The Tradeoff


Ezra grabbed his pipe and headed out the door. He walked behind the garage and out of the wind.  Holding the bowl of the briar pipe, he filled it with Cavendish from a pouch. The flame of his lighter bent into the bowl as he inhaled in short gasps. The glowing tobacco soon released a familiar otherworld aroma that pleased Ezra at times like this.

Only moments before Delores had been yelling, nose to nose, at Ezra, her white spittle flecking his face.  “You’re a mealy-mouth pea brain,” she told him.

Now no matter how he figured, Ezra was never sure about what it was that added up to make Delores so furious almost every night. She did find him once looking at a woman posed in a two-piece bathing suit on the internet.  And that night she accused him of adultery. And after that night Ezra wouldn’t be allowed to ever to forget the error of his way. Delores’ slurred ‘reminders’ of that day were so often and so vivid that Ezra became a serial “adulterer” by proxy.

But Ezra was sure that the Margaritas and wine Delores had been drinking before he came home from work had taken possession of her. There would be no reasoning with Delores that night. Time and a safe distance would be required to maintain Ezra’s sanity, but face to face rebukes and then a full-throated rejection would have to come first.

Burning with alcohol fueled anger Delores would declare, on more than one occasion, “I am going to my mother’s house for the night!”

And so off she went. And each time she did Ezra wanted to call the police and tell them that Delores had been drinking and shouldn’t be driving. But he did not call. What if she accused Ezra of abuse or something else just as crazy as what he was hearing night after night? Her amplified “righteous” indignation seemed to know no bounds. And though he hated himself for not calling the police he also wanted to be rid of the madness for a few hours. In the still house Ezra thought of his kids, asleep in the car, and cried.

Though Ezra couldn’t define what ignited Delores’ anger for days on end, he did know what irked him. When asked by a marriage counselor what each of them wanted from the other, Delores said “words of affirmation.” Ezra took this to mean “show Delores that he loved her.”  And though he awoke early and had taken her coffee and chocolates to her bed in the morning before going to work and had often given her flowers, he wasn’t verbal to the extent Delores was. He had to work out the words of love.

In the same counseling session, Ezra had asked Delores to have coffee with him in the morning before he left for work. The afternoon return home would be filled with the kids and Delores wanting attention from him. But time spent with Ezra in the morning would never happen. Delores’ late night wine drinking and movie habit had her sleeping in past the time Ezra went off to work. Ezra never did work out the words to say what bothered him, though each day came and went as before. But Ezra didn’t need words for a pipe in his hand and the smell of pipe tobacco in the air. On his fiftieth birthday he had bought a pipe.

Reflecting night after night with pipe and a briar of glowing Cavendish and at a distance from the incendiary, Ezra soon came to realize that his fallible existence was Delores’ problem.  Delores had come into the marriage hoping that Ezra would make all things new. She wanted someone to take her in, to cover her mortality with a cloak of look-the-other-way love and be the transcendent one – a kinsman redeemer. But the Fallible One turned out to be a “mealy-mouth pea brain” that could do no right. The Fallible was to be put out, the embers dumped and scattered. After a year of paralyzing quarrels and unrelenting verbal abuse, Delores told Ezra that she wanted a separation. “Get out or I will force you out!”

Upon hearing these words, Ezra grabbed his pipe and headed out the door. He walked behind the garage and out of the wind. Holding the bowl of the briar pipe, he filled it with Cavendish from a pouch. The flame of his lighter bent into the bowl as he inhaled in short gasps. The glowing tobacco soon released a familiar otherworld aroma that pleased Ezra at times like this.







© Sally Paradise, 2016, All Rights Reserved

Fever Pitch

Demonstrative differences,
Placard positions held
Above eyes that do not see and
Ears that do not hear,
Become the Rhetoric of Pressure:
“We demand you recognize the truth of power.”

(Denigrating innuendo,
Self-serving solipsism
And proprietary ‘truth’,
Private property of the affixed,
Morphs into murder when
Scoped long enough.)

Folded arms –
The versus-versus of “WE”
/Block /“THEM” out.


Tempest aside,
Demonstrative differences
Converge into community (> us v. them),
When the will to want truth
(Truth, as opposed to what my peers let me get away with saying)
Is also the will to embrace the other –
As “members one of another”
We “speak truth to our neighbor”.

Example given:
A demonstration of truth-love,
Fever pitched –
A baby, this Jesus, Son of Mary.
A Witness to what He has seen, to what He has heard
Of the Father.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved


I wait.
Eyes glued; thoughts pegged.
Horizon’s taunt line stretching east to west,
Perpendicular to any

A distant land,
A Scarcity,
Took your share and
Left behind
Fortune’s Father.

My son,
Now wedded with dirt,
Disease, Disgust and
Disillusionment –
Categorical imperatives shucked,
Full of yourself; into your depth,
No more.
Now, you remember…

The embrace waits,
Inside empty rooms.
Outside, it searches,
Scanning the baseline of hope:
Another day dawns,
(With no shadow of turning)
Wearied arms upheld,

You remember.
(Your once homeless haven,
Reimbursed with madness,
Is now rejected.)
You return.
You repent.
You begin to resign yourself,
A ring,
A reservation for a feast-
Solid food, meat and drink-
“A son who was lost but now has come home.”

We begin again, but,
Not where we left off.
You are not the same person,
And I,
Must change –
Make space for you –
For your embrace,
Is meat and drink,
From Someone,

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

“I’m Sorry” IS As “I’m Sorry” Does

Have you ever been in a close relationship with someone and they apologized to you in this manner:  “I’m sorry I said ‘this’.  I said ‘this’ because of what you did.”  The apology is based on the premise that the apologizer is only just responding to your bad behavior.  The apologizer’s behavior was deemed OK by the apologizer but their response wasn’t. According to them, their ‘bad’ response is just a ‘natural’ reaction to your ‘bad’ behavior.  Consequently, every bad thing that happened in the relationship at that time was your fault, according to their sham apology. The apologizer takes no responsibility for his or her own actions.  And, they may not even be aware of their contribution to the problem at hand.

 This type of bogus apology tells me that I am in relationship with someone who does not love me.  The apologizer only sees that they have been ‘wronged’. They do not want to be reconciled.  They do not want the relationship to be repaired and righted. They desire only to protect their self-image and keep their reputation ‘clean’.

 With these types of apologies, your relationship is like the game of Sorry:  your opponent ‘lands’ on you and sends you back to Start – so close and so far from Home.

 “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”  ~Kimberly Johnson

  “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”
Unknown Author

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.”
François Duc de La Rochefoucauld (I want a name like this!)