Current Work in Progress (Novel)

Photo by Joshua Alfaro on Unsplash

               Ben Lambert stopped digging just long enough to swipe away the trickle of sweat headed for his eye with the back of his hand. Despite the gathering clouds, it was a sticky, hot day. Ben peeked over his shoulder and didn’t see anyone, but he knew he needed to hurry. Someone could come along any minute.
               He started shoveling the sand again, as fast as his five-year old hands could go. He used his grandpa’s old garden shovel and the handle must have been a mile long. Ben tried choking up on it like his dad had showed him to do on a baseball bat, but it didn’t help. Twice as much sand shifted back into the hole with each scoop. Sand was heavier than it looked. Heavy and slippery. The shovel snagged again and again on the knotted roots of the overgrown marsh grass.
               Maybe he should just use his old beach pail and shovel from last summer that he used to scoop up sand crabs that scurried along the waterline. His mom had brought the dented blue and white striped tin pail with its matching lemon yellow plastic shovel along, even though he told her he didn’t want it anymore. He would be six years old in three days. Too old to play with baby toys. She had told him he was too little to use Grandpa’s shovel, but he had been sure he could do it. Defeated, Ben let the monster shovel fall into the sand and rubbed his sore hands on the seat of his faded red swim trunks.
               A sudden gust of wind ruffled his white blonde hair and made the sea grass bob and weave. More clouds had stacked up in the darkening sky above the cottonwood and cedar trees. These weren’t the friendly cotton ball clouds he liked to pick shapes out of with his mom. These were the color of bruises and looked fat with rain. Mean rain. Ben hated storms. Bad things happened during storms.

Art of Peace Anthology Presentation - 2017

Building Bridges

Children's Wall-hanging

It was an honor to have my poem, "He Doesn't Make a Sound" included in the 2017 Art of Peace - Building Bridges Anthology. Thanks so much to Anne McCrady and Ann Faulkner for an inspiring evening.

He Doesn’t Make a Sound

No angry fists thrown in the air.
Only a five-year-old boy, dazed and bloodied,
in the back of a war-rattled ambulance.
His black silken hair powdered white with the rubble of his homeland.
No cries. No tears. Not a sound.
Born into a world that turns away.
A future as fragile as dust.
Yet, his face transcended borders and captured the heart of the world.
For a fleeting moment, one small Syrian child became everyone’s small child.
Then, we got busy with our own lives. Our own children.

We moved on. We forgot.

In this shrinking, wounded world, we must not live as strangers,
but learn to share a grief that is not our own.
Open up. Live deeper.
Make outraged noise for a child muted by bombs.
What we think we know about each other builds walls.
What we come to know about each other builds bridges.
Remember the displaced and the lost, who yearn for a stronghold.
Their dream of peace, evergreen and universal.
Hope of a better world for one’s children,
the common thread that connects us all in this tapestry of life.

                                                                                           T. Liptak

Find Me

This night, unfinished.
A possibility.
A girlish impulse,
clear-eyed and friendly.
A lesser angel in the curve of a smile.
A stranger’s face,
beginning to feel like home.
Holding everything you need within
a mad embrace.

                                                     T. Liptak

Chasing the Light

The sweet smell of lavender drifts on the warm breeze
and all the melodies come back to me,
of summer’s sweet songs.
Time slows down as I embrace the need to devour this thing called life.
A childlike longing to break the gold-tinged day into pieces
and slip them into my pocket.
To glut and gorge on sherbet-colored sunsets and cotton candy skies.
Each day given its portion of spectacular.

                                                                                                 T. Liptak

A Chapel Without Walls

A hunger gnaws at me as the winding road inches me to my destination. My patience is rewarded as the landscape unfolds like the pages of a child’s pop-up book into something rugged and wild.

The numbing repetition of big box stores and gas stations fades away as the small jutting, striated rocky ledges and mounds soon swell into the muscles and bones of the San Juan mountains in Southwest Colorado. Mountains that rise above me like a protective mother.

Tucked in along the gentle slope of her majestic skirt that spreads along the still water, I look up. Searching. Reminded of a simple, yet profound, truth about nature, life, and myself. All we have is the now. The moment at hand. These mountains generously offer me what I didn’t even realize I was looking for before now. A permission to slow down and take a deep breath. Truly listen to what my mind has to say.

A hush embraces me as I wander along the dirt path at the base of the rocky range stacked with towering cedars and aspens. The silence broken only by the click of my camera. The cool blue of the sky presses on me, rooting me to the earth. Wisps of clouds thread through the treetops.

I do not question the sensation that I am somehow at the intersection of the past, present, and future. A flash in time. Illumination. Seeing with my heart, as well as my eyes, what is before me. A joyous focus. I embrace it and mold myself to this new feeling of wonder combined with mindfulness. A rush of gratitude and completeness sweeps over me. The sense of a connection to something much bigger than myself grows with each step into this pristine wilderness. Here in this chapel without walls.

Venus Rising

Ocean, Shadow

You crowned me,
as the sun rose above the arc of the tide.
You tasted of the ocean.
Salt on my tongue.
We were in our own bodies,
and then you were in mine.
With slim white fingers,
you undid my buttons, 
my bones, my inhibitions.
You undid me, scooped out the dark,
and slipped me on.
Lying like spoons, joined at the hips,
you placed me in a golden light.
You called me your princess.

Art Break - Deep Ellum Art Festival 2017

Yesterday, we ventured out to the Deep Ellum Art Festival in Dallas, TX. Again, our outing included fierce wind gusts most of the day, but we had a nice time in spite of it. It is always inspiring to spend time among art and artists. The colors and ideas, not to mention the people-watching are fuel for a writer's imagination. I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the artwork, but most did not want pictures taken of their work, which is understandable. 

Wall of graffiti

Old Barn


Crowd shot

Art Festival Dallas TX

Graffiti Deep Ellum

Running Towards the Day

My poem "Running Towards the Day" was published on the Kind Over Matter site a few weeks ago. It's a beautiful site with a wonderful message that encourages women to be kind to one another, as well as themselves.


One Word at a Time

Journal with Pen

The ocean blue notebook is tattered and marred with scratches and stray ink marks on its cover. It started out as a surplus of school supplies for my son, tucked away and forgotten. Now, it holds the rocky story of my past year. A hard year spent in a bubble of depression. Inside this unassuming notebook’s shabby cover lies a hidden lifeline of language for a soul in need of solace and meaning. Blood, sweat, and tears in cursive.

The handwriting alone documents the highs and lows of that year. Some of the handwriting is beautiful and artistic with a hopeful flourish, while some is barely legible. The desperate scratchings of someone with tears streaming down her face, seeking shelter from the unexpected despair that gripped her. The ink smudged in random spots with tears now long-dried, but not forgotten.

Two of my favorite memories of childhood are sitting on my daddy’s lap while he read me a favorite book and spending lazy summer afternoons in the old two-story wooden house that was converted into our city library. An inviting place that enveloped me with its signature scent of aging paper and dusty ink. Curling up with the latest Nancy Drew book in the sunny spot by the bay window, I was transported to another world while my mom searched for her own books in the next room.

As it does for many young girls, my love of words extended into keeping a diary. A birthday gift, it was white with gold-foiled edged pages and had “My Diary” stamped on the cover in gold. The tiny lock and key it came with delighted me. I felt grown-up and important.

As life got busier, I no longer took the time to write in a diary. Yet, intuitively, I found my way back to writing as an adult during my onset of depression. At first, orderly words marched in obedient lockstep along the rigid, black lines. Somber and searching, the words purged out of desperation, no joy found there. Only a release as my hand moved across the page. The gliding of the pen on the page slowed my heartbeat and steadied my breath. As the weeks flowed by, measured in ink, my mood began to lighten. My words grew bold and playful, daring to stray outside the lines in the occasional arch floating above the margin in a rainbow of plans and dreams.

Today, my beloved notebook is swollen with printed confessions, great and small. It is a silent witness to a soul searching for and finding better days. A path laid down, thought by thought, out of the darkness into the light. Grief and joy balanced in the palm of my hand. That notebook, an old friend that reminds me that things can and do get better even when it feels the darkest.