Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 2

Over at Carrot Ranch Colleen Chesebro is running a poetry challenge out of the Saddle Up Saloon every third Monday. Specifically, it’s the Double Ennead, a form Colleen developed for the Ranch. In her own words:

“The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

“The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet. Don’t be afraid to experiment.”

Go on over to the Saloon to check out Colleen’s challenge. Give it a try. The theme is spring, and maybe it will actually arrive between now and Colleen’s next challenge. Here is my response:


Turkeys scratch, hunger led

still sharp, winter’s edge,

where frost yet clings, in the face of coming spring

Sun days, trees pulse with sap

icy winds end that;

swirling squalls, freezing cold

reigning season, bold

winter rages, violent bursts, defiant

Tireless sun adamant,

winter, worn, relents;

gritty wet, grainy snow

muddy patches show

at last warmth sustained; emerging shoots, ground gained

Turkeys scratch, hunger led

spring’s sprung; they’ll be fed

Pi Day 2021

It is March fourteenth, 3/14 in the States and so, Pi Day. Since 2018 (seems so long ago!) I have cooked up a post for Pi Day but for many reasons this may end up to be more of a reflection on the year past than an offering of pi.

In 2020 March 14th did not fall on a school day but I kept with tradition and posted a pi poem anyway. At the time of that writing I did not yet know that Friday the 13th was the last time I would see my students in person in the classroom; decisions and changes came fast and furious that weekend and throughout the following weeks as we went to teaching remotely in a local response to a world wide pandemic. It was not how I ever imagined my last year of teaching, for I had implemented personal changes of my own, and would be retiring at the end of the school year. Those last months were the most challenging I’d experienced in over twenty-four years of teaching. They also were a blessing, as that work was mission oriented and kept me focused as I served students and colleagues the best I could. I was reminded of what matters most.

I felt discombobulated in the blogosphere at that time, at the beginning of ‘sheltering in place’ and other new normals. A few of my prompt responses did reflect current events, and Kid and Pal, my Ranch Yarn characters, expressed their concerns at that time in rare front-page appearances here at shiftnshake. But for the most part I did as Kid and Pal decided to do and just pressed on as if the real world wasn’t coming undone by the covid pandemic and other atrocities. And by the 23rd of March, 2020, Charli Mills set up a page at her Carrot Ranch where Kid and Pal could carry on at the Saddle Up Saloon, a place that continues to provide for one and all an entertaining refuge from reality.

In the last year the Saddle Up is the only saloon, pub, or bar that I’ve stepped foot in. I have retired, moved house, and returned already to teaching part time. After a long tumultuous year, this March there seems to be some hope, some light at the end of the tunnel, though many things will never be the same. Too many people’s lives are forever changed by deaths and illnesses related to the pandemics.

Yes, pandemics, plural. Because in addition to a biological virus that spread rampant around the world, we are also suffering through the ongoing pandemic of hate and ignorance.

The culture that gave us scientific and mathematical frameworks; that has us still pondering concepts like pi with delight; that has been celebrated for tolerance and democracy— also tolerated the enslavement and abuse of other human beings, their democracy a form of institutional disenfranchisement for many members of society. This country, my country, was founded on those ideals. Yes, all of those ideals, not just the pretty ones; and this is not ancient history. Still, now, today, here— not everyone gets the same size slice of apple pie, if any, as true now as in 1776, 1876 and 1976.

Pi is an irrational number, one of division that comes to no conclusion. What conclusions can we draw about the disproportionate number of people of color targeted and victimized by the police, placed in our prisons? What can we conclude about leading the world not in a systematic and strategic response to the corona virus, but in number of deaths? What can we conclude about ourselves as a nation when a madman inspires and instigates a number of his cult to attack and desecrate the very house of our cherished mythological democracy— and the madman goes free?

Still, let us take heart. Let us prove to be a rational people, with a capacity for good that deters the infections of hate and fear. Let us address and solve our divisions with an inclusive conclusion satisfactory to all.

Here is this year’s pi poem, a tanka:

how they pried

uroboric tale

divine math?

blind scales of hubris

calculating loss

See previous Pi Days here (3/14/18) here (3/14/19) and here (3/14/20)

CRLC Challenge; Deep Wishes

Charli’s in with the March 11, 2021, prompt from Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about deep wishes. Where is the deep — in the sky, the ground, or outer space? What kind of wishes reside there for whom and why? Go where the prompt leads!

I was led to poetry, specifically the décima form, something I learned about at Ronovanwrites. This adheres to the rules through the tenth line, but as that was only 60 words, I continued until I reached the Carrot Ranch requisite 99 words. The other reason I can’t mash up with Ronovan’s prompt this week is I did not use ‘fortune’ in the B line, or anywhere for that matter. But as a nod of thanks for the form and inspiration I put fortune in the title.

You have until March 16 to respond to the Carrot Ranch prompt and as you can see, it doesn’t have to be flash fiction, just 99 words, no more, no less.

Colors of Fortune

lazurite pulse from deep within

night sky, star spilt light seeping through

deep wishes are this shade of blue

in sleek watery hues they swim;

yellow sunlight stirs blue, spins

absorbed by earth, emerges green

deep wishes are what color spring;

shoots poke through snow-melt packed-leaf ground

deep wishes star this soft hewed brown

deep wishes are seeds sown unseen;

who’s the sower? we cannot know

but through the wisdom of a child

who knows deep wishes just grow wild

roots in earth, airy seeds that blow;

free to harvest with good reason

deep wishes bloom in all seasons.

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Ann Edall-Robson!

Look who blew in from the Canadian prairie! Ann Edall-Robson is seen on the scene at the Saddle Up Saloon! (A sure sign of spring)

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Pal, is that…?”

“Yep. Sure is, Kid. Ann Edall-Robson ‘as stopped by the Saddle Up.”

“Woohoo! The Rough Writer who pens the Quiet Spirits column fer Carrot Ranch? I heard she might be too busy fer us, heard she’s got a lot a irons in the fire. Uh, Pal, does that s’pression refer ta when irons fer clothes was heated up on a cook range, or is it referrin’ ta brandin’ irons on the cattle range?”

“Reckon we could ask Ann, she might know.”

“She might er she might not. Heard tell she makes stuff up.”

“Thet’s ‘cause she’s a story teller, Kid. Come on, lit’s go talk with ‘er.”

“Howdy Ann!”

“Hello there Kid. Pal. You caught me wetting my whistle here at the bar. Come sit with me.”

“Thet soun’s good, Ann. Sure liked what ya did couple weeks back in yer Quiet Spirits column. Had folks guessin’…

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CRLC Challenge in SixSentences

By now we know the March 4, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt is to:“In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. This is a second take on that prompt that continues an earlier Six Sentence Story.

Bona Sub Terra Theory   

“That one likes to snuggle,” she said.

He cradled the hen on his lap as he lifted his jar of dandelion wine.

“Try this snack— Jerusalem artichokes, best thing to come out of God’s good earth.”

The moon was now just rising. He didn’t see her slight smile as he went on about the gastronomic miracles in his garden, sweet potatoes with flesh the color of a summer sunset, but he heard her accept his invitation to dinner even as he wondered how he might prepare them for her.

‘So much good,’ she’d said, ‘so much goodness under the surface.’

CRLC Challenge; Sweet Potato

The March 4, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt? “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes sweet potatoes. It can be part of a recipe, meal, or used as a nickname. Where do sweet potatoes take you? The grocery store? The garden? Mars? Go where the prompt leads!” Respond by March 9, 2021.

Child’s Play

He arranged the sweet potatoes into orderly rows on the grass.

“No. They’re dry enough. Mommy says put them in the crates.”

Ruth knew she was in charge. She also knew that play helped with any work. Her potatoes sang and danced their way into a crate.

His marched, then dove into the crate. “Ayaaaa!”

“Gently. Don’t hurt them.”

He blinked at her, then feverishly started removing potatoes, tossing them to safety behind the tangled vines. “I won’t leave you! Come on!”

Ruth went to him, hugged his tear-stained face like Mommy does, said, “It’s okay Daddy, it’s okay.”

Theory; SixSentenceStory

Tomorrow is the day, the day that Denise of GirlieontheEdge opens the link for one and all to share in Six Sentence Stories as writers and readers. That link will be open through Saturday. The prompt words get posted on Sundays and this week’s is “theory”. I wrote the story that came to me and it was thirteen sentences long. I prefer the syntax of that version better, but manipulated, twisted and stretched those sentences until they fit the rule of Six sentences exactly while remaining close to the original. I would not want to read this out loud.


Oh, he had a theory or two about that woman moved in next door, but he wouldn’t let that get in the way, that had nothing to do with his growing vexation with her, no— let her wear her hair short, wear men’s clothing, it’s a free country, but some of her freewheeling needed to stop at the fence line, and by gosh, he was going to have a talk with her about her squawking free range chickens, that wandering dog, and while he was at it maybe he’d even demand she do something about the dandelion field that passed for her lawn and he was so deep in thought, practicing his lines in his head as he marched up the path, he almost collided with his new neighbor as she strode down the path swinging a basket.

“Why hello!” she laughed, “I was just bringing you some goodies, but why don’t you come have some iced tea on the porch,” and when she saw him taking in the lawn, now devoid of yellow blossoms, she pulled a bottle out of the basket, explaining, “This is last year’s dandelions, not my best year, but it’s good wine; I’ve just started another batch to celebrate good times ahead and look, here’s some eggs for you, I hope you might use them, even with only three hens, they lay more than I can eat by myself, but all I’ve ever wanted was to keep hens, so here they are, ‘the girls’, finally.”

The dog rose stiffly and padded to her, putting its chin on a knee, which today was just covered by a cotton skirt.

“Good old Gus, just a puppy when my husband passed; he can hardly hear or see now, but he manages, and I don’t think I could have managed my cancer without him… but enough about me! I shared my theory with Gus and the girls that our next door neighbor was shy but would drop by eventually, and here you are!”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had dandelion wine,” was all he could manage to say, shy as he was.

March Story Chat: “Wanda-Lust” @daveryshiftn, @Charli_Mills, @HughRoberts05, @cathincade, @Annecdotist, @geofflepard

Kid has escaped the Ranch Yarn pages again! Kid has a story featured at Story Chat. Check it out.

Marsha Ingrao - Always Write

Welcome to March Story Chat

This month we have a special guest who has done more to publicize Story Chat and attract and support “real authors,” if I may quote him, than I have.

I am super honored to introduce A. Kid and his friends Pal and Curley to my friends in the Always Write Community. His handler, D. Avery, was a little nervous about letting him loose, but here he is. Please welcome, A. Kid from the Carrot Ranch Saddle-Up Saloon.

Story Chat
Friends sit around the table discussing the latest unpublished short-story.

*The followin’ is a fictionalized account of a fictional tale writ by a fictional character on a local worldwide virtual ranch.*


by A. Kid

Story Chat Wanda Lust

“Kid, come quick. Shorty’s called a meetin’ a some sort over ta the cookhouse.”

“Meat’n what, Pal? Eggs? Better not be eggs an’ bacon. Ya know I ain’t never eatin’ bacon agin…

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CRLC Challenge; Frozen

The February 25 2021, prompt from Charli at Carrot Ranch this week is to: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!” Join in. You have until March 2nd to submit your story, published on the 3rd.

Every visit I am grateful for the window, though it’s always shut tight against any air. Today tapered icicles hang down from the eaves, their steady drip in the late winter sun inaudible through the panes, replaced by my mother’s hollow chirping.

I sense my mother is afraid to come here alone. She tells me her granny enjoys seeing me but the old lady never even looks up. Says nothing. Just sits there.

Feels like 80 degrees in this room. As always, Granny’s bundled in thick socks, a lap robe, and a shawl.

Still she just sits there, frozen.

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

It’s the first Monday, which means Chel Owens is running a poetry prompt out of the Saddle Up. Ride on over and take part in the fun.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Well, howdy! My name’s Chel Owens and I’ve a small confession to make: I’m not much of a rancher. The closest I’ve gotten to a rodeo is watching “McLintock!” The closest I’ve gotten to a saloon is to use the bathroom at a bar during a road trip.

What do I know? Poetry. And -believe me- poetry is amazing. It’s clever, awful, silly, serious, snarky, sincere, and beautiful.

Take Ogden Nash:
The Termite

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.


Or, William Shakespeare, the master prose-smith:
Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests…

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