Sawyer’s Birthday Poem 2020

My youngest boy

Bringing so much joy

So loving, sweet and handsome

I love your smile

Your wit and wile

Can’t wait to see the man you become

You’re a little taller

And full of swagger

Life’s journey has still just begun

Enjoy your play

And seize the day

I will love you always, son

Childhood innocence

In this time, during which my children and I are stuck at home, I was recently reflecting on the wonder of childhood. It isn’t really odd that we cherish that time and the children around us. In many ways they have a much better world than ours. Theirs is innocent.

I marvel at how simple things can be for them. They wake up. They play. they laugh. They love.; all with their full heart. Sure, they are driving me nuts as I try to teach them in our little “home school” situation right now, but at the end of the day, I’m thrilled that they can continue to enjoy life in a way that adults find difficult.

Adults worry too damn much. We fret over everything. We overthink things. We suffer from anxiety and depression and a variety of other, mostly self inflicted, conditions. Children seem so much freer than us in many ways. It’s no wonder we celebrate them so.

Do they make a mess? Constantly. Do they whine sometimes and complain about things? Of course. It is brutal trying to get them to do their school work from home? Oh yeah. But still, when they give you a hug and tell you how much they love you, it is difficult to not just melt and release all that frustration.

I also loved coaching youth soccer. It was so much fun. They were so hilarious. I loved playing little soccer related games and encouraging them and cheering them on. Their faces light up when they do something good and you celebrate them and I will forever remember those feelings. I even had a child kick the ball into our goal, but he was so excited about seeing the ball go in the net I just cheered for him and gave him a high five anyways. No need to steal his joy; better to let him have it.

So, in a time of anxiety, uncertainty and fear, I take some comfort in the innocence of children. Their in the moment attitudes and joyful hearts give me plenty of hope when it is in short supply. Oh to feel what they feel once more. Sadly, once innocence is lost, it can never be regained.

Maddy’s Birthday Poem 2020

I cannot believe how time flies

And not a day goes by

That I don’t love you, daughter

Another year older you grew

Continue to confirm what I knew

How wonderful you are, daughter

You’re so insightful and clever

And I doubted you never

That you were so smart, daighter

You’re growing into a woman now

And it shouldn’t shock me how

Beautiful you have become, daughter

But smarts and beauty aside

What’s even a greater prize

Is your loving spirit, daughter

Continue going on your way

Ignore what any doubters say

You’re stronger than they know, daughter

No matter your adventure

There are none who are prouder

Than I, your loving father.

Sureshot on the Range

Excerpt from The Sureshot Rises join the adventure!

“Good. Tarbon take row three; Durbar, row four,” Karr ordered. The general called a couple of men and told them to clear the targets, get the men a ten-arrow quiver, and move everyone into the stands. As they were preparing the range, Durbar strung his bow and pulled back the string a few times to loosen it up and make sure it was secure. The range was finally set up and each man stood ready.

General Karr announced, “Okay, men, I expect that each of you will be courteous to the other while shooting. Captain Tarbon, since this is your range, you can start.”

“It would be my pleasure, General,” snorted the captain. 

The archer stood at the edge of the shooters’ line, notched an arrow, drew his bow and loosed the arrow at the target one hundred and fifty feet away. The arrow flew fast and struck the innermost ring, scoring ten points for Tarbon. The crowd roared. Tarbon stepped back away from the line and Durbar stepped up. He notched his arrow and drew his bow. With both eyes open, he aimed at the target. He loosed the arrow and it struck the second circle on the target. The crowd cheered again as he only scored eight for that shot. Both men hit the first circle on their second and third shot. On the fourth shot, Tarbon shot high and hit the second circle. Durbar hit the first circle, tying the score. 

The onlookers were getting restless. They wanted to see Tarbon beat the woodsman. Both men hit on shots five and six making them tied at fifty-eight points each. Tarbon shot high again on shot seven, but Durbar hit the bull’s-eye. Now Durbar lead by two points and the crowd was getting rowdy. Tarbon hit perfect on shot eight, but as Durbar stepped to the line to shoot, the crowd began to hoot and holler, taunting the woodsman to miss. He had never shot with such noise before, but he looked down range at the target and fired an arrow that hit dead center. 

Now with two shots left, Durbar still led by two. Tarbon, tension rising in his body, pulled back too strongly and shot high and right to give him only six points on shot nine. Durbar stepped to the line and fired his arrow, but as it left his bow, the fletching tore and the arrow flew low and left hitting for only four points. This unfortunate turn of events made the men tied with one shot remaining. Durbar appealed to Karr but he said there was nothing he could do about it. “It could happen to anyone,” he explained with a shrug, “Each man has eighty-two with one last shot. Fire when ready Captain Tarbon.” 

The pressure was bearing down on Tarbon. Never before had he had such stiff competition. Normally, even if he shot poorly, he still won. Durbar, however, was incredibly accurate. The only reason Tarbon was still in the match was because of a faulty arrow. Sweat poured down his face and his palms were moist. The target suddenly looked blurry to him. With his senses unreliable the archery captain was forced to fire from instinct alone. 

Durbar, on the other hand, had nothing to lose. None of the people there knew him, nor did he care for any of them.  He had nothing to prove to anyone. The only reason he was there was because of an overzealous prince. There was virtually no pressure to make a shot and win. He knew how good he was and knew that if he was using his own arrows he may have had a perfect score at that point.

Tarbon stepped to the line to fire shot ten. He glared down the range considering the slight breeze. His heart beat too hard and his breath was too fast. All he could think of was beating the Sureshot. Everyone waited in anticipation.  Hardly a breath could be heard from the crowd. Finally, Tarbon drew back his bow and held it a second to try to get the perfect aim. At last he released his string and his shot sailed down range and hit the second circle scoring eight points giving him a total of ninety. The crowd cheered their captain, but Durbar had one shot remaining.

Karr motioned to Durbar and he stepped to the line, and in an instant, he raised his bow, drew the string, and released the arrow. It soared perfectly toward the center circle and hit the bull’s-eye. Everyone was shocked into silence. Durbar had just beaten Tarbon, and his last shot was a snap shot without any aiming. How could anyone do that? the archery captain wondered. He stared down range at the shot that lifted Durbar over him. His mouth gaped open, and his eyes did not blink for nearly a full minute. All the spectators watched intently, waiting for the captain to react. At last, Tarbon clenched his bow tightly in his fist, turning his knuckles white around the shaft. His face contracted and his brow slid forward, causing his eyes to squint. He swung his bow in the air several times before turning to Durbar who was watching with hidden satisfaction.

“Listen, you little whelp!” Tarbon yelled in anger, but General Karr cut him off.

“Captain Tarbon!” roared the general. “Stand at ease!” Tarbon stopped in his tracks and looked at the general. He knew he had acted poorly. “You are an officer in the Dirkan army and furthermore under my command in the Harmon Garrison. You will not ever act like this again in front of the men! Do you understand me, Captain?”

“Yes, Sir!” exclaimed Tarbon snapping back to attention and erasing any emotion from his face.

“Durbar will most likely be playing in the games for Rothan. I am sure his brother Warren will let you compete on his team if you like, but for now I don’t care if you compete at all after that undisciplined display. Now get out of my sight.” Tarbon stormed off without saying a word. General Karr turned toward Durbar.

“I apologize,” he began. “It is unlike him to act like that. He is a very spirited young officer indeed, but I have never seen him behave so rashly. I don’t want you to speak poorly of the garrison because of it.”

“Sir, what happened here, will stay here. I have no one to tell as it is,” assured Durbar plainly.

“Well good, my boy,” boomed Karr smiling. “That was some very nice shooting there. I don’t think I’ve seen a man shoot like that for some time now. Tarbon shot well today and you still beat him.”

“Thank you, sir,” Durbar said finally showing a grin. “My father taught me.”

“Well, he must have been a good teacher. Come with me; I will send someone for Prince Rothan and we can talk.”

Protest at Grandmother’s House

Finished up this piece of my collection “Medieval Stories, Modern Problems.”

A crowd of about 50 people gathered outside a cottage deep in the woods. It was grandmother’s house, and this day, it was the site of serious protest. The group shouted angry words and made threats as they called for justice. It was a chaotic scene to say the least but fortunately there was someone there to cover the event for those of us unable or unwilling to participate. 

Kourtney Keurig was there with a cameraman to report on the mayhem. 

With her long blond hair carefully brushed to one side and her gleaming eyes ready to enchant the viewers with her depth of empathy and charm, she checked with her cameraman, Rob, before beginning. He gave her a thumbs up and she began. 

“This is Kourtney Keurig here with Channel 4 news coming to you live from Grandmother’s house which is the scene of a loud and passionate protest. These once quiet woods are now filled with calls for justice and retribution. The air is thick with anger. When once it smelled of baking cookies, today it carries the scent of vengeance.

“As most already know, this is the scene of a fantastic tale of a granddaughter killing the wolf she claims ate her grandmother then hacking the elderly woman from the belly of that wolf. While most heralded the girl as brave in the face of danger, others say there is a very different truth behind the story we first heard. 

“We were told that as the girl was carrying wine and cake to her sick grandmother, apparently in an effort to help her feel better, a greedy wolf greeted the girl. She then told the wolf that she was on her way to visit her sick grandmother. 

“The tale continues to say that the wolf rushed to the grandmother’s home and ate her then pulled on granny’s clothes and waited for Red. When the girl arrived, the wolf ate her as well. 

“How are they alive today do you wonder? Well a woodsman happened by and claims he heard the snoring from a sleeping wolf and let himself into the home and then cut open the wolf to pull the girl and her grandmother free before stuffing the wolf full of stones, killing the animal. 

“But that isn’t all. The woodsman admits he skinned the wolf and made off with his hide. Now, a few are questioning some of the details of this story and making some pretty strong accusations, which begs the question, was this a story of innocent victims beating their attacker, or was the wolf set up?”

Back in a bright and cheerful studio, a middle aged man and woman sat with blue coffee mugs printed with “Channel 4” in white lettering. The mugs in fact contained no beverage whatsoever but were merely there in case viewers forgot which channel they were watching. 

The man had dark hair with streaks of distinguishing grey down the sides and a prominent chin. His suit was blue and his tie was red over his white shirt. 

The male newscaster asked in a deep but cheerful voice, “What is the feeling of the crowd down there, Kourtney?” 

“Well, Gary, they are certainly hostile, I can say that,” the chipper field reporter answered. “They do not sympathize with the grandmother or even the girl for that matter; as far as I can tell.”

Next, the female newscaster spoke up; her warm smile melting any heart that saw it and her dyed blond hair and face lifts gave her a perpetually youthful appearance and hopeful feeling. 

“What about the huntsman?” She wondered, “I would imagine they were upset with him as well?”

“Oh yes, Janet, you’re spot on there,” Kourtney continued. “They are none to pleased with him at all.”

“Is he there as well?” Janet added. 

“Not at the moment. Word on the street is that he fled into the woods, what with the recent backlash against him when the story of Red and her encounter with the wolf got around. No one has reported seeing him for a couple of days now.”

“Is the woodsman being investigated for anything right now?” Gary wondered. 

“I have no word that law enforcement is currently investigating the woodsman after the incident but many are pressuring them to look into what they are calling a murder.”

“That’s quite a charge there, Kourtney, how do people expect such a charge to stick?”

“Why don’t we ask them, Gary?” With that, the camera turned slightly and standing near the field reporter was a young woman with her hair pulled back and round glasses dominating her face. In one hand she held a sign that read, ‘Protect Wolves, Not Whores.’

“It seems you are among those not convinced that Red is a hero in this situation, is that fair to say?” Kourtney wondered. 

“To say the least! This is actually pretty simple, Red and her grandmother are alive and it is the wolf who is dead. After being tortured to death. Are we really to believe that the wolf swallowed the girl and her grandmother whole? Just to be cut out of the wolf? Doesn’t that seem suspicious?”

“Maybe so but there is no evidence that the wolf was just murdered. After all, how did the wolf end up in the cottage to begin with?”

“Of course there is evidence if you look at this, not as a story of heroism by the humans but one of deceit and manipulation. Why on earth was Red going to her grandmother’s house with alcohol in the first place? A minor with wine? That raises a red flag immediately. And when we looked at the social media pages of the Huntsman, which he has now taken down, we find that he has a long history of trophy hunting. He enjoys killing beautiful and innocent creatures for his own amusement and to brag to friends. It doesn’t take much to see that this is about him setting up this poor innocent creature.”

“I see what you’re saying,” Kourtney acknowledged, “But how did the girl and grandmother get involved?”

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” The woman postulated. “Red and this Huntsman must have a thing going on and Red was used as bait to lure the wolf to his doom. It’s the oldest trick in the book! She no doubt seduced her victim for her beau, and then the hunter murdered the wolf!” 

“Well, that is quite an accusation, but I suppose it is possible this all was part of a plan. What are you hoping your protest outside the grandmother’s house will accomplish?”

“Justice! We want justice for not only this wolf, but for all the other poor creatures that are murdered every year in the name of sport or whatever other sick justifications people make.”

“What type of justice do you mean?” 

“We want a national ban on all hunting and we want any perpetrators of these crimes to be held accountable by law. We want to see this huntsman and any others who murder these animals to be locked up behind bars where they belong. That’s the only justice we will accept.”

“Well, Gary,” Kourtney added, “You heard it. These protesters want justice for the wolf.” 

“Well then, thank you for that in field reporting,” said Gary as he turned to his co-host. “It sounds like there are some very angry people down there.”

“It sure does, Gary,” Janet agreed, “But it isn’t surprising. People love animals after all. I know I sure do love my dogs.” She smiled widely with no hint of intelligence behind her glowing face. 

“Of course you do, Janet. We’ll be back with more news after this word from our sponsors.” 

The news feed cut to a commercial.