necessary whispers

observe. connect. make new.

Café of Islands



A brick wall

Falling down

Not down and around

Only down

Crumbling toward the ground

The way crumbs

Tumble from scones.


The drone of the machine

Espresso ground

Milk being steamed

Coins dropping

Into a glass mug

Tips for a job well done.


Each table is a life

Unto itself

Every person an objective


Breaching other island-tables

Not an option


We are all alone

In this crowd.


Unique and new

And yet,

All seen before

The way Carl Jung

Said that even our dreams

Are shared—

The archetypes of those

Who have gone before

Sit now

Working, stoic,



Fiddling with their pens


In an effort to find the right words

Or look right

While writing

The words meant to fill

The page and the time.


A woman wearing

North Face,

Facing the window

Speaks loudly about her travels

Every sentence

Some new place

Every description

Some old face

She talks and talks and I wonder

Who she wishes to hear


The her she shares

With those at the table


Filled with he’s

Who listen—

They have no other choice,

To share stories of their own

Is not afforded—

An audience of many

To a line-up

Of one.


A quilted vest across the room

Turquoise in color

Hugs the center of a woman

Gray and wrinkled

Smiling as she gives and takes

With a she whose hair is blond—

Old and young

Combine to share the moment

With a muffin at the center

Polite picking apart

Not too much taken

At any one time

By any one woman—

The art of give and take:



Chocolate chips and

Careful sips.


A man just walked in

He met a girl

She fixed her collar

Flipped her hair—

Her secret is simple:

She was waiting

But made it seem

Like not—

Her waiting there

Anticipating there

Was filled with the papers in front of her hands

But only doodles,

Nothing but google searches

Social media and

Watching the clock on her phone—

A carefully timed dance of

Looking busy and

Hair flipping

And the kind of hello

That projects

Emotional control.


A gentleman with glasses

At the tip of his nose

Two cups of coffee

But he sits alone

Well, not alone,

He is surrounded by Us

Who he cannot hear

Because his earbuds

Sing close

Like a hug around his ears—

His eyes focus down

Never around

He did not come to socialize

He did not come to share his mind

But maybe the space—

Better than being alone.


The brick walls crumble

As this intersection of lives—

The communion of me and the others—

Breathes through the coffee-filled air

Together but

Separate and alone—

Until one of Us says,



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Photo Credit: This piece by German artist Miriam Vlaming is entitled, Subground.  160 x 130 cm, Egg tempera on canvas.  Please feel free to further explore Valming’s art at her website and Facebook page: Miriam’s Website , Miriam’s Facebook.


Behind the Mask



The false self has no soul, an empty shell

Projected into being by the grief

Of he whose true self, buried, longs to tell

A story not of knowing but relief.


The shadow of this man behind the mask

Creeps through the eyes of plastic, painted face

Allowing glimmer only of the task

He failed to conquer:  victories displaced.


Alone inside his painted, breathing frame

The vacant heart he feels displays his pain

To those whose eyes, ignited, bring a flame

Of hopeful truth won through the fight; sustained.


Comparison of dead and live cannot be made-

Bartered to the hidden self is life betrayed.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson


Photo credit: This poem was inspired by German painter Mark Slavin‘s piece, Life Review.  If you would like to further explore Mark Slavin‘s art, please visit his Facebook page and website: Mark’s website , Mark’s Facebook.

Love, Loss and Fish




“Excuse me, miss?”

He said with a laugh.

“You dropped your hat.

Well, the wind carried it back.

Please do not fear

I have it here

dangling from my middle finger

so you can place it

once more

on top of your hair.”



The woman blushed,

Rustled ruffles

At the top of her skirt,

“I had no idea the wind

was so violent.

Next time, I will place my hand


so it will not disappear,”

She showed him the gesture

That could make it stay


She began to walk away.



“Excuse me, miss?”

He said with a sigh.

“I noticed your eyes

look a little wet

not drowning with tears

but dripping with sap—

are you a tree

whose roots

have misplaced the map?

I mean only to say

You must have lost your way.”



The woman grunted

But not like a dog

More like a monkey

Throwing her feces

Off the side of a log.

“I do not like what you have said

but I will forgive you in time—

not today—


when the sun is high

and the mood is right.”

She wiped the moisture dry

And pretended she could cry.



“Excuse me, miss?”

He said in a shout.

“The fingers on your hand

look cold and pale—

the color is bland

like a deserted land.

Would you like me to paint your nails?

Maybe red?

What about black?”



The woman hissed

Like a snake in a pit

Drew her hand back

Thrust it forward in a fist.

When it reached the space

In front of his lips

He stopped it

Blew it back with a wisp of breath

And a kiss.



“Excuse me, miss?”

He said with a smile.

“When I kissed you

I tasted venom and bile

as though your insides

were squeezed like a sponge

placed on my tongue,

the contents ran in and

all the way down.

I can feel your poison in my throat.”



The woman whistled

Like a child with sweets


Winked with her good eye


Turned away

Like goodbye,

“I will be going now

but I enjoyed our game

I will call you the winner

And I will take the shame—

the shame of a loser whose hat blew away.

I hope if we meet another time

On a blue and green day

In a decade or a week

Or longer—

Maybe on my birthday—

That you will be more careful

Tell the truth

When you speak.”



“Excuse me, miss?”

He said through his ire.

“Am I to understand

you call me a liar?

What reason do you give

to treat me this way?

I feel

through the twitches

in my mustache

I should have let the damn thing

fly away.”



The woman lifted off the ground

Hovered above him,

“A woman is like a fish

Her hat is like her fin,

If she lets a man’s hook

Pierce through to within

She knows she has the man

And her hat, as well.”



With that,

The woman

Flew up

And away

And the man sunk into hell.


–copyright Jill Szoo Wilso

Photo credit: the beautiful German painter Miriam Vlaming‘s piece, IN BETWEEN, 195 x 170cm, egg tempura on canvas, 2016.  Please further explore Miriam’s art by visiting her website and her Facebook page: Miriam’s Website , Miriam’s Facebook Page.


Special thanks to Oakland California artist John Casey whose casual wisdom is inspiring me to attempt surrealism in my writing.

Whisper the Passing Time



Memory sifted through their hands

Like water

Or like sand—

The kind of sand that

Lays flat on the desert ground

And all around the blistered feet

Of those who stand and watch the sun

With faces red

And cracking under the weight

And the heat

Filtered through dust—

Or like water.



Like water

In trickles

Between fingers pruning with excess

Trying to keep the water there

Sickeningly aware

Of the weakness in the holes

Between their fingers and their hands—

Their memories fell right through

Splashed around their ankles

In a puddle

Reflecting upward

Like the pool

In which they used to play.


Recollections are filled with darkened hues—

Purples and blues—

Certain as Midnight,

Ephemeral as morning dew.


The light traveling from those days

Cast shadows

Down and away from the statues

Erected in their minds

Telling the story

And the time

With no respect for the worries

And a reverence for the

Glow of remembrance

In which their hearts were founded—

Nearly grounded

In the way they had to remember

So as not to betray

The way they said it was.



Not that they lied,

They just could not see

That the laughter of then

Would be the tears of today

In a way that called forth

Reminiscence as a king

And Today as a paltry servant

Of then and

Of yesterday.



They heard the voices

Of those they knew

From long ago days

When their own laughter was simple

Easy like a single note played on a violin

Or like marbles rolling all the way down—

The kind of marbles children collect

And play on the ground

Smooth to the touch

Brilliant to the eye

When held to the sky

Examined close

A kaleidoscope of colors and

The wonder of beauty—

Or like a single violin note.


Recollections drip down the canvas of the soul—

Subtle and uncontrolled—

Fixed as form,

Delusory as a blindfold.


Their laughter hummed

On the chord of B flat

Lightly touching

The humor and the stories of

Where they had traveled

How they unraveled,

The twists and the gaps

Leaning into then

Defying the traps

Set by life

Avoiding the strife

Or slaying it—

At the very least—

With a respect for the prelude

And a skillfully resolving

Harmonic A

Played high

Above the circumstances—

Between struggle and sky.



Their memories were old

But inside these structures

They put on their youth,

Remembered why

They would never say goodbye

To the old days

The ones who had gone before,

Set the path

For their present days and chosen ways—

And remembered

The magic they saw

When they lay on the floor

Watching smoke rise from party torches

Fire dancing in the eyes of those

Who drank and who sang

Whose yesterdays rang

With an echo that reached

Their todays

And the core of what they are.



Memory sifted through their hands

Wafted through their ears

And painted itself upon their faces

Holding traces

Of those who came

And are gone.


Recollections whisper the passing time—

Hasty and sublime—

Simple as a flower petal

Intricate as a rhyme.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Photo Credit: German painter Miriam Vlaming‘s piece, MENAGERIE.  180 x 230 cm.Egg tempera on canvas.  Please feel free to explore Miriam’s art on her website or on her Facebook page: Miriam’s Website , Miriam’s Facebook Page


Inspiring music for the piece:


Like a Woman, Like a Knife



Once upon a night

Where darkness stumbled through

Like a drunken man

Who had lost his sight

But remembered her face

And the tune—



The tune was all he needed

And he hummed

Into her ear—

It sounded like a sigh,

Smelled like beer—

From a war torn land

Where forgetting

Became the People’s glue.



He held her close

In a tumbling world

Where up was down,

Every other face

A clown—

A smile painted on

To hide thickening frowns.



Smiles melted

From their eyes

Into lips

Soft and open wide

With laughter

The kind—

You know the kind—

Where nothing else matters

The glitter or the tatters,

Anything outside

May as well have been

A lie.



Inside they,

Outside all the others,

The children and the mothers

The sisters and the brothers,

The ones who could not be,

Should not be


Inside they,

The two whose balance


Whose hearts were


In one another,

For a million reasons

In and out of seasons

Buoyant in their love

And in their treasons

Like pirates setting sail

With the treasure

Of their journey and

Their tale.



Then the poles—

The north and the south—

Tilted and slipped

She fell

And he pulled

Held on with his hand

Attached to his will

Stretched out his body

Like a limb on a tree

Ravaged by winds

Near the deafening sea

Until all the leaves were stripped

And his hand

And his girl

Tripped off the side of the world

Into the February zodiac

Where nothing is seen

And no one comes back.



He stood on the edge

Put his toes near the ledge

Looked into space

Now letting her fall

He wanted to follow

His heart was quite hollow

But instead

He chose to stay.



He settled on the ground

Where the earth is round

But it feels like a surface

Flat enough to stand

So he stood in his place

Like a wobbling disgrace

He chose safety

Over love

And the earth

Over space.



As he looked to the stars

Where his heart gently spun

Like a remnant above—

His floating memoirs—

He tried hard to see,


His plea,

“I had to let her go—

I hope


or someone

will forgive me.

Forgive my weakness

color in the bleakness

turn cowardice to courage

so my confidence can flourish—“

Then he stifled his words

Dropped his head to his hands

Regretted his safety

And forgot how to stand.



One thought

One instant

Came into his mind

The moment they kissed

On a street

Near a light

When the air was cold

But her breath gave him life

Away from the present,

Hidden from strife.



He remembers her now

Like a woman,

Like a knife.



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo Credit:  German artist Mark Slavin.  Please feel free to further explore Mark’s art on his website and/or Facebook page: Mark’s Website , Mark’s Facebook Page )

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