P.J. Monroe's Published Writing

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Walk to the Lake


I had to walk to the lake. I could have walked to the river but the river was thirty blocks away and the lake was five blocks away and I had to get to water. So, I had to walk to the lake. It was February in Chicago, which put the temperature somewhere between ten and fifteen degrees. Wind chill made it -10. And, of course, it was colder by the lake, because it’s always colder by the lake. I was walking to the lake with my bottle. A little outing. The bottle said, “Diazepam.” It said other things, too. But all that mattered was that it was generic Valium.
It started last winter. I hate winters in Chicago. They’re so dark. They’re so dirty. They’re so cold. And it’s colder by the lake. I live by the lake. I had a root canal. It was that simple. It seems like it should have been more complicated than that. Just a root canal. I’ve never been good about going to the dentist. I have bad teeth. I take good care of them. Every dentist I’ve ever had has patted me on the head and told me how they can tell I take such good care of my teeth and then they say, I should schedule an appointment for another filling. But this was a root canal. And I freaked out. So my dentist gave me a rather generous prescription for Valium, which the pharmacist filled with the generic, Diazepam. And I took it. I took lots of it. Double the dosage prescribed and I still sobbed through the whole procedure. But I got in the chair, so it could be called somewhat effective. And then I got home and my mouth hurt, but I didn’t care so much. I watched television and found myself fascinated with Star Trek. I watched for hours, eating ice cream, before I fell asleep. I slept like a baby.
I started out taking the leftovers from my prescription rather slowly. Five milligrams here, ten there. Maybe just when we had to go out with people from my husband’s office. I’m so shy. I’m so scared of people. And I don’t drink. I don’t understand people who drink. It tastes so bad. And I don’t like the feeling it gives you. When you hit that perfect tipsy spot, you can’t maintain it. You either drink more and get drunk, which is unpleasant and sometimes leads to vomit or you stop drinking and drive yourself straight into an early hangover.
But then, I started taking them in order to get an occasional nap in the afternoon. A good afternoon nap meant I could be perky and happy when my husband came home in the evening. And I like my husband. So, I was really doing it for him. That’s what I told myself.
And then I ran out. I found myself looking it up on the internet. Why would someone take Valium, if they weren’t getting a root canal? I went to my doctor and told him I had really bad backache. I also told him I didn’t like the muscle relaxants, as they made me jittery. He gave me a prescription for Valium, which I filled at the Walgreen’s pharmacy. I went to a psychiatrist and told her about my social anxiety. She gave me a prescription for Valium, which I filled at the CVS pharmacy. I even found myself going into the emergency room for prescriptions that I could have filled at the hospital pharmacy.
And then I started taking them all the time. To relax. To sleep. To have energy later. Just all the time. And then I woke up today. And it was February. I don’t know how it got to be February. I remember March. I remember September. I remember Thanksgiving. And then it was just today. So I put on my coat and grabbed my bottle and started walking to the lake. And now I’m here. I throw the bottle into the lake. And I breathe a sigh of relief. I can feel the weight slipping away from me. I can feel the cold water rush up against my feet, soaking my tennis shoes. I look down and at my feet I see my own prescription bottle. I pick it up and put it in my pocket. So be it. Maybe next winter.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bam! Bam! Bam!

 50 Word Stories

You say I am beating a dead horse. Maybe that’s the case, and if so, then I will continuebeating a dead horse. I will beat it often and loudly. I will beat it until it becomes a drum demanding the protection of civil rights for all!

Monday, June 2, 2014



“May I have a glass of milk, please?”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“May I have a glass of milk, please?” she repeated.
I was quite surprised. My cat had never before said a single word in English, let alone a complete sentence. I did the only thing I could do; I got her a glass of milk. I put the milk down in front of her. She dipped her paw in the glass and licked the milk off of it. I kept looking at her, my mouth wide open.
“No opposable thumbs,” she said, after seeing I was still staring at her.
I shook my head, trying to clear it, and said, “No.  I’ve seen you drink out of a glass before. I’m still a little amazed you’re speaking to me.”
“Well, that’s a little secret. In fact, I could have my cat card revoked for speaking in front of a human being.”
“You have a cat card?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head, “I was speaking figuratively.”
“Oh. But you could get in trouble?”
“You know all those strays… well…”
“Oh. Well, then why are you talking to me?”
She sat down and, ignoring her milk, she looked straight at me. I could have sworn I heard her sigh.
“I thought it was important to tell you,” she began. “We need to talk.”
“Maybe you don’t know this, not talking to humans much and all, but no good conversation ever starts with that sentence,” I said.
Shaking her head, she turned back to her milk. She dipped her paw in and licked the milk off of it. Then she looked back at me. I waited to hear what she was going to say.
“It’s over. I’m sorry.”
“What?” I asked, amazed.
“It’s not you. It’s me. I just can’t go on like this anymore. I need more. You have your friends and your work. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. There isn’t. But all I have is you. I define myself by you. I’m not Fluffy. I’m Joe’s cat. That was enough for a while. But now I need more. I have to find myself.”
She looked down at the milk, not drinking it, just contemplating it. I was shocked to say the least. Never before had Fluffy said a word. And now, she opened her mouth and laid all of this on me.
“So, then,” I said, “that’s it. You’re leaving me. You’ve made up your mind. There’s nothing I can say to change it, is there?”
“Where will you go?”
“Joe,” she said, looking up at me and then looking back down at the milk, “there’s someone else. You have to believe me, I didn’t plan it this way.”
Now, I was furious. I was willing to be civil, maybe in hopes she would be back soon enough. But she had another owner on the side. And that was an indignation I was not willing to take.
“Fine! Go! But don’t think you’re taking anything. I loved you! I supported you! And you went and found someone else! You go, then! But don’t even think about taking the catnip sock! That’s mine!”
I got up and opened the front door. And she walked out of my life forever.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Guinevere's Last Days

To her, they brought his body,
Which was dirty and bloody
And devoid of the life she loved;
Next to him, on the convent floor,
She kneeled and prayed to God
That He might shine a guiding light

She prayed until the morning light,
Until there was an ache in her body;
Still no answer came from God,
Even though she wore her knees bloody,
On that cold, stone convent floor;
No answer, for God was not the one she loved

Lancelot was the only man she ever loved;
Without him, her life was without light,
As cold and as dark as the floor;
No love, no life was within her body;
She wished herself also dead and bloody,
Perhaps then she could be with him and God

"What other choice?" she asked God-
The king, who she should have loved,
Would be alive but also bloody;
Perhaps, before the next day's light,
She should go, mind and body,
To stand before him, on the court floor

What would he do, seeing her on that floor;
He certainly would not praise God,
Nor ever again touch her body,
For she was no longer the one he loved;
He would cast her out of his light
And that day's dusk would be colored bloody

Or perhaps he would order her neck bloody
And her head to roll on the floor;
This might give him back his life's light;
For her death, he would praise God,
For God, before her, he always loved;
God to have her soul and he, her body

So with wrists bloody, she called to God;
And fell to the floor, next to the man she loved;

In the morning's light, to the king they brought her body

Hektor’s Aristeia

Promised a day of glorious victory,
Prince Hektor led his fighting Trojans,
Shoulder to shoulder, closing together;
In face of this mighty army, fled the Greeks
Their leaders lay wounded, bleeding, or dead;
Hektor and the Trojans reached their wall

Following Hektor to the gates in the wall,
The army knew no future but victory;
So many Greeks were already dead,
Yet, so alive the army of Trojans
There was faint resistance by the Greeks,
As the Trojans pressed at the gates together

All at once, the Trojans stopped together,
And looked up, high above the wall,
Circling over the heads of the Greeks
An omen that there would be no victory
That ill omen meant for the Trojans;
An eagle, his talons held a red serpent, dead

Hektor swore this day was not yet dead;
He drew the men close and together
They were the mighty Trojans!
They would not be stopped by a wall
And they would have their rightful victory!
Their army, mighty, would beat the Greeks!!

They were good builders, those Greeks,
Or else they’d have already been dead;
The Greeks cried out for victory,
But stayed and hid safely together
Behind their strong and well built wall,
Where they were safe from the Trojans

The wall proved unbreachable to the Trojans;
But Hektor knew how to finish the Greeks;
He grabbed a boulder and turned towards the wall
If any other man had tried, he’d be dead;
Men came around the strong Hektor, together
Hektor threw the boulder, broke the wall, brought victory

This is the story of the Trojans, who did not lay dead
And the story of the Greeks, and how the armies clashed together

And how the strongest wall could not stop Hektor’s victory

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NailPolish Stories


It Starts With Me by P.J. Monroe
I stand up alone. Then you stand up. And then the others join in. We all rise up. We become a wall. We are unbreakable.
P.J. Monroe lives, writes, and paints in Lake County, IL.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One Sentence

I felt a chill when I found out my former best friend had reassured my younger sister that everything would go back to normal, once my husband was dead.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Shameless Self-Promotion

http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/nature/all" style="font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;">nature art

Come see art.  Come buy Jennifer Fliegel's art.

View of a City Cat


Looking out over the neighborhood,

she and I watched the action at the station

for the commuter train;

She is stretched into a straight line

lounging like a colorful celebrity

looking out at the night;

I feel I should apologize

for tormenting her with the business

of my own loose problems;

She stretches her back

and becomes once again interested

in my problems and the view

of Saturday night Chicago;

I talk to her of trouble

and she gives me a look

with her shining eyes;

Daytime seems so far away,

as we watch red vans;

I am speculating

as to the meaning of the look on her face,

secrets she has;

Her eyes glow;

She is living here with me,

watching bicycle deliveries go by;

She glances at the end tables

and then back to the avenue

where the people meander eastward

From here she can see the river

and the kids with baseball gloves;

those damnable strip malls,

that moved in from the suburbs;

Mostly she sees my complaints

and she listens with the most caring silence

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I thought I might try my hand at the fine arts.  http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/rabbit/all" style="font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;">rabbit photos
Jennifer Fliegel.  That's me.