Why Church Poor Boxes Are Now Locked


Three Stories featuring The Evil Mary Fran

  1. Why Church Poor Boxes Are Now Locked

 We stood looking at the ancient heavy wooden box. “Cool,” said the Evil Mary Fran. “It ain’t even locked.”

“But I don’t think we should steal from the church.” I wasn’t sure who I was more afraid of, my religious aunt, who would have tears in her eyes but would still whip me with the belt, or a terrible curse from the sky roaring down on us like thunder.

“Look, it says Poor Box, right? And we’re poor, ain’t we?”

“I guess so.”

“So the money’s ours.” She opened the box, and we each greedily grabbed a fistful of wrinkled dollar bills. We stuffed them in our pockets, scooped up the change.

“Someone’s coming,” I whispered, terrified that a priest or, worse yet, a nun, would grab hold of us and whip our skinny bodies with sticks and belts. Mary Fran didn’t look the least bit concerned.

She put a finger to her lips. “We’ll sneak out the side door and go down the alley.”

We ran to her rickety wooden front porch, then counted the loot. I scored $7.43. Mary Fran did better, $9.75.

“I know where I’m going,” she said, greed glinting in her eyes. “Dairy Queen.”

“Look.” I found a tiny piece of folded paper among the bills. “It says, Dear God, I am sorry I have no money to feed the poor. I will give some when I get paid from working in the laundry.”

The Evil Mary Fran laughed. “Man, the bastards around here are so cheap.”

I looked at the note again. It looked just like my aunty’s neat Catholic school girl handwriting.


Photo Credit: “Antique Church Poor Box.” Worthpoint. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-church-donation-poor-box-wall-box

This story and many others can be found in my flash fiction/short story collection, “Nine Dead Dope Dealers and Other Stories.”

These stories are about people on the edge, struggling to survive: a hit man confessing to his son, a hijacker confronting a salmon fisherman and his teen-aged daughter in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco weed dealers in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, pot growers on an Indian reservation confronting a patch pirate, small time crooks and con artists, ex-cons, juvenile hall denizens, two little girls breaking into the church Poor Box, kickball-playing bullies, a desperate young woman attempting to steal her kids back from their adoptive parents, a young man escaping an abusive past, teenage welfare-moms being hassled by the cops, a young girl protecting her brothers from a violent father, a broke widow befriending a young bartender in a laundromat, a single mom with a jailed boyfriend who steals from rich club-hopping party girls, a mysterious older woman picking up a young drifter at the New Orleans Greyhound Bus Station and a young boy searching for mythical large-headed creatures on Halloween night.



Leave a comment

Filed under Flash fiction, Fort Bragg, California, Literature, New Orleans, Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, short stories

Join us for our next In the Garden Writers’ Workshop Saturday, September 8th 2 pm!


In the Garden Writers’ Workshop:  Welcome to our third season of the workshop. Writers of all levels of experience and all genres are welcome, including Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction Prose, and Plays. Local and visiting authors will periodically stop by to read their work and offer advice and encouragement. Participants will read their work at a public reading in May. You may sign up at the Circulation Desk, or just come to any session. We will meet the second Saturday of every month from 2:00-3:45 pmfrom September through May. This month’s workshop will meet Saturday, September 8th, from 2:00-3:45 pm and will focus on writing prose. 

Prose workshops led by Sara Jacobelli (me!) and poetry workshops are led by Henri Fourroux. Plus we will have guest authors!

The workshops are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. 

Alvar Library

913 Alvar Street

New Orleans, LA 70117


Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, New Orleans, poetry, short stories, Uncategorized

Diary of a Bourbon Street Bus Girl

My short story, “Diary of a Bourbon Street Bus Girl,” has been published in  the anthology, Jambalaya 2017, the publication of the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference held annually in Houma, Louisiana. (I taught a flash fiction workshop at the 2016 conference and again at the 2017 conference. My short story, “You Can Gossip When You Own a Bar,” was published in the Jambalaya 2016 Anthology).

I’m looking forward to reading all of the stories and poems in the collection.

You can read the story online, or print out a copy to read. Just click on Volume 18 at the top of the screen and select Prose, and you’ll find “Diary of a Bourbon Street Bus Girl.” Here’s the link:






Jambalaya is housed at the Terrebonne Parish Library System in Houma, Louisiana, and has been published annually since its inception in 2001.

This publication is the official anthology of the Terrebonne Parish Library System’s Jambalaya Writers’ Conference. All works are from those who either attended the 2017 conference, placed in the conference’s poetry and/or fiction contests, or presented at the conference in 2017.


Photo Credit:” Steak with Baked Potato and Green Beans,” EatSmarter.com.


Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, New Orleans, short stories

The Replacement

Note: Here’s a piece of flash fiction that’s perfect for Father’s Day. SJ


You can find me on the Deep Web. I’m there, if you need me.  I get paid in Bitcoin.  Half the agreed amount before the job, the other half when it’s completed.  I’m a hit man. And yes, I love my job. It’s good money and I got kids to feed. Funny thing is, I learned the trade from the old man.

The old man was old fashioned. Only used a 38. Worked a steady day job at the gas station. Went out at night by himself and Mom never said a word.  If I asked where he was, Mom said, “Oh honey, he works nights at the 7-11 sometimes, we have bills to pay.” She’d ruffle our hair. “You kids are lucky, your father loves you so much.”

All that extra work paid off. Mom quit her job at the dry cleaners. Poppy bought us a tidy house in a better neighborhood, with a yard. We got a dog, a pool, started taking a family vacation every summer.  My twin sisters Joanie and Janie got braces for their buck teeth. We got a new station wagon.  Poppy bought us shiny new bikes, a big TV and a week-end cabin upstate.

The old man sat me down for a man-to-man when I was eighteen. Thought he was going to spout some nonsense like “Always use a rubber” like my friends’ dads. Fools, all of them. But Pop sat me down, in that way old guys have, you know. When they sit in a chair backwards, and hold onto the chair seat.  Looked at me with those dark eyes. Told me what he did for a living.  Five or six hits a year. For twenty years.  Dark unblinking eyes.  I shivered. He looked like a movie mobster, someone you wouldn’t want to piss off. I was scared of him for a few seconds. I blinked, and he looked just like Pop again.  A regular guy. Says hi to his neighbors, mows the lawn, reads the Sunday paper. Barbecues on the weekends.  Sleeps in and misses church.

“Why’d you do it, Poppy? Kill all those people?”

“Son. It was business. Just business. I was always a Professional. Never killed women, children. Never killed anyone but bad men who deserved it. Very bad men.  Never got arrested. Never got my name in the papers. And I made good money for your mom and you kids. That’s what a man does. He takes care of his family. Not like these bums that don’t pay child support, let their women and kids live on food stamps. No food stamps in this house.”

“Why’re you telling me this, Pop? I could’ve gone my whole life without knowing.”

“Because, son. My nerves are shot. It’s time for me to retire.  And they need someone. Someone they can trust. Nowadays, they use computers and all that nonsense. I figure—since I took you to the range since you were a boy, you know how to handle a gun. And you got all these here computer skills, you’ve been playing violent video games your whole life.  You’ve killed more people than I have, when you think about it. You’d be perfect for the job. Besides, you said you wanna marry your girlfriend Tina and you don’t wanna go to college. You don’t wanna join the military.  Before you know it, you’ll have a bunch of kids running around. What do you wanna do, work at McDonalds or Taco Bell?”

So I took Poppy’s advice and I followed in his footsteps. It’s not a bad life. I work when I want to, have a lot of free time.  Pop says I should be able to keep going for twenty years, then pass the gig on to my son Dino. I make a lot of money. And I take good care of my family.  Pop told me he’s proud of me.  You can’t ask for more than that.

You can find me on the Deep Web. I’m there, if you need me.



Copyright © 2018 by Sara Jacobelli



Photo Credit : “Silhouette-Chess Player.” ScrappinStuff.com













Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, short stories, Uncategorized

Why Do You Want To Work Here?


My flash fiction-flash nonfiction/memoir piece, “Why Do You Want to work Here?” has been published in Postcard Shorts:


Go ahead and submit one: the stories must be small enough to “fit on a postcard.”

Around 250 words or less. Fiction or nonfiction, even poetry, as long as it tells a story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Spoken Word Workshop for Teens taught by Valentine Pierce!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup


New Orleans poet, writer, performer, and actor Valentine Pierce leads a five-part workshop teaching teens how to write and perform spoken word with meaningful rhymes. The multi-talented Ms. Pierce is the author of the poetry books, Geometry of the Heart and Up Decatur and recently appeared in the Tennessee Williams play,”Vieux Carre.” Teens can sign up at the circulation desk, or just come to any session. You do not have to have any experience in writing or performing. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to attend all five sessions. The last session on June 30th will be a reading/performance by participating young poets. For ages 12 – 19.  This event is free and open to all teens. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is sponsored in part by a grant from Poets & Writers.

Where? Alvar Library. 913 Alvar Street. New Orleans. 504.596.2667

When? All five Saturdays in June: June 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th.  2:00-4:00 pm

Leave a comment

Filed under poetry

A Reading in the Garden: Saturday, May 12th!

May events at Alvar Library:

913 Alvar St. New Orleans, LA 70117



Wednesday, May 2nd, 5:30 pm

Fess Up! Presenting a new DVD and book of essays about the legendary pianist, Professor Longhair.

Meet the makers and celebrate the release of Fess Up!


Saturday, May 12th, 2:00-4:00 pm

A Reading in the Garden, hosted by local poet and artist Delia Tomino Nakayama.

Open mike reading by our “In the Garden” workshop participants. Others may sign up to read as well.


Thursday, May 17th, 6-7:30 pm

Reading, Book Talk, Performance by Jose` Torres-Tama

Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares is a debut collection that documents twenty-five years of Jose` Torres-Tama’s poetry in his unique bilingual voice.


Saturday, May 26th, 2:00-3:45 pm

Self-Publishing 101

Learn the basics of self-publishing: the various formats, the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and other tips. Presented by local poet, photographer, and artist Phyllis Parun.


All events are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, New Orleans, poetry, short stories