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I cut my foot on a sharp rock. It stung a little but I didn’t stop running until I got to the edge of the creek. I squeezed my little brother’s hand tight. “Be careful Bubba, Hold my hand now, and keep up with me” I said. The rocks along the side were covered in a green soft slime. I had to be careful or I would fall. I carefully slid my feet across the flat rocks until I could step down into the soft gushy silt at the bottom. I held on to Tony as he did the same thing. Then we ran again, he kept up and I ran as fast as I could. The water splashed up and on my legs getting the hem of my yellow dress wet. My hair was soaked with sweat, it clung to my head. I was glad it was not dark yet. We ran down the creek and under old man Coey’s bridge. It was dark under there. We slowed down a bit and went toward the bank. I grabbed an old gnarled grape-vine and pulled myself up  into the weeds. I pulled Tony up behind me. I got to the top of the bank as a car came barreling down the road. We crouched down and watched until it was gone. It could have been Daddy. We ran across the road as fast as we could. The tar on the road felt sticky on my bare feet.  We cut into Grandpa’s cornfield, first one way and then another in case  anyone seen us. Daddy was drunk again. He was beating Mommy again. He had went crazy this time, saying he would kill her. He had a gun.

He was accusing Mommy of messing around. She had not done anything. We had all been home with her. Tony was crying as we got to Grandma’s door. I opened up the screen door and knocked as loud as I could. Grandma came to the door in her house coat and slippers. Grandpa said “Who is it?” I quickly told them what was happening. Grandma went to the phone and called the sheriff. Grandpa said “What will be will be, no sense confronting him with a gun.” Grandma agreed we should wait for the sheriff. I started to cry, I had left my baby sister under my bed. We had been hiding there and he had fired the gun. I tried to carry her, but I was afraid I would drop her. I grabbed Tony by the hand and shut the bedroom door behind us. I didn’t think Daddy would hurt the baby, just Mommy, but he didn’t want the Sheriff to come either. I told Grandpa if Daddy could just fall asleep he would get sober and everything would be okay. Grandpa said we should pray. Tony and I closed our eyes and held our hands tight together while Grandpa prayed.

All the sudden Mommy came busting through the door carrying my baby sister. Grandma took the baby and Mommy collapsed on the couch. She told Grandpa to take us in the other room so Mommy could clean up. We all went into the middle bedroom and sat on the bed. I could hear Grandma telling Mommy she should go to the hospital. then everything got really quiet. It seemed like hours had passed when we heard the sirens from down the road.  Mommy never went to the hospital. She was pretty beat up. They didn’t take Daddy to jail. They told him to sleep it off and the deputy took his gun. He said he could pick it up when he got sober. The deputy told Grandma and Grandpa to keep us with them for a while. I heard Grandma telling my Aunt on the telephone after it was all over. We had crackers and ring pudding slices and cold milk. Then we got a bath, Tony and I put on Grandpa’s old white under shirts to sleep in. Grandma had things for my baby sister that she bought and had not given to Mommy yet. Grandpa locked all the doors and windows. He sat up in the living room and we all went to sleep. Daddy came the next day and talked to Grandpa. He kept hollering for Mommy to come outside. She didn’t go and he left. He came back later and brought us all some candy and Mommy decided to go home with him. He said he was sorry. We stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for a few nights. He always said he was sorry. Grandma would always say Daddy had the devil and the drink in him. He was a good Daddy as long as he stayed sober.

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Lost Girl

for her heart

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Addiction 3



Shocked, my mouth agape,

The kindness that you ration,

Seeing no escape,

I beg for your compassion,

In my hour of need,

No sympathy is given,

Consumed you are with greed,

Power hungry, hurt driven,

I keep defending you,

Taking nothing in return,

You cut my heart into,

A page you never turn,

Tell me how I fix it,

Make it go away,

This toxic fire always lit,

I love you anyway


Yesterday’s tears free and flowing,

Today although sad, I am numb,

Empathy, my heart has the knowing,

Wishing for healing to come,

Insanity, repeating, repeating,

Watching you hit self-destruct,

My heart ripped into and still beating,

Pain like a knife in my gut,

Methamphetamine made you feel special,

Methamphetamine made you feel new,

The importance of loved ones so crucial,

Suddenly meant nothing to you,

You used to be so very pretty,

So smart, so kind, I was proud,

Now you are ugly and petty,

Embarrassing, vulgar and loud,

You would gladly lay down with a stranger,

You would gladly throw lies in my face,

You have no regard for the danger,

You are homeless and have no real place,

I am in fear for your life my dear daughter,

Although you would tear mine to shreds,

It is like you have drowned in dark water,

No savior, no life boat ahead,

Here we are raising your offspring,

Picking up pieces for them,

Wondering what you were thinking,

leaving again and again,

The want for the drug has such power,

The drug they refer to as Meth,

I worry and watch for the hour,

When I’ll be informed of your death, 

I pray for it never to happen,

Some say it is part of God’s plan,

Your complexion, scab ridden and ashen,

Will you please go to rehab again?


A Banshee is an evil wretch

Lives to ruin and souls to fetch

The damned who crave that vile waste

Will gladly dance for just a taste

The Banshee spoils the addicts blood

Mothers tears come as a flood,

Salted, hot torrential rain

Those who love them feel their pain

Mindless, loveless, no willpower,

Scrounging, searching every hour,

Demands unrealistic, evil scourge,

Need to run, need to purge,

Black eyed Harpy, swallows them whole,

No light, no love, dark wounded soul,

Ripping from the heart each tiny shred,

The lack of endorphins in their head,

The Banshee thrashes, the Banshee screams,

The Banshee has vanquished hopes and dreams,

The Banshee fuels them, they crave a fix,

They have no choice the Banshee picks,

Between those they love and love for her,

She drives them dead, there is no cure,

Leaving them broken, self-loathing, impure

By T.K. Tolbert

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“The Light”


Annie was so very happy when her Daddy came home from work. He had been traveling out of town for several months. They had moved into the apartment at her Aunt Pauline’s when they had lost the farm. Aunt Pauline was her Daddy’s older sister. Aunt Pauline had been salty when her parents left Daddy the farm. Daddy said there was bad blood all around. Aunt Pauline and Uncle Ted lived in the city. As a last resort, Daddy had taken the family to stay there temporarily. When he left for work, Mommy didn’t feel welcome. She went downstairs and did what cooking she had to and would boil water for washing. It had seemed like forever since they had been outside. Uncle Ted would come up every morning and bring milk and sometimes doughnut holes. He would talk a little until Aunt Pauline would call for him. Daddy had said Aunt Pauline always walked in darkness, he said she was a bitter woman and that darkness had swallowed her whole. She kept the curtains drawn all the time. She wore dark clothes. Her red hair had turned silver and her eyes although blue were sunk into dark hollows. Aunt Pauline had not had children and she said she did not want to be bothered with them. She glared at Annie and said, “Look at you little Towhead.” Mommy told Annie later that was a term used to describe children with blonde hair.

It had been very hard on her family, her Daddy and Mommy had held hands and wept while the Auctioneer had systematically sold all their belongings. Everything had gone quickly at the second sale. The first sale was advertised in the local paper. Everyone knew Auggie Landers. Everyone in their little town had grown up together. Farmers for generations they had seen many prosperous years and had also endured hard times together. No one raised a hand to bid on any item at the first sale. The bank had advertised the second sale in the Gazette. It reached people all over the state. Strangers came with big flat-bed trucks. They didn’t know the Landers Family and they were happy to buy all their belongings cheap. Annie got to keep her clothes. She got to keep her rag doll. She kept her wooden box of crayons.

Annie remembered the kitchen in the farmhouse. It was much bigger than Aunt Pauline’s kitchen. The old farmhouse sink was wide. It was the perfect height for Annie to help with the dishes. Many times she had helped her Mother prepare meals for her Family. She had helped her Mother when she gave the twins a bath in the big sink. There was a curtain that hung under the sink. Her Mommy had called the fabric Gingham. It was red and white checked. It matched the curtains that hung over the two big windows that faced the east. The walls were painted white. The ice box was in the far corner and a smaller window was on the other side of the kitchen. It had a wooden ledge built on it for cooling pies or bread. It was also nice to open all the windows and catch the breeze when it was hot or sometimes when Mommy would give the kitchen a good scrubbing with hot water and vinegar and a dash of soap. Everything would be scoured clean and then dry “Lickety Split” as Daddy would say.

The apartment had a sink and toilet, a table and chairs, one big bed and three cots. Uncle Ted had hung two sheets from the rafters. One to section off the toilet and one to separate the sleeping area from the table and chairs. One little rectangle window rested between the eaves of the house. The light shone through in a stream into the room. You could see the rectangle of light on the sheet that hung by the beds. Uncle Ted had given Annie a package of paper he had gotten from work. He worked at the paper mill. To Annie it was a wonderful gift. She used several sheets of paper to form the windows and curtains, just like the ones at the farm. She drew and drew until she had made the sink, the big cook stove, the little window. She even drew a pie to cool on the edge. She drew Hedrow the big orange Tom Cat. She took her time and tried very hard to remember every detail of their beautiful kitchen. Her Mommy read her Bible and tended to the twins. She would smile when Annie would say “Look Mommy.” Annie was very pleased with herself. For a moment, it seemed to help. Everything seemed so dark in the city. The buildings were close together. The winter seemed to last forever and with Daddy gone. Annie felt if she could bring some light into their little home it might not seem so bad. It was almost Christmas and Annie remembered how Mommy would decorate the kitchen, with ribbons and popcorn, buttons and beads. They had a little tree every year and Mommy always put it in the kitchen instead of the parlor. She said that Christmas should be kept in your heart and the heart of their home was the kitchen. Annie began to work on her decorations. She colored until her fingers were sore. The twins were delighted with all the colors. When Daddy came home he had important news. He said he had been offered work on a big farm. They had housing there and the town had a great school. He was certain that they would love it. He said the family that owned the farm needed help and he thought Mommy could get a little work too. Annie listened to her Daddy. She watched his face to see when he would notice how she had transformed the little apartment into the kitchen from their farm. Finally, he looked around and said, “My goodness this looks so much like our old kitchen I thought I was there for a minute!” Annie smiled and said, “Really Daddy?” he reached out and pulled her to him. He had on a big itchy wool coat. His red beard was rough and over grown. Annie didn’t mind. She looked into his blue eyes. They sparkled with light and laughter. He spun her around and grabbed Mommy. Annie would never forget her Daddy singing “If you got the money Honey, I got the time”, Mommy in her blue housecoat and bare feet. Her blonde hair was pinned up and it fell upon her shoulders when he spun her around. The light that hung from the center of the room swayed back and forth. The twins ran around behind them squealing. Annie looked at all her hard work. She felt as happy in that moment as she ever had in her life. She would never forget the low light and the colors of her crayon kitchen on that happy night. Daddy had brought hamburgers wrapped in wax paper and ice cold Coca Cola’s. He had peppermint sticks and oranges and Mommy lit some candles. He told them they would pack their things in the morning and head to their new home. He told Annie they had cows, chickens and a big yellow cat with a whole litter of kittens. As Annie went to sleep the moonlight was so bright the little stream of light lit up the whole room. She thought to herself, she would never be swallowed by darkness. She knew that with a little effort you can always draw some light.

Short story and photo by T.K. Tolbert

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ap1Heart beating, blood pumping,

Necessary to live, to love,

Breath filling your lungs, oxygen,

Necessary to your survival,

Eyes open, line of sight,

Necessary to see,

Limbs strong, limber,

Necessary to movement,

Mouth opens, mouth shuts, tongue and teeth,

Necessary to speak and eat,

Ears open,

Necessary for you to hear,

Fingers reach,

Necessary for you to touch,

Soul, life force within you,

Necessary for you to be you,

Brain, motor skills, movement, central,

Necessary for thought, imagination, all else,

Heart breaking, breath labored, Vision blurred,

Knees weak, tongue swollen, ears ringing,

Fingers clenched, Soul wounded, thoughts erratic,

Fear, fear of what will be, loss of sameness,

Whatever the situation, If self-inflicted or put upon you by another,

You may need to run, you may need to leave, you may need to create,

Embrace new, thoughts, new ideas, new people, new places,

Leave behind negative thought, people, places, things,

The universe will guide you,

Unfamiliar, unknown,

Change, love of self

Necessary for growth, Necessary for self-preservation, Necessary for happiness

By T.K. Tolbert




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#Southern #Poem #Literature #Original
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wp7Winter white, I remember,

Palest night, mid December,

So much love, tongue can’t tell,

Sent from above, under a spell,

Sweet girl child, born this eve,

I won’t be wild, never leave,

Keep you with me, all my days,

How do I love thee, in so many ways,

Heart so warm, full of pride,

Keep you from harm, by my side,

Soft and dear, sweet, sweet face,

I know why I’m here, I found my place

By T.K. Tolbert



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