Ignoring the Rules…

Rules. Most get set with good intention, right? I’m not so sure, but I’ll go with this premise for the time being. Rules of writing. Rules of relationship. Rules of the highway. Rules. Rules. Rules.

Recently, likely most profoundly this evening, I discovered I’ve lost two very dear friends. One of these friends I wrote the poem “Midnight in Her Heart” in her honor, the other, a man who would be 91 this March had death not come and stole him away.

Ayesha is likely the dearest human I’ve never met in person. In my heart, she’s the dearest of friends and the dearest person I’ve ever known. Her writing enticed my attention, my heart, and my creative muse. Her passion for caring for humans, especially children, flowed through her words as natural as a simple breath. Writing from her heart appeared as effortless as snuggling into a warm blanket on cool evening.

Harvey owned a heart of the purest gold ever to walk this earth. Such a dear, sweet man. And his life stories! Oh. My. God. This man could make you laugh about the foibles he suffered. You felt his good nature in his voice. In his laughter. In his constant ability to be excited about cars, and stories, and life. His humility walked limitless with him everywhere his feet carried him. Harvey wrote a book’s-worth of stories about his life.

I tried to get Harvey to let me publish his stories. He wanted to. He truly did. He just had to take care of everyone and everything around him. That’s who he was. He was selfless, and I want to say – to a fault – but I could find no fault in Harvey. I cherished every moment with this man. Harvey always had you feeling like you were the most important person in the room when he spoke with you. Always playful, always smiling, always a friend.

My last conversation with Harvey, he was undergoing Chemo. He let me know he would call me on the other side of the treatments. His statement sounded like a goal. Something to shoot for. A hope. I just knew I would get that call…

A little over a year ago, Ayesha underwent Chemo. The news shattered my writing world in many ways. She would write the most profound and supportive comments on my blogs, encouraging me and lifting me. Over the 8 years we conversed, the communication remained solely through blogging comments. She went into seclusion during her Chemo and I never heard from her again.

Today, one day after learning that Harvey had left this world, I noted Ayesha’s Facebook page disappeared. Sadness. I’d always hoped to meet this brilliant, talented woman in person. Life keeps delivering the message that not acting on the impermanent nature of life definitely brings a boatload of regret.

What does all this have to do with rules? Too often in my life, I’ve paid far too much attention to rules. So many of them run me into the ground and I feel helpless. No more. The overwhelm of rules will no longer proliferate as a debilitating aspect of my life. I understand many rules own specific, life-enhancing purposes in life. Many do not. I must continue to grow into the distinctions between the two.

Harvey and the world should have had his book. Its charm would have warmed the hearts of all who would have read it. The stories were that good. He often regaled us at The Inspired Mic with these wonderful vignettes of his life. Now I fear they may be lost forever.

And Ayesha. What I would have given just to speak with her one time. Her wisdom never failed to amaze me. Even more so, her unbridled support and encouragement of my writing helped me feel worthwhile even when the world appeared to scream otherwise.

Moments ago, I want to the HubPages site where I first met Ayesha. I read some of her comments to me. Then, I read some of the hundreds of comments from other readers and writers on that site written directly to me. Here are just a sampling:

While writing a causal analysis essay for an English course, I went browsing for ideas about the effects or benefits of excellent writing—why does it matter—and I stumbled, thanks to Bing, onto Michael Ray King’s hubpage. Not only does he have an appealing style, but I felt encouraged to strive for excellence, to go beyond what I usually settle for. I appreciate that. Thanks. – moxie1956

Michael, you are one amazing writer. It will probably take me half a lifetime to read through all your hubs, but I’ll probably do it. – novascotiamiss

What a wonderful writer you are, I am grateful for hubnuggets for introducing me to you. A well deserved nomination and a lot of good reading to catch up on…I am your fan! – Sioux Ramos

you’re a very talented writer…and have the most amazing hubs! Looking forward to reading more…myownworld 

That last comment was the first one made to me by Ayesha. One of my takeaways from these turns of events is that I need to be more present in my own worth. I need to understand my value more. Not for purposes of ego, but for the purpose of carrying on as both these wonderful friends.

Each was selfless, yet I felt they understood their importance to others. Of course, I could be mistaken, but I do not believe so. In my heart, each set an example of how to be true to oneself and how to be kind and helpful to others. I’ve never had an issue with the second half of that last sentence but I’ve struggled to master the first.

Therefore, the time arrives for me to implement my rules. My take on this life. My stance on how my remaining time gets used. Ayesha had a book she was writing as well. I offered to publish it for her. That never happened.

My vocation, my passion, falls into two areas. One as an author. The other, a book whisperer, which is someone who helps people get their books written, edited, and published. My rules now apply. I’m not only good at what I do, as Ayesha said in her first statement to me and many more over the years, I’m amazing!

I discounted my worth for far too long. No more. The rules which kept me locked down and in fear of my own personal success no longer apply. Reading hundreds of people who wrote from all over the world of my amazing articles has given me cause to pause, reflect, and realize I help no one by ignoring my worth. I possess huge potential for improvement and growth, but there’s no reason to ignore my talent.

Helping others to see the same in themselves happens to be one of my strong points. I am heartbroken over the loss of these two dear friends. I crave another conversation. Another interaction. Another shot of confidence and support which both excelled at producing.


In my darkened, silent room
Your voice imagined, your smile, your laughter
Yet I possess no such past experience
I long for a trip back in time just to make this happen.

I once wrote
“Knowing we share breath in the same age of this world
Lifts my heart”
Knowing you’re gone breaks that heart

You would not have this
You would not care to see me falter
You would have me strive, help others
You would have me champion your love of truth and your own such devoted heart

Lift me up
Lift me high
Lift me to where we once touched the sky

I’ll be brave
I’ll think big
I’ll travel wherever your midnight bids

In my darkened silent room
Your accent imagined, your insight, your truth
My life stands with you
Oh to still amaze you…

I once wrote of your midnight healing
The hours you spent collecting your soul
Fleeting respite from life’s cruel beatings
Beauty blossomed in the dead of night

Lift me up
Lift me high
Lift me to when we each viewed our sky

I’ll be brave
I’ll walk tall
I’ll dedicate my life to midnight whims

May peace and rest be with your midnight heart … and mine …


In My Other Universe

In My Other Universe

In my other universe
Love does not disintegrate
Life and the cosmos do not momentarily wink out
Trust does not become a fantasy

In my other universe
Cold, cruel witch only describes a fairy tale
Material gain never trumps love
Heartlessness falls only to the machinations of openly vile people

In my other universe
I’m intact
I’m unscathed
I believe in truth and trust
I love without fear of betrayal
I walk light and carefree
For she defines integrity and longevity in the world of romance

In my other universe
People use objects, not other people
Betrayal stands as conviction against character
Dreams exist for destinies, not destruction

In my other universe
Fantasy rules
For nothing in it matches reality
Cold, cruel truths find no purchase
Because my other universe never existed…

If You’re Goin’ My Way


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If You’re Goin’ My Way…

I remember the leaves of spring
Each vibrant
Alive and lush
Overrun with promise
Sprouting to blot out the bareness of winter

I remember the skips and jumps
Full of spunk and vigor
The promise of a coming day could wait for the thrill of the now
Warm breezes, swirling bodies and minds

I remember the songs. The songs.
Heartbreaking and heartwarming
New and important
Futures passed and presents gilded
Nothing would end for the world was right and true

I remember the colors of the living
Each shade
Palates spotted with challenges
Promises made and broken
Draining in intensities and darknesses

I remember the lives of yesteryear
Each so dear
Tapestries of legacy
Overrun by melancholy
Bare trees adorned in stark grays, ice, snow

I have a dream
A dream to last a million years
A heart to beat to its own music
A passion to believe
A sadness to coincide with the waxings and wanings of life
A broken soul to mend throughout time itself
A tear for love which should have been
But not for this life
Not for me
Yet I do have a dream
I carry it with me and refuse to keep it hid

If you’re goin’ my way…

The Gift


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What is a gift?

I’ve struggled with Christmas for many years. For that matter, I’ve struggled with gift-giving in general. I have no problem giving gifts. I thoroughly enjoy doing that. It’s the identification of the gift and the heart behind it with which I struggle.

Unfortunately, I’ve been with people who need gifts showered on them. On the surface, this is not such a bad thing. Yet, their emphasis on gifts becomes a judgment. They measure life and love by volume and price. They give lip service to “it’s the thought that counts” philosophy. Some of these people I’ve given so many gifts of my time, my assistance, my love, my energy, my commitment, and a host of other gifts which I deem of highest value. Often, the material gift stands as simply a physical reminder of the love and affection behind the gift.

This Christmas, for the first time in far too many years, I’ve been touched by something far more valuable than any physical totem. I’ve been moved to re-understand who I once was and aspire to be again from gifts given me over the course of my lifetime. More specifically, the gifts I’ve received for the past few months have taken a glorious toll on my sadness and despair.

The gifts have been simple. My car cleaned and vacuumed. Dishes are done when I walk in from work. My bathroom cleaned. Smiles. Hugs. Time shared.

The gestures of these gifts mean far more than the surface description. I’ve not opened one single gift as yet. There’s truly nothing I could receive which I don’t already possess in spades.

There are so many views on how to get stuff done in a household. So many rules laid down. So many punishments meted out over the course of a lifetime to force children to step in and take responsibility. Yet I’ve found that leading by example, loving and communicating, works far better. I’ve taken so much heat in my life for not ruling on high with a heavy, discipline-first mentality.

My eleven-year-old daughter delivers Christmas to me every day. Does she ALWAYS to dishes? No. Does she ALWAYS clean my bathroom and wash my car? No. Does she ALWAYS clean her room? No.

What she always does is show love. I wash dishes. She washes dishes. I wash clothes. She washes clothes. The measure of a person’s heart is not how many times and what schedule they use, the measure for me is that, in her case, she does these things because she has a heart and a desire to help. She has a heart and a desire to be responsible.

I could truly not care less if I do the dishes or her. What I cannot care for more is the fact that she joyously does dishes. Cleans house. Helps out. She does this out of her heart, not some regimented schedule laden with background threats.

I got home late from work Christmas Eve. The whole arrangement of tree and presents and furniture was rearranged into a beautiful scene. The barstools I’d purchased for a “family gift” were assembled (I didn’t know she could even do that! See them there in the first pic below?), and decorations like origami snowflakes were hung with pride and joy.

In case the thought is tickling your mind, this is who my daughter has been her entire life. She’s in a positive environment and she’s thriving.

And I am humbled.

My emotions overwhelm me. The sadness of life pushed away. The hollow feeling of overwhelming responsibility is lifted. I appreciate gift-giving again. This is how I’ve always desired to give. Too many times I’ve allowed myself to be trapped by other peoples’ rules and views on gifts. When I fix a faucet for someone and I know nothing about plumbing but I learn how and I do it from my heart, this is not about the faucet. It’s about me stepping into my heart and giving a true gift.

When my daughter gives even the tiniest of gifts, they cannot be wrapped. There is not enough wrapping paper in the world to enclose the thought and love behind her gift. THAT is what Christmas is all about. THAT is what I allowed to be stolen from me by people who run off of checklists and make gift-giving a chore or a measurement. A true gift, no matter the monetary value or timing, embodies all that is good and right in life. When the smallest of gestures and gifts touch your soul with love, truly the measurements of others mean nothing. The gentle touch on the heart becomes more powerful than all the hate, unhappiness, negativity, and all that ilk combined.

I love all my children. Each of them possesses a desire to give and to share themselves to lift others. In these days, when I need it most, I continue to be taught about life or at least reminded of something valuable I’d allowed to slip into darkness. I’ve never stopped giving from my heart, but I have listened to the harshness of judgment as to how and what I give. My gift this year is the gift of myself, handed gently to me on a daily basis by my children. I could receive no greater gift than the tears dropping on my desk and the love I feel in my heart. Yes, the love I have for them, but in a true world, my greatest gift is the love I receive from them.

It’s not about the physical gift. Never has been. It’s not about its value. Never has been. It’s not about the gifts frequency. Never has been. It’s not about anything measurable. Never has been.

A true gift is always about love.

Always has been.



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A case for Joy

Joy – the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation

The definition of joy implies action. “The emotion of great delight (not just regular delight) CAUSED by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” At my age, I’ve heard many times over the advice that one must “choose” happiness. The classic example of this is The Diary of Ann Frank. If anyone had reason to be despondent, she would lead a large pack. Happiness, a component of joy, is a choice.

Happiness gets trampled daily if you’ve not noticed. Our politics. Our religions. Our media. Our gossip. The overwhelming collectivity of communication sometimes appears negative beyond repair. How does one choose happiness when they’re surrounded by all these externals of negativity? On top of the macro of negativity, what about the micro? For instance, what if someone is constantly bombarded by negative statements, attacks, and skullduggery? How does one rise above this?

By choice, it would appear. Life gets tiresome when all that’s in front of you looms as potential dismay, sadness, anger, betrayal, cruelty, and a host of other negative players. Many, if not most, people look to find happiness in the very people who will eventually destroy that joy. Wise folk have said for millennia to look inward for happiness and joy with the oft-unspoken advice that others will not do it for you in the long run. For those who get to this point, often the trek stands out as a painful, arduous arrival to a place we should have acknowledged long ago.

I’m still not at the point where I walk away like Kwai Chang Caine from television show Kung Fu. I can do this physically, but mentally and emotionally I fight the battle in my head and my heart. I recognize this robs me of peace. I recognize I must find a way to suffer the slings and arrows of people who know me and those who don’t. The pickle is in the doing. When people load their shit on you, making the choice of joy becomes Mt. Everest with few provisions. Most often, we’re so bombarded by the negativity that we don’t recognize we’re leagues away from joy before we even deal with someone nasty.

The only tool which comes to mind to battle this onslaught is “now.” The power of being in the moment. The power of slipping out of our daydream (or nightmare as the case may be) and into the moment of truth. The bare, unadorned moment. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The Power of Now.” To get to now, I’ve discovered I must step out of everything and focus on something. At this moment its the sunshine outside my window. Or is it the green leaves on the palm fronds? Or is it the blue sky backdrop? None of these matter except that they each offer a way out of the mind-numbing war which rages in my head and heart. The fears which rise up. The anger that can simmer low enough to be nearly undetectable and high enough to boil over given the right (or wrong) conditions.

“Now” can be the lampshade. Something inanimate. Something to draw attention from my inner turmoils and out to a place where I can replace in my mind something better. How often do I practice this? Not often enough I can say with absolute certainty. Just stepping out of turmoil does not bring me to joy. In fact, the act does not necessarily get me out of negativity. Residual thoughts keep knocking at my “now” door, looking for a way in to kill the momentum. I’ve found that negativity thrives on itself. When negativity meets something positive, engulf and devour like a rabid wolf ensues.

I must find a way to fill my “now” moment with something of positive value. Positive thoughts. Goals. Dreams. Aspirations. Yes, as I’m writing this, I’m allowing myself to entertain the thought of being holed up in a mountain cottage, fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate by my recliner, laptop in my lap with snow swirling outside my huge bay window in a dance of pure peace and joy. I feel two things going here. One is excitement. Excitement that I may actually one day do this. I also feel the dogged attacks of negativity screaming I am saddled by life and circumstance and that I’ll never have the time nor the finances to achieve such a thing.

This is where more of us lose it. I’m leading that pack, unfortunately. I’ve come to realize just getting to the dream will not allow me to maintain joy. An action is required. A plan. Actual movement in the direction of achieving the goal. Something to work for. Something to believe in. Something to help me maintain an inner peace and joy in my “now.”

Connecting the dots internally will now be my focus. I’ve got to learn to choose happiness, happiness within me. Happiness within my life. Happiness within my reach. All captured in the moment of “now.” Maintaining this will be the challenge. This is contrary to a life pattern of constantly fighting back negativity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my crazy ex-wife, confronting negativity only drags me into the cesspool. Walking away, as Kwai Chang, truly becomes the only effective route.

The next step is to not only achieve now moments but to put into play and into thought and into practice that each task I accomplish each day brings me one step closer to my dreams and aspirations. When I look at completing a project as a “now moment(s)” action step to my dreams and aspirations, joy may become a component of my working day. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Good work.

“NOW” work.

Practice. Practice. Practice….


look at your hand
do it
ask yourself why
why is he requesting I look at my hand
what were you thinking about before you looked
do you feel a distance from those thoughts
even if only a small distance

our heads stay stuffed with thoughts
thoughts triggered and placed by others
thoughts triggered and placed by ourselves
the monkey chatter in our heads drowns out most everything else
until we take action
until we give ourselves an option
escape from unreality

look at your hand
your hand is real
your thoughts, all 60,000 of them per day
all 42 thoughts per minute
almost one thought per second
call you back to their cacophony
a siren call we live with every day

look at your hand
seize the second
seize the minute
reign in your thoughts and focus
speed holds not your answer
deep breaths
consciousness beyond the noise of our minds
our distractions
our technologies

look at your hand
look out your window
look at your sky
feel who you are
feel who you aspire to be
make the choice of joy
make the choice to put action to “you”

Scorched-Earth Princess


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The one-sentence poem was taught to me by a wonderful poetry workshop leader named Peggy Miller. For years I’d written poetry without justification, study or credentials, barely able to even label the writing as poetry. Peggy taught me that not only did my writing fall within the realm of poetry, the words crafted fell into beauty and insight and passion and emotion. She showed me forms of poetry I did not know existed, case in point the one-sentence poem where you simply write without a period and create a flow. My first poem written as such was Golden Strand Smile which I remember with fondness whenever I’ve reread the piece, I get a strong sense of beauty and accomplishment. As a writer, you seldom know creation’s worth immediately upon completion, yet you possess a euphoria about the writing and a desire to show the world what you built. Sometimes this is good, sometimes not so much, yet the passion in the crafting of the piece is unmistakable. Poetry, as in all creative writing, becomes a purge of the soul if you allow it. Fortunately, this is one aspect of my life, my writing life as well, which escapes the vagaries of life and actually strengthens as the days progress forward.

Scorched-earth Princess

In truth, she invited herself in, a petite, curvy, molded, fluid damsel, princess in waiting, looking for love and finding adoration in spades with someone mired in poverty not only of goods and income but ransacked of hope and positivity and confidence and assertion, yet she discovered a goldmine of caring and giving of everything he possessed but throughout the years, instead of nurturing what could have been a treasure trove of a lifelong relationship, she sought to pillage, one item at a time, all the stores he built, all the good, all the love, all the passon, all the empathy, all the concern, all the willingness to give, all the confidence he grew, careful not to show a scorched-earth landscape, but walls and halls filled with pilfered dreams, hopes stolen in silence, confidence raked cruelly by calculated withdrawal, then, as the end wended its way ever closer, trumped up lies and charges sprinkled to key allies so that she could maintain a clean, untarnished exit, she played her cards as a dish served frozen, revenge for whatever demons haunt her soul, and when the man would not die after his ultimate act of allegiance to her, she pursued his death post mortal blow having raided everything good he had to offer, building a self-fueled anger and bitterness to wage an unsightly war, unnecessary for the caring, but preimmenently critical to her claims of victimhood when it was she who prospered during their years together and he was left with hollowed heart, dreams dashed, and hope a smoldering pile of lies and deceit, the only material remaining for him to rebuild his world, rebuild the shell of his life, rebuild the once giddy and flourishing story of a man who loved with his entire heart, his entire soul, his proverbial shirt off his back despite his poverty, and within that smoldering pile of hope, he picked up one peice at a time, searching for clues and answers as to what led to such cruelty, from a princess who prospered with him, who owned his affection which kept concern for her well-being above his own, with one of the examined articles of hope, glittering in the harsh analysis of day being her statements even in hateful destruction that the years with him had been the best of her life, not enough to assuage the onslaught which only accelerated with more frozen vigor, yet this tiny shard of hope, brushed and polished, showed no damage as all other hopes did, they, all tattered and shattered and burnt and melted into a dark crystalline heap of despair from which he must rebuild a life and find that, being alone needs not be lonely although all he sees within him screams this perspective as truth, just as in the truth of her inviting  herself in, he also welcomed her to himself in total honesty of love and affection and an open emotional storehouse, his truest wealth beyond measure, which she raided beyond simply just stealing his best, she came back after her detonation, searching for anything left lying around of value, then continued her onslaught of dirision and cold-witch cackling lies to help fuel an anger she lost the ability to identify decades before him, when it first blossomed in her core, in the end, no facade princess remains, only a cold, heartless, gold-digging, walking, talking body devoid of soul, who one day will see herself and likely not shed one tear for the damage she dealt others, because she, on her last breath, will not see past her own self-interest, ego, and greed while he discovers scattered slivers of his love in corners and dark places and as he places them with his one glittering truth, the one she tossed aside, the one that even in her darkest destructive decisive blow she could not break or damage, he begins the arduous, painstaking work of revival, knowing full well he will likely never, ever, ever love anyone so deeply, so truely, so completely, because he will never overlook nor tolerate again a woman so selfish and shortsighted.

Nobody There I Really Want to Talk to…


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Music fun. Sometimes whimsy takes over. A line. A phrase. A poignant calling from evocative feelings storms the castle of your thoughts and heart. You feel there’s nothing to do but write something.

Music embodies deep influence in our lives. Playing with the meters of melody can be fun as a writer, as well as a challenge. Of course, a complex meter like the one in Operator becomes a bear to write, unlike many other songs. But the challenge remains and becomes an enjoyable exercise. While I did not maintain the meter of the song, the writing came out well. Whatever inspires you, right?

If I hadn’t mentioned the song, would you have made the connection? The title likely would have given it away, but there’s also a couple borrowed lines as well. Writing prompts. Gotta love them…

Nobody There I Really Want to Talk to…

Love is a jumble
Could you rest my weary heart
I never thought life would ever see us separated
Life is a tumble
When you least expect the rain
And love never knew its demise would never be sated

Isn’t that the way they say it goes
When your soul falls flat
When you love too deep and blind yourself with trust
The light goes out on the other side then you work to extinguish your glow
You dig around your soul
You learn to fake it well
You only wish your work could just complete itself
But there’s no good way to feel

There’s a day on high
When your heart could really fly
And you long for the moments when words were its primary currency
Now you’re just a ghost
Callously tossed to wind and fog
For whatever reason, no pain should be delivered so cold

There lived a time
When gentleness indeed did reign
You believed the forever stuck in your own eyes
And the regurgitation from her felt like the real thing you’d always desired
You found out otherwise
You know it happens every time
But there’s nobody there now you really want to talk to…

Isn’t that the way they say it goes
When your soul falls flat
When you love too deep and blind yourself with trust
The light goes out on the other side then you work to extinguish your glow
You dig around your soul
You learn to fake it well
You only wish your work could just complete itself
But there’s no good way to feel



A cold witch’s
Voice of connection
Voice of severance
Voice of destruction

Love crushed by ice
Betrayed by selfishness
Sullied by lies
Defiled by currency

Footprints in emotional ashes
No green-blue world
Only gray-white floating gossamer remnants
In a silent world, a dead world, a world of echoes and destruction…


So many directions out of pain
So many horizons
So many possibilities
Blinded by scorched-earth tattered hopes

The day must move forward
Desolate landscapes must be explored
Witch voice rings a mournful cadence continuing its haunt
While the heart beats slowly stronger, touched lightly by a lonely midnight breeze…

When You’re so Broke You Don’t Need Fixing…

Only Time to Heal

Love in your soul won’t die

Blue painted wonders
Hard-barked longevity
Unkempt as your hair
Dark. Drenched in sadness
Until the day you die

So valuable. So kind. So loving
So intelligent. So giving. So devoted
So full of laughter. So much fun. So spontaneous.
Deserve so much better than what you got
Will never forget the betrayal

Nothing but your choices
Nothing but your attitude
Nothing but the smile you lost
Upon something better.
Upon your next step out of pain

You’ll know
Won’t you?
You’ll know
When your mirror becomes clear of the mist of lies
You’ll know
When your breath once again refreshes
You know
There’s nothing to fix
You know
There’s only the time to heal

When you’re so broke you don’t need fixing
When you’re so blind in pain you simply don’t care
When the scar will last forever
There is no fixing

Only time to heal