Friday, June 17, 2011


Sigred Philipsen

We were on vacation driving through the Okanagan Valley

Which according to my Time Atlas of the World (Compact Edition) 

Is open shrub lands (I think)
It's hard to tell the exact colour
(On the tiny map, my eyes older, the light dim)
It could be croplands (It is croplands) 

Fruit trees, peaches, cherries & pears (Tomatoes too!)

My Mom & Dad were in the front seat of the car

My Grandpa Odinsen, my brother Garry & I were in the back

We were all a little weary

The Okanagan is hot (In the summer)
In the winter, middling winter (It gets the occasional cold snap below 20 degrees)
Not as cold as the Cariboo (Not as mild as the Coast)
(Fair bit of snow)

We had watched mountain passes
Through the car window

And semi-deserts
Had had a sandwich lunch & a campfire breakfast
And had driven hard
In a crowded hot car

For miles & miles
(Miles & miles)

Miles & miles

"Look!" my Mom said 

"Turn in there. See that sign!"
And she pointed to a large sign 

A hundred yards

Professional lettering (Three bright colours)
A picture on it (Of a TeePee)

"Where!?" my Dad barked
Weary too

Hot, tired, stiff (Confined)

"To the right Frank. It's not a government camp 

The sign said it's a KeeWee camp."

"What the hell is a KeeWee camp" GrandPa Odinsen
Rumbled up

From the right hand side (Window seat)
Me in the middle (The hottest)
My brother beside me on the left (His hand out the window)

"They're a privately owned camp site" my Mom explained
Often they have showers & sometimes a pool

"A pool!" I piped up"

Suddenly enlivened (By even the thought)
Of cool, blue, silky, wet, cool, weightless (Water)

"Oh can we, oh can we, oh can we!" I chattered

"We'll see" my Mom replied calm

"We'll see" GrandPa Odinsen replied ominously
"We'll see" my brother Garry mumbled so quietly only I could hear

My Dad swung his head to the back seat (I became quiet)

We turned off the paved road & travelled down a winding dirt one
Entered trees & a patch of groomed grass
And passed a children's playground

My heart fluttered & I leaned over my brother
Looking longingly at the slide

He pushed me back roughly (I squealed)
GrandPa's hand flicked up (ForeFinger raised)
Mom turned 'round (And scowled)
Dad growled (I shrunk in my seat)

"Over there Frank" my Mom pointed this time

At a concrete block building with a sign over the door that said

Office (I could read)

Dad went through a gate

Around a circular driveway
Past the building labelled office
And parked in a dusty parking lot
Underneath a green hill

And stopped the car
Turned the engine off

We all sat for a few seconds (Silent)
Getting used to the idea of not driving (Not moving through the air)
Hot (Dry hot hot)
Breathing (Hot air)

Dad turned round & looked at GrandPa
Checked out me
And my Brother too

"Well Gwen, what do you think?" he asked my Mother

I looked longingly at the pool (Noticed the showers beside the office)
Checked more thoroughly the slide in the park (And the merry-go-round)

Even my teenage brother had a soft smile on his lips (Watching the pretty girl at the pool)

"Looks fine to me Frank" my Mother said
With more enthusiasm in her voice

Than she should

GrandPa grunted (Dad made to get out of the car)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa mumbled

Dad swung open the car door (Letting in the heat)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said louder

My Mom said "What?"
"I don't like me here!" my GrandPa said with no doubt in the tone of his voice
"I don't like me here!"

My brother groaned (My Dad turned to face GrandPa)
I moaned (My Mother looked straight ahead out the car's front window)
Straight ahead (Without a word)

"I don't like me here" GrandPa said one last time
His arms crossed over his chest

My Dad closed the door
And started up the car again

Drove past the office
Around the circular driveway
Past the pool & the patch of grass
Up the dirt road until we hit the highway

And then turned right (Or maybe left)


Sigred Philipsen lives with her partner in Ecuador. Prior to that they lived on a classic patrol boat in Vancouver British Columbia. Living on a boat or moving to Ecuador, they both take the same kind of general outlook on life. It's an adventure! Either that or they've both got a screw loose. In any case, there they are retired (finally) with their shih tzu Fredi, making a life for themselves at the equator. Sigred's poetry can be found on her site, Dangling on a Hook. There is also a blog, Planet Irony, chronicling their move from Canada to Ecuador over a 3 years period 2008 - 2010, and a new blog, Those Not Complicated Need Not Apply, which contains articles on Ecuador, random stories, cartoons from other authors, photographs, infographics from other authors, poetry, quotes and whatever else takes Sigred's interest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Way It Was (1937)

The Way It Was (1937)
Matt Quinn

In town, a man came up to Amos
saying he hadn’t eaten in three days.
Amos knew he’d give the man food
if this were his farm,
but it was town.
“There are Colored folk in Sparta.
You can get food there.”
Sparta was twenty miles away.

Fifty years later, Amos still told the story
on himself, of the man turned away
because of his skin, Amos still wishing
he’d been more brave.

The Way It Was (1937) was previously published in Phantoms (2008)


Matt Quinn is a freelance writer and professional genealogist who lives in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Gun Lil

Two-Gun Lil
Karen Douglass

Two-Gun Lil is five years old.
She wears a purple skirt and vest
with white fringe, leatherette holster
for her matching six shooters.

She rides a broomstick to the edge
of the yard, careful not to trot
across the rotten cesspool cover
half hidden by waist-high grass.

A rhubarb patch by the empty barn blocks
the other end of her trail. She’s heard
that rhubarb raw can kill you.
She ties her stick pony in an empty stall

and worries that she’ll never catch
any cattle rustlers with so much in her way.
Inside, Gram has hung the jelly bag
from a knob on the cupboard door.

“Don’t touch! The jelly isn’t ready to eat.”
Nothing Lil can do for now but
accept Wonder Bread with butter
and sugar, folded to keep her hands clean.

“You can’t shoot with butter fingers.
Now go back outside.” No one tells
The Lone Ranger to go play. He doesn’t
worry about riding Silver into a cesspool,

or getting a mouthful of raw rhubarb.
Kemo Sabe won’t ever see his gram
thin as a fence rail and wonder
what he could have done to save her.


Karen Douglass writes poems, novels, a blog, and grocery lists. She lives in Colorado with three dogs, one cat, and her family. You can visit her at KD’s Bookblog, or you can come to Colorado. Her books include Red Goddess Poems; Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse (non-fiction); Sostenuto, (prose poems) and The Great Hunger (poems), which is available from Plain View Press (2009).