Prose, Writing Life, Personal Essay, Autumn Walk Diaries

Autumn Walk Diaries: Smoke and Fire

Next-day smoke from the University Fire

The thing this morning was smoke.

We walk at around nine or ten and, at around nine or ten, the scene over Little Mountain towards Devore and the Cajon Pass was bleak.

We wish for gray skies here. We hope for it. We pray for it. Some of us may even bay at the moon and dance for it—thirsty, drought stricken, dead lawn denizens that we are. But that gray ain’t rain clouds, brother.

Little Mountain was on fire yesterday—not our bit of it, but the bit of it one neighborhood away, closer to the freeway where my great aunt and uncle lived for forty years, north of the 215 freeway, south of all those houses… all those houses. Everyone was evacuated. Water drop helicopters landed in the neighborhood park. City and county fire descended and ascended upon it from all possible angles. They put the fire down so fast, it barely made the local news and was but a mild ripple even amongst the busybody neighbors on Nextdoor.

Little Mountain is on fire a lot. Our people know how to fight that fire. Our people have always been victorious. Not a single house or business has ever been burned in that spot. We are very blessed. We are very lucky. We are willful that we go on living here, year after year, fire after fire… after fire after fire after fire.

So this morning, the thing was a sky over the mountain filled with orangey gray that smells like God’s barbecue and promises nothing but swimming pools, A/C filters, and formerly pink lungs full of ash.

Weirdly, though, a hopeful sight: smoke in the sky, no longer connected to the earth below—no longer a real threat, no longer a panic, no longer everyone’s nightmare. A little relief. More than a little gratitude all those houses were saved and we can go back from praying our neighbors make it, to praying one day we get friendlier clouds filled with rain.

-M.

Prose, Personal Essay, Creative Nonfiction, Autumn Walk Diaries

Autumn Walk Diaries: The Mailman Knows Too Much

There wasn’t much afoot on our walk this morning–how very clever of me–and we pretty much had the neighborhood to ourselves, which is just the way I like it. I pretend Kismet likes it that way too, but I’m sure her mighty, sporty poodle heart would prefer some action.

Rounding the last turn from Sheridan onto Clemson, the mailman swung around to the box next to us as we passed the last house. We see the mailman every day, but usually he is across the street and we prefer it that way because yuck–human interaction and, yuck–having to be conscious for a few seconds of our walk just long enough to say “good morning. “

I’m feeling a bit like the troll who lives under the bridge today when really, in my own mighty sporty poodle heart, I love saying good morning to people on our walks and look forward to announcing to my family, upon my return, who all I had the polite exchange with. (With who all I had the polite exchange? “Who all” is the problem with that sentence I think.)

Kismet and I talked to our mailman once before. She barked at him and I had to reassure him it was just that she is afraid of cars. Nothing personal.

“It’s not the mailman thing then, huh?” He said and laughed.

“No,” I said. “I’m sure she’d love you if she knew you.” Then I felt weird, like I accidentally flirted. Another one of the 50,000 ways Michelle makes herself uncomfortable while the other party thinks nothing of it.

Before pulling off to the next mailbox, he said, “I dropped a package for you at your door.”

“Thank you,” I said and walked away, feeling oddly creepy that, although we met a street away from mine, the mailman my dog barked at and with whom I accidentally flirted knows who I am and to which house I belong.

Shouldn’t that be the most natural thing? I know where he belongs: in his truck, doing his route between 9 and 10 every day. Why shouldn’t he know where I belong: walking past his truck, going in and out of that one house, albino plus black and white poodle in the neighborhood between 9 and 10 every day?

Nothing even remotely creepy in it except my own creepy mind.

Cheers to the mailman then. I know we shall meet again.

I would say “Happy fall y’all” but I’m a Southern Californian which is the wrong kind of southern for that. So instead, have a like awesome autumn or whatever. There. That’s much better.

-M.

PS
Thanks for the package.

Humor Poem, Love, Love Poems, Poetry

Sulfur Kiss

We put up with a certain level of
Gross from our lovers and
Farting on each other in bed and
Giggling about it and
Don’t you dare Dutch oven me
Again… Chester!
Can be as intimate as
The world’s sweetest
Sulfur kiss.

-M. Ashley

Find me on TikTok at: MNAshleyPoetry

Find me on TikTok at: MNAshleyPoetry

Confession, Confessional Poetry, Memoir Poem, Mental Health, Poetry

Colleen Whose Name Means Girl

Maybe I should be out
Loud about it. Maybe I
Should talk. I know it
Sure would have helped me
A lot if the woman they
Kept in a box under the
Bed for seven years had
Been a little more chatty.

“These things do happen. They
Do.” We would commiserate
With each other through the
Knothole in her box and the
Keyhole in the door I was
Locked and chained behind

Also for seven years.

Lucky lucky.

“Colleen,” I would whisper so
The bad men wouldn’t hear.

Colleen whose name means
Girl

“Colleen,” I would whisper
“I get you Sister.
I do.”

-M. Ashley

If you are a survivor of sex trafficking, I cannot recommend the organization Journey Out enough. They have helped me tremendously and I am grateful every day that I found them.

NaPoWriMo, Poetry

What I Will Miss When I Die

I might miss caring when I’m dead
doing back flips with my horny god
in the ether I may stop
my glory gathering around me like
fireflies circling the mother fire
for a blink I might miss
wondering how my loved
ones are getting along without me
I might miss the cozy straightjacket limitations
of the short view on death
I might miss the exhilaration of
dread not knowing what
freedom lies in the Great Beyond

But then
I’ll get over it.

-M.