The River Runs On

The River Runs On

I

July 8, 2014

I’ve sat on this bank before in the summer.
Melted sunshine drizzling into diamond-flecked rivulets.

Mosquitoes nipping.

Dragonflies dancing.

Sweat sneaking down my spine.

The water looks the same as it did last year (and the year before that),
Wending its way through a loamy trough cut willy-nilly by a giant’s plow and his dancing horses.

I kneel down at the river’s edge,
The dampness of grass and moss tickling its way through rolled up jeans.
Last year (or was it a year before that or a year before that?),
Two other sets of summer-skinned-and-scarred knees bent on either side of mine,
Pressing into the river’s edge.

We practiced fishing with our hands,
Plunging our palms into the gold rushing by,
Drawing out treasures and whirligigs and smiles.

Now, alone at the water’s edge,
I search for past years’ gems.
Within the sameness that is not at all the same,
I cannot find what I am looking for.

Yet the river runs on.

II

June 13, 2016

You joined me again at the river’s edge.
This time on a stony shoal jutted out from the river’s bank,
Slowing the water’s rush into soothing shallows.

A time both long and short,
A time both sweet and tart,
A time when we realized how very old and young we were growing—
Both at the same time.

We reclined side by side,
The spring sun toasting our faces,
Our toes cooling in the river’s eddies
That whirled round river rocks and pirouetted past pebbles.

We allowed the world to slide on,
While we contemplated whether it was summer enough to wade in—
Or even plunge into the swimming hole around the bend.

It was a smiling time of living in dreams not relegated to night.

The temperature crept summer-ly so slowly,
I did not notice how long I had closed my eyes
Only to open them and find you poised on the far bank—
Ready to dive into rain-swollen rapids rushing past our pebbled peninsula.

As you slid silently into the sun-glinted river’s run,
Down-streaming toward deltas and the deeps beyond,
I scrambled to join you—just as far as the swimming hole—
I stumbled, a stone knifing through my knee’s skin,
Bleeding tears into the flow that
Wended you invisible round the river’s bend.

I had slept too long in the shallows,
We would not drink of the depths together—
This time.
Can we ever this side of Jordan?

And the river runs on.

~~To Be Continued~~


I’ve finally added a new stanza to a poem I began almost two years ago.

Who Are You? | Having the Guts to Tell Your Story

Who Are You? | Having the Guts to Tell Your Story

I started meeting with some younger writers about three weeks ago. (And yes, younger refers to their ages not their writing abilities.) We’re getting together to share what we’re writing, help each other with writing problems, and encourage one another. Sounds simple enough, right?

Sure, if you don’t mind being vulnerable and turning yourself inside out for the world to see. Readers who have never written something intended for an audience beyond an English teacher may not have experienced the odd combination of terror and excitement that comes when you first read your own work to people you don’t know well. I imagine, however, that most can identify with this sentiment pulled from my About Page:

Sometimes it feels like our story isn’t worth sharing. It’s not as perfect, polished, or awe-inspiring as the person next door…we feel like our lives are just a trickle in the grand scheme of life.

Have you ever compared yourself and felt that way? I do this more often that I like to admit, but now, whenever those feelings rear up inside me, I remind myself how ugly it is when my eyes roll back into my head and stare at myself rather than looking outward as they should. It may seem that keeping focused on others means we shouldn’t talk about ourselves, but that can’t be the answer. We’d become a planet of mutes, which is difficult to imagine. And what about exhibitionism, tattle telling, slander, gossip, soap operas, and the like? We all know people who have no filter or can’t stop talking about themselves or use story as a weapon to hurt others. Do I really want to encourage that kind of behavior? The answer is, of course, no. So what am I saying?

Have the guts to own who you are and know your story. Be ready to share your story* when it can redeem the moment and encourage others.

I’m working on owning my story. I still stumble over my words when I am put on the spot and must reveal I’m a writer. On the other hand, I’m becoming less afraid to share other parts of my story—scenes and chapters that in the past were too painful to even think about much less verbalize. Think about your life. When have you experienced pain, failure, or embarrassment? Now, think again. When have you experienced good, beauty, and redemption? Think on those things. Share them when prompted. What’s your story?   *When I say “story,” I don’t mean that you tell the 15-volume, one-million-word version every time you share it. In life, abridged versions are usually desirable.

Photo Credit: L. Yost

Four Dollars and a Penny for My Thoughts

Four Dollars and a Penny for My Thoughts

I know what you’re thinking. What’s with the four dollar increase on the price of thoughts?

Here’s the deal. Today on Amazon, the paperback version of my short story collection, Refractions, is on sale for just $4.01. If you add it to an order that is $35 or more, shipping is free!

Buy the Paperback

If you’d rather download the eBook version, check out My Book Table for links to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Buy the eBook

If you’ve read the stories already, I’d be grateful if you’d take a few minutes to leave a review on the site where you purchased the book or on my Facebook author page.

Review from Amazon.com: 

Three short stories: Wordsmith Sherri Tobias brings us into the lives of Carla, Leila and Ms. Jenkins. Each story explores the mysteries of what makes our minds tick. What happens when we are uprooted from familiar surroundings and when new beginnings are disappointing? What makes communication so difficult for newlyweds? Why is it so hard to break into an already established circle of friends? How do baby blues and other forms of depression affect our lives? How do unexpected sources bring us communion and consolation? What happens when an injury or illness interrupts our passion, and when the life of nature inspires us? And what dark secrets or grief lead us from light into darkness? Each story explores the hope of renewal as Ms. Tobias poignantly brings us into the minds of each protagonist. I wholeheartedly rate this short collection 5 stars and look forward to reading the upcoming novel written by Sherri Tobias.

Review from Facebook Author page:

I just had to let you know I finished reading your book a couple of weeks ago and loved it! Ms. Jenkins is such a moving character, that her story has stayed with me; hers was an especially touching story. And I have to tell you that I been craving tamales since I read “Liquid”. I am looking forward to reading more