Writing Portfolio

I currently have several works in the works, including a collection of poems, short stories, and plays. Following are selected pieces from a themed series I'm calling, "UNSETTLing Times." Included is a Ya-Du poem ("Defied Sandy's Warning"), a short story ("After the Lovefeast"), and a one-act play ("Replaced").

Defied Sandy's Warning -  
A Ya-du poem by Lemelia J. Bonner

Wicked winds sound
all around us,
and ground gives way
to the bay rise.
Calm day held roaring night in disguise.   

As heavens groan,
Mother's moan meets
my own stilled cry. Nice: groan, moan, own.
Will we die here,
or try to move in spite of our fear?

Amidst it all
there’s a call now;
first small and then
through the wind breaks.
The end nears; brave steps are all it takes. 

Copyright © 2012 by Lemelia J. Bonner


After the Lovefeast

     It’s Christmas Eve, and Private First Class Bobby McCants is heading north and away from the bright lights of the High Point Greyhound station. Good thing he’s worn his boots. It’s colder here than in Fayetteville tonight, and he can’t make out what’s ice and what’s not on the awning-covered sidewalks of Market Street. Bobby’s on a hurried mission, and is behind schedule. Five blocks away from the station, down on the corner of Second Street, is his destination, Home Moravian Church. He pulls the sides of his wool cap down to meet the raised lapels of his bomber jacket, lowers his head, and walks as fast as he can into the wind. 
     Everything downtown has closed early. The city’s Star of David wreaths are swinging in the frigid wind. Bobby notices they’re only atop every other lamp post this year. Probably budget cuts, he thinks. He’s still a couple of blocks away from the church when his wife, Kristi, calls for the third time. By now she knows he’s gone AWOL. Bobby’s commander from Lejeune would have called by now, and probably interrogated her because he knows she’s due any day. Kristi’s got to be worried, maybe beyond worried already, but he lets it go to voice mail anyway.
     Bobby can see the pale brick building in the distance, with its bell tower still crippled from a lightning strike earlier in the year. Home is the Moravian church his mother had always taken them to for the Lovefeasts when he and his brother, Ray, were growing up. They’re Baptists, but his mother found the Moravian’s traditions and rituals charming, so every Christmas Eve and every Easter there they had been in the back pew of Home, lighting one another’s beeswax candles, and feasting on nutmeg-flavored buns and warm, tangy tea. 
     Kristi had accompanied Bobby and his mother to a few Lovefeasts from the time they were juniors at Randolph High. She liked it too. But on this night Bobby is rushing to try and make it there alone. He has a special prayer petition, and figures this has to be the best night of the year to get it approved. He’s just over a block away from Home now, and there goes his phone again. He glances at the illuminated screen. His mom. Just as worried as Kristi, no doubt. But he can’t talk to her either right now. No distractions. He’s already late. 
     Bobby slows his pace. Something’s not looking right. Where is everybody? He can see the inside lights still on through the dull, stained glass windows, but only two cars and a white, laddered pickup sit in the darkened back lot. Has he missed the whole thing? He realizes no music is leaking from inside. You can always hear that giant pipe organ outside, and every now and then a trumpet, during candlelight services. Well what time did the danged thing start? He sees the sign, turned off. Six-thirty to 7:30…
     “Crap! It’s 8:19.”

   The pastor must be around, and a deacon or something in the back part of the church, probably locking up. Bobby climbs the two sets of concrete steps up to the front door anyway, passing the church’s manger scene on the lawn.
     “What’s up, baby J?”
     He waves a greeting to the iced over, plastic figures of the crèche. Bobby tries one of the big, iron front door handles. Unlocked. He slowly pulls the creaking, heavy wood door toward him to look inside. He’d never realized before how old this door was, much older than the building itself. He steps inside the marble vestibule. How can it be colder in here than outside? 
     The entryway is completely bare except for a couple of abandoned umbrellas in a corner and some overused, hand-held fans on a folding chair. He tiptoes to the inner double doors and peers through the eye-level panes into the sanctuary. Not a soul inside. But he doubts anyone would care if a serviceman sat down for a little warmth on a Christmas Eve.  

     The empty sanctuary still holds the aroma of beeswax and spices. Bobby walks as quietly as he can to the back pew where they’d always sat. He forces his long limbs into the awkward space. Even when he was a kid these hard pews seemed too close together. It’s a blank looking church on the inside, with a ceiling that’s too high. The Advent wreaths and red felt bows put up for the season help only a little. Bobby puts his head back, closes his eyes, and lets his mind travel off, years back: he and Ray sitting here on either side of his mom, working hard to be still without falling asleep during the boring parts. They just want those warm buns and that tea. And some candles to pass to the next person.
  What would Ray do about this situation now, if he was in Bobby’s place? Ray was a Marine’s Marine. He’d be a stand-up guy, no doubt. He wouldn’t care if the baby was his or not. Well, he’d care, but he wouldn’t let on to the rest of them. And he’d raise the boy as if it was his own. For sure. He’d forgive Kristi, hell, Ray might not even let her know he suspected. What would Jesus do? Bobby wondered. What would God tell him to do? He opens his eyes to stare upward.
     “Come on, God.  Talk to me.”
 Bobby sighs, bends over the pew in front of him, and puts his hands over his bowed head. He runs two fingers over the scar there, where hair won’t grow back. Kristi had been right there with them that day, with Ray driving too fast down Wade Boulevard on leave. The two of them had sat under a tree watching Ray being pulled out, tended to, and then rushed from the scene. She hadn’t even screamed or cried, as far as he could remember, just sat there gently picking bits of glass from his head under that tree.
 Another thing about Kristi, she’d stuck with Bobby through all those months after Ray was killed, close to a year, when he’d acted like an ass and did everything he could to make her leave him. She loved him, always. He was still sure of that. Even if she’d had a lapse while he was deployed, probably out of loneliness. Completely understandable. It’s hard on a wife.  And maybe she hadn’t cheated, for all he knew. Maybe his math was just wrong.
 Bobby startles and sits upright when he hears a door open near the front of the sanctuary. It’s Reverend Josephs. Bobby recognizes him but, man, he got old and stooped-looking mighty fast.
     “Can I help you, son?”
     Rev. Josephs totters toward Bobby with a tiny outstretched hand and a look of both concern and blessed reassurance.
     “Uh, no.  I mean, no, Sir.  It’s okay.   I’m good.  I was just saying a prayer or two before heading home to the wife.” Bobby smiles at the little man.
     “Well, do give your wife my best, son, and I hope you two have a blessed Christmas.”
      “You have a Merry Christmas, too, Sir,”
     Bobby shakes the veiny, wrinkled hand and backs away as respectfully as possible. Then he turns, goes back out through the two sets of doors, and lowers his head once more into the cold night. The phone rings.  Kristi.  He answers it.

Copyright © 2012 by Lemelia J. Bonner




ANNE WESTON HEALY, Mother of four-year-old Madison
CLAUDETTE WESTON, Mother of ANNE/grandmother of Madison

It is a weekday, and mid-afternoon. The women are in their respective homes.

Copyright © 2012 by Lemelia J. Bonner

[As the lights come up stage left we see CLAUDETTE sitting at the desk of her late husband’s well-appointed study. She is in her sixties, impeccably dressed and coiffed, and is preoccupied with letter writing, longhand. Lights then come up stage right, and we see her daughter, ANNE, who is in her late thirties and wearing a tennis outfit.  She is standing in the breakfast room of her elegant new home. Looking frazzled, she is pacing and dialing her mother’s number.]

ANNE: Hi, Mother. It’s me. Are you busy?
CLAUDETTE: Oh, hi, Dear. Just writing a few letters, and never too busy for you. Is everything all right?
ANNE: [sighs] Oh…yes. Everything’s okay, I guess.
CLAUDETTE: No, everything is not okay. I can hear it in your voice. What’s going on? Is it Ethan? Are the children okay?
ANNE: [sits down on a dining chair] Ethan’s fine. And Sam and Evan are fine. It’s Madison. Again.
CLAUDETTE: Oh, dear. What this time?
ANNE: I had to bring her home early from a play date at the Allen’s today.
CLAUDETTE: Who are the Allens?
ANNE: You know. John and Kris Allen. He’s one of Ethan’s corporate clients. You said you knew her mother from Junior League.
CLAUDETTE: Oh, yes, yes. I know who you’re talking about. The one who got that bad eye lift. The mother, I mean.
ANNE: Yes, that’s her. I guess. Anyway, they have twins Maddy’s age, and Kris had been asking me for weeks if we could get them together for a play date. So, we finally did.
CLAUDETTE: So, what happened?
ANNE: So, no sooner had we sat down for coffee than her older daughter came running in saying the kids were all arguing, and Maddy was making up stories and crying.
CLAUDETTE: What was she crying about? What kind of stories?
ANNE: The usual nonsense.
CLAUDETTE: Oh, no. What this time?
ANNE: She told the kids to stop calling her Madison, because her real name is Addie Mae. And apparently the older girl told her Addie Mae sounds like an old black lady name. Then Maddy spouts off and tells her she’d better stop talking because she’s named after her grandmother.
CLAUDETTE: [confused] Whose grandmother?
ANNE: Oh, I don’t know, Mother. Not you. Not anyone’s grandmother. She was making it up, and I don’t know why she keeps doing all this imaginary friend business lately. Sometimes when she’s playing alone I hear her singing this strange song about this Addie Mae character. It’s something like [in a sing-song voice], “Addie Mae; her number is one… Addie Mae; her number is one…” Over and over she sings that ridiculous song. I’m so sick of it I don’t know what to do.
CLAUDETTE: What else has she done, recently?

ANNE: Well, I told you about all those drawings she’s been doing. Right?
CLAUDETTE: The ones with all the blood? Yes. In fact, she did one of those while she was here. Honey, that is so disturbing.
ANNE:  Yes, those drawings. I mean, they’re getting really graphic.  And she keeps drawing the same things over and over. Never anything nice like flowers, or trees, or fluffy clouds. No, she has to draw people crying with blood all over their faces, and looking like their arms and legs are broken off, or something.
CLAUDETTE: [distressed]  What in the world?!
ANNE: [tearing up and sniffling] I don’t know, Mother. I just don’t know.
CLAUDETTE: What does Ethan have to say about it?
ANNE: Not much. I mean, he tells her to stop, but he humors her at the same time. You know how he is with her. He plays along half the time. I wish he would stop encouraging her.
CLAUDETTE: That’s his little princess. [sighs]
ANNE: Yes, well, his little princess is disrupting the entire household.
CLAUDETTE: It can’t be all that bad.
ANNE: Oh, you haven’t heard the worst of it, the most maddening and distressing part. She keeps asking me when I’m going to take her home. Home, Mother. And if she gets angry, or if I scold her in any way she says to me [mocking in a little girl’s voice], “You’re not my real momma! My real momma’s not white, and she’s not mean, like YOU!”
ANNE: Yes! I’m telling you, it’s awful.
CLAUDETTE: Why would she say something like that?
ANNE:  I haven’t a clue. But the other night I told Ethan I think we need to take her to see someone.
CLAUDETTE: Someone like a therapist?
ANNE: Yes, a child psychologist.
CLAUDETTE: Hmm. Well, I don’t guess it could hurt.
ANNE: Mother…
CLAUDETTE: What, Dear?
ANNE: [haltingly] I have to ask you about something.  Have you ever ironed one of Maddy’s dresses or had Evelyn iron one with starch while she was there?
ANNE: Maddy said something the other week, about wanting me to starch her dress for Sunday school and pressing her hair with Royal. I don’t know what the heck Royal is, or why she’d say “press” her hair. Nobody says that.
CLAUDETTE: [a bit miffed] Well, she certainly didn’t hear any of that from me!
ANNE: I’m not accusing you, Mother. I’m just asking. That’s what she said.
CLAUDETTE: [shaking her head, resignedly] I don’t know what to tell you, Dear. It’s all very bizarre.
[There’s a brief silence as both women ponder the situation]
ANNE: And she keeps asking us when we’re going to church, why we never go to church any more. Maybe we should go. We could sure use God’s help right about now.

CLAUDETTE:  Did you say she wants to go to church?
ANNE: Yes. But not our church. She wants to go to “the16th church.” That’s what she says. The  16th church, because it has red bricks. And when she’s talking about church she sings this other song that make no sense [sing-sing again], “Birmingham Sunday… Birmingham Sunday…”
CLAUDETTE:  Birmingham? What would she know about any Birmingham?
ANNE: Once again, Mother, I do not know. But she wants to go to church. And sing with the children. But not in the basement. Because bad things happen in the basement, she says.
CLAUDETTE: Basement…Oh, Anne, you’re really scaring me now.
ANNE: Scaring YOU! [crying and wiping tears now] This is my child, my baby!
CLAUDETTE: [alarmed and almost whispering] I hate to say it, Dear, but this sounds like… has Maddy ever been around any strange men, someone who may have touched her…
ANNE: NO, Mother! Don’t even think that. She’s never been anywhere without us.
CLAUDETTE: I’m not trying to upset you, Dear. It’s just odd.
ANNE: Of course it’s odd. All of it’s odd, Mother!
CLAUDETTE: Hold on just a moment, Dear [begins rifling through one of her desk drawers]
ANNE: What? Do you have a call? You need to go?
CLAUDETTE: No, no. Just hold on one second. I just thought of something strange…
ANNE: Stranger than this??
CLAUDETTE: No, about this. [pulls out and holds up a child’s drawing]  Dear…
ANNE: [apprehensive] What?
CLAUDETTE: You said something about red bricks a minute ago… That drawing I told you about, the one Maddy did last time she was here… I’m looking at it.
ANNE: And?
CLAUDETTE:  And there’s what looks like red bricks in this picture. But they’re in piles. Scattered piles… And there’s also something on here that looks like it could be a steeple.
ANNE: [confused] What do you mean? Like a church steeple?
CLAUDETTE:  I think so. Maybe this has something to do with the whole church business Maddy’s been bringing up.  But it’s these piles of bricks that are bothering me. She’s drawn them on top of the little stick figures. And, if I’m seeing this right, they must be little girls, because they have bows in their hair. Four girls.
ANNE: [horrified] Oh, my God! Mother, why would my baby come up with something so morbid?!
CLAUDETTE:  I’m not sure, but I just thought about something. That song you said Maddy’s been singing. Now that I’m thinking about it, it sounds a little familiar.
ANNE: Which one?
CLAUDETTE: Both of them, actually. I mean, the two of them together remind me of a song I heard way back when I was at Chatham Hall. It had to be around ’65. My first roommate, Kate Sadler, and I, and another girl from our dorm who had a car, went off campus one weekend. Without permission, of course; my year of rebellion. We went to a Joan Baez concert.
ANNE: You, went to a Joan Baez concert?  
CLAUDETTE: I haven’t always been old, Dear.     
ANNE: I know. I just didn’t think you were into that kind of music.                        
 CLAUDETTE: It was the thing to do at the time. We all were. [getting a little impatient] But, listen, Dear. She sang a little bit of everything back then, but there was this one song I thought about for a long time afterward, because it was one of those Civil Rights type songs, and really depressing, actually. It had something to do with Birmingham, and I’m assuming Birmingham Alabama.              
ANNE: Wasn’t Birmingham where they had those bus strikes, where Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up a bus seat?  
CLAUDETTE: Yes, but there was also a church bombing there, if I’m not mistake. But, back to that Joan Baez song. She named each one of the little girls killed in it, four of them, I believe. One by one she named them all. And I’m almost positive there was an Addie something among them. That name just rings a bell now that I’m thinking about it. [voice trailing off]    
ANNE: Little girls? [getting upset]  Mother, what does this have to do with what we’re talking about?  
CLAUDETTE: [trying to calm] Just think about it for a second. The name Addie Mae… Maddy’s drawings… what she said about her real mother not being white… asking you to take her home, and to church. It just makes me wonder.     
ANNE: But that’s all make believe, Mother! What Maddy’s been saying is just her acting out, and fantasy. You’re talking about something real, and something that happened a long time ago. I can’t see how it’s relevant.                                                                                           
CLAUDETTE: Maybe not. But, what if it’s more than fantasy? I’m just saying there are an awful lot of coincidences there. And I’d be a bit spooked if there’s something with the number sixteen in that whole bombed church scenario. You said sixteen, right? 
ANNE: Sixteenth. That’s ridiculous, Mother! It doesn’t even make sense. I’m looking it up right now. [getting on her computer, typing] Okay, here it is. Wait… four girls…killed…Birmingham church…16th Street Baptist [voice trailing off]           
CLAUDETTE: Oh, my word…                                                                                            
ANNE: [reading slowly and in disbelief] The girls were…Denise McNair… Carole Robertson… Addie Mae…    
CLAUDETTE: What?! What?! Anne, what did you just say? Are you there?                                ANNE: [covering her mouth, barely able to speak] Mother, I can’t talk right now. I have to call you back.
Lights fade out.



  1. I absolutely love this blog for its messages that speak to one's inner being. It resonates inside like a whisper from our loving God. I'm taken aback by the simplicity of the blog that reads like a fortune 50 award-winning blog.

    This, to me is the most powerful piece of the poem, above:

    I have the scars I can’t deny from
    Thoughtless words and foolish times
    But you still forgave

    Thanks for a lovely blog.

  2. Again, thanks for the message and reminding us of his presence.

    Brad Bechler

  3. Thanks to YOU, Brad, for checking out the blog and posting your feedback. You pulled out the very same part of that song's lyrics that spoke to me the most and caused me to post it. :)

  4. Lemelia You sound so much like me. I relate to your life and many of the things you say. Want to mention that having been diagnosed bi-polar and very sensitive and often a hermit, often fatigued and often depressed, often battled, sick more often then not, writing a lot (not well like you though) ripping it up usually for fear my family will read what I wrote,----- Sorry the point was that I'm sure the meds make us stay sick! The antidepressants can cause panic attacks! So then they give us a down which causes other problems. And so on and so on. We are all being poisoned in this chemical world in one way or another. Environmental illness is becoming more and more common. I am getting so I hardly leave the house. I feel like I do nothing for our Father! But I see you having an online ministry. I feel lifted up b/c of you. I just got facebook and joined a chat on line (CA Trial) and met you. Ive never chatted on line before or joined a discussion and I barely know how to type. I was feeling guilty for watching CA trial and talking on line b/c of the time it took and now I know why. It was to meet you. I no longer feel like dying. You have inspired me. Your writing I kept noticing and then you posted this site. I have so many questions for you. You clearly are not a typical christian which I also am not. I feel so rejected sometimes but then so was Jesus! I don't believe a lot of things i was taught. The church I was raised in would say you are not a christian if you believe dif. from the way they interperate things. They are all right wing and I am nothing politically. I voted for Obama but now am sad I did although I think I would not have voted at all if God had not wanted him in there as I never voted before. Feel free to edit or delete anything I write if not appropriate. I just feel the need to ask you a lot of questions but not sure if I'm talking too much here. Well anyway I love you already and thank-you for picking me up!