• The Present Moment

    You wish you could complete a sleep cycle but embedded in your dreams is the certain knowledge that she will be awake at any moment.
    You hear her cry and pull her in to the bed hoping she’ll mimic your still body and closed eyes. You know your attempts are futile though.
    You bundle her up and try to race out of the dark house to prevent waking up her siblings – more futility.
    You push her along the sidewalk and over bridges and start chatting to her like the baby books say to do, telling her about what you are seeing.
    But even though you only met her a few months ago, you know her and are aware that, like you, companionable silence is preferable to her at this time of day.

    This is it. The present moment. And you are there.

    Simple wonders of the world that have always been there unnoticed become a part of your day.
    The half moon sets over the hillside while the dawn breaks in the east and bathes the craggy peaks in rose as it always does.
    But today you think about how different your life was even just one week ago when you watched the full moon set another beautiful and sleepless morning.
    You remember how you felt excited and nervous about something this week and now today, you look back courageous and confident and nervous and excited about a new thing next week.
    You think about how, like the moon, you experience everything from new and empty to full and bright within a month and yet nothing about it has ever changed, just your vantage point.

    You arrive at the beach and think about how last time you were here you were pregnant – a solstice and a lifetime ago.
    You park the baby with the sun rising behind her over the Pacific Ocean and pull out your phone to take a picture.
    Your phone unexpectedly powers off, maybe due to the cold morning. You are momentarily upset you couldn’t capture the moment and then you realize that you are thankful.

    Because the moment you are experiencing cannot be captured with a shitty phone photo.

    The photo couldn’t capture the smell of woodburning fires in the salty sea air or the smell of your creamy new baby that forever fills your nostrils.

    The photo couldn’t capture the feel of nutrient dense food consumed with family and made with love during this holiday that fills your belly and soothes your nerves.

    The photo couldn’t capture the sound of the ocean waves and the happy gulls.

    The feeling cannot be summarized with a hashtag.

    You have all these thoughts and worry you won’t be able to remember them because of your “mommy brain,” a term you’ve always disliked because it implies a loss of intelligence, something that you have always prized.

    But you have come to realize that all that forgetfullness provides is amplification of the present moment and the rest of the world falls away in to the background. And you’re more than OK with that.

    You realize that a lack of sleep has brought you the gift of experiencing something you normally would have snoozed right through.

    She has drifted back to sleep in her stroller and so you gun for the coffee shop, eager to record your thoughts.

    Once again, you know in your heart that when the wheels stop and you step in to the warmth, she will wake up.

    So you sit down with your cappucino and a pen and as soon as you scribble the first word, she awakens and begins to stir and fuss.

    And so you write and you jiggle her on your knee and you burn your tongue as you drink quickly, thankful for another day to experience life and exercise your creativity. Because create you did.

  • Hot autumn thunder
    Makes moon melt tickle my face;
    Harvest wild dreams.

    a haiku, by Emily Ness

  • Summer Farewell

    As twilight beckons
    she begs our star one last warm
    and needy embrace.
    She pines clueless her sun kissed
    smell has already spawned life.


    a tanka, by Emily Ness

  • Fly Swatter

    a poem, by Emily Ness

    I apply lip gloss
    Content and quiet

    A noise begins
    A fly attempts escape through glass

    His persistence annoying
    His delusion mystifying

    I feel guilty for his pain
    The pain he brings on himself

    His hopeless situation depressing
    His hopeful action maddening

    I wish he would stop destroying himself
    I wish he wouldn’t make me choose

    I could kill him
    I could flinch with each agonizing thud and buzz
    I could wait to find him shriveled

    So I open the window
    I release him


    Now our lives diverge

    My skin crawls


    Why, fly, why
    did you ever fly in to my house?

  • Unfolding

    a haiku, by Emily Ness

    Ephemeral blooms
    Buoy my profound wonder
    That now never ends


    This haiku was inspired in Houston on a warm, fragrant walk to my bus stop in the morning.  That’s where many of my poems and stories are born.

  • The Price of Perfection

    Micro-fiction by Emily Ness

    A galaxy of longing could not describe the infinite urge the creator had for things to be just as he had left them.  It was not to be so.  Everything had gone pear-shaped in the short period of time during which he left his nearly finished experiment to grab a snack.

    When he returned, he found the entry to the tidy lab that housed his workbench had warped with the weight of his ideas. He was now stuck rimming the threshold, perched on the edge of the space-time continuum.  If he stepped any closer to witness the disaster, he would be in danger of slipping in to the vast hole created in 4-dimensional fabric.  He had no desire to be caught in the vortex that would flush him in to otherworldliness like scummy bubbles after a child’s bath.

    So he held still in all dimensions, orbiting nothing and everything.  He watched what was once everything he had hoped for vanish into something that would never become.  He briefly considered taking the plunge, reasoning that if he dove, at least his failures would not come before his eyes because his past was now creating a new future.

    He had just released the most precious commodity that countless workers had spent the last 14 billion years cultivating.  Father Time’s son was a joke.  He had failed.

    Old Father Time had been unconcerned with aesthetics.  He was responsible for the clutter that was strewn all over infinite space and this had never bothered the old man a bit.  His son felt it was his duty to pick up the pieces.   He worked his whole life to overcompensate for his father.  He had made it his mission to embark on a meticulous mission to clear the mess of space and put it back in to the bin where it belonged.

    It had almost been in its final assembled form, condensed in to a tidy ball, coiled and rearing with potential energy.  The last task necessary before the unveiling was to assemble the metadata about his life’s work.  He figured that in case anyone had another accident due to carelessness like his old man had they’d have some guidance regarding the inner workings of the universe on how to assemble it again.

    But this perfect primordial atom somehow escaped under its own weight and formed a singularity out in to a new universe, a new blossoming of space-time expansion.  Now it would be up to a new keeper to be born some billion years later and figure it all out again.

    Father Time’s son gave a resigned sigh and decided he may as well go out and have a beer.

    This story is based on the prompt, “A galaxy lof longing…”

  • Wolf In Shepherd’s Clothing

    Micro-fiction by Emily Ness

    She was tired of listening to him regale her with his tales and moved to stop him in his tracks.

    The two preteens had grown up within a mile of each other and she knew his tales weren’t nearly as heroic and adventurous as he made the mundane sound. “Your tales are so boring.  I want a good story with real elements of danger and mystery and imagination.  Let me tell you some stories.  Only one will be the absolute truth and you need to guess which one it is,” she said.

    “Telling things how they are will get you a lot farther than imagining,” he said.  He leaned back on the plastic playground monkey bars and rolled his eyes skyward with boredom.

    “Alright, here goes,” she said.

    Tale 1
    Once when I was a little girl, I found a cat that had snuck in to my playroom through a window that was covered by only a gauzy tattered curtain.  The cat had obviously been in a fight and had a deep cut in his ear and a bleeding lip caused by the claw of another cat, or possibly a squirrel.  I was playing with my doctor set at the time, a cheap vinyl covered kit that contained a plastic stethoscope, a syringe and a rubber mallet.  I filled the syringe with hydrogen peroxide and cleaned the cat’s wounds, as it lay panting and immobile.  I then dabbed the cuts with a towel from my make-believe oven set and went to the kitchen to fetch it a bowl of milk.  As I set down the saucer, the cat curled around my legs.  It had followed me.  It went to take a sip but a neighborhood German Shepherd took a quick crunching bite to the cat’s head, killing it instantly.

    Tale 2
    Every day in the second grade, someone was in charge of bringing a snack to school for story time.  One day I arrived to school and realized that my mom had forgotten our turn.  There were no homemade cookies, no Puppy Chow, just incredulous looks from the other students that we had forgotten.  Mortified, I returned the three blocks home to see if there were possibly enough banana Popsicles in the  garage freezer to cover all  my classmates. I got home just in time to see the German Shepherd attacking my mom as she was getting out of the shower.  I shook him off while my mother cried and looked embarrassed and told me he really wasn’t a bad dog, just scared and looking for attention.

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  • one oar rowing

    one slight boat adrift
    sadness cloak snags bleak salt sting
    drowning in calm sea

    a haiku, ~Emily Ness

  • Fountain of Youth

    Micro-fiction by Emily Ness

    He noticed the contrast now more than ever.  Stark wiry gray hairs stood out from the deep auburn ones.  When he first met her, one of his favorite things about the way she looked was the way that dark hair would collect the energy of the sun and send the warmth scintillating back to his face.  She tried to look at him with coyness through that thick veil of hair but he could tell she was unsure of herself and needed him.  He liked that.  It made him feel like a man.

    She had begun to get a few gray hairs around her 33rd birthday to her great surprise.  He teased her, as he was 20 years her senior and recalled those first few appalling moments when you realize that no matter how energetic and young at heart, or how vain you are, the beauty of your youth slips away.  He wanted to tell her it didn’t matter, but it did to him.

    For him, the primary criteria for being a good wife were to be young and pretty.  He married her three days after her 25th birthday.   He wanted someone to keep him youthful he had told his colleagues with a wink.  Now there were more gray hairs on her head relative to the rich auburn ones of the girl.  He realized he didn’t want her anymore. Read more

  • Bus Stop Shuffle

    a haiku

    Loitering morning,
    Black cat nimbly chases dark,
    Flustered mist lingers