I took a ten-year break from painting. It wasn’t planned, but writing took up most of my time and creativity during this past decade. After publishing two books, “Inner Peace … It Isn’t Out There!” a memoir, and “The Book of Story Rhymes – Tales of Unpredictable People and the Baggage They Carry” a book of short stories in rhyme form, painting drew me back. Having moved from our home of 35 years to a new location on Miami Beach, the view from our terrace is very inspirational. So now, I paint and write.
The Other Side of the Creek by Dena Stewart
Joan and Mike were artists.
Their lifestyle? On the edge.
They enjoyed odd characters
whose thoughts were on the ledge.
They often talked of where they’d live
if not Miami Beach.
“No other town would do it.
We need quirky within reach.”
They often entertained themselves
with stories from the past.
All had triumphant endings,
with conflict for contrast.
Like, walking along Pine Tree Drive
they always sensed intrigue.
“Wonder what goes on in there?
Elites in their own league?”
So when the time came for a move,
they carefully selected
a home with inspiration,
Miami Beach connected.
It happened on their way to see
a house with ample space.
Instead, they came upon a suite
and said, “This is our place!”
The view was panoramic
and faced those same estates
that Joan and Mike found furtive
behind their high-hedged gates.
Indian Creek divided
Pine Tree and their new home.
With a high floor perspective,
their imaginings did roam.
One night, watching the sunset,
they saw, on a boat, a scuffle.
Next day a body was pulled from the Creek
wrapped in a navy-blue duffel.
“Should we go to the cops and say what we saw?
Did we witness a murder, unsolved?
Or do we steer clear of danger,
keep silent and stay uninvolved?”
“We saw a fight. Do you think it was them?”
“We don’t know that this murder was near!”
“But if what we saw led to a death,
if we talk, is there something to fear?”
This exchange kept going –
without a resolution.
So Joan and Mike’s minds wandered,
without concrete solution.
“When you look out at the mansions,
they are empty of their people.
With shadows cast from the “castle abode”
and its regal squared-off steeple!”
“Does someone dwell in the barn-like house
on the next big plot of land?
Why’s the lot near it, vacant?
Will a contractor sell or expand?”
All questions without answers,
for Joan and Mike to learn.
But when they saw strange actions,
That’s when the itch would burn.
“The homes on the other side of the Creek,
they agreed, “Have an air of mystery.”
And the characters living inside them own a piece of Miami Beach history!”
THE BRIDGE TO … by Dena Stewart
Amy and Phil asked Doctor Sam
when they were unable to cope
how to find peace and quiet
as they reached the end of their rope.
“You need to find a restful resort
where you can be out of the fray.”
Amy and Phil were big city doctors
who never made time to play.
“I’d like to be there, but it takes too long
to make the arrangements, then travel,”
was the excuse they came up with.
Then their cord began to unravel.
“Where can we go to find paradise?
Is there a road to that place?
Is there an island we can ferry to
when life is too awful to face?”
“Take a virtual trip,” said Doctor Sam.
Move yourself out of the grind.
You won’t need to go far or for long.
just go to that place in your mind.”
“I’d like to fly on the back of a bird
or swim,” Phil boldly exclaimed.
“And I want to walk across water,”
Amy jokingly claimed.
“Think of a picturesque refuge.
One with palm trees and lounge chairs.
A beach, the sun, the water to wade in
and wash away all fears and cares.”
On Doctor Sam’s advice,
Amy and Phil went on vacation.
They didn’t look back as they crossed that big bridge.
Once there, they had full relaxation.
Of course, that bridge was only one way.
Now they had to make some decisions –
to go back to reality as it had been
or make some life-changing revisions.
They couldn’t give up their vital careers,
but they had enough money to float.
Now when Amy and Phil need a break, they jump on their fantasy boat.
Sharks by Dena Stewart
Kate was a high-priced lawyer.
When defending, she used gut-reaction.
Ned was a hedge fund broker.
When they met, there was instant attraction.
It happened when Ned was in trouble
and needed a civil attorney
to help him win several lawsuits
due to his poor judgment journey.
Based on the trust of his clients,
Ned mixed research with speculation.
He invested, and lost all their money.
Angry couples now sought compensation.
Although Ned did nothing improper,
He was charged for their defeat.
Kate was relentless in proving
that Ned didn’t gamble nor cheat.
“The stock market isn’t a certainty.
And commodity trading’s the same.
So hedging a bet can cost everything,
In this case, Ned isn’t to blame.”
The Court didn’t hold Ned responsible.
Yet Ned had to win back their trust
if he wanted to stay on Wall Street.
He decided he’d rather go bust.
Ned selected another profession
where he could use his sharp skills.
Owning a Bentley dealership
helped him pay back all his bills.
Then Ned married his Lawyer.
He and Kate made a good team.
Both hustled and shared the same values.
Then Ned and Kate ran out of steam.
They never took a vacation,
though money wasn’t the reason.
It’s just that they both were too busy,
and neither’s work had a slow season.
“We can’t go away when I’m needed,”
was Kate’s customary excuse.
Ned justified his resistance to play,
“It’s my non-ending job to produce.”
Then one day, Kate lost a big case
to a younger, shrewder D.A.
who taunted Kate with sarcasm
when Kate’s client had no cash to pay.
Ned suggested they go to a place
where Kate’s not cut with a crude knife.
Kate said, “okay,” reluctantly,
“But I’ve swam with the sharks all my life!”
So they went to this beautiful seaside resort
and Kate burst into laughter.
There in the water were some hungry sharks
with what looked like “man-food” they were after.
“I’d better slow down to see what I have!”
Kate admitted she’s blind to the same.
Ned acknowledged in his profession,
verbal pressure was part of the game.
Said Ned, “There will always be sharks in this world
Enough to swim with, or shun.
Jump in, jump out, whatever we do,
this race won’t be won ‘til we’re done.”
BEACH ROAD by Dena Stewart
First thing, every morning,
Grace rode her bike on Beach Road.
She’d see the glorious sunrise
and people in exercise mode.
Grace found her ride relaxing
as well as stimulating.
As a hard-working computer analyst,
bike-riding was satiating.
The bikers and skaters who shared the road
respected each other’s space.
They gave the joggers and walkers
a chance to maintain a safe pace.
As Grace passed by each stranger
she’d whimsically make up their bio.
One was a KGB agent,
another, a clerk from Ohio.
The blonde whose hair blew freely
Grace guessed was a public defender.
And the tourist who stopped to take pictures
was a banker and/or money lender.
The couple who always sat on the ledge
were probably having a tryst.
He was married and wealthy,
and she was eager to be kissed.
Grace thought about the man who fast-walked.
He wore a cap and sunglasses.
Was he listening to cool jazz or rock,
or tuned in to the aerobic classes?
She found him attractive and daydreamed
that one day he’d stop her to talk
So she studied him as he strode by
but made sure not to stalk him, or gawk.
When she accidentally caught his eye
Grace would give a shy smile
that often stayed glued on her face
as she biked that extra fast mile.
As a once, spontaneous gesture,
Grace felt emboldened and brave.
In addition to her silly-girl grin
she gave him a high-handed wave.
He often seemed to look her way.
There were times he even nodded.
Grace romanticized he was holding back
and was actually besotted.
One morning, when sunrise was gorgeous,
Grace stopped to capture the beauty.
She turned away from her bike, just a sec,
to fulfill her creative duty.
And when she looked back, in her basket
Grace discovered a note.
“Would you meet me today for some coffee?”
was the message she hoped dream man wrote.
It gave a time and location.
An outdoors café that Grace knew.
Eager to finally meet this guy,
Grace’s daydreaming grew.
But when Grace arrived at the restaurant
fast-walker was not within vision.
Instead, she saw “KGB agent”.
Her fantasy needed revision!
He motioned to Grace with a lopsided grin
that made his face soft and endearing.
But, shocked, Grace realized she knew him just
by the bike helmet he had been wearing.
Although his outfit changed daily
his sneakers were quality leather.
Whereas Grace always wore bright green biking shorts
and a hoody when in cold weather.
Of course, he wasn’t an agent.
“Just a doctor in bike-gear disguise.”
Single, like Grace, KGB rode his bike
as his twice daily exercise.
Their chemistry was electric,
and soon after Grace discovered
that fast-walker was Gay with a partner.
Grace’s dreamworld quickly recovered!
She and “KGB doc” grew closer.
He soon asked Grace to be his bride.
Grace said yes with no hesitation.
Now they ride their bikes side by side.
STAYCATION by Dena Stewart
Dee and Jay worked too hard
They needed new direction,
A challenge that was joyful,
A tasty, sweet confection.
They knew that they were burning out
and wanted a vacation.
But minor things got in the way,
so they took a staycation.
Living on Miami Beach
afforded them the place
for sun and surf, and restaurants.
The things we all embrace.
So they checked into a hotel
crowded with odd guests.
Strangers for the weekend,
here to attend some fests.
Though events were on South Beach,
the scene here was alive.
“Let’s party with the rest of them,”
Dee said, on overdrive.
So they went over to the pool.
The space was filled with folks
tanning, talking, swimming, walking,
laughing at their jokes.
There were no empty lounge chairs
so they walked towards the beach.
They passed young bikers on the path,
and joggers within reach.
The sunrise was magnificent,
The sky a pastel hue,
With shades of orange, clouds of gray
that emphasized the blue.
As Dee and Jay took in the view,
Dee sucked in her gut
when she caught sight of the fat girl
twerking her big butt.
When the weekend ended
they had slowed down their pace.
But only one week later,
rest was gone without a trace.