Freelance writer of plays/short stories/poetry/narrative non-fiction; lover of humor, chocolate, pratfalls, my children and husband (in no particular order..).

New Year. How Will You Play the Game?

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Be the first
to get rid
of them
less than
shoes, boots, heels
of whomever
boss, sister, stranger
does not
to do with it.
And for God’s sake
don’t get sentimental.

sink beneath
the floorboards
if you have to
get dirty
slab or pier and beam
stuck stubborn concrete
fusion of broken stone
and gravel
existing in material
not abstract
nothing is impossible
they say
(who are they, anyway?).
Do not give in
to distraction.

Instead play with constant striving UP optimistic TRYING which reminds you of relativity — some know-it…

PART SEVEN. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

by Erin Ryan Burdette

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It’s taken me a while to write this one, ya’ll. (I’m sure you have noticed and missed me terribly.) Alas, as Dr. Phil might advise, Texas twang full-tilt: it’s time for me to “get real.” Deep breath. Here goes.

As a recently turned 50-year-old white woman abruptly woke to the fact that I have been given advantage since birth due to the color of my skin without appreciating it comes as a gut-punch. I’m absurdly liberal. I was a theater major, for God’s sake; I’ve worked among diverse populations, think of myself as an affable human…

From a loved one’s decline to a baby’s boundless future, a mother reflects on the passages of life.

Originally published in Dallas Morning News.

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I walk down the corridor lugging my four-month-old son in his car seat, innocent gurgling, past elderly men and women in wheelchairs stationed in the hall, past small rooms with TV’s playing loud to the near death and bedridden. This is one of the nicer homes we looked at that had a Medicaid bed. I can’t comfort myself with the idea that this is one of the worst. They keep things clean. The staff is nice. The food isn’t horrendous. Yet as I walk down the hall, my stomach in knots, carrying my infant…

**Originally posted on Writers at Large in the Riff section on January 14, 2021, this is an essay in which I interview myself about I story I wrote, Skip the Lake, which examines white complicity in systemic racism through the relationship of two teenage boys.

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Thea Temple, founder and CEO of Writers at Large read my short story, “Skip the Lake,” published in the Creative Café on September 1, 2020, and asked if I might “Riff” about. Getting kinda meta, I elected to interview myself. This is what I came up with.😊

(Riff — a phrase synonymous with tune, refrain, groove, sample, jam, strum, noodle — only here “riff” plays with words instead of lyrics or strings.)

Initially, instead of a short story, I imagined a personal essay, some frank response to the racial maelstrom whipping through our country (much like the irrepressible fires burning west). To say I was bothered by the recurring brutality inflicted upon Blacks being murdered across America — too often by policemen, who suffered little more, it…

PART NINE. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich. Only now of course, it’s Christmas.

by Erin Ryan Burdette

To Travel or Not to Travel: That is the Question.

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Every other year but this one, since the birth of my kids, my mom and stepdad came over early in the morning December 25. Alternatively frightening or amusing in matching Christmas sweaters, they delighted in spoiling their grandchildren. They would usually stay for dinner, which was sometimes my mom’s homemade Chinese food.

But my stepdad died last January right before Covid hit. My mom now lives nearby in an assisted living facility. If she choses to leave her new place, she must quarantine 14 days upon return, so she stayed put December 25.

My sister and…

PART EIGHT. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

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Gee, that was interesting. Just the four of us. And the dog, though he was not offered an actual seat at the table.

Lucky we didn’t have plans to travel, as my son’s school called the Thursday before Thanksgiving break started to inform me that he was a “close contact” to someone with Covid. Meaning a student in one of his classes tested positive. Dressed for his soccer game, I called him to say do not get on the bus. Official fourteen-day quarantine began post haste. Or actually his last contact was Monday, so (luckily?) …

Poem questions Nature and Nurture through a flower that will not die.

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You there — yes, you
baked in million-degree
Texas heat
you have no business
being alive
out here
proud here
decorated with
this morning’s rain
first in months
water kissing petals soft
drops hanging on
for dear life
white and delicate
green loved leaves
finally a drink
out of the sky
delivered and received
just you now
the rest buried
the only one.
Supposed to be so fragile.

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streets raging
crowd pleasers
sound the alarm
but cheerful
even cowbells
ring charm.
Blasting horns
without anger
even in LA, hear? see —
this is joy
from NYC to D.C.
to Ireland ancestry
(Joe’s, apparently).

A SERIES, PART SIX. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.

Erin Ryan Burdette


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