“One of the first things we have to say to a beginner who has brought us his [manuscript] is, ‘Avoid all epithets which are merely emotional. It is no use telling us that something was “mysterious” or “loathsome” or “awe-inspiring” or “voluptuous”. Do you think your readers will believe you just because you say so? You must go quite a different way to work.

“‘By direct description, by metaphor and simile, by secretly evoking powerful associations, by offering the right stimuli to our nerves (in the right degree and the right order), and by the very beat and vowel-melody and length and brevity of your sentences, you must bring it about that we, we readers, not you, exclaim “how mysterious!” or “loathsome” or whatever it is.

“‘Let me taste for myself, and you’ll have no need to tell me how I should react to the flavour.'”

-C.S. Lewis, Studies in Words

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Another week, another round of great entries! You all free versed enough to set iridescent butterflies wafting round a blushing summertime rosebush.

Yet, there can only be one winner. And that is:

Untitled piece

by Deb Whittam

latitude and longitude, dormant darkness
of desserts concaved with sand. frosted
waves pounding cliff faces rugged
as gulls mournfully cry their solemn
lament. giants rustle leaves in hollow
reproach, as winter exhales. in a basement
a cheerless rodent sneezes, a whirlwind of
dust. below grim encrusted tunnels feet
scamper, fleeing the angry beast, who bellows
its angst in short blasts three. The umpire shouts TIME.

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

All the entries this week were fantastic! Deb’s poem won for how well she took traditional free verse and destroyed it. The icing on the cake was her “a cheerless rodent sneezes.” Well done!

If you thought hers was terrible, see if you can get through the rest:

Sugar cubed

by Bruce Goodman

You are the teaspoon that stirs sweet sugar in my cup of tea;
imagine how yucky the tea would be without you
to stir the saccharine cubes in the beverage for me to drink.

That is why you are my honey-bee hovering near my cup and saucer,
my stirring implement that is wild and free
and goeth round and around all syrupy with glee and delight.

My teaspoon! My teaspoon! from A to Z*!
(*pronounced ZED because we’re not allowed to rhyme this week)
Every time I come back from having a pee
there’s always a further five or six sugared hot cups of tea waiting to be imbibed.

Thank you for being my sugar cube agitator, adorable Constantia.
When I see you dissolve sugar I dissolve into a sticky mess.
Will you take time out from stirring my sugar cubes to marry me?

—–

Hola

by Peregrine Arc

Goldfish, mirrors of angelic happenings
Twittering ’round my pâté
and never I did I want to become a bat.
A florid, Florida bat with a floral dress
Flowery, shimmer, summery.
Striking Cover Girl poses at a laundromat recycling bin.
But alas here I am, at a restaurant poking a salad at a beach
80 years old, playing Bingo with Uncle Mingo
A flowery, fruity, in more ways than sooth
Ol’ bat.
Cha, Cha, cha. Ole!

—–

Untitled piece

by Gary

In our darkest times you bring unbroken sunshine
With a bouquet unrivalled amongst the finest wine
Like a fragrant flower sat below the finest red pine
How can something so small be so life enriching
Your smell, your taste so utterly bewitching
Just one drop is so completely uplifting
You shine out on our world like the stars of the southern cross
You are as wondrous and spectacular as the wandering albatross
You paint the world with a sparking diamond jewel embossed gloss
In the kitchen you are the unrivalled boss
Riding across the sky like the ancient god Helios
You are our light oh Great Tabasco Sauce

—–

Ode to Doublemint

by Ruth Scribbles

Elixir of arousal
Enticing my buds to
Long for the burst of delightful
Flavor
My orifice masticates
Releasing angst and queasiness
You are fettered for my sustenance
My perseverance in chasing you
Is made worthwhile

—–

Untitled piece

by Trent McDonald

Ah, fast and furious
Flicking around
You scurry to and fro
Like a drunken apricot
Charlie Chaplin on speed
Multiplied by two
On your long thin legs
So gloriously gorgeous
That you have six
For how can but two do
Or even Charlie’s three
Including his cane
For his cane is part of him
Isn’t it
But you have six
Naturally
And you don’t have a mustache
But the mandibles
So roundly curvaceous
Sweeping, sexy mandibles
And antennas
Or is it antennae
Let me look closer
With this magnificent magnifying glass
Shape, clear crystal for seeing
Ooops
I didn’t mean to
Burn you up
Sorry ant

—–

Thanks to everyone for poeming! If he’s game, I’m thinking of having a guest judge. We’ll see how that goes. Regardless, come back at 10 a.m. tomorrow for next week’s prompt.

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Deb: 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

May I be the first sentence to welcome you to the 37th Terrible Poetry Contest? Excellent.

You may think writing horrendous verse is difficult. It’s not; people do it all the time! Just in case you’re nervous, however, I’ve written up a brief description here. Read it, or pick a random poem from the internet and alter it to fit the prompt.

-Which may be found in the specifics below:

  1. Our Topic is Anything. You choose.
    The catch? Whatever subject you select has to be way too flowery and/or descriptive. Adjectives and adverbs are your new best friends, closely followed by metaphor, simile, hyperbole, synecdoche, and personification.
    The other catch? The type of poem is free verse.
  2. Length? For the judge’s time and sanity, keep things under 250 words.
  3. For the first time, you may NOT Rhyme! What could be more poetic than free verse? Most people think that’s true and who are we to add rhyme to their meter?
  4. As always, make it terrible. Poets who take themselves way too seriously must applaud your efforts, worried to be the first to point out the emperor has no prose.
  5. Although a bawdy free verse poem is likely to exist somewhere, most stay around PG or cleaner; you can as well.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (August 9) to submit a poem.

Use the form below to be anonymous for a week.

For a more social experience, and to guarantee I see your entry, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.

Please enter and please have fun!

 

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Photo credit:
Unsplash

“Your blog is like lounging around the house and watching TV, maybe picking up some sticks in the yard. It’s you, and you have a casual vibe going on. A book is like going out for a big evening. You want your hair, nails, and makeup right. Maybe you spring for a new dress, which is like your cover art.

“You may not like the work that goes into it, but you’re going to like the reception when you finally get to the party.”

-C.S. Boyack, “So it begins

A Tree Falls in a Forest; Does the Reader Hear It?

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Once there was a small stream winding through the forest. It wasn’t too small a stream, of course. It ran all year, even in the dry seasons. And, at some points, it did grow smaller -say, when crossing between the narrowing walls of tree roots or over rough patches of mud. Meanwhile, farther along, the small stream widened out to what some geographers would classify as a river. This widening was due to a relief of pressures and an allowed broadening of its capabilities.

No, I do not intend to write you the rest of the story of the stream. There is no literal stream. Obviously, there is also no mud, tree roots, or even geographers.

I brought up waterworks in order to discuss an important literary element: metaphor. We’re hardly selective here, so I’ll include metaphor’s semi-cousin simile and his friend hyperbole, too. In case you ask, however; allegory, parable, and analogy are not invited. Sorry, guys.

I love metaphor. And, I hates it. *Golem!* *Golem!*

That is: when someone is giving a lecture, lesson, or speech and starts metaphoring, my mind goes wonderful places with their relationships. In fact, my mind goes very far afield of where they usually intended and somehow I’ve taken the examples to more interesting locales.

Also, I am very good at giving people on-the-spot comparisons in order to make my point. I told someone I had never met before that her English Cream Golden Retriever was “like when you put brand-new towels into the dryer and pull out a big, fluffy, warm ball of lint and you just want to hug it.”

Yeah… I did. And I wonder why I have few friends.

And, yes, that was simile. Sort-of. I told you they were cousins.

Back to metaphor: this good can also be evil. Besides very obvious over-the-top tropes like characters always speaking in clichés and a poet telling us that each flower in the garden is a dragon, horse, unicorn, etc. to the point that we don’t even know that he was speaking of gardens in the first place–

Too much can be a bad thing.

I also think that metaphor, simile, and hyperbole have a better place in making a conversational point, or in writing poetry, than they do in longer works of fiction.

What say ye? Agreed? Disagreed? Still winding through mud and you’ll get back with me once you hit the valley?

—–

While you’re pondering (or meandering), here’s what went down in the past week:
Wednesday, January 2: “Not Your Average Blogger’s New Year’s Post,” in which we discussed obscure unique talents.
Thursday, January 3: “Skinwalkers, XLVII.” This may have been back-posted. 😉
Friday, January 4: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Yay, again, Ruth!
Saturday, January 5: Announced the eighth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. ENTER IT.
Sunday, January 6: “When the Stakes Are High,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch.
Monday, January 7: “Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Eight.”
Also, “Toddler Trouble” at my mothering blog.
Tuesday, January 8: Inspirational quote by Pablo Picasso. En español.
I may have had a difficult weekend, and thereafter wrote “Hello Depression, My Old Friend” at The Bipolar Writer Blog.
Wednesday, January 9: You made it to today!

Eric Muhr

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.

Flat-Footed

Black and white

“Ee-ew! What’s wrong with your toes?” The sneery-faced girl scrunched up her nose into, well, into a sneer. Her voice was just the right timbre to draw the envy of large, braying barn animals -had there been any around.

Instead, she and I were part of a different sort of farm, one at which children gathered for instruction in reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. The sunny rays of late spring shone between us; upon her freckling nose and unkempt hair, and likewise upon my sandal-shod feet with their exposed toes.

I wiggled my posterior phalanges innocently. The movement drew an encore exclamation from my tormentor. “Ew! They’re so weird! Stop it!” Feigning repulsion, she ran away.

I considered following. Had I been of a different personality, the thought of continually chasing her might have occurred to me. Being myself, instead, I looked down at my flat, splayed toes in shame. I tried placing one foot over the other, but could see how that would hamper movement.

The toes returned my scrutiny innocently; though, to my new perspective, they had somehow morphed to resemble dead slugs or ugly bits of log. I had always known my toes were a little different, of course. They didn’t look precisely like my mother’s, or my father’s; though they did resemble my sister’s and brother’s somewhat.

Given that small scientific sampling, I’d concluded that everyone must have some toe issues. Mine weren’t all that odd.

The bell rang, signifying the end of recreational outside time for schoolchildren. I returned inside, a small germ of doubt forming inside my innocent mind. Little was I to know how important my foot fringes would prove later in life; how much of that life they would come to affect.

Of course, they had a few problems in childhood beyond immature condemnation. Those poor, flat slugs jostled against each other too freely inside my shoes. The second and third toe’s unusual length, coupled with the movement, caused them many an ingrown nail pain.

My grandfather, from whom I inherited the flatness, was a podiatrist. He’d look over my feet with the air of a great scientist. Invariably, he’d comment, “Should’ve taken out that first knuckle when you were a baby.”

In response, I’d study my elongated digits. Were they so out of place? Were they so wrong, that they needed tampering with? Editing? Removal?

It wasn’t until my teenage years that my feet became more obvious, and brought again to vocal scrutiny. Most of that was due to an unreasonable social silence I received from peers for most of my childhood. It was like they could sense my feet were different. Perhaps I kicked a soccer ball differently at recess. Maybe the pigeon-toedness of my walk was more pronounced than I’d imagined.

That was when I would recall another way the affronting basal extremities had interfered in younger years. Fearing the extreme way I thrashed my legs inwardly at some moments, my parents had agreed to purchase and shoe me with special footwear. My toes were hidden beneath covered fronts, fronts so obscuring that one could not easily tell the right from the left. Thus split and kept from each other, my gait was altered to tilt more outward, more normal.

As I was saying, however, I could not hide the abnormalities from fellow teenagers. They walked brashly round the high school campus; showing me that, yes, my anatomy was not like most other’s. Most female feet were attractive and small; with cute, curling toes of descending length.

Again, I viewed my primate-like offerings. “Love yourself,” my mother admonished. But, what was to love about my obviously abnormal feet?

Feet like mine

I tried. “I can write with my feet,” I told some friends. I even practiced. The parlor trick was somewhat amusing, but ultimately served to repulse most listeners. No one wants to hear about feet touching pencils and paper, if one wants to hear about feet at all.

I began hiding my shoe size, disguising my walk, and curling my toes when viewable. I pretended to be like those with smiling, happy leg-ends. I mimicked the way they moved. Hopefully, my defects would somehow conform and truly be like everyone else one day.

Eventually I got married, to a man with smaller feet. “They’re so fuzzy,” I commented.

“All men have hairy feet,” he responded. He was normal.

I knew all women did not have my anatomy. Silence was golden. Though I’m sure he could see the size; odd, webbed second and third toes; and bath mat-like nature of mine, he never admitted repulsion. He never admitted love, of course; no closet foot fetishes. Instead, I felt he ignored their presence and focused on what had a better appearance.

Perhaps he, too, hoped they would simply change to different parts if avoided.

Maybe because of their insistence on extending farther than they naturally ought to, this was a defect that could not be overlooked. It was one that began to affect my life, including our married life.

“So you feel your feet are causing problems?” Our counselor queried, concerned. “Do you find yourself picking objects from the floor with your simian second-toe spacing? Are your children trodding on them; not giving you the space you need? Have you ever felt like harming your toes?”

I remembered my grandfather’s wishes to shorten the offending toes. I had to admit, “Yes.”

The good news is that I was referred to a hormonal replacement podiatrist. It’s ongoing news, really, since I’ve come to realize I will always have different feet than more foot-functional humans. But, the initial treatments have helped.

“Oh, I just love your nails, Heidi,” a woman comments to another. We’re at an ongoing outdoor recreational time; a social gathering of neighborhood women. The person she is complimenting happily displays the toenails that drew attention. They sit in even rectangles atop curling, descending toes at the ends of perfect, petite feet controlled by slim, even-stepping legs.

perfect feet

I glance at mine. My toenails still retain most of the strengthening polish I have to douse them with, else they break and peel. They grace my flat, elongated, obscurely-shaped foot profile. The feet are large for a woman, and point inwards the way my knees do.

I shrug.

I can’t fight genetics blessing me with thin nails. I’d rather have oddly-long toes than agree to surgically alter them. Perhaps my shoe size helps my balance -especially when I forget to focus and trip over my pigeon-toed gait.

And, should the world ever be captured by alien invasion and our arms pinioned uselessly to our sides, my apelike toes will come in handy for untying the bonds of my fellow prisoners.

If nothing else, they’ll be able to write a plea for help.