Silent but Tardy

Stan heard his door’s assailant before the knocking; a shush-shush against the cement leading to his flat. He rose; walked; opened; stared. There, upon his stoop, was Death himself.

“Er,” Stan managed. What does one say to Death?

In what should have been an anticipated reaction, Stan’s guest only stared.

Stan scuffed a foot against his carpet. He bit his lip. Swung his arms.

Death still stared.

“So….” Stan tried. “May I help you?”

A nod. Silence.

Stan hadn’t thought Death would be so awkward. *Ahem* “How so?”

Impossible as it seemed; Stan knew, somehow, that his somber companion frowned in thought. Death reached a skeletal hand from draping cloak-sleeve to internal robe and withdrew a scrap of parchment. Hand and paper extended toward Stan.

Stan received the paper; declined the hand. Stan Dubrough, 17:00, he read. His palms felt chill and his body followed right after. Both jumped at Death’s bony finger, tapping to point at the name. His name: Stan Dubrough.

“That’s-” Stan squeaked. “That’s me.”

His guest’s other hand appeared from near the door-post. It gripped an awful, glinting scythe.

“The time’s not right, though,” Stan said, as though observing the weather.

The scythe paused. Stan sensed confusion. He also, inexplicably, recalled his mother’s exasperated reprimand, “Always a stickler for accuracy, aren’t you, Stan?”

Death stared. Asking.

“It says ’17:00,’ right?”

A slow nod.

“And, that’s 5 p.m.; yes?”

Nod.

“Well,” Stan concluded in a cheery tone, “It’s now going on 6.” He chuckled a bit till he recalled who his visitor was, and then wisely swallowed. “Hm; yes. Thing is: you’re a bit late.”

If a dark-cloaked being without voice could look gobsmacked, Death did. Without a word, he extended his non-scythe hand. Stan returned the paper and watched it disappear within the cloak folds. Then, just as silently, Death and his scythe turned and left.

Stan listened to the shush-shush of departure turn the corner before shutting his door. Returning to his couch seat, another of his mother’s oft-spoken sayings came to mind: “Stan, you’re so bent on being right you’d tell Death himself if he were late.”

“Well, mum,” he said, looking to the urn atop his mantel, “Looks like you were right after all.”

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Submitted, at the last, for The 2019 Bloggers Bash Competition.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Happy Saturday, everybody! A day late, but never a dollar short is our winner for this week:

BRUCE GOODMAN

It happens in restaurants

by Bruce Goodman

I suspect there’s a great deal more
going on under that table over there
than meets the eye.
They not simply eating ice cream and blueberry pie.
I bet they’re playing hanky-panky with their knees.
I’ve a good mind to go over and whip the table cloth
off
to expose their chicanery for all to sees
if you please.

I think it only fair to surmise –
and I wouldn’t be at all surprised –
if before long they were both under the table smooching away,
for every dog has its day.
Next thing he’ll be feeding her custard
with his own spoon. Shucks.
What’s going on under that table over there is yuk.

I hate going out to restaurants.
My wife is such a flirt.

Congratulations, Bruce! You are the most terrible poet of the week!

As returning readers know, I hate contests where a winner is picked and the judge says that everybody was a winner; blah, blah, blah. I try my darnedest not to do that to everyone, but you all make it near-impossible with your level of poetic skill. (You do know this is a terrible poetry contest, right?)

I snickered at the made-up words, the near-rhymes, the rambling (terrible) subjects, and the poetic elements. In the end; I believe I admired the overall flow (we’ll call it that) of Bruce’s poem, combined with his zinger at the end. Most poets this week followed the recommended guidelines of terribleness; on top of all that, Bruce, your ‘meter’ and your story ‘flow’ earned you the prize. Well done.

Thank you to everyone who participated this week. You are the reason this takes me hours of preparation and anguish to decide. And, here you all are:

Under-the-Table Deal

by Bladud Fleas

Get up from under the table, dude!
Said the guy whose shoes I was buying
I haven’t got them on, right now, he said
Though I think he was lying. See
I was too quick to agree on the price
he’d selected and once on my knees
he rejected but I, quick as a flash,
produced the cash and removing his
shoes, stuck a rolled up note between his toes
and the deal was completed and he was defeated,
as were his shoes, no pun intended,
for a fair price and money well spended.

—–

Secret Agent Man

by H.R.R. Gorman

Steele steeled his stance,
Fighting for freedom in France,
Really ready to reel Russians
In and insinuate intrigue.

Dreaded documents dredged
Up from underworld undertakings
Show sinister situations,
Blackmail baking in baddies’ brains.

He humps his home-movie
Back to bloody Britain
And advocates for absolution
Of the outstanding ordeal.

Friends faint following the film,
So he sends some signals
At an American agent
That things are taking turns.

But Bob believes his boss.
Pee-pee parties with presidents
Are too astronomically atrocious
For free freedmen to finagle.

So Steele steels his stance,
Takes tea at the typical time,
Cares about the Six Counties, and
Watches the world wither.

—–

Under the Table

by Andrea Frazer

My friends are all camping
But alas I’m not able
Nope, I’m grounded for life
Right here under the table
A butter knife for a friend
Along with a rag
To scrape all my boogers
Into a trash bag
Yup, what once was my haven
For picking my nose
My mom did discover
So now I am hosed
“You won’t move from this spot
Except to go pee
Until all chunks are removed
Do you understand me?”
What could I say?
My answer was “Yes”
Now there’s no more snot digging
What YES I’m depressed
The moral of this tale
From under the table?
Stay away from nose picking
To avoid this sad fable

The end

—–

Either Side of the Aisle

by Jon

Above board? No it’s not!
Appearance sake? Fulfilled!
In actuality, putrid rot
describes a recent bill.

Put forth by those who say
that they
Are there to represent us all.
Try to have (with them) your say
See if they take your call.

Things that make your conscience ache,
(Like this poem, for instance)
Disturb them not in the least;
For long ago they did forsake,
The way of truth and peace.

—–

It’s not what you get it’s where you get it

by Geoff

Said the bribee to the briber
‘I have no moral fibre’
‘And of course I’ll take a bung.’
‘Unless by being bought out
‘You think I might be caught out’
‘And by this sting be stung.’

‘You have no need to worry,’
Said the briber to the bribee,
‘There’s nothing untoward.’
‘I’m just a harmless gopher
‘This deal’s completely kosher’
‘And everything’s above board.’

‘But how can I believe it,’
‘The cash, when I receive it,’
‘To keep it, I am able?’
‘For sure, you are a bandit,’
‘If each time, to me, you hand it,’
‘While seated ‘neath the table?’

—–

A Poem So Terrible It Can’t Be Named

by Peregrine Arc

Oh my, oh me
I dearly have to pee.
But alas, the Labrador fell asleep on me.
So cute, so adorable, her face all wrinkled
She lets out a stinky and my nose truly krinkles.
Twenty minutes later, the air is fresh and new.
My breathing and vitals back to normal, phew!
“Dear,” I coo, wanting to get up.
“Do you want a treat, my little duck?”
Her amber eyes open and I’m up like a flash
I nearly walk on water to the toilet in my dash.
“Sorry, dear,” I call from the throne. “You’ll get a treat on the morrow–no interest on that loan.”

—–

Dinner Table Gambit

by Michael B. Fishman

Sitting at the table I felt bold
so I put my hand on her knee.
The look she gave me was quite cold
sort of like I touched her with poison ivy.

I couldn’t give up so I tried again
and the result was the same.
She said, “What the fudge” are you insane?
I felt like taking on an assumed name.

Third time’s the charm, right?
So under the table I grabbed her knee once more.
She didn’t have to turn or talk for me to feel the frostbite
I said, “Why doest me dost thee ignore?”

The dog watched it all from under the table
smiling in that doggie way while chewing on a bagel.

—–

What’s the Deal

by Ruth Scribbles

What’s the deal
With under the table
Table that thought
The cat without a hat
Demands attention
Under the table
She licks chip crumbs
Crumbs with salt
She licks the floor
Looking for more
Crumbs
Under the table

—–

Leave it to Amelia

by Violet Lentz

If there is trouble to be had
And usually, there is
Amelia’s smack dab in the middle
At that, she is a wiz.

You would think she was a cherub
To see her childhood photos
Who’d a thunk in this one here
She had a pine bough up her nose?

Or wait, you think that’s funny
How about her money-making scheme?
Selling milkshakes on the corner
That she made a shaving cream!

Or the time her Mom got a call from school
“Come quick!” said old Mizz Krantz
“Your Amy’s doing the bicycle,
And she ain’t wearin’ no underpants!”

But I’d say her defining moment
Was when she let her best friend Mabel
Take a lickin’ for stealing chewing gum-
Amelia’d plucked, from under the table.

—–

Deal

by Doug

Under the table
blood drips onto the crackpots there under
making a deal for blood-proof umbrella heirlooms
with a star chart marking the space alien’s location

Blood drips on the undercover policeman’s head.
He says, “The poker deal is dead. I want hence
grenades under an umbrella, and incense for ten cents.”

But you have to bribe the dealer for a deal
and the dealer was dead.

The deal blew up in their faces, and
they couldn’t save face with Adam Smith

—–

Thank you for entering! I love seeing returning torturers and new verse-obliterators, alike. Tune in tonight at 10 p.m. for the announcement of next week’s contest.

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

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, Week Seventeen. I went back and counted.

If you’re new, confused, and/or need directions; read the how-to about terrible poetry. Here, at The Terrible Poetry Contest, we strive to make the best of the best shudder and crawl back under a blanket of Shakespeare. We aim to offend, but in a very high-minded way.

Here are the rules for this week’s prompt:

  1. The topic is Under-the-Table Deals.
  2. For length, keep your poem greater than or equal to a haiku but less than Beowulf.
  3. Should you rhyme? Up to you this occasion.
  4. Most importantly, make it terrible. I want the back-alley agents of disreputable deals to turn themselves in, sobbing, just to get away from what you write.
  5. Keep it PG-rating or lower. You can do it.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (March 15, 2019) to submit a poem. Hey; it’s The Ides of March and my wedding anniversary. We just might make it to sixteen years.

If you are shy, use the form and I’ll get an e-mail. Leave me a comment saying that you did, so we cover our bases.

For a more social experience, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.

Also, please tell your friends. You can use your mouth, your phone, your blog; whatever. Let’s get the word out! The world needs more terrible poetry!

Have fun!

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Photo credit:
Rosalind Chang

It’s All a Mystery

New visitors to my blog might be a bit confused. Is this a poetry site? A place for flash fiction? One in which I go off the deep end in a depressive heap?

You’re not alone; I am also confused.

There may not be a term for what I do here, specifically, besides ‘impulsive’ or ‘whimsical’ or maybe even ‘nonsensical.’ If pressed, I like to say that I write on “many topics and in many styles of expression.” (That’s from my résumé.)

Despite this, there are two genres that I avoid: romance and mystery.

We’ll go into the former later, Dr. Freud. I only want to talk about the latter today, because I …can’t. I can’t write a mystery. “It’s not that difficult,” you might say. Or, “But, but, but -many of the stories I’ve read of yours reveal something the audience didn’t know. That’s mystery, you know.”

They’re really not, because of my approach to writing new stories. That approach is, basically, having a general idea of a theme or direction and then writing. Little details, dialogue, descriptions, and humor crop up as appropriate while I write. In a sense, I am as much in the dark as the reader until a resolution presents itself somewhere as I go.

So, today’s question is: How does one write a mystery? Plotting? Red herringing? Do you know every twist and turn and intentionally-wrongly-accused character? Do you *gasp* know whodunit from the outset?

If so, how is it any fun to write?

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—————

Looking to solve The Case of What I Did Last Week? Here are the spoilers:
Wednesday, January 16: “How to Win Friends and …Nevermind,” my admittance to social ineptitude.
Thursday, January 17: “The Cure for Depression,” the beginning of a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, January 18: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to second-time winner, Molly Stevens.
Also, a re-post of Peregrine Arc’s writing prompt. VISIT; WRITE SOMETHING!
Saturday, January 19: Announced the tenth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Enter, if you dare!
Sunday, January 20: “Home Life Poetry.” I may need to get out more on Sundays.
Monday, January 21: Some answers to Len‘s Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination.
Tuesday, January 22: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty.”
Also, “A Day in the Life” (a re-post of a poem I wrote on this site) at my mothering blog.
Wednesday, January 23: Today!

Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Eight

Wil’s tenacious grip on the slide bar slipped, as did her treadless boots on the platform. With all the grace of a surprised, screeching sloth, she tripped, fell, and slid the length of the metal slide. She landed quite solidly on the frosted wood chips and closed her eyes against the cold night sky. Perhaps, if she squeezed her lids tightly enough, Eric and the world would go away. A portal into another world might open beneath her, or a wizard would appear and –

From a distance, she thought she heard running feet. “God; are you okay?” Eric said from quite close, his concern a tad more evident in his tone than his amusement.

Wil cracked one eye open, then the other. He stood over her. What she could see of his features seemed to resolve into an anxious curiosity. His mouth appeared to twitch at the corners, but she couldn’t be sure in the dim lighting of the apartment complex.

That lighting was never luminous, and tended to turn off at important times. Her mother had said the owners were conserving energy; her father said they wanted to conserve money.

As if on cue, the lamp overhead blinked off. Wil, Eric, and the playground were plunged into darkness. Wil attempted an evasive rolling maneuver to rise, and succeeded in smacking her head against the bottom of the slide. The slide reverberated in the chill, empty air like a gong.

Shit, Wil! What -” Eric began, but broke off at the sound of Wil laughing.

She laughed and laughed. Then she cried. She laughed and cried and didn’t know why. Sitting up, she stopped at the shadowy sight of Eric standing nearby. Did he need something? She attempted to stand, and made it upright with minimal wavering. Bits of dirt and pieces of wood clung to her scarf and backside; she brushed at herself accordingly.

Eric was still there when she finished, within the reach of her arm. She’d never realized how tall he was. “What do you want?” she demanded.

He stepped back. “I, er…” His face moved in the dark, seeking an answer from his feet, the playground, and the sky. Finally settling on his gloved hands, he mumbled, “Nothing, I guess.” She watched his shoulders lift as he sighed. He shuffled his feet.

“Wellllll….” Wil couldn’t think of anything to say. She didn’t even know Eric; she just rode in his car because his mom had a vehicle everyone could fit in. None of them liked Mrs. Crandall, either; but, Wil realized, that didn’t necessarily mean Eric was anything like her.

The light a few yards down the sidewalk turned on. Her eyes flicked to it, distracted, then back to Eric. She was able to make out more of Eric’s face. He was staring down at her, and he no longer looked amused. In fact, his expression reminded Wil of someone’s she’d seen recently. She felt a light, fluttering feeling somewhere near her stomach.

“Um,” Eric raised a gloved hand and coughed a bit into it. “So -are you okay, Wil?”

She couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from his gaze. She nodded.

“Good.” He did the cough again. “Erm. Great.”

“Miiiinaaa!” came an echoing call from down the walkways. The voice sounded like her father’s, not to mention his use of her second-most detested name.

Wil blinked, the spell broken. “I need to go.”

Eric took a turn nodding. Then he smiled a small, shy, simple smile. He looked nice in a smile, even in the semi-dark. Wil smiled in return, then pivoted and ran to her father’s voice and to their building.

Her scarf fluttered behind her, waving goodbye in the night.

 

Continued from Sixty-Seven.
Keep reading to Sixty-Nine.