I Drank from the Garden Hose – nostalgic poem and story dump. Find more at idrankfromthegardenhose.com


I could have drowned in your CK One melancholy 

and your cheap sunglasses nobody would buy at $30 a pop. 

Each time you glided into my store 

you asked me to watch your kiosk while you ran to the bathroom. 

I wondered if you’d stop at Mrs. Field’s cookies 

for yourself or that chick you met while wondering aimlessly 

through Contempo Casuals. 

Would she appreciate that cookie the way I would 

and hold it as if it were the body of Christ? 

Would she bring you a food court smoothie in return 

and say, “Drink this in remembrance of me?” 

Would she hide the disdain for the gel in your hair 

the way I would? 

I could have been more than the girl 

who worked in the pet shop across the way. 

All those nights I closed the place alone at only 16, 

I could have been the one who got your favorite pizza toppings, 

all the ones I hated, knowing I could pick them off 

and drop them into your mouth like seedless grapes

from a Playmate cooler on the beach. 

I could have been your Some Kind of Wonderful, 

to your Eric Stoltz, only I would have biked 

down that quiet street to make you run faster. 

I could have been some other girl you’d forget 

until it was time for you to watch someone die

or convince someone to move on, whichever came first. 

My first job was in Eatontown, New Jersey’s Monmouth Mall, as was every other teenager in town. I worked at one of those pet novelty gift shops for people who marry their dogs and cats (no judgment). I’d often open the place up in the summer and regularly close it up by myself at night, which I’m sure was illegal, but hey, it was the 90’s. A lot of scary shit wasn’t happening yet. At least we never knew about it. 

I loved working at a store in my Mecca otherwise known as my mall. I needed that opportunity because I wanted to avoid working at Burger King like the bubonic plague. Being elbows deep in burger grease and mop sink water never sat right with me, and I probably sound like the whitest, most entitled priss on the planet for thinking that way. (I did work in a couple of deli’s later in high school so at least give me some credit). Nobody knew that my biggest fear about working at Burger King was 1.) I would have to wait on classmates I despised, and 2.) I would have to count a lot of money and quickly, and I knew I would freeze up like a Push Pop, stick in the ass and all. I have what is now known as Dyscalculia. I don’t like numbers, they hate me, and I shamelessly add and subtract with my fingers – sometimes my toes if I’m wearing flip flops. 

Working in a little gift shop in the mall was perfect because most sales were credit card transactions, and it was never busy enough for me to fumble making change. With that being said, the only thing that would make me want to be a teenager in the 21st century is that we don’t even need cash for vending machines anymore. 

As a teen, I also had a thing for men much older than me. Working in the mall offered more of an opportunity to be around older guys. Guys I would never talk to anyway unless a friend was willing to embarrass me. Every night when I worked in that pet lover’s crack dispensary, I saw this guy who worked in the kiosk in front of my store. He unknowingly channeled John Cusack, but he had Keanu Reeves’ hair in the movie Parenthood. He had to have been well into his twenties at the time, and I knew I had a better chance of figuring out how to record a show on a VCR while watching something else. 

Still, I wondered what it would be like to have coffee with him in a diner at 2 am, if I was allowed to stay out that late. I was used to being freakishly taller than a lot of guys my age, but this guy’s feet must have hung off the foot of his bed. I wanted to know if his lips tasted like Mountain Dew and Parliaments. There was no way he didn’t have a girlfriend, and she must have looked like Justine Bateman when she was on Family Ties. I hope after he finished selling sunglasses at the mall, he got a job in computers and maybe started a garage band that meets up for a bar gig once a year. 

Regardless, Monmouth Mall today is on the verge of economic collapse, and there are many, who once called it home, trying to fight for it. Often the social media response is, “It’s just a mall.” But when the mall is where you had your best and worst bonding moments with your mother, if it’s where you went last minute shopping with your Dad on Christmas Eve, if it’s where you first got a job, first fell in love, got into and stayed out of trouble at the same time? Then the downfall of the mall era can feel like the Earth crashing into the sun. 

All the Pretty Things 

I have become the Lisa Frank rainbow 

I will not escape. 

These limbs, these lips, this mind 

have been rebuilt using what’s left 

of the papers, pencils, and shiny stickers

of too many yesterdays. 

If you look closely, you can see the old games of M.A.S.H 

in my eyes. Study my hands close enough, 

you might still smell the Scratch & Sniffs I tried to salvage 

from notebook covers, spelling tests, 

and my heirloom jewelry box. 

I may have a pink zebra print pencil or two in a box somewhere, 

and one day I’ll use them to write my next unfinished book, 

the one about a much smaller, inkless world, 

or the one about the letters that write, fold, and send 

themselves to the ones we forgot to love. 

When I was young, I wasn’t the notebook, journal, pen, and pencil whore I am now. One huge binder, not a Trapper Keeper because Mom thought they wouldn’t be big enough, a few Bics, some folders, and a pencil pouch with the New Kids’ faces on them and I was good to go. My mother was into the simple practicality of school supplies. Mead, Ticonderoga, and black and white composition books filled our cart at K-Mart every late August. When I wanted the really girly stuff, like the colorful, sparkly, unicorn goodness of Lisa Frank products, I had to get grandma to take me to Jamesway. 

Jamesway was similar to a K-Mart, Caldor, Ames, or Woolworth’s, and I believe it even had a luncheonette at one point. Maybe not, but I miss the whole concept of lunch counters in department stores. My parents met in one, so let’s just say if it wasn’t for the K-Mart snack bar that once existed in Dover, New Jersey, I wouldn’t be here writing this hodgepodge of nostalgia. 

During my two week summer vacation visits with my grandparents, we frequented all the discount stores. When it came to school supplies, I made out like a bandit, and most of it ended up lost in the abyss that was my classroom desk cubby. 

Jamesway was also the go-to:  

  • for oversized neon T-shirts with plastic clips and spandex shorts to match.  
  • for the Get in Shape, Girl! fitness sets that told 10 year old girls they should look like Olivia Newton John
  • the Skip It or the Pogo Ball that meant certain death to a klutzy kid prone to skinned knees and head contusions
  • or for preteen games like Girl Talk Dateline, Mall Madness, and Heartthrob. In reality, didn’t we all end up with the dorky Homers as opposed to the surfers or the hot ski instructors named Joel or Trent? And would we want it any other way? Those games, as fun as they were, sparked our delusions quite early. 

When my grandmother died in 2011, I wrote a poem to put into her casket – a thank you of sorts that no one else could read, and I have no recollection as to what it said. Hopefully it mentioned all the New Kids stuff she’d win for me at carnivals and all the stickers she would buy me at whatever store we roamed – when all the other kids were hitting rocks on Slip n’ Slides and drinking from the hose.  


I bet you never messed up an old lady’s sweater at Burger King

by pounding on a ketchup packet until it burst. 

Did you have an arcade in town 

where teenagers had sex on the pool tables? 

I’m sure there wasn’t an old cemetery with shattered stones 

behind your 7-Eleven, or did your town have a dark roller rink 

hundreds of kids could have named Dad every other weekend?

Did you get to touch a piece of the Berlin Wall when it visited your mall? 

I bet you never had a real Orange Julius. 

Or a pizzeria run by real Italians, when the placemats 

had maps of Italy on them instead of ads for dentists and lawyers. 

I’m sure you didn’t bump into copious amounts of Ben Cooper masks

on Halloween night, nor did you have a homemade ice cream shop

that stayed open in snowstorms. 

I wonder if you ever rode in your Dad’s Buick 

during one of those storms because he wanted 

a big cup of vanilla soft serve. 

Cars aren’t built like tanks anymore. 

Maybe towns are made the same way either. 

Yes, when I was 6 or 7, my extremely underdeveloped mind decided to smash some ketchup packets, one of which broke open and made an abstract painting on some lady’s delicately knitted sweater. Mom was mortified and we apologized profusely, but the lady was so gracious and brushed it off. Thank God it was the 80’s. 

The long forgotten cemetery in a small copse of woods was actually behind a Quick Chek, but I figured more readers could relate to 7-Eleven. A rumor spread for years about a man who hung himself in that cemetery. The noose snapped but the rope stay hung on the tree. When my friends and I would cut through those woods to get to the store, we’d spend several shaded minutes under those trees, trying to catch a glimpse of that rope. Cryptic as hell, I know, and I’m not sure if the story was true. Frankly, it’s nobody’s right to know. There was a time when we didn’t think we had a right to know everything. I just hope that no matter the outcome, that man found his peace, and if that rope did exist in those woods, I am happy no one ever found it. 

Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, a tall slab of if came to town and stood markedly inside the mall, right near the entrance to Caldor. Small pieces of the concrete were sold in little plastic display cases, and my Dad quickly brought home a piece of history. Now, did a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall stand in front of the entrance to Caldor in Eatontown, NJ? Was a relic from one of the most significant events in contemporary history hanging out in front of a discount store where the working class went to buy cubic zirconia and Fruit of a Loom? I’ll leave that for you to decide. I’m not breaking my old man’s heart since he still has that little rock sitting in a curio to this day. 

But this poem makes one thing for certain. Kids today are not getting the hometowns we grew up with. The arcades, the Caldors, the sweaty Ben Cooper masks, the local legends and myths, and the shortcuts through the woods to buy sodas and candy – all that seems to have dissipated and replaced with Candy Crush, No Trespassing signs, extinct department retailers that turn into seasonal Halloween stores, expensive escape rooms, and steel water bottles that sound like bombs being dropped when they fall to the floor.


What seemingly miniscule details from your hometown stand out to you the most? If you still live in your hometown, this should be a piece of cake. If you don’t, think about what landmarks are no longer standing, what annual events no longer happen, or what rumors, myths, or legends still hold on for the older generations? 

They’re Watching 

The old Little People toys 

sitting on the library shelf, 

with their weary faces and colors, 

watch me as if staring at a couple 

who hate each other, fight 

in the middle of a Walmart. 

They see my new cars, 

the disorganized rooms, 

the second notices, 

the grocery haul for the kids 

who will never exist. 

I question if they facepalm

themselves when I’m not looking. 

Then I remember, thank God 

they weren’t made with hands back then. 

So I ignore the unfolded laundry piles 

while eating Fruit Roll-Ups 

and Dixie Cup ice creams with wooden spoons. 

I look out the window 

at all the street racing Hyundais passing by,

doing 40 in a 25, and remind those little 

fading faces on the shelf  that they’ve got it good 

right where they’re at. 

The old Little People actually belong to my packrat husband who I love so much more than Dixie Cups. But those toys reside on one of my bookshelves in our home, so they are also mine by default. I used to pester him all the time about not letting shit go – when in doubt, throw it out – or at least donate the stuff to kids who are going to question why the little dog doesn’t have legs or why Big Bird and Cookie Monster don’t have arms or mouths. When you’re a 40-something year old teacher in the 2020s, you find yourself explaining a lot of things that are beyond the kids’ comprehension. If you ever find yourself trying to describe a Sit and Spin, or Qbert, or Gobots to a kid today, remember to choose laughter over tears. 

But I get it now. It’s important to hold on to pieces of your youth that helped shape who you are now. The smell, the look, or the feel of something long forgotten but then suddenly dug out from a cardboard box can provide a recharge you didn’t think you needed. 

New Kids 

That one used to be the bad boy 

you knew your father would hate.

That one kind of reminded your Mom 

of a young Franki Vallie. 

That’s the guy who can bench press a Buick,

but that guy would likely give you a puppy for your birthday. 

That one could be in a biopic about the Rat Pack, 

and that guy has a thing for wind and open button-downs. 

He has eyes like water lily leaves in an autumn marsh.

Yet this guy would be the one who’d never take his time, 

but once he has you, he’ll take all the time in the world. 

That’s the guy whose name you knew you’d see alone 

on a marquee covered in lights. 

Everyone knew he’d be the one who would cancel a date 

to take care of his mom. 

This one has the voice heard only by God 

and the girls who married him in front of their VCR’s.

That guy doesn’t wear helmets, makes his own rhymes, 

and tells the critics where to go because opinions 

are like the appendix, everyone has one at some point, 

but its as useless as an ex-lover. 

That’s the guy who puts the ten in “tenor”, 

who sang his children to sleep, 

and would never forget Valentine’s Day. 

That’s the one who never wants to see you go. 

He’s the guy who had to lose himself in lumber and soil 

in order to find his place in the world.

That guy had to play the roles of soldier, cop, 

a mentally unhinged man, all so he could bring back the time. 

A time we all needed to rewind. 

The Sleepless Knights – novel excerpt – picking away at completion by September 2023

“How many times do I have to say this to all of you? Don’t bring women here. It’s too risky. What if she bolts before numbnuts over here does his memory eraser..magic water..thing?”

“But Ethan, she’s not just some regular mortal, man. This could be her. The -” 

“Don’t!” Ethan interrupted Rian. “We’re not putting that in anyone’s head until we know for sure and we talk to Corbin. Then there’s the whole other battle of convincing her we’re not psychotic.”  

“What we should be doing is taking her to a hospital.” Cayden sat on the bed next to a still unconscious and battered Maeve, holding her hand and admonishing himself for not getting to her sooner. The other Knights were gathered around listening to Ethan rant. 

“Absolutely not,” Quinn insisted. “We can’t chance being spotted at a hospital with some chick who just had the crap kicked out of her. We can take care of her. She’ll be fine,” he gave Cayden a reassuring pat on the back. 

“Yes, absolutely,” Ethan agreed. “We wait till she’s awake and well enough. Keep her on this bus. Wipe out her memory, and then get her the hell home. You three took a big risk going after her unmasked. I’m still waiting for your dumbass faces to pop up on the news, and someone’s bound to file a missing person’s report for her -” 

“Ethan, please,” Cayden shot up from the bed. “Re, come sit with her, bud.” Rian did as he was told with obvious worry on his face as he took the same hand Cayden was holding. 

“Come look at this stuff,” Cayden urged Ethan to follow him to the kitchenette table where Maeve’s journal and backpack were set out to dry. 

“Careful, a lot of the pages got soaked.” 

“Don’t worry, Swayze. I’m not going to mess up Baby’s diary.” 

“Just look at the book, please,” Cayden commanded impatiently, “Then we’ll talk.” 

Ethan gingerly turned the pages, feigning interest at first, but then his face softened as he studied more of the leather-bound book. He looked questioningly at the young bassist once he reached the last few pages. 

“She says she comes out of these trances, these out-of-body experiences as she calls them and doesn’t have a clue where the images she drew came from. But I know and you know what’s going on here, E. Whether she is or she isn’t the one, right now she’s our best hope. Unless you and Corbin want to keep entertaining the Mullis twins every time they bring their bimbos to the house.” 

“Yeah,” Kyler interrupted, “She’s got a great voice, so she’ll easily fit as as backup singer, and you should have seen what she did to that scumbag’s face. She took a hell of a beating but she still packs a punch. We can train her.” 

Moments of silence passed amongst the men before Ethan took a deep breath and massaged the wrinkled skin around his eyes. 

“This is going to be a lot of work, gentlemen. She’s not one of us. Granted she’s not supposed to be, but this girl is so far removed from anything our people have been told.”

“That’s right. Let’s not forget we’re still people, E,” Cayden firmly declared. 

“We’re gods, and she’s not, man,” Donovan interjected.  

“We’re demigods,” Cayden sternly insisted. “That means at the end of the day we are no better or worse than anyone else. We had a lot to learn and we learned it. So will she.”

The Knights looked at each other before turning their eyes back to their manager. Ethan raised his hands in surrender. 

“Alright, alright, I’ll see what Corbin has to say. But I’m telling you now, Romeo, if this backfires in any way it’s your ass not mine. Let me know when she wakes up.” 

Ethan exited the bus and marched up the gravel driveway to the stone mansion they called home before the tour bus life started. 

“Well, I guess we’re getting a visit from Corbin soon,” Quinn lobed a soda can into the trash. “Maybe we should clean up this place. It looks like a bunch of Gremlins took showers in here. Plus, why not spruce up the place for our new recruit, huh?” 

“You’re the one that lives like a pig,” Donovan reminded his life long friend. 

“I’m not the only one who lives here!” 

“You guys go ahead. I’m going to sit with Maeve. I don’t want her to wake up and no one is there.” 

“Yeah, yeah,” Quinn playfully punched Cayden’s shoulder. “We know you don’t want her waking up alone. Dude, at least wait until she’s conscious.” 

“Go jerk off, Quinn,” Cayden glared at his bandmate. 

“Nah, I’m good till bedtime.” 

“Man, you are a damn disgrace,” Kyler threw a stack of old magazines at Quinn. “Help me clean up this hell hole on wheels. You too Rian.”  

Donovan stopped Cayden before the oldest Knight reached the door to the back room, carrying cold compresses for Maeve’s bruised face. 

“Yo, I know you have a lot of faith in this girl, and maybe she is the one we need. But don’t get yourself in too deep. Remember what my old man used to say to us. Look for the best in everybody but always be ready for the worst.” 

“Maybe that’s not always the best motto to go by, Don.” 

“We wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t true.” 

“Well, our business should be more about helping people protect themselves from the worst instead of us fighting their battles for them once the shit hits the fan.” 

“Man, the older you get the less fun you get.” 

“And the stronger you get, the dumber you get.” They teasingly punched each other. 

“Go take care of the girl, ya asshole.” 

“Think potential, my friend. Think potential.” Cayden smiled at the pessimistic drummer before disappearing into the bedroom.

“We’ll see, man. We’ll see.” 

* * *

“Corbin, we might be heading into some uncharted territory,” Ethan took a long sip of his cognac. “But I guess after all this time, it will be nice to see ya settle down finally.” 

“Well, old friend, as much as I wouldn’t mind opening a window to possible romance, that cannot be our main priority, of course.” 

Corbin took a long, contemplative exhale after inhaling from his cigar. Smoke billowed over him like a ghost. The two gentlemen lounged in front of the fireplace in Corbin’s study, staring hypnotically at the flames, both taking in the finest liquor and trying to process the information Ethan shared. 

“She’ll no doubt help the boys, especially Cayden. I worry about that boy every damn day. But what about the bigger picture? What if she fails, or worse, what if she becomes too powerful. Neither side will win.” 

“Perhaps, just perhaps, it is a risk worth taking. I’ve known you for decades now, Ethan. There is no doubt in your mind that they found her. I’m afraid we can’t escape the acquaintance now,” chuckled Corbin. 

“He found her in a mall, boss. Of all the places men have searched over the years – a friggin shopping mall in Jersey?” 

“We’re still part of this world like every other living being, my friend. Every breathing force on this planet knows there is no predictability. If there was we wouldn’t need the Caydens, The Matteos..or the Maeves.” 

“The boy is in love with her, you know?” 

“I’m sure all five of those boys are in love,” Corbin laughed. 

“No, I mean it. Cayden. He looks at her like he’s just seen his first real Delorean. He’s fighting against it, but I can tell he’s losing.” 

“Cayden Donnelly comes from a long, powerful line of sensible, disciplined, and resilient men. He doesn’t know how to make the wrong choices..usually.” 

Ethan and Corbin gave each other knowing looks before turning their eyes back to the fire for a short spell of silence. 

“Well, I think it’s time I meet this young woman, eh? I’ll have Simon make some hot figwort tea to bring with us. That should fix her up in no time.” Corbin extinguished his cigar. 

“Fair warning, those kids live like animals,” Ethan swigged the last of his drink. The two men rose from their leather clawfoot chairs. 

“We were young once, Ethan.” 

“Yeah right. Whatever happened to that whole idea of staying that way?” 

“Perhaps the opportunity has arrived, my dear friend.” 

* * *

The last time Maeve had a serious nightmare was after her brother, Sebastian, dragged her with him and his friends to see Aliens after school. They told their parents they saw Flight of the Navigator. For months, she dreamt of the queen alien landing in her backyard after Sigourney Weaver let the bitch fall from the space station. She’d wake up screaming when the dog got cocooned and morphed into one of those face hugger aliens that laid eggs in peoples’ stomachs. But for Maeve, what was once a traumatic event became a fond memory with her big brother.  

Most of Maeve’s more current dreams were forgotten or downright random and bizarre. After being attacked and left unconscious for almost 48 hours, she dreamt of yellowish light and concrete walls closing in around her. She dreamt of the perp’s hands that felt as if they were covered in Crisco, and she smelled his cigarettes and sweat. Again, she felt the pain of being tackled, slapped, and thrown against cinderblock.  

She ran hard and fast in the dreams but couldn’t get anywhere. At times she thought she might be dead, and if she was, how did she not get into heaven? She had to be in hell. 

Suddenly there was a blade coming toward her face, one she couldn’t see until it was too late. 

“Noooo!!” She shot up from a nest of pillows in a cold sweat, the sudden movement a painful reminder of how beaten up she was. 

“Maeve! Oh, thank God.” Cayden had dozed off in the office chair he pushed next to the bed. Groggily, he moved to sit next to her. 

“What…how?” She swung her fists in a disoriented flurry of fight or flight. Her eyes wouldn’t focus. 

“Maeve, it’s okay,” he grabbed her wrists. “You’re safe now. It’s over.” 

She caught her breath then recognized the face in front of her. Relief began to wash over her once she realized she wasn’t lying in a hospital bed or lying naked and beaten on the floor of a parking garage. Still, her head continued to spin. 

“What…what the hell happened? How did I get..here?” 

“You were attacked at the mall,” Cayden gently coaxed her to lie back down.”But you’re going to be fine. You’re on the bus. All the guys are here. Ezekiel’s here. Just relax,” he finished in a whisper as he softly stroked her bruised cheek with his fingers.

Her blurred vision dissipated and she took a deep breath though a fractured rib made that breath feel like a line drive to the torso. Cayden immediately draped a big ice pack wrapped in a towel over the side that pained her. He slightly lifted the bottom of her shirt so the coolness could touch her skin.

“Stop,” she slapped his hand away. 

“I’m sorry,” he flinched. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I promise you’re safe now, okay? Remember, I’d never lie to you.” 

She lie in silence for a bit, her gaze wandering from Cayden’s concerned eyes to her surroundings. Posters of cartoon characters, WWF wrestlers, swimsuit models, and rock stars lined the walls of the small room. 

“Where are we?” 

“It’s kind of a long story. Right now I just need you to rest. I’ll explain everything later.” 

Maeve allowed him to take her hand after he placed a cool wet cloth on her throbbing head. He noticed her squinting, so he reached over to pull the curtain over the window – her hand still held securely in his. 

“I feel like shit.” 

“In my opinion, you definitely don’t look how you feel.”

“What happened to the creeps who attacked me?” 

“They’re gone. You don’t have to worry about them anymore.” He brushed a lock of hair away from her face. 

“Did he..? Did they…?” She couldn’t get the words out through her welling tears. 

“No, we got there in time. They never had a chance,” he took both her hands in his. “And let’s just say it will be physically impossible for any of them to try it again.” 

It took a moment for her to process that he, and at least a couple of his bandmates, had something to do with her rescue. 

“But how did you..what were you doing at the mall? Especially in that garage? How was that possible at that exact moment? I don’t get it.” 

“Seems to be a hell of a coincidence, huh?” Cayden gave her a soft smile. 

“Have you actually been stalking me?” Even she wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. 

“No, of course not. Like I said, I’ll explain everything when you’re feeling better, okay?” 

“Well, why not begin with the basics now, son?” Corbin stood in the doorway holding a cast iron tea pot. 

“Sir,” he jumped up from his position next to Maeve, “I didn’t think you’d be coming so soon.” 

“Now what kind of host would I be if I stayed in my library all day and not introduced myself to this young lady here? Cayden, please grab me a mug from the kitchen.” 

“Sure, no problem,” he looked down to give Maeve a reassuring smile before leaving the room. 

She took in the striking presence before her – a tall, classically dashing man who looked to be somewhere in his forties wearing an all black suit. A broad chest and shoulders and wisps of salt and pepper hair completed his commanding but debonair look. 

“Well, Maeve. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Welcome to our home, dear.” 

“Home? Where?” She held the cold cloth so it wouldn’t fall over her eyes. “Who are you, and what do you want? In fact, can somebody please tell me what the hell is going on. How did you know where I was?” Cayden held the mug as Corbin poured the near-boiling cup of tea. Corbin held up his hand to pause the Knight before he could answer her. 

“Oh, forgive us, Ms. Wicklow, please. My name is Corbin Byrne, and I am..shall we say one of the band’s managers. And right now we are outside of our manor – Fian’s Hallow.” 

Reluctantly, Maeve sat up slightly and took the hot mug from Corbin’s noticeably scarred hands. The tea was unusual but fragrant, and she needed something warm and soothing. Every bit of her insides – bones, flesh, and all – seemed to ache.

“Okay, where exactly is Fian’s Hallow?” She took a slow sip and immediately felt a little more alive. 

“Allow me to clarify. This is one of several Fian’s Hallows. This one happens to be in the beautiful Green Mountains.” 

“Wait, do you mean Vermont? I’m in Vermont right now? How long have I been out? What day is it today? Okay, I’m out of questions for now. This is insane.” Panic rose in her voice and she took a longer sip of tea, welcoming the waves of pain relief. 

“It’s Sunday morning, Maeve.” Cayden sat on the foot of the bed and gently massaged her leg over the blankets. “You’ve been out since Friday night.” Corbin watched the physical sign of affection and keyed in on the young man’s voice. Ethan was right, he thought. The boy has fallen. 

“Why did you bring me here?” 

“Cayden and the boys wanted to make sure you received the best care possible after such a traumatic event.”

“By taking me this far away from home?” She looked over at Cayden. “And you haven’t answered my question. How did you even know where I was and what was happening?” 

Cayden anxiously looked over at Corbin who then motioned for Cayden to explain. 

“I’m not..I mean, we’re not who you think we are.” Cayden rubbed the back of his neck. 

“What are you talking about?” 

With a bemused look on his face, Corbin waited for Cayden’s next move. 

“Well, long story short..if that’s even possible,” he glanced at Corbin who gave him an approving nod. “We’re not just a band. We’re a Celtic brigade of demi-gods known as the Fianna, at least we’re descendants of warriors known as the Fianna. We all have..certain abilities and we use them to help people in danger or distress.” He decided to pause there to read her expression. She looked just as confused as when she first woke up. The rest of The Sleepless Knights made their way into the room. 

“That’s..the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. What are you trying to pull here, guys?” 

“It’s true, Maevey,” Quinn added. “Think about it. What reason would we have to make something like that up? We certainly don’t need the publicity.” 

“I get it, kiddo,” Kyler interjected. “ I hardly believe it myself sometimes. But -” he leapt onto the ceiling and hung over her upside down with a big grin on his face. “You can’t deny what you see with your own eyes, right?” Stunned, Maeve covered her face with a blanket and sunk into the sea of pillows. 

“Kyler, for the love of all the gods, get down! You’re frightening the poor girl!” Corbin scolded. 

“Oh yeah, sorry. Too much too soon I guess?” 

“No shit Sherlock,” answered Cayden. 

“Okay, I am out of here. There is something very wrong with all of you and you need to be checked.” As painful as it was, Maeve crawled out of the bed as fast as she could and headed straight for the bedroom door. Rian, who was on the opposite side of the room, appeared in front of her in a flash. 

“Not so fast, enchanted one. You are in no condition to be out of bed right now.” Rian’s lightening move made her stumble backward into Cayden. Once she felt his hands on her back, she turned and pushed him away. 

“Don’t come near me! All of you. Get out of my way, Rian!” The youngest Knight looked to Corbin for approval which he received. 

As fast as she could, she threw her journal and her other items back into her purple Jansport. Under Corbin’s command, none of the Knights made an attempt to stop her. 

“…’Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’ Nelson Mandela.” Gus remained in his seat, facing the windshield. 

“Go ahead and quote Ghandi next, Gus. I’m still out of here.” 

Maeve zipped her bag closed and limped her way towards the door. Gus rose from the driver’s seat but as he turned to block her path, Gus morphed into Corbin right before her eyes. She froze, completely breathless, not convinced she made it out of that garage alive. 

“My dear, there’s no where to go on foot. Please, you’re a rational young woman. Allow us to explain further.” 

Corbin barely finished his plea when she hit the floor. 

Our Little Angels and Demons Eating Disco Fries – stories and essays about where we’re going right and wrong —an excerpt

“So let’s say an angel and a demon head out to a diner for disco fries. Let me apologize ahead of time for the numerous New Jersey cliches and stereotypes that will probably make their way into this book. I’ve lived here all of my life – spending my childhood and adolescence in the southern part of the state and my adulthood in the northern part. So I am on the fence when it comes to the Taylor ham vs. pork roll division, another all-in-good-fun Jersey stumper I’ll explain later. But for now, let’s take a glimpse at our angel and demon diner date.

Angel: “You know, you should really make our person take a few moments and think about her choices before she acts. Her life is going to end up in the…place she uses to eliminate waste which she likes to call the…I choose not to repeat it.” Angel shoves a large forkful of gravy, cheese, and fries into her mouth, leaving remnants on her cheek and white button down.

Demon: “Lighten up there, Mrs. Rogers. She’s got to look after herself and do what she’s got to do. Let her be a screw up, builds character. You know, plenty of angels fall. Hell, look at me!” Demon’s face puckers as she bites down on the lemon from her iced tea glass then wipes her hands with the napkin on her lap.

Angel: “You make it sound like that’s a good thing, Mrs. Manson.”

Demon: “It is! Without me she’d never be able to destress, detach, detox, and most importantly she’d never get laid, get paid, and would give way too much of a fuck about everything.” She picks at small, soggy leftover pieces of French fry.

Angel: “Ugh, are you aware of how disgusting you allow yourself to get? If it wasn’t for me, she would be a complete loser with no compassion, no honor, no articulation, no-”

Demon: Matthew 7:1 my friend. Matthew 7:1. Or does that not apply anymore? From the looks of things, that might have died with Lennon.”

Matthew 7:1 refers to, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” It’s difficult for the average person to find validity in this verse. We judge and we are judged on a cellular level. It’s as unavoidable as a bad internet date or a lousy slice of mall pizza. But what if I said that maintaining disciplined judgement doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person? What if every time we passed judgement, which we all do consciously and subconsciously, we turned it into something productive and illuminating? We can’t make a decision about somebody’s character and then pour resin over it. But we can, and should, make that judgement more malleable. This is where intuition comes into play. Yes, our guts can screw us over in a myriad of ways. But as Albert Einstein once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Some of the world’s most brilliant minds didn’t find their places in the world by being rationale. If I had to pick a quote that would sum up this whole book, Einstein’s would be it.

It is our intuition that saves us from servitude and disillusionment. It is our intuition that saves us from deception as well as physical, mental, and emotional anguish. Unfortunately, our intuitions are often silenced, and we can blame society all we want. The truth is, we have no one to blame but ourselves because all of this is our creation. As Generation X continues to age and younger generations take the helm, we have to seriously reevaluate how we’re teaching our kids to function as somewhat stable, usually productive, and regularly tolerant human beings. It seems like the gavel drops before our kids ever get a chance to screw up. When they do screw up, through little fault of their own, recovery is either too much of a slippery slope or that slope isn’t slathered with enough butter…”

Use bold colors, and speak to those who have passed. They hear you.

From the guidebook for my upcoming oracle card deck, The Forgotten Words Oracle. Preorder at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheForgottenWord

Use bold colors

In tandem with “Let Your Colors Run Together”, keep in mind that it’s often best to use bold, brilliant colors that perhaps you’re not used to experiencing. In our professional lives, we are often confined in subdued colors – gray cubicles, black desks, chairs, and technology, an overall sterile environment. Our children’s classrooms are becoming more drab in hopes of minimizing distractions – so kids can keep their eyes on their electronic screens? Makes a lot of sense (note sarcasm).  

Our homes are often adorned with decor television shows tell us is stylish or appropriate. In general, our little worlds often lack variety, excitement, and bold colors. This card is about cutting out the mundane. It may be time to find ways to bring more color and vibrancy into your life. Look into gathering some flowering plants that grow indoors and in the shade no matter the season. Replace some achromatic winter clothing with more “out-of-season” colors. Dozens of shopping outlets have redesigned their winter clothing lines with more vivid hues. Maybe add some boldness of color to your home decor with vibrant throw pillows, blankets, tapestries, artwork, even a new coat of paint that rids your space of the emptiness of white walls.  If you’re feeling more adventurous, stop at a craft store and get yourself a set of acrylic or watercolor paints and a variety of painting tools (you can use objects from your home as painting tools that would make cool designs). Don’t worry about being an artist. A“full-fledged” artist (me) didn’t paint this picture. Just have fun with the swirls of color that represent who you are and where you want to be.   

On a more internal level, you may find that it’s time to let your voice be heard. Part of making positive changes in your daily life is standing your ground and accepting your right to say “no”. Make someone wonder what lit up your rainbow. 

Writing Prompt – Grab a set of multi-colored pens, pencils, or markers. Complete these mini prompts in the corresponding color. 

Red – If I could change the color of the blood in these veins, it would be _________________ because…

Orange – I need to learn to create ____________________ so I may….

Yellow – If life gives me lemons, I’m going to make ___________________ instead of lemonade, so…

Green – How would the trees around your home, job, and/or favorite getaway spot, narrate your life? 

Blue – You have the power to manipulate the shape of the clouds above someone’s head, who would it be and what shapes would you make and why? You cannot make words. 

Violet – Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, comes down to Earth and declares violets can no longer be violet. Why? Get to know her better at Theoi Greek Mythology at theoi.com.

Speak to those who have passed. They hear you. 

I came across what appeared to be a makeshift grave marker in the same cemetery where my mother’s ashes are interred. This one stone wasn’t simply lying against a traditional gravestone. It was one of many large stones and heavy sticks compiled to make a shape similar to a pyramid. This was an actual gravesite of a departed loved one whose family may have not been able to afford a marble stone at that time. 

My heart ached at the sight of this. I sat on the grass in front of it for a moment and took this photo of the simple yet beautiful black writing against the gray. I thought about how loved this person was. I wondered if the family couldn’t afford a headstone or did they choose not to use a monument carved by a stranger’s hands. The possible reasons behind this gravemarker were pretty much endless. But one thing is for certain, this memorial was honest, meaningful, and well-kept. If any pieces from the wood and stone structure fell, they were put back in place. Someone placed red flowers in the dirt. Someone made crosses out of palm leaves. Someone felt closer to their departed loved one by using nature to honor the soul that has passed. 

This card reminds us to speak to our lost loved ones as if they are still here, and then be mindful of the signs that may be responses. These answers may be communicated with a cool or warm draft, a shadow that appears for a split second from the corner of your eye, or with a minute too early or too late needed for you to avoid catastrophe. 

Sometimes this connection can be much more subtle or completely unnoticeable, but if we remind ourselves to let go of our fear or shame over speaking with the other side, we could start to pick up on its presence. Whether you are a believer or not, you never have to lose someone completely because they carry on within you and around you. They are never really gone. 

Sometimes the best time to let out all that’s weighing you down is with someone who will not say anything in return. Why should speaking with a lost loved one be any different? 

Writing Prompt – Create your own picture perfect version of heaven. But make sure in the center there is a small pond, and through the ripples of the water, you hear your closest friends and family speaking to you. What are they saying to you, and how are you trying to get them to notice your response? 

Sylvia Plath once wrote, 

“Dying is an art.

I do it exceptionally well. 

I do it so it feels like hell.” 

We live as we die, 

and we die as we live. 

Are we going to know 

the difference when it’s time? 

Maybe we’re dead now, 

and the ones in the ground 

are living,




the way us above-grounders 

used to do. 

Maybe we are actually alive

and the ones we say goodbye to 

leave for new circles of aliveness. 

Labyrinths of grape trees. 

Oceans without waves we can’t control. 

They are the whispers in daydreams. 

They are the cries we won’t let others see.

Teacher Writer Life

I’m scribbling away on a chapter and all of a sudden this comes out. And it’s only the first week of September 🙂

I want to be on the Emerald Isle, with a Starbucks, a notebook and pens, my camera, and nowhere else to be. ☘️☘️☘️❤️❤️❤️