METAPHOR (excerpt)

mma-rulesThe bell rang — sounding the opening of the 12th round.

Blood streamed from my ears, nose and mouth.  My hands were shattered and broken.  My eyes were battered and nearly swollen shut and I couldn’t see the truth even as it stood right in front of me.

Throw in the towel, they pleaded.  The fight’s over, they said.  But I didn’t hear.

Defiantly, I limped to center ring.  I summoned every last ounce of fight in my soul, but it was too little, too late.

I fought the good fight, to be sure.  I came that close to pulling it off — the greatest comeback of my life — before I went down late in the round.  I had nothing left to give.  Too much damage had been done.

I’d never lost before, never suffered such defeat, not like that.  I was supposed to win that fight.  I was sure of it.  Or, so I thought.  But Fate had other plans for me — I just couldn’t see it…yet.

As crushing as that defeat was, I was fortunate to have such a supportive crew in my corner.  They stepped in and picked me up when I wasn’t able to do it for myself.  They pulled me to my feet and from the ring.  They helped me even when all I wanted to do was succumb to my injuries, when all I wanted to do was die.  Right there.  Right then.

I had nothing left to fight for.

It’s okay to lean on us, they reassured me.  And so, I resigned to let them help me, though I didn’t really want to be helped.

Yet, even as they led me away from the ring, I made a promise to myself…the promise of early retirement.  I was never going to fight again.  It just wasn’t worth it.  Not worth the pain.  Not worth the turmoil in my soul.

What’s the point?  Why give everything?  Why put it all on the table only to lose the title in the end?  But it wasn’t the end…in spite of how much I believed it to be.

Before entering the tunnel and returning to the locker room, where I was determined to hang up my trunks forever, I dared to take one last look at the crowd over my shoulder.  And I saw something there…a face among all the others.

That was so many months ago now — a fading nightmare.  Since then, I’ve had the chance to heal.  My strength has been regained.  And once again, I stand in the ring, reinvigorated and ready to face whatever it is that life is prepared to throw at me.  I am armed with a new weapon…Hope…and never before have I been so confident in my ability — not only to survive, but to thrive, to live…to love again.





PeepholeOnce upon a time, there was a girl…

…a girl whom I loved.

…a girl whom I obsessed over.

…a girl whom I wanted more than anything.

…a girl that didn’t love me.

I wrote her letters and called her on the phone.

I lay in bed each night dreaming of her, anxious for the next time I would see her.

And even though my dreams never came true, I’m grateful that once she was my friend…before I pushed her away.

I haven’t seen her in more than 20 years.

I still think about her sometimes.

She’s married now and has children.

I’d chased her for years.  I begged her to be mine.  I got on my hands and knees and pleaded and cried.  I never thought I could love another so intensely, that is, until another came along.

This one I married, and for 17 years I believed myself to be the luckiest man alive.  And I was.


Until the day when, so very innocently, I asked her to stop for rolls on the way home from work.

At the grocery, my ex-wife-to-be encountered an old flame of her own.

The one that (almost) got away.

From there it all spiraled out of control, and when the dust settled, I’d lost again.

That was a year ago today.

I sit here now, with my guitar in my lap, pouring my soul into music I can hardly play.

I’m reminded of that Lonesome Old Song…


That lonesome old song keeps on a playin’
And tellin’ a story that makes me so blue
How the girl that I love has gone on and left me
That lonesome old song reminds me of you




CaveDespair is a dark cave, full of fear and self-pity.  But it’s also comforting.  Warm.  Cozy.  Familiar.  Given the chance, it will invite you inside and entice you to stay.

The future is anything but certain or familiar.  Moving forward, like climbing a mountain, is not easy.  And yet, it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.  Every step, every moment passed, is a victory.

Not every battle can be won.  Not every battle is worth fighting — no matter how passionate you may be about the outcome.  No matter how much you have invested.  No matter how much losing might change the world as you know it.  But neither can we remain stagnant.  Human beings are social animals — we need one another — hiding in caves and building walls is the greatest disservice to who and what we are meant to be.

The ninja knows that when the shadow of defeat looms there is no shame in running away.  Fly and be free.  Live to fight another day.  Embrace hope for a better tomorrow and in your coming victories, for they are coming.  Hope is the light beyond the cave.  It is the light of the world…the light of life.

These are not easy lessons to learn.  They are wrought with pain and uncertainty.  Defeat leaves a sour taste on our lips, but also is defeat necessary for us to grow, and a hardened warrior comes not without scars.

Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all.  But fear is the one opponent that can be always be defeated.  It’s the one battle you should never flee.  All one needs to do in order to conquer fear is stand and face it.

And, if at all possible, never face it alone.




What is a person to do when strength fails?

What is a person to do when rampant emotion cannot be reigned?

What is a person to do when the world they love, the only world they know, begins to fall apart?

Love grows.

Love evolves.

Love matures.

Why am I the only one that understands this?

Why am I the only one that chooses to fight rather than flee?

Why am I the only one that seems to value the investments made on both sides?

They give me advice.

They offer me support.

They can’t truly understand.

Don’t sweat it, ignore the bitch.

Don’t fret the future, there is life after her.

Don’t waste another tear on her, it’s time to work on you.

How am I supposed to move forward when I can’t see past my own pain?

How am I supposed to recover from this when I am subject to her presence every day?

How am I supposed to work on myself when all my time and energy is spent thinking about her?

I have never hurt like this.

I have never felt so utterly alone.

I have never suffered so deep a wound.

When will this pain go away?

When will the loneliness abate?

When will the deep healing begin?



Phantoms II“These are the times that try mens’ souls.”

Rejected.  Cast out.  Abandoned.  All but forgotten.

Thank you for holding.  All of our agents are currently assisting other customers.  The average wait time is approximately indefinite.  Please continue to hold and an agent will be with you eventually.

The path ahead winds out of sight.  My destination is unclear.  It’s foggy and I cannot see where I am going.  The future is as it always was…uncertain.  It’s my fault for wearing blinders.

I’m wandering aimlessly in this waking nightmare.  I have no guide, no map, and no light.  No companion for the lonely nights on this road.  Not a ninja anymore, but ronin — a masterless samurai…warrior without a home.

Was it a lie?  Was it a trick?  Was it all just an illusion?

“Focus on you.  Work to improve yourself.  Tend to the things, and people, that need you most.”

That’s what the phantoms tell me anyway.  Always trying to tell me something.  Meaningless platitudes.  It’s that, or they just ignore me altogether, as phantoms are wont to do.

As if they had any fucking clue to begin with.

I’ve never been one to give any credit to superstition, but as it turns out, 13 is the unluckiest number after all.




Brown Lady

I never believed in ghosts until I became one.

Now, I’m just a vengeful spirit banging on the pipes, trying to get the attention of those still living.

Sooner or later, if I cannot find peace or be exorcised from the home, the occupants will flee this house that’s haunted.

Never has there been a lonelier existence or state of mind.



Wounded WarriorPrayer for the Wounded Warrior.

If there is a god, if there are any great spirits behind the creation of this universe and the guiding of fate, I need you now more than ever…

…for I am broken and weary of the wars that rage in my heart and soul.

I pray for the strength to forge ahead, for the vision to recognize my own worth, and for the victory of peace and happiness all men deserve.




keysWe have but to arrange these twenty-six keys

To unlock any door that we damn well please



Skulking under midnight skies,

Behind black folds, Shinobi spies.

Every shred of knowledge taken,

Lives once guarded, now are shaken.



Until you’ve walked a mile in another girl’s tabi…

Leah Phelps is the newest black belt graduate of the Capital City Ninjutsu Guild.  What was supposed to be a night of celebration turns to tragedy when she and her classmates discover a grisly murder.  To make matters worse, her sensei and several fellow ninja have vanished.  Haunted by strange visions and aided only by Jenna, a gifted and enigmatic shinobi, Leah must discover the fate of her friends while evading an ominous threat from one who seeks to reclaim a throne rightfully stripped long ago.

Come with Leah as she embarks on a quest, in her own words, that will take her and Jenna across the globe and into the mountains of the Far East — the birthplace of Ninjutsu.  Throughout the course of her journey she will unravel many ancient mysteries, although none will be so profound as the one that enshrouds her beautiful companion.

Leah will need to call upon all of her training and skill in order to survive the trials that lie ahead, for in the end, she will find herself standing before the gates of Hell…

(Back cover summary from Ninja VS Book One: Ninja VS Samurai)