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

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Hello and welcome to the 54th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest!

As always, read some brief instructions on bad poetry here. Being terrible can be tricky, or it can be as simple as tripping on a smooth floor.

Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. The Topic is The Bleak Midwinter. Yes, I know some of you are not experiencing cold weather and do not feel bleak. Maybe come stare out my window for inspiration…
  2. Try for a Length of a standard 3-75.5 words.
  3. Rhyming is wholly up to you.
  4. Make it terrible. I want your poem to force travel agencies to contact your therapist to make appointments for themselves after reading it.
  5. Keep things PG or cleaner. It’s about the bleak midwinter, for heaven’s sake.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 17, 2020) to submit a poem.

Use the form below if you want to be anonymous for a week.

If not, and for a more social experience, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. Please also comment if you linkback but don’t see the notification in the comments within 24 hours.

Have fun!

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This is more scenic than my view.

Photo credit:
Diana Parkhouse

Wil Wheaton Gets Reals About Depression

A friend shared something useful to TwoFacebook: an article in Medium written by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame).

Two of my favorite passages are:

“At that moment, I realized that I had lived my life in a room that was so loud, all I could do every day was deal with how loud it was. But with the help of my wife, my doctor, and medical science, I found a doorway out of that room.”

and

“One of the many delightful things about having Depression and Anxiety is occasionally and unexpectedly feeling like the whole goddamn world is a heavy lead blanket, like that thing they put on your chest at the dentist when you get x-rays, and it’s been dropped around your entire existence without your consent.

“Physically, it weighs heavier on me in some places than it does in others. I feel it tugging at the corners of my eyes, and pressing down on the center of my chest. When it’s really bad, it can feel like one of those dreams where you try to move, but every step and every motion feels like you’re struggling to move through something heavy and viscous. Emotionally, it covers me completely, separating me from my motivation, my focus, and everything that brings me joy in my life.

“When it drops that lead apron over us, we have to remind ourselves that one of the things Depression does, to keep itself strong and in charge, is tell us lies, like: I am the worst at everything. Nobody really likes me. I don’t deserve to be happy. This will never end. And so on and so on. We can know, in our rational minds, that this is a giant bunch of bullshit (and we can look at all these times in our lives when were WERE good at a thing, when we genuinely felt happy, when we felt awful but got through it, etc.) but in the moment, it can be a serious challenge to wait for Depression to lift the roadblock that’s keeping us from moving those facts from our rational mind to our emotional selves.

“And that’s the thing about Depression: we can’t force it to go away. As I’ve said, if I could just ‘stop feeling sad’ I WOULD. (And, also, Depression isn’t just feeling sad, right? It’s a lot of things together than can manifest themselves into something that is most easily simplified into ‘I feel sad.’)”

Go and read the full article, though. It is fantastic.

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Eight

Jakob went first, allowing their father to walk with Wil. Dr. White, with a, “Please call me with any questions,” offering of business card, and final wistful look, departed. The three remaining members of the Winters family walked down the hallway in silence.

Each time a doctor or nurse and patient came hurrying past, Wil was surprised. She saw her father, heard his solid steps. She saw her brother, heard his solid steps. Yet, she also saw herself, from a panoramic view apart from feeling. How curious, that dark-haired, serious-faced girl! Her eyes saw somewhere beyond the flurry of a busy hospital while her boot-clad feet carried her on and on.

Wil thought of her mother. Although they’d seen her body and said their goodbyes, Wil realized she still expected to find her mother alive. This was the hospital they’d visited countless times; surely they were all walking to whatever room Cynthia had been checked into. Surely they would knock, enter, and find her mother and her kind, apologetic smile. Cynthia always apologized for the trouble she’d caused, as if she and they didn’t know about her incurable and fatal condition.

Jakob reached the door to the lobby. Ah, Wil’s feelings told her, We’re leaving the hospital and heading to the apartment. She’d see Cynthia there, at home. Her mother would be resting on the couch; again, with that recognizable smile.

“How was school today, Wil?” She’d say, and sit up. “Tell me all about it.”

A tear slipped down Wil’s cheek. She heard her mother laugh, cough, recover.

“Oh, Wil. Only you could have a day like that…”

The echoes of her mother’s voice and expressions lingered in Wil’s mind as she, too, exited the hallway and entered the small waiting area beyond. She saw Jakob had stopped; to her side, her father stopped as well. All stared as a woman rose from one of the pastel couches and strode toward them.

She was not someone Wil had seen before, yet her appearance seemed familiar. Long, dark, thick hair framed a pale almond shape. As she walked toward them; locks swishing, scarf waving, arms swinging with confidence; Wil noticed the woman’s blue, stormy eyes. They locked onto Wil’s and held her gaze.

“Hello, Wilhelmina.” The woman stopped before Wil, smiling a smile very different from Cynthia’s. “I’m Guinevere Greene, your mother. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

 

THE END

 

Continued from One Hundred Seven.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Seven

Wil sat. In the absence of father, brother, counselor she stared at the empty space before her. Empty wall. Empty room. Empty.

The clock hand scraped around its face. Footsteps beyond the door and wall stampeded down the corridors. The heating system bellowed. A rushing roar of thought rose in Wil’s mind and her heart drummed faster and louder and faster and louder. She raised her hands to her head to stop them -to stop all the noise trying to fill the awful emptiness.

*Clonk* *clonk* “Mina?” Rob’s voice came through the door. “Wilhelmina? You okay?”

Wil uncurled from her fetal position atop the chair. She tried to speak. Tried again. “Ye- Yes.” She thought he might not have heard, so tried a louder assent. “Yes; I’m fine.”

She heard nothing, blessed nothing, then her father cleared his throat. “Okay. Let us -” He coughed. “I’m here if –we’re here if you need us.”

The emptiness following his assurance did not fill again. Wil stared at the floor, thinking on his words. We’re here, she thought. We’re still here if you need us. A small flutter of feeling stirred deep inside, near her heart. Wil found herself able to move; rising, walking, drawing near to the bed on which her mother’s body lay.

Wil stopped and studied the form there, analyzing the beautiful, peaceful, strange woman atop the clinical bed. She looked so like Cynthia, her mother; yet, so different. The differences were not in the skin marks and swells of equipment attached and removed; but, as Wil first felt upon entering the room, in the missing aura of warmth Wil had always felt around her mother.

She took the hand nearest her. It felt limp and colder than hers. She stared at the face that once exuded happiness, patience, and near-unconditional love. Wil frowned, trying to match this shell with the mother she’d known for all her life. Looking heavenward instead, Wil whispered, “Goodbye, Mom.”

Replacing the hand and glancing at the body for the last time, Wil nodded. She turned. In sure, soft footsteps, she crossed the floor, clinked the curtain aside, and clicked open the door.

As she entered the hall, she also entered the warm embrace of both father and brother. They pulled apart and looked at each other’s faces. Each felt relief in the comfort and resolve he saw in his neighbor.

“Right,” Rob managed. “Let’s go home.”

 

Continued from One Hundred Six.
Keep reading to One Hundred Eight.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Six

Question by question and sad, understanding smile by sad, understanding smile; Dr. White moved Wil and her family through the stillness of a world that had stopped as far as they were concerned. An occasional rushing sound of footsteps or the movement of wall clock hands hinted at an elsewhere; yet elsewhere, should it actually exist, was of little consequence to Wil anymore. In fact, had Wil been able to see beyond the mind mist, she would have found elsewhere to be more bland and colorless than the landscape within.

Hours and days and months and lifetimes passed behind the Emergency Room door. Dr. White finished. He pressed his clipboard of papers to an orderly pile. He rose. He spoke. “If you wish, each of you may say, ‘Goodbye.'”

They stared. Rob nodded first, then Jakob. Wil sat. Goodbye? she thought.

The grief counselor walked to the cloth curtain at the door, his white-soled shoes patting against the reflective floor. He paused before opening and looked back. “I will wait for you in the hall, and no one will disturb you.” Then, with a final, sad, understanding smile; he left.

Rob shifted. He stared at the floor and sighed. Turning to Jakob and Wil, he cleared his throat. “I… I spent some time with her this morning….” In a lower tone and glancing down, he added, “This morning.” Lifting his gaze once more to his children, he breathed deeply in and out. Resolved. Sad. “I’ll go first, then wait for you outside.”

Rising, clunking, scuffing, pausing; Rob reached the bed. He took a slender, pale hand in his. With his other, he stroked a few blonde hairs to the side. “I love you,” Wil heard him whisper. She saw the moment; framed it in her memories. Sniffing, sighing, looking heavenward; then clunking, scuffing, pausing; her father pushed the curtain aside. And left.

A rustle of polyester coat told Wil that Jakob moved. Had sighed. He rose, blocking the light as he stood there. Wil raised her head as still he stood there. Her brother sighed again and met her eyes. Both blinked, worlds away.

Jakob’s mouth became a firm line and his focus hardened. In much quieter tread than their father’s, he traversed the distance between chair and bed. Wil saw his dark form pause. He, too, reached out. “Goodbye,” he choked out, barely audible. “Goodbye, Mom.”

Before she knew it, Wil heard the *click* *clink* of metal hooks and the silence of an empty room. She was alone, alone with the woman who was once her mother.

 

Continued from One Hundred Five.
Keep reading to One Hundred Seven.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Five

Forever passed in the few minutes they all sat, all in stasis within their memories of loss. Had the shiny, hard, hospital floor been of a more comfortable material and temperature, Wil never would have moved.

Dr. White shifted to a new position. “This floor is harder than I thought,” he apologized; using his practiced, sympathetic smile. The Winters family turned to him, more alert than they’d been upon his entrance.

Rob sighed. “You probably want us to leave.”

The grief counselor’s expression became softer. “No, of course not.” He shifted again, smiled again. “I merely came in to see what I could do for you. To help. I also,” he repositioned a third time, “suggest, perhaps, we move to the chairs.”

Rob nodded; Wil saw the movement in her peripheral vision as her attention was focused somewhere on the base of the bed. She heard her father rise, followed by the rustling coat chorus of Jakob. “C’mon, Wil,” her stepbrother encouraged. She turned her head toward the sound and saw a hand extended; took it with her own. Somehow, not under her own power, she rose. She found herself walking, turning her body, sitting. She felt Jakob sit beside her.

A scraping noise to her left drew her attention. Dr. White dragged his own chair over and set it to the front and side of her father. 10 o’clock, Wil thought, As Mr. G. would say.

The counselor set his clipboard on his lap and folded his hands atop it. “When Beatrice passed last year, she did so here -very near to here.” He paused. “I knew who would come in to talk to me and what they would say, since I worked as the grief counselor then, too.”

He waited. Wil glanced his way, still adrift and apart. She saw her father raise his head to meet Dr. White’s eyes.

“This won’t be easy,” Dr. White said, “So we’ll take it one step at a time.”

Rob stiffened. He looked toward the bed, then back to the counselor.

“If you all would like to stay here, I will walk you through things.” He looked at Wil; she seemed to see through him, through his white-blue gaze to the wall behind.

“I’m staying,” Jakob gruffed.

Wil, again of some force she did not control, nodded.

“Very well,” Dr. White continued. “We’ll start with what is written here.” He lifted a page of notes from the clipboard, glanced over them, and flipped to another behind those. “Cynthia.” Pause. “Your mother.” Another pause. “She wished to have her body donated to the research hospital.” He paused again. “In her words, ‘To help others with cystic fibrosis to find a cure.'”

The counselor looked up at each of them, ending with Rob. “Is this still your wish?”

Rob turned his head to the bed again. As he stared at his wife, unmoving, Wil saw a single tear slide down his unshaven cheek. “Yes,” he answered.

 

Continued from One Hundred Four.
Keep reading to One Hundred Six.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Little Things

They say you miss the little things
when love leaves you behind.

They say you hear a voice, a laugh
an echo of a smile.

They say you feel an emptiness
where warm-tight arms would hold.

They say you wake a night or two
in bed, alone and cold.

What they don’t say is just how long
the little things are missed.

What they don’t know is is just how much
your everything persists.

What they don’t feel is where you were
before we came apart.

What they don’t live is half a life
with empty soul and heart.

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Photo Credit: Stefan Spassov

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Four

Mom, Wil thought. Mom mom mom mom mom mom! The whisper of thought grew in volume within her mind till it could not stay inside. “Mom!” she burst out; just once. Jakob sunk to the floor beside her. Wil grabbed at the air, then herself. She hugged her own, small, helpless self and rocked, rocked, rocked.

A coat rustled somewhere outside the reality of Wil’s thoughts; Jakob began rubbing her back. Words eluded him and only the impulse to comfort Wil came through.

Another sound, of boots, clunked beyond Wil’s awareness. Rob sat heavily to her other side. He, too, could not speak. Not yet. He sat beside his family and before the bed on which his life’s love reclined, yet his mind roved farther than even Wil’s. If she’d been able to pull back to watch his grief-worn face, Wil would not have recognized her father.

Despite this, all three turned at a careful knock and entry. A man in white coat and white-reflecting glasses with white-serious face pushed the cloth curtain to the side. Stopped. “I’m sorry if this is a bad time,” he said, blinking white-blue eyes. He cast around for a second then sat on the floor as well. He did so nearest to Rob, setting a clinical clipboard to the side.

Three drawn faces stared at this intruder, curious; in similar stages of shock and sadness. “I’m the hospital’s grief counselor,” the man said. “Dr. White.”

Wil’s large, dark eyes watched Dr. White’s face. His expression conveyed professional concern mixed with deep understanding. She could almost hear his low voice telling other stories, other lives, other rooms with only the shell of a loved one left behind. “Where is she?” Wil asked.

The question was an odd one. Had Wil not been part of the dramatic play in progress -had, instead, been safely watching from the audience- she might have furrowed her brow in confusion. Might have remarked, “What does the girl mean, Mom?”

But her mother was no longer there. Cynthia could not answer Wil.

Dr. White folded his hands. “I don’t know what you know -” his eyes flicked to the clipboard. “-Wilhelmina.”

“Wil,” she interrupted.

A slight smile glimpsed the counselor’s lips. “Wil,” he amended. “It turns out that your mother caught an influenza at some point.” He met Wil’s gaze, kindly. “She left us some time this morning.”

Tears began streaming down Wil’s face.

“We don’t know where our loved ones go for sure,” Dr. White continued. “What I do know, Wil, is that they never leave us for good.” He touched at his heart. His own pale-blue eyes grew moist. “I said, ‘Goodbye’ to my Beatrice just last year, but have also felt her each day since.”

The four sat in a companionable silence. Wil and her family, inexplicably, felt a flutter of comfort; and knew it came from the one they loved.

 

Continued from One Hundred Three.
Keep reading to One Hundred Five.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Stupidity of the Sexes

“What, Isla? What did I do?” Peter stared into her eyes; if his were not close to tears themselves, they at least reflected hers.

Isla sniffed. She felt the lines of wet on her face, the dryness of her lips, the misery of her soul. Surely, she thought bitterly, He knows what he did.

Peter felt clueless. All I said was that people never forget their first girlfriend, he mused, Just because Stella said, “Hi…” He looked at Isla’s splotchy face. Maybe a comforting smile would help.

Isla burst into fresh tears. “I -I -I -gave you my heart!

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Conversationally considered for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: The Greatest Gift.

September 12, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 17, 2019. Use the comment section below 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:
Ksenia Makagonova

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens