Sojourners; CRLC Challenge

Sojourners, D. Avery

“I know you want to go too, Liz. But I’m going without a pass.”

“Pass? Oh…”

“I can’t explain it Liz, but I want to go this alone; stripped of my prestige and privilege, just me in my own skin, by my own self.”

“I’m afraid for you Toni.”

“That’s why I’m going to D.C.”

“Let me go with you. We’ll bring the girls’ capes. Crusade for justice. Together. For all.”

“Justice for all… all lives matter. But this is about black lives, about those who have never yet experienced justice. What matters is how black people are living.”


“I want to help.”

“Good. Help me fill my car with water and food for the protestors. And take good care of Sofie while I’m gone.”

“Bill can handle the girls…”

“Liz, I know you’re in this fight with me. Stay out of harm’s way.”

“I want to help.”

“You’re a lawyer. I need you here behind the lines. Besides, if you go with me we’ll both have to quarantine afterwards.”

“College roommates… hardworking professional women… Toni, I’ve only ever seen our similarities.”

“Color’s a difference we can’t ignore. Overcome? We can’t overcome. Not until there’s justice. For all.



Another response to the Carrot Ranch  “Justice For All” challenge, this follows a Six Sentence Story “What’s Wrong” which followed “Destiny Dawning” which followed Spots, a previous CRLC challenge. Marlie and Sofie and their families are standing up and speaking out.






What’s Wrong? #SixSentenceStories

six sentence story copy

The word from Denise this week is “passion”. Go to GirlieOntheEdge to add your impassioned six sentence story to the linky and to read others’. I am using the prompt to continue a Marlie thread from other recent prompts. Indulge me this double Six this week.


What’s Wrong, D. Avery

“Toni, Sofie, come in, Marlie’s in her room Sofie, and Toni, I have just two questions for you: patio or counter, tea or something stronger?”

“Patio, and I trust you and Tito to prepare an interesting tea.”

Liz garnished the drinks with passion-fruit and joined her friend out on the patio, where they sat in silence in the waning afternoon light. Finally Toni, squeezing Liz’s hand, sighed, “You always know just what to say, Liz, even at this time… with all this madness.”

“Thank you, but I haven’t said anything, Toni.”

“Exactly, Liz, and you won’t say anything as I bawl my eyes out right here, right now, won’t attempt comforting words or explanations or even apologies.”


Toni took up Liz’s pale hand again, examined it in her own. “I cry when I think about Sofie’s Great Northern Migration project, how she researched the story of my grandparents seeking a better life, of escaping oppression.”

“It’s so sad, so scary, Toni; I have nightmares— it is a nightmare.”

“When my Joe came home from Afghanistan he had nightmares; he was haunted by what he experienced there, but he went back, always a dutiful soldier, always passionate about serving his country. If he hadn’t gotten killed over there fighting for his country— for this country— I wonder would he have been killed here at the hands of this country? Because there’s still a wrong place, wrong time for those of us with the wrong color skin.”

Justice For All; CRLC Challenge

The June 4, 2020, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about justice for all. It does not have to take place in America. Injustice exists anywhere. What is the story behind justice for all? Go where the prompt leads!

Injustice does exist anywhere, but the hard horrible historical and present fact is, injustice exists here. In my home country. It’s a hard truth, covered over for centuries by the thinning myths of the prevailing narratives. Solomon Burke sings, ‘If one of us is chained, none of us are free’. If one reads/hears that “us” as truly including all of us, everyone of us, the pluribus and not just this unum or that unum, there is yet some hope for all of us. There is only hope for any one of us if there can be justice for all.



I encourage you to read Charli’s post.               In response to the Carrot Ranch challenge I present here two unrelated stories, each featuring familiar characters.                        There is also a related 99 word poem, Shutters


Flattening the Curve, D. Avery

The older woman slammed the loaded clip into her semiautomatic rifle. “This is for if they come by.” She tucked the handgun into her waistband. “This is if they come close.”

“Aunt Fannie!”

“What? I told you when you came here from college I was ready for anything this pandemic had to offer.” She chambered a round. “I don’t claim to be colorblind, but this rifle truly is. It delivers justice for all.”

“Auntie! You don’t have to be afraid of them.”

“Don’t I? We all do.”

“Black men aren’t inherently dangerous!”

“No shit. It’s white men I fear.”



Destiny Dawning, D. Avery

“What’s the matter, Mommy? It’s still dark.”

“Move over?”

Marlie lifted the covers and made room. “Did you have a nightmare?”

“Actually, Marlie, I did.”

“Don’t be afraid. Teddy? Or Destiny?”

Liz took the Destiny Doll, but what she really wanted— needed— was this, to just lie close with her little girl.

“Mommy, tomorrow can you make a cape for Destiny? And one for me and one for Sofie?”

“Sure. What color?”

“Every color!”

“Like a rainbow?”

“Rainbow colors, brown colors, black colors, tan colors— every color. We’re caped crusaders. Justice! For all!”

“Marlie, I’m feeling less afraid now.”



Shutters, D. Avery

Windows shuttered against black

night falls dark on the white house

The best defense a fence

barred and bricked

a strong offense a long rope (or short)

Short straws short sticks short fuses

spark oh, the best defense is a steady knee that presses

home the point

If they get off their knees, (for which it stands

to reason that) they will demand!

Crossing lines long held indivisible.


Liberties have been taken

and lives, so many lives. We’ve lost

our humanity sold

into bondage every time we shutter

our houses divided

until we unite

until there’s justice for all.


Spots; CRLC Challenge

square-template53The May 28, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict. Examples include champagne and hard-rock; rosemary and sewage; duck down and firecrackers; sleep and square-dancing. Use one of these or make up your own. Go where the prompt leads!

Here is another scene featuring Marlie, who seems to have finally gotten her dog.

Spots, D. Avery

Marlie held up a pebble-eyed, twig-lipped marshmallow. “He’s got hard-rock eyes set in a puffy white face.”

“Who? Mr. Marshmallow?”

“Tommy’s father.” Marlie thrust the skewered marshmallow into the flames. “He was at the fence with Tommy. He said Daisy was so ugly she was almost cute. Daisy wouldn’t go to them. Tommy called her stupid. His dad said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“And leopards can’t change their spots.”


Marlie’s parents watched with her as the pebble-eyed marshmallow face browned, then blistered black, finally oozed onto the coals, flaring and spluttering before it disappeared.

Making More Room #d’Verse;TuesdayPoetics


Is a room a room if it has no door?

Do many windows make it less, or more?

We’ve rooms for cooking, dining, sleeping—

unkempt or well kept, rooms are meant for keeping

something in or something out—

What is your room all about?

Lift those windows, throw the doors wide

better yet, just get outside.

Venture beyond walls, an open expansion

get out, go on, explore your many mansions.


It’s still Tuesday Poetics over at the D’Verse Pub for poets, and Laura Bloomsbury still says, “For today’s poetry  prompt I’m asking us to conjure a room or rooms in the literal, functional, metaphorical, imaginary, and/or fantastical sense.”

This is my second take on the prompt, as I was really taken by the prompt. P.S., I am writing in my favorite room, the one the birds and other little critters so generously share with me.

Making Room #d’Verse;TuesdayPoetics

dverselogoIt’s Tuesday Poetics over at the D’Verse Pub for poets, and Laura Bloomsbury says, “For today’s poetry  prompt I’m asking us to conjure a room or rooms in the literal, functional, metaphorical, imaginary, and/or fantastical sense.”

That is a most intriguing prompt but as I have little room in my schedule right now, I am going to recycle a poem that I shared at not a pub, but a saloon. The following first aired at the Saddle Up Saloon’s recent open mic. 


Opening, D. Avery 

You’re the door
that opened me
the room revealed
by the open door
the room revealed in me

You’re the lamp that shines
the beam of light
illuminating treasures
that were locked within this room

You’re the room within the room
So am I
I am so many rooms
because my door is open.
Because you said, Step in.

The Hundred Candles #SixSentenceStories&CRLC

six sentence story copysquare-template46The Hundred Candles is inspired by the May 21 Carrot Ranch prompt, but it started out as a Six Sentence Story of 297 words. Though I hadn’t intended to, I went ahead and whittled that down to 99 words. This week’s SSS prompt word is “right” and both versions also include last week’s prompt word, “eternal”, as if that makes up for me missing out on the six sentence fun last week. Denise is the prompter for Six Sentence Story time and the link will be open Wednesday evening at GirlieOntheEdge. For the Carrot Ranch prompt to “write a story about a hundred candles”, respond by May 26, 2020. Use the comment section 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.


(Six Sentences, 297 words)

All the old stories — Since time began, the stories always started— were as much about all the Sovereigns upholding their duties and making ceremony over the keeping of these little eternal flames as they were about The Hundred Candles themselves.

At one time anyone with even a modest education could recite what each candle represented and even now most people at least recalled that they had to do with ancient ways, ancient heroes, and longstanding mores and morals.

Nobody really believed anymore that the tradition of the Sovereign keeping The Hundred Candles burning was anything more than just that, tradition; nobody actually believed that if the Sovereign failed to maintain this tradition ill fate would befall the people; nor did they believe a Sovereign would ever not keep this custom.

When the people put into power a Sovereign that was not like the others they weren’t bothered that his pride was not in their traditions but in himself; he was different and they felt a thirst for change, felt emboldened by his pride; some even cheered when he said, “The Hundred Candles are just any old candles, ordinary candles that burn out and get replaced, so the right thing to do is to not waste one more candle or one more minute on this ridiculous pastime.”

One by one The Hundred Candles sputtered out, and even though the sun still rose and set, and the birds and flowers still brightened the land, there was a darkness felt as an invisible enemy silently snuffed the lives of the people, one here, one there, more and more, adding up to hundreds of hundreds dead.

There are few left to recount the circumstances of that time, but the stories always begin, When time stopped and the world forever changed-


(99 words)

Since time began, the stories always started— the old stories about the keeping of these little eternal flames, The Hundred Candles. Though the details and specifics were largely forgotten, most people still recalled that the candles had to do with ancient ways and longstanding mores.

Nobody actually believed anymore that if the Sovereign failed to keep The Hundred Candles burning ill fate would befall the people; neither did they believe a Sovereign would ever not keep this custom.

The few left to recount the circumstances of that time begin their stories, When time stopped and the world forever changed-

All About You!

This post is in response to an invitation by Kid and Pal over at the Saddle Up Saloon. This week they are trying to define what they are all about over there. They have invited other bloggers to also think about what their own blog is all about. Do you have an updated “About Me” page? Do you have a mission or vision statement?

As an exercise I answered their call and wrote about my blog in 99 words, then focused it more in 59 words, and finally distilled a 9-word tagline from those efforts. This was a bit of a challenge and was worthwhile as a means of reflection. 

Try it for yourself. You will benefit from the reflection and may end up revising or refining your blog’s info page. And if you leave your linked 9-word calling card in the comments at Carrot Ranch’s Saddle Up Saloon, you may make some new friends.

Anyway, here is my Blog Bluster:

ShiftnShake is where I put my literary art. It is both a display shelf and a workbench, a place where my work with words can be seen, in the state that it’s in. Shiftnshake is my shop. Here I play with words and give shape to stories and poems. I keep my shop uncluttered and comfortable, but leave my pieces of work out to be found by readers who might shape them further through their reading. I welcome you to look around, to converse. Come in, and if there is something that catches your reader’s ear, let me know. (99)

ShiftnShake is both display shelf and workbench for my literary art. It’s where I play with words and put the results out for view. Look around; there might be something on the bench that moves you to laughter or to tears. Pick my word sculptures up; shape them more through your reading and commenting. Sample the stories brewing here. (59)

ShiftnShake— my display shelf and workbench for literary art. (9)

Saddle Up Saloon


Earth In Mind; CRLC Challenge

Earth In Mind,   D. Avery

“Sofie! Marlie! There must be 100 candles on that cake!”

“There are Mommy! That’s how Sofie does it, for when she gets to be 100 years old. But we’ll only light nine of them today.”

Marlie held her Destiny doll up so she could see Sofie’s birthday cake shouldering its phalanxes of candles. “What do you think, Destiny?”

When the doll responded it was in the deep round voice of Madame Destiny, the prophetess. “Light all the candles.”

Liz’s eyes sought help from her husband and Sofie’s mother who walked in just as the decree was issued.

“Brilliant idea!”


“Bill! That’s absolutely dangerous!”

“Not on the patio.”

“Toni, are you sure you want this man homeschooling your daughter along with my wild child?”

“You should have seen the math your girls did today with those hundred candles. It’s all play to them. Guided play.”

“Guided play… sounds like a good way to learn, Bill. And, honestly, I’d like to learn what Madame Destiny has in mind. Let’s light a hundred candles!”

With each candle they lit the two girls wished another hundred birthdays for Mother Earth.

“10,00 more! She’ll be old, Mommy, but we’ll take care of her.”


square-template46The May 21, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles. What do they light, and why? Think about contrast or symbolism. Are the candles large, small, or stars in the night? Go where the prompt leads!  

With a slight nod to last week’s ‘absolute danger’ prompt, this week I was led again by Marlie and her friend Sofie. With all five working at home now, the two families are QEFs (quarantined exclusive friends) so can safely celebrate Sofie’s birthday together as well as continuing the homeschooling arrangement.