Monday, March 31, 2008


Thoughts on a Monday morning...


Road blocked by Monday

Yesterday's smiles now pebbles
Cascading rocky landslide
Hurling down on week's highway
Construction detour

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Word Catalyst is Live!

Word Catalyst Magazine is live for April with an inspiring salute to National Poetry Month, and of course, the regular columnists, short stories, art, and photography. I'm especially tickled with my column this month. Here is a snippet:

Distress Call
I didn't realize in the beginning it had meaning. The noise was just a crackle, a series of sharp pops sprinting across the room rousing the wife and me from our endeavors to ignore one another.

"Did you say something?" The irritation in her voice cut through me. Mildred's wrinkled face peered from behind an open book.

"No, I thought you said something."

"Well I didn't."

The silence again. When was the last time we had a decent conversation? It seemed decades really. Once you cross your fiftieth anniversary, what is left to say? We raised the kids and sent them off, retired five years ago only to discover life together 24/7 left little to the imagination. What irony after retiring to spend more time together, we were left with nothing to say.

That noise again. A distinct crackle-pop.

"Now what?" This time her voice hissed with impatience.

"I didn't say anything!"

She glared, then returned to her reading. I decided to let it drop. There was no point talking to, or should I say "at," her.

I didn't think about the odd noise again until the next evening. Passing by the answering machine. I heard the odd static. I stopped short and listened.

"Hello?" the machine murmured. The high-pitched whine had form and structure, albeit gravelly; but dammit, I heard the thing say "hello." ...Read more...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Girl Katie, Pt. 2

The next time I saw Mr. McBride, I didn't recognize him at first. The clean-cut fellow sitting across from me at Clancy's Bar might have been a salesman or a well-to-do retired gentlemen. Hair neatly trimmed and combed, a fresh yellow shirt smiled beneath a neat, brown sweater--it was only when he spoke I recognized his voice.

"More ginger-ale when you have a chance, Chuck." He slid an empty glass toward the barkeep.

"Here you go, Jack." The bartender slid a fresh supply his way.

Curiosity got the better of me and I moved over close. "Hi, Mr. McBride," I said. He glanced my way with a puzzled expression.

"We talked a few months ago here in the bar," I explained.

"Oh, no wonder I don't remember you. I was doing a bit of drinking back then."

"You were a little tipsy." I took a long sip of my beer. "Have you spoken to your daughter lately?"

His hand slipped on the glass. He shot me a glance. "You know my daughter?"

"I know her a little. You mentioned Kate before."

"Well, if I spoke about her before, then you probably already know she never speaks to me." He drained his glass and slammed it down, followed by a carbonated belch.

"Well, I was thinking maybe things had changed."

"Yeah, well, it hasn't. I sobered up, got cleaned up. I went to her place and knocked on the door, and she wouldn't open it. I felt like an asshole standing there in the hallway, She was yelling at me from behind the door. Her neighbors started poking their heads out, gawking at me. I had to get out of there. I don't know what she wants."

"I see." I wondered what Kate McBride wanted, too. I watched as Jack McBride ordered a double Irish whiskey.

Several months later, I read Jack McBride's obituary. Funny how you can feel pangs of sorrow for someone you barely knew. The man touched me. His loneliness, his disappointment--he wore it like a penitent's burlap sack. The daughter who wouldn't speak to him reduced the man to nothing.

Not long after, I ran into Kate at a party. Well, to be honest, I went looking for her. I knew she'd be there. I wanted to know what made that girl tick. Surrounded by admirers, I found her mesmerizing a crowd, discussing a fine point of law one minute and flirting with feckless first year law students the next. In the back of my mind a thought nagged that I was one of those feckless youths endeared by her charms once.

When the crowd thinned, I approached. Her glittering eyes blinded me, but I pressed on. I had questions.

"Jim! How are you?"

Her sultry smile ran circles around my heart. That's what I always loved about her. She was smart and damned sexy, too.

"Kate, you're looking fabulous."

"I thought you hated parties."

She had a good memory. It was a gripe of mine when we went out. I'm a stay at home kind of guy.

"Well, I made an exception tonight. Actually, I heard you might be here."

Her surprised expression threw me off balance. I'd made it look like I was stalking her. I hurried to explain myself.

"I wanted to talk to you about something...someone." Ever since I'd read the obituary, that man's haunted eyes kept coming into my head, the eyes that glared at me in the bar when he spoke of his daughter. She waited, expecting me to explain.

"I met your father."

Her eyes widened. Then she looked away. "That's impossible."

"I came to know him at Clancy's Bar. I know he died a couple months ago, He told me a lot about how proud he was of you."

Her face hardened. "That was bull. He wasn't proud of me; he couldn't even stand me." She blinked and wavered on her feet. I helped her to a chair.

"Are you all right?"

"It's just the heat in here. Could you get me some water?" She placed her wine glass on a table and leaned back. I dashed off and returned with water to find her resting comfortably.

"Here, darling," I said, offering the glass.

She smiled at my endearing phrase and accepted the drink. "You may as well have my wine. No more drinking for me tonight."

Gratefully, I washed it down as our eyes met. Hers reached at me in curiosity and mine glared her way, simply adoring her. The spell burst as I remembered the purpose of my visit, to find out why she hated her father so. She smiled at me knowingly.

"Jim, dear, my father didn't merely pass on. I was with him when he died... I poisoned his tea.

She watched as I fell backward in alarm.

"Oh, and Jim, dear, I also poisoned that wine you just drank."

I choked and fell to my knees. My last vision was Kate's disarming smile.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Part One can be read here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Four Faces

Four Faces by J. Adam

Four Faces

Four ladies, four sisters of loyalty
Devoted souls to one another true.
Each treats the other like grand royalty.
No problems they, no issues to construe.

All living in one rickety old house
They need no mirrors, no fine clothes or boots.
Always together, needing nothing else
Four sisters in magnificent cahoots.

No gentlemen call, no others come near
To risk sisters' grandiose rejection.
Four sisters complete, alone it appears
Four ladies with sisterly affection.

Four faces, four women, happiness rare
Needing no beauty, just sisters who care.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Reminder

A Reminder

Lingering gray ghosts
of winter lurk behind trees.
Winds at the ready
poised to scatter spring's remnants
with cold blasts of memory.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hiding Out

Four Faces by J. Adam

Hiding Out

Faces of four ladies haunt my sad fate.
l lost a bet and now I pay the price.
Indeed, I must ask one for a lunch date.
Lord, I'm paying now for my evil vice.

I bet and lost and now my pal is free
while I choose which fug face to date and kiss.
My friend's nightmare is now applied to me.
I will pucker and pray to God I miss.

Ugly ladies, pimples and pointy snouts
Sniffing me out like evil birds of prey.
Where can I run before they find me out?
I must hide fast before the light of day.

I cannot kiss. I cannot hold down food
If I dine with one of this ugly brood.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Turkeys on Parade

Turkeys on Parade

By chance, indeed, I did see
Turkeys on parade by me.
Haughty, stubborn, making paths
single file across my grass.

Then gobblers stood high on hills
Guarding hens who ate their fill
Tugging at my grasses green
Seeking buggy treats unseen.

Strolling gobblers puffed-up chests
Clucking orders to the rest.
Feather balls on spindle feet
Floats parading down my street.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Sunny dreams struggle
against shadows on red brick.
Her hesitation
lingers at cold empty shores
waiting for what never comes.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pastel Beauty

Lady in the Garden by Paul Peel

Pastel beauty, ribbons with lace
surround her face
of innocence
in his absence.

Her eyes filled with a love drenched light,
far from finite.
Her heart awaits,
not knowing fate.

For all she wants and heaven knows,
trouble bestows
her bachelor
to another.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

If it is all about you--Great Article

If it's all about you, you're in trouble - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Amen to this article! Quite an eye-opener!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Girl Katie

My Girl Katie

It wasn't my habit to drink after class. But my calculus mid-term was a ball buster. I slammed my books on the bar and demanded a draft. Sloshing it down, I was wiping the foam from my mustache when I spied him sitting at the end of the bar slouched over a mug of brew, eyes half closed, ready to nod off. Spotting me, he perked up.

Grabbing his mug with one filthy hand and gliding the other along the bar for balance, the guy stumbled over. Wonderful! As he crashed into the seat next to me, a whiff of body odor and stale beer filled my nostrils. I couldn't tell if his jacket was camouflage or simply olive with splotches of colorful grime decorating it. His bird's nest hair was black sprinkled with gray, longer than it should be if he never intended to comb it. The lines of his face dragged down. I wondered if he had a perpetually sad face or if the alcohol made it droop. Perhaps both.

"Well, look at you!" he said, eyeing my textbooks, his words drenched in sarcasm. "So you go to the university." A dissatisfied grunt ended the remark. I didn't answer, so he spoke again. "My daughter goes to the university."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah." He took a long gulp, then slammed the mug down. His eyes, tragic and pleading, met mine. "I haven't seen her for ages. She never calls just to say hello. You know, a little friendly conversation."

Small wonder, I thought.

"Do you know what she gives me for Father's Day every year?"

"I'm sure you'll tell me."

"Nothing. No card. Nothing. She doesn't even call." He belched. "You can forget Christmas, too. Shit! Ain't seen her in years." His head drooped, and in the ensuing silence, I wondered if he'd dozed off.

The bartender appeared. "Hey, McBride! You want a refill?"

His head rose. "You bet I want a refill."

I was still thinking about the name, McBride. "Say, Mister, is your daughter's name Katie?"

A smile spread across his face. "Yes sir! That's my girl."

Katie McBride, the most brilliant and popular student I knew. A true success story if ever I'd seen one, destined to be a lawyer to be reckoned with. Everyone knew Katie McBride, a legend in the making. I dated her once, and when I asked about her family, she said she had none.

"Do you know her? Could you tell her to call her old man once in a while?" When I didn't answer, he scowled. "Ah, you're right. She's better off without me."

Maybe so, old-timer. I don't know.
...Part Two

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hope Spins (Cinquain)

A dark mood today after finding out our fox terrier, Peepers, has only a short time to live:

(A Cinquain)

Hope spins
Whirling circular prayers
Spinning beyond gruesome dark mists
To where?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Her Sigh

Her sigh
a quiet rush
blanketed in soft dreams
kaleidoscope world for just one
sweet child.

©2008 Jo Janoski

Thursday, March 06, 2008

White Lace and Top Hats

Dinner at Les Ambassadeurs by Jean Beraud

Why did I marry her? I watched as the red liquid gushed from the goblet in a blasting torrent down her throat. A few drops, fleeing the glass in utter despair, took flight ultimately to land on the bodice of her white lace gown. Such abomination! I bought her the frock especially for this special dinner at Les Ambassadeurs, the annual awards dinner for my men's club. I wanted my new wife to look respectable. Ha!

I also bought her that beautiful hat. Now it rested askew on her head, knocked about when she threw her arms around yelling at me moments ago.

"Why can't we go to the cabaret?" she'd screamed. "I'm bored"

I grabbed her hand and rubbed it in soft soothing motions. Why I would treat her so humanely is beyond me. She deserved to be smacked about like the tart that she was. In recent months I tried everything within my means to refine her, and this boisterous outrage was the result.

"James, I see you have arrived with your...ahem, lovely wife." It was Harold, an associate from my job at the bank, hovering over our table like an ominous monster.

"Ah, good evening, James. Yes, we have arrived." I smiled faintly and caste a doubtful glance at my wife who had poured herself another glass, emptying the bottle of Cabernet.

Harold leaned close to whisper to me. "James, don't you think you should take her home before she embarrasses you?"

His remark slapped me in the face. Indeed, my cheeks burned red.

A tiny sob issuing across the table broke my stunned silence. I glanced over and saw the hurt in my wife's eyes. She'd heard him, and now, even in her drunken stupor, felt ashamed. Her pain struck my heart. Big brown eyes pleaded with me to defend her, the eyes I'd fallen in love with months ago. My heart danced in my chest and my soul reverberated with the youthful exuberance she so well inspired. I pushed Harold away.

"Certainly not," I replied. "In fact, I believe we'll have another bottle of wine."

We had great fun that evening, she and I. But we were never invited to another formal function. But that's all right, really. We're much too busy dancing nightly at the cabaret.

©2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Moody Mists

Reflections on a moody March evening...

Moody Mists

Moody mists
swishing through night skies
ice droplets
in wondrous transformation
to wispy snowflakes.

©2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bull Fight (A Tanka)

Bull Fight by Pablo Picasso

Defiant knives scream
raised up in radiant sun
while bull horns bellow
red-eyed rebelling retort
to Toreador.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Word Catalyst - New Issue

A new issue of Word Catalyst Magazine is up! What a great read for a weekend morning with a hot cup of coffee--stories, poems, artwork, and photos. Did I mention my column?


Freeze Frame

Claudia yawned and stepped out into the pouring rain to fetch her morning paper. Moron paper boy no doubt had tossed it helter skelter over the fence again.

"No Christmas tip!" she murmured. Ah, there it was, in a puddle by the gate. At least the imbecile had put it in the required plastic sheath. But had he tossed another package too? A smaller plastic bag lay next to the Whisper Gap Gazette. She scampered out in the pouring rain, gathered both up and took them inside. Dabbing the smaller one with the hem of her pink terry robe, her heart raced. Claudia spied a camera through the foggy plastic. A tiny, shiny new. Unzipping the bag, she slipped it out. That lady loved a good mystery, so with a trembling finger, she turned it over and slid the back open. ...More