The Little Shepherd’s Lullaby

The others are gone and the choir too;
The new star’s in the sky.
Joseph’s watching and Mary is holding you;
Now, it’s just you and I.

So dream, dear baby Jesus;
Sleep this night with me.
We, lowly shepherds, came to you;
A silent prince of peace.

The world closed its eyes as the sky went to sleep;
Our sheep were gent’ly laid.
An angel’s light stopped the darkness’ creep;
She said, “Don’t be afraid.

“He sleeps, the tiny Jesus
A tiny, lonely King.”
Glory to God in the highest
She and her friends did sing.

And so, as we heard, of a newborn child,
We talked, and chose to go
To the manger wherein you slept and smiled
Beneath the heav’nly glow.

Keep sleeping, little Jesus
Friendless and cold no more.
I came to stand beside you,
To comfort and adore.

In slumber, so perfect, I watched you rest,
Though I was called to leave.
You needed a friend; I will do my best
To stay and watch this eve.

So lay there, little Jesus,
Asleep just like my lamb.
Smile, knowing you’ve company:
I’m here for you, I am.

Mary holds your hands, sweet and small, like mine;
The fingers gently curled.
Yours will grow to heal hearts and bless all mankind:
The Savior of the world.

So sleep, my baby Jesus
Savior, meek and mild.
Many men will find you yet;
Tonight, though, just a child.

 

Submitted in the nick of time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Christmas Story Contest.

The Black Hole Beyond

Ethereal stardust touched her; tickling, licking, tempting her forward. A thousand thousand glittering steps pulsed the way.

She stepped. And stepped.

One hesitant footfall at a time led her past an eternal tunnel of cosmic shimmering, but also to the edge of inevitable, gaping nothing. Here, there was no stardust, no glitter, no shimmer. Not even a chill, poetic wind whipped against her hesitant spirit, paused on the edge of infinity.

With no eyes to close, no throat to swallow, no resolve to strengthen; she stepped over the edge…

Looking back only once, at the discarded Earth-body far behind.

 

Based on the prompt from The Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

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.

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.

Honest-To-Goodness

Maybelline hadn’t been at the property fer long afore she knowed why they called it The Ranch. The smell alone was enough to put a gal off her vict’als, fer sure. She’d never seen or smelled outbuildin’s what could have their stink seen afore a body could smell ’em. But even the honest smell o’ horses wasn’t what told her.

It was the look of it all. Wild weavin’ grasses danced and clumped round lonely, broken fence posts. The wildflowers filled in the rest -at least, what wasn’t already filled by the Apens and Cedars.

The crownin’ glory of ev’rythin’ was the house. She leaned a bit, sure. She needed some paint what to make her decent. Maybelline even suspected a hole or few in the roof as she’d seen a bunch o’ sparrows take flight as she stomped up the path.

Still, a ranch couldn’t bear to keep such a name without use and purpose. That was the very reason Maybelline had made sure to ask around in town about settin’ up.

“Ah need a handyman, a-course,” she’d told the gossipy postwoman. “And I’ll be wan’in’ a few animals once he can patch up stalls or whatever else needs fixin’.”

“Sure, sure,” Postwoman Gloria had nodded. “You migh’ wanna post on the job board, yonder.”

Maybelline had, knowin’ full well Gloria would pass word ‘long much faster’n a postin’.

Sure shootin’, she’d barely stepped inter the house an hour later afore she heard callin’ from outside the warped kitchen winder. A waverin’ shadow became a solid form of a man against lunchtime sun as she walked back out to the wide, dusty porch.

He removed an honest-to-goodness cowboy hat, placed it against his chest. “Ma’am.”

Well, I do declare, Maybelline thought. “Howdy,” she answered, and smiled.

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Submitted for the Carrot Ranch Free-Write Contest.

A Different Sort of Parade

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Oogdiblok the Fiercely Flatulent surveyed the plodding masses, scowling. Urgdup, his counselor, knew this meant nothing since the stinky leader always scowled unless he was angry.

“Fmouglisk oog digump,” Urgdup warned.

Sighing, Oogdiblok replied, “Gurdonk.” He blew a raspberry with his fat lips, dismissing his counselor. His expression did not lighten until Fmouglisk oozed in.

She was upset. Oogdiblok knew this by the radiant smile she wore. “Eekdi homespank murgle!” she screeched.

He smiled and winked. He knew he’d started without her. Next time, he resolved, she wouldn’t be allowed to watch The Parade of Ogre Nations at all.

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green and Yellow Fruit Basket

Igor stared at the remains of his shopping trip. His enormous hunch rose and fell in a worried sigh.

He knew he’d gotten what he was sent for. He remembered selecting the shiniest peeler from the grocery shelf and heading to Checkout.

While standing in line behind an old lady with a dog in her purse and in front of a young boy who kept poking his hunch, Igor had noticed the fruit cups.

His stomach had rumbled.

Why not? it had asked. Herr doktor will never know. He’d added them to his peeler, hurriedly paid, and left. Just to be certain, he’d tossed the receipt behind a few scraggly bushes outside the door.

And now, as he stared at the gaping hole his leaking containers had made in the paper bag, he realized a receipt might be a thing to hang onto.

“Ah, Igor,” a deep voice said from the doorway. “Excellent. A minute more and the specimen would be useless.” Dr. Frankenstein held out a hand. “Give me the peeler and let’s get him started.”

Created for Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

World’s Worst Poem, Plated

Perdonnez, signora, will you taste my
veritable vermicelli which lost a

Tagliatelle or gnocchi -or was
it tortellini or gemelli?- that cost a

Few dozzina homemade noodles: measured,
mixed, rolled, chopped, shaped, and boiled -hasta

Domani, questa mattina -when nappy
And wriggly rigatoni-head rastas

Dangle candid cannelloni for
colazione (o pranzo o cena o altro) sauced, a

Banchetto of bavett, bucatini,
bigoli, e barbina; which fosta

Amore, our home country joy; precious
mem’ries of mamma o zia o ci, who bossed a

Flourishing, famishing family,
practically-plated with a plethora of pasta.

If that doesn’t bake your noodle, you’ve lost-a.

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Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

Sanctuary in the Sands

The days without wind had been impossible. The days with, however, proved impassible. Hot desert breath pulled and pushed at his shaking, stalking frame in confused bursts of sand. He squinted every few steps for a bearing, yet was always rewarded with another hill.

He stood and breathed heavily through his makeshift scarf. Moving air whipped more gritty dust across his face, obligingly. He blinked, then couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely the wavering green upon the horizon was another imagination-induced reprieve, an apparition of his thirst-starved mind. Blearily, he licked the moist dirt from his lips again and again.

Step by sliding step he mounted the dune before him. Why not, since he had nowhere else to go but a forever dust-sleep? No one would ever find him as the sand piled over his prone form. He would become a sand hill himself, upon which other wanderers might slowly stumble to a dehydrated death.

I am the Sandman, he thought.

Taker of dreams…

Then his worn boot found footing more solid than dune. Then his other. And his ears realized a silence in the days-long howling of wind. He breathed simply air. He squinted, rubbed a gritty hand beneath each brow, fully opened his eyes.

Oasis. The word flitted across his mind as it tried to accept the picturesque glen his dust-crusted eyes could see.

He fell to a kneel and his swollen tongue slurred thanks to Heaven. His filthy hands dipped forward to the ready pool and scooped liquid manna into his parched and gasping mouth. Lovely, wet, clear water ran everywhere in his fumbling haste.

Nearly a full ten minutes of bliss passed before he noticed he was not alone. Large, beautiful eyes stared at him from beneath the rippling surface. Feminine eyes.

She smiled.

 

Written in response to Carrot Ranch’s 24-Hour Free-Write contest.

Cloud Covers

“How’s it goin’, Nim?” called a breathy voice. He looked up. And up. And to the side. There was Cirrus, waving and smiling.

“Er… it’s a breeze.” He paused. “How ’bout you?”

“Clear skies here.”

“Cool, cool.” Nimbostratus faced forward again, his harness jangling. With utmost care he applied another layer of white. Now just to add a touch of grey…

“I saw Cumulo yesterday,” Cirrus flurried. She never could stay still.

“Mm-hmm.” Dip. Paint.

Cirrus also disliked inattention. She dropped in altitude. “He said: BOOM!

“AAAH!” Nimbostratus yelled.

“Looks a bit greyer than initially predicted,” the weatherman noted.

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Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt