Author Archives: Alexis-Rueal

About Alexis-Rueal

I am a Poet. I ballroom dance, and I crochet. I own a Goldendoodle. I love pizza, ice cream, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and my husband. The rest are just details.

It’s been awhile….


So what have I been up to? Lots. Many life changes have occurred since last I’ve posted. I got a new job that I love, I won my very first slam (’bout damn time), continued to shadowcast movies (and even got my Mister to perform in a couple, himself), and worked on publishing work. 

Speaking of which:

I have had a banner year for pieces being published. I will put out a post with links to all of my published pieces and a site where you can pre-order  My FIRST chapbook, “Letter to 20.” I’m so proud of this. It’s the culmination of many years’ worth of dreams to see a book with my work and my name on the front cover. It’s an amazing feeling. 

I promise I won’t leave the site hanging like I did before. You’ll be hearing more from me– for better or worse. 

Love to all. 

Life and Publishing Updates


Been rather busy these past few weeks. Mainly, it’s been job hunting; like it or not, 20 hours a week does not a decent paycheck make. But… BUT… I did find a full time job. I’ll be doing pretty much what I am doing now, but full time. 

I, well, am  happy to have this opportunity. There is a part of me, though… a part that looks at friends who have jobs that seem to be what they want. They can survive on their job, and they seem to do interesting things. At least, that’s what I read about and hear. And I look at my situation. It’s a job… it will do what I need it to do (i.e., pay the bills), but there is still something missing.

I can’t feel this way… I shouldn’t feel this way. I have bills, I have to live and survive day to day. I need a job for that.  I should be thankful. There is something in me that longs to have a job I want, though. One that can use my writing in ways that can help people. I know that job is out there. Right now, though, I have to focus on what I need to do to survive. And I have the job that will help with that. 

Anyway, on the publishing front, I have two pieces that will be published in Loch Raven Review  in a couple of weeks. This is the first time I’ve had multiple pieces published at once. Feels good to see it happen, finally. 

Just Jim (My First Short Story)


About two weeks ago, Scott Woods, the slam master for Writers’ Block, challenged people to create something we have never done before. I chose to write a short story. I can say, now, that it is finished. I’m on the verge of tears. I had always been scared of writing something like this… didn’t know how to handle writing continuously. I muddled through, though, and have never felt more proud. 

So, I give you “Just Jim,” with the announcement that, yeah, “I made this!” 

He finished his supper in silence. Well, if anyone wanted to call it supper– two day old pizza with the consistency of rubber. It quieted the rumbling of his stomach, though; and that was all that counted. Too bad it didn’t do anything for his mind.

Jim stared off in the darkness; the storm knocked out a transformer, so he was stuck listening to the deafening silence of his empty house, interrupted periodically by the purring of his cat, Sookie. What he wouldn’t give to have an old house– one where the walls would creak and groan with the roaring of the winds and drown out the chorus of loss ringing in his ears. One name, replayed over and over again, filling him to the point where he could do nothing but sigh,

“I miss you, Eliza Grace.”

Eliza Grace Mathews. Eliza Grace Mathews of the “East Side Mathews” family– a family of doctors, lawyers, even a former mayor or two. She was known as E.G. to her family and most of her friends. She was the free spirit who decided to become a writer instead of a fourth generation medical school or law school student. Her parents threatened to disinherit her, but then she sold her first book. Then she became “Our daughter, the author,” and a new wave of old money crashed into the Mathews family social gatherings– each bringing offerings of single sons to the only daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Mathews.

But she was just Eliza Grace to Jim. He loved the way each syllable rolled off his tongue; and she loved how he loved it. During mid-day conversations about nothing at all, or when he quietly moaned her name in their most secret moments, he could feel her release all of the responsibilities of “E.G.,” the dutiful daughter and “E.G. Mathews,” the celebrated author. She just became Eliza Grace, a simple, passion-filled woman, drawn into the arms of the man she loved.

Jim had met Eliza Grace at a book signing. She was there signing copies of her latest book, and he was there… buying another book. Jim had never even HEARD of E.G. Mathews– his reading habits skewed more towards science journals and educational materials he used in his 9th grade science classes; but when he saw her sitting at the table– with blazing red hair and large eyes– he knew he had to meet her. Jaw droppingly beautiful women didn’t drift into his part of the world too often, and he wasn’t about to leave without at least looking into her eyes just once.

He quickly ran to the display table loaded down with her various works, grabbed the first book he saw and rushed to pay for it and get in line. When Jim reached the table, she looked up at him, held out her hand to take his book, and said,

“Hello, there. Who am I making this out to?”

Jim was dumbfounded. Her voice had such a soft, lilting quality to it. He could almost feel his heart stop, and the blood rush from his face.

Jim stumbled, “My name’s James, b-but my friends call me Jimmy… or Jim…yeah… Jim… just Jim.”

Eliza chuckled, “Well, ‘Just Jim,’ I kind of need that book if I’m going to sign it.”

Jim blushed and handed over the book, staring at her blue-gray eyes the entire time. Eliza blushed slightly at the intensity of Jim’s gaze and lowered her eyes to the book in her hand. She paused for a second then bit her lip as she tried to stifle a laugh. She looked up, and with as straight a face as she could muster said,

“I was quite proud of this book. Don’t know why, but the line ‘Call me Ishmael’ just had a ring to it.”

Jim started to nod in return, but then his face when from hopeful nervousness to outright terror. He slowly looked down to see that this glorious looking woman in front of him was holding not one of her books, but a copy of “Moby Dick.” And that was exactly what Jim felt like.

Only one way to salvage the situation:

“Well, I figured if you signed it, it would turn the world’s most boring book into something worth keeping.”

Eliza burst out in a full-throated laugh.

” ‘Just Jim’, you’re a mighty poor liar, but at least you’re honest about it.”

Jim knew he was in as he went for the kill.

“Well, meet me for coffee, Ms. Mathews and I promise I’ll have even worse lies to tell.”

E.G. Mathews–celebrated author– held out her hand to Jim, smiled and said,

“Deal. Call me Eliza Grace.”

And that was almost two years ago.

What started off as a cup of coffee at a low-rent coffee shop turned into dinner at a four star restaurant two nights later which then turned into a dinner and play date a week after that.

Each time they met, conversation never lacked. Jim and Eliza shared a penchant for Gen X music and little known movies. They both had wicked senses of humor and were quite fond of trying to top each other in one liners. During quiet evenings, Eliza would listen intently as Jim discussed the trials and tribulations of guiding a bunch of teenager through the table of elements; and Jim loved hearing her talk about her newest story or dealing with fans and critics.

Neither could dance, but that didn’t stop them from getting on the dance floor and making utter and unrepentant fools out of themselves.

It was the slow dances, though, that Jim looked forward to the most. Feeling her head on his chest as they swayed to the eslow rhythm of romance. How he kept his heart from exploding from his rib cage that first time, he still doesn’t know; but afterward, all he felt was contentment and love.

Jim was too caught up in reminiscing to notice a paw on his nose. First one tap, then two. Jim startled at the second tap, focused on Sookie standing on her hind legs looking him intently in the eye. Jim laughed at this absurd sight no one else could see.

“Sorry, Sook. Thanks for bringing me home.”

Sookie, job done for the moment, jumped off his lap and took up her mouse ball again. Jim and Sookie had become closer these past three months. Three months after moving in together,  Jim and Eliza had rescued Sookie. Sookie took to Eliza more than to Jim, snuggling in her lap as she tried to type or bringing her one of the many cat toys she was fond of playing fetch with.

Jim would have his moments with Sookie, too, curling around his feet if Eliza was out of the house awhile. Once she came back home, though, Sookie was all hers.

“I’m sorry, honey,” Eliza would say as she blushed. Jim could tell she felt a tinge of guilt at Sookie’s preference.

Jim smiled. “It’s okay, baby. I’d make the same choice.”

Jim looked at Sookie playing in the floor. He knows she hasn’t been quite the same, but they had become closer, snuggling in bed at night and staying close to each other when Jim came home from work. Jim felt like Sookie was trying to get through this, too. He knew Sookie knew they needed each other.

But if Jim and Sookie needed each other, they both needed Eliza Grace more. He just didn’t know that until she was gone.

He could still feel the brick that landed dead center in his gut when Eliza broke the news during dinner with her parents.

“I got a phone call from my agent today,” Eliza announced over wine. “We finalized the deal to adapt the new book series into a T.V. show.”

Everyone at the table let out a happy gasp.

“Wonderful, E.G.!” exclaimed her mother.

“Bravo, munchkin!” said her father.

`         Jim took her hand and kissed it, “Congratulations, baby. I’m so proud of you.”

Eliza smiled. “Thanks, all. They want me to go to L.A. next month so we can start looking at writers and fleshing out the first few scripts. They’re even setting us up an apartment.”

Jim had his fork halfway to his mouth and stopped.

“Us?” he asked.

“Yeah, baby. They’re really excited about this project and said it would be best to stay in L.A. for a few months while we put the team together. I told them about you teaching, and they said that they have some wonderful schools out there. A couple of great Science Academies.”

The way Eliza looked at him, with such joy in her eyes, it broke Jim’s heart. He wanted to be with her, but not there. THIS, this was their home. He had taught here for 10 years, hoped to teach here for 20 more. He wanted to raise his children—his and Eliza’s children—here.

But he couldn’t say anything, not here in front of everyone. So Jim forced himself to smile, forced down the bitter bile rising in his throat, choked down his food. Waited until they got home.

“Eliza,” he said after they got settled, “is there no way to work there part time and here part time?”

“I asked. They really want the pilot ready in six months. They want a half-season written. They’re banking on this show to become the cornerstone of their new Thursday night line-up. They really want me there.”

She looked at him. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

Jim tried to look at her, but looked away. “Eliza, I…well, well, how am I supposed to leave here? How am I supposed to leave the school in the middle of the year? What are we going to do with the house? ” As he rattled off the litany of questions, he started to get angry. Angry at her success putting him in this situation. Angry at himself for his own doubt and insecurity. “Why didn’t you talk to me before you signed the deal?”

Eliza looked stricken. “I thought you would want to come, honey. I didn’t know they were going to push for such a quick turnaround. I thought… I thought you would want to come.”

Eliza took Jim’s hand, “Just think about it, honey. I’ll try to figure something out.”

Jim slowly pulled his hand away. “I just don’t know.”

The next two weeks became stressful. Eliza (barely) worked it out with the studio to come home every other weekend to spend time with Jim. But as she prepared to leave for L.A., things became more stressful. As Eliza worked with producers and studio execs, Jim became short tempered, snapping at the smallest thing. When Eliza tried to talk to him about possible casting for the show, Jim snapped, “I’m really tired of hearing about that goddamn show.”

Eliza looked at Jim, pursed her lips together so hard they almost disappeared, and in a voice on the verge of cracking like egg shells said, “Okay. You don’t have to hear about it, anymore.”

She got up and started up the stairs, stopped halfway, turned to Jim.

“I will always love you, honey…but…” she couldn’t finish the sentence. She just turned and walked up the stairs.

And three days later, she was on her way to Los Angeles. Tearfully, she hugged Sookie and handed her to Jim. “I, I probably won’t have time to take care of her,” she said softly.

Jim looked down at the cat, squirming in his arms as she tried to follow Eliza toward the door. He looked to Eliza, his Eliza Grace, about to drift out of his life, and for what? So he could trudge through the same high school hallways for the next 20 years, all to come home to an empty home: the only thing making it a home 3000 miles away from him.

His stubbornness was still strong, though… and his fear. The fear of admitting he was wrong and it being considered too little, too late.

He walked over to Eliza Grace Mathews, kissed her cheek, inhaled her scent, pulled away and looked into her eyes…

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

And she was gone.

And for the past three months, it has been “just Jim,” and Sookie. And it has been every bit the torment that Jim knew it would be. And tonight, in the darkness, Jim understood, finally, what he needed to do. For him. For Sookie. For Eliza.

He grabbed one of the candles he’d been using to light up the living room, took it to the den and sat down at the desk. He pulled out paper and pen, and in the darkness, wrote something he knew he needed to write the day Eliza walked out the door, but had been too afraid to do so. Once he finished, he looked at Sookie.

“Well, Sook, I tried. Let’s hope this works.” With that, Jim went to bed for the night.

About five o’clock the next morning, Jim woke with a start. Bad dreams that disintegrated from his mind like smoke left him short of breath and disoriented. He reached down to the foot of the bed to pet Sookie, and found… no Sookie.

Jim felt anxious. It wasn’t like Snookie to get up in the middle of the night. She enjoyed being snuggled into the sheets and blankets. Jim got up to look for her.

“Sookie! Here kitty! Sookie,” Jim called throughout the house. He checked the bathrooms, the kitchen, next to the food bowl, nothing. Jim walked into the living room, got ready to call after Sookie, when he saw her, curled up on the couch. More specifically, Sookie was curled up in the lap of the person sitting on the couch.

“Eliza Grace,” Jim gasped.

“ ‘Just Jim,’” replied Eliza. She had puffy eyes, and her voice cracked.

“I remember the way you stumbled over your own name when we met. I remember that damn copy of Moby Dick. I remember the dinners, and the dancing. Baby,” she looked up at Jim, “ I remember that I love you.” She started sobbing.

“I can’t do it. Not alone. It’s not the same alone. Not after having you in my life, not after making a home with you. I can’t… no… I won’t do it alone.”

Jim had tried to fight the emotions once he saw her, but after listening to her, he couldn’t contain himself, any longer. He put his hand to his eyes and broke down weeping.

“I’m so sorry, sweetheart. I was a fool, an utter fool. A scared, foolish man, who confused laziness with comfort. And I was wrong for doing so. I was wrong for trying to keep you from your success.”

Eliza put down Sookie, stood up and walked over to Jim. The air rushed from Jim’s lungs when he felt her nearness. He wept harder, amazed that she was standing so close to him after these months.

She looked at him with gentle, sad, and hopeful eyes. “Well, you don’t have to worry about that, anymore. I’m telling the studio that I can’t do this, anymore. What I’ve given up is more than I can bear.” Eliza wrapped her arms around Jim and drew herself close to him.

Jim sniffed, coughed, put his hand to her chin and drew her face up to his. He saw those beautiful eyes. He smiled.

“No need, honey. I’ve got it all covered.”

Eliza looked confused. “What do you mean?”

Jim said “Give me a sec. I’ll be right back.” With that, he left the living room, came back about 30 seconds later with a piece of paper—the same piece of paper he wrote on in the den. He gave it to Eliza, smiled.

“Go ahead. Read it.”

Eliza opened the paper. A few seconds later, she lowered the paper, and then looked up at Jim with shocked and happy eyes.


Jim put his arms around Eliza’s waist and drew her close to him again. He wasn’t going to let go, this time.

“Yep. Turning it in today.” He smiled at the beautiful woman in his arms.

“My name’s James, but my friends call me Jimmy, or Jim. Just Jim. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Eliza Grace laughed. “Thank you ‘Just Jim.’” And as she brought her lips to his, “You can call me Eliza Grace.”

End of Another Slam Season and an Art Project


Last week marked the end of the Individual World Poetry Slam season for Writers’ Block. I and four other wonderful poets competed in the Grand Slam to determine who would represent WB in Fayetteville later this year. I went into this pretty certain I was not going to win this season (No, this is not the way you should go in… but I’ve become something of a realist… a realist who still loves poetry, but still a realist.)

Anyhoo, I had a different goal for this slam: I was going to perform all three of my pieces from memory. Three minutes, two minutes, and one minute. I rehearsed for the better part of a month, and wanted to say I had performed to the very best of my ability.  And, in the end, I did.

I won’t go over every single detail from the three performances… except to say, they felt good. I felt strong on stage, and thought my work could stand up with everyone else’s that night. Well, according to the scores  (which is not the point of poetry, and so on and so forth), my pieces did NOT. I ended up fourth out of five. But, damnit, I still achieved my goal. I performed. I presented my work how I wanted to present it…. that part no one can take away from me. No one ever will.

I just still want to know what the people want to hear. I write what moves me, and I write it as eloquently as I can. And I did have some of my friends and fellow poets say that my work was some of the best I had ever written/performed. That was a solace. That means I have been learning and applying what I have learned in a way that can be noticed. So, I don’t leave this season without anything. I leave a little more experienced and a little stronger on the stage. I know that *someday*my chance will come. I just have to keep on keeping on.

In case you were wondering, a wonderful poet named Ed Plunkett will be representing Writers’ Block at IWPS. He’s a great friend, and wonderful poet, and he will represent us well. We wish him the best of luck.

In other artistic news,  the Midnight Shift is performing “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” this month. I’m Jessica… and directing. It keeps a girl on her toes. Even my Mister is going to be in this… as Lena Hyena. Yeah, baby.  No way better to break them in than in DRAG.

I’ve also been painting. Yes, an actual painting. On canvas even.

I call it “Cat at the well.” It’s acrylic on an 11×14 canvas. I’m really happy with how this piece turned out. It was quite enjoyable trying to figure out sunset and how to paint the well. Believe it or not, the cat was pretty simple to paint. Can’t beat simple, sometimes.  Anyway, I want to hang it somewhere, just have to figure out where.  It’ll come.

So, that’s me. I work, I write, I shadowcast, and now I paint. Why not?

So I haven’t been around for awhile…


I know… about two weeks without a post. Shame on me. It’s been a trying couple of weeks or so. Let’s start with the fact that my hours were cut in half at work. Yeah, I was poor before… I’m po, now. So it’s been a lot of resume submissions, and interviews. I’m looking at getting back into working with the developmentally disabled. It’s a field I enjoyed working in, and I was pretty good at what I did. We’ll see what happens. 

Add to this the fact that my father had a quadruple bypass last week. Waiting to see if your father makes it out of surgery is an experience I would not wish on anyone. Sitting in a waiting room pretending our lives are normal while a family member is having veins and arteries re-arranged in their body is a soul chilling experience. I’ve been trying to write about it… and it’s coming. At its own pace, it’s coming. 

And, yes… I always have my hand in something poetry related. Working on a few new pieces, and I’m trying to memorize three pieces for the upcoming Grand Slam to send one person from Writers’ Block to the Individual World Poetry Slam. Yes… I’m still trying. Yes, I’m probably still going to end up dead last… but what the hell. I’m a poetic masochist. But, damn it… I’m going to perform off the paper. I’m going to give these pieces every bit of performance they deserve. And I’m leaving there that night with my head held high, come hell, high water or low slam scores. 

I’m still trying to remind myself that I have something to say… that I have a talent as a poet. It’s tough, especially when I hear all of the talented people in Columbus. It is doubly true when I hear from features such as Theresa Davis or Rachel McKibbens. I just saw Rachel perform tonight. She brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion during her feature. She’s so powerful… so eloquent and honest and heartbreaking. So… everything that I am not. Makes me wonder what I have in me, sometimes. What makes me unique… what makes me worth listening to. What my “So what” factor is.

I’m still looking. Maybe someday, I will find it. 

A Viking Funeral for my Poetry Binder


Oh, I wish… after last night’s slam, I was ready to set it ablaze and chuck it in the pond out back of our house. Finished dead last (again). Finished behind a guy with a six point time penalty, if that gives you any idea of how badly I sucked the life out of the room.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have my heart into it. I haven’t felt like performing for awhile, now, and I slammed BECAUSE I didn’t feel like it. That seems to be the time when you need to get up and face the apathy the most. Didn’t work., though; and– might as well be honest– the poetry sucked. It was “So what” poetry. I didn’t think it was… I hoped that it wasn’t, but it was.

And that is where I am having problems.

In slams, it is rare that I connect with an audience. I’m a short, chubby, Southern woman who hates following trends (remind me to tell you about my intense hatred of “The Hunger Games”). It’s tough to create work to which people relate. I see other poets get up there and have people eating out of their hands, and I could weep. I can rarely bring the humor and the utter pathos that seem to grab the audience and keep them enthralled. I’m trying, though. Reading, watching YouTube performances, going to see poets as much as I can. But what moves me is not the same as others, and I don’t know how to make it beautiful for them.

That’s not to say I haven’t, though. There are a very special few pieces that I have written that connected. I have to try to remember how I did that.

I’m not going to quit, though. I’ll keep turning out crap; and maybe, just maybe, there will be a few diamonds come from them… or at least some semi-precious stones worth of poetry.

Published in “The New Verse News”


I told you yesterday that I would post a link if my poem, Statue  was published by The New Verse News.  Well, lo and behold, it has been. I have to admit, this was a goal of mine. I have read NVN for quite awhile, submitted to them, and been rejected by them. They publish very good poetry, and some very good friends of mine have been included on their site. It was a lovely thing to learn that my piece will be included.

I’m feeling stronger, poem by poem, and I can see it reflected in what I write. There is so much still to learn, though. That’s the lovely thing about art… you can never learn enough.

Publishing Updates


Yes, it’s been a little while. I haven’t forgotten you, dear readers; I’ve just been pushing through some new poetry, getting ready for the Midnight Shift’s performance of “Army of Darkness”  and submitting some work. Speaking of which…

I found out on Monday that my poem “Summer Afternoon” will be published in an anthology next month. The book is called “Hot Summer Nights,” by Inner Child Press. It was a happy surprise to find out it was included. Some feisty work is in this… I hope you enjoy.

I’m still working on getting something accepted by a university press. I had hope for the Cleveland Review, but alas, another rejection letter. Still holding out hope for Appalachia Heritage out of Berea college, though. Submitted one of my favorite Southern themed pieces. My fingers are crossed.

Also submitted to New Verse News, again. I’ve been reading about the tragedy/travesty that is the Penn State scandal and have become interested in the fate of the JoPa statue. It’s even become a topic of debate with my friends– some of whom want it taken down, and others who say leave it up, but maybe put a plaque there talking about the Sandusky case. I agree with the latter, and my poem explains why. If it’s published, I’ll post a link. If it’s rejected, I’ll post the damn thing here. Either way, it WILL see the light of day.

Back in the poetry saddle again!


She’s back in the saddle again… holding her paper and pen…

Yes. It’s been awhile. I’ve been slacking a little, what with the holiday and, you know… LIFE.

But, where I have not been working on poetry as much, I have been doing some other things. I was in the annual Doo-Day Parade with the Fishnet Mafia, the Columbus, Ohio Rocky Horror Shadowcast Troupe. The Mister was even in the parade. He was Brad while I was corseted up and Time Warping and getting sunburned. And, yes… here are the pictures (because we all know that it didn’t happen unless there are pictures. )


My mister as Brad.


No. Really. Stop looking at my butt.


The Mafia getting ready for the parade.

The parade was a blast! Time Warping non-stop in 100 degree heat tends to wear a person out, though. But we sucked it up; we’re kinda awesome, that way.

This past weekend was also our monthly show. I played Dr. Scott. It was the first time I’d seen Studio 35 since the renovations. Quite a nice place, and they had an awesome picture/poster of RHPS. Of course, I had to get a picture.


And I tied my own tie, too, last night. Like a boss.

So, the moral of this story: It’s okay to take a little break, and, you know, live a little. I love my shadowcasting activities. They are a different way for me to express myself and perform. I also think that doing this has made me a better poet by helping me be more unafraid to try new things and more comfortable around groups of people. I mean, if I can handle wearing a corset in front of thousands of people in downtown Columbus, I can handle a room full of poetry buffs.

So, back to poetry. I have been working on a rough draft of a piece. Tough piece, one that I didn’t think I would need to write… but sometimes you just have to. I did, also, submit work to Appalachian Heritage quarterly journal out of Berea College in Kentucky. I would love to eventually publish a book on my southern-ness. I have quite a few pieces, so there’s hope. Hopefully, AH will accept my work. My finger’s are crossed.

Poetry Prompt for you…


Reading an article on Jezebel listing the things we DO have in life– even though we don’t “have it all.”

That got me to thinking.

Write a list poem about the things you DO have in your life… not what you don’t have, not what you want. But what you have right here, right now. Look at what’s lying around you, what you’re wearing, what’s hanging in your closet. Write about the beliefs and attitudes that you have.

Have fun with it… and when you’re done, appreciate all these wonders that you posses. These things that make you, you.