My Literary Works – Excerpts

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Following are three complete stories from my first published literary work, “Cake Tales: 10 Deliriously Delicious Stories of the Surreal.” I invite you to……..

Brew your favorite cup of bliss, find your most comfy chair, take a sip, then sit back and relax. Now, inhale deeply and release as you allow your imagination to…

 Travel to a Black Forest Cake kingdom patrolled by the Egg Gnome where caterpillars metamorphose inside of pearls under the heavenly illumination of starburst points in a random and fearless flight. Worlds where fairies in mushroom dresses with angel hair pasta tresses frolic along mischievous paths. Journeys that lead one to gaze upon a halved lemon sun that canopies the leafy heads of a forest of greenery and petrified shadows on sands that shift in the belly of the surreal. These are just a few of the many imaginary characters and landscapes you will encounter as you read, “Cake Tales: 10 Deliriously Delicious Stories of the Surreal”; travels made even more bountiful in their delight as the stories are written in rhyme. From an homage to the Chocolate Cake where a man is seduced by a chocolate cake personified as an enchantingly beautiful woman to a story that magnifies the glorious confectionary that is Marvelous Banana Cake and its role in bringing lasting love, your literary taste buds will be left desiring more; a heftier dose of fantasy served up with the turn of each page. While each story was written to capture the imagination and allow it to soar beyond levels of fantasy possibly already experienced, the central theme gently folded throughout each story, Love, is presented using real-life situations. From elusive love to a newfound romance, readers will be able to relate some aspect of each story to their own lives. Enjoy!

Cake Tales (Official Cover) - 9-2013 - Version with Relevant ImagesButtered Rum P0und Cake:
Lost In Paradise

Seashells born a scalloped indigo blue lay still, as the ghosts their voices invoked haunted the sands with weeping
From tears that had traveled across the ocean for many miles; a nest of comfort their bodies sought, eternally cast the depth of their needing
For a sign of hope that one day their owners would find their loved one, carried mercilessly away by a vigorous tidal wave
Certainly they all believed in their mourning that the young traveler had met with an early and watery grave
Even the striped tiger shells dimmed the roar of their gold; a midnight of a thousand blues concealing the playful tapestry of pink, wine, and yellow
That speckled the island’s beach in abandoned cowrie shells; salt water masterful in its distance, a young sea lion prideful in its bellow
It began early one Sunday evening, the wind snapping like air-dried laundry, and the sunset plump with meaning and blossoming ripe
As the fried plantains he carried in a small sack, accompanied by peas and rice and kingfish, steamed to flaky tender and crimson bright
Hot in a generous sauce of jerk; a giant whale casting a blue veil, its dance the essence of pure tranquility
Rising and diving, the traveler breathed in deeply as he watched from the edge of the water, his spirit stocked with thanksgiving and keen with the importance of humility
When traveling the great waters, he made sure to toss a little food overboard, deepest symbolism in his offer
For the sea had nourished both he and his family during lean times; generous with the contents of its coffers
As the fish would literally dive into his boat; edible treasures more precious than gold that ensured a hearty pumpkin soup for at least a week
The traveler was so in awe of the great waters, that out of respect during his excursions, he simply refused to speak
He just listened, the tide cradling his boat as gently as his grandmother’s rough palm had once cradled his newborn chin
Her love was so easy to consume, that in the hollows of her shadow, he prayed to one day be able to blend
And so, too, was the feeling he held for the ocean, a connection beyond the strength of even mortal ties
The young traveler made sure that evening to kiss his mother and father, and to grant his young lover a long kiss good-bye
In the background, blueberry lotion-inspired sail cloths moved smoothly, mimicking the flowing motion of his lover’s skirt as it caught wind; the one that would soon guide his trail
When she transformed it into a canvas of sturdy means consisting of strong threads; the one that would paint the destiny of his tiny boat’s sail
With locked fingers, the lovers gently twisted their knuckles white against the peachy horizon, then extended their hands until their arms stretched forth as the limbs of the giant coconut tree
That embraced the presence of its fellow brethren, cradled birds nests, and shed the dimness of sweet shade so artful and lovingly
Tonight she would work hard to transform her skirt of carefully chosen color, a bold, but thoughtful, teal
To track the progress of her lover’s journey among the other seafarers, as she consumed the following morning’s pleasure manifested in a modest meal
Consisting of bitter berries and corn kernels crushed to a fine grain, boiled, then sprinkled with sweet honey, ginger, and nutmeg spice
As her lover rode out the shifting tides and their snowcaps, chilled, but not frozen as typical of ice
The juice of the berries falling into the valley of her breasts, her spirit somehow knowing that this final parting would be symbolically bittersweet
But for now the night prevailed, a candle’s flicker the only other light under the moon
As she crafted a sail worthy of any sea captain; many hours, as a small garden, it took for the sail to bloom
The night was restless, captured by the ocean’s increasing volume, which stirred the sands to rise into a shifting dust
Forming from a halo of shadows that canopied their small shack, her mother watched in the background, fingers thick with wisdom’s crust
Holding a coconut half with its bottom scraped out; its hairs as wiry as the crop that had long since sprouted about the circumference of her graying head
A blue and gold flame dwindled in the center of the shell until a sprinkling of cayenne pepper caused it to settle sufficiently dead
Awakening a smoke that shown as red as the pomegranate; the color of the vessels that bulged through the whites of her mother’s eyes
Where earlier steel drums had given life to the vast beaches, soon the moans of death would rise to terrorize the skies
And she knew it, as deeply as the burn that stirred in her wringing hands; an essence typical of the radish’s charge
The sounds of foghorns bellowing in the distance, announcing the arrival of a seafaring barge
“Proceed daughter not with your heart; your head can provide the greatest caution and source of common sense.”
Her mother was a quiet woman, but when she needed to speak her conscious, her words she refused to mince
“Be still mother, be still,” the young woman bemoaned, her thread traveling across the fabric at an easy speed
Still a mother would be remiss not to respond when sensing in her child such a torturous need
For a daughter to know that everything between she and her lover would never, ever change
That their laughter together would remain as constant as the texture of the rains
Grown swollen and dry from the frequent misting of ocean spray, her tongue became entangled in her emotions
A warm palm soon settled on her chilled cheek; a comfort seeded in the natural oiliness of its lotion
“Innocence is lost every day to the sea,” her mother counseled, the moon causing the gray in her hair to bristle with light
“Now come, it’s time we both found rest in what is left of this very long and spiritually draining night.”
“Soon mother, very soon. Just minutes more of threading and a sail more beautiful than the haunt of a mermaid’s song,
Will serve to guide my sweet lover back home, by my side for good, where God has destined him to belong.”
Eyes probing, the warmth from the coconut smoke mixed with the chill in the air, made tears of the respiration wafting from her mouth
Her mother asked, as any caring parent, “He does plan to abandon being a fisherman?” once a decision clouded in doubt
“Yes,” responded the young woman guided by innocence, “red coral will make a pretty bouquet.
“Only death this time will be the thief of these plans; his word only death could surely betray.”
The mother removed herself to settle among the tiny walls of the shack’s cavern, the warm light of a kerosene lamp her only cover
As her daughter sat, knees cradled, the teal sail about her shoulders blowing as gently as a butterfly’s hover
Morning rose interestingly, as the thought provoking pages of a carefully crafted book
That would prompt the more curious observer to consider a more probing and intense look
Into its space of celestial gray, which now displayed clouds in a strange hurry reminiscent of the tourist shuffle
When passing through the impoverished villages of Negril; vacation justifying their apathy, the possibility of securing novelty items, propelling their hustle
But the clouds made a promise to respect their covenant of secrecy, as a group of old men with whiskers for ears huddled together wearing fedora hats and trench coats, thus the reason for their curious pace
For had they stood still it would have been easier for the young woman to pinpoint the panic that cloaked the crackling raps of thunder and burdened each cloud’s weathered face
After preparing a meal of ackee, boiled bananas, and fish, the mother laid down a shawl
To make the sand floor of their ocean shack more welcoming, into which the young woman hungrily, and happily, did crawl
“He travels today. I shall plan to meet him soon to present him with this precious sail.
“I can’t wait for his return to the shores to listen to all the wonderful stories he will surely have to tell.”
But somehow she could intrinsically sense that this was a reality to never be; the sky growing darker by the minute
As a room building in a heightening lust of shadows being conceived; doom jaggedly etched in it
However, the brightness that suddenly struck through the opening of the shack was enough to magnify the surface of Mars
To make a peacock cower in jealously, or dim the shine of the North Star
The young fisherman, with his chiseled chin and dashing personality, lifted her into the air without laying on a hand
Excitement coursing through the veins of each word as he excitedly shared each minute of his plan
“I shall bring back a bounty plentiful enough to feed the entire Negril nation and then I will plant this bow about your neck!”
Listening, the mother’s shadow soon excused itself from the room, more out of pain than a show of respect
As yellow as a sunflower blossomed to full bloom and the sun’s cast, combined together
The bow was enough to electrify to fluorescent, the gray that loomed in the menacing presence of the ever-worsening weather
Tying it slowly, he softly kissed her lips, then locked her back in a loving embrace
Honor keeping him from going any further; a promise to her mother he did not want to mar with disgrace
“It’s time I leave, but I will surely be back to officially claim you, as bees the sweetness of nectar.”
His ability to see straight even through the hard times, was a quality that always seemed to impress her
“Wait, before you leave, I wish to give you something that will make easier your trip.”
It was then she brought out the teal sail, its presence causing the young fisherman on his tears to humbly sip
As he pulled it closer to his face, in order to inhale every inch of scent
Left behind on the cloth from the touch of his lover’s hands; no picture could capture the level of gratitude his show of expression meant
“The winds are brisk today, so the ocean should carry me along. I’ll use the sail to blanket any chill.
“Enough warmth should be generated when combined with the hot snapper and rice and peas grandmother has prepared for my journey’s meal.”
As they walked through the flap that opened to the beach, a sudden blast of wind caught them by surprise
Lightning now sliced through the broken gray, making more terrifying the vastness of the skies
“Do you have to go?” begged the young woman, her nails digging into the gristle of his knuckles
Her strength not creating the subsequent effect, but the desperation in her voice causing his knees to buckle
Until he pulled them both down to the ground; only gravity holding them in place
As they searched the pupils of each other’s eyes, hoping not to find fear in the slightest trace
But it was there, as obvious as the poison of the ackee when consumed before maturity
Hard evidence engraved in the molecules of their tears; blinding proof that could not be masked by even a concrete form of obscurity
Hugging for a final time, the young fisherman ran to his boat, praying it would balance well on each snowcap
His heartbeat, at first a steady pulse, now knocked boldly; a panic-filled rap
But he had to feed his family or die from the hold of hunger; the sea the poor people’s main food source
If a fisherman refused to travail its sometimes moody waters, it was akin to descending death’s staircase in a spiraling course
Waving, their distance growing greater, his body against the natural canvas seemed to reflect surreal
A permanent part of this open painting he would eventually become; no cries of mercy to ever break the seal
On the envelope that contained the letter fate had written, in a sloppy yet sensitive hand
His mercy would be found in a different form, to wash ashore on a different type of sand
Pulling the boat, it felt small and shown splintered on the edges; the winds growing frisky, as a kitten’s paws
The stillness in the air seemingly taunting him, and deceptive, as the laughter that bubbles forth from a hyena’s jaws
Yet he pushed out and on, the music playing, prideful flags waving, and steel drums twinkling in calypso rhythms against the pounding backdrop of boisterous thunder
For a fiery prophecy manufactured from the materials of the fantastic was about to manifest and tear his world asunder…
Gwendolen McCloud
Copyright 2005

Fruit Cake:
Life Is A Crazy World!

Country turkeys and supermarket hens brushed golden with melted butter; strings securing their legs for good luck
In the hopes that they would remain as succulent as freshly picked papaya, or at least as the first day their feathers were plucked
Iced gingersnap cookies, sweet tea, lemon-wedge pound cake, and a mango gelatin mold spiked with Jamaican rum
Wrought-iron skillet cornbread dressing with sage, wild rice casserole, corn pudding, and plum popsicles for the babies to gum
Macaroni-n-cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes with garlic and parsley, and roasted green apples topped with walnuts and honey
Grandmother’s cooking was enough to make any professionally trained chef wish they had utilized better fiscal sense and saved their hard-earned money
And learned under the starched fingers of her apron strings, for she could make a blueberry cheesecake as creamy smooth as a good cocoa butter grease or lotion
That could make a palate drunk with love; such power threaded throughout the aroma that emanated from her famous pina colada and gin potion
A pan of simmering giblet gravy with two bay leaves, presented warm in twin gravy boats
Situated between the dinner table’s centerpieces, which were arranged similar to the town’s Thanksgiving Day Parade holiday turkey float
Banana nut bread with plain sour cream, raisin-swirl sauce with strong nutmeg, and peanut butter brittle by the pound
Combined with a rousing afternoon of football and card games, cigars and potato chips, would leave the party guests’ spirits contentedly sound
Grandmother with her silver-tinted hair, tortoise shell glasses, and white apron with cherry-colored bows
Loved to reap her loved ones’ “yums” and “aahs” in appreciation for the annual Thanksgiving feast she lived to sow
But there were problems brewing in the home, precisely about the dessert table, where the coffee pot proudly stood full and center
Although it was fall, a chill circulated within the table’s maple wood circumference reminiscent more of the flavor of winter
In particular, it was the strawberry delight with its whipped cream center and pecan-embedded crust that served as the lead instigator
Phony was its image of sweetness and sugar; as imitation as the dish of crab cakes, the dinner’s biggest set of perpetrators
Yes, even the sweet potato cheesecakes, pumpkin molds, and chocolate fudge cookies, the usual apples of the guests’ eyes
Had come to loathe my very existence, why, even by the eggnog I had grown to be hated, albeit in disguise
And let’s not forget the red velvet cake, with its secret chocolate ingredient and cream cheese icing that upon the lips, melted like butter
Even it could be heard saying unflattering words about me; out of its pores disgruntled expressions it did mutter
Words that crackled in deep contrast to the beauty in the room – decorations of faux gold-rimmed drinking glasses and a freshly pressed lace tablecloth
With matching napkins that had been soaked in enough fabric softener until they were rendered not only satiny to the touch, but visibly soft
Silver utensil settings and tradition old porcelain plates sat highlighted by white carnation bouquets seasoned lightly with golden mums
Beauty dimmed by the fact that, believe it or not, I was even hated by the cinnamon buns
No orange marmalade leaves and brown sugar-spiced trees austere in their amount of shade could provide
A distraction from the truth, that I, the Fruit Cake, had by the other desserts, grown to be truly despised
Had it not been for a long history of being disgusted by diners far and wide, my emotions would have been extremely fragile
But adversity builds a backbone of steel and teaches one’s mind to flex exceedingly agile
My journey begins while chilling on Grandmother’s windowsill; my rising steam serving as a sort of parachute
Which beckoned this one particular blackbird until she came squawking like an arena full of squeaking flutes
Lifting me into the air, she carried me across many cities and legions of manholes until we landed in my most favorite place
New York, New York, a bastion of fashion and intrigue as succulent as nipping on a strawberry’s blossom, where the curious could roam and engage in both international and peculiar tastes
Not necessarily such as those found in the basement of the famed Studio 54, where once the infamous “in crowd” their clout and wit could flex
Drugs by the kilo, disco balls in spring garden shades, and soulful voices put to music that carried one to nirvana’s sensual apex
But the attitudes the people displayed, which manifested in dandelions proudly sprouting on apartment balconies as though they were tulips flown in from Holland
Or a woman who traded in the usual blue or pink eye shadow for the wonderful summer feel and color of bee pollen
Smells of edible fare, cuisine from many nations, mingling in tandem as tongues from varied shores spread in a verbal electric bloom
Spices aromatic and pungent as the musk of scented oils; one’s nostrils and senses caressingly consumed
Where outsiders might have heard a racket, inviting were the many conversing tongues of the multilingual car horns as they sped by as intense as the spice used to fuel and flavor a superstar’s publicity flurry
There was something special about the atmosphere created by New Yorkers, who innately understood how life can pass one by in a hurry
Thus the reason why they moved so fast; especially through the decade of escape, the 1970’s, when many a lady’s hip was loved by sequined pants
Passing the day on a busy sidewalk, causing men’s necks to weave and wobble, as a cobra by a flute danced entranced
Settling on the rooftop of an abandoned apartment building, the blackbird consumed me morsel by morsel until not a crumb was allowed to waste in the wind
Then preening her feathers, she tidied herself until neat, in preparation for the second round of the flight that would take us both on a whirlwind spin
About the city
The gravel on the rooftop, while eating, she inadvertently swallowed, making my personality a tad bit gritty
But no less sexy or feminine I would like to mention; there was a process to this journey and thus a purpose for her making the trip
So that I might know the true pulse of the city; gathering information on sights and sounds, the sensation that is New York, for on its intoxicating vapors I dreamed to regally sip
When I hatched, I would be ripened just right; reflecting as colorfully brilliant as the stories found planted in Caribbean soils
Worldliness would drape me from my shoulders to my toes, as a Roman goddess in a tunic, if New York were an engine, then I would be the oil
Once the trip was done, the blackbird knew precisely where to hatch me, in a garbage heap, so that when I arose I would not feel too threatened
A nightmare it would be to hatch at the fashionably conscious feet of a Coco Chanel attired Tibetan
Model, wearing black and white shades, a black head scarf, silver-tipped suede pants, and enough makeup to touch up the Sistine
I wanted to rise from my shell appropriately – New York my throne and I as its Queen
So, among carburetor parts and grease-donned metals she hatched me; four caterpillars assigned by fate to facilitate the beginning of my metamorphosis
Generous with their lives, by wrapping me tightly in their slivery juices which formed a web akin to the ocean water found in a mother’s womb; soon would lay four tiny white insects cloaked in angel corpses
It would take only a matter of seconds, a heartbeat followed by a pulse, and I would be ready to be about my fabulous journey
Preparing to cover all previous bad memories under a symbolic white sheet, to send away on surrealism’s merciful gurney
After precisely ten minutes, I flashed the broadest grin shining more of relief than reflective of joy
As a kitten grown frisky from the introduction to a ball of yarn, I, the kitten, and New York, the yarn, a most submitting and eager toy
And how I arose, more beautiful than the rapture a cool waterfall can claim, and more enchanting than a river of hazelnut mud
Using a nearby thorn, I pricked the tip of my index finger to ensure that flowing through my veins was indeed human blood
Because I wanted to feel all of the warmth and welcome the city exuded; my soul not wanting to miss out on a precious drop
For now it was time to proceed boldly into the world with much vigor; anxiety and apprehension across my new arm hairs I could not allow to crop
Up, went my level of self-confidence, as I perused the contours of my brand-new form and found that all signs of my old fruitcake body were now gone, when suddenly, I noticed something big and floppy sitting atop my head
An amazing pink hat with a white dahlia flower; all of my cake traits had now, indeed, been shed
Wearing a black and beige wrap dress with hints of pastel pink, my feet fashionably donned gold platforms to match
After approving the ensemble, I proceeded with my stroll down the sidewalk, the coolest thing in summer; sweltering were the other ladies’ outfits of hot sauce-colored back-outs, and several pairs of jeans covering bottoms that grinned with a smiley patch
Long knit skirts appeared to be the other favored apparel, topped by swimsuit bras secured with copper hooks
I kept up appearances quite well; enchanting were the sights of my new New York world, for our connection was the essence of a searing love affair or a good romance book
I was in love! While lost in my emotions, a tiny stray dog took a fondness to me and followed my footsteps for approximately half a block
Stopping, of course, to occasionally sniff a fire hydrant, as I waved to several owners of prideful pet rocks
Out for a casual stroll; one owner wearing a navy blue derby that collided horribly with his green earth shoes
As a sidewalk musician made me desire a handkerchief and a red candy apple, so crunchy came the sweet textures of his amorous summer afternoon blues
Yes, textures that one could sink their teeth into, I could just taste the southern grit
Born out of hardships, struggles, and bad relationships, which periodically prompted him to spit
After a day of taking in the scenery above ground, I decided to venture where the cave dwellers were truly the smoothest type of groovy
To sip, in the dark, on a mixture of milk, bananas, and pecans, some called a sunshine smoothie
To a club in the basement of an abandoned building, except the portion where the beats did occupy
Fattened ripe with instrumentals and backup by The Family Stone; lead vocals bodaciously slick and provided by Sly
Choosing to view my temporary world with complete optimism, I decided to don my rose-colored shades
Forcing the other revelers to pull out their black ones; so intense the light of my newfound freedom parade
With my dress rotating its colors and hat flopping, keeping in time with my fingers’ snaps and splits
My shoulders began to jerk and shimmy, and my head, sway and bob, as my platform-clad feet showed to be adequately rhythm-equipped
For a long night of disco dancing, where the floor melted like butter under my heels
As a brother dressed in a snazzy lime green leisure suit, with pinto bean brown skin, began to slip and slide like the effect of a banana peel
On the soles of the less graceful, as though they were made clumsy with ghee
As the men sniffed behind temptation’s ear, licked their lips and grinned as though they were insatiably hungry
For a piece of my chocolate love, but I deftly ignored them, immediately taking my place between the mirrors of illusions
That made it appear to be more than one of me; heightening the ecstasy swimming through their nose-twitching confusion…

Gwendolen McCloud
Copyright 2005

Marvelous Banana Cake:
An Evening With the Redwoods

The house’s walls, smothered thick in the aroma of curried rack of lamb, roasted carrots, caramelized onions, and pieces of tomato bit
Warmed the cheeks of the young boy staring out of the window to a blushing hue, as though the wings of an unexpected kiss had suddenly, upon his lips, lit
A lone branch sifted by as he watched the sparks from a neighbor’s car fly; an antique jalopy with matching mechanical innards, both of the genuine kind
The blindingly inclement musical procession leaving the boy riveted, his eyes protected by the dust shade that had collected along the length of the kitchen’s blinds
Surrendering to a waterfall of frightening expression, the room lay black and dense with the smell of cloves and sage as a great thunderbolt wrote the ending to the night’s climax; the ink in a nearby streetlamp’s lighted pen
That rendered a moon halo jagged and striking against the wall as it traveled through a crack patch on the pane of glass, fortifying the haunted feeling that coursed within
The halo standing isolated inside a wreath of rosemary sprigs that, when the lightning pulsed, struck the tips of the wreath’s shadow like flint a match head; the image the lightning built
Reflecting as a thousand tiny candle tips flickering, the storm had knitted a fire quilt
With the turn of a knob, a golden hot spring of peanut oil was eased significantly of its hurry next to a bowl of roasted tomatoes dressed in Portobello mushroom attire
Once a room sizzling with anticipation of tasting the cranberry and corn fritters with pecans, now calm, the mood in the room did sire
Standing silver and framed against a wall of black and white pictures, was a portrait of Sitting Bull, a great Native American chief
As blanched white rice peered from a maroon and aluminum pot; green peppers and scallions marinating and mingling in the company of freshly chipped beef
While raisin buns with butter tabs and maple biscuits on the rise in search of their peaks, baked in silence on a well-greased, brown sugar-dusted cookie sheet
Liver and fried onions, chopped turnip greens with pimento, and mashed green tomatoes in herbed breadcrumbs, making the meal complete
Aside from the gingersnap cookies with loads of lemon zest, apricot tarts topped by shaved cashews, and pound cakes with an almond and orange glaze
Teeming with smells and colors as bright as Easter egg shells, the kitchen reflected as an edible link in a food maze
With lime cream cheese refrigerator pies, marble pudding, and peaches enriched by a macadamia nut and vanilla toasted molasses
In fact, caramel fondue was the matron’s complexion; calligraphic black curls and teardrop pearls on her blouse, accentuating her brass-framed eyeglasses
To celebrate the birth of twin nieces, the purpose behind this well-planned and uniquely festive occasion
With the sofa plumped to plum perfection and the love seat dressed in scarlet, sent to all those dear friends and those of most immediate family relation
Were pink invitations bearing lavender crystal bits, pink cowrie shells, and silver bows that when opened, like a baby, cooed
Then announced the invitation of their presence at the party, to be highlighted by good drinks and a delicious, eclectic mix of food
To predictably end with an evening of chess and checker games, poker and raw jokes, and many of the guests’ egos on a platter
Courtesy of clean teasing, that was all done to ruffle a funny bone, for none of the guests would intentionally tender an insult worthy of comparable laughter
Their shenanigans, however, would have to be contained within the eight walls of the kitchen and living room spaces, for the temperamental weather now made known its presence
Its fierce storms forcing sweet calm to lie dormant, the kind that constitutes a good, warm summer night’s typical essence
Still, the night belonged to the Redwoods, fondly referred to as the “colorful giants” by their neighbors; the moniker bestowed, most appropo
For the height given to their legs and backs and the wonderful stories, seeded in fantasy, their tongues could so masterfully sow
At a quarter past eight, the doorbell began to ring, and inside marched breathing creations more lively in the accoutrements of their dress
Than costumed revelers at a masquerade party; nails sparkling, attitudes large, and collars and blouses freshly laundered, bleached, and pressed
Human timberland with knees, their attire inspired by the 1920’s flair, dressed in snazzy tweeds, subdued silks, platinum bracelets, rhinestone tiaras, and shoes made of faux oak
If the world of fashion were ever analogized as a wheel, then the Redwoods would have served as the spokes
However, if ever critiqued by one of the premier couture magazines, all would probably earn the moniker of fashion blot
But there is something to be said for the power of individual taste, men and women, who, their own style dared to plot
One favorite cousin wore his beloved two-toned white and tan leather shoes and a handlebar moustache combed fresh to perfection
His air and exchange was such that one would think he was a politician courting a political contingency, in his bid for political re-election
With a cigar and a brisk baritone laugh, his mantra was to always have a jolly good time
His mood lightened and his lofty perception of life crafted from the fact that he was always nursing a glass of white wine
Then entering in most exquisite fashion was his wife, wearing a gray silk blouse adorned with a complex pattern of platinum-colored pearls and a vest of Victorian brocade
Her skin, the fairest among the Redwoods, was as though she had lived her entire life in the shade
Cherry lips and red-dyed hair made her look like death’s matron attempting to claim some resemblance to the living
Together, they projected a picture perfect appearance, framed by a beauty that was strikingly appealing
As time rode on, the humidity grew feverishly hungry with thirst, thus causing many an unsuspecting neck to continually drip
The men having come prepared to handle this daunting foe, using handkerchiefs they wore neatly in a variety of flips
The warmed flesh attracting scavengers much more daring than the humidity; ones that favored the rich texture of blood
Mosquitoes that had earlier hounded the torn screen of a nearby window, their sometimes misguided wings chasing destiny in the form of several shallow thuds
Against the outside of the house, and thus the purpose of the many fly swatters that came in distinctive neon flavors of yellow, purple, and green
Interesting the picture would become when one of said mosquitoes entered the Redwoods’ lavish scene
That’s when at least one of the Redwoods would lose all dignity, and with swatter in hand, engage the machismo of a furious fight
How interesting to see that hero wearing an expensive top hat, or high-heeled shoes, appearing to engage in the fight of his or her life
Yes, the mosquitoes brought with them an ample amount of miserable moans and obvious sighs of disgust
But nothing could dampen the festive mood of the party, especially the lone cousin who arrived wearing a lavish outfit of rust
The one who loved to match the room in which she would be entertaining; indeed, she was a shameless slave to fashion
Pearls and soft swirls of vanilla ribbon complementing the accents in the room, and thus enlarging the height of her arrogant passion
She flowed smoothly, as the contents of a bottle of caramel milk down the trail of a badly parched throat
Her intelligence making it possible for her to traverse the terrain of the deepest conversations to the shallowest babbling, with the dexterity possessed by the hooves of the mountain goat
Ascending the jagged shores of a rocky structure, no wind or rain could make its footsteps slip
Watching her engage these diverse trains of thought as eventful as visiting different exotic ports, stops made by a cruise ship
The more difficult chanteuse of the group, her name was Monica, a bold flavor who exercised her every right to stylishly glide
Across the slabs of hardwood floor; her gait as steady as calm waters moving a sail across the ocean in a form of uptown pride
Although her cheekbones appeared as though carved out of the finest oak, her body still looked noticeably frail
Holding an apparatus lengthened five inches by smoke, fresh ginger, the scent her breath exhaled
The smell, as it wafted under the guests’ noses, prompted one cousin to guess that she was smoking ginger incense
Only Monica knew that it had been secretly soaked in a brisk vinegar hours before the occasion, and when prompted, the incense was to secrete a striking aroma, both harsh and intense
Rendering an old-fashioned olfactory paddling whenever an unwelcome guest got a little too close to its chosen host
With chips of fresh garlic strategically embedded in the incense and egging the vinegar on, one sip of its breath would cause a face to grow as pale as that of a ghost’s
But there was no alternative method of defense, for surely the ginger incense could not strike out with fists
Nonetheless, however difficult this cousin might have been, family loved to invite her to their parties because she gave the occasion an interesting twist
With a voice as pitchy as it was full of pretense, her eyes held a sultry glow
As she approached her seat, the circle of guests in radius, their mood did distantly grow
Then there was the family friend, whom one would have thought like a rooster for the feathers in his derby, but his gait was proud as if he were the offspring of a peacock’s stock
For his looks were far more superior and splendid than those possessed of your simple barnyard cock
With cheeks as plump as a good roasting hen’s bottom, dimples charmed his face with enough charisma to spare
A firm handshake and a ready smile; he evoked the image of a person who lived with little or without a heavy care
Except for the intermittent stroking of his derby hat’s feather with a pinch of mint dust he carried finely ground in a pewter tin
His words for the ladies carefully mixed concoctions of smooth and cool; the women ultimately determined to be the typical bachelor’s blend
His intentions to convey the image of a man in control, one as adept at sparking excitement as a match’s flame swaddling the head of a firecracker; his was a long-perfected state of illusion
However, the only ones he could successfully deceive were the men, the women being of wiser minds, knew with him to draw a different kind of conclusion
Still, there were those clusters of razzle-dazzle red lipsticks and high-heeled shoes whose owners found his magnetism contagious
Who believed real sincerity laced his loving words; those who fell for his alibis, even when they got to the point of being totally outrageous
Bulging pockets lined with copies of IOU’s made his poor wallet weary, for he loved to parade an affluence charade; an image of consummate luxury
Combined with his act of flipping his coattails and winking while he bragged of his beloved trust fund, most women recognized his antics as the purest form of puffery
But his natural magnetism could not be denied, for it was uncommon for a cheek not to blush or a heart not to flutter in his presence, for such was his effect on women
Prompting his mind to naturally wander closer to the probability that he was yet closer to the possibility of sinning
Of the deliciously special kind, in fact, the depth of the heat he emanated was comparable only to the humidity; prompting the ladies’ collars to fan
His hope of improving his winning odds by the end of the evening, in the form of the collection of lovely ladies he worked so tirelessly to expand
Yes, flavorful the parade, some of the other kin would acknowledge, as they sipped and grinned over the rims of rum and mango concoctions
That tangoed among their taste buds in a celebration burst that lightened the mood, even though the sky was behaving very rotten
And so, after all of the guests had finally arrived, following brief conversations, to the kitchen all twenty did forge
To partake of the lovely buffet brimming with fresh herbs and spices that would cause even a man with very particular manners, to hungrily gorge
Just when they had started their meal, their only source of light, a streetlamp at the driveway’s edge, took a plunge into immediate darkness
Leaving only the whites of their eyes and the brilliance of their teeth to illuminate; the color-play quite fascinating in its starkness
Captured by surprise, was the expression that reflected off their features, as they all made their way to a waiting living room
Everyone, despite their long limbs and the enveloping darkness, was quite graceful in their motions, as a master weaver operating a loom
With ease and grace, they all positioned themselves on either the sofas or love seat, and in strategically positioned chairs with arrow backs
Specifically designed to direct Grandpa Julius where to fall, left or right, in case he suffered a timber attack
Which was simply a joint giving way to collapse and the victim falling forward, but in this case, Grandpa Julius had to take care or collide with one of his relatives
Thus, the decision to be particular about where Grandpa Julius was seated, was absolutely imperative
After everyone found their place, the guests of honor, the twins, were situated, each measuring in length the height of a healthy kentia palm
One of the tallest house plants around; the thumbs they sucked their mama had earlier generously sugared with dabs of sweetened coconut balm
Sadly, none could observe their funny baby faces worthy of camera snaps and aunties’ kisses, for they, too, were in the dark
That is until Grandpa Julius, wearing his cherry-colored ascot, brought forth a container from his briefcase that when opened, released a series of interesting sparks
Reaching his long fingers inside, he retrieved a small snow globe, the kinds of which held a miniature chocolate river and a yellow kite
Plus several tiny people engaged in tasks as random as doing laundry and swimming; the amount of light the globe released defying its height
There were also plants of a medley of species, birds perched in trees, and animals varying from rabbits to dogs, pictured in the town
Although it was a world of varying dimensions, the globe stood perfectly round
And then Grandpa Julius began, his breathing steady and deliberate, in a voice as rich in color as black molasses; deep and low the guttural tones
The inflection as punctuating as the moans found in a blues melody; both reminiscent of the voice made famous by the great James Earl Jones
If the Redwoods were famous in the neighborhood for their gift of weaving a tale, you are about to understand why
Even the moon assigned by God to fulfill its celestial duty of guarding the night heavens, had to lean in occasionally and listen from its pedestal in the java-colored sky
Grandpa Julius began, “It was an early morning in spring, and the earth began to rise and swell in a series of grassy bumps.”
Leaning forward, he exhaled a powerful breath and before everyone’s very eyes, the snow globe began to pump…

Gwendolen McCloud
Copyright 2005


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