Wednesday, April 15, 2015


He sits alone at the bar in passive anticipation. Every once in awhile the door rings out a single ding! and he turns his head just slightly, mildly gazing in the direction of the late afternoon light filtering in from behind the painted letters of the glass. 

“Another round?” 

“Yeah, today feels like a 2 milkshake day.”

The thick chocolate oozes up the straw and brings a smile to his face. Nothing beats a chocolate milkshake, he thinks. 


His eyes find the door and in she walks. Short skirt, hair in curls. Just as he’ll always remember her. He blinks, capturing her image in his mind forever as she taps her way across the floor. Click-clack, click-clack, pause.

“Whatcha got there?” Her mouth bunches up on one side of her face, smirking.
She pops herself on the stool and shakes her head, sending her curls flying. 
Fingerprints linger on the outside of the frosty glass and the corners of her mouth turn up into a huge grin. Like father, like daughter.
“Glad you made it, squirt.”

They sit side by side one the stools sucking down milkshakes. Cold, sweet dreams, until the sun fades towards the horizon and the little jukebox starts to hum sad and slow. 

Ed Freeman Photograph
Ed Freeman Photograph - Love this collection!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Collection of Men, and a Small Homecoming

ALL the types were accounted for. 
The variety was absurdly diverse: The Hippie, the Hipster, the Christian, the Dreamer,  the Well-to-Do. I was hoping one of them would stick, and… he did. For a little while, though I was surprised it was him.

He was easy to be around. Weird enough that I never had to feel self conscious. Enthusiastic enough that I never had to wonder over his interests. 
Wow I'm learning a lot, I told myself. Look at me. Letting go. Just rolling with it, allowing it, not fighting it, not resisting. Cool. Look at me.

I thought I would be able to let go for for the long term, well for a longer term at least. But it didn’t happen that way, it came to an end quickly. 
The beast of dissatisfaction snuck up upon me in an instant and latched it's claws into my skin. It poured sour milk into my thoughts and the sweet story they once relayed morphed into disgruntled whisperings. I cowered with displeasure. But Kaley you're such a runner! It's ok to feel displeasure. Just stay…?

But then it was that my intuition caught up with the beast: You stand alone in your displeasure. He’s already checked out. 
With this realization the simple satisfaction and fluidity of letting go I’d felt in the beginning was no longer valid.
And Dissatisfaction wasn’t attacking me, it had merely taken up residence on the other end of an empty leash. 

Had I been forcing it? 
Perhaps more like blindly sticking with it because I'd become bored with the alternative. The dreaded Tinder. The continuous first dates. It's wearisome. 
And it's nice to have a steady. It's nice to let go, to allow. But it's not nice to be holding an empty leash. 

And so I let go. 

Here I stand alone once more. But I stand with myself, and with myself I am in the one relationship I will always be in. I have come back to my home space. And though it’s a small homecoming, it does not in fact feel a bit lonely nor dissatisfying. 

Robert Jahns

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Lesson in Wonderfulness

This may sound elementary

They gathered around the colorful squares of the rug, like any other day, chatting and fidgety at first, but then slowly becoming still and attentive. 
“Today I have something very important to talk to you about, so I need you to pay close attention.” 
Their faces looked a touch worried. 

One fact is certain."

"Inside of each of you is what I call ‘a ball of wonderfulness.’” Pause for effect. “Yeah I know it sounds kind of weird, huh?” (giggles). “But it’s true! And it’s true for everyone! Look around the circle. Every single one of us has it! Hold the ball in your hands. Can you feel it?”
They hovered their 9-year old hands in front of their faces, grasping an imaginary ball, grinning at their neighbor. 
“Slowly, slowly bring that ball down through you head and let it stop in your chest, in your heart space. This is where it lives. Close your eyes and see it glowing really brightly.”

Visualization for third-graders? Yeah, Maybe.. but it’s kind of hard to focus with the class-clown sitting next to you…

The speech continued, and they sat attentive. As though they had paid for the discourse. They nodded their heads thoughtfully, sincerely, and at the appropriate moments.
I went on about the permanence of the ‘ball of wonderfulness’. Our eternal light. Immutable, indestructible —though it can be hidden. 
We hide it all the time in fact! And that’s because we forget about it! And when we forget about the ‘ball of wonderfulness,’ well… we forget about how wonderful we are. So we try other things to make us feel wonderful. We show off. Do and say things to make others think we are the best, the coolest. We gossip about others, tell secrets, make jokes at another’s expense. And in doing so, we continue to hide our light even further.

It’s a lesson for my third grade students, yes. Tailored to the situations they face (with customary warnings about the dangers of middle-school, and not being true to yourself). But it’s a lesson in remembrance for us all. 
So readily we forget about our own light. About the inherent glow of our own magnificence, throbbing and pulsing within. It’s more us than anything else. More than the clothes we wear. More than the job we do. More than our own name or the personality we carry. 

‘The Ball of Wonderfulness’ is a lesson has been taught all over the world time and time again, in every which way. By teachers, in books, in song, and even through thoughts while in silent contemplation. But it often needs repeating. 

I urge you little ones, do not be so quick to forget.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Game

There he was. 

In his perfectly curated brunch attire. Jeans and a stark white shirt. Black sunglass saying look at me, I’m not looking at you. Converse sneakers saying I’m not even trying. The wind kicked up the few leaves strewn along the sidewalk and glittering rays of sun pierced Kate’s skin, drawing her out of the fog from last night’s smokey dance club.

     As she and Mel came upon the group, Kate diverted her gaze, so as not to seem too interested. A guy like that gets off on the attention, and she wasn’t interested in feeding the image… but she couldn’t deny her intrigue. “Kate this is Jerrod, Aaron’s friend from New York.” Mel introduced Kate to the stranger behind the black Raybans. “A pleasure,” came his reply, followed by two curt nods and her smile. Could she ever help but to smile?

     Brunch was uneventful and Kate made conversation as normal with everyone there, including the new comer, but not exclusively so. And so it was, that a few mimosa later, with lips greased by hollandaise sauce she kissed Mel and the others farewell, then made her way back home to her favorite Sunday afternoon spot - the sofa in the window lit corner of her living room. 

     Barely had she time to give Mr. Raybans another thought than did her phone light up. “Hey Kate.”
Does he mean to be calling me? 

“Hey there….” Kate’s reply was weak and befuddled. No way this type of guy was into her? Kate knew she was an attractive girl and got plenty of looks cast her way by apprising men, but she had always conducted herself with the air of being a simple, down home girl. At times this semblance may have been appealing to country boys with equally simple-set perspectives, but never had it served to bait the highbrowed breed of men about town. 

And yet, she appeared to be wrong. He was into her. 

     In fact, it wasn’t but two weeks later that she found herself having been out on four dates with the guy, becoming ever more thickly entangled in his persona. Good lord he was….cultured. He’d seen the world, lived all over, done over half the things on her bucket list, and made more money in a month that she did in a year! Swoon. 

     It might have continued like this for awhile - the lavish dinners, the doors held open, the compliments delivered with an intentional stare (of which she could never determine was sincere or domineering…), the falling into his world… Oh yes, she might have continued to eat this up for quite some time— that is if it hadn’t been for, the game.

     The game: Truth or Dare. Innocent enough, purely playful thought Kate. They ordered a second bottle of wine. Truth: “Hmmmm, Ok. Once my roommate in college had a personal vendetta against the girl that lived next door, claimed she was trying to hook up with her boyfriend or something like that. So when we went to a house party at her place, we swiped the toilet with her toothbrush in revenge. Awful, I know! We were so dumb. OK you go.”

“Ha,” He shrugged. “Ok…Truth: When I was 14, I spent New Years Eve in St. Barths. All these super hot Brazilian girls were there and we ended up stealing bottles of liquor from the hotel bar and getting wasted together behind the cabana house. Two of girls started getting frisky. They took off their clothes and started wrestling in the sand, then ripped off my clothes too and pulled me into the romp. Ha, it was kind of awesome. I guess you could say they both ended up winning.”
“Fun,” Kate didn’t know what else to say. 

“Ok I’ll go again. Truth: I once kissed a girl, or rather, let her kiss me! I was too embarrassed to stop it! I didn’t know what to do!” Kate giggled girlishly. 

“Hmph.” He said with a half roll of his eyes. “Ok you want me to go again? Look maybe I shouldn’t  say this, I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but girls in New York call me up begging me to fuck them.” he raised his eyebrows in emphasis. “Oh, yeah, no” responded Kate, “You don’t sound like an asshole, I get that.” What an asshole. “I mean I don’t ask for it,” he continued, “but who am I to say no? I would end up letting at least one or two a week come over.”

     And folks, that exchange was all it took. Like the shock of a stiff drink, the glossy veil was yanked from Kate’s eyes and for the first time she opened them wide.  Who was this egomaniac sitting across from her anyway? And who was this girl slurping up his words and reaffirming his every notion of superiority?
Barf. She recoiled at the scene. Without wasting another second, she promptly picked herself up, wiped the smitten from her eyes and excused herself claiming nausea.  

     That was the last of it. She exited the restaurant never needing to see him again. As she raised her hand to hail a cab, her arm shot up with extreme lightness. Her entire being was relieved to have shrugged off the image she’d been bearing. And it was with this same lightness of being that she tucked herself into bed that night and floated into sweet slumber. 

*fictional story

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Place Poem: In a Shower

The water is more than murky at my feet.

A razor strips away unknown layers
My tan fades quickly

A vision in the mirror. 
Bewildered. askew. The weeks without a reflection have melted my features 
They sit lopsided on my face. 

The water struggles to penetrate the mass of waxy hair atop my head 
Suds. Rinse. Suds. Rinse. Suds, Rinse?

At last I emerge anew, swaddled in a luxury I’d forgotten

Reveling in the delicious sweetness of remembrance  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Illusion Maker

My friends will all be jealous
That they should long to be
A world weary traveler
As glorified as me

On Instagram on Facebook
On Twitter and on Vine
I post the sickest broadcast
That you’d be blessed enough to find

The snapshot caught looks sunny and I dance despite the rain 
The road is forever rosey and the troubles well worth the pain

Yet.. just beyond the filter
Beyond the smile that I wear
I cannot help but wonder,
What the fuck I’m doing here?

What resides beyond the camera lens? 
Behind the local smile? 
I’ll never know the grandest gift, 
I’ll never go that extra mile...


I’ll stroll about the market place
Pinch pennies as I sleep
I’ll hang with fellow wanderers
Seek novelty that’s cheap

Cross 18 borders—in a day!
Collect stamps that I’ll compare
Then return back home to you my dear 
With a wild tale to share

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Flashlight Moments

Have you ever experienced one of these?

It happens when the universe is trying to catch your attention. The world around you dims and a beam of light, a flash light if you will, radiates toward a single object. Look here. See this. In my life I think it’s happened about twice. There have been several “ah-ha!” moments and points of clarity, but flashlight moments are different. They come when you aren’t seeking. They come unexpectedly and obtrusively. 


She walked into the low-lit bar, and there he was. A leap away on the other side of the room, across tables and chairs and swaying bodies, her eyes land softly and directly upon him. Tunnel vision. Her instinct was to look away but were caught in the movement of his red plaid pants dancing to the juke box that played “Sweet Caroline,” on repeat all night long. His hair was happily disheveled and she could see his flushed cheeks despite the distance. Her gaze was with him all night. Even when she was looking away, she could still see him in jolly conversation just beyond reach. How she ended up with him in the backseat of his brother’s car is anyone’s guess, but she didn’t even stop to question it. The night ended in a blurry haze as everyone piled out of the car and she traipsed off arm and arm with Sarah, up the steps to their house. His memory soon faded into the haze of the night and come morning he was nothing more than a passing vision.

And then he called. It was the day after her birthday and he’d managed to find her number through a mutual friend. God he sounded… giddy? Her heart lost rhythm and she tumbled backwards unto her bed, rejuvenated. Life filled in the lines of the vision with gravity and color. The dream took form once more, and she smiled at the bounce in her step as she carried out the rest of the week with an extra pinch of zest.

Dream Series by Gray Malin