Comments Posted By Joanna Bressler

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Conspiracies abound — Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK and Robert Kennedy all shot to death — everyone realizes these events were conspiracies. But who conspired? How did they plan it? What can we do? And now there’s a conspiracy (I guess it’s the same old eternal conspiracy) against women.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 05.14.2019 @ 8:25 pm


We’re going to the beach, I shout to my teenage daughter who hasn’t left her bedroom for several weeks. Come on now, I keep shouting at her, get into your bathing suit, grab your reef shoes, I’ve made lunch, we’re leaving in 20 minutes. Come on, come on, come on, I’m sick to pieces about your hiding out in there. I’ve forgotten what you look like. What walks out of her bedroom is not how I remembered her.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 03.14.2019 @ 1:04 pm


Sway with me, make me sway. We have palm trees here. We have hula dancers with swaying hips. I, on the other hand, have been swaying my hips too much in Zumba. They are both so painful, sharp shooting pains below my waist and toward my spine. I think I need to sneak into a neighbor’s house, any neighbor will do, steal a bottle of oxycontin, or else cocaine, or else heroin (I’ll try anything once; oh wait, addiction is formed with one try; is heroin addiction worse than hip pain; I don’t think so). With a bottle of oxycontin in my hands, my hip pain will disappear without even taking a pill. But I’ll keep taking them for days, weeks, months, the rest of my life. Whoopee, I’ll be able to sway my hips again. And everyone thinks this is fiction. Sway with me, make me sway.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 03.07.2019 @ 1:01 am


I established a rule for myself just now. I am going to vroom vroom vroom right through this one word today and then go out for happy hour to somewhere, wherever, and establish that as a pattern, a routine, a pathway to paradise, and an idiotic thing to do. now, you may ask, how can a pathway to paradise be an idiotic thing to do? let me count the ways. for example, a pathway may be filled with brambles, it may so long and arduous that you’ll never get where you’re going, you may meet a monster, you may be washed away in a flash flood, a tsunami may for the first time in history come raging in 2000 miles away from the ocean to your pathway, I’m sure you can go on from there. I’m not going on from there because I’m heading out to happy hour. At an establishment above a furniture store. At a place called Inspiration. I’m meeting about 50 other writers.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 03.01.2019 @ 6:16 pm


Temptation gripped her. He was hurt, her best friend’s boyfriend, hurt that he couldn’t stay with her best friend anymore. He turned to her instead, asked her to a party, ended up sitting with her on the porch in one of those swings, he pulled her close, he said, I don’t know what to do, can I come home with you tonight?” She was tempted, so tempted. Then she wondered how long he would last in her life, 2 weeks, 3, a month. Not even that. How long would her best friend last in her life. Til one of them died. Temptation lost its grip. “No, you can’t,” she said firmly. “No, we’re not available to each other.” “Oh, O.K.,” he said, and folded. “Well, see you later,” he said, and walked back into the party, looking for someone else. Temptation gripped her again. She was tempted to kill him.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 02.24.2019 @ 11:36 pm


She walks around with a black patch over her blue eye. Her other eye is brown. She likes it better. She hides the blue. She never goes near the ocean unless it’s gray. She doesn’t look toward the sky unless it’s raining. If by accident she sees something blue, she cringes, she puts her hands up to her brown eye to avoid the sight. The blue eye with the patch on it can see blue even through the patch. She is one strange woman. She calls herself A Patch of Trouble.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 02.17.2019 @ 11:07 am


I wouldn’t let anyone photograph my apartment now if my life depended on it. Well, I would, if my life depended on it. But you know what I mean. Things are scattered all over the place: hard copies of critiqued stories of mine; a new toilet seat for my toilet but I can’t get the old one off; my whole tool kit out on the coffee table and I’m trying to decide what I need and what I can throw away; electric light bulbs and I don’t know which work and which do not; some clothing; a new Brita water cleaner pitcher but I haven’t read the instructions on exactly how to put the filter in; and after an hour trying to remove the old toilet seat, I just gave out. The photograph, not that I would let anyone take one, is imprinted in my mind forever. Wow, thank God, it’s bedtime.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.29.2019 @ 2:11 am


I have lived al these years and don’t know what a controller is. I mean I know many people who are controllers. Most of the people in my immediate family are controllers. Of course, being controllers, they accuse me of being a controller. Believe me, I am not. I’m mild-mannered, I let everyone I know do whatever they want without saying one controlling word, although I can assume a critical expression that sends people running, not just out of the room, but out of the country. But what do corporate controllers do? What do they control? Can they empty a room as fast as I can? I confess that I lack the control to take this one word prompt seriously. So I think that clears me of any controller accusations.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.25.2019 @ 9:15 pm


I’ve taken 10 or more statistic courses in my career and what I’ve retained is the difference between mean, median, and mode. Also, the normal curve is engraved permanently in my brain. Did you know that honesty is distributed along the normal curve? About 2 percent of us are compulsively honest all the time. I had an exchange student who was like that. In six months, she never gave me a compliment. The last day, while she was getting a haircut, I went across the street, and found basically the perfect short-sleeved blouse. I put it on in, paid for it, walked back to the hair salon. My exchange student looked at me and said, “Hey, that’s a great blouse.” Then she reached out to touch the material, made a face, and said, “Oh, but I don’t like the material.” That’s compulsive honesty. One has to look no further than the White House for examples of compulsive dishonesty.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.20.2019 @ 3:29 pm


Oh God, vacuuming! House cleaning! Washing windows! Emptying the canister! It’s all I do these days. Volcanic ash and microscopic particles of volcanic glass come in through my windows and doors from the Big Island on the trade winds. If I clean a surface, like the bathroom floor, then go into the kitchen to make coffee, when I return black bits are spread all over the floor I just cleaned. One woman I know, who is a military wife living in much more splendor than I am, said that her image of herself on the island of Oahu would be her at her entryway with a broom in hand, sweeping and sweeping and sweeping. I almost want to take a poll: Is vacuuming a rug when the vacuum cleaner has a cord that is about 80 feet in length and gets tangled on everything worse than washing a kitchen floor that immediately becomes dirty and/or wet from too shallow kitchen sinks or is using tooth picks to clean edges and holes and screens and nooks and crannies worse than either of those? Yes, a new rug would be nice.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.19.2019 @ 5:04 pm


Swaying palms, the image of Hawaii. Wahine in hula skirts swaying to ukulele music under those palms. Oh, did I mention the traffic? Hours of it. Did I mention the over-development with no compensatory increase in infrastructure? Identical dull-painted houses crammed close together, shades of gray, and much smaller apartments with tiny kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms. Did I mention the blasted rail? Ugly concrete stretching from nowhere to nowhere, ruining ocean views, high above the flat ground when it could have run along that ground, and that rail is already swaying, and were there ever to be a train on it, the train would sway and sway and sway and then crash off the rails to earth and catch fire? Just like Joni Mitchell sang, they cut down paradise and put up a parking lot.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.15.2019 @ 11:26 am


The doctor explained the details (how much pain, chance of success, things that could go wrong) of the operations. The mother shifted in her chair, looking alternately alarmed, resigned, or pissed off, but always looking in much more grievous pain than the worst pain the operation would bring. The daughter, aka the patient, wasn’t listening. Her boyfriend had told her that she had to transform herself if the relationship was to work: nose job, breast implants, eyebrows lifted, permanent contact lenses inserted in the color green because the boyfriend was Irish, stomach tucked because she was too fat for his taste and, of course, vaginal beautification. At one point, the mother left the office to throw up in the Ladies Room. When she returned, the doctor looked at her sympathetically and said, “You can forbid this surgery, you know. Your daughter’s only 15 and you have legal rights over any medical treatment.” The girl said, and her voice was amazingly deep and not quite human, “I’d kill myself, Mother, and you know it. But first, I’d kill you. And you as well, Doctor.” The girl was on the operating table within the hour, the transformation took place, and the outcome was what anyone in their right mind would expect under the circumstances. Horrible.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.11.2019 @ 7:18 pm


She wants to qualify everything she said in the faculty meeting. Like, after what she said to the Dean of Faculty, she should have qualified it by adding, “I didn’t mean you were unethical. Never in a million years. I just meant that some person–possibly a serial klller on Death Row–would have called you unethical. And I meant to qualify it by putting in words like ‘It’s remotely possible that some killer on Death Row might have deemed you unethical, but I would never have done so, just like the rest of the faculty here–mealy-mouthed cowards all of them–immediately said they would never in a million years have called you unethical.” Then I would have added a qualification, “Not that I meant the rest of the faculty are mealy-mouthed cowards, not at all, but it just slipped out of my mouth because I was thinking of a movie I saw on Netflix last night that showed a faculty who were all mealy-mouthed scaredy pants.” Then I would qualify that Netflix statement in a big way, “Not that I ever watch Netflix instead of preparing my lectures but my TV is broken and last night it happened to turn itself on all by itself.” I am a qualifying person in all that I do.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.10.2019 @ 8:24 pm


Penelope sat at the loom. She hated to weave but she hated the absence of Odysseus more. She couldn’t choose the colors: hours of indecision. Her hands, especially as the years passed, hardened with arthritis bumps. Weaving one inch of material meant hours of torment. She used hot poultices and icy water to reduce the pain. And then she went back to weave some more. She ignored friends, she ate less and less and all the feminine flesh fell off her body, she woke up in the middle of the night to return to the loom and weave one more row. She’d do anything to bring him back. And one day she did. His ship sailed into the harbor. He emerged. He looked at her and did not know her. When she looked into his eyes, she saw her reflection. Mortified, she ran back to her loom to weave him away.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 01.01.2019 @ 2:49 pm


Swifter than moonlight on a foggy night
Swifter than sunlight when the clouds are nigh
I left you once you said we’re not right
I left you swifter than an eagle can fly.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.29.2018 @ 2:52 pm


The new woman in our social circle is an ornament unto herself. Her face is round and rosy, her hair is a blur of blonde, her body is long and lithe. She could be a runner, or swimmer, or a hiker of mountains. Mainly she stays quiet and laughs her quiet laugh and draws in the men, all of them. It’s like she’s still nineteen but she must be at least 50. She has two children in their twenties. She has two baby grandchildren. She’s the cat who eats the cream; the glowing, glittering, glamorous ornament at the top of the Christmas tree. I look at her and think, Just wait, honey, just wait. Eventually you will fall from the tree and shatter into a million warped pieces and be kicked by someone so all of you is far under the bottom branches and can hardly be seen. But I don’t believe it. I believe she has magic that will guard her from falling into the trap of redundancy. I wish her a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.26.2018 @ 4:09 am


Gingerbread houses are a waste of good food. Putting world class wine into gravy is a waste of good wine. Not saying one word to me through dinner was a waste of a golden opportunity. I’m home now. I’m wasted.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.23.2018 @ 12:39 am


banking yet again. with the stock market descending so rapidly, the man contemplates robbing a bank. it won’t be the first time, but he has forgotten to see the new Robert Redford movie about an elderly man who kept robbing banks in the most nice, most civil, most heartwarming way. so he doesn’t know exactly how to do it. the last time he robbed a bank he was 27 and he was only the getaway driver. they got away but he was given only a small percentage of the take. now he was 85. suddenly he knew he could never do it. he’d probably be arrested as he walked into the bank. they’d know. what was another option? suicide. only he wanted to go on living. what a dilemma. suddenly he knew he’d never resolve it. he’d have to leave them all hanging. or banking.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.20.2018 @ 1:46 pm

Why are you sending me to banking when I needed non-fatal auto accidents? Never mind. Banking, it is. I was banking, however, on auto accidents. Non-fatal, of course. Had it been a fatal accident, I wouldn’t be writing here. My family would have been calling undertakers and asking for the cheapest coffin possible. As it is, however, it’s my car that’s missing a front end bumper, but my own front and back end are just fine, thank you. It’s my eyes, which missed seeing the red light until I was practically under it. I hate the whole process of auto accidents, from the moment of impact to the dealings with insurance adjusters to the finding of body shops (although on this island I have the best one I’ve ever gone to) to the waiting for parts to the car to the car rental dealers and then to the increase in my auto insurance. I guess by now you must be thinking I’ve had a lot of auto accidents. Yes, I have, but this is the first one that’s been my fault. In fact, two of them were when I was stopped at a red light and got rear-ended. Anyway, enough, basta, pono, cut.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.19.2018 @ 4:38 pm


All that jazz about jazz. I’ve been to jazz clubs. In my day, they were smoky. Crowded. Noisy with people talking despite the guys playing up on stage. I always hoped one of those guys would pick me up after the set was finished. They were mobbed by women after and I couldn’t join a mob. Or wouldn’t. I’m fonder of Golden Oldies and Soft Rock but when jazz comes on NPR, I leave it on, and sooner or later, it gets under my skin. I knew a girl named Jazzy. She was.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.16.2018 @ 2:43 pm


He is related to Dracula, she’s sure of it. So why is she on this date? She’s trying to find the good side of everything and everyone. She’s embraced sunshine, happiness and optimism as her core values. She knows Dracula will see that in her, respect it, and not harm her in any way. Guess what? She’s wrong.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.07.2018 @ 4:04 pm


Is that ISIS or oasis? Such polar opposites. My daughter is my oasis. My grandson is my oasis. My granddaughter is my oasis. My writing is my oasis. My good friends are my oasis. I’ve just never seen an oasis in the desert. I would like to live in one. For a New York minute. Oh, I think I do live in one. Hawaii. Surprise. They can get quite boring.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 12.04.2018 @ 4:01 pm


This girl I was trying to get to open up, to talk to me, whose sister had been raped and murdered, she had built up a barrier between herself and the world. It wasn’t just me, it was everyone. She’d dropped her friends, she wouldn’t talk to her parents, she stopped going to school. When she was forced to go, she stayed mute in class, in the hallways, in the principal’s office. She’d never once cried, according to her mother, and she’d insisted that she and her mother throw out all her sister’s belongings. She wrote her mother a note to that effect. Of course, the mother hid them away in the attic, but then went she went to look at them, the girl had found them, and they were gone. The family was a mess. The rapist was long gone, or else under our noses but invisible there. I think what the girl had done was set up a barrier between herself and the truth. What was the truth? It was never clear.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.30.2018 @ 10:50 pm


She gives me the grand tour of her castle like any bona fide princess would do. Proudly she announces her castle has 45 rooms. “We’re small,” she says, “But we’re pure gold. Ten bathrooms, 9 with solid gold fixtures, one with sterling silver for the help should they need one. Fifteen bedrooms, two libraries, one for serious students, the second for the porn, three kitchens for our three cooks. We may be small, but we’re ample enough to suit our needs.” She is a proud one, head-tossing, nose up high in the air. Would that she were pretty enough, I’d ask to see one of the bedrooms with her. As it is, I disdainfully say that we thought it would be a bigger castle, that we won’t buy this one.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.29.2018 @ 10:39 am


So lovely if it didn’t get tarnished. I never have found the best way to clean the silverware I have. I have 4 place settings of Toll’s Old Colonial pattern, and my younger sister has 8 placement settings. From our mother. That is the dynamic of older-younger. Self-sacrifice by the older, lack of appreciation by the younger. How many times I have fantasized going to my sister’s house, knocking on her door, and when she opens it, yelling, “Give me my two place settings back this minute. And no, I don’t want a cup of coffee to discuss it. Just get them for me now.” The fantasy is good enough for me; I don’t really want them.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.19.2018 @ 10:33 pm


I want you at my bedside when I die
I don’t want you to cry
I want you to say that you love me,
hold no other above me,
will cherish me always
part ways with me never.
Then I want you to say goodbye.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.16.2018 @ 6:47 pm


She loved the moon. Her favorite nightlight. All others, even the nightlights in fancy shapes sold by fancy stories with fancy prices, they were a pale imitation of the moon. She looked for the moon every evening, adored its varying faces. She wondered how some people could not see the man in the moon once it was partially full. He was her man, who wouldn’t want a man shining down on you, flooding you with light, loving your arms flung out, your face raised and bathed with radiance? Last night she saw the new moon, that thin crescent when it was still light out, starting the two week cycle that would bring her man back to her.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.09.2018 @ 5:28 pm


He waits for her, his cappuccino getting cold on the rickety cafe table. She’s always on time. What is wrong? Is she with another man? Was it something he said? He can’t stand much more of this. He throws the cup on the floor, cappuccino spilling everywhere. He looks at his watch. She’s now five minutes late.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.04.2018 @ 12:35 pm


She went down the wrong way on a one-way street. She was halfway down the one-way street, going against the traffic, although there was none, when a series of loud gunshots pierced the air. She pulled over to the sidewalk, wondering what the hell was going on. More and more bursts of noise, coming from the street one over, the one going the right way but she’d missed the turn. As she sat in her car, wondering why she was so upset, four cars came from the opposite direction of where her car was facing, all going at a clearly illegal speed, any or all of which might have crashed into her had she not pulled over. Shaking all over now, she made a u-turn, then a left turn, then started to turn into the street she should have taken. It was filled with cars at a standstill, some upside down, some on their sides, many with people, dead people, dead children, dead dogs, thrown next to the cars, on the ground, blood-covered, in positions of death, two or three up a tree they were thrown so high. Later she discovered it was the most horrific gang shootout in the history of the city with gang members killed but also many other drivers. Taking that street would have resulted in her death. Not stopping on the wrong one way street might have meant her death. Clearly, that morning, she made the right choice.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 11.01.2018 @ 3:09 pm


The stock market plummets; the cost of food, gas, electricity, goes up. Where does it end? Perhaps with Democrats elected two weeks from now to offset our criminal Republican government? Wake up, America. Very few people, I presume, if any, are alive to remember the Great Depression after a stock market crash in 1929. Soup lines, homelessness, deaths through starvation and freezing, savings gone all at once. Lives permanently, irretrievably, changed. My mother had to have an abortion. No money to support a baby, two salaries needed, and my parents were among the lucky ones. They had a place to live and food on the table. Her next baby was stillborn. Did she blame the abortion? I bet she did. So much of our parents is unknown; how I wish I’d asked more questions, listened more to her life history, given her more sympathy and understanding. That’s it.

» Posted By Joanna Bressler On 10.24.2018 @ 1:58 pm

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