Winner, Winner, Winner

Mashed up flash anyone? I have been remiss lately in responding to the Six Sentence Story prompts. Yikes. Well this week the word is “pound” and I managed to pound out two that also fit the Carrot Ranch prompt to write of “winners”. Things arrive in threes, so please go so far as to read the third flash (which was actually the first flash) in response to “winning”. So… in 99 words and/or six sentences, no more and no less, here are three unrelated flashes all about winners. six sentence story copy



“That’s an unfortunate jacket, stands right out. Irma’ll find her easy,” noted Old Man Foster.

Conspicuous enough at the Fall Fair in her too-new Johnson Wool jacket, she stood out also for not knowing what she didn’t know. For this flatlander upstart started a lot of commotion when her pound cake took the blue ribbon, the first time Irma’d seen red at the fair in over 35 years.

The transplant transgressor trembled as Irma raised her big bear-paw hands and wrapped her arms around her.

“Thank gawd,” Irma bawled. “Losing the Pound Cake Crown is a huge weight off.”


One For the Team

Steps up, knocks her cleats, taps the plate with the bat. Checks her grip, the position of the trademark stamp. Focuses, looks out into right-field, imagines the ball going there; ignores the butterflies, the nerves that are her only companion at the plate. Ignores the team, the spectators, their eyes on her as she SWINGS! Her heart pounds in her head, muffling the ump’s call of strike one. Goes through the rituals again, lifts that bat again and POUNDS! that grass stained horsehide right over the first baseman’s head, revels in that winning sound as she rounds the bases.


Taking the Prize

“Mrs. K, you won me at chest again! You’re good!”

“It’s chess, Aidan, and I beat you, I didn’t win you.” She didn’t correct his opinion of her skills, but as beginners were her only competition, her own game hadn’t improved much over the years.


“Mrs. K? Got time for some chess?”

“Aidan! Of course. How’s high school?”

Aidan gave some advice throughout the game, elucidated some of his moves for her. He beat her soundly. Her game improved.

“Well, see you later Mrs. K. I will win you again.”

He would, though she sure felt like the winner.


November 28: Flash Fiction Challenge

The Rodeo results are in! Congratulations to all who participated. Hats off to this year’s Winners!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

For those who rode in last month’s 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo, this is the date you’ve anxiously awaited. I use the adverb with understanding. This past month, I’ve entered my writing in two contests and submitted it to two literary journals. Waiting for notification can induce anxiety, angst, and doubt. Know that every writer experiences the rollercoaster ride of doubt. Artists combat resistance. Maybe you didn’t participate in the Rodeo because the word contest unnerved you. This is Carrot Ranch, a safe place to write, a fun literary community where you can find kindred spirits, a weekly challenge that displays 99-word stories. A contest invites danger; it sparks resistance.

If you haven’t yet read Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art, it’s worth the read. Some of it will make you cringe. Some of it will make you determined. He’s an author who understands the artistic battlefield. He writes:

“Most of…

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Fatal Attraction


It’s OpenLinkNight #255 at D’Verse, the pub for poets. This poem was shortened and bundled into a response to a Carrot Ranch challenge recently. Here it is on its own in its entirety.


Fatal Attraction

My beloved is an itch

always gets under my skin

I don’t really trust him

but I always let him in


My beloved is a liar

lies right through my veins

fills me with false promises

blinds me to my burning pain


My beloved wears a stained torn hoodie

pulled low over dark ringed eyes

plastic wrapped powdered cake

writes the lines of his white lies


Prince of liars, my hooded hero

tells me I’m his princess heroine

I love his lines— or so I say—

I lie too, just to get hooked up again


My beloved is a liar

and I suspend all disbelief

and do anything he tells me

just for those moments of relief


I don’t really believe the lies

my beloved and I share together

nor do I admit my life’s sad truth

that one day only I will lie forever


Family will lay me in my grave

they who’ve long since mourned

while my beloved spreads his lies to others

so read this and be warned.

Thank a Poet

So I followed Lisa Tomey to LivingPoetry because I was intrigued by the prompt to show gratitude to another poet. I immediately thought of Robert Service whose poetry I’ve known and related to since a youngster. This poem of his, perhaps lesser known than his ballads and odes to the North, I can relate too as well. My imitative poem of gratitude to Robert W. Service follows.

The Amateur Poet, by Robert Service

You see that sheaf of slender books
Upon the topmost shelf,
At which no browser ever looks,
Because they’re by . . . myself;
They’re neatly bound in navy blue,
But no one ever heeds;
Their print is clear and candid too,
Yet no one ever reads.

Poor wistful books! How much they cost
To me in time and gold!
I count them now as labour lost,
For none I ever sold;
No copy could I give away,
For all my friends would shrink,
And look at me as if to say:
“What waste of printer’s ink!”

And as I gaze at them on high,
Although my eyes are sad,
I cannot help but breathe a sigh
To think what joy I had –
What ecstasy as I would seek
To make my rhyme come right,
And find at last the phrase unique
Flash fulgent in my sight.

Maybe that rapture was my gain
Far more than cheap success;
So I’ll forget my striving vain,
And blot out bitterness.
Oh records of my radiant youth,
No broken heart I’ll rue,
For all my best of love and truth
Is there, alive in you. 


Thank You Robert Service

Robert Service, Yukon poet,

You raised me on your words!

Even doubt, you dare here show it,

You’re read, please rest assured;

I’ve walked the land that you once tread

You inspired me, you know;

Your poems, first I ever read,

Your shared words like sourdough.


Sometimes still, when I take up pen

It’s you who shows the trail,

Leads on, into the wild again

Courting heaven and hell;

You grounded me with your meter,

Gave wings to me with rhyme;

Gave me poetry! What sweeter?

Gave courage to write mine.


Your ballads inspired children’s play,

When young I lived up north;

Further reading, you’d more to say!

I learned a poet’s force;

You wrote of war, you wrote of love,

Wrote life, great and tragic;

You brought to Earth the stars above,

Wakened me to magic.

Loose Strife


At D’Verse Pub for poetsthe Tuesday Poetics challenge is to write a poem about invasive plants. Thank you Kim for the prompt. I am struggling to post this on my new machine but here goes.


Loose Strife


Lythrum salicaria

ruthless colonizer

Flagging the shallows


Phalanxes purple hued

bugle petaled pikes

Herald the march


Natives displaced

waters muddied

Loosestrife tightens its hold


Wetlands subdued

barren and destitute

Under a riot of color.

For Better or Worse

rwr-1For better or worse I kept amusing myself with Charli’s latest prompt in which she challenged us to write 99 word romance stories. First I responded with For Now, as much a response to Charli’s post and discussion of genre as a romance. I revisited that scene and rewrote it from a different point of view and with more interaction. Then I responded to Charli’s mention of lumbering in the comments, ramping up the raunch a bit, taking a cue from Kid .  And, yes I still assert that I do not care for the romance genre and do not read or write it, though the most romantic couple around must certainly be Ernest Biggs and Marge Small.  Finally, for better or worse, I present a never before seen love poem. I whittled the original down from 171 words to 99 so that the poem could fly under the Carrot Ranch flag.

Romance Redux

She looked up when the bells on the door tinkled, kept looking as he wandered Westerns. “Howdy, purty lady,” she imagined him greeting her. Ugh. Westerns were corny. Now in sci-fi, he orbited her table. “Come aboard my spaceship. I’ll take you to the moon.” She winced. She’d never cared for sci-fi.
Suddenly he was before her, asking her to sign his book. Her book. “I can’t wait to get between the covers.“ He sighed, “I could spend a long time with your short stories.” He took the book, their fingertips brushing. “I love a happy ending, don’t you?”



Bar and Chain

He was irresistible in logger boots and Carhartts. She practically swooned to see him buckle into climbing harness and spurs. He climbed and cut deftly, expertly felled the leaning yellow birches. Now he was on the ground sharpening the chain, a raspy purr coming from his attentive filing. Next he wiped his saw clean of oily sawdust. When he took the carburetor cover off she interrupted him. Mentioned that certain aspects of their marriage could run smoother too.

“I know what I’m doing with my saw,” he blushed.

“Come with me,” she commanded. “I have things to teach you.”



Fatal Attraction

My beloved is an itch

crawling under my skin

I never really trust him

I always let him in


My beloved’s a liar

lies right through my veins

flowing with false promises

blinding me to my pain


My beloved’s a liar

I suspend disbelief

do anything he tells me

for those moments of relief


I don’t believe the lies

that we share together

nor admit my sad truth—

that one day I will lie forever


Laid into my grave by family

they who’ve long since mourned;

my beloved will spread his lies to others—

read this and be warned.




Romantically Challenged

The Carrot Ranch November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!


That’s the prompt in its familiar nutshell, but it is never that simple, for the nut falls from the tree of Charli Mill’s post that precedes the weekly challenge. There’s always a lot to chew on back at the Ranch where the lead buckaroo continues to share her life and learnings with her ranch hands and readers. This week’s essay on genre and reading as both readers and writers is thought provoking. Genre is emotionally provoking too; don’t many of us react immediately and strongly to certain genres, quick to say we hate it or we love it, or sometimes apologizing and explaining our reads?

Apparently genre is worth considering for a writer marketing their book. Who are the readers they might better reach by getting their book into the right package and onto the right shelves? It’s not as straightforward as I had once assumed. I know I don’t like Romance, or Sci-Fi or Fantasy and I have read very good books from those genres. I really have never bothered myself too much with identifying genre. I read what I like and I like what I read. I read to learn. I am learning a lot at Carrot Ranch these days as Charli distills her MFA work there.

I certainly don’t write Romance. Yet here’s one in 99 words, no more no less.


For Now

He strode through Westerns, then paused long at Historical Fiction. Not knowing what adventures might lie ahead, I followed in suspense, wondering what shelves he’d search next. I secretly thrilled when he turned the corner and browsed gentle reads and women’s novels. Was this a man in touch with his emotions? My own emotions ran high. Hiding behind an open book, a Fantasy Romance Suspense Adventure that was surely too good to be true, I followed through Literary Fiction. He brought my book to the counter.

Bells jangled.

I looked down the street but he’d disappeared in a Flash.


Crow Cracked

Quadrille #92 Take a Crack at Poeming


Crow-cracked dawn

rents rough seamed sleep.

Dreams are picked at



Morn’s glow yawns

widening breach

Reaches ’til night’s dark



Day spills out

dawn’s spreading seep

Night’s visions pine-perched



Till black wings again

stitch evening sky;

light and dark sewn tightly




Two days late but the first line said I could  had to write 42 more words even if life got in the way on Monday when De Jackson, aka WhimsyGizmo, of D’Verse pub for poets encouraged us to “Crack open your pen and give us a poem of 44 words using some form of the word crack.

Between Panes


“Something out there?”

Startled, she turned, her thoughts interrupted. Behind her, sunlit snow sparkled bright through the window. “Where do these flies come from, this time of year?”

“It’s one of life’s mysteries, and a sure sign of eventual spring.”

She lifted the window. “Gran-pere duct-taped garbage bags for storm windows.” She shivered, remembering how the winter flies of her childhood had thudded like dark whispers against those makeshift storm-panes.

“I can’t tell if they’re trying to come in or trying to get out.” She lifted the storm window. Drowsy houseflies roused, wings stuttering in cool fresh air. “Go.”


The above is a revision of the first hurried draft. I hope it stands a little stronger on its own. It is a scene from the ongoing plodding untold story of Hope’s mother, the wandering woman who ended up with a Scottish Longhorn farmer in VT.


“Something out there?”

Startled, she turned, unaware that he’d been watching her where she stood at the window, sunlit snow sparkling bright behind her. “Where do these flies come from, this time of year?”

“I don’t know– it’s one of life’s mysteries, and a sure sign of eventual spring.”

“I can’t tell if they’re trying to come in or trying to get out.” She unlatched and lifted the window. “Gran-pere duct-taped garbage bags for storm windows. The winter flies thudded like whispers behind the dark plastic.” She lifted the storm-pane. Drowsy houseflies roused, wings stuttering in cool fresh air.



Yep, that’s 99 words, no more no less. The Carrot Ranch challenge this week is to: “write a story using storm windows. It can be literal on a house, but also consider other portals, even spaceships or submarines. Can you make it into something new or build a story around something historical? Go where the prompt leads!”

Did you recognize Hope’s mom at the window and her dad looking on and listening in? They all can be found together HERE. 

Clean Slate

Marge paced the length of the singlewide while she waited on Ernest, wondering what could possibly be taking him so long.

“I’m sure you look fine, Ernest, it’s not like the guest of honor will even see you.”

Even so, Marge brushed at her slacks, tugged at her blazer, uncomfortable in the dressiest outfit she owned. “Ernest, don’t make us late for my mother’s damn funeral!”

His suit jacket stretched tight, Ernest emerged and took Marge’s hands in his own, rough scrubbed and smelling of Boraxo, and asked if she were ready.

“My mother and I’ll never come clean,” she wept, while Ernest, patient and steady, held her tight.

six sentence story copy


The word this week from Denise is “scrub“, and we are charged with using that word in a Six Sentence Story. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to leave your story and to read more. These characters may be known to you; there was an earlier funeral scene HERE and they have their own page HERE