This is not a cut that makes me wince, a bruised muscle
that makes me too stiff to move in the morning,
or a joint that sends stabbing pain through a nerve
making me cry out in pain.  No, those are now nothing
in comparison to what has happened to my body.

A fire burns deep into layers of skin and muscle
spreading like lava to places the scalpel never touched
searing white hot, a soldering iron held to my chest,
and I slip into darkness.

Glass shards grind along every nerve, churning like waves.
My nerve endings scream when I cannot. Steel claws
rip at me, a beast sporting with my limp body and I have
no will to survive, only a desire to escape the cruelty.

I rise and fall to the surface without will, unable to see
past the blackness that everything is. Falling back into
nothingness is surrender, freedom, not knowing,
not feeling.  Let the claws rip at me, let the fire burn.
I will sleep, unaware, unconscious.

Copyright Mar 2017
by csherar

The Piper

Who follows the Piper on the greyest of days?
When far off, the wind carries the notes that he plays?
Calling those orphaned, forsaken, or lost amid tides,
Those who’ve been shunned, disparaged, or cast aside.

Lonesome notes drift, then swell in their veins
In soft bleeding colors that haven’t a name.
An ancient, melodic, passionate story is told
For those willing to listen a promise unfolds.

What have they to lose in the grey spray of mist?
Where now the sinners and sailors both coexist?
So they follow the Piper across moor and sea
Trusting, and trading their heart for eternity.

Copyright Mar 2017
by csherar

Fogy Lovers

Author’s Note: This story is a bit of a stretch assignment for me. I rarely venture into erotic fiction, but today’s characters and writing prompts led me in that direction. I’ve italicized the writing prompts so you can follow the glide path of the story. Please judge kindly – Thanks.

You would think that investing your life in a neighborhood or community for 27 years would get you somewhere, but with the recent string of drug arrests made, Vidalia’s home value plummeted. It was time to sell the house and move to a condo, but to even get a reasonable price, the house needed repairs.

Out of the fog, there emerged a balding man with a tool belt and a toolbox. He wasn’t much to look at, so he went largely unnoticed. He performed maintenance at the low income high rise, but with so many tenants returning to prison, he would walk the neighborhood to perform minor repairs on his free time. Vidalia invited him in to discuss the repairs the realtor said were needed on the house.

The smell of lemon cookies floated into the room when Handyman Ralph entered Vidalia’s home. She handed him a sheet of paper with the recommendations from the realtor. She said, “Excuse me” and walked back to the kitchen to check on the cookies. “Have a look around.”

Ralph walked to the bathroom first with his face buried in the sheet. He stood at the threshold and slowly looked around at the out of fashion wallpaper, the cracked tile, the tarnished faucets and the peeling laminate countertop. Next, he shuffled his way downstairs. He glanced at the old water heater and the ancient furnace. He looked at his feet and sighed over the asbestos tile, half hidden under faded carpet. He took another look at the realtor’s requirements and he shook his head.

Vidalia called from upstairs, “Would you like a cookie?”

Handyman Ralph ascended the stairs and sat at her small kitchen table as she poured a cup of hot orange tea and set a plate of warm lemon cookies in front of him.

There was no way to foresee what was coming next. It began innocently enough. Handyman Ralph sat at Vidalia’s table, sipping the hot tea and enjoying a morsel of lemon cookie when she touched his hand. It had been so long since she had a man in the house. She didn’t even realize the hunger until she stood over him, massaging his broad shoulders.

Ralph realized that it wasn’t just the tea heating up the room. He turned. Their eyes met. Then their lips met. Ralph turned his chair. Vidalia leaned in closer.

She touched his chest and moved down. Their lips met again and he closed his eyes. She glided onto his lap and touched the tools on this toolbelt one by one, playing with the Double D inscribed in the leather.

Ralph’s powerful, calloused hands gently grasped her sides, moving higher and higher towards her breasts. Her light sweater was soft to the touch. Together they shared the pubescent passion of feeling love with their clothes on. Her body had softened with age. His body was hardened by his daily toils, as chiseled as the tools around his belt and as unyielding as the tools in his toolbox. She could feel the knowledge inside him. She knew that he carried within him the tricks of the trade and that she only needed him to reach into his toolbox and have him begin his work. She cradled his head in her bosom.

They may have been sharing a dormant passion, but he felt the aged putty in his hands of this forgotten woman from the past. She was the spinster aunt who always arrived alone to family gatherings, which resonated with the lifestyle he had also fallen into. He opened his eyes and saw in her lightly creased face a reflection of himself and a prophesy of his near future. What was it that this balding man and this woman named after an onion were doing?

His hesitancy vanished as he leaned into her face for another kiss. His arms cradled her like a piece of sheet music on a music stand. As the conductor, he raised his baton and began counting off the measures to start the symphony. She felt it and, like the silent air of the concert hall, she was ready to be filled with the beautiful music.

They were interrupted by his phone. Ralph moaned. The phone rang a second time. “Thank God it’s Saturday,” he said sarcastically. Vidalia touched his cheek and whispered into his ear, “I work from home during the week.”

The phone rang a third time and Handyman Ralph reached into his pocket to answer the old Nokia phone. Vidalia stood up and straightened herself after their passionate make out. Ralph continued to receive instructions over the phone. The caller refused to let him hang up the phone to say goodbye to his host. With the dour face that he entered with, Handyman Ralph left, carrying his toolbox in one hand and his phone in the other. Vidalia stood in the doorway and watched him disappear again into the fog from whence he came.

What Ashley Said

On Sunday morning,

22 year old babies

text each other relentlessly

about the things that happened last night,

as if it matters somehow.

But no one cares

what Ashley said,

if you got sick or

got laid or

lost your car keys.

None of it matters


you got shot


you fell in love.

-Copyright Timothy Downs

Today and Always

Life is so funny sometimes, not ha ha funny but queer funny, a little weird and unpredictable, even strange and disorienting. Every time I think I have things figured out I soon learn thereafter that I am as lost as ever and things really aren’t up to me.

When I met you I was taken aback firstly by your beautiful looks and secondly, after having listened to your voice, and then having heard you, your heart, echoes of your pain and reflections of your scars I was captured by how beautiful your really were. I connected with that pain, with that history. I recognized you like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, not in the way that it might have been had we not seen each other in person in a long time but like when you realize that that person has been near you, close by and maybe even by your side for a long time and suddenly it hits you, the two of you are connected by something more than you can see, more than is actually tangible, by your spirit, by your yearnings and sense of desire.

When that realization hits you it destroys what you thought you may have needed or wanted, for me it was singularity, especially after having been in a relationship for so long, I wanted nothing to do with being in another one. But I would soon be captured by you in more ways than in spirit and heart, my world changed, my desires too and my needs changed shape. Suddenly I couldn’t exist without you by my side in some way, that scared me and I tried to push it away, please forgive me for that. I had been in a relationship for many years, but I hadn’t been loved for many more.

You began to open my eyes to the possibilities that lay before for me. You showed me what it means to be adored, to be loved for everything that I am and am not. I cannot thank you enough for what you have given me, for all that you have done for my soul, for my heart, it has healed far more quickly and earnestly than in any other time in my life. Also thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for my children, they are all of the parts of me that you aren’t and together all of those parts make me whole, validated, quantified. You all make me count; you have avenged me for my shortcomings and made my life so colorful and breathlessly wonderful, each day when I open my eyes and you are there beside me I know I will be all right, I know the sun will rise and the stars will shine for you, so thank you.

I love you, today, always and forever.

Blue Like This

When I’m blue like this,

my stomach boils like a pot on the stove,

churning sick and desperate.

This is the future.

This is the past.

This is permanent.

This room is a prison

I don’t want to leave.

I’ve been institutionalized.

The real world has no place for me.

It offers no comfort,

gives me no love.

Someone takes a dinner fork and

scratches my brain with it,

like a DJ cutting a record.

There’s no one to blame.

There’s no one on this planet

except me and

I don’t belong here.

(I guess that’s why I’ve always got the blues.)

Blue like this,

blue like this,

blue like that,

like always.

-Copyright Timothy Downs

Falling Away

For years he walked against the wind, struggled against life’s gales, fighting for each step. He would turn his head from side to side straining to draw breath at times as he shielded his face from the stinging reach of his mistakes, and when the wind turned to a lesser breeze he’d look skyward for a light to show him the way, but all he found was reflections of shame.

He would sit down then, hunker in and wait for the storm to pass. Then when it did and he could stand and see around him all he saw was nothing, he couldn’t see into the future and he couldn’t see into his past, all there was, was nothing. He failed, failed to progress, failed to attain, he failed to be anything but present.

Like so many the present is unaccounted for, they wander between what came before and what happens next. Never knowing their fate, always looking for the solid, steady ground below their feet, which always seems to be there…until it isn’t.

When that moment comes and it always does, you have choices to make; you can surrender and fall away or reach out desperately and grab hold of the very edge and hang on. Then you fight, you fight with everything that’s left, you fight and claw and battle against gravity. You pull and struggle, and you as your fingers bleed and become cold and frozen and the feeling in your legs dissipates quickly you get angry and you spit as you cry out for a chance, just a little opportunity to show you have something left to give.

When you dig deep enough and you find that small flame buried somewhere in your soul you suck it in, and use it and crawl from that hole and roll over onto your back, exhausted, and weep. For you just learned that there is fight in you yet, that there is something worth saving and you love it and caress it and as you lay there contemplating the present, you realize that the clouds that kept your world dark and empty have begun to thin. You see blue sky and know there is something in your future if only you strive to put it there, there is something and you will find it.