Chocolate Chip Cookies

the sudden urge for sweet
flooded my mind
with cookie moment memories

the ecstasy
the ultimate delight
of warm, chocolate chip cookie
melting in my mouth

licking the spatula 
covered with cookie dough
savoring
each chewy  chocolate nugget

the crazed anticipation 
as the aroma of baking cookies 
silently owned the house

ring!
the timer bell
rushing to the kitchen
eyes wide as the oven door opens
the tray slid out revealing
rows of perfectly formed
golden brown cookies

salivating

is there anything better than a warm chocolate chip cookie
washed down with a cup of milk

sure there is, a half dozen warm chocolate chip cookies 
washed down with several cups of milk

“Don’t you dare!
Those cookies are for the bake sale.”

tio stib

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Afternoon Sun

for the first time 
in seeming months
we sat at water’s edge
mesmerized by stillness
listening
to the gentle lap of waves
feeling the warmth
of afternoon sun
slowly melt our frozen souls

shadows passed
as geese honked overhead
laughing children scurried by

Ah…
I heard a voice within

at last,
there is hope again

tio stib

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Flavors of Friends

Some are vanilla,
predictably plain
Dependably true
always the same

Some are exotic
quixotic
sherbets with fireworks lives
occasionally glancing
to check others’ eyes

then the specials
like bubblegum treat
beautifully different
sumptuous sweets

Yes, chocolate, strawberry,
and rocky road too
friends of all flavors
some licked and
some chewed

like ice cream
I taste them
each one of a kind
then off on their way
they melt in my mind

Yet over the years
a few friends remain
these flavors I savor
again
and again

tio stib

2014, 2016, 2018

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Lumpy Gravy, thoughts on writing Well

I’m working on the rewrite of a chapter in a new book and in spite of hours of effort, when I pause to listen to what I’ve written, it sounds like lumpy gravy.

Yes, I realize that gravy doesn’t talk, sing, or make any other noise, but it still seems the perfect metaphor for my imperfect words. In case you’re not familiar with gravy and, in particular, lumpy gravy, a brief description-

Gravy is a sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, and other ingredients. One ingredient is flour, which is used to thicken the sauce. When the flour is added incorrectly, the result is lumpy gravy, little balls of unmixed flour in the sauce, a culinary no-no. Like good writing, I believe creating good gravy, a sumptuously smooth sauce, is a combination of rigorous practicality and delicate art.

My own experience is that lumpy gravy usually results from hurrying, compromising time and care because of impatience, setting an unrealistic timeline for creating something that simply cannot be rushed. There is a proper order and way to add and mix ingredients. don’t do this and you get lumps.

what are the lumps in my writing? Words and phrases that don’t sound right, feel out of place, don’t fit the desired style, don’t truly support the theme. Adverbs and adjectives that were easy to insert but, upon reflection, don’t add anything. 

What I write seldom comes out smooth and lump free the first time. Admittedly, I rarely succeed at creating lump free gravy either. In cooking, there are two ways to fix this, stir or whisk much more, or, something few will admit to, strain the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps. 

This is what rewriting is all about, the writer’s process of removing the lumps from his work through careful consideration, in my case, listening as I can’t see what I’ve written. Often I brainstorm words, sentences, even paragraphs. with the magic power of today’s word processing technology and my text reader friend, Alex voiceOver, I can quickly try and listen to many options, until I hear something that is smooth and feels right. And on I move to the next paragraph.

Ultimately, I’m the cook in my word kitchen and I know, that unless what I’ve written passes my taste test, unless I’ve taken the time, done the work, to make perfect, lump free, gravy, those words can’t leave the kitchen.

tio stib

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Floating

floating in a tranquil sea
my thoughts drift to what might be
concerns and chaos slip away
as I inhale a perfect day

clouds above sail slowly by
white against an azure sky
I close my eyes and feel the grace
the sun’s caress warm on my face

years of pain
the tides of time
have scoured the beaches
of my mind
at last, surrendered
to my fate
I no more struggle
with death’s date

floating in a tranquil sea
I smile and simply
let it be

tio stib
2015, 2018

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Dirty Snow

Dirty Snow
there are days
sometimes weeks or more
when my spirit knows
that the purity of newness
the first flakes of snow
have been trampled
discolored
covered in ash and fallen smog
and life
my daily exercise
becomes a journey
of hope and expectation
waiting for the magic moment
when sun reveals
a patch of sparkling green
from beneath
dirty snow

tio stib
2015, 2018

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