Butterfly! Butterfly!
I love it when you
flutter by
as your golden, parchment wings-
such beautiful and fragile things-
sail you across the summer sky!

Story by Pamela Tyree GriffinPhotograph/Graphic by(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)



I wish I had closed the door

I first heard the footsteps
ten days after I moved in.
Just after midnight,
strong firm, exacting.
On the stairs.

Along with my cold feet.
I put my head under the covers and
shut my eyes as if the dark
or could protect me.

Night after night after night
they returned.
Measured and moving

Last night when all was finally quiet
with all my strength
I yanked my head out
and peeked.

And what stood before me?
What smokey, faded, remnant
of nightmare remembered

Edging closer, it had no name
that I knew.

I wish though
Oh I wish that
I had never opened my eyes and that
I had closed the damned

Love Is?

They saw each other on the first day of school. Their eyes met and it was like-well-fate. They were drawn to each other. After only a few days, they started meeting at every free moment.
She tried to remember the first kiss.
She couldn't recall how it began but she could clearly remember how it felt. She hadn't felt butterflies like this before.

He remembered everything from that first tentative touch, the smoothness of her skin-yeah all of that.

At some point they convinced themselves of their unhappiness when apart from each other. He talked to her about how his parents didn't understand how he could be in love. She talked about how her parents wouldn't understand their love. A very real distinction.

The idea of running away together began as just that an idea, but the more they talked about it-the more real it became. They planned to do it during the prom. Who would notice? They would be gone far away by the time anyone noticed. They were right.

They'd made it almost to the state line when, at a rest stop, they were recognized. The next day the authorities sent them back where they belonged.

From the Channel 5 Evening News:

According to the Gracetown Police Department, Chuck Ford and Elizabeth Tobias were found as they attempted to cross state lines. The boy, 16, has been returned to his parents who had reported him missing when he didn't come home after the High School Prom. Elizabeth Tobias, 45, and a teacher at the school, is the custody of the county on charges of, among other things, child endangerment and kidnapping.

Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph/Graphic by Jef Bettens
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

It Is A Small Thing

It is a small thing perhaps.
I straighten his tie and peek to see if
his socks are on right.
No shoes needed for this journey.

They got the part right-his hair glistens
as if
dipped in stars.

Is he smiling?
He wasn’t when I found him-

hanging in the closet-
he of angled head and
blackened tongue and
bulging eye.

He wears his only suit now and
I straighten his tie.

It is a small thing.

Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph/Graphic by
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

Defying the Lixcht Studies*

Jeremy had perused the Lixcht studies in great detail for months and according to them, this was not supposed to happen. He had conducted his experiments after work in his own home lab with great success. However, when subsequent work by the respected Dr. Lo, of the famed Carlyle University suggested and then demonstrated flaws in those early studies, Jeremy had acted quickly, if reluctantly.

Unprepared for even the slightest potential of the so-called sentient experiment, he put a stop to it in one fell swoop (or pitch, as it were), into the depths of the murky pond near his house.

Now, in the deepening darkness he heard it. The loud slurping movement along the grassy bank could only mean one thing: It had found its way out and it was bigger now. Much bigger.

Roaming from room to room with the steps of the deliberate, he stopped to peek from a window.

The moonlight revealed a wet, sticky-looking slime shining on the road below. Sweat glistened on Jeremy’s forehead and his palms were slick as well. His feet refused to move.

He thought he saw something, although the unkempt grasses and reeds barred his clear view. The bass drum in his chest beat relentlessly; the pain in his head would not stop.

He’d said it was a beautiful result of chemicals, chaos and care. He would talk to it, sometimes for hours at a time, urging it to grow. He whispered to it in tones admiring of its gorgeous colors — many shades of green and gold — its several eyes and glorious legs. He would often stroke its cool, shiny speckled skin. He’d done other things, too, and these things had pleased it enormously.

It looked up, and upon spying him standing in the window, saw in his eyes an invitation of sorts. Surely that’s what it was.

Experiment gone bad, indeed, it thought as it morphed into something exceedingly flat and slid easily under the door.


Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin
*First published in "Bewildering Stories" 2008
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

Just Say No

She asked her father to walk her down the aisle
the second time.
Instead he wrote a letter.

She imagined him in a room.
She imagined him with a clean legal pad in front of him.
She imagined him, drink in hand
as he
formed the words,
the perfect words,

to hurl at her
like stones
that stung as they pounded against her heart,
leaving it bruised and
gouged and
beyond repair

It was easier she supposed to put in five pages his true sentiment.

Easier than to
just say no.


Poem by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph/Graphic by Lynne Lancaster
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

Let Them Bless The Child - Please

(In parts of India hijras (eunichs) may be invited to certain celebrations. Some believe they bring good luck.)

"But they must be allowed, Dhir. The baby is coming!" Suman's cries could be heard all through the village. "Upon my knees I am begging you to let them come before it is too late!"

Suman's cries, loud as they were, fell upon deaf ears. For Dhir, who was educated in the ways of the west, no longer believed in, nor would he honor, the traditions of his forbearers."I will not have them in the house! They are filthy - those not man and not woman creatures. And they should come into our home, with their stench and their unnatural chants and prayers over our child? It is ridiculous!"

Embarassed, Laila the mother of Dhir, wept in a far corner of the room. Had she not raised the boy properly? How could she have known that the short time in America would have so turned his mind? The hijras had been summoned and were ready. Yet unless invited inside they could not come in to perform the rituals.

Dhir thought, had he not taken every precaution? And had he not taken his wife to the doctor in Delhi and was told all was well? Why then did he need the hijras? Why was he, the man of the house and the father of the child, disrespected in this manner?

Suman's mother held her daughter's hand tightly as her only child labored. She had always liked Dhir and had thought him perfect for her daughter. Yet she had not suspected he so despised the beliefs upon which he had been raised. Now she was certain that evil surely would befall them all.

Four floors below, on the stone path in front of the great house, the hijras waited. Dressed in their beautiful golden threaded saris, with their incense,dance and chants, they were ready to begin. They heard the cries of the soon mother and the angry shouts of the soon father. They were anxious to perfom their rituals for the nearly born but knew the chants and prayers must be done in the room... before the child was born. Afterward it would be too late, and they would be able to do nothing.

Bad luck would ensue without their attentions. They waited for the invite that would never come.As they retreated, Suman could hear the tinkle of the little bells on their ankle bracelets. The tones became more and more faint and the band left taking their whispers of goodwill with them.

Feet first and early in the morning, came the baby. Feet first - a terrible sign. When Suman was told this she became quiet and labored on. She stared into the eyes of her husband but hers was not a look of love.

Three hours later,the baby's distorted head became visible. In one final push out she came - joined at the head by her own mirror image. At once, the grandmothers screamed and wailed in outrage, striking Dhir with their fists. He was to blame for this. He alone had not allowed the blessing of the hijras and now look at what had befallen them.

Dhir, knew full well that this could not have occurred just in the hours before birth. The babies had to have been that way all along and not because there had been no welcome extended to the hags.He forced to the very back of his brain, the little pictures of the baby taken at the doctor's office with the special machine. Not clear enough to tell the sex of the baby - but clear enough to tell there had been only one. Only one.

Across the village, Suman could hear the songs of the hijras as they danced and sung at another house. Whether wedding or birth or other celebration, she did not know. She did know good luck would follow there. Not like here. Not like today.

This is was what Suman thought as she rose from the bed and plucked her babies from their bedding. Holding them closely, she opened the glass doors that led to the balcony.Dhir sat with his head in his hands. The women flinched as if struck when Suman motioned for no one to follow. She wanted time alone before they would all become either the stuff of scorn and ridicule or of curiosity and delight. These were her thoughts as she edged to the end of the balcony.

The babies,unnamed and unblessed, whimpered for the breast. Suman cooed and stroked them. Seated in the kitchen, the women wept. Neither could Dhir hold back his tears. All was quiet on the balcony.

Perhaps Suman had begun somehow, to feed the little ones. Suman heard the sad tones of her mother, mother-in-law and husband. She then climbed over the ornate wrought iron that circled balcony.

Covering the faces of her unnamed and unblessed daughters, Suman dove into the light of the rising sun.

Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph/Graphic by Richard Dudley
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

Mary's Ribbon

My sister Mary was 12 and I was 7 on the first day of summer vacation, out of school for just a day. Mary was finally going to be allowed to walk the two blocks down to Burke’s store all by herself — something the rest of the kids in our family accomplished by the time we were 6.

With her nickel, Mary was going to buy us lollipops. Mamma wrote a note for Mary to give to Mr. Burke, telling him what she was to buy with her nickel. If not, Mary might fill a bag full of lollipops without knowing she shouldn’t do so.

Today, even the smell of a lollipop makes me sick.

That June day was full of sunny promise. I remember looking at Mamma as she washed the lunch dishes, the strings of her apron hanging loose around her waist. Daddy had just planted his usual kiss on the top of her head before leaving for work. He said he could not begin his shift unless he kissed his sweetheart first.

I heard the snap of the screen door as it slammed shut and the creak of the third step off the back porch that Daddy never got around to fixing. Daddy’s whistling as he walked to the car is as clear to me as if it happened today. The clink of the dishes, the scrape of food into the garbage pail, the billowy softness of mamma’s yellow curtains are as vivid to me now as then.

Mary was so excited, and not just about going to the store, either. Summer meant the end, at least for a while, to her waving goodbye from the porch as I walked to school with our brothers.

It meant that we could be together every day.

Mamma watched her skip down the sidewalk, her long pigtail captured in a red ribbon to match her shorts. Mamma said she watched her go into the store. I asked for a glass of orange juice and Mamma got it for me.

My two brothers came in making a commotion, pretending they were flying planes in the war or something like that. The baby started crying and Mamma went to pick her up. When Mamma went to the front porch and called for Mary, I was thinking Mary was playing in the backyard. I went out back to look, but she wasn’t there. Mamma said, “Sarah, go on down to the store and fetch your sister.” That was fine by me, since I was getting impatient.

She wasn’t at the store either, and only her red ribbon on the sidewalk marked her place. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. She wasn’t anywhere. Mary made me mad now, even though we knew we weren’t supposed to get mad at her. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Until you know for sure what has happened, and even when you do, everything is regret. Blame and loss hang over everyone like a thick fog. Should someone have gone with her? Should we have noticed sooner that she was gone? If we had called her name just once, would she have heard us and come running? Did we take too long to call the police?

Life went on the way it does. I had one dream of Mary where she told me she was OK and she told me not to worry. That made me cry because it was the only time Mary had ever spoken. For the rest of her life, Mamma would weep for no reason: at least no reason I understood until I had children of my own.

I keep Mary’s red ribbon, now frayed and faded, in my jewelry box. There are rings and trinkets in there that shine and twinkle but are not nearly as precious to me as that one piece of fabric.


Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin

Published by "Ophelia Street" October 2008
Photograph/Graphic by Lola Rodriguez


She donned her coat, her hat, her gloves
and waved goodbye the mourning doves
nested in the willow tree
and last of all said goodbye to me.

Where she went I did not know.
When she’d return was a mystery so
I gave her a hug and a hug some more
and watched her leave through our front door.

Down the street in a sort of prance
that was her simple farewell dance.
A twirl, a skip, a jump, a hop;
no pause to turn or even stop.

Before I knew it she was gone
around the corner and beyond.
I’ve watched for her daily from our gate
for forty years and still I wait.


Poem by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photo by Elke Oerter
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)

Left At The Altar

Dressed in a simple white gown with little pink flowers embroidered along the hem, I waited at the altar.

For how long doesn't matter. I do know I was alone-nobody was there to meet me at the end of the aisle. I had no bouquet and no attendants. Heck, my parents weren't even there.

It was the winter of 1957 and, I am told, it was particularly cold. By November, the trees surrounding Lake Fortune were completely bare and the children in town were ice skating on Thanksgiving.

On December 12, sometime in the afternoon, I was found in a box on the altar of the Cathedral of St. Francis. Father James had just finished the last mass of the day and was resting in his sitting room with his usual cup of tea. "I heard something," he said at the time. "I thought it was a kitten.

I took up my cane and went toward the sound which was coming from a cardboard box." Expecting to see a small kitten, he instead found me. Absent though was any indication of who I was or my age.

The newspapers reported that I was a pretty,brown eyed redhead in excellent health. I was clean and well fed. There was a stack of clean cloth diapers and two more tiny dresses in the box - one blue and one red. Present also was a silver locket which, when opened, was empty and all efforts to trace it,unsuccessful.

I was adopted and raised by the childless and long married Millicent and Harold Lewis. In honor of the church and the priest who found me, I was named Frances James Lewis.

Mine was a happy life. Each year I had a nice birthday party. My house was always full of friends and extended family. I never once felt like I didn't belong.

Every December 12, my parents brought me to the church. Perhaps they thought my birth parents would be there and would see what became of me. Whether they ever did, we never knew.

Every time I'd see a woman anywhere with red hair I would wonder-are you...?
Five years after my father passed, my mother also died. I buried her with the little locket. Inside I placed a picture of myself as a happy, smiling baby seated on the lap of the only mother I'd ever known.

In 1983, St. Francis caught fire. I cried as if my family home had burned down. For years, until an apartment complex was built there, I returned to the massive expanse of bare ground where the church had once stood.


Story by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph by : Gavin Mills
(For more stories and poems click "older posts"! or the links at the end of the page)