Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Never Saw It Coming

I Never Saw It Coming

Mind matter rat-tat-tatting
rushing, pushing, clock on the run,
responsibility wails.
Destiny calls
and the car pool cometh.
Screen door creaks wide
to reveal obstinate lingering stars
amidst frowning moon faces.
Stretched to attention
I remain oblivious
to humid air assaulting my face
in discontented slaps.
Mind matter rat-tat-tatting
rushing, pushing, clock on the run,
until a graceful nudge
of warm light hovers 
next to my shadow pulsating
with daybreak tremors.
I never saw it coming.

©JO Janoski 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let Us Be Like Children at Christmastime

William Bouguereau-Angels Playing Violin

Let Us Be Like Children at Christmastime

Children watching night skies lit with hope's light
while angels watch, their hearts ablaze with love
bestowing magic on this special night.

Oh wondrous eve when angels sing above
of sweet rewards for children, young and old,
of innocence maintained for all beloved.

Rewarded with children's joy to behold
in their laughter gifted by angels near
Christmas magic through children's voices told.

©2008 JO Janoski

A WordCatalyst Workshop Prompt

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturdays Are For Singing

Hein Van Den Heuvel - Forest Path

Saturdays Are For Singing

Saturdays I gather up my music
like broken glass off the ground
where it's been scattered
by those other days
of numbing voices
that punch
in solid thumps that
bully and break fragile things
into exploded parts.
I follow yesterday's shards
to Saturday sanctuary
in a still green forest
where nature's heartbeats hum
scattering sunlight pulses
like soft music
punctuated by green leafy dancers
racing along rustic bark scales
in a symphony of glorious joy
where I may humbly join the chorus
to sing again.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

A WordCatalyst Workshop Prompt

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Duck Who Couldn't Swim

Mother's Helper by Henry G. Plumb

A children's story for a Word Catalyst prompt.

The Duck Who Couldn't Swim

Charlie jiggled his turned-over straw hat above the water barrel with quick, gentle movements. In a flurry of white feathers and orange beaks and feet, two more baby ducklings plopped into the water. One last bird remained in the over-turned hat, that 'quacker' edging backwards to avoid a tumble to the cold water below. Charlie shook the hat with more vigor, but the duckling remained clutching the hat innards for dear life.

"Hey! What are you doing?" the little duck squawked, fluttering and struggling to cling to the prickly straw.

"I'm fixin' to teach ya how to swim!" the boy replied executing more strenuous attempts to dislodge the bird.

Mama Duck stood by, a disagreeable expression on her face, not that we humans can see different expressions on duck faces since they basically pretty much all look the same to us, but other ducks know. Not to be ignored Mama rustled her feathers with a vengeance that almost toppled her off the platform where she stood. The boy ignored her.

"Hey! Leave my little Fuzzy alone!" she finally screeched, flapping her wings for emphasis.

The boy looked back with wide eyes, his face etched in innocent lines. "I thought you said I could teach the kids how to swim."

"Yeah, but Fuzzy is different. He's afraid of the water!"

"Pfft! That's stupid! Whoever heard of a duck that's afraid of water?"

Little Fuzzy, hearing this, stiffened his feathery little body while stifling a tear. "I can't help it!" he whimpered.

Mama Duck shot him a concerned smile, then turned to gaze again at the boy. Fuzzy's brothers and sisters giggled as they paddled around in the water barrel. His oldest brother, Chester, flapped his webbed foot and splashed water on Fuzzy's face. This erupted a new round of laughter from the ducklings as they paddled faster and showed off.

"Children, stop it!" Mama Duck hissed. She turned her attention back to Fuzzy and Charlie. "What Fuzzy needs is a gentle touch."

"Huh? But this is how my dad taught me to swim. He pushed me off the pier and said, 'Swim, boy! Swim or die trying.' He told me some things just come natural."

"Oh, how ghastly!" Mama Duck turned a paler shade of white, not that we humans can tell when a duck turns a paler shade of white since different shades of white on ducks look basically pretty much the same to us, but other ducks know.

"Don't I get a say in this?" Fuzzy asked.

"Mmmm, no, I don't think so. My pop didn't let me say anything. He just pushed me in the water and that was that."

"NO!" Mama Duck flapped her wings again. "Let me show you! Get out of the pool, kids!"

Fuzzy's brothers and sister scrambled to get out of the water barrel as Mama Duck flapped up to roost on the barrel edge. "Now, Fuzzy, you jump on my back."

The little duck obeyed.

"Now I'm going to ease into the water and you can watch how I paddle my feet to swim. Ready?"

Fuzzy trembled in fear and his pretty feathers turned that paler shade of white, the one we humans can't discern because we're not ducks. Mama duck paddled in circles like the pro that she was. Fuzzy held on to her back for dear life, fearful he would fall off.

"See, Fuzzy! It's easy. Now I'm going to dip down and set you off on your own so you can try."

"Mama, NO!" Fuzzy flapped his wings and got so excited he almost fell off Mama's back.

"Are you sure that duck's not a chicken?" Charlie asked, hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels as he chuckled.

"My Fuzzy is a brave little duck!" Mama Duck squawked.

"Well, let's see how brave he is!" Charlie said. With one finger, he reached over and flicked the little bird into the water.

Fuzzy couldn't have been more surprised. not that we humans could tell, because duck expressions look all the same to us, as we determined previously. The little bird flipped and flapped and fluttered until he realized he wasn't sinking. He'd begun moving his feet back and forth without even thinking about it. Floating and swimming came naturally to him! He was swimming just like a little duck should.

"Mama, look! I'm swimming!"

"That's my boy!" Mama Duck smiled, not that we humans could tell...well, you already know all about that duck expression business.

"See!" Charlie said. "Some things just come natural."

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Photographing Winter Landscapes

Winter landscapes speak for themselves. Snow filters down in a whisper and paints a sea of lush white. The world is transformed to a wonderland, bringing back joyful childhood memories even to the most disagreeable old fogy. So how do you capture winter's soft-spoken demeanor? Think like an artist, noting shading, light, form, and gesture.

First, the tranquil...freshly laid snow, undisturbed and pristine, soft and quiet...a real heart stopper for the wandering soul who dons winter gear and faces the elements. First, what not to do, and that is to go out in glaring sunlight to take snow pictures. It is loud. it is brass. And it glares, making contrasty pictures that assault the eye.

Instead, I like to choose either early morning or late day when sunlight is soft. In the evening on clear days, in particular, the sun renders a soft orange illumination, which combined with open shade brings the snow to life. If the sun comes out, it is a soft touch, giving the land a glowing new perspective with softly defined lines between sun and shade.

Well, that's what the eyes sees. Bringing it to the picture is not as stellar because that soft glow is lost and flattened in the two-dimensional world of a photograph. But shooting in soft light is always a good thing. In this case, rustic tree bark and sun-goldened shrubbery can take on a detailed, interesting contrast to pure white snow. But be careful with your f-stop. Automatic metering registers "normal" as neutral gray to cover all situations. (Hey, generalization is what automation is all about). So you may want to open up a stop or check the setting on your digital camera for a white balance setting to get sparkling white snow instead of dingy gray.

Second, the harsher side of winter...I like to go close up to emphasize the season's icy aspects. Filling the frame with a twig encased in a frozen droplet or a study of snow on trees or fence posts can produce interesting results. Think like an artist to bring your theme home. A snowy fence post leading into the center of the picture is ultimately more interesting than one which runs across the frame horizontally. Snow-covered trees have form and gesture. Some trees, stately and majestic, hold their own while others speak volumes in groupings that fill the frame like dancers on a stage. My point is looking at this new snow-world has much to offer, not only in the normal view, but also in the world close-up or even impressionistic.

Finally, as the day comes to a close, winter's drama is at hand in a glowing sunset view with long shadows stretched across the snow in a blazing light. The setting sun puts the winter landscape to sleep in a beautiful power play that shows the both of best worlds. Be sure to catch this magic moment, and hurry, because it doesn't last for long.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, December 05, 2008

Brainstorming on a Winter Afternoon

Winter Harmony by John Henry Twachtman

Brainstorming on a Winter Afternoon

Pastel ideas loosely unhinged abound
insouciant parade of hues
set free, not caring to be found

Whirling notions dripping fresh dew
tinting, dabbing inspired rush
in splotches of fresh concepts new.

Glistening swirls soft-touched and hushed
humming new songs heady rhythm
in winter's harmony, unrushed.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

New Prompt at WordCatalyst Workshop

New Prompt at WordCatalyst Workshop--a short story (with poem option) for the first of the month. This prompt runs all month.

Monday, December 01, 2008

WordCatalyst December Issue is Live

A new issue of WordCatalyst magazine is out, with first-rate prose, poetry, art, and photos for your enjoyment. Here is a snippet from my column, Tales of Whisper Gap:


Rain pelted concrete, smashing against stone to send droplets flinging through the air like giggling children at play. But three figures huddled below the underpass stayed warm and dry. They'd built a tiny fire from newspapers gathered at a nearby bus stop, warming their hands under its minuscule flames. A new day was dawning on the city.

"Supposed to get colder and colder all day," Rock commented. "I read it in that paper before we burned it."

His massive hands rubbed together over the pyre with short, abrupt motions. Muscular arms propelled the movement while his huge body strained to stay in a crouching position. As if to prove him right, the rain proceeded to pound harder on the bridge above, as the water transformed to a disagreeable sleet, stronger, sassier than simple rain.

Millie wrapped a hole-ridden blanket tighter around her tiny torso. Her wrinkled hands rubbed skinny arms to warm them, next pulling a filthy knit cap down over her ears. "I'm hungry. My sweet tooth is driving me crazy."

Rock shot her a worried glance. He didn't have the courage to admit it, but the little lady reminded him of his grandmother. She never said why she was homeless, but they'd taken her in and given her a safe haven. Millie remained a source of amusement and cheer in their little group.

Sam, the other fellow, laid down the tattered book he was reading, his face illuminated with an idea. "Is today Sunday? There's a bake sale at St. Anthony's."

Rock kicked the burning embers to reveal the last untouched news pages. He squinted to read the charred pieces, scanning for a headline. "Yeah. It's Sunday!"

"Let's go," Millie said. ...More

Sunday, November 30, 2008

WordCatalyst Prompt -- Snow Scene Haiku

Photo Copyright JO Janoski

A WordCatalyst Prompt
-- Haiku

Tree shadows splatter
across icy white snow sheets
searching for warm souls.

As I skim pure snow
shadows of trees beckon me
to follow dark trails.

Shimmering shadows
whisper in morning sunlight
about days to come.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Monday, November 24, 2008

Singing with Angels

Marblehead Races by Gordon Grant

Singing with Angels

Summer sails balloon
with anticipatory
journeys heavenward
riding white cloud seas.

Gliding inspired
lonely ride transcendental
endless blue rushing
to eternity.

Exhaling star songs
Wrapped in ink-stained galaxies.
Singing with angels
for an afternoon.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For Love or Money

Part 4 of an ongoing story which starts here, then here, next here.

For Love or Money

"Eye Candy in the fifth!"

The jittery hand placing a one hundred dollar bill on the counter had moments ago crossed fingers for luck. Charlie Puckett grabbed the ticket and turned to Elvira Dobbs who stood beside him, wearing a frown.

"It's done." His weak smile revealed a sudden lack of confidence.

"Charlie Puckett, you'd better hope that horse wins. I didn't come to the track with you just to sit around and look pretty, you know."

"Yes, Mrs. Dobbs...Elvira. I know. Why don't we find some seats and wait for our race." Charlie wrapped her arm in his and proceeded to lead Elvira Dobbs into the grandstands. He felt her arm stiffen in his grasp. "A beautiful afternoon, isn't it?" He murmured, trying to make the atmosphere light.

"Yes, I suppose it is. Nice warm sun."

"Warm like your lovely brown eyes!" As they settled in seats, he produced a single red rose and presented it to her.

"What the...? Charlie, what's this?"

"A rose for you, my celebrate your beauty."

"Oh hog wash!" Elvira Dobbs stiffened and looked away.

"Mrs. Dobbs...Elvira, you are beautiful to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, remember. I see your inner self, the buried soul that is timelessly exquisite."

Elvira looked back at him. "You're pretty cute, yourself, Charlie," she said before turning away again as though the words were awkward. Her eyes remained on the track. "I've always known what a teddy bear you are inside...I've been aware of it for as long as you and Alfred hung around together."

"May I kiss you?"


"May I kiss you, Mrs. Dobbs...Elvira?"

"Well, just once, on the cheek!"

As Charlie stretched over to plant a wet one, his eyes caught a view of the gate. "It's our race! The fifth with Eye Candy!"

Elvira pushed him away and jumped up to hug the railing. "Which one is our horse?"

Charlie leaned close and murmured in her ear. "That black one there, with the jockey in red."

He'd hardly got the words out and the gun went off. The horses shot out like bullets, including Eye Candy who hugged the rear but soon galloped to make it to the middle and then the front, neck in neck with Devil May Care, a muscular black steed with long legs that made the exhausting run look effortless.

"GO EYE CANDY, GO!" Elvira screeched, clutching Charlie's arm in her excitement. Bouncing up and down, she let go of Charlie to wave her arms in the air.

Charlie gripped the railing and watched.

The announcer's voice rat-tat-tatted on the loud speaker. "It's Eye Candy! Devil May Care! Eye Candy! Devil...Eye Candy...They're nearing the finish's Eye Candy! Devil May Care coming on hard...Eye Candy! No! Devil May Care taking the lead! Devil May Care with Eye Candy right behind! Devil May Care! Devil May Care! Devil May Care across the finish line! It's Devil May Care the winner!"

Elvira and Charlie stood, stunned. Finally, turning to one another, Charlie murmured, "We lost."

"Yes, we did."

Charlie sighed, not a gentle sigh, the kind one can hide; but a giant display of unrest pushed through his lips in a colossal squawk that wished it was a roar.


"Oh, I'm sorry, Elvira. It's just that I realized not only did we lose the race, but now you'll never marry me. Winning was the only chance I had."

"Who says so?"

Charlie blinked in surprise. "Well, actually, I guess I said so. I said if we won, I'd ask your hand in marriage."

"Charlie, if you ask my hand in marriage, we still win!"


"Don't you see, Charlie! I wanted to marry you all along."

"But I didn't win us the jackpot!"

"Yes, you did. We're both winners because we have each other."

He fell to one knee and took her hand in his. "Elvira Dobbs, will you marry me?" he asked, holding his breath.

"Charlie Puckett, I certainly will."

And that was how Charlie Puckett became a millionaire, in more ways than one.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, November 22, 2008


A WordCatalyst Workshop PromptJust One Violin by Hamish Blakely


Music notes bounce from wall to ground
as hearts resound
tango heart beats
pounding stone streets

in syncopated misery
with needs to be
alone, undressed
their love confessed

steamy passion violin shrieks
hot ember streaks
in street dance heat
suppression beat.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Lucky Three Continues

Continuation of the other Jo's Story, The Lucky Three

Mrs. Elvira Dobbs emerged from St. Anthony's, strolling and waving her bejewelled hand like a queen greeting her subjects. Pausing in the doorway, she stepped in front of Father O'Reilly and shoved him to the back in order to meet parishioners as proper royalty should.

"Hello, Mrs. Brooster! How are you today!" she murmured, extending her hand, her diamonds glinting in the morning sun.

"I...I was just hoping to see Father O'Reilly." Mrs. Brooster snaked her face upwards to look for the beleagered pastor hovering behind the other lady.

"Oh, certainly! He's...back there!" Mrs. Dobbs dismissed the matter with another flurry of jewels. Her white silk jacket rustled with the movement while costly perfume aromas invaded the vestibule's air space.

"Mrs. Dobbs...Elvira...I wanted to express my condolences on your recent loss." The little voice came from the side, wired, tense.

"What? Oh! Mr. Puckett!"

"I'm sorry about Alfred, a tragedy, really."

"Yes, my dear Alfred. But he has left a lasting impression. I can appreciate him more in death than in life, I think. He was such a lazy sloth when alive, but now..." She flashed her diamonds. "In death, he is a noble provider...dear Alfred."

Charlie's eyes lit up watching the starlike jewels. "Yes. Has it occurred to you, Mrs. Dobbs, that Alfred would want you to remember his dear friends...his loyal that he has passed and can't look out for them?"

"Whatever are you talking about, Charlie?"

He smiled at her use of his first name. "Perhaps Alfred would want you to share some of his great abundance...with his old friends, as it were."

"Certainly not!"

"Perhaps a loan, a solitary loan of $100.00. I have a magical idea, Mrs. imitate Alfred's generous last act of placing a bet on Eye Candy who is running in the fifth tomorrow afternoon. History could repeat itself, and I would, of course, share with you as I am asking you now to share with me, Mrs. Dobbs...Elvira."

"Are you insane?"

"Mrs. Dobbs, would you call your current state of wealth insane? Just such "insanity" is what put those jewels on your fingers."

"Oh my Gawd! You're starting to make sense."

"Mrs. Dobbs, just $100. Just $100. It's a long shot., we could make a fortune...another fortune for you."

"Okay, Charlie Puckett. I'll give you the $100, but heaven help you if we don't win. I'll be looking forward to ruining you for making a fool of me."

"Oh, we shall win. And when we do, I shall ask your lovely hand in marriage. We will be such an unbeatable team, how could you resist?" He dropped to one knee and clutched her hand.

"Oh, Mr. Puckett," Elvira blushed. "I could resist. The question is, will I have to?"

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


This blog is in mourning for the loss of theburghblog. PittGirl retired her blog today. Say it isn't so, PittGirl!

OMG! Did the pigeons win?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mr. Dobbs

Fanned out by Charles Dana Gibson

In response to a Word Catalyst Prompt

Mr. Dobbs
(Gentleman on the Left in Picture)

Plump Mr. Dobbs wiggled his stubby fingers into empty pockets and sighed. After paying off Swenson, he'd have no money left, not even a nickle. Damn Yankees! They lost. Mr. Dobbs wasn't a pleasant individual to be around to begin with, constantly scowling, forever dressed in a wrinkled suit and tie, a battered straw hat shielding a balding head from the summer sun. When he lost a bet, people scattered from his path. His big lumbering body coming down the street, propelled by angry words sputtering, remained a force to be reckoned with. Today people ran away even faster.

Mrs. Dobbs was waiting for him in the living room, her arms folded across her chest, standing tall and determined, a closed suitcase set beside her.

"Well, I see the Yankees lost," she told him first thing.


"And I suppose you bet the rent money on them again, is that not right, Alfred?"

He shot her an exhausted glance. "Yes, I bet the rent money...and yes, I lost it."

"I told you. I told you! If you lost the rent money again I was leaving. Do you remember?"


She studied him. "You really don't care, do you? You don't care if we have no roof over our heads, food in the fridge. All you care about is the next round of bets."

He didn't answer.

"I must be crazy to have stayed here this long. What was I thinking? I sold my mother's jewelry once because we were broke. Do you remember that, Alfred? Do you?"


"Well, that's it! I'm out of here!" Mrs. Dobbs picked up the suitcase and pushed past her husband, slamming the door in her wake. Mr. Dobbs stood quietly and made no effort to chase after his wife. When the car pulled away, he let loose with a yawn. He headed for the den and his favorite overstuffed recliner, a nap foremost on his mind. What a surprise to find a brown leather handbag perched on the seat, opened, inviting, forgotten by Mrs. Dobbs. He reached in and his fist emerged with a wad of money. Fanning it, the fat man chuckled. Next pulling a newspaper out of one pocket and his cell out of another, Mr. Dobbs hit speed dial.

"Hello? Swenson? Put me down for $100 on Eye Candy in the ninth. Yeah, I got a few bucks. My wife gave it to me."

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

A WordCatalyst Workshop Prompt

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Wanda Shortstuff rubbed the back of one hand across her forehead, smearing flour in a broad, white streak. Outside, snowflakes tumbled to ground, mounding up in stacks, some of them over three feet high. Then wind blew and drifted the snow, scattering the white stuff helter skelter, painting the world in a rushing, white haze.

"Where's my rolling pin? What the he...Oops, better watch my language. Almost said the bad thing. Santa may be listening."

Ollie, her friend, sat nearby stringing popcorn for the big Tree. His elf ears perked up when he heard her statement. "Where did you learn to talk like that?" he squealed.

"Oh, ever since we got satellite TV here at the North Pole, little bits and pieces sneak that word I almost said." Wanda sniffed in disdain and continued her search for the rolling pin. Opening drawers and cupboards, she stuck her nose in and looked in all those dark places. "How can I have the gingerbread men ready Christmas eve without my rolling pin?"

"It's a conundrum," Ollie murmured, stringing three more kernels on the popcorn garland.

Wanda stood, hands on hips, and stared at the elf. Her face flushed. "You never take me seriously! Never!"

"Huh? Where'd that come from?"

"You always ignore me when I need help. But when you need me, I'm there for you!"

Ollie chuckled. "Put a lid on it, Wanda!" He returned to his popcorn-stringing. "You take yourself too seriously."

"Take myself too seriously! Take myself too seriously! Without me, there'd be no Christmas cookies around here."


"There you go again! I get so mad! I could just...I could just..." Wanda, face red and hands shaking, reached into her flour canister and a grabbed a handful. Poof! She threw it in Ollie's face!

"Yuck, spit! What'd you do that for?" Ollie spied his friend grinning, her eyes dancing with revenge. He made a grab for the butter dish. Wanda rushed him, but he pushed her away and buried his fist in the grease, lifting a handful. He squashed it in Wanda's face.

She stared back, her eyes registering disbelief. The girl's face, sculpted in yellow butter was covered with too much gunk to reveal any other lines, until she made a dash for the pie case. Shards of butter flew off and through the air, sent airborne by her speed. It plopped to the floor creating a treacherous grease slick. At the pie case, she lifted a lemon meringue and ran with it in Ollie's direction.

"Bomb's away!" she yelled, throwing the pie at him. As the concoction left her hand, she slid on the butter slick and slammed to the floor.

Ollie never saw the lemon meringue pie coming. He'd been wiping flour off his face, and when he dropped the towel, the pie zoomed in a like a guided missile. ZWAT!

"Whaaat!" The poor man fell into a heap. glazed in lemon custard and meringue.

"HO! HO! HO!" A booming voice filled the room, along with the jingle of tiny bells. There was no mistaking who was coming. "HO! HO!..." Santa Claus stopped short when he saw the two sprawled on the floor, covered with baking ingredients. He touched a chubby finger to his nose in thought before asking, "What's going on here?"

Ollie and Wanda exchanged glances. This could demote them to cleaning the reindeer stalls. Ollie answered first. "We had an accident with the cookie dough. see, we lost the rolling pin, and we had all this dough, and Wanda and I were looking for the rolling pin and we knocked over a few canisters and butter tubs...we were frantic to find the rolling pin. The Christmas cookies need made and all."

Santa waved his hand. "More than I wanted to know. But about the rolling pin...I had it. In fact, I've come to return it today."

Wanda's face was etched in confusion. "Santa, you had it?"

"Yes, my dear. Ever since we got satellite TV, I've been watching the food network." He chuckled. "Thought I'd try a few pie recipes."


Santa continued. "By the way, I made a lemon meringue pie. Would you like some?"

When the two didn't answer, he chuckled again. "I didn't think so. Well, here's the rolling pin. Merry Christmas! And remember, be kind to one another." With a wink and a smile, he was gone.

Wanda and Ollie never fought again, at least not with food.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Light Illusive

The Light Illusive

Illusive, it trickles through cracks in my gritted teeth,
warming, illuminating
parts of my being I meant to keep mine.
I reach to grab it, contain it, send it away
and it jiggles like jello.
It's here to stay.
Annoying, it talks.
Tells me to be better,
to sing,
It's the voice of motivation, I suppose.
But it doesn't have my tones,
my diction.
It's someone else's voice.
It won't go away,
even after you're gone.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, November 01, 2008

And Farmer John Smiled

Pigs  by Pablo Picasso

And Farmer John Smiled
Gluttony splashed with dirty water,
everyday celebration
in corn fed jubilee,
pigs in a barnyard, sloppy smiles
mud-slicked playfulness
wrapped in harmony
with waste and wallow extraordinaire
flung from rusty pails
groping, gorging gleefully
stuffing, delirious, mesmerized
like fast-food zombies
in satiated ecstasy.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WordCatalyst--November Issue

A fresh edition of WordCatalyst has just gone up. Here's a sneak peek at my column, and don't forget all the other fine columns, stories, poetry, and artwork while  you're there.

A Man and His Dog

Jasper Rollins' body lay still, an itinerant gnat flying around his bushy beard and a single bead of sweat dripping down his brow. The cobblestone alley was bumpy, uncomfortable to lie on. But he didn't notice in his inebriated slumber. An earlier rollover had already sent a nearby trash can crashing over on its side, spilling its contents.

Fritz, his pet German Shepherd, finished off those leftovers long ago. Well, "pet" is perhaps a strong term. The dog wasn't Jasper's pet so much as a traveling companion -- two souls who met up in the night, a rainy night, each taking shelter in the same box car. Snuggling together for warmth in the drenching cold air, they didn't so much as introduce themselves to assume instinctual, comfortable common ground dictated by necessity. No introductions necessary.  Read more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Morning Glory

A septet is a seven-line poem with the following number of syllables per line, no rhyme. 3, 5, 7, 9,7, 5, 3.
Morning Glory
Blue satin
openly awaits
morning's misty tears running
in rivulets seeking velvet depths
of miracles translucent
brushed with golden strokes

Copyright 2008 Photo and Poem - JO Janoski

Monday, October 27, 2008

Toby the Grouchy Pumpkin

Toby the Grouchy Pumpkin

Toby, the pumpkin, led a simple life. He was born, or should I say "blossomed" in Farmer John's field on a summer day, nothing more than a tiny green speck at first. But with lots of light and water he grew and grew. Amongst the trees and birds and flowers, he prospered in that good country air, finally reaching a humongous size of 24 inches in diameter, a freak of nature, as it were. 
His mother pumpkin, Emily, felt great distress over her mutant son. She rolled and thrashed in the patch worrying and fretting. Toby was truly the main topic of conversation in the field.
"Have you seen that giant pumpkin?"
"Yeah, man! Let's hope he never breaks loose and starts rolling! He'll smash us all like a steamroller!"
Indeed, bugs and birds and plant life alike stayed clear of humongous Toby. His frightful size made them all scurry out of his way. And the vine that held him struggled under the load of his weight, nearly 40 lbs. One October day, the rain poured and the winds blew, and the stressed out vine gave up.
"Run along, big Toby. I'm setting you free," the vine murmured in breathless gasps.
Toby considered that a good idea. He was all grown up, fully colored a bright orange, and ready to rock and roll, so to speak. In fact, he rolled over a slope and settled in a ravine by a gurgling brook. There was one other odd thing about Toby. All that time of being an outcast had hardened his outer crust and made him tough. And it made him grouchy. Yes, Toby the pumpkin was a major grump. So when he landed in the ravine, he was delighted to be away from the patch and all those neighbors who treated him like a freak. He was alone, and he liked it that way.
He and the creek got along fine, being different life forms and all. They had no foundation to criticize one another. Actually, Toby found the creek to be dumb as a door knob, with little to say but its silly incessant gurgling. So Toby ignored the waters and remained happy in his new home.
Happy until one day a little boy came along and took a shine to him. Not literally, of course, although you could shine a pumpkin if you wanted to. The boy had other plans, and before Toby knew what happened, the youth had picked him up and tossed him in a cart and took off with him. Knocked and bumped from the ride, poor Toby arrived at a farm house dazed and confused.
"I got it!" the boy yelled. "I found a good pumpkin."
"Bring it on into the kitchen!" a woman's voice answered.
The youth carried Toby in and plopped him on a table.
"He's a nice big one!" the woman observed. She approached wielding a knife while an enthusiastic glint sparkled in her eyes. "Very big, indeed!"
Toby was so frightened he wondered if his orange might fade to mere yellow. He saw the knife coming at him and thought for sure his pumpkin body would simply collapse into a Dali-esque orange puddle. The blade of the glinting knife reached his skin and pierced it. It didn't hurt. Rather, it evoked a smooth soothing sensation. The knife went to work, slicing and poking while Toby enjoyed every stroke. The blade eased a rounded lid off the top of his head. Next a spoon went inside him and scooped. The spoon's digging and dragging evoked a giddiness like Toby had never known. He loved it, and the utensil's action left him feeling light and airy, cleansed.
Next the knife went to work again with more slices and zig-zags, gracing Toby with a face--triangle eyes, rounded nose, and a big, snarling, notched mouth, a frightening face, really. Next, the woman placed a candle inside him, the flame flickered and glowed and Toby's new glaring expression lit up. She placed him on the porch, and passersby ooh-ed and ah-ed at his frightfulness. A funny thing happened. Toby no longer wanted to be alone. He liked being on display and the center of attention. And so, as Jack-o-Lantern, grouchy Toby found his place in the world, where he could be a grump and people loved him for it.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Even Angels Have Bad Days

My apologies to the town of Moberly, but I love the sound of  your name. It inspires.

Even Angels Have Bad Days

Those mists of Moberly had a chilling effect on not only one's spine, but the psyche, as well. People pondered where the icy fog got its powers. Did it roll in from the river like a tempestuous snake slivers through damp morning grasses? Or did it fly in like cantankerous angels wishing ill on all in their paths. Even angels have bad days, don't they?

It followed me home that evening, after a day of fishing. I felt its moisture on my skin and its freezing hands wrapped around my torso like a strait jacket. I couldn't breathe in the suffocating mist, or perhaps my pounding heart was giving way, sucking the life out of me. I remember walking, then running in terror down our road with the fog over my shoulder, with me finally taking two steps at a time to reach my doorway. Once I'd gotten in and slammed the bolt, I thought I was safe. What a fool!

In the supposed sanctity of my home, I first heard the voices. 

"Edmund, you can't hide from your conscience."

"What? Who is that?" I turned on my heel and scanned the room, looking for the voice's source.

"You won't see me. I'm in your head."

"You're the mists of Moberly. You followed me home."

An icy draft blew through me, knocking me off balance. "Or so you imagine." The voice wavered with contained emotion.

"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?" My fear transformed to a fiery rage. I was home. I wanted to have my evening meal. Rushing to the kitchen I slammed a frying pan on the stove. When I tried to light a fire under it, the mists blew out the flame with a blast of icy breath. I persisted, finally succeeding with a sizable flame. Spooning a blob of butter into the skillet, I listened for its satisfying sizzle. Next I reached into my bucket for a slab of freshly cleaned fish and tossed it in the skillet.

"Cook all you want. It won't make me go away."

The mists! I turned around, hoisting my spatula in the air, ready for battle. I was tired. I was hungry. I wanted my dinner, and the mists were getting on my nerves. Ha! Of course, they were. Why wouldn't the mists of Moberly get on a person's nerves? I flipped the fish, determined for normalcy and a hot meal.

"You won't be able to eat with me around."

"Watch me," I replied.

A gurgling chuckle filled the room. The mists were amused.

I flopped my fried fish onto a plate, grabbed my fork and set about to have my supper. Utensil poised, I broke off a flaky chunk, but when I lifted the morsel to my mouth, the mists crowded around my wrist and stopped me.

"Are you really going to eat that fish? You know you went fishing without a license. As your conscience, I cannot let you eat that fish."

The mists were right. Damned conscience! I'd gotten the fish illegally, sporting without paying five bucks for the required license. Slamming my fork down, I stood and emptied the plate in the garbage.  As the mists watched, I next humbly set up a bowl of cereal. With my first crunchy bite, the pesky gray fog swooshed out the kitchen window. Damned mists of Moberly!

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, October 19, 2008

WordCatalyst Prompt Response--Character Exercise

Jeune Fille Vert by Tamara de Lempicka

WordCatalyst Prompt Response--Character Exercise

 She was a lady of distinction, of that a person could be certain. It was the way she could wear a hat, with flair, making it blend with her being to produce a doubly entrancing vision. A nod of her head wearing her favorite white-brimmed topper brought men swooning to her feet. Her tiny, red pursed lips danced a tango with those wide, questioning brown eyes, eyes  that seemed to fret whether a classic dip was the next step coming.
One might think she had no permanence with the frailty of her expression. But her white, high-cuffed gloves exuded an air of being "old money" as opposed to some new trifling thing not to be taken seriously. But then her breasts rebelled from conformity in tight green silk, protruding and screaming to be heard, wanting the world to know she needed noticed.
Such a contrast in statements, the entire woman with all her parts put together sent one's mind into a tailspin. Was she high society or slut? Was she the confident woman of a stylish hat or a child with eyes full of fear for the unknown. Screaming for help or strutting her stuff? Only she knew.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, October 17, 2008

Workshop Prompt and an Announcement

A new workshop prompt is posted at WordCatalyst!

Also, I'm proud to announce I've been appointed Story Editor for WordCatalyst magazine. I'm honored and eager to spread the news!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Cinquains

Just because I'm in the mood...

Autumn Cinquains

leaf ballerinas
twirling scarlet fans
lighting windy gold memories

of Autumn
lurk in corners
hoping to blast summer

royal sky
bowing in blue
with silky respectful nuance

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bar Maid

(Painting by by Edouard Manet--Bar at the Folies-Bergere-1882)

She worked at the Follies Bar and everybody knew her.

The men lusted for the lady. While lined up at the bar, they spied her rounded bottom as she bent over to pick up a dollar flung to the floor by an enterprising fellow. They also enjoyed her bouncing bosom, where she always wore a tiny bouquet pinned to her dress in the middle of the bodice, advertising her ample cleavage. When she hurried to clear glasses from the bar, the flowers and more jiggled with each movement.

The women hated her, and none was more critical than Mrs. Anna May Hopkins who ranted every Tuesday night at the sewing circle. Her husband, Edward, spent most evenings at the Follies, so that didn't help.

"Such a slut! Wearing those plunging necklines, and bending at the waist--in front of a mirror yet! All the men have to do is watch her bottom bouncing around in the glass. And it doesn't even look like they're staring directly at her. How convenient! I think she put that mirror there on purpose. That lady is no strangers to mirrors, I might add...especially in the boudoir, I'll bet. Humph!"

"Anna May, don't be so hard on her. She only works that job because she has a little boy to provide for." Elisabeth Townsend stepped back as soon as she uttered the words. The hateful glare coming from Anna May Hopkins frightened her.

"It's no wonder she has a child to provide for. I'm surprised she doesn't have a dozen bastard children...two dozen!" Anna's face flushed a vibrant red.

"Calm down, honey! I don't know why you're getting so excited. What is she to you anyway?" Lily Pratt handed Anna May a fresh spool of red thread.

"She's nothing to me!" Anna May forced out the words, more a hiss than a sentence.

She's only had a son by Edward. That's all!

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Another Day

A little poem on a topic
fascinating to me...

Another Day
Lumbering giants within view
Thunderous roars smash against sky
Trembling earth in primitive zoo
Dinosaur challenge, live or die
No bars, no locks, animals vie
Instinctually unrestrained
Behemoth falls, demystified
Passionless victory attained.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Two Cinquains

In response to
WordCatalyst Workshop prompt:

Brook Song Cinquain
brook song stirring
ascending chord bubbles
strummed on green grass violin strings

Blessed Snow Cinquain
plush quilts
of velvet snow
draped by white-gowned angels
over needy world's plaintive wails
for peace.

Poems Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, October 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Last Breath

Last Breath
Sunset hums with gold ribbon strands
soaring like birds on moody skies
seeking sturdy limbs to withstand
autumn breezes with wintry eyes.
Amongst quivering brown leaf folds
infusing hymns with golden hues,
Fall time God-wonder to behold
in glowing trees with life renewed.
One last dance before life force goes,
lonely time for leaf dance display
to shimmer golden before snows
at winter's hand bring sultry days.
Last breath of gold in final glows,
soon to tremble as winter blows.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Inclement Storm

Photo by Ron Janoski

Inclement Storm
A magenta sun inched downward in the dusty twilight sky as Joe the bartender shined a beer mug with his spotty rag. The last of his day customers, office workers and shoppers, had gone; and soon the night owls would wander in, asking for  beer and steaming fish sandwiches or a plate of oysters. At first, he didn't spy the mop of red hair at the bar's edge. Then he noticed two disembodied hands spread wide next to an empty, leftover mug, while a head bobbed up and down like a jack-in-the-box as a little girl, standing on tip-toes tried to lift her face up into view.
"Excuse me, mister!"
Joe bent forward to look over and spy the munchkin.
"Can I help you?" He laid the mug and rag down and offered a hand to hoist the little girl onto a stool.
Settled, she folded her miniature hands in front of her, studying Joe with huge brown eyes that questioned.
"I came to ask you a favor," she stated.
"Well, okay." Joe rubbed his chin while he looked the girl over. She appeared clean and not too shabby. Well, a little shabby. Her tiny dress had a button missing and a stain on the collar.
"Could you please not serve beer to my father?"
She looked back with a hopeful expression.  "He comes here every Friday night. He gets all dressed up in his Sunday suit, and he comes here."
The wide, brown eyes darted back with a determined glare. "He comes here and he gets drunk."  She paused and looked to the floor before returning her gaze, this time with a tear trickling down one pink cheek. "He gets drunk and yells at my mother...and hits her."
Joe shuddered, taken aback by the remark. His eyes scanned her face for bruises. There were none.  Thank God.
His silence was broken by the sudden sound of fresh rain swishing against the windows, next to run in shimmering cascades coating Market Square in a lustrous sheen. The weather had changed suddenly and without warning.
"Get out of here, kid! You're bad for business." He shot her a deft wink, evincing a smile on the little girl's face. She crawled off the stool and skipped out the door.
Three hours later, he came. The suit showed signs of wear and tear...rough treatment, careless treatment, the knees scuffed, a tear in the elbow, small blemishes apparent only to eyes that study...and know the whole story.
"Gimme a beer."
Joe glared at him. "Wouldn't you rather have a ginger ale?"
"No, dammit! I said a beer, and I want a beer. Are you nuts?"
The bartender's face flushed, growing redder with each rugged heart beat. He leaned forward, pushing his face close, their noses almost touching.
"Get the hell outta here!" It was a growl, not a whisper.
The fella backed off, looking at the barkeep as though the proprietor was not merely cantankerous, but dangerous. Without words, he turned and ran for the door.
"Go home and take care of your family!" Joe yelled.
They were the last words the drunkard heard as he pushed through the door. He stood outside in the rain, hands like ice, heart pounding, as the words sunk, the words laced with anger. Slashing, crashing anger it was, an ire that extracted a pint of flesh with its meaning, painful, bleeding, ripping, until a piece of him was gone.
He turned on his heel and headed home. It was a bad night out to go drinking anyway.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, September 26, 2008

From 20,000 Feet

A poem inspired by my recent (first) airplane trip:

From 20,000 Feet
Floating world
nested in patient blue sky
time doesn't touch me
as long as I dress up in
soft cloud shoes
and move in slow motion
in time with white velvet rhythms
of ethereal light.
All the while
my soul streams
alongside a Force, a Power, I strive
to understand,
but can't.
Glaring metal wings tossed me in this soup
away from all I know.
How can this world exist
up, up, high above my universe.
My all-important universe,
or is it?
And I am king of my destiny there,
or am I?
Up here, floating, I barely exist,
or rather, I never existed so much,
or this way.
When I'm here
I'm someone else.
I'm eternal.
I'm pure,
and I'm free.
I'm not king, but
I float.
Just like clouds.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

WordCatalyst Writing Workshop is back! Try our latest prompt!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bob Church!

Magical miles of wonderment
sailing clouds by heavenly doors
on a quest to paint true faces
on memories forevermore.
Spin life's wheel to match up faces
and so we play roulette games
but it's not a gamble, really.
These spirits whisper their names
...without sound, in words on paper.
This post is a public note of thanks to Bob and Louise Church for their generous invitation to our gang of Word Catalyst columnists to fly to Moberly MO and help old Bubba celebrate his birthday. Words escape me to describe the thrill of meeting cyber acquaintances face-to-face for the first time. Photo faces come to life like cut-out dolls in the hands of a five-year-old, talking, laughing, confirming nuances of their personalities already well expressed by their words written over the years.
We were not strangers meeting for the first time, but rather family who just hadn't seen each other yet.
Louise cooked up a feast worthy of, well, to be honest, the entire Russian army--ribs, a whole turkey, ham, salads, sandwiches, cookies, pies! Bob's woodsy three acres, complete with a brook and the laughter of grandkids, made for a soothing, happy, love-filled day as we pulled out the stops and savored every minute. We talked, we laughed, in a no holds barred mixing of  minds and spirits to make memories to elicit smiles for years to come.
A little music and song filled the fresh air, featuring Harry Furness and his harmonica, plus a grand finish from Bubba himself, doing a raucous comedy that littered the living room with sprawling, roaring, laughter-collapsed bodies rolling in glee. Well, as you can see, a good, make that an forgettable, magical time, was had by all. And we thank you Bob, for letting us into your heart and into your home. God Bless!

Photo download available here, thanks to Techie Dave.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Butterflies by Andy Warhol 

To fly
seeking nectars
of all earthly delights
traversing on butterfly wings
your way.
Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Note: We're on our way soon, Bob!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alone Again

Alone Again
Alone again, walking barren streets,
rain-glistened pavements,
giggling water drops dancing around me
in rivulets
laughing back at my misery
all happy to be set free
from disagreeable black clouds.
Droplets on the move, rippling in excitement
drenching my shoes in merry slobber
as they go rolling on ahead of me
happily clamoring a perky rhythm
on windows and rooftops
before toppling to ground
to make happy water mobs in motion.
At least the rain has somewhere to go.
I don't.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Six Unremarkable Things About Moi! I've been tagged!

1. I don't drive. I've tried, but I have an intense fear of physical danger.

2. I haven't listened to popular music hardly at all since the late 60's. I love classical music even though I don't know much about it.

3. I love everything from the 19th Century. I absolutely swoon at antiques of any kind. I'm convinced I lived then and then somehow in a weird cosmic burp I got dumped here.

4. And yet, I embrace modern technology. I love computers. I've used mac, windows, and ubuntu. I have no fear.

5. I love nature like it's religion, but I'm not a tree hugger, but rather an artist of a sort, writing about it and photographing it, never politicizing it.

6. I absolutely hate having company around the house. Please don't visit me. I'd rather meet friends at restaurants.

Many thanks to Jo (the other one) for tagging me. I in turn tag Bob, Harry, Shirley, Scot, and Terry--You guys know who you are!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lady Illusive

Le Blanc Seing by Rene Magritte

Lady Illusive

Lady illusive
coming, going, unnoticed
horse trots whisper soft.
Forest winds echo her name
after she has gone
in swirling crescendo songs.
Hymns remembering
her plaintive sighs of longing
wishing to stay on
but unable to linger
just to see his smile.
Every-day decision
love in green grasses
splendid, dew-drenched emotion
or heed bleak warnings
of dangerous illusions
from love's master magician.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Monday, September 08, 2008


red-dressed damsels
fluttering petal fans
swaying sweet summer melodies
at dawn.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Cheap Thrills

Knives - painting by Andy Warhol

Cheap Thrills

And so you are a razor wit
cutting slashing 
through meat and mire
searching for laughs.
I chuckle along
through gritted teeth
because I'm never sure
of your aim 
or purpose
and I don't want to bleed
for your enjoyment.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski