Saturday, August 1, 2020

Obituary revisited for my Dad, JES

James Eldon Schmotzer

born: July 23, 1932


Portland born and east side raised

by teen years he had distanced from his parents,

maybe his choice, maybe theirs, probably both

followed his brothers dropping out

and joining the military to “see the world,”

got stuck in Guam

returned home and reconnected with Barbara

she broke her engagement, to another,

and agreed to marry in ’53

after an argument (fight?) at the reception

with Estelle, his mother, he spent the night alone, drinking

Barbara spent hers alone and crying

first son born in ’54 and second in ’57

settled in the suburbs

changed jobs…frequently

eventually into management, relative stability

known for being honest and hardworking, at work

unpredictable, at times irresponsible, at home

climbed the ladder, leaving Barbara behind, far behind

the inevitable second marriage,

to Barbara’s one time best friend

quit smoking and drinking

became attentive to kids and grandkids

heart attack in ‘96 ushered in a pain filled year

with cancer having the final word


died: August 1, 1997

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sure taught ‘em (the Corona Chronicles)

Black Lives Matter Protests In Small Towns Are Important

News spread that teenagers had organized a “Black Lives Matter” March. Never before had such things happened in this small “Christian” town.

Sunday about 200 locals walked from the high school toward downtown. Hecklers roared by in big trucks while others stood on porches and under awnings, many flashing rifles, taunting the teens with, “Blue Lives Matter,” “USA,” and “Go back home.” Some stooped to, “Black Lives Don’t Matter.”

The kids held together, chanting in unison and encouraging that all, “Love one another.”

As marchers dispersed an old timer was heard saying, “Sure taught ‘em what Christian America is all about.”

Fiction 101: The goal is to tell a story in 101 words or less.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Running away

After reading books I ran away to join the circus but couldn’t find it anywhere.

Jumped a train, headed west to see whatever it was that Greely promised. Discovered it was long gone and sadly forgotten.

I found a Montana ranch and tried to be a cowboy. But it was nothing like TV promised.

Stowing away on a plane was my last hope. Finding myself with hypothermia in an unknown hospital was my crushing disappointment.

I went to college, got a job, married and had kids. Like they said I should. And this is where my story ends.

Fiction 101 - The goal is to tell a story in 101 words or less.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Maybe the end of (the Corona Chronicles)

story 1 - The end of the world 

It’s my 16th birthday and this quarantine is the end of the world.

Think about it. No driving to school with my new license. No school day with balloons, flowers, somebody bringing me a coffee drink, teachers letting me slide and everybody saying, “Happy Birthday.” No ditching campus with friends to get a decent lunch. No Starbucks run after school. No party with my best friends. No staying out late with my boyfriend and not getting in trouble from my parents because it’s my DAY.

Like I said, it’s the end of the world.

story 2- Long before

My Grandma, your Great-Great Grandma, she told me. About 100 years ago, long before you were born, the virus came and life shut down. Everybody strayed home, didn’t go to work, school, restaurants or shopping.

She said it wasn’t that tough until Grandpa got sick. He was tested and she was praying that it wasn’t the virus. It was. He had to go to the hospital. No visitors, not even Grandma. She got updates saying he was fading and she knew before the final call arrived.

I can tell you the sadness of loss never left her.

story 3 - Never returned 

“…sharp knife and cheap booze, maybe drugs. So much blood.” The EMT shook his head while transferring the patient to the ER staff.

“But, he cut off his own hand?”

“He mumbled something about, “How do you know when the germs are gone?” I think he passed out trying to cut off the other one. Wouldn’t have made it here if his sister hadn’t checked in on him.”

“I think she’s brought him in before. Some mental health thing.”

“Sad stuff. She told us he’s never really returned from that tour of duty in Afghanistan.”

story 4 - “The Villa” 

Always knew I came to “The Villa” to die. The virus ramped up that reality. We’ve been designated a hot spot. I want to see my kids and grandkids. They say no one’s coming or going.

We fly the clubhouse flag at half-mast when a resident dies. Usually happens once a week. Seems like it’s down more than up now.

Schultz started a pool. You pick an hour block each day predicting when someone will die. I made a couple hundred bucks on Tuesday.

Sounds morbid, but wait until you hit this stage, see what you do for fun.

Fiction 101: The goal is to tell a story in 101 words or less.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Oh please, enlighten me

So I should consider it okay
if it’s my Mom, age 88,
blind from strokes, confined to a care facility
and, wait for it,
giddy with the joy of new found love.
Or my wife, a cancer survivor,
who looks too young to be in any high-risk population.
Or our son who was born premature and
has been fighting the odds each new day.
Or one of my grandkids, (Who would dare to
tell me that any of my grandkids are merely fodder
so we can save our precious economy?)
Oh, and add to the list life-long friends,
co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances.

And you want me to believe
their death is acceptable because:
as Americans our rights are sacred and demand risks,
or they probably have some
weakening condition and would soon die,
or it is just their time,
or (please spare me)
god called them home
(or to a better place,
or fill in the vapid cliché of your choice).

That’s all I have.
But I’m sure you have more.
So, please enlighten me as to  
why I should gratefully fight for and
enjoy my rights and privileges
even at the cost of the life
of one of these, so dear to me?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

We’re trying (the Corona Chronicles)

“I… can’t… take… this… shit… any… more!”

“Come on Kris, language. Your Father and I are trying to make the best of these tough times. It’s hard on everybody.”

“I don’t care. I’m outa here. You don’t understand. I need some friends.”

“You aren’t going anywhere. Keys and phone, NOW!”


“Taking away friends and games seems the only way to get you to listen.”

“Come on!”

“This isn’t a conversation. Take that laptop, go to your room and get your school work done.”

“OK.” …Does she really have no clue what I’m going to be doing all morning?

Fiction 101: The goal is to tell a story in 101 words or less.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

nothing we can do

another too short night bleeds into another
too hectic morning that transitions to a too dark,
too dreary, too windy, too rainy northwest commute

check email, brew tea, get organized, remember: 
treat people how i hope to be treated,
all that golden rule stuff
interact with staff, kids arrive, and arrive,
and arrive, half asleep, bleary eyed, glued to phones,
laughing and scheming with friends, 
shoves and grabs, some alone, so alone, 
squeals, insults and accusations, chatter perks
to a disorientating racket, remember:
they are somebody's babies 
bell rings, ever-morphing bodies
grudgingly crowd through halls and into chairs

i think again about the unnamed weight hovering,
bearing down and the knowing, that it can happen there
reminding me daily, it can happen here
and i hope they don't think about it
as often as i do and i hope they don't realize
there is nothing we can do to predict or stop it