How any of it got there was a mystery; nobody ever noticed it come in and certainly nobody saw any of it leave, but somehow it accrued, the yard a mass of arrested motion, a cluttered place where all manner of metal and wheeled machines had become mired and still.
In the front, right up tight to the house, a wooden boat on stands shaded the boat trailer beside it, the trailer stacked with pipes and metal rods and ductwork; a car with stiff, cracked tires and an expired plate was corralled in the driveway by a troop of rusting washers and dryers, the truck he drove having to be parked along the street, but even there seeming in some danger of being absorbed into the mushrooming still life of the quarter acre lot.
There was a narrow path winding through the accumulations by which he could circumnavigate the small house that was a small atoll in a sea of overgrown shrubs and reefs of hulking metal; a ’76 Ford pickup truck, a lilac bush clawing its way through the bed, blocked entry to the back porch, which itself was bursting from floor to ceiling with boxes and old appliances. The engine block to this truck had been hanging by chains from a wooden tripod for years, and though he sometimes gave it a reassuring nod and a grunt, it came no nearer the open hood of its truck, but remained in perpetual suspension.
When one evening he was late for dinner, yet his truck parked in its usual spot on the street, a quick circuit of the property revealed that he had perhaps been inspecting that engine block, but maybe should have inspected the wooden legs of the tripod first, for he was found crushed dead where the whole thing had collapsed on him.
The first things to go were the washers and dryers, right into the dumpster that his wife had delivered and placed in the driveway.
Well, I’m ready for Six Sentence Stories this week. Denise at GirlieOntheEdge says the word is “circuit”. The linkup won’t be open until Wednesday but there you go. When you ready your story for participation, just write six sentences, no more, no less. (Though you might notice more semi-colons than usual)
It’s Time! You can link up HERE.
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.
“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.
The Rodeo results are in! Congratulations to all who participated. Hats off to this year’s Winners! https://carrotranch.com/rodeo-contests/2019-rodeo/
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:
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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.
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.
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.
Flagging the shallows
Phalanxes purple hued
bugle petaled pikes
Herald the march
Loosestrife tightens its hold
barren and destitute
Under a riot of color.
For 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
I looked down the street but he’d disappeared in a Flash.
rents rough seamed sleep.
Dreams are picked at
Morn’s glow yawns
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.“