All posts by The Abject Muse

Susan Marie Shuman is an author and freelance writer/editor who currently resides in the wilds of Birmingham, AL. She shares her life with four spoiled cats, several friends (not all of them imaginary) one husband and one step-son. When she's not working, Susan enjoys horseback riding, reading, taking her cats for a spin in their pet stroller, and taking naps. An ex-bartender, recovering crash test dummy and all-around late bloomer, Susan graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2004 with a BA in English. She minored in Russian. Long-range goals include visiting Israel, the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein. Susan is also planning to launch a micronation which would be called either Suzannistan or Eastern Suzanorovia.

My Happy Pill

Today at Fandango’s Dog Days of August prompt, we are to write about something that brings us joy.

Joy, huh?

This is a tough one since I’ve lost my job due to Covid19 and lost a few friends (other illnesses & accidents) over the last several months.


There are two things that bring some relief to the depression and boredom: writing (when my creativity isn’t jammed up) and studying Hebrew.

Hebrew requires my full attention and concentration since it is read from right to left, has different characters, obviously, and its vowels are dots & dashes beneath the letters. Anyway, trying to suss out meaning demands that I forget about everything else for a while. In a way you could call Hebrew my happy pill in that it makes the world go away.



Ain’t Got None

This week’s prompt over at Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday is song with a harmonica in it. So, I chose Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”


Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long anytime she goes away

[Verse 2]
Wonder this time where she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home anytime she goes away

[Verse 3]
And I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know

Hey, I ought to leave the young thing alone
But ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

[Verse 4]
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Only darkness every day
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home anytime she goes away

Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away


Song Facts

“Ain’t No Sunshine” was released as a B-side to the song “Harlem” in 1971. At the time of the song’s recording, Withers was working at a factory making toilet seats for Boeing 747 planes and he was inspired to write the song after watching the film Days of Wine and Roses.

Sometimes you miss things that weren’t particularly good for you. It’s just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I’m not aware of.

The song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 40 in Australia, Canada and the UK. It later won a Grammy Award in 1972 for Best R&B Song.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” continues to be lauded as one of the best songs ever recorded. It was included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, was ranked of #20 on Mojo magazine’s 100 Greatest Songs of All Time, and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

For the song’s third verse, Withers had intended to write more lyrics instead of repeating the phrase “I know” 26 times, but then followed the advice of the other musicians to leave it that way: “I was this factory worker puttering around,” Withers said. “So when they said to leave it like that, I left it.”



Elsewhere Tableau

It’s the Saturday Mix – Lucky Dip over at MLMM! This week we’ll be crafting a Tableau. Any topic. A tableau consists of one or more verses, each having six lines. Each line should have five beats. There is no set rhyme scheme, although rhyme may be present. The title should contain the word tableau.

Veil of twilight falls

Like it always has

The stars still appear

Twinkling bright silver

And as if nothing

in this world had changed.


But how can this be?

Even birds still sing

How can they not know?

That you are not here

Forever elsewhere.

And daisies still bloom?




Today, Fandango’s Dog Days of August prompt is “Pets.”

It all started when my mom & I were trying to cross a busy street. There were lots of loud machines coming & going in both directions, plus it was raining. Mom & I were both wet and she was irritated. Finally she saw a break & thought we could make it across, so we ran.

Mom didn’t make it.

The big machine that hit her just kept going, like nothing happened, but right away another machine stopped on the side of the road. A human got out and picked me up and took me…  I dunno, somewhere. Everything happened so fast!

The next thing I knew, this other human came to get me and I lived with her for 21 years.

She took me to the vet and even gave me this gigantic name: Nicole Tatiana. Everybody just called me Nikki, though.

It was a good life. My humans were an absolute laugh riot. I used to do this thing where I’d stand by a closet door and whine really loud and look at the humans. It never failed, one of them eventually got up and opened the door to see what was in there, and I’d walk away. Then they would start laughing their asses off. The humans got such a kick out of that! No matter how many times I did it, they always fell for it. At least they were easily amused.

I lived with three other cats, too, but not always the same ones. Some went to Rainbow Bridge and then after a while a new cat or kitten would move in. For the most part, we all got along.

Many years passed and then one day, I noticed that mouths were moving, but no sound came out. At first I thought they were all playing a joke on me, but then it came to me that I wasn’t hearing any of the usual noises. No birds chirping, vacuum cleaner, music, no garbage disposal. Nothing.

The next thing that happened was little by little things got blurry. Each day, they got blurrier until eventually I couldn’t see anything at all. Boy, was that scary! Imagine not being able to hear or see. By memory (and smell!) I was able to make to the litterbox & back, but it took forever. My bones hurt like hell for some reason.

Sometimes I’d lose all sense of direction and had no clue what room I was in. Talk about terrifying! I’d start howling I think, but I’m not sure because I couldn’t hear myself. My human came right away and picked me up, which startled me of course, because I couldn’t hear or see her coming.

It got old bumping into walls and getting disoriented. That’s when my human began carrying me around everywhere. That worked okay but she didn’t always know where I wanted to go, or when.

I was ready to go and my human knew it.

So we took our last car ride together and now I am at Rainbow Bridge.

What humans don’t know though, is that The Bridge isn’t far from Earth at all.

It’s just behind a thin curtain-like thing. Like all the pets here, I can come back and visit whenever I want.

So don’t worry; you’re never really alone.


Nicole Tatiana (Nikki)

The Blur

It’s Poetics time at the dVerse Poets Pub! Tonight, our prompt is “looking out the window.”

Peering through the window

of my mind’s eye

now smudged thick

with the fingerprint

of time,


by memories

of trying to remember.

Still I see you

and me

the way we were

all those years ago.

And I smile


the blur.


Susan Marie Shuman/SusanWritesPrecise
Andrzej Mazur