Author: mjnordgren

I am creating a series of novels set in rural southwest Missouri in 1940. is up but not quite running as I learn many new skills.

ah, ego

young, slender, wide-eyed fly

overwhelmed by urges

inflates his ego

pumps air to balloon his head

swelling and lengthening

tiny tubes which support his eyes

pumps and pumps

until his head is massive, translucent

and eyes are as far apart

as his life is worth

to impress a mate

thus puffed up, the stalk-eyed fly


to confront another male

meeting head to head

to measure masculinity

by the width-span of their eyes

hot air results worthy of any politician

for the same prize:

the right to screw

his constituency.




I Fit The Description

The following is by Writers in the Grove leader, Mary Jane Nordgren, inspired by Prompt: I Fit the Description.

Quiet. Shaking, but not challenging, not running – just standing and taking it. But shaken, and it could have been any one of us stopped and questioned by the police.

Unless we are known, and respected, our words are not accepted as true. We are vulnerable by virtue of decisions we made while having no way of knowing they might matter. Accused because of what we chose to wear to work that morning.

I chose a brown knit shirt today, not knowing that a gray-haired lady in a brown knit shirt hit a child this morning with her car and drove away without stopping. Could I have stood quietly allowing suspicion to surround me? Could I have waited in silence for ten minutes, forty-five minutes as patrol cars hemmed me in and others circled the block again and again? Could I have held without arguing or crying or answering in anger while the only person in support was a woman far down the block who did not know me, but at least appeared concerned?

I am frightened of suspicion. It disintegrates all trust. What is safe? Where is safety? How can we develop trust in a world of “them?” In a world where I am a grayed-haired lady in a brown knit shirt? Can I count on that crime always to have been committed in Maryland and not Oregon where I live? How do we build community that shelters each of us, gives each of us credence despite our unwitting choices? How can I help?

Simply because I am one of the majority, I must remember that fear emasculates belief in self-worth, in security. I dare not sigh in relief – it may be me, next time.

Her First Camel

Due to a technical glitch, the final paragraphs were not published of “Her First Camel” by Susan Munger in “SEEDS OF…Volume II: Anthology of Pacific NW Writers (Volume 2)” by MaryJane Nordgren, an anthology representing many members of Writers in the Grove including Susan, we publish the full version of the story here. Our sincere apologies to Susan, and gratitude for this wonderful story.

Aysha stretched her thin, bony back for a moment, willing the long, hot day to be over, wishing the wind would stop whining through their stall, wondering if she would ever get enough to eat. As Aysha returned to bending the tiny wires in and around the small golden beads, her father Azam, seated next to her, continued to shape and solder the heavier frame of the next camel.

They sat cross-legged on a thread-bare carpet in a cramped and dim corner of the marketplace, doggedly working their trade from first light to dusk. Every now and then, Aysha would have to pause and hand the camel back to her father for further soldering. No words were exchanged; the rhythm of the work made talk unnecessary.

Aysha’s father worked over a tiny fire, using a soldering iron that had a block of copper pointed at the tip to provide just the right amount of heat, uniting the solder to the wire. He knew just how much to apply, having learned this skill from his father before him. Aysha’s older brother studied every move and practiced making a stylized camel frame on which the wire and beads would be attached. It was his destiny to someday take over this role while Azam sat home resting and smoking in their scrap of a tent. For his efforts, the son earned a small fee out of the day’s take. It wasn’t much, but it was more than Aysha got, which was nothing. Nothing, that is, but her meal. Even that was pitiful, but it kept her eight-year-old body sufficiently sustained for another day of work. And another. This had always been the way. (more…)