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By Cathy Colman

“There is no snow pack. Only one year of water left.”—Governor of California, Jerry Brown

Sometimes the earth tells and retells her story.
Throws figurines, makes the doors stutter,
weathered wood flies apart like toothpicks.
We are not listening. We live on behalf of strangers.
We live on the surface. It’s the only place.
I can see grooves
from the water’s former sluice, from the riot where
the meadow confessed its obsession for red. Somewhere,

The Philosopher King


By Rachel Artenian

Watch the VidLit: The Philosopher King

Click here to read part 2 of the series, Minions’ Lament
Click here to read part 3 of the series, Lone Fang

Punim the cat was alone and inscrutable
Searching and yearning for a home that was suitable
He was tiny and brave; his requirements few:
Humans that tended him and Minions that mew.

Espying two cats in a window one day
Who were eating caviar and engaging in play
And teasing poor Punim by wiggling their rears
Punim thought: I could bring those kitties to tears!

Splaying himself on the porch of the house
With Pitiful cries and folded small as a mouse
Out came the owners: oohing and cooing
Punim thought: I won’t have to do any wooing.

And now Punim has grown to a most regal beast
With two mewing Minions that lead him to feast
With Humans that cater to his every whim
And all who enter must kowtow to him.

The Perfect Mug


By Wendy Murray

Watch the VidLit: The Perfect Mug


I drive an old car. It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t that I went out looking for an old car as opposed to a new one that purrs with the power of a lawnmower.

I drive an old car because I had an old dog and a Volvo station wagon was the perfect shape for her to stretch out and look at the passing traffic.

The part of me that is British drinks tea every morning. Made in a tea pot, with loose leaf tea, with boiling water from my blue kettle. Whatever time I get up, the first thing I do is trot downstairs and fill the blue kettle with water and put it on the gas flame. The second trot downstairs is to warm the pot and drop in a spoonful of smokey tea, pop on the hand knitted tea cosy and go upstairs to finish with the shoes and the hairbrush and the toothpaste, before coming down to pour the properly steeped tea into a mug and head out into the world.

And this is where I come back to my old Volvo. In 1995, when my Volvo came rolling off the production line in Sweden, people had breakfast in their houses. No one bought water in bottles or double skim lattes in cardboard cups. In my Volvo there is the flimsiest of cup holders, which slides out from the armrest and would be hard pressed to hold an ice cream cone vertically.


Lynn and Grama II

By Lynn Snowden Picket


My paternal grandmother was Keith Richards, if you take away the looks, the talent, and the British accent. Like Keith, my grama was unkillable. Until she finally died at the age of 95, I was wondering, with a growing sense of horror, whether she would ever die. I was starting to contemplate whether I could, without attracting undue attention, walk through the corridors of her nursing home with a wooden stake and a mallet. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My grandmother married my grandfather when she was sixteen, and had my father when she was nearly seventeen. Oh, how nice, you might be thinking, but you would be wrong. All children are guilt-tripped into visiting more often, but when my grama badgered my dad into promising to see her once a week, it meant a seventy-eight-year-old man was obliged to be on the road for three hours each way, crossing over the Pocono mountains in the dead of winter, to dutifully visit his ninety-four-year-old mother, who would only berate him for not visiting more often. But I’m still getting ahead of myself.

Here’s what you really need to know about my grama: Despite the continuing, and long-suffering presence of my grandfather, my father, the elder of two sons, was the love of her life.



By Jennie Baird

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

My brother and I were waiting outside for our mother.

That morning she’d dropped us off at this suburban hotel, a nondescript, low-slung building among many similar buildings, set back in a parking lot off a local highway not too far from our home. All of the buildings and parking lots along this stretch of road were the same to me – the fabric store, the paint store, each of them had big plate glass windows and painted signs. Our mother often took us from this place to that place running errands. Into the car, out of the car, stand here, wait there. Occasionally, she let us wait in the car. But today was different. We weren’t running errands and we weren’t staying with her.

“This day is very important,” our mother told us. “Pay attention to everything. Do whatever they tell you. And behave.”

The three of us walked through the lobby. I clung to our mother’s side as she stood at a long table talking to a man and writing something down on an index card. Then she said goodbye and told us that she’d meet us on the curb outside when it was over. Josh was in charge and I was to stay with him at all times. I would never think to do otherwise.

A young woman who was wearing a white robe and had long wavy golden hair ushered us into a large room. She must have spoken, but her voice was quiet, almost as if she could speak without making a sound.

There were lots of grown-ups inside the large room, most of them also wearing white robes. Some of them accompanied children, while others talked amongst themselves. The room was full of children, ordinary children just like us. At five, I may have been the youngest. There must have been chairs and a podium at the front, too. We stopped just inside the doors and found a place on the floor. Nearby, two girls played Miss Mary Mack and Oh Little Playmate. They clapped palms and backs of hands. They held hands and pulled each other to and fro, whispering the lyrics of the songs. I loved the words: “Oh little playmate, come out and play with me, climb up my apple tree, slide down my rainbow, into my cellar door and we’ll be friends friends friends friends forever more more more more.” I didn’t know what a cellar door was, but I wanted one, just so I could slide down a rainbow into it.

Josh took up with a group of older children sitting on the other side of him. They were talking about I don’t know what and of course he joined right in. That was part of being older. I wasn’t included, but I stayed close, making sure I always had my brother in my line of sight. I would be older one day, too.

Soon, there was an announcement over a loudspeaker asking for quiet and then other voices came on as well, but Josh and his new friends kept on chattering, though more quietly than before. They weren’t the only ones, either. The low buzz of children whispering and shifting and wriggling continued. I can’t remember if I wasn’t interested in the voices on the loudspeaker. Maybe I just couldn’t make sense of what they were saying. I kept my eyes on my brother. It was a crowded room. If I lost track of him, I would be lost. And without him, I would never find my way back to our mother.

After a while, we were told to go with a particular group of children to a smaller room. The woman with the golden waves led us there. The sun shone into the lobby and cast a spray of light around her hair and I thought to myself, “This is what angels must look like, only with wings.”




up on
the 39th
a figure
in the
dark looks
out at the
the quivering city
never sleeping
wondering what
the new day
will ink
on the page

a man
must be alive
in this
100 years
to be
a decent



By Cathy Colman

     The night sky. Like a living body
awake. Dead starlight
reaches us, eventually, unlike our beloved
dead. The stars
fall and you’re supposed to catch them.
The jigsaw puzzle
of constellations
disjointed without our mind’s fix and flex.

     And as these galaxies
expand away
from us faster than the speed of light, we are
lost here, in
the crabgrass, in the gutted
buildings of old business, the jolt
of wars and countries
stippled back and forth
with the nocturne-fire of weapons.

What I used to mean by hurt
is no longer what I mean.

          I have seen so many disappear.
Beneath weightless loam, oleander,
the cries of rooks. The priest
has locked the door to the church. He leaves
with newsprint on his hands.

      A world where nothing is clear.
For once I believe in nothing.
All the saliences lie quiet.
There must be a sanctuary I know nothing
about. In Nepal or underwater
in the Great Barrier Reef. Meanwhile,

     the stars’ slow, divine decay, away from their mothers,
too, away from their sleepless blood,
the damage done so far back
all language becomes new

     stars with their tangled manes, their tilted chairs, their quivering bows–
I stand in the driveway at 2 am
looking up to find true north.
It’s my kind of prayer.