Saturday, September 14, 2019

Tobi Alfier - What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

I hope the last couple weeks have been better for you than they’ve been for me. I know Rich and Cynthia Anderson have learned how to make a podcast and it’s available on the Cholla Needles website.

I know the majestic Cholla Needles catalog draft is now online for volunteers to proofread.

I know the past few weeks were crazy busy for Rich. Lots of driving - getting posters, etc. to the venues across the basin. Sounds simple, but the basin is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide. All the venues were at the furthest reaches. Except, of course, for Space Cowboy, which is walking distance from his house.

So I didn’t do a blog post last week, and Rich got to meet tons of folks and talk about their support for the “Big Read”.

I fell on my face, felt sorry for myself, and ran out of ideas. I did write four poems, did seven submissions, and got a few acceptances, but that’s a regular week for me. Well, except the acceptances part.
photo by Heinrich van den Berg
My Physical Therapist said I should be kinder to myself. Jeff thinks that’s very sweet of her, but totally understands my frustration, leading to lots of self-criticism, I looked like a rhinoceros with a huge purple nose, AND NONE OF IT WAS POETIC!!!! Heinrich felt it was photogenic, so something good out of everything.

This week was better. I got an email from Jen Landels of Pulp Literature in Canada. To celebrate five years of publishing, they are featuring a different author or artist on every weekday of the year in 2019, I was last Wednesday:

The two pieces they’d published in 2015 were short fiction. I didn’t even KNOW I wrote short fiction in 2015!!! This is one of them:



She began sleepwalking in her forties. Once she woke up outside, when the cold on her bare feet seeped up from the bricks and shocked her awake. She rarely went out on the patio. Several times they had gone out there, heads upturned to catch a meteor shower, but the proximity to the beach made the viewing a foggy vision.


She wasn’t always angry. At first he was a smile in her day. She used to say that if she sneezed in her apartment at the beach, he would call her from his house 20 miles away to say “bless you”. That blessing was short-lived. The price was too steep to pay.


She knew that addicts sometimes traded addictions; she didn’t recognize that at first, she was the addiction. She never thought about how lonely she would feel once the addiction had passed on to other pursuits.


And so it continued until the baby was born, when she came to realize the bully he was. Even in the early weeks the bullying began. And it continued.


And it continued.


The sleepwalking increased once he slunk out of the house, cowardly and for good. She woke up one morning with no pants on. She woke up in the hallway of a hotel she was staying at, looked down, prayed there was a key in her hand. She thought “How can this be happening to me?”  She said “Thank you” to the night clerk who let her back in.


She has been alone for a year and 10 months. She has taken the trash barrels out to the street 97 times. She has changed 7 lightbulbs. His bike is still in her garage. His books are still on the shelves. His empty dresser is in their bedroom.


All she wants is someone to push her up against a wall and kiss her. And ask her how her day was. And light the barbecue. If someone held her close it would be redemption. And she would sleep.

(previously published in Pulp Literature)

My bio back then made me realize that the standard 50-word bio required today doesn’t give you much room to write anything interesting. And my picture…I used to look so much nicer. All I can say now is at least my nose isn’t purple anymore.

So…I can tell you all you need to know about getting a copy of your birth certificate, how pretty bruises are, even as they change colors like the northern lights, and what a nice article Benjamin Percy wrote in the new Poets & Writers Magazine.

I can tell you about the Korean Mother’s Day card my son sent me in tenth grade and that he no longer remembers Korean. I can let you know that Haagen Dazs has a flavor entitled Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle and it’s really good.

I can tell you that the ninth would have been my 28-year anniversary where I worked, if I had not gone out on disability, and of course the eleventh makes everything that happened to me as small as the baby ants hanging around on my desk.

But there is goodness in this world, and lots to write about. Bless you all, try not to sleepwalk, and let’s have a great week!!!

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


  1. My daughter used to sleepwalk. We had to talk to her very kindly when she opened the door of our bedroom at 3 am or she would freak out. I love the way the story is divided into sections. I love the last verse and all of it!


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