Real Life vs. The Blogosphere

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.

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—————-

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.”

Friday, January 17: Posted the winners of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to AnneMichael, and Rob.

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

The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part)

The Island Getaway

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 …

Msjadeli wrote:

…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…

My part:

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.

“Mr. Owens.”

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…”

 

FIN

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Rules:

  1. post the story as you receive it
  2. add to the story (or finish it, up to the writer)
  3. tag another person to continue the story (unless you finished it)
  4. Have fun!

 

Part 1 Teresa Grabs

Part 2 Tao Talk

Part 3 Padre’s Ramblings

Part 4 Joanne the Geek

As I Lay, Here

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.”

Almost Iowa, in the comments of “Why Do You Write?

A Small Protest

“Won’t!” The small face scrunches.

Father sighs. “I’d let you go like this, Arnie, but-”

“No no no!”

“Arrrnie,” Father begins, his tone less calm, “Daddy‘s wearing-”

“Daddy’s fart face!” A small tongue protrudes from the small mouth.

Father straightens. He takes a small arm in a big hand and marches small legs up big stairs. “That’s enough, young man! We do not stick our tongues out or call names.”

“Fart. face. Fart. face,” Arnie gasps at each stair.

“Now,” Father concludes, setting him at the top. “You’ll sit in Timeout, then you will put your pants on!”

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Enacted for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: protest

January 16, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a protest story. It can be about a protest, or you can investigate the word and expand the idea. Who is protesting, where, and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by January 21, 2019. Use the comment section to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit: Marcus Neto

©2020 Chelsea Owens

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Howdy, young’uns. This here be the Terrible Poetry Contest. We been hostin’ y’all fer 55 rounds now.

If’n yer not sure a’ yerself, click here. Bad poetry’s about as tricky as kissin’ an ornery donkey that may jest be yer mother-in-law.

Here are yer ‘pecifics:

  1. I hear tell the Topic‘s a folk song ’bout heaven. You done heard ’bout “The Big Rock Candy Mountain?” Sing me where yer moun’ain is an’ where you’d be.
  2. I ain’t got all day, so’s a good verse an’ chorus’ll do me fer Length.
  3. And then there’s that Rhymin‘ business. You go’n ahead and do it if’n it’s there in yer heaven.
  4. I say to Make it terrible. Me an’ my boys will ‘termine to add you to our Mulligan Stew soon’s we hear it sung.
  5. Now, son: yer idea a’ the hereafter may just include some things more sensitive types shouldn’a read. Keep things under the PG belt, if’n you can.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 24, 2020) to submit a poem.

Use the form b’low to keep things a secret.

To share all ’round, go ‘head an’ post in those there comments. Let the judge know if’n you don’ see a pingback after sundown.

Y’all have fun now, ya hear!

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Photo credit:
Marko Mudrinic

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

The hour’s late, so I won’t hold you in suspense any longer.

This week there’s a three-way tie for winner:

Winter Wonderland (not)

by Anne Howkins

In the bleak midwinter,
The garden’s never looked minter.
The snow all pristine clean and white,
Until the dog answered a call of nature.
Nobody wants to go snow-balling
Where the cur’s been peeing.

The snow lays all deep and uneven
Stopping all the folks from leaving.
There’s no feeling quite as unpleasant
As ice filling up your boots
And stockings
When you’re scraping the path.

Ice cold wind makes us all moan,
Our gloved hands can’t text or make phone calls.
Don’t talk to me about ice-skating,
When you’re an hour or more
From the emergency room.

Dad forgot to check the pipes’ lagging,
And when the temperature is arising,
And when the ice is a-melting
The house will be flooded.
The boiler’ll be broken
And you’ll probably get pneumonia.

—–

Winter Terribleness

by Michael B. Fishman

If I were in the cussing mood I’d have a lot to say about winter.
But I’m not in that mood so I’ll just call it win-TURD.
I am in a Pinwheel cookie mood.
You ever had one of those?
If you have then you knows –

-just how good that marshmallow is on that cookie base
with the rich, creamy chocolate covering the face.

And when you eat them not a creature is stirring and wh

—–

Frigid French Philologies (a descort)

by Rob Stroud

Shards of bleak winter gestate day after day.
The citric cannonade gurgled melodies of complacency.
Echinodermata rides again.

Hagar was not so Horrible.
Beware 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W.
Fini.
A Galapagos penguin reads about tobacco.

Captain Kirk sings the National Anthem.
Angkor longed to visit Tenochtitlán.
Sheepish wolves.
From lofty Mount Olympus descended Odin.

Soon comes the summer of our discontent.

—–

Congratulations, Anne, Fishman, and Rob! You are the most terrible poets of the week!

After my first read-through, I entertained the thought of declaring everyone a winner. I laughed, cringed, and cried. Then, I decided I couldn’t duck my responsibility. I looked more closely. Anne’s poem rhymes enough to make us think the occurrences may have been intentional, mis-meters enough to raise eyebrows, and definitely contains a terrible subject. Michael’s does the same, in a very different and more cringe-worthy way (and, might I add, kudos to him for rising to the challenge of a half-word at the end). Rob’s poem is hilarious to me; probably because he’s such a proper and educated writer, so the end result is what I’d imagine he might shout out in the middle of the night during a restless slumber.

Like I said, though, I’d have crowned you all victors. Read and enjoy:

Untitled piece

by Trent P. McDonald

Oh bloody hell
I slipped and fell
My bum feels bruised
You’d think I’d get used
To stupid New Hampshire winter
Damn, an icicle splinter
In my behind
I need to see if I can find
Just a bit of color
Not this bland view that’s duller
Than a black and white photo of the bruise
On my caboose
If I can be so bold
I really hate the cold!

—–

BRRR…

by Matt Snyder

its cloudy cloudy and cold it is
Swept up and under the deep dark dank chill of the absence of light
All I see is what you see, what you see is far from me as we waver uncontrollably from the bitter
The bitter bitter white
Depressed and withered from the bitter bitter
Hardly a stutter from your cold brittle lips
Chapped and muffled and our layers of clothes bundled tight
Like Randy in a Christmas Story, we are all very much as it seems, a sight
Like the bitter bitter air we see in breath
Bleak midwinter blues
Our hue of death

—–

Squeak Mouse

by Bruce Goodman

I seem to be undergoing a process of shivication
which is no cause for celebration.
Outside the weather is extremely bleak
– did I just hear a mouse squeak?
wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie –
and inside it’s no better because I’m shivering.

I have no wood for my fire
so I think I’ll burn my auntie;
I think I’ll burn my auntie.
Fa la la la la this will be no Silent Day
– the smell of burning mutton won’t go away –
put another leg on the fire Auntie May.

—–

A Certain Type of Warmth

by tiredhamster

A flooding
Of silent whiteness
Appears within this glassy window.
But something burns
Inside, hotter
Than any truth. I remember
When we used to go
Out into the snow. I would
Shiver and shake, but you braved
Those knife-like winds.
You wanted to build snowmen
And snow castles and tiny
Snow worlds to rule over.
But now this world is without
You. Just
Flat and damp. And the snow
piling atop.

—–

Cold Stuff

by Bryntin

the snow rains down
like sparkling frozen water
difficult to drive on
if it doesn’t instantly meltdown

the slipperiness of the road now
that is cover’d o’er with snow
makes it much more likely
to skid and hit a cow

the temperature gauge has binged
to register minus 3 centigrade
that’s 26.6 Fahrenheit
if you’re not metrically skinned

but this is what it’s like
driving the middle of the winter
you can’t see the road through the screen, so
probably safer to mountain bike

it’s not all bad of course,
there’s snowmen with snowballs
and really cold air
that can make your throat go hoarse

—–

Let There Be Light

by Peregrine Arc

I don’t mind the cold or that white stuff they call snow
What I mind is the lack of light, if it’s forty days in a row.
Something kicks in, some hibernational urge
And I find myself laying in bed
Snoring a symphonic dirge

—–

An Alaskan Winter

by Violet Lentz

There’s nothing bleak about midwinter in Alaska
Nothing bare denuded or exposed
Nothing unsheltered unprotected or unshielded
Every piercing raw stinging second of it
Glimmers and glows glistens and glitters
With a resplendency rival to that of a sun

A sun who would rather sink and simper
just below the line of the horizon,
than harm one hoar frost hair
on an Alaskan winter’s crystalline head.

—–

In the Bleak Midwinter

by Joanne the Geek

It’s the bleak midwinter

cold winds are blowing

snow is falling, everyone

is miserable and frozen –

but not me

here in the southern hemisphere

it’s summer and I’m in short shorts

and a close fitting tank top

sitting out in the hot sun

getting tanned

and I think of you all up there

in the frozen north

cold and miserable

and I smile at the thought of you –

because I am an arsehole.

—–

A Bleak MidWhat

by Ruth Scribbles

Twas January in Texas
And all though the house
The AC was running
And it was cloudy and raining

Last week we had snow flurries
And temps in the thirties
Then up the thermometer zoomed
And gave us the sixties

The children all cried
Cause the snow didn’t stick
Where is winter?
They cried

The adults wondered too
And sagely said
“it’s Texas you sillies”
Get used to it

So others get blizzards
And we go to Dairy Queen
And order blizzards
To freeze our tongues
And fatten our bellies

Maybe this year or next
Who knows
And that is the story of our bleak MidWhat!

—–

Untitled piece

by Gary

Boy it’s bleeding bleak

Low chance of me doing a streak

Every day it rains

An everybody complains

Keep hoping for some snow

More chance of seeing Marilyn Monroe

In every lane and field

Dreaded mud congealed

Wind so strong

It blows over King Kong

No chance of seeing the sun

This is no bloody fun

Every day is exactly the same

Redonculous Boris that’s whose to blame

—–

God bleakly ignoring midwinter

by Doug Jacquier

The bleak midwinter arrived in

the middle of winter

and it was bleak.

Not moor bleak;

more bleak than that.

The wind was keen,

not in that American neat way

nor like mustard,

but sharp

and bleak

because it was midwinter.

I watched it being bleak midwinter

but I don’t think God did.

—–

Thank you all for playing along!! Come back tomorrow around 10 a.m. MST for next week’s theme.

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Winners: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

©2020 The respective authors, and their poems

Throwback Thursday: How to Write Poetry

I’ve been asked for feedback on poetry a few times, a task I found amusing since I’d begged others for the same in the past. Art is very subjective. Art is also only so when the majority of people agree, when it takes skill, and when it’s not someone peeing in jar and taking a picture of it.

On that note, please enjoy my informative blog post on how to write poetry, first published October 1, 2017.

A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry

 

Lo! What light, what cackling sun
Burns your eyes?
It laughs as you run;
Jumping, grasping, to
Catch the poem…

If you thought that was bad, you were right. I literally wrote that without any thought, direction, or meter. I took about fifteen seconds.

Don’t get me wrong -sometimes people like that crap. Sometimes the Crap Off the Cuff really isn’t bad. However, poetry is just like any other crafted item: the more practice you have at your skill, the better anything you make will be.
Translation: those who are experts can write a decent impromptu poem, and the stuff they worked longer on is even better.

So, *ahem.* Let’s stop mucking about and finally jump into A Few Steps for Writing Poetry:

1. Don’t.
Seriously, there are already a lot of good poets out there who have already written your idea in a better way. Thanks to Google, you can probably find it.
There are also a lot of terrible poets who have murdered your idea and now it’s bleeding by the side of the road begging people to stop clicking that they Like it.

2. Still determined? Good! You’ve passed the first test: that of true motivation for verse. I feel that motivation, a muse, hangover, emotional distress, late-night deadlines -whatever your name is for it- are vital to writing a poem.
Even if you don’t have a clear subject or good structure, the sheer determination to express what you feel will squeeze something out.

3. Actual Guidelines
So… there is this type of meter I poked fun at initially. It’s called free verse. Let me tell you, from my extremely limited experience, that freely versing can be a BAD idea. It’s the commando version of creative writing, and needs a brave, strong, experienced writer to handle it.
My recommendation, therefore, is to follow a meter. No, you don’t have to go full-out iambic pentameter. Only do so if you wish to be counting on your fingers and looking up rhymes for “depressed” all evening.
A good start is to come up with a few lines in your mind, then count the syllables (and pattern of stress/non-stress) and roughly follow that for the remaining lines.

4. Stress and Non-stress
Really quickly: this is where we put the emphasis on our words when we speak. I threw it in here because I mentioned it in the previous step, and you might be scratching your head over it.
Sometimes, I write a poem and there is one line that is really bugging me. Usually, it’s because I followed my syllable count, but did not follow normal speech rules of emphasis.
Because of that, the syllable count is actually off. Readers (including you) will do a mental glottal stop to be able to stress the words where we are accustomed to.

5. To Rhyme, or Not Some Thyme?
This one is up to you. I mostly rhyme for mine, every other line.
The length of each line and how often you rhyme (every single ending word, halfway through, every other, or randomly) will determine whether your poem feels like a poem, Dr. Seuss, or a rap song.
Keep in mind that even Seuss mixed things up a bit. One of my favorite stanzas in The Cat in the Hat is:

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!”*

Try it; it’s fun to read through.

6. Word Choice
Let’s say you want to emote about love and loss of said love. You are going to make us all feel something different than affection if you literally use the word “love” more than about three times. Sometimes, my limit is even one.
This is where your friend, Mr. Thesaurus, comes in. I mentioned this in my How to Not Suck at Writing rant as well, because it’s really important.
Let’s say you’re not that into synonyms. Too much woooorrrrkkk.
You will sound way more mysterious and intelligent if you do it. Like, “I loved and lost and lost my love” could become “Adored, then absent; Carelessly cherished.”

7. More Word Choice
Poetry is all about obscurity. Even when it’s a straightforward tale of a path diverging in the forest, everyone still says the poem is about something deeper.
So, use your new thesaural friend to obfuscate your terms, or make the simple description of your plush tiger on the shelf sound like it represents your childhood memories of being abandoned.

8. Practice and Preparedness
This goes for anything, but especially creative writing.
Read other poets, and copy their style. Keep a notebook to jot down random lines that come to you on the train. Try, try, try again. Everything you read and write will give you experience.

Now, go! Make the world a poetic place.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens
*from The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss. All rights and copyrights, etc. apply

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (and I’m Adrift in Space)

Gender and sex and such are hot topics, and have been for the past …few thousand years. What -you haven’t heard of Pompeii? Ancient Greece? Today may not be as ‘woke’ and original as people assume, but defining male and female is not a popular place to go.

Yet, there are lines. An obviously major category-maker is one’s sex-defining parts. I can’t use a urinal, and my husband can’t grow a baby.

Dangit.

The differences do not remain within those parameters; but, as I said, these are not recommended waters for sailing. And yet, we all behave as if those differences are in place and are perfectly acceptable. Why?

Could it be that there are female traits? Male traits?

Girls are better students; they’re people-pleasers so they want to be good for their teacher. They’re able to sit still for a task and give it greater detail. They plan well, multi-task well, and improve their appearance well. Girls are good at communication and feelings -including hurting those feelings.

Boys are good at logic and focus; they get the job done and move on. Genetically stronger and hairier, they’re often suited for manual labor. In fact, their mechanically-inclined brains make manual labors easy to complete as well. They’re more physical and less emotional -including a desire to punch it out over talk it over.

But, but, but …exceptions!!

Yes, there are. Ever the square peg in the round hole, I chafe against being placed into any category I appear to be in. I’m sure others feel the same way. However, I wonder if any of them are, like me, living and behaving exactly as our sex is expected to.

Maybe the gray areas have always been, and the female/male attributes are simply a result of gray clusters.

Maybe women do talk more, cry more, and do that excited hand thing when they meet a friend.

Maybe men do talk less, cry less, and shift uncomfortably when their wives do that excited hand thing when they meet.

Why are we so afraid to say so? Do any of you feel the way I do, out in space and ashamed to step into place? What’s so bad about being a woman? What’s so bad about being a man?

—————-

Here’s what I wrote this week:

Wednesday, January 8: “My Other Half,” a post about my husband.

Thursday, January 9: Throwback to “C.S.I.,” a cliché within an enigma within a trope.

Friday, January 10: Let y’all know the winner of the 53rd “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest:” Matt Snyder. Congratulations!

Saturday, January 11: Announced the 54th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is The Bleak Midwinter. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, January 12: “The Threshold of Their Lives,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Monday, January 13: An inspirational quote by Richard G. Scott.

Tuesday, January 14: “How to Have Kids When You’re Crazy” over at The Bipolar Collaborative Blog.

Also ish: a groggy poem, titled, “Poem?

Wednesdayish, January 15: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “What C-Section Recovery is Like” and “Fluent Minecraft.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens; except, of course, for those copyrights owned by almighty Disney.