Sunday, November 15, 2020



My dog runs in her sleep.


Her little paws flipping up and down as she’s lying there. Eyes closed. Breathing deep.


She must be asleep.


And yet she runs.


It doesn’t appear to be a sprint but maybe a simple graceful jaunt. A jog. A trot.


And where could she be going? I wonder.


Could it be our neighborhood park next door? Could it be her going after a chew toy we threw down the hall? A run on the beach? She never seemed to like the water much.


Maybe she’s recalling the time when she’s ready for dinner and she jets to and fro between her momma and me hoping to get one of our attention. Barking loudly.


For it’s true besides the flipping paws, every once in awhile she’ll eek out this little muffled huff. High pitched. So faint. It’s actually sort of cute, but at the same time it’s somewhat sad.


She’s trying to communicate something to someone, and she’s also moving along in stride.


I will listen, I tell her.


Whatever your little high-pitched huff is trying to say I will see if I can decipher. Wherever you want to run to, I can run with you. The beach? The park? For a stuffed animal?


I will go along.


With you.


As we run. As we jaunt. As we attempt to get someone’s attention.


In our dreams. 


James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, and can be reached at



Well now everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty

And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

        - Bruce Springsteen


I miss the smell of jasmine. That lilting fragrance that used to meet me at the end of my porch as I left for the day, and faithfully greeted me as I returned home after some time away. The unmistakable scent from those lovely white mini-petals that bloomed at regular intervals, I think, whenever they wanted.
I had this plush row of jasmine shrubs that decorated one part of my white picket fence, atop of the porch, near the number of my home address. Often I wouldn't even notice whether the shrubs were in bloom or not, but there would be that fragrance. It would bypass my conscious mind, as I walked by, and yet it would linger on ... until it would register in me. That scent. That white vine. That beauty.
It would remain. For a time.
I miss the smell of jasmine.
For the days would come, when droughts thrashed Southern California greenery and scenery, and governors mandated that the public "kill your lawn" for the higher good, and the water sprinklers broke down, and my own preoccupations distracted me towards other needs. Yes, my focus was pulled away from the garden. Away from my care-taking responsibilities. Away from the jasmine that used to welcome me.
A negligent guardian, a sloppy steward, I failed.
I let it go.
Not just the jasmine. Not just the lawn, but the roses and the passion flowers and the vines.
I let it die.
And I am so sorry.
When I first considered purchasing the property, one of the main selling points was the magic of the flowers, trees, shrubs and landscape out front. I remember the friend who joined me in my home search, stopped me at one point when I wasn't sold on the house and exclaimed, "Look at the garden!"
Over the years, every once in awhile a different flower would appear out of nowhere. And it would be beautiful and wondrous and magical. Hummingbirds would congregate to partake in the nectar and the magic. Butterflies would visit for a time as they saw fit. And nature spirits, fairies and gnomes must have loved this playground, full of vibrant life.
I miss the smell of jasmine.
As the regret turns to grief, and then to tears, and then to heartfelt apologies, I find myself taking a new view on this garden. This morning I chose to meditate out on the patio rather than in my bedroom. I've taken to more regularly watering the plants and palms and even calling for some expert help in ensuring their health. I have planned for a date with the wife so we can share a meal out on the patio, perhaps with a tiki torch or two.
I have reminded myself that the original magic of that garden was actually planted by another, by a former tenant, and not by me or my wife. I have dedicated time now, every other day, in tending to this garden, in clearing away any weeds and overgrowth, so that soil will be made ready again ... for another sowing of a new seed. It can be a home for a magic that we ourselves can plant and watch grow.
I have missed the smell of jasmine.
And yet, after the loss and the letting go, there comes a new day. The sun will rise, as will the opportunities. And there can be a return ... to a garden evergreen, to an effervescent scent of beauty and to the lingering memories of magic that will live forever more. 

James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, and can be reached at





The birds outside our front door gather routinely, when the coast is clear, when the time is right, and when the birdseed is scattered across the porch for them.
I don't do it every day, but I will a few times a week. I take three handfuls of seed and spread it out for them.

And that's when the action really picks up.

After awhile, the news gets around - word of beak - and soon there are up to a dozen beautiful birds enjoying a feast right before our eyes. They swoop in, get some grub, stay for a time, and then bolt away. Some of the birds also feed from the small birdhouse, but as that only serves as many as three at a time, the seating is limited. Still others will stay in waiting in the nearby tree on the far side of the garden, before they get their chance to swoop in.

It's a beautiful sight.

Let's be like the birds.

These birds must have some communication system that lets the other birds know about the feast aplenty here. How else would all these birds find their way to this locale at the right time?

I guess the initial "early bird" could do its own form of "smacking," loud enough for other fine feathered friends to hear. Or perhaps there is some hormone that is released when one of their own is chowing down. I like to believe that they all have some special chirping system that alerts the rest of the clan of the day's harvest.

Perhaps this is why when I see a lone bird picking away at this gigantic mound of birdseed, I never see him looking over his shoulder to guard his most recent find. (Granted their shoulders are so freaking small.) Not once have I noticed that the lone bird's chirps dissuade any other birds from finding this gold mine, as never has this chirp been translated as "Nothing to see here. Move along. It's all good." And finally, it must be pointed out that not one bird - not one - has been found to pocket seeds uneaten or bring his own Tupperware to gather up all this extra seed for himself, and himself only.

This is why I say we would be wise to look towards these birds.

Let us take what we need, and leave the rest.

Let us know there can be enough for all.

Let us put out the call to friends, family, countrywomen and countrymen, alerting them of the harvest available to everyone.

Let us remember the tune "Proud Mary" where "people on the river are happy to give."

Let us live in abundance and prosperity - not just so we get more and more, but so that we embrace a world where everyone's needs are met.

Let us be like the birds...


James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, and can be reached at