Patchwork

They called it trash, and it was. Humanity’s selfishness was strewn about the world; molding, stinking, soaking in.

“Don’t bother,” they said.

“Save yourself.”

“Self…”

Amongst the walls of yelling filth she closed her ears, strained her eyes.

There! A flutter of love beneath that greed.

There! Some tattered trust nearly blown away.

And there! Hardly a scrap of deepest hope, wedged between bigotry and vice.

Tiptoeing past an open pit of malice and an oozing patch of some sort of thoughtlessness, she made it home. Inside the stained and leaning walls, against the howling narcissistic winds-

She sewed.

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Quilted for Carrot Ranch’s Weekly Prompt.

FREE Contest: The Second Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to the second Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. I am your hostess, Chelsea Owens.

Please, please read my wonderful blog post, How To Write Terrible Poetry, then note the following rules:

  1. The topic is sour grapes.
  2. It’s shorter than the last contest. Keep your poem below 150 words but above 5. That means anywhere from 6-149 words.
  3. To rhyme, or not this thyme? Again, up to you.
  4. And remember: the poem needs to be terrible. I want your high school poetry club teacher to pat you on the back for how many ways you failed to write the word ‘love’ or ‘agony.’ (Please do not literally use ‘love’ and ‘agony’ 50 times, assuming it’s a requirement.)
  5. Keep it PG-Rated.

Think you can do it? You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (November 23, 2018) to submit. Write it early ’cause I don’t want to see anyone coming here instead of to their family’s house for Thanksgiving.

Post your poem or the specific link to it in the comments.

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How To Write Terrible Poetry

The writing world is a frustrating place full of presumptuous bookworms, grammatically-correct literaries, and metaphor-happy English professors. We writers could really use a break.

As such, I initiated the first Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. …And was disappointed.

Either I am horrible at giving directions, or my readership is too uptight to give their verse the cringe it can take. Since I know the fault could never lie with the talented people with extremely good taste who come to my site, I have decided some How-To will help.

Let’s take a verse and carry it through the different levels of quality. You may recognize this stanza, though only the truly educated appreciate it for its depth, meter, and metaphor.

So, as fast as I could, I went after my net.
And I said, “With my net
I can get them I bet.
I bet, with my net,
I can get those Things yet!”

Excellent

A poem at this level fulfills its purpose, awakens a response in the reader, its imagery evokes memory and such, and it has meter. Even if the meter is a rambling sort that makes one think the writer was drunk and singing backwards at the time, it works. For some reason, we can still follow it and end up smiling at the end instead of clawing the walls.

Dr. Suess’ poem is at this level, primarily because it was written to educate young readers and not bore them in process. The man takes it an extra notch up by having a repeated word (I) to begin each line and a rhyme that not only appears at the end of each line (net/net/bet/net/yet) but also finds its way midway as well (get/bet/get).

Good

I would deem a poem ‘Good’ if it has no complaint against it except for ‘a little something’ that doesn’t bump it up to first place in a competition. Like its Excellent brother(s); it has purpose, meter, flow, imagery, etc.

Let’s take our example and make it only Good:

So, as fast as I could, I picked up my net.
I said, “With my net,
I can catch them as pets.
I think, with my net,
Those Things I will get!”

Bad

Most people do not even realize they are reading Bad poetry. They circle the poem around the internet, or their pupils recite it in front of the class as a work of memorization. The people with any literary feeling left to them, in process, sit through these readings with the look of a person enduring a tooth extraction with blunt instruments.

Ready for this?

‘Twas the day before school
When I picked up my net.
I stood on a stool,
So I didn’t get wet.
Then I said, “I will get them; no sweat.”

Terrible

In my introduction to The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I said “the worst poetry you can write.” Later, I noted, “I want to cringe. I want to scrub my eyes and go lick something to clear my artistic palate.”

Maybe the poet tries too hard. Maybe he or she is way too fond of adjectives, especially the same adjective. Most likely, the person writes a meter of poetry with the beat of a broken, molding drum he or she found half-price at his or her grandmother’s aunt’s secondhand flea market.

I am so very sorry, Mr. Geisel, to have to do this.

I saw them, the Things with the waving blue wet.
Theyr danced like the sunrise but then they ruined the set
Of our house
Of
Our
Pet. A fish
In a pot, all alone.
And what to our wandering eyes should we get?
My anger, like fire; my passion whet
With confusion.
My net.

I hope he doesn’t come after me in the hereafter.

More importantly, class, I hope you have all learned something. With the skills of atrocious poetry, go forth and re-enter the latest contest. Have fun, get messy, and don’t actually apply any of these lessons to legitimate works.

WINNER of the First Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Before you scroll down to see if you’re on the list-

I SAID WAIT!

I just wanted to say that you are all terrible at terrible poetry. Seriously.

Like, you actually have meter, and rhyming, and it all makes sense. Some of you need to go back to a high school poetry class and learn some more unnecessary emo and angst.

Given that, you all lose. Try again next week.

Okay, okay. Really, though, I had a difficult time choosing. Given the prompt and parameters, I tried to pick who I thought seemed to be trying to consider thinking about the possibility of imagining a terrible way to construct a poem.

So…

Winner

Elective Sugary

By Bladud Fleas

I know you can’t cure dyslexia with a knife.
So why, you ask, am I lying here?
About to go under and risk life,
T’was for something I hold much more dear:
It’s chocolate! and candy! and cake!
Well, anyone can make a mistake!

Whenever I have entered writing contests, I agonize over why didn’t I win? I understand that contest hosts/hostesses often get a whole pile of crap and then don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by pointing out the obvious.

No, that wasn’t the case here, and isn’t the case where my writing submissions are concerned (I hope). I’m just rambling. I also want to be certain I tell the winner why I picked his or hers every week.

So… I want Bladud Fleas to know that I picked his because I got confused reading it. And I appreciated his clever misspelling of ‘surgery’ to go along with the bit about dyslexia. It’s a bit too pretty, as I mentioned earlier, but well done and all that. 🙂

Everyone else: go visit Bladud‘s site. He’s way too underappreciated by the internet. And, read the other entries below. They are listed by order of submission, not preference.

You are all very, very clever poets. Shame on you.

Elective surgery

By Bruce Goodman

I hop to God no one has to go through what I went through:
having a leg cut off.
And having both arms surgically removed might look ‘armless
but I’m not applauding.
I don’t see why it was necessary to remove both eyes
when one was already blind.
All I asked the plastic surgeon for my elective surgery was to
“Make me like a painting.”
I never meant Picasso.

 

Elective Surgery

By Bladud Fleas

“Two men to push a gurney?”
Enquired the recumbent Ernie
Only one to push him back,
And another with his bits in a sack.

 

Untitled piece by D. Avery

I decided to have my nose removed to spite my face
Now had to decide on just the right place
To have this delicate procedure done
that my nose might smell but never run
This must be the place, everyone dressed in white
but then those cleavers gave me a fright
These weren’t doctors, they were butchers of meat
And it was too late for me to retreat
There went my nose, thrown into a pile
And then my lips, with a bloody smile
One by one I wholly became parts
It is true to say that I had lost heart.

 

Boob Job

By Karen

I always knew I’d go under the knife
For a bigger chest, it was worth the strife
My meagre A cups are not what I want
But something much bigger that I can flaunt
Should I stop at a D or maybe an F
Or go even larger and really impress?

 

Untitled piece by Jon

Nip, tuck
Trust to luck
mirror says yuck
Nip, tuck
try it again?
third time’s the charm?
what’s the harm?
mirror’s alarmed

Thank you so much to everyone for playing along! Come back tomorrow for next week’s prompt!

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Skinwalkers, XLII

Nathan needed only a brief read-through to learn the basics of his task, though he knew he’d have to return to the screen for specific biological terms. One didn’t naturally memorize references such as dermal fibroblasts as easily as collagen bundles, after all.

He also knew he could not work with a team from the center of a stage. Determined, he walked to the nearest workstation on his left. “I am Nathan Reed. What is your name and skill set relevant to dermal bioengineering?”

The worker stole a look at the three executives before answering. “I guess I can go by A.” Her voice reminded Nathan of a balloon he’d played with as a child, one that had developed a leak. “I have many skills but I’m tasked with matrix prep -preparations.”

Nathan nodded. “Thank you.” He moved to the next desk on the right. “Are you assigned as ‘B,’ then?” This worker nodded, her ponytail bouncing with the movement. “And what is your task?”

Calm and collected but barely audible, B said, “For this ‘cycle, cell and vessel ingrowth.”

Nodding and thanking B, Nathan moved to the next worker. He turned out to be D; the person to his left was C. Nathan thereby learned that each worker was an assembly-line step in a basic synthdermal construction.

With the exception of a few disagreeable glares aimed his direction, Caill and her associates kept to their position of observation during his interviews. He wasn’t certain they would maintain this silence with his next announcement.

Returning to the stage at front, he stated, “Our inpracticum is simple, given the advanced skills and knowledge that you all clearly possess.” He allowed the praise to sink in for a jiff and a half before dropping his bombshell. “Therefore, and to avoid waste and boredom, we will be addressing the assignment in a different manner.”

He tapped at the tablet screen, expanding the first step. Grasping the space just above the surface, he pantomimed pulling then flicking into the air above and behind his person. The image complied. Three-dimensional models of dermal matrices floated where all could read them. “Is there a technician here who does not know how to construct a matrix?”

No one raised a hand nor spoke aloud. A few tugged at an ear or scratched at a cheek. Most looked around to see what the others might do; particularly, the suited ‘others’ who were usually in charge.

“Excellent,” Nathan said, in his best managerial tone. “Then, we will all be doing the first assignment. Synchronously.”

“N. Reed!” Caill began, “I do not-”

“Furthermore,” he continued without interruption, “When that step is complete, you will move to the side or down and work on your neighbor’s matrix when we begin cell and vessel construction.”

The workers were very intelligent and skilled persons. They blinked back at him in a bit of a shock.

“Any questions from those who will be working?” If Nathan had thought Caill appeared diabolical in the redlight, he would have appreciated seeing his face just then. A protest had been forming on Caill’s lips before she caught his look. He saw her intended censure; saw, with satisfaction, its retraction.

“Excellent,” he repeated. “Then, we begin.”

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, XLI.
Read to Skinwalkers, XLII.

The Importance of Trying Times

Last week, I had surgery. It was elective, so I’m not dying or anything. I just thought I ought to finally tell someone besides my immediate family. Also, ’twas the prompt for the first Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest I’m hosting (be sure to enter; you’ve got a day or so).

Because of this surgery, I haven’t been feeling up to snuff. That fact sounds a bit obvious, but was not part of my pre-surgery planning. I had the house clean, meals set up, rides arranged, babysitting for the day, and a prescription filled for heavy-duty Ibuprofen. In terms of what my recovery would be like, I think I thought I would just veg and write for NaNoWriMo afterwards.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found very comfortable positions to write from. Between the lingering tailbone recovery and the fact that the surgery was done near my midsection, I haven’t been able to wedge a typing machine in a sustainable place long enough to attempt much longer than a short story.

I have also been very tired.

-Not that surgery and recovery are completely alien to me. I’ve had an appendectomy and three C-Sections. Like pregnancy, however, I figured I survived operations in the past and was likely to handle another one just fine.

Then I get up and try walking.

By the by, if you’re considering an abdominal area incision, I’ve some quick recommendations:

  1. First, have people and/or devices around to retrieve things that keep obeying gravity.
  2. Purchase a heating pad for your back. Walking around like Igor for a day or so will really cramp up your muscles.
  3. Get a belly strap. I’ve used this amazing device after my C-Sections, and I rush-ordered one from Amazon last week after I could sit up long enough to do so.
  4. Surround yourself with pillows.
  5. Do not cough.
  6. Do not laugh.
  7. For the love of all that is or isn’t holy, DO NOT SNEEZE.
  8. Have a surface nearby that can hold your water, pain medicine, food plate, socks, stretchy pants, strap, ice pack, cell phone, etc.
    Turns out, I really need a wider nightstand.
  9. Accept any offers of help! We have so many leftovers from dinners brought in, but now I don’t have to worry about lunches, either.
  10. I can’t think of anything else, but the list looked too short with nine items.

I’d like to say I’ve at least devoted my hours of recovery to introspection or philosophizing in preparation for writing, but that isn’t true, either. The last few days I’ve actually gotten a few armor set upgrades for Link in “Breath of the Wild.” Dragon hunting is a great time-killer and now I’m pretty much an expert on where they spawn.

I’ve not had the memory or focus capacity to create. Sorry.

So, let’s end this apologetic blog post by giving a short Week In Review. I know it’s Wednesday, but unconventional is my thing.

Wednesday, November 7: Track Memory, my submission to a contest that I should have waited till the 16th to post. Sorry, Charli.
Thursday, November 8: Skinwalkers, XLI.
Friday, November 9: On the Brink, a poem I wrote just before going under the knife and scheduled ahead, thinking, What if I die and this posts the next day and everyone is like, Whaaa-?
I also announced my intent to have a weekly contest.
Saturday, November 10: Official Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest start. YAY!
Sunday, November 11: The Apple Pie from the Same Tree, my real-life experience written for Carrot Ranch’s blog prompt.
Monday, November 12: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Two.
Tuesday, November 13: Inspirational quote by Neil Gaiman.
And, my little contribution posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Today, November 14: This post. 🙂

Happy Wednesday or Whatever Day You Read This. May you have more mobility than I!

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.

“And that is why we write.”

-Neil Gaiman, Newbery Medal acceptance speech for The Graveyard Book at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago, July 12, 2009.

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Two

The whole of Saturday and early Sunday morning passed without event, much to Wil’s disappointment. She even managed to alter Sunday’s morning walk with her mother to pass the small playground and the side of Building 5 twice, but they never saw anyone. She knew they walked earlier in the morning than most were awake, but a sliver of hope was all Wil ever needed to assume a sunrise’s worth of chance.

If her mother suspected anything, Cynthia was, as always, respectful enough to keep things to herself. That, or she knew Wil could never keep a secret for long.

“Well,” Cynthia said, after she and Wil had returned home and recovered somewhat on the couch, “That was a nice walk. Thank you, Wil.”

Wil turned to look at her mother from her reclined position. She hadn’t really noticed much of the walk and hoped there hadn’t been some landmark her mother wanted to discuss.

Cynthia cleared her throat, look worried, then smiled at Wil. “Why don’t you get started on breakfast for us, and you can tell me about how things are going?”

“Okay,” Wil agreed, still confused. She rose and walked the few steps to their eating area, her mind on what to talk about. There was the book she had been reading for school, of course; the secret group -oh! She could tell mom about the group; and then Eric, but even she wasn’t sure what there was to tell about Eric…

“Wil,” her mother said, bringing Wil back to reality to see she’d left the fridge door standing open with her in it.

“Sorry,” Wil said, and finished removing the eggs, milk, and bread from the cold interior before closing it. She set the breakfast items on the counter and began the everyday ritual of summoning coffee from their antiquated, secondhand machine. “I. wish. Dad. had. started. this,” she muttered as she prised the old filter from the top and attempted to scrape old coffee from the carafe.

Cynthia laughed, then stopped as she began coughing. “He’ll appreciate waking to it already tamed,” she said, once she caught her breath.

The coughing fit had not lasted long, but it gave Wil enough time to successfully start the coffee maker and get going on scrambled eggs. She and her mother kept the conversation to breakfast preparations, else Wil get lost in another area of the kitchen.

“You like them with salt and pepper, right?” Wil asked.

“Right.”

“How about Dad and Jakob?”

Her mother laughed a bit. “They like food.” She paused, “Though maybe not burned.”

“Ha. ha,” Wil pretended to laugh. She hadn’t burned their meal for nearly a week, although it was true that scrambled eggs had been the last thing she’d overcooked. “That reminds me,” she said, over her shoulder. “I need to tell Jakob I’m not the only one we need a smoke alarm for now.”

Cynthia smiled. “True. But he’s awfully grouchy in the mornings. You might not want to push your luck.”

“Who’s grouchy?” a grumbling voice asked. Jakob stood in his boxers and and t-shirt in the doorway, blinking around.

 

Continued from Seventy-One.

The Apple Pie from the Same Tree

Ann’s mother was special when it came to food. She could scan a printed page, retrieve a container from the cupboard, and *poof* add to the mixing bowl. Later, the family would eat freshly-baked casserole or chocolate-crusted cake.

And that is why Ann thought she might be magic, too. Surely, by the same means, Ann could create with a pinch of this or dash of that.

After Ann’s first attempt, only her father would taste it.

“Ah. Mashed potatoes?” he asked.

Ann nodded, trying not to feel sick as he stirred her mix of potato, milk, and runny eggs.

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Based on the author’s actual experience, and
Stirred together for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.