche. He was the consummate entertainer, working his instruments like a champ. He almost floated across the stage and exuded a fluidity that was captivating, mesmerizing and hypnotizing. He was simply amazing.

I left the concert feeling satisfied and truthfully never imagined that I would never attend another concert in my life. It genuinely just happened, and I have no idea why.

Prince was my first and last. Now he’s gone. I weep purple tears.


my first and last was originally published on zaji

dinnertime fruit tree

Photo Prompt: Dinnertime

…This week, share an image inspired by dinnertime — whether you take a photo of food or simply shoot during the evening hours is up to you!

Photography by zaji, April 22, 2016 @ 11:45 am CST

Our little peach tree is coming along nicely. The peaches are growing rapidly and getting larger each day. I estimate that by the end of May they’ll be ready for eating. This is my idea of dinner. When they’ve matured, I’ll spend many days outside enjoying dinnertime by the peach tree.

iniquities of gods


I walk the dusty road of false time, seeking angels with broken wings. Only they know my sorrow and how unforgiving the gods can be. I don’t need their lives vicariously, my window is the same, yet I have no wings. I see through the dirt and grime that only rain can wash away, sometimes.

When the after-time comes, my sorrow will be complete. The gods will walk among us telling tall tales of how they were created. Yes, they too must answer to their gods. Their iniquities will be brought to judgement’s feet, then they will be asked, how did you nurture your creations? how did you help them to become gods?

© zaji, 2016

love and courage


In the space of love and courage, I breathed you in and exhaled the touches you left on my skin. Letting go brings pain and lucidity in equal measure. But I now know myself better than I needed to know you. At times, the self I’ve discovered is a stranger invading my life without mercy. I try to hide. But hiding does not shield me from the authentic self that sees through walls of wood and stone and soul. At other times, this self is a long lost friend I’ve needed, one who had tried to reach me inside the continuum but failed.

You became my blues even though songs in me were playing out of tune. I saw you then, inside yourself, being what could never satisfy my needs. It was then that I longed to become your savior. I would have nailed myself to your cross to die for your sins, particularly those against me. I would have sacrificed everything to gather up your wrongdoings and caste them into the sea or burn them to ash. But you did not see the palms of my hands nor the center of my feet. The blood pooled in the soil, it dripped for you and the love you rarely showed, except when beds were unmade and sheets almost tied in knots. Even then, you were not there. Not really. Your body sweat against mine in thrusts and moans, but the you that lived inside was gone, giving orgasms to someone else in your mind.

So I found the courage to climb down off the cross and return love to me. It was long overdue. The touches now dissipate into the air, leaving a fog of forgetting. I am here, alone. I listen to the blues now and again, in tune, because they no longer live inside in strange unearthly tones. The stranger in me tells me stories of who I once was. I listen and let the notes of history sing to me what will never be again.

© zaji, 2016

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