The Four Elements Of A Successful Relationship

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

best podcast ever
Shaun Farrar

Carrie and I just finished eating our dinner and I was wondering what I should do now that we had cleaned up and I might have a bit of relaxation time. Then I had this horribly sinking thought, Sh*t, you forgot to do your blogpost! Carrie is going to kill you if she has to edit and post this late in the evening.

It is now 6:42 p.m. and what you have read is exactly what I have written. I am so afraid that my hands are going to start shaking in just a moment. You don’t know Carrie like I do!

I am just kidding. She’s a pretty good soul and won’t be all that angry with me. Actually, she won’t be angry at all. You know why? Because she loves me (or at least she says so). I believe this to be true, however. It’s because of Carrie that I have figured out the true meaning of love. Well, maybe not the meaning but the formula for long-lasting love.

Of course, there are a number of elements, and for the purpose of this blog, there will be four elements. I list them out below in no particular order.

  1. Mental attraction.
  2. Physical attraction.
  3. Emotional attraction.

Now those are your three base elements but there is one more very important element. This one is the key to the long-lasting part of love. What is this all-essential element?

Forgiveness.

That’s the big one! It doesn’t matter how many of the basic three you have or how strong those basic three are because without the fourth element, forgiveness, your clock is ticking.

So, just remember that nobody is perfect including ourselves. With plenty of exceptions, there is nothing that we can’t forgive of those that we love.

The real point of this blog? My lovely wife Carrie has an incredibly large amount of the fourth element and for this, I am very thankful!

I have to get this emailed to her before she has to forgive me again.

Peace and remember to Always Love Your Way Through It!

Shaun

My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?

It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!

It’s super fun.

Pot Brownies in Senior Centers and Be The Rock and Live with Intention

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Pot Brownies in Senior Centers and Be The Rock and Live with Intention
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Lately, a lot of Carrie’s writers have been talking about how they want to write with intention and that always makes Carrie’s brain hitch a bit, which is why we’re doing this podcast, a slightly deep dive into intention.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, intention means

the thing that you plan to do or achieve an aim or purpose

And over at a site all about spiritual wellbeing appropriately called Blissful Light,

Intention is probably one of the most essential parts of healing, abundance, manifestation, personal and spiritual development. 

Whoa, right? That’s a lot to put on one word or one state of being. Healing. Abundance. Manifestation. Personal AND spiritual development. It almost makes you tired to just think about it.

And it’s also a lot of . . . words. Abstract words. And over here on Dogs are Smarter Than People, we’re not really big on abstractions. So, we’re going to break it down a bit for you in real world terms.

You want a hot dog. You find money. You go to a store. You buy a hot dog.

You make a decision: buy a hot dog.

You do the actions: find money, go to store, buy dog.

Intention works the same way. You have to decide what you want and then you have to take the steps to get what you want.

Sometimes the deciding is the hardest part. It’s like when you go to the grocery store in the U.S. before COVID and there is an entire aisle full of cereal choices. Your brain balks. So much cereal! Too much choice. Wheatabix or Captain Crunch? Co-co-puffs or corn flakes? You can get stuck.

Back in 2004 Barry Schwartz wrote a book about people being overwhelmed by too many choices. A lot of other scientists and researchers dispute his theory. But, we know Carrie has a hard time with it. 🙂 You might too.

Here’s the thing:

We make choices every day. Stay in bed. Get up. Go to the bathroom now, try to hold it. Answer the phone? Don’t answer it.

We constantly live with intention, but we want to be able to visualize and make the big steps toward those loftier and more exciting outcomes. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t just leave their royal life for America; they imagined a different life and took all the complicated steps to get there. The Rock didn’t just become a superstar and get to dance with Gal Gadot. He took all the complicated steps to go toward bigger and bigger goals.

According to Blissful Light, there are key steps to doing this.

Focus your thoughts-

Visualize what it is you really want. Be specific. See it clearly.

“Heartfelt Emotion”

That’s their term and it works. You want to really experience the emotion with that thought/want/dream. It’s that beautiful connection that happens with aspiration. It’s pretty magical.

Try not to wish to be a unicorn and don’t let setback/negativity get you down.

You want to go toward goals that are currently possible in this world. And in that same way, any goal in this world, any life is going to have highs and lows. Know you might have setbacks, keep going anyway.

Nike Ad It, Baby. Just Do It

Remember that big second step of intention? It’s action. You can’t just wish for a hot dog to appear in your hand. You’ve got to make your luck and opportunities by taking the appropriate steps toward your goal/desire/hot dog/life as The Rock. You’ve got this.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Dream big. Work toward those goals. Make choices that move you toward that vision. That’s a huge part of living with intention.

AND THE STORY ABOUT THE POT BROWNIES AT THE SENIOR CENTER? It’s right here.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

How To Make Your Writing More Intense

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
How To Make Your Writing More Intense
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It’s Writing Tip Time and we’re going to give you three fast and dirty writing tips today that’s going to make your writing more intense. Ready?

Think about your tense

What’s that mean? It means don’t be writing like things are happening now and then shift over to writing like things were happening in the past. If you want the most immediate writing experience, write in the present tense.

Here’s a quick example:

I lost feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run on Friday. I thought I might be having a stroke.

That’s in the past tense, right? We read this, notice it’s in the first person and figure that the narrator has survived because she’s telling us about this after-the-fact.

Try it out in the present tense:

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

It’s more intense, right?

Let’s make it more intense.

Take out the distancing words.

In first person especially, it’s really hard to get away from a lot of looking and knowing and words that pull us out of the moment and the immediacy of the character’s experience.

Distancing language tends to be the words like ‘seem,’ and ‘look,’ and ‘heard,’ and ‘know.’ When I revise, I think of these words as placeholders for where I can go back and dig in more deeply in certain places.

So, let’s take that sentence again and make it more immediate.

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke.

Change that up and it looks like:

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot numbs first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts going numb, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

You’re in there a bit more with that character now right. Is she having a stroke? What the heck is she running for? SHE IS BROKEN!

Try not to use the same word too many times too closely together.

In the example above I deliberately use the word ‘numb’ and ‘my left’ over and over again. I’m cool with the repetition of ‘my left,’ but not so much with the numb. There are better, cooler words to mix in there and grab the reader’s attention. Let’s try.

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot disappears first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts to tingle, I gasp. I might be having a stroke.

There you go!

We’ve learned three fast tips to making your writing more intense.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be in the present (tense). Don’t be distant. Mix up your words, man.

Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

“You Aren’t Allowed To Write About Me”

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
"You Aren't Allowed To Write About Me"
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Hi! This year (2022), I’ve decided to share a poem on my blog and podcast and read it aloud. It’s all a part of my quest to be brave and apparently the things that I’m scared about still include:

  1. My spoken voice
  2. My raw poems.

Thanks for being here with me and cheering me on and I hope that you can become braver this year, too!

best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems
“You Aren’t Allowed To Write About Me”



If by aren’t allowed, you mean you forbid it, then who are you to forbid?

If by write, you mean think, tell stories, try to understand, to recreate 
you in a way that isn’t such a jackass, 
I’m sorry, but you can only be improved,
and you’re missing out. 

The you on the page is so much better than the you in life. 

If by me you mean just you, I’m sorry, 
but stories (even characters, even real-life 
characters) are bigger than just one me, 
just one you, just one. 

None of us are just one.  

Why don’t you try to imagine what it’s like 
to not have a Lexus and enough money 
to have your back shaved? Why don’t you try 
to imagine what it’s like to listen to you asking someone 
if they are ‘really an American,’ or telling them they look 
like a pumpkin because they’re wearing an orange dress. 
What it’s like to hold a given-to-you bouquet 
and know that it will wilt because you don’t have 
the water to let it survive, to go 
in the shower and pray for warmth? 
Why don’t you imagine what it’s like 
to live bigger than who you are, 
trying to push into who you are meant to be? 
Imagine that’s more than a Lexus. 

Why don’t you imagine? 

I am not allowed to write about you. 

I write about you constantly 
even when you don’t realize. 
You are the grit between my teeth.

Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called A Feather and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

While Carrie only posts poems weekly here, she has them (in written form) almost every weekday over on Medium. You should check it out!

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection

Microwave Raspberry Sauce of Wordle and Wine

Sometimes you just need fruit and sugar. Okay. What am I saying? All the time you just need fruit and sugar.

Raspberry My Sauce

Recipe by CarrieCourse: sauceCuisine: americanDifficulty: Easy

Are you addicted to wine, raspberries, sugar, or Wordle? Do you have a microwave? This recipe is for you, baby.

Stuff That Goes In It

  • 2 cups raspberries

  • ⅓ cup sugar

How to Make It

  • Prepare to stain your fingers red. Prepare to have to go to the door even in a pandemic so that you can sign the FED EX driver’s thing to prove you are over 21 so that you can get an entire box of wine off the internet. Watch the Fed Ex driver judge you.
  • Okay. Here’s the recipe. Sorry about that. It was a low point recently. Another low point? Constantly checking when the next Wordle game was up and seeing gray, yellow, and green squares in my dreams.
  • Swear off the Wordle addiction and get a big container (2 quarts) and put the raspberries and sugar into it. Wonder if ‘swear’ would be a good five-letter word for Wordle. NO! DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT!
  • Put plastic wrap over the container (too many letters) and put it in the microwave (way too many letters).
  • Cook for three minutes.
  • Uncover it. Stir it. Realize you should have offered the Fed Ex driver some wine. Feel guilty.
  • Cook another minute. Think about winning Wordle and wine.
  • If you are anti-seed (let’s face it, most of us are), put the raspberries through a sieve. Wonder if you should use ‘sieve’ in Wordle. Realize no. More than one E in that baby. Wonder if the Fed Ex driver plays Wordle.
  • Keep the strained sauce. Do not keep the seeds or go running after the Fed Ex driver with your bottle of wine yelling, “WORDLE! WORDLE!” That would be too weird.
  • Eat that sauce. Get it all over your face. Trust me and do not answer the door if someone comes, not without cleaning your teeth first. Raspberries make you look like you’ve turned zombie. Not a good look. Even in a pandemic.

Notes

  • This was adapted from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. It’s a big, awesome cookbook, one of my first and I love it with all my little Wordle heart. HEART! That has five letters!

Weirdest Songs Ever

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
Weirdest Songs Ever
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Have you ever heard a song and just been like, “What the what?”

That’s what we talk about. The amazing art that happens sometimes in musical form.

By amazing we mean weird.

Be Brave Friday! It’s a New Book Baby, Art, and a Weekly Round-Up

Hey! It’s BE BRAVE FRIDAY and um . . . I’m not sure what I’m being brave about right now.

No. No, that’s a lie.

I’m going to be brave by sharing a huge painting that I’m working on and I’m going to be brave by telling you that I have a book coming out tomorrow, which I’ve done absolutely nothing to promote because I suck, and I’ve been working too much on OTHER people’s books.

Curving towards hope.

But here is the book . . .

It’s called THE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE and it’s the latest installment of the Dude series. Shaun (the husband) and I are currently arguing about whether it’s the last installment. I say yes. He says no. Feel free to weigh in if you’ve been reading it.

WHAT IT IS ABOUT

A heartbreaking and romantic must-read thriller from New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones brings a Maine teen’s past into a terrifying present.

Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather’s mother walked off and left her and her kind stoner dad when she was just a little girl, but after a mysterious email leads to some serious questions, Dude and her friends realize that her mother might not have willingly abandoned them after all.

The third book in Carrie Jones’s exciting Maine mystery series forces Dude to grapple with the ghosts of her family’s past so that she can finally head towards a hopefully brighter future.

Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the third book of the Dude Mystery Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.

POSTS AND PODCASTS THIS WEEK

And just to catch up, here are the posts from this week!

My author interview with Tony Quintana on Dogs are Smarter Than People’s bonus edition.

On Write Better Now, we talk about the biggest thing holding back you and your writing.

On Carrie Does Poetry, I read the aptly titled poem, “Mean People Suck.”

This week’s humorous, but yummy recipe was WHIP THAT SEXY FETA, HONEY.

On Dogs are Smarter Than People, we talk about toxic masculinity. Yowza.

And our live podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, we talk about the strange reasons people have called 9-1-1.

POEMS EVERYWHERE!

Over on Medium and my social media, I post motivating daily thoughts from my animals. On Medium (and only on Medium), I post poems that I’ve written (usually) every weekday. You should check it out! And clap or something so I can make $1 over there this month. 🙂

This scandalous photo didn’t make it into the week day motivating thoughts. I was too afraid to post this on Twitter. Plus, so much fur on the blanket.

How About You?

There you go! And how are you doing? Are you hanging in? Being brave? Thinking thoughts? Sharing new things?

The Biggest Thing Holding Back Your Writing

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
The Biggest Thing Holding Back Your Writing
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Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers

Carrie got really confused this week because she went on YouTube and looked up “Writing Advice” and there was a really popular vlogger who gives a ton of writing advice, but she’s not published things.

She is, however, really definite on her views on how to be a good writer, which is lovely. It’s lovely to be so confident.

But it made us think about what the worst writing advice ever is.

IT’S NOT:

Write every day.

IT’S NOT EVEN:

Write what you know.

IT’S NOT:

Write for you and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

IT’S NOT ANY OF THOSE ONE-SIZE FITS ALL TIDBITS.

HERE’S WHAT IT IS:

Don’t write. It’s a waste of time.

I don’t care who is giving you this advice. It might be your mom, teacher, bff, your life-partner, kid, an evil bastard who lives next door, a published writer. Or worse, it could be your own inner-critic, which lurks like a demon of self doubt in your frontal lobe.

That advice? It’s crap. It’s jealousy or stupidity or self-doubt. If you want to write? Write.

Don’t believe me that everyone deals with this? Or almost everyone? Here is a quote from the man, himself.

The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them.


The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome—something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.


In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t get to make things up anymore.


—Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Author Matthew Kesselhas some pretty cool advice about what he does when he’s overwhelmed by self doubt.

He writes through the doubt.

He reminds himself of all the good things he’s done as a writer.

Incorporates that doubt into more emotionally resonate characters.

Talks through it with other writer people who know how it is.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

Man, Are You Toxic? How to Start to Get Over It

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Man, Are You Toxic? How to Start to Get Over It
/

So, this week in our attempt to make your life a little bit better, we’re talking about being toxic and we are specifically talking about men being toxic.

And to do that we first have to define what toxic masculinity is.

Maya Salem in a 2019 NYT article writes that it’s:

  • Hiding your emotions, pretending you aren’t upset
  • Making sure everyone thinks you’re hard. (not your muscles, but your brain/soul/emotions)
  • Violence=toughness=powerful

“In other words: Toxic masculinity is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be “tough all the time”; that anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak. (No, it doesn’t mean that all men are inherently toxic.)”

Salem

But toxic masculinity is more than that. It’s a set of beliefs that a lot of men believe about themselves and that a lot of women believe about them, too.

What are those damn, stupid beliefs. According to Dr. Axe, they are things like (all the italicized below is a direct quote, but the format in the notes is hitching:

  • Manhood is defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.
  • Men should not be interested in “feminine things” because this makes them appear weak
  • Men shouldn’t display “feminine” traits such as emotional vulnerability.
  • Men and women can never truly understand each other or just be friends, for reasons like men are always interested in sex.
  • Real men are strong and don’t show emotional signs of shame or weakness.
  • Anger and violence are useful ways of solving conflicts.
  • Men are not suited to be single parents/the dominant parent in a family.

So, you might recognize some of those beliefs in yourselves or in others, rights? And it’s kind of a lot of bullshit.

You can be male; you can be a man and be nuanced. And there isn’t some dichotomy of man strong/woman weak. We’re not even going to begin to talk about how tough female sex organs and birthing organs are, right?

Sigh.

That is a rant for another time.

Moving on, masculinity theory has its origins in gender theories and has been expanded by the work of Raewyn Connell (Australian sociologist), Dr. Ronald Levant (researcher) and others who speak of the patriarchal dividend. And according to Dr. Axe, it’s about:

“A set of values, established by men in power, that functions to include and exclude, and to organize society in gender unequal ways. It combines several features: a hierarchy of masculinities, differential access among men to power (over women and other men) and the interplay between men’s identity, men’s ideals, interactions, power and patriarchy.”

So, what are those values? We talked about some of them, but those aren’t all. Let’s go at it from another angle.

Over on Tiny Buddha, Charles Razook writes:

“Toxic masculinity has bred men to be the life of the party. Drink hard. Smoke cigarettes. Do drugs. Be indomitable. This behavior always necessitates sleeping in to recover afterward and lower productivity.

“For women, on the other hand, there is more of an emphasis on looks, composure, and output. Essentially, on being perfect.

“This may sound misogynistic, backward, and antiquated, but unfortunately, these expectations still affect our society, though they are slowly changing. And the result is not very positive for men or women.”

How does this hold us all back? That’s kind of the question, right?

According to Scientific American,

“But this scramble for dominance and denial of emotion comes at great cost. It blunts men’s awareness of other people’s needs and emotions, drives domestic and sexual violence, makes aggression look like a reasonable way to solve conflict, forbids seeking health care (and even thinking about seeking mental health care), and pours fuel on the fire of drug and alcohol abuse

“Toxic masculinity even invades life’s small pleasures. To paraphrase the comedian Bill Burr, the man box means you can’t admit a baby is cute, hug a puppy, say you want a cookie, order banana pancakes, or carry an umbrella in the rain (“Get those shoulders up!”).”

And how do we fight it?

  1. Allow your kids and your men to have emotions and express them, damn it.
  2. Call out people for being nasty trolling idiots.
  3. Look at your kids’ role models. Are they toxic?
  4. Remember toxic people can change. Your mistakes don’t have to destroy you. Just thinking they do is toxic.
  5. Admit that culture and society has helped shape you and your personality and belief systems.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be afraid to explore who you are and why you are that way.

Links

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-fight-toxic-masculinity/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-the-wild-things-are/201810/toxic-masculinity-what-is-it-and-how-do-we-change-it

https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-man-who-called-womens-swimsuits-pornography-loses-his-job-20210909

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Mean People Suck

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
Mean People Suck
/

Hi! This year (2022), I’ve decided to share a poem on my blog and podcast and read it aloud. It’s all a part of my quest to be brave and apparently the things that I’m scared about still include:

  1. My spoken voice
  2. My raw poems.

Thanks for being here with me and cheering me on and I hope that you can become braver this year, too!


Mean People Suck

She is driving, in her car, with the sticker MEAN PEOPLE SUCK

Stuck on the bumper. She hasn’t yet peeled

The sticker off, though she promised herself

When her dad bought her the car, she would before the week was through.

Mean people suck.

But as she drives the car, at night, down the curves

Of the Mud Creek Road, she isn’t thinking of the elegant statement

Stuck to her little, gray automobile, she is thinking

Of the boy poet in her German class, the handsome one, with hair,

And how, only a half hour earlier,

He gave her the best compliment she’d ever heard:

                        If you lived in Nazi Germany

                        You would’ve been in the resistance. I am sure.

Ah. She sighs at such a compliment, better by far than a litany

Of her attributes, of the color of her eyes, the beauty of her words.

Not better than the boy poet’s hand on her thigh,

Or perhaps, his lips on her instep.

You can only ask for so much.

This is what she thinks as something darts in front of her car.

Headlights turn the fur orange.

A cat, she thinks as she swerves. A fox?

The thud is as bad as she imagines

And for five seconds she keeps driving,

Five seconds before she pulls to the side of the Mud Creek Road,

Five seconds before she tries to find the hazards.

She can’t. She can’t find them and while she looks, her body

Shakes and she tells herself:

Drive back.

            Drive back.

                        Turn around.  

She does, watching the body grow large and clear in headlight beams.

Not a fox. Not a cat. No crying little girls tomorrow

Searching for Muffin or Smokey,

No pictures of cuddly kittens posted on supermarket wall or telephone poles.

A raccoon.

Why did she think the fur was orange? Is she color blind?

Do you need glasses if you’re color blind, she wonders.

Parking parallel to the body in the middle of the Mud Creek Road, she looks.

God, he is beautiful, this raccoon, perfect mask and paws and fur.

            Move him, she orders herself.

                        Move him.

She opens the door, but the animal stirs… a slow, graceful lift of his head.

His eyes meet hers. And she knows, knows she can’t move him,

Knows she can’t take off her jacket, wrap it around his soft, bruised body,

Can’t bring him to rest in dignity by the woods. And she knows she can’t

Get in the car and run him over and over again and again,

Forcing tires over his furry bulk until the pain is over.

In her own hips,  a pain like sciatica spreads, needles sticking and

Spinning down her flanks.

She shuts the door, puts the car in reverse.

The raccoon stares.

The raccoon watches the lights retreat and despite the increasing distance, despite

The roar of other cars coming closer, the rush of blood,

Despite everything, this raccoon hears the girl yelling to herself:

            Coward! Coward…

And he agrees.

Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support. The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called A Feather and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

While Carrie only posts poems weekly here, she has them (in written form) almost every weekday over on Medium. You should check it out!

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection


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