Burned, Torn, Broken

All I had to give
All that I am now

Your touch
Once the rich food of my eager heart
No longer
Now your fingers leave behind venom filled cuts
I heave
My throat burns with tears

The heart you once possessed
The me you left behind

© Rachel Svendsen 2014



In quiet moments you will cross my mind.
I sometimes feel like you have never left.
Just when I think I’ve left the past behind,
Your shadow chokes my heart and steals my breath.
Allured by kindness to captivity,
Your harsh demeaning words broke down my will.
Blinded by love and my naivety,
I grew to fear the hands that once could thrill.
My bleeding pulp of broken heart in hand,
I woke up in the carnage of your lust.
You left unscathed. I limped away to stand,
Against the world who blames my misplaced trust.

Molested by the hands I once would kiss,
The judging world says I’m to blame for this?

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Grocery Shopping on Mt. Doom

The story you are about to read is almost fiction. Any similarities to persons, places, or things, living or dead, is, more than likely, a nearly coincidence-like occurrence.

Grocery shopping is hard. Really! It usually begins with that rainbow framed, glisteningly perfect parking spot that you try to pull into, only to find that some lazy sluggard left a shopping cart in it, even though the cart return was two slots over. It’s all downhill from there…

The Shoprite complex in my town is the gateway to Tartarus. Twice a day, and increasingly around holidays and potential snowstorms, the most festering species of demonic humanity are birthed from the molten fires of this, New Jersey’s Mount Doom. Smiles melt from faces as they succumb to the grey cloud of oppression that hangs around the belfry of this seemingly innocuous grocery store. I’m a fairly chipper gal but even I often leave there tense, covered in sweat, and in dire need of a Xanax.

It always starts in the parking lot. I once applied for a job at the hair salon next door and the manager there boasted to me that this strip mall had the second highest traffic of any in New Jersey. I didn’t believe him. I still don’t, but sometimes when I step out of my car, look both ways, and still nearly meet my maker trying to approach to the door of the shop, I wonder if the half bald, nasal voiced man spoke the truth.

Once inside I take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and walk into the produce section.

I shop on a budget, therefore, I have three grocery stores on my checklist. I know that, unless on sale, lettuce, apples, and onions are cheapest at BJ’s. Eggs, sour cream, and bread are best bought at Walmart. I get the majority of my groceries at Shoprite, but I’m not going to buy carrots there if I can save the $2 I need to buy bread at Walmart by purchasing said carrots at BJ’s. “Swifty ‘n Thrifty” they call me! (Just kidding, nobody calls me that…)

Anyway, I put lettuce in my cart then remembered aloud, “Wait no. Lettuce is cheeper at BJ’s.” I carefully replaced the leafy vegetable.

“What did you say?” The voice snarled from behind a cart of celery. A cruel, bearded bloke leered at me through one open eye. “What did you say about the lettuce?”

Doing my best impression of Oliver Twist, I glanced down at my feet and whispered penitently, “Please sir, I said it was cheeper at BJ’s.”

The man snorted. “BJ’s eh? I would never shop at BJ’s. You could hardly call it a store. It’s dirty and smelly. Your feet sticks to the floor and their shopping carts are massive. Pugh! BJ’s.” He spat at the floor to get the taste of the name out of his mouth.

I muttered my thanks and ran for the meat section. BJ’s is a haven of rest and comfort compared to this place. This den. This wretched hive of scum and villainy. I threw some chicken into my cart, glided quickly through the spices, and rounded the corner to the frozens. There was nobody in the aisle except one thin, pale man, obviously sucked dry of joy and hope from employment at this place, stacking bags of frozen vegetables in one of the freezers. His eyes were wide and never stopped moving. Left. Right. Up. Down. His lips mouthed the inaudible mutterings of a fellow on the brink of madness.

I pulled out my cell and checked my shopping list. Let’s see. I got bananas…orange juice…milk… The florescent lights flickered. I looked up curiously. My eyes fell on a figure at the end of the aisle. A teenage boy, dressed in black from head to toe, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. He skulked my way. I wet my lips with my tongue before looking back at my shopping list. Ummm…milk…did I need butter? I glanced up. Our eyes met. Awkward. Awkward and freaky. I could barely tear my gaze from his. His brown eyes bored into my soul with a sickening malice. What had I done? Why did he hate me? I couldn’t call on the half-mad employee for aide. He was too busy sucking his fingers and humming songs from “Frozen”.

An electric handicap cart came up behind me. A homeless man, with a open flask in one hand, drove drunkenly down the aisle giggling like a thirty-year-old with a case of silly string. “Wow this is fun!” he hiccuped at me. “Everyone should have one of these!” I couldn’t tell if he was referring to the flask or the cart.

That was the moment I truly began to wonder if I would ever see my husband again.

The shady boy stood abreast me. I did not turn my head, pretending instead that I had been staring at something else the entire time we spent gazing into each others eyes. He opened the door directly behind me and pulled out a frozen pizza. A pleasantly plump blonde woman spontaneously burst into being uncaused from nothing with a little pop.

“Don’t you want two?” she asked him. The boy made a noise, a sort of mix between grunt, snort, and snarl. He grabbed another pizza and dropped them both into the cart. She smiled at him and they shuffled away. I shuddered, ran through the checkout, played a real life version of Frogger, and dumped my groceries in the backseat of my car. All that remained was to dutifully return my cart.

A poor little white haired man was pulling out of his spot. He was nearly out when a redhead dashed into her drivers seat and threw it in reverse. The old man leaned on his horn but she paid him no heed. So desperate was her flight that he had to pull back in his spot in order to prevent her large black SUV smothering the life out of his little silver Toyota. She started a 16 point K turn. I watched this incident with another female pedestrian. I felt sorry for the guy but what could I do? I was just a helpless woman armed with naught but a shopping cart. My companion refused to let this oppression continued unpunished. She jumped in front of the SUV screaming and shaking her fist. The SUV tore out of the parking lot followed by the angry woman. The old man tried to back out again. A blue sedan tore through the ally at about 60 and leaned on their horn. The old man pressed his head against the steering wheel and cried quietly.

Has the entire world gone mad? It was like Midnight on Black Friday with four shots of Vodka and a case of Redbull.

I ditched my cart in the return, slammed my door shut, and held my breath until I was safely on my way home.


The Ol’ Sea Salt


I’m an ol’ sea salt, you can be your ARRR!
I spit into the wind as it blows through me hairrr.
You can’t tell me mate there’s a better, better life,
Than the sea and the sky and me trusty ol’ fife.

From starboard to port we be swabbin’ the deck,
And me language is worse than yer mother’s by heck.
By the patch on me eye, it’s a hard, hard life,
But I’d rather have it than yer witchy ol’ wife.

Ah, the rum keeps us warm by the silvery moon.
Me teeth are all rotten, me breath makes yah swoon.
I’m a dirty ol’ rat, you can bet yer bet yer life.
I eat out o’ me dish with the tip o’ me knife.

So, hard to port matey! Look off starboard bow!
If yah can’t hawk a loogie, I’ll soon learn ye how.
You’ll be better by far if yah spend yer, spend yer life,
On our boat ‘neath the sky far from land lubber’s strife.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

The Day I Almost Killed My Brother

High School was wretched. I had very few friends. I was the girl in the hallway whose books were knocked from her hands. I shudder when I drive past my old school, and intend to burn any notice I receive for a Class Reunion. One of the bright spots in my HS years, was that I rarely rode the bus. God blessed me with a beautiful junker of a car. It passed from my sister to me, and made my days a bit easier. When my brother reached the same campus as me, he received the added benefit of this, since he then rode with me to school. He was a bookworm, a proclivity I completely understand, and used the precious half hour ride to add book after book to his pile of conquests.

Here is where my story really begins.

I was lonely after long days of loneliness (redundant explanation perhaps but true) and longed to engage in uplifting conversation. My brother is three years younger than me, and has always been a precocious fellow. I would hop into the car, buckle up, and promptly begin to chatter. His occasional grunts deceived me into thinking I was listened to, and I blathered on, wagging my chin like an idiot. The day I finally realized he wasn’t listening, I was a little miffed. I dropped back into silence and watched the tedious scenery roll by my windows. He barely noticed the difference and continued to contentedly turn pages.

We left school at the same time. We went home the same route. September to June. Twice a day. The scenery got boring, until one element of the view caught my eye and gave me a source of entertainment.

A boy, probably a year or two younger than me, got off his school bus at the corner and walked down the street to his house. He had a mop of curly brown hair, often wore a red flannel shirt, and nodded his head rhythmically up and down as he walked. I noticed it once. I noticed it twice. I started looking for headphones, or some sign that he heard something I didn’t. Apparently not, it must have been a tick. I’m not judging. My eyes twitch violently when I eat something sour.

He gave me weeks of silent analysis and mental study. Why nod? How nod? Was he a drummer? Was he humming too? What was his name? Which house was his? On and on and on… None of this madness would have continued if my brother had spared me those thirty minutes for conversation! None! Especially not what happened next…

I have a strange sense of humor. Few people understand it. Sometimes I’m not sure I understand it myself. But I began to concoct stories about this boy and tell them to my might-as-well-have-been-deaf brother.

The boy’s name was Josh. He and I were in love. We wrote beautiful letters to one another. He was a musician and a poet. We shared our first kiss in yonder field. We carved our initials in the knotted bark of that tree. Ah! Rapture! Bliss! The unparalleled heavenly taste of his lips against mine! I told my brother a new story about this boy every day for about a week. All went unheard. One day I went a step too far.

We came upon the turn. There was his bus. It stopped. He stepped down and began his nod accompanied stroll down the street.

“There he is Michael,” I sighed. “Look at those gorgeous locks. Tonight I shall run my fingers through them.” I looked at my brother. Who knows where he was. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel. “You don’t believe I know him do you?” Silence. “I do and today I’ll prove it to you! Today I will wave at my beloved and he will blow me a kiss, then you will know all I speak to you is true!”

I took the turn slowly, positioned myself, one hand on the wheel, one lifted to wave at my unsuspecting victim. I locked my eyes on him, slowed to a crawl, and waved vigorously, my face plastered with feigned rapture. He looked up at me. His eyes widened in surprise. My brother screamed.


This was neither a scream of affirmation, nor of wonderment that all my stories were true. No. It was a scream of utter terror.

If you don’t believe in God, if you don’t believe in miracles, you are about to hear a tale of mine.

My brother looked up from his book. He NEVER looked up from his book. That day he did, just in time to warn me that I was gliding on a direct course for a tree on the side of the road. Apparently the perpetual diagonal line I walk on is a defect in my brain. The one handed grasp on my wheel was gently gliding us off the road, unbeknownst to me.

I screamed, swerved, and slammed on my breaks. My brother and I sat for a moment or two in silence, learning once again how to properly breathe.

“What the heck were you doing?” Michael asked.

I shook my head in silence. I removed my foot from the break and we rolled on towards home. I glanced in my review mirror. The boy stood still in the middle of the road, his head gently nodding.

I never saw him again, but I often think of him. I wonder if he ever thinks of me. The girl that nearly ran into a tree just to look in his eyes and wave her hand at him.

Sonnet: John 14:1-6

Let not your heart be troubled God reminds,
Our life is hid with Jesus Christ on high.
So brethren let us shake the ties that bind,
Us fast onto things that can’t satisfy.
Our tears and sufferings may drag us low,
And make us feel devoid of hope or song,
But Jesus left us here a while to go,
Prepare the perfect home for which we long.
Let’s hold onto this hope though comes the rain.
Our Savior’s hands will soon remove our tears.
The mem’ries of our trials won’t remain,
Just joy and bliss through endless, endless, years.
So put on joy for trials will not stay,
And live for Christ until this blessed day.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014