Friday, October 30, 2009


“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
what is most important is invisible to the eye.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

The Little Prince has always been one of my favorite books. Depending upon the translation, it’s not always the most readable of books … but the truths in it have always screamed for my heart’s attention. It has reminded me of what it means to live from the heart … completely abandoned, unashamed, and vulnerably open.

Too often we lose the hope … we forget that there is always more to discover … about ourselves and the world around us. We forget that there is more to dream about. We forget to fling open the doors of our hearts.

Hope is something that rises up inside us with a gentle strength that requires a response. We either respond to it with our hearts or we try to push it down. Trying to push it down is useless … hope is tenacious … hope always finds us. We can either accept its reality … or we can keep slamming the door. We can either open ourselves to the hunger of hope … and the hurt of shattered hopes … or we can continue to battle hope as the enemy. Which is greater … the pain of a hope that wasn’t fulfilled … or the loss of hope itself?

Hope isn’t a peaceful, ordered affair. It is full of chaos, of longing, of wanting, of waiting. Hope is a painful process. There are those who will tell us that a posture of openness and childlike dreaming is utterly ridiculous. They warn us of our impending disappointment. They seldom mention the incredible joy of living a live saturated in hope. They seldom acknowledge that hope nourishes the soul. And they seldom reap the benefits of the overwhelming exhilaration of hope achieved.

I want to be vulnerable, wild, courageous, strong, playful, thirsty, noble, gutsy. I want to have the courage to let hope rule my thoughts. I want to end each day knowing that I lived it with hope and with an open heart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Romance at the Diner Counter (By Anthony Venutolo)

Deep down, Rebecca couldn't understand why she agreed to go out with a complete stranger. Even though she didn't want to admit it, the girls had a point. All she really knew about the guy was that his name was Steve and he liked eggs sunny-side up. Aside from that, he could be the Anti-Christ for all she knew.

It's been a long day and she was starting to get tired so when she saw Gus escort a party of eight into the dining room, Rebecca hoped he wasn't heading for her station. When he whizzed by her tables, she sighed, and thought maybe the job was taking its toll. From the second Steve left the Emerald City City diner, she ran his plain face through her mind over and over and from what she could remember, he was completely opposite from what she usually went for. He appeared somewhat unkempt, yet clean and was a man of decent size who stood at around six feet -- not a muscle man -- but a natural, everyday guy who appeared broad and strong. Steve also had the smooth complexion of a man half his age, but the brooding scowl of one double. Above all, he looked dangerous. Not menacing like a mass murderer or serial rapist, but the kind of guy that exploded with intense fury when pushed. Unfortunately, the 24 year-old waitress knew the type all to well. She just hoped this one was different. We won't judge this book by its cover, she thought. Yet.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror behind the diner counter and tried not to look. She was a mess and the one guy she had a crush on saw her at her absolute worst. Perfect. But then she remembered how honest he seemed. From the moment she took his order, she became amazed by his compelling stare. While most women would run at the thought of an ogling stranger, Rebecca was all too used to it by now and had acquainted herself with some of Las Vegas' weirdest while working there. Remembering big, sad hazel eyes that seemed so sincere and lost, she couldn't help but think Steve's simple-hearted peer was cute.

Rebecca grinned, because she knew what he didn't -- women always notice when a man is watching. Most of the time, though, she didn't watch back. In her two years at Emerald City, there wasn't a rap that Rebecca hadn't heard. The morons -- and that's what Rebecca thought most of them were -- came in a plethora of shapes, sizes and incomes. From the truck drivers who continually beg her to sightsee cross-country to the so-called "high-fashion photographers" who claim they could make her the next Giselle Bundchen, the painfully absurd stories they concocted day after day always amused her. Doctors and those casino execs, however, were especially sleazy and those were the ones she made a point to stay away from.

For example, every time Rebecca had a case of the sniffles, physicians would think nothing of asking her to go back to their office for a little "examination." She always politely declined, and usually said that she already saw a doctor. If they replied, "Oh, that's a shame. I wouldn't have charged you anything," she knew where they were coming from. As for the casino entrepreneurs? They were often in search of an armpiece. Nothing more. Whenever the vein business tycoons needed a flavor-of-the-month to tuck away in a strip condo, they'd slip Rebecca one of their glossy business cards. Always polite, she'd accept them graciously to secure a healthy tip but after they'd leave, the card would be tossed into an unused fish tank in the back of the diner. When you come down to it, they were mostly all the same. That is until Steve showed his face.

Here's hoping he was different. She couldn't wait for later and wondered where he would take her.

BIO: In addition to working as an editor at a daily newspaper, Anthony Venutolo's prose poems and flash fiction has appeared in the online zines Deuce Coupe, Gutter Eloquence, Zygote in my Coffee (both online and print journal), Shoots and Vines (forthcoming) and Six Sentences. He also has an upcoming chapbook of poetry forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press in 2010. His blog Bukowski’s Basement is chock filled with creative writing, musings, booze news and videos at http://bukowskisbasement.blogspot.c

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Walk, Another Look

I saw Chief’s ears perk up and felt her body tense at the end of the leash. The morning was cool, gray and rainy. Neither of us was particularly happy about being out in the elements, but this faithful pup had decided that she belonged wherever I happened to be. Right now, something, whether real or imagined I will never know, had caught her eye and reflexively I tightened my grip on the leash, wrapping it around my palm for good measure. I was prepared for the upcoming outburst; this goofy dog was incredibly predictable. She would first prance on her hind legs, barking hysterically – then she would add intermittent whining to the melody – all the while straining at the leash like a horse chomping at the bit eager to gallop. Yes, I was prepared. The collar was not. It broke away from her neck and she never looked back, darting down the sidewalk and out into the busy street, navigating single-mindedly toward the ravine on the other side.

In the early morning light, with windshield wipers flapping and the reflection of headlights on wet asphalt, the driver’s last minute braking efforts were futile. The thud of metal against black fur was deafening; it seemed that for that instant all other sound was ripped from the air. I saw my sweet puppy fly through the air, tossed like a leaf in the wind. My heart screaming as loudly as my voice, I raced after her, clambering down into the gully where she had landed. Screams shifted to a quiet murmur as I lifted her head, pulling us both from the icy water that had pooled there. The fates would not take her from me today. I would not allow it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Walk

The dog loved walks with her mistress, but she hated the rain. However, she loved her mistress even more than she hated the rain, so here she was padding through the puddles. The rain drowned most of the scents and sounds, leaving her bored with the excursion and a bit off-guard. But wait … there was a hint of something … a fragment of a scent. She began her visual scan, the landscape divided into segments, gradually honing in on the tiny flicker of motion deep in the bushes straight ahead. Now she could smell, hear and see it and her adolescent excitement shoved all thought of stealth and craft from her mind. She tried to be sneaky, really she did, but the barking just seemed to happen all by itself. She knew it made her mistress unhappy, but it seemed that even her best efforts merely calmed the barks to still-frantic yelps.

She strained against her purple collar, pulling the leash taut and then, without warning, it was gone and she was bounding toward her goal unfettered. She caught the edge of the shadow as she raced across the wet pavement, but no consideration was given to slowing. The impact knocked the air from her lungs and replaced her forward motion with a head over heels descent into a stream of icy water. It hurt so much … and she was so very cold. And then her mistress was there, lifting her from the water, murmuring soft sounds and holding her close. Everything would be okay.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Armor Abandoned

One by one, fingers removed the teardrop earrings, their sparkle catching the light as she laid them on the marble top of the dressing table… hands slipped to the nape of her neck, unclasping the pearls warmed by the touch of her skin. Slowly the pins were pulled from the classic updo that had whispered just the right note of elegance and shimmering hair fell to her shoulders. She stood, allowing the simple black sheath to slip silently to the floor…the mask she had hidden behind for this evening now a lifeless shadow. All these touches to manufacture the fa├žade that they … all of them … expected from her.

The armor abandoned, her eyes slowly lifted to the mirror.

No one was there.