Crescent Illusions

“Hey! Wait up!” Pal gasped out the request, to no avail. The strange boy turned the edge beyond his view, taking all sight and sound of his movement with his retreating form. Pal leaned over his knees in crouched, deep-breathing pain from the chase. His heavy gasps echoed inside his helmet.

He’d need to keep going, he knew. He only had a few tics until -too late. Before his ground-pointed eyes, everything shifted and morphed. If his headgear were not equipped with anti-vertigo software, Pal would have retched at the twisting, swarming, mixing colors and land forms. He had no idea how the boy he pursued, apparently unencumbered by gear, could continue on through these conditions. How the boy could move so quickly. How the boy even existed, really.

Pal looked up from the sky beneath his feet, noted the re-orientation of his surroundings, and promptly crashed to the surface above him. “Eurgh,” he groaned, feeling the sluggishness and some of the bruising while his suit’s systems kicked in. He rose as it mended; scouted around.

Before this last shift he had been skidding around contoured shapes that rose from sand-like material. The ambient light had been annoyingly bright, yet also a pleasant shade of pink. Now, Pal noted, he seemed to be in a city. This city was unlike any he’d been in before, but not unlike images he’d studied at elementary training. “These are buildings,” his memory heard an artificial instructor note. “Homo sapiens sapiens inhabited and busied itself within these structures.”

Keeping his feet moving forward, Pal tilted his head back. The buildings reached beyond his sight. What a miserable, backwards way to exist. He supposed all species must start somewhere, but could never understand why his ancestors’ timeline progressed from perfection to disaster. Why had his progenitors constantly sought what was worse?

He heard a sound and snapped to attention. A face with large, crescent eyes peered at him from around a building just ahead. The boy.

Pal sprinted without thought toward his quarry. The boy rushed from hiding and pulled ahead, as he had since Pal first materialized and saw him. Both ran down the middle space between the tall, tall structures to either side. The ground felt soft, appeared white. Pal could see his footfalls leaving imprints in the material, though the boy’s odd tread did not. The dark shapes to either side seemed to melt away from them as they passed; no, they were melting away. Pal glanced right and left as he ran, witnessing the anomaly.

He wondered, yet again, what this destination really was. Clearly, it was not merely a physical location. No location they’d researched had behaved as this place did; morphing, moving, and melting like a living optical illusion.

Pal knew he was nearly at the end of his exploratory tic and would dissolve back to Central soon. He set his jaw, determined to gather more information before that happened. Since the ever-changing location proved intangible for collection purposes, Pal sought to catch the one constant he had encountered: the boy.

His suit worked overtime to compensate for energy and nitrogen loss. At his current rate, he would exhaust both and need to rest as he had before. And before that. And, before that. Surely, this time, he could draw near enough to catch the boy. Surely, he could get answers to return with.

The atmosphere darkened. A sound similar to a loud clap came from ahead, from the boy. To Pal’s surprise, the sky in front of them both molded into a dark sphere upon the dark of the air. Totally black at first; an outline of winking light grew to shine from the base and sides of the sphere.

As they drew nearer, Pal felt himself drawn to the new anomaly. Literally. The sensation felt like the projection arm of a spacecraft. He fought a natural panic, but explorer training calmed his initial reactions. “Always act decisively within your means,” another memory of an artificial instructor intoned. Pal ran on.

His wrist beeped a warning: a mere moment till dissolvement.

He strove to move more quickly but his speed was no longer his own. The boy and he were being pulled inexorably toward the eclipsed horizon. The buildings melted faster. Pal’s treads in the groundstuff deepened and blurred. His visuals clouded somewhat at the edges as he tried to keep the boy in sight.

Another beep sounded, then another. It was time.

Just as Pal’s body began to piece to data for dissolving, he saw the most unusual illusion of them all: an inverted flip of boy, buildings, sphere, and sky. Where once he knew the dark outlines of running youth and landscape; Pal saw the whitespace image of a gaping, grinning face. A face that swallowed the boy. A face that looked at him.

 


Written in response to D. Wallace Peach‘s extremely popular prompt. She just might get all 300 daily responses posted before she decides that April would be a good time for a vacation…

Seasonal Perspectives

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I stand
a moment
in frigid air
and hear a cheery bird chirp near
and think
Why does he play his song?
Does he not see the frosty fronds, the wintry trees, the sleeping ground?

I perch
a moment
midst warming breeze
and see a saddened person sigh
and think
Why would she moan and cry?
Does she not feel the stretching stalks, the budding leaves, the waking sounds?

And both
the bird and human
shrug
and go back home
to wonder why
the other must be bound.

 

Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

Half-Priced Valentine’s Love

I’m a bit late in posting this, but I wanted to write my final love poem of the (last) week to my favorite holiday in February, Half-Price Chocolate Day (February 15).

I also write this in response to Carrot Ranch‘s weekly writing prompt.*

Excuse me, ma’am, I know it’s bright,
My coming here at break of light;
Yet, may I guess you’re here to mark
Down hearts and cards within this cart?
‘Yes,’ you say? You’ve made my day!
-But, wait! What of the wall this way?
The bags and boxes here, you know,
Are why I woke up, braved the snow.
They’re why, my diet I’ll ignore;
Why, really, I came to this store;
And why, no joke, my world still turns
For what my beating heart still yearns:
My meaning, purpose, lifetime vice
Is V Day choc’late, sold half price.

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*Carrot Ranch’s official rules:
February 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about valentines. It can be Valentine’s Day, the exchange, love for another, romance, or friendship. Have a heart and go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 19, 2019. Use the comment section [on the site] 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:
Pixabay

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Has the bleak midwinter weather got you down? Try our collection of elemental limericks!

This week’s winner was tough to forecast, but I settled on the first of two poems submitted by Molly Stevens:

Untitled piece

by Molly Stevens

Why does I freeze in Maine year round?
Shouldn’t I be Florida bound?
Palm trees, iced tea, flickering fleas,
And green pies made with limes of key!
Unless, of course, my ship runs aground.

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

Admittedly, Molly’s ‘B’ lines of her limerick were longer than is traditional, but I could only see how much that added to the terrible nature of her construction. I also liked her near-rhymes, her references that somewhat-related to a theme, and that she kept to a limerick format (in general).

I had so much fun reading through the other entries, even if the writers did not read all the directions. Or, to their credit, maybe they felt too shy to write a limerick. For the others, great work! So funny!

Speaking of the others, here they are in submission order:

Untitled piece

by Molly Stephens

Snow, sleet and freezing rain,
Pounding on my window pane,
Do I care
Enough to swear?
Dreaming of a life in Brisbane.

—–

Rain

by Karen

the thunderous rain comes falling down
it hits the ground without a sound
it splashes in puddles
without any trouble
and gathers in holes in the ground

—–

Snow

by Karen

snow is white when it leaves the sky
and yellow on the ground, but please don’t try
they say not to eat
it isn’t a treat
but you’ll heave if I tell you why

—–

Untitled piece

by Geoff LePard

It’s wet
Yet
I get
Het
Up if turns out nice and I have to water the garden.

It pours
Befores
I bores
The in-laws
With my moaning about having to get the hosepipe out.

The rain
‘S a pain
Yet I refrain
Again
From saying the bloody sunshine isn’t what I need right now.

This drought
Ought
Not to have caught
Me out.
English weather is almost as annoying as spelling.

—–

Whether weather wether

by Bruce Goodman

A ewe asked a ram, known as “Heather”,
Whether a wether was a misspelling of weather?
I’ll show you one day
Why missing more than an A
Prevents us from getting together.

—–

Untitled piece

by Bladud Fleas

gravity dictates
precipitates
fall
that’s all
mates

is it snowing?
I ask knowing
the white stuff
ain’t fluff
the wind’s blowing

—–

Untitled piece

by Cricket Muse

There once was a terrible storm,
That changed from cold to warm.
The snow and sun mixed
and couldn’t be fixed,
Which is why parkas and shorts were worn.

—–

Untitled piece

by RH Scribbles

in Texas you never know if
it will rain now or in a jiffy
it won’t even snow
so off to school I go, bro
the teachers will all be so beachy

Keep up the ‘good’ work, everyone! See you for next week’s contest!

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Directions from a Druid


By Stefan Keller

 

“Just past The Swamp of Misery,” Alvin huffed. “Just past The Swamp of Misery…”

Though his whisper was barely audible in the frigid air, the man just ahead stopped and looked back. An icicle-crusted cloth obscured most of his face, yet he still managed to scowl. “I swear,” he said, his speech muffled, “If ye dunnae stop, ye’ll shortly be asking yer ANCESTORS about The Swamp of Misery!” He faced forward again and continued walking.

Alvin hadn’t even the breath to sigh. Given that, he doubted the other man’s threat had much clout behind it. They were all worn out, cold, and on edge. They’d been at this quest for the longest fortnight of any man’s life: rising in the dark, stopping after the next night’s dark, and sleeping round a sorry excuse for a campfire. And the weather was always, always cold.

If not for a small supply of bottled ale, Alvin felt sure he’d be as frozen a man as that statue up ahead.

Statue? Statue?! “STATUE!!” he yelled, stopping so suddenly he was hit from behind by the next man. Alvin fell to the ground but scrabbled up again. Snow flew from his waving arms and dusted back. “Giant! Statue! We made it!” Pointing and almost hopping, he shouted through his own mouth scarf.

His neighbors to front and back looked where he motioned in a comically slow fashion and blinked their frosted lashes. They pointed, they shouted, they turned to men near them and relayed the message. Soon a chorus of muffled male voices was crying out in disarrayed joy. Arms waved, mittened hands gestured, and petrified limbs found life.

Hope renewed, the company trudged onward with greater speed. Alvin’s feet crunched in time to the rest: Frosted. Giant. Frosted. Giant. It was just as The Druid had described -albeit much farther a walking distance than they had all anticipated from her, “…just beyond The Swamp of Misery” direction.

Up the whitefold hill they trudged; and up, and up. Alvin’s sweating breath exhaled cloudy puffs with the beat of his boots. Though still excited, the men’s synchronized hike faltered on icy rocks and the powder-coated trail. After a half day’s exertions, however, all managed to clamber to the great, gaping base of The Frosted Giant.

Alvin and his companions stared at the dragonlike mouth carved before them, traced its mouth to a pair of nostrils, followed the nostrils to the upper part of a bearded man, then ended at the sunset-glinted, shaggy head of the giant himself.

“The Frosted Giant,” Alvin whispered, and was promptly punched in the arm. “Ow!”

“Told ye I’d teach ye,” a familiar, cloth-wrapped voice said. The man behind it ambled off behind a few others, whom Alvin could see were setting up camp. He followed, rubbing at his arm. Soon the whole company of men were warming themselves around their usual, ineffective fire.

“Right,” grunted the leader, shifting his scarf to below his bearded chin and smiling. Given the frozen state of his facial hair, the friendly expression was more of a grimace. “We made it.”

Eighteen heads bearing varying levels of frost nodded ascent. A few grunted as well.

Alvin could hardly contain his excitement. Forgetting his sore arm and what caused it, he blurted, “Now, we’ve only another fortnight or so till the next destination: The Scorching Phoenix!”

 

Thanks to D. Wallace Peach, a most excellent writer, for the prompt.

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Hello and welcome to our ninth week of terribly poeting.

Looking for directions? See “How To Write Terrible Poetry.”

Beside learning the awfulness that is terrible poetry construction, I feel a lesson is in order regarding limericks. A limerick follows a rhyming pattern (AABBA). It follows a specific meter; the Lords of Wikipedia say that is an anapaest meter.

Here’s an example limerick I wrote awhile back:

There once was a mother of four
Who never could sweep up her floor.
The clothes and the toys
Were stuck beneath boys.
Daddy wonders who taught them to swore.

Knowing all this, here are the rules:

  1. Topic: The Weather.
  2. For length, you gotta do a limerick. Or two. Don’t make us sit through more than that, please.
  3. The poem needs to rhyme in AABBA format, but you don’t have to use exact rhymes. Use near rhymes just to drive us up the wall if you’d like.
  4. Make it bad. Make Edward Lear appear to you in the middle of the day to criticize your format and word usage.
  5. Keep it PG-rated.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 18, 2019) to submit a poem.

Post your poem or a link to it in the comments, or fill out this somewhat nifty form.

I really do read them all, but have an occasional underage helper climbing on my lap while I’m typing. I’m going to double- and triple-check everything next week before publishing.

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WINNER of the Third Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Oh, my freakin’ hailstones! I haven’t laughed this much since the last time I was able to watch a comedy without children interrupting. So -yeah, years.

You guys did SO WELL writing terrible haiku! Please believe me that the winner was a really really really really really tough decision.

And it was:

Appalling falling snowflakes

by Bruce Goodman

The falling snow’s a
floccinaucinihili-
pilification.

Bruce actually wrote eight entries for this contest. Be sure to read the rest of his stanzas that follow this one (below). Bruce has entered every contest so far, but his poems were just too good to win.

Congratulations, at last, Bruce. You really made me cringe -especially because I had to count syllables for floccinaucinihilipilification. This is, in fact, a word. It means ‘the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.’ Touché.

Bruce Goodman is The Most Terrible Poet of the Week.

For the rest of you: wow. If I could award prizes after first place, I wouldn’t even go that far down. I wanted to award 1.1 place and 1.2 place and such; the terribleness was that close of a contest! I just loved the terrible adjectives; the horrible descriptors; and the no-good, very bad subject matters.

For your reading pleasure, then, here are the close contenders in order of when they were submitted:

It’s snowing on the eucalypts aka gums

by Bruce Goodman

Snow is falling down
like toothpaste on a toothbrush.
Shame I have no teeth.

—–

Falling Snow

by Ruth Scribbles

The falling snow is
Falling and falling and down
Fifty miles an hour

—–

Appalling falling snowflakes

by Bruce Goodman

The falling snow’s a
floccinaucinihili-
pilification.

It is all fluffy;
soft as the down on a dead
duckling that’s all stiff.

We made a snowman
and used our frozen dead cat
for the snowman’s hat.

We used grandma’s skull
for our snowman’s head; the same
for Autumn’s scarecrow.

She has a skull for
all seasons, has dead granny.
(We took the brains out).

In Spring it sprouts seeds,
and in Summer we use it
for a cricket ball.

Fa la la la la
Appalling falling snowflakes
Fa la la la la.

—–

Untitled piece

by Violet Lentz

tropical island temptress
so heartless- so cold
she wept tears of falling snow

—–

They Scold:

by Jon

Cold are the undead
The flakey white stuff is snow
falling on zombies

—–

Untitled piece

by Michael Fishburn

I’m watchin’ snow fall.
Snow is rain, but frozen, yup –
and it really sucks.

Untitled piece

by Michael Fishburn

Hope the snow keeps up.
Really? Why would you want that?
Then it won’t come down!

—–

Untitled piece

by Geoff Le Pard

why does snow always fall?
it never stumbles and rights itself
before moving on

—–

FALLING SNOW

by FRANKLY

Ugly miry wet
Embalming souls with icebergs
To die frozenly

—–

SNOWY NOSE

by Babbitman

White stuff, look at it;
it’s all over the place but
it ain’t cocaine, mate

—–

Untitled piece

by Jessica Peterson

Come on in; boots off
Where did all my carrots go?
Go warm up your hands

Don’t be shy! Come back tomorrow and enter next week’s contest!!

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