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Thursday Thoughts: Poem to Story

I came across writing prompts on the site Reedsy which were all about windows. I remembered that I had written a poem about a window during National Poetry Month. I looked it over and thought that it would make a good short story, so I began to transform poem to story.

When I finished, I revisited the prompts (there were five different ones), but they were not quite fitting, so I didn’t think that I could submit it for the contest. I hope you enjoy it.

Looking Back

“I wish that I could smile, but then I look back at each receding mile.” –from I’m Sorry by Leon Stevens

I remember seeing my childhood home disappear behind the climbing tree. As my sister and I got older—and braver—we would climb higher through the prickly, sappy branches until reaching the point where you could feel it sway. We had built forts in it, each one a bit better than the last, but each with its own problems. The branches were so thick and long that they could be slid down like a slide until Father trimmed the lower ones. My father built the house with just the essential tools, the labor of friends, and his love of creation.

When I finally left for college, the last vision of the town where I grew up was the paper mill belching out its white smoke— which was mostly water vapor—but it sure smelled bad, especially on hot days. The river at the bottom of the hill I had just crested foamed with effluent from the plant. I wonder when they will clean that up, I thought. In the end, it didn’t really matter because I had no plans of returning.

My first college dorm fades into the brownstone facades, and I reach over to turn on the radio to hear for the final time the station that was all the rage in town. My sister, who had driven the twenty hours to get me, fills me in on the news of the family, and we begin to reminisce. Later, the static takes over from the music, and I close my eyes to get some sleep before it is my turn to drive.

My apartment with the narrow stairs is slowly hidden by the trees in the neighbor’s yard. My grandmother refused to visit me, as she called it a deathtrap. The landlord never shoveled the walk or the stairs, and I was too stubborn to take it upon myself to do it. It was small—and cheap, perfect for me. Maybe I was secretly hoping that I would slip and fall.

She had her plans, and I had mine. Neither of us was willing to sacrifice what we each believed to be the correct path. There were long nights spent in heated debates, with tears being shed by both parties. 
I didn’t know what love was at the time, or maybe it was right there in front of me.  Did she turn and walk away, or did she look for my brake lights? I’ll never know.

Passports? We don’t need no passports. At least then we didn’t. That was before, well...before. Was I surprised we were waved into the garage? No, but we had nothing to hide. We were just two cocky 20somethings deciding it would be cheaper on gas to go home this way. It didn’t help that we couldn’t stop making jokes. Four hours later and we cross the border again, this time with a more serious demeanor. We pulled away from the border guard, wondering why we didn’t buy cheap booze and smokes—what a bunch of dummies.

I don’t know why it took so long to get a roommate, but when I did, I didn’t skimp. I moved in with eight other people, some that I knew, some that I didn’t, others I would get to know too well, therefore making things awkward, and one that nobody got along with, but we were all fine with taking the one-hundred and seventy-five each month. When the sink filled up with dishes, we just microwaved everything or ordered in. I’m not the last to leave. The waving line dwindles as I drive away.

I must have missed the point when the mountains yielded to the flat golden prairie. All my life, I had wanted to see the towering peaks, to hike along the switchbacks up to the glacier-fed lake. By the time I got to the end of the trail, it was time to head back to the boat that bought myself—and way too many others—to this side of the river across from the town. I never saw the mountains again. I guess I forgot to look back in time.

Ascending the road that leads away from the ocean, I think about watching the sunset from the hotel balcony, a glass of wine in hand. The paths along the water skirted the wharf with all the fancy boats, meandered by the multitude of condominium towers, and separated the sand from the street before ending at the seafood restaurant next to the giant redwood. I reach the top of the hill, and I am on my way once again.

It’s fast. Real fast. Six lanes of asphalt and even the far-right lane is insane. I need to take advantage of this moment, so I press my foot down and start moving left. I close the gap on the car in front of me. There are still cars whizzing by. I check my mirror and prepare to pass but am thwarted by yet another.
 Finally, I am at a speed that I have never been before, and I make the decision to stay in the second to last lane for the duration of the trip. Time passes as rapidly as my velocity. My passenger taps me on the shoulder and points to the off-ramp sign. Three minutes later, I’m back where I belong —in the right-hand lane. My signal announces that this thrill ride is now over, and I leave the autobahn behind. 

Driving is like moving forward in time. You can see the future ahead of you, and it keeps getting closer, yet each time you see it and prepare for it, there is another on the horizon taking its place. The moments pass by the window so quickly, there seems to be no time to savor the present because once you do, it is already gone. Often, we are so concerned with the future that we forget that the past holds the lessons and memories that have led to this point, and I am sometimes filled with envy that the rear window has seen the last of all my firsts.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!


Thursday Thoughts: NFTs – WT#?

Might as well ask me to explain this.

I don’t understand crypto currency, so it is no surprise that NFTs baffle me as well.

Did somebody really pay $900 000 for a flying, pixelated cat—or is it a pig? 2.9 million for the first tweet? Really? NFTs have exploded onto the marketplace over the last year—well maybe longer, but I only started hearing about them recently. Now artists (mostly digital ones) are flooding the market trying to cash in.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing works of digital art being created, and art can be an investment, but is the aforementioned cat/pig going to be worth more? Just like indie authors, I’m sure there are more NFTs that don’t make any money than the ones that do.

So, I decided to read up on NFTs. I’m not that tech savvy, and I don’t think that would be able to navigate my way though the steps, but I like to learn stuff. While most NFTs are digital art, you can do the same with a physical work of art.

Here is how I understand it.

  1. I make a drawing
  2. I make a digital copy and create an online identifier of proof of its originality (as a blockchain, which I don’t get)
  3. Before I sell it, I need crypto currency and a digital wallet
  4. OK. I do that—somehow (remember that I don’t get that either…)
  5. I pay a marketplace to host my art
  6. Pay someone to market my art
  7. I pay the marketplace when the art sells
  8. I realize that I did not purchase enough CC, so I buy some more—and pay a transaction fee
  9. My carbon footprint increases because apparently making any type of CC transaction takes huge amounts of energy (like powering a small town for a few days kind of power)
  10. I have to figure out how to cash out my Doge coin before it tanks
  11.  Count my profit/loss—probably a loss

In conclusion,

  1. Someone is making money, and it’s probably the platforms the artists are using
  2. Some art is priceless, other art can fetch a ridiculous amount of money
  3. Some art should be labeled “art”
  4. Some people have way too much money
  5. Now, how do I get my hands on “Hamster Dance” now that “Charlie Bit My Finger” is no longer available?

There you go, the definitive (diminutive?) guide to all things non-fungible. Now what the heck am I going to do with this? :

Sticks with Wine (only $230 000. What a bargain.)

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

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Thursday Thoughts: Laughter

In anticipation of “Funny Fridays” I thought that I would talk about the serious side of laughter. It is easy laugh when you are alone, but I’m sure many will agree that it is easy to cry. There are movies that always make me tear up no matter how many times I’ve seen them-It’s bizarre.

If you passed someone by themselves, and you noticed that they were crying, would you stop and ask if they were OK? Most of you? Problably. Now what if that person was laughing? Walk by a little quicker and try not to make eye contact? Probably.

What’s my point? I’m not sure. All I know is that this past year, with the limited social interactions that we have had to deal with (for our own safety, of course), there is more that likely a dearth of laughter in our lives and a surplus of less desirable emotions.

As a writer, I want to entertain readers. If I can bring a smile to a face, then that is mission accomplished. If something that I write makes you think, reflect, or connect, then I’ve done a good job.

Laughter was written long before we were forced apart, and touches on how laughter is often held too tight, but releasing it can be exactly what we need.


Yes, I hear it But I’m not grabbing onto it It’s not mine It’s yours. Mine’s here somewhere I’m saving it (for what I don’t know yet) A little sneaks out from time to time It makes me smile A brief respite From the dusk emerges A little light

(From Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures)

Until tomorrow,


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Thursday Thoughts: Poetic License

Thursday Thoughts vs. Thursday Ideas. Why do we like alliteration? Probably the same reason that we get annoyed when the gas pump goes to $20.01.

We manipulate language, like music, to create a pleasing sound. Kids love saying rhymes, lyrics and poems usually rhyme, and when they don’t, it can be a bit unsettling. It can also be exciting when things done happen in the way we expect.

There are ways for poets to get away with “almost rhymes”. I believe it is call poetic license, which is short for “I can to whatever I want because I like it that way”. This can also be applied to how a poem is crafted into its individual lines. For example, here is a funny poem from my first book:

Give it a read and we’ll discuss my thinking.

The Sock

Is there anything lonelier than discarded clothing?
A sign of disappointment, of rejection, of loathing
Threadbare and stained, no fight left within
Wondering what events caused this great sin
Did you wear out your welcome, what did you do?
Was it a weakness of cotton that allowed the big toe to come through?
Was it your owner’s odd gait that wore through the heel?
Taking the blame, how did that feel?
Was your partner discarded or saved for another
Pair that shares the same fate and just the right color?

For the most part, the poem has a simple rhyme scheme: AABBCCDDEE. I’ve had readers question the last two lines. Firstly, another and color don’t really rhyme. I’ll pull out the poetic license card on the one-they are pretty close, well close enough. Secondly, what’s up with last line? It doesn’t make sense. Well, it does to me. Kinda.

It took a lot of crafting to get it to say what I wanted it to. Read it this way:

Was your partner discarded or saved for another pair that shares the same fate and just the right color?

See what I mean. Kinda…I find that it feels like it is hitting the crest of a hill on the word another, then falls away quickly on the last line. I’ll give you a moment to try it. Like I said, it took a bit of manipulation, and it’s not perfect. But guess what? That’s that way I want it.

The power of poetic license.