“It’s not our pain we fear but the reminder of our own vulnerability.“
-Charli Mills, January 23 Flash Fiction Challenge.
“It’s not our pain we fear but the reminder of our own vulnerability.“
-Charli Mills, January 23 Flash Fiction Challenge.
She came every day at 5:00; after making her way from the bus [D’you need a hand, Mrs. Parker?], down the sidewalk, to the bench.
She needed more and more assistance from those sweet young nurses [What if we skipped the park today, Mrs. Parker?] with each passing day.
The birds know her. Chirping – flitting – pecking. She laughs at their avian antics.
[Come with us.]
“What?” Emiline Parker glances around. A sparrow eyes her.
[You’ve cared. It’s the least we could do.]
Considering, she nods. The birds alight; a new friend among them, an old life behind.
From this gif, as prompted by Charli at Carrot Ranch.
©2020 Chelsea Owens
Just for fun, take a popular book title and add one word.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Dirty Secrets*
The Grape Juice of Wrath
Brave New World Record
Y’know, if you want to.
*I stole this one from Twofacebook.
Good day and welcome to the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, #56.
Not to leave anyone adrift, click here for a basic how-to on writing terribly. Bad poetry is not for the faint of heart, though it may be for the feint of art.
Here are this week’s specifics:
You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 31, 2020) to submit a poem.
Use the given form, below, to submit your poem in secret.
To declare your efforts to all, respond in the comments. Enquire further if a pingback does not show by the following day.
Another day, another delay. Not for naught, y’all: I’ve been havin’ a devil of a time pickin’ a poem jus’ awful enough to win.
Tonight, that winner’s:
I went searchin’ for the treasure
The wealth beyond measure
That would bring me great pleasure
Up there in the blue azure.
Atop the mount called Kozzie
The dream of every Ozzie
Lay hidden in a secret pozzie
And guarded by a giant mozzie.
Nobody knows the trouble I have seein’
Since I’s bit on the eye
While reachin’ for the sky
By the mozzie of Kosciuszko.
Congratulations, Doug! You are the most terrible poet of the week!
I read my favorite four or five several times before settling on Doug’s contribution. I believe he stood out for the overdone ‘ie’ rhyming, the nonsense, and the …well, probably for the nonsense. Well done.
As to the rest? See if you can get through them:
I’m a gonna go out where the wind durst blow
Sand in my knickers and mud in my toes
Where cow pies rightly disappear and the crickets eat them dangburned rusted bandoliers!
Where the guns don’t get to shootin’,
Where there’s no high brow falutin’
And everyone dances ’till half past three…
If you need me, why that there where’s I’ll be….l
In the Land of Absolution…!
When I ain’t got no tomorrows
when the strings all bust on my banjo
I’m gonna change my undershirt
an’ go to my hunka hunka heaven on dirt.
It’s paradise, hell yes it is
with a little wood shack to take a whiz.
Among green trees and birds that chirp
my hunka hunka heaven on dirt.
by Deb Whittam
I stare at it in defeat,
My heart it don’t want to beat
Me, run up that?
Yeah right, I would also like
To invite Mike Tyson to a fight.
Lofty and high it will prevail,
I, well, I am destined to fail.
But I grit my teeth,
And take that first step,
Pause and gasp,
Time for a rest.
Four hours later at the top I am,
Now how the hell do I get back down.
It would be bliss on Earth here…
(Hold on, I’ll be right there)
Uhm, I like to sit in my chair
(I said I was coming!!)
Not really work, but, well, bumming…
(Hold your horses)
Uhm, bumming about, reading some sources
(Darn it, I’m in the middle of a sentence!)
Doing writing penitence
(Not a story, a poem. What? No, I said I’m, writing poetry…)
No one to bother me, even if it is three…
(Just a minute!)
Uhm, three AM and I’m really in t’ it
(I don’t care if supper is getting cold)
‘Cause being disturbed while writing gets old
(OK, OK, I give up)
So heaven would be to write undisturbed from sundown to sun up…
Heaven is like a suitcase in the
luggage compartment of a train
hopefully the owner
is sitting down somewhere on the train
and will claim the suitcase from the
luggage compartment when the passenger wants to get off.
Heaven is also like the toothbrush that’s in the
suitcase along with some toothpaste
and a flannel
and some aftershave – to be bannal.
I also like to think that Heaven is like mowing the lawn.
Chorus: Parsley sage rosemary and thyme
Heaven is on my mine
Those who don’t want to get to Heaven
can go to Hell
but I’m sure ev’ryone who reads this
will have a better idea whether or not they want to get there
so Michael row your boat ashore.
I wasn’t going to do a poem
for the bad poetry competition this week
because the theme was ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain’
and that sounded a bit country ‘n’ western
what I thought about it was
that it sounded very much like
the sort of thing that would
have the sounds of a slide guitar in it
god I hate the sound of a slide guitar
‘just settle on a note!’ I think
‘don’t play an instrument
like a drunken man, trying to walk
bouncing off doorways and
speaking whole sentences in one continuous word’
anyway, then I read the lyrics
for the song that is the theme
and saw it was full of peoples dreams
for what they imagine might be plentiful
in this fantasy place, their heaven
so I thought perhaps mine would be slide guitars
stripped and remade into proper guitars
that people played different notes and chords on
one at a time mostly
like musicians, not drunkards
Some might ask
‘wouldn’t slide guitars, for you
be in ‘the other place?’
and I’d say ‘no,
would you deny me the pleasure
in my heaven
of seeing them being destroyed?’
so then I listened to the song
to get my inspiration
and it didn’t have slide guitar on it
so this was all a waste of time really
I’ll probably have to do something
about abundant custard creams instead
Don’t much wanna go to heaven
wouldn’t know no one there, no way
as the kind that I holds near and dear
won’t be a gettin’ thru them pearly gates.
There’s a better chance you’ll find me
sittin’ round a fire ring somewheres
talkin’ loud and smoking Marlboro’s
next to a tub a ice cold beer.
Wearing an old King Diamond tee shirt
and a pair a too tight jeans
sittin’ on some ol’ boys lap, feelin’ frisky-
in the trailer park o my dreams…
Where on every space there’s a double wide
and the lot rents paid in full
and my sister’s- ex-fi-ance’s -brother-in-law
has done his last parole.
So when I exit life’s long lost highway
don’t you be a worrin’ ’bout where I’ve gone
’cause I’m sure there’ll be a For Rent sign
on a nice li’l trailer in the great beyond….
The mad scientist created
Freeze rays and said, “This is the best,
I dare anyone to beat me.
I’ll freeze banks and avoid arrest,
Then freeze folks at the city hall
To cause the government to fall.
Yessir, I’m gonna have a ball,
With my freeze ray and my money.
If you wanna go to heaven
Hell’s where you belong
Cause you can’t get to heaven
Unless you’re in hell for way too long
Walk with the devil
Play with evil demons
Wait for the angels
To carry you all the way home
Oh oh oh
Go to hell
Go to hell
You can’t get to heaven
Except through hell
Thanks, y’all, fer a most entertainin’ evenin’. Come on back, now, once you’ve had yer rest and I’ll post a topic fer next week ’round 10 tomorrer.
Doug: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:
I didn’t have the time to make one after your suggested patron saint, but intend to once I take a moment to do so.
©2020 The poets, and their respective poems.
Still a favorite short, humorous story of mine, first published July 13, 2017:
Herculesa bravely clutches at her last weapon -the Libman of Justice- as she eyes the dangerous Hydra plodding menacingly toward her.
Whack! A purposeful sweep draws the vicious head of Dirty Tile Floors off its base. Swish! Returns the Laundry head to its origins. Clunk! And the Dishes is decapitated.
But, as we all remember, Hydra Housework cannot be defeated so easily. From the supposed stumps of completion, new branches sprout and grow full size. Floor splits into Carpets, Windows, and Toilets; Laundry spawns Sock Mating, Bedding, Repair; Dishes makes more and more Dishes!
Our heroine is surrounded as she stumbles back on loose Hot Wheels and plush animals. Bravely she strikes again and again!
How will Herculesa ever vanquish this unconquerable beast? There is no permanent end in sight!
©2020 Chelsea Owens
The world’s a strange place. Connected beyond imagination, our real lives involve separation and loneliness.
When I was a child, I’d visit my neighbors. The old woman around the corner was a round, loud person with a slight, soft-spoken husband. He puttered around their yard and house, repairing and fixing and amusing himself. She’d invite me in to their homespun, soft-furnitured living room and insist I eat the cookies she’d just made.
They kept a dog or two. Whenever we played outside in our backyard, the dogs would bark. Sure enough, after a few rounds of yip-yip-yip, we’d hear her screech, “Skipper! Quiet!” I could imitate her tone and inflection; still can.
Nowadays, my neighbors are more reclusive. I still try to visit them. I plan a block party each summer. But, it’s different. It’s isolated. It’s even a bit cold.
One time, bearing the Christmas cookie plate I make and gift every year, I rang my neighbors who never come out and socialize. They’d just installed a door camera, I noted. I could hear it whirring as the focus changed, probably recording me. Their teenage daughters’ cars were out front. Their interior lights were on. I could hear their talking before I rang. Yet, no one answered.
Resisting my inner child’s urge to do something less kind, I left the plate on their porch and went back home.
It’s different. It’s rude.
I feel a similar confusion and slight affront where my writing’s concerned. Here, on my blog, I post every day. I write about my thoughts and feelings, my ideas, my odd story plots, my poetry, and -most vulnerably- my depression.
Occasionally, I share what I write to my Facebook page. Like, my personal one that everyone who is my ‘friend’ can read. All of my neighbors are ‘friends,’ although I happen to know they don’t read what I write. Only when I announce I’m having a baby do about a fourth of my ‘friends’ (130ish) click that little Like.
The rest of the time, about 30 people respond.
If I write something depressive, about 8.
In real life, sometimes 1 or 2 come up and say something.
I wonder what things would have been like if I’d become an adult fifty years ago, or even twenty. My mom would tell me that her mom’s neighbors met every morning for coffee. My grandmother said she and the kids of her childhood played jacks together. My husband’s grandmother sat outside with the other mothers in their complex at college, while their children all played in the central courtyard.
Different times. Warmer times.
This age allows me an outlet I wouldn’t have had fifty years ago, or even twenty. Instead of living in the isolation of my two-story house with only the dishes and laundry for company, I have you all.
But, I often wonder, why don’t I have those who are closer? Why don’t they notice? Why don’t they care?
Maybe it’s the cookies.
Here’s what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, January 15: Examined the differences between the sexes in “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (and I’m Adrift in Space).”
Thursday, January 16: Throwback to how to write poetry with “A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry.”
Saturday, January 18: Announced the 55th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is what paradise looks like to you. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday, January 19: “A Small Protest,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.
Also, “How Much is That Poem in the Window?,” in response to Crispina Kemp’s prompt photo.
Monday, January 20: An inspirational quote from Almost Iowa.
Tuesday, January 21: Poemed “As I Lay, Here.”
Wednesday, January 22: This post, plus “The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part).”
I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “Did You Go Swimming Today? and Other Post-Delivery Fallacies” and “Short, Sweet, Sleep.”
©2020 Chelsea Owens
Photo Credit: BBH Singapore
Teresa Grabs wrote:
As soon as Liam read the advertisement, he knew the place was for him. Three-story newly renovated home on private island in the middle of Hidden Hollow Lake. Owner motivated to sell.
“I will have it!” He scanned the ad for a contact number and phoned it immediately. To his surprise, the agent said the house was his as soon as she answered the phone. “What do you mean the house is mine? I haven’t even made an offer yet.”
She laughed. “Mr. Owens, I have been instructed to sell the home to the first person who called, and today is your lucky day. I can meet you on the pier in an hour with your keys.”
“Oh… okay… yeah! Today really is my lucky day, isn’t it?”
Liam rushed around his tiny apartment, threw a few items into a backpack, and caught the train to the pier. Halfway expecting this to be a scam, he was gobsmacked when a professional-looking woman approached him, smiling.
“Mr. Owens, I presume?”
“Um, yeah, that’s me.”
“Good. Sign here, please, and I can release your keys to you.”
His hand shook with anticipation as he scratched his name on the form.
“And here are your keys. That man will take you to the island,” she said, pointing to a man in a small row boat. “Thank you for your business.”
He watched as she walked toward the parking lot and disappeared into the crowd. “How’d she know my name?”
“You ready?” the boatman called.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” He climbed into the row boat and took in the beautiful scenery before him, forgetting all about the sales agent. “This is really pretty, isn’t it?”
The man didn’t respond.
“Ok.” Liam sat in silence until the island came into view. It looked exactly as it had in the advertisement. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, convinced it was a dream.
“Get out here,” the boatman said, sternly as they reached the shore.
“Well, thanks, I guess.” Liam stepped out into knee-deep water and shivered as it soaked his pants. “How do I get back?” he asked as the boatman pushed away from the shore.
“There’s a flare in the house should you need it,” he called back, shaking his head.
Liam turned around and saw …
…first that a lush forest started directly behind the house and traveled the length of the island. Tropical birds were screeching and flying from branch to branch, their feathers glinting red, yellow, and green in the sun’s ample beams.
That’s funny, this isn’t a tropical location. What happens to the birds in when winter comes?
Liam walked the hundred yards from the water’s edge to the front of the house. He had been impressed with it in the photos and as they approached the island, but up close he saw that the home had the appearance of being vacant for a long time. Mildew had settled into the corners of the windows. There were wet leaves layered on the porch that were disintegrating. There were cobwebs covering the front door. Curiously though, there were what looked like large dog footprints that had worn a path around the front of the house and carried on towards the back of the house.
Liam walked up the leaf-sodden steps to the front door and pulled out the keys. Neither of the keys worked in the lock! He decided to walk around back to see if they’d work on the other door. As he got to the back, he noticed right away that a well-worn path led into the forest/jungle. Like the front, large dog-like prints littered the path.
Liam sighed in relief when the back door opened to one of the keys. He stepped into a stately home that must have cost a fortune to build out here on the island back in its day. Each room spared no expense. The kitchen had marble counters and ceramic floors. The dining room had a heavy oak table with 14 heavy chairs and regressed cupboards. The living room was big enough for large parties, where the centerpiece was a massive stone fireplace.
Over the mantelpiece, high on the stones, was a trophy head of a wolf.
I’m no wildlife expert but that wolf head is three times as large as a normal wolf’s head!
The sun was sitting lower in the sky, throwing shadows inside. Liam tried the light switch, but no power.
That’s right, I need to go turn the generator on in the basement.
Using the substantial oak staircase leading to the basement, he needed his flashlight which he pulled from his knapsack. Within minutes the generator was chugging and he flicked the basement light on. Looking around down there he saw a heavy iron door with a substantial lock on it.
I wonder if that’s what this other key is for?
Liam tried the key in the door, and it clicked. Pulling the heavy door took some strength. Looking in, a shiver ran up Liam’s spine. What he saw with his flashlight looked like the entrance to an underground passage of a cave that had been blasted or carved out of the granite. Liam could hear water echoing in the cave. Then he heard another sound. . . .
Padre’s Ramblings wrote:
At first he couldn’t quite make it out, but then as his ear adjusted to the echo of the granite passage it became clear. It was the melodic singing of a woman. It was husky, but somehow hypnotically alluring. Almost involuntarily, he moved towards the voice.
The passage was a bit longer than he had anticipated, and took two unexpected turns making his ability to calculate his position in relation to the island almost impossible. Was he still even “on” the island or was he under the lake? The dripping after the first turn suggested the latter, but he was unsure.
Night had fallen before he reached what could only be describe as a subterranean portico. As he approached the porch-way, his flashlight flitted across what seemed in gloom to be the nude figure of a middle aged woman, but when he focused the beam back on the spot where he had seen the apparition, there was nothing there. Then there was a definite movement which he caught in his peripheral vision. Something large, and dark shot into the forest beyond.
“What the f —,” he said aloud, jumping back against the passageway wall. After steeling himself, he shot his light towards the cave mouth to the trees beyond. Well, at least I’m still on the island, he mused trying to give himself some consolation.
Once he was sure that nothing was going to come in from the outside he began to systematically examine the porch. There was a fair amount of tracked-in dirt on the floor, but it was clear that the surface underneath was tiled. There was a marble bench and a matching marble table – on which there was a framed black and white photo of a young well-to-do looking couple dressed in a style popular just after the Second World War.
His light then fell on a small pile of neatly folded woman’s clothing placed carefully on the corner of the bench. Under the seat was a pair of elegant shoes, which seemed to placed with similar care. He stooped to examine the shoes, and as he did his flashlight illuminated not only small human footprints in the layer of dirt, but more of the huge dog prints almost everywhere in the chamber.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when one of the tropical birds called out in the night. It was then that he saw . . .
Joanne the Geek wrote:
that Hank was standing there. He was a Facebook friend. One Liam had never actually met for real before. He wore a black leather coat and a dark wide brimmed hat. He was holding a Glock.
“Hank? What are you doing here?’ Liam asked surprised. Hank started laughing at him.
“Good to finally meet you in the flesh, Liam. You are only here because you have fallen into my trap! Everything that has happened to you was so we would eventually meet here at this spot.” Hank revealed.
“So you’re going to shoot me? Can I ask why? I thought we were friends.”
“No I’m not going to shoot you, unless I have to. I just want to humiliate you!”
“Is there a reason for this?” Liam asked totally confused.
“You made fun of one of my Facebook posts, and since then I have plotted my revenge!”
“I think I know the one you mean. I thought you were trying to be funny. I’m sorry about that.” Liam explained. The gun clicked, and Liam almost felt his heart explode out of his chest.
“It’s too late for that!” Hank shot back. “I want you to put on those women’s clothes there and start dancing and lip-syncing to Britney Spears’s Oops! I Did It Again. I will record it on my phone and then post it onto Facebook with your name tagged on it. You will never live it down.” He started laughing maniacally. I really should have unfriended him a while ago, Liam thought.
He motioned with his gun and Liam began removing his clothes and then putting on the women’s clothes that were folded on the bench. Disturbingly, they managed to fit quite well. As soon as he had changed, Hank began playing the song on his phone.
“Dance!” he ordered. Liam began dancing and trying to lip-sync to a song he barely knew. Hank began recording it on his phone as Liam continued dancing. Hank gave some further orders: “Put some expression into it! Make love to the camera!” Liam began wondering if this was not so much about the need to humiliate him, but more about Hank’s own strange desires…
Then without warning, the largest wolf Liam had ever seen suddenly pounced on Hank. He screamed as the wolf attacked him. What the hell was going on here? And why am I still dancing? Liam wondered.
The wolf having finished with Hank, then turned to face Liam…
Liam paused, mid-hip thrust. The wolf’s eyes glittered against the verdant darkness seeping in from the forest. Its teeth glinted in the reflected glow of Hank’s cell phone, still recording. Liam could hear the echoes of Hank digesting, oddly melodic in the granite tunnel.
He swallowed. Quickly assessing his chances of escape, he shuddered down to sit across from the wolf. “Always die like a man,” Liam’s grandfather had said -strange advice to be telling a grandchild, and even stranger from a man who’d been found in drag…
The wolf laughed. Liam blinked. Then, before his eyes, the animal morphed.
“Eeeuragh!” Liam covered his eyes. Animal-shifting was clearly not like in the movies. He felt scarred for life at the grotesque, painful, obscene imagery he’d glimpsed before screaming. Between that and watching Hank be consumed, Liam’s therapist could count on three solid years of paid work.
Liam peeked between his stiff fingers, then dropped them from his face. The cell phone now illuminated a professional-looking woman: the realtor. Also contrary to shape-changing in movies, she was dressed. “What the –”
“I can see you are surprised,” she said. She stepped forward, casually crushing the cell phone beneath a stiletto-ed heel.
Liam blinked, his eyes adjusting to the forest moonlight in the cave. He made out the realtor’s shape, her hand a few inches from his face in a helpful gesture. He took it and rose from the ground. She smiled wolfishly before turning to walk back up the tunnel. Liam followed.
“I own this place, you see.” She glanced back at Liam before continuing, “Rather, my family owns it. A few centuries ago, a man came and claimed it for himself.” They stooped under a few natural bumps in the ceiling, nearly to the door into the basement. Liam saw the realtor’s neat eyebrows contract in painful memory. “The man, the one who came and slaughtered my grandfather and put his head upon his own mantel -that man was Hank’s great-great-great grandfather.”
They entered the house once more and stood, paused, at the base of the substantial staircase. “I’m …I’m sorry,” Liam managed. To himself, he determined to use any means possible to get off the island and back to his therapist.
“Until you came along, I had no way of confronting Hank. No way of reclaiming our property.” She faced Liam. Her dark hair framed a sweet, vulnerable face. Her blue eyes, full of sadness and gratitude, were a startling contrast to her hair and black eyelashes. “I’m so very sorry for what I put you through, but also eternally grateful.”
Liam shrugged and tried to look away, but couldn’t. It’d been a year and half since his last relationship. He’d forgotten how beautiful a woman could be. How seductive.
The realtor stepped closer. “We got off to a …an unusual start, I know, but I’d love to show you my gratitude….” She smiled. “Upstairs.”
Liam thought. “Well,” he said, “I do need to get out of these clothes…”
Gentle windpaths brush my skin,
or touch the trees;
As I lay, here.
Raindrops cry down shadowed walls,
or outside panes;
As I lay, here.
Greying stormclouds dance within,
or mar the sky;
As I lay, here.
Sunlight beams ‘gainst bedroom halls,
or ‘gainst the world;
As I lay, here.
Storms without and storms within,
all in my mind;
As I lay, here.
©2020 Chelsea Owens
“To be a successful writer and enjoy the perks of paid writing, one must first understand what business they are in – and that is the entertainment business. One does not have to resort to silly antics to entertain, because you can do the same thing with horror or heartbreak, maybe even clever word play or just plain good writing – but in the end, it is primarily entertainment and we as writers are primarily entertainers.”