Swift Passage

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 8, 2021

Inspired by Swift Passage by our beloved Sue Vincent who has gone into spirit.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Lifted by D. Avery

you begin to descend
the way is steep
you continue down the path
you had forgotten it was there…
yet it has always been there

the stream is an ancient cup
wise child, drink in the moment
stand, simply
you are
part of the earth

the earth takes you into itself
unconstricted you
move easily
sure-footed even in the shadows
you are here, now, in this time and in this place

you are at home here
in the heart of the earth.
You see many offerings,
the first morning of the world!
It is all you need to know.


Swift Passage by Colleen M. Chesebro

Sunlight, a pink aurora in the shining sky
from the brushwood, the crows take wing
shadows dance and small birds sing
swift passage comes for ancestral souls on high.

Faery queens gather to welcome their otherworldly kin
she who walked among those bound to the earth
now takes passage within the Bardo of her rebirth,
spring rain washes away the pain of our loss and chagrin.

Raise your arms to the circle of the sun
close your eyes and breathe, inhale the celestial breath
thank you for the golden words of wisdom you’ve spun
your earthly quest is won.


Swift Passage by Anita Dawes

The red flame of life, love, spirituality,
the journey taken with friends
Has too swiftly been blown out.
The echoes remain, words, wisdom, and kindness.
They stay, like a pic and mix
Sending that strange thought to mind
Words written, that meant so much more,
Because of the space between
Reading the white space between her words
Feels like the sudden scent of a bowl of potpourri
Letting you know she doesn’t forget
The time spent with family, friends.
The journey forward may be swift
Her zest for life, too strong to prevent her
Returning for one more go…


Swift Passage by Willow Willers

The candle flickered her spirit left. Free from earth’s tethers and life’s pain she breathed again. Across the night sky lit by stars she flashed around the planet spreading love as she went.

Alighting on her Moors, her spirit’s home. The stones welcomed her with love, they knew her worth. Cold winds could not chill her just carry her wisdom.

Behind she left us grieving, family and friends alike. Her legacy will last forever as will the hole she left in our hearts. My last email to her said “sleep well.” Sue’s passage after death was swift to bliss.


The Cleanse by T. Marie Bertineau

She appeared there, gray of heart, bruised of thought, both undesirables for ceremony. Her conscience bid her, turn back, but spirit in need, she pressed on. Do not dance with your discontent, her mother had cautioned. Do not bring that into the ring. Yet closer she inched, drawn by prayer’s scent, the haze of smoldering herb, dewe’igan beckoning. She trailed the line, trembling, indecisive, until at last she stood veiled by choice. Her arms reached out, embraced the translucence. She smoothed it upon her crown, her face, her heart. And as swiftly as she had gone astray, felt renewed.


The Morning After by Anne Goodwin

Rain lashed the windscreen as Janice scoured dismal streets for a pharmacy open a bank holiday. Were she so inclined, she’d have lashed herself. She hoped her pounding head would be the worst legacy of last night’s foolishness. She couldn’t even claim he’d spiked her drink.

Her sober profession was no protection. Nor was her degree. In twenty minutes she’d regressed twenty-odd years to the age of ignorance. Of apathy. Of female disempowerment. As a green neon cross loomed from the murk, she scolded herself for scorning her birth mother. The only difference between them was the morning-after pill.


Tinted Windows by Tyler Appleby

Her dark eyes intrigued me, so I paid for three shots of mint-green absinthe. We danced, and in time, I caressed her cheek. Her calloused fingers gripped me. “Let’s get away,” she whispered, tugging my arm to the door. We swayed back to her apartment. “My mother died,” she cried, her tears spotting the wine-stained couch cushion. I cried too; she laughed. “Baby, I’m over it. Be right back.” She waltzed around the couch, out of sight. I waited. My eye traced her mother’s body hanging from a meat-hook too late to prevent the switchblade from slitting my throat.


Gone by Ritu Bhathal

Just like that.
One minute, he was there, the next minute, not.
I’d sat by his side for days and nights, stroking his hand, answering to his quiet murmurs, sponging him down, dripping refreshing liquid onto his parched lips.
I knew it was coming, and I wanted to squeeze memories into every second of life that he had left, with him.
And yet, he still managed to go, without allowing me to say goodbye.
He squeezed my hand, so I turned for the glass, and I returned to a face, smiling, at peace, finally.
Just like that.


The Death of Fred My Basset-Dachshund by Brenda Marie Fluharty

You tried so hard to wait for daddy to come home,

You waited by the door, but your time had come.

You managed to make it into the living room.

I helped you on the couch. Trying to give me one last kiss.

I gave you one last taste of your favorite lemon pie

And kissed you goodbye.

We laid together heart to heart,

I felt the cyst over your heart burst.

You were gone just like that.

You died just like your mom

Laying on me, head on my shoulder

With a smile on your face. Goodbye Fred.


Stardust by Lisa Shea

My atoms birthed from stardust and stromatolites, dinosaurs and mammoths, and now they are mitochondria and neurons. Toddling steps carried me across coral beaches. Pressurized zooplankton fueled teen escapades. Billions of stars against a sky of ebony led to a husband and child. The husband faded into the distance, while the child remains in close orbit.

It’s the blink of an eye and the remaining sands are slipping through the hourglass. A seeming hop into a new square, a skip over a spinning rope. Another breath, another pirouette, a final bow.

The readiness is all.


Swift Passage by Rebecca Glaessner

The alien planet hung like a pool of blue. Their only stop on a one-way journey.

Their vessel’s final dregs of energy concealed them in orbit while their shuttle fell into the alien atmosphere.

The violent entry rattled the shuttle, pilot and crew breathed deep lungfuls, fighting to clear their minds, to imagine a paradise so near.

Generations spent drifting through the void had corroded all memories of their world from before.

This or death.

The pilot’s expert hands flew across controls – navigating, maintaining, adjusting – to grant the first of their last a swift passage into their new world.


Rapid Transit by Bill Engleson

“Excuse me,” I ask the woman standing at the bus stop.

She has a bright pink face, the sort you might get from laughing all the time.

She looks me up and down like I am a slab of meat gone slightly off.


“When’s the next bus?” I squeak out. “I don’t usually…”

“Take the bus? Oh, my! You poor man.”

I take both of my feet out of my mouth, decide to bear my soul.

“Lost my license.”

“Tough. For drinking and driving?”

“Uh-uh. Driving too slow.”

“Well, you should be right at home on this bus.”


Regardless by Norah Colvin

“How long does it take to get old, Grandma?”

“Not long enough, Mickey. Never long enough.”

She’d once thought anyone over fifty was old, that it’d take infinity to get there. Now she well exceeded that number. She didn’t feel older, just creaked louder.

“My birthday takes too long. I want it now.”

“It’ll come soon enough, Mickey. Then another, and another. Soon you’ll be counting as many years as me.”

“That’s too long, Grandma.”

“When you get to my age, Mickey, you’ll see how short life is. Time doesn’t only fly when you’re having fun, it flies regardless.”


Swift Passage by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d stayed longer than she should have, and now it was too late. She was going to be in big trouble. Once again, she’d had another of those fabulous steaming popovers, downed one too many G&Ts, chatted up the familiar Happy Hour crowd and met a few new faces.

Avoided going home.

Did this mean something? No time to dive deep; her train would depart in four minutes! Stuck at the top of the stairs, the tight-packed sea of commuters blocked her way.

Panicking, she did the only thing possible. Straddling the banister, she slid all the way down.


Swift Passage by Reena Saxena

She absorbs colours of the world to succeed and makes them her own.

The world remains busy admiring her colourful robes, hair, eyes and everything she cares to don. She’s the Queen of Hearts.

One evening, she is found dead in the bath tub of a hotel room. Nobody really knew what was happening in her life, and why was she addicted to alcohol and drugs.

The journey of a soul was not captured by the omnipresent media, and she passed away in a swift passage of rites.

The certificate says “Death by Drowning.” In a shallow bath tub?


Dedicated to Trabs by Sue Spitulnik

I was your friend
I felt close to you
I knew you hurt inside
But didn’t know how deep
I wish I’d understood

We , your co-workers
And your peers
Tried to help by talking
You pushed us away
Saying you were okay

You gained more weight
When already large
You drank more
Already having a problem
We watched, very aware

It troubled us to see you
Stuck in your own way
Unable to break free
From the fears
That controlled you

Now you are gone
Such a swift passage
We believe you’re free
from the pain you suffered


Evelyn 4/6/89  by Annette Rochelle Aben

From the time they told us she had cancer, five of them all in advanced stages, until she died was one week. Of course, we had no idea it would happen that quick. I remember walking in and quitting my job because I knew I would move her in with my husband and me so I could care for her until the end of her days. Who knew I would be back to work in less than a fortnight.

But you know, she said that wanted it that way. No drawn-out drama. Absolutely no heroics. Death on her terms.


You Were on My Mind Again by Charli Mills

From Ireland to your deathbed was a span of 150 years. Your culture, after five generations in America, remained Catholic. You didn’t call it your religion or heritage. You spoke of your faith as elemental as DNA, your smile brightening a room with the luminaries of sainthood.

You married him anyway. He was Scots to your Irish, a wounded Vietnam vet. A smile that lit yours. Two daughters later, he left to comfort his National Guard Unit as a lay minister on the battlefield. You lost him. But you never lost heart. Swift passage, my dear friend. Home again.


I Hear You by Gloria McBreen

I must walk my path without you here to shine your light and guide the way.
Or so I believed when you embarked on your swift passage. But I’m not without you, because when the sun shines upon me, I remember how warm you made me feel.
When the gentle wind blows in my face, I feel your soft embrace.
I hear your laughter when the rain pitter-patters on my window.
When the birds sing I hear you whistling a tune.
I’m not afraid to walk my path because I know when I reach the end, you’ll be there.


Swift Passage by Joelle

We are wings, soaring in the afternoon sun. Wind becomes our ally as we escape from land and tree.

The world bends to our perspective. We mistake the strength in our wings for freedom, holding onto this delusion until we struggle to stay afloat.

Then, as we rest on a branch, we remember: Wings are only one part of our whole. We build a nest egg and call it, “Home.”

We teach our offspring to escape the nest, and we relish the strength in their wings.

With our passage from Earth, we finally know the true meaning of freedom.


A Night To Remember Hugh W. Roberts

It was a night nobody would ever forget.


Like they’d been told when booking their tickets, this would be a swift journey. But for some, the swiftness would become a little longer.

The bright light came from nowhere. It was only the reflection of moonlight that brought it to the attention of some of the passengers.

Its swift passage from its home would only bring death and destruction.

Like a giant sculpture in the middle of the ocean, the iceberg towered above everything. Thirty-nine-year-old Mr Hugh Roscoe Rood joined just over fifteen hundred others on their swift passage from the Titanic to the next world.

Bon voyage.


Not Quite on ‘Cruise’ Control by JulesPaige

One the swift passage out to see
The bottom of the deep blue sea…
Before settling to glance below at the
Glass base of the tourist boat
I had erred to fully digest breakfast
The base thumping of the waves
Against the sides added to the harsh ride

shaken rough
waves right and left

Too soon the Caribbean fish became
Heir what may have been
an unexpected treasure of a free meal…
The Captain made sure to let
The passengers know that the ocean
Was a better recipient of such ‘gifts’
Rather than the interior of his vessel!


Prey by Joanne Fisher

Anne looked through the spyglass. Owing to their swift passage they had caught up with the lone Spanish galleon, their intended quarry. The galleon was loaded with gold, silver, tobacco, and spices from the New World and had somehow been separated from the rest of the fleet. They would plunder it, and then make for Port Royal.

“Ready for attack!” Anne called out as they sped towards their prey.

“Captain, there are two more ships approaching flying Spanish colours.” the man in the crows nest called out. They would have to break off their pursuit and try another day…


The Fall by Doug Jacquier

St. Peter said ‘Yes, can I help you?’ Donald, all smiling charm, said, ‘I certainly believe you can. I’m Donald ..’

St. Peter cut him off with ‘Yes, I know who you are. Why are you here?’

‘Well, to negotiate my way into Heaven and eternal life, of course. I’m a great negotiator. Huge.’

‘No negotiations here, Donald. You’re either on the list or you’re not. And you’re not.’

‘Even if I could Make the Almighty Great Again?’

‘He never wasn’t.’

‘So where do I go now?

‘You know where. And, believe me, it will be a swift passage.’


Moving On by Geoff Le Pard

‘I don’t think I was meant to drink water, Logan.’

‘Is this another of your woke mindfulness bollockoids, Morgan? You only drink kale and compassion smoothies for a peaceful inner being.’

‘You can scoff…’

‘My scoffing is a thing of beauty…’

‘Indeed. My point is that every time the water changes, my stomach rebels.’

‘TMI, old chap.’

‘This time it’s constipation…’

‘You really do over-share, don’t you? But, as a friend, I will make you my great aunt’s cure-all. Try this.’

‘Will it loosen me?’

‘It can’t promise you a comfortable passage, but it will be swift…’


Mustard by Simon

Over! Over! I am stuck safely beside a Canine. No I haven’t entered the deep dark Swift passage. I am lucky to have me here, wait a minute! trouble!! I have been constantly watched by a pink giant, it is out of control with it’s sticky Saliva. It comes in a random shift, I am not sure how long I can survive here. If I am lucky I can see the sunshine, post that giant sticks will take over shifts, oops! here comes the pink giant with saliva , oh I am slipping, Bye…

RIP, Mustard from the Canine Corner.


His Journey by Missy Lynne

A beautiful, bright eyed, baby bouncing on her lap. His laughter invoking her endless smile. A tiny hand reaching out for his mother’s hand. A quiet understanding of trust and adoration. Faithfully following his mother’s lead. Growing up more each day. Alas, his hand no longer reaches for hers. He walks beside. Confident in his own self. Still checking she is there. So proud she is of him, although secretly misses his little hand. And they walk together for a short while longer until he glimpses a life of his own awaiting him on the horizon and walks ahead.


A Sailor’s Promise by Nicole Horlings

They stood on the shore, arms around each other’s waists, the sunset reflecting off the water, their toes spread in the warm sand and cool waves lapping at their feet. A perfect moment.

But one that couldn’t last.

“This shouldn’t be long trip. Just to Port Gorem and back,” he murmured.

She squeezed him tighter. “You’re still going to be gone.”

He kissed her forehead. “Soon I’ll have earned enough money to buy us a farm, and I won’t have to leave for so long again.”

“And if the sea monsters attack your ship?”

“Then I’ll fight them off.”


Swift Passage by Saifun Hassam

I pushed my kayak off the sandy shore
And into the fast-flowing Canyon River.
Suddenly I was pulled irresistibly into a hidden current,
River within river, swifter, its blue deeper, its whitecaps rising higher.
Paddled to keep up. Flying. I was upon the rapids,
Sailing in one swift second over them.
Closed my eyes. Sensed churning waters.
Heard the roar and felt the power of that swift passage,
Moose crossing the river near the rocks downstream.
The kayak had taken on a life of itself.
Going with that inner river.
Flashed past the moose.
Could have touched its antlers.


Fit Ta Print by D. Avery

“What’cha readin’ Pal?”

“Quow-Poke Quarterly. Fella name a Finn Lee Winnin jist earned hissef a nice rodeo buckle. He’s on top.”

“Hmmph. That was a swift passage.”

“What d’ya mean Kid?”

“Well, where’d he come from? I ain’t never heard a ‘im.”

“Reckon this weren’t his first rodeo Kid. An I reckon his first rodeo weren’t his first time on a bull.”

“What else they got ta say ‘bout this Whinin fella?”

“Winnin, not Whinin, Kid. ‘Member thet. He’s quoted: ‘It’s nice havin’ extra buckles, but I still gotta thread my belt through the loops.’ Thet’s no bull, Kid.”


To the Swift by D. Avery

“Kid, what’s thet noise? There a critter in the chimney?”

“It’s a fam’ly a chimney swifts Pal!”

“This far west?”

“Yep. Reckon they been keepin’ us skeeter free, least we kin do is let ‘em nest in the chimney. We kin sweep it after, a’fore we fire up the stove. Their nests are crescents stuck ta the inside a the chimney, like a hoss shoe. These birds are always in the air ‘cept fer nestin’. Cain’t even perch, jist cling ta the sides a their nestin’ site. When the young’uns are ready they climb out.”

“A swift passage?”



To the Shift by D. Avery

“Wake up Kid, yer makin’ too much noise sleepin’.”

“Huh? Pal. What a dream. There was a swift passage a time. The Poet Tree was ancient, all gnarled an’ hollow.”

“What about me?”

“You was no more gnarled an’ hollow then usual.”

“Hmmff. Was the Poet Tree still alive?”

“Yep! An’ there were swifts nestin’ in its hollow parts!

swift passage of time

eternal circular path

still the old tree hums

ancient songs of life

hope chirps within the hollows

budding into flight”.


Kid’s buckaroo-ku

how deep is thet pud muddle?

cain’t say not knowin’.

Shift passes swiftly.”


The Shift Two by D. Avery

“Pal? Ranch ta Pal. Now it’s looks like you that’s dreamin’.”

“Kinda was, Kid. Was thinkin’ back ta when I was stuck in thet mine shaft.”

“An’ Curley come got Shorty an’ the Poet lariat lassoed ya an’ we pulled ya out?”

“Yeah, thet… It was darker ‘an a hero’s cave down there Kid. Cain’t say how much time passed… ‘nough I reckon…”

“Pal, sorry ta innerupt yer musin’ but the young swifts are makin’ their way out the chimney. Let’s go watch ‘em.”

climb outta thet dark

when ya kin see yer way clear

take wing inta light


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  1. Ritu


    • Charli Mills

      Love to you and your family, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        Thank you, Charli ????????????

  2. OIKOS™-Editorial

    Thank you for publishing so wonderful answers. It was a great pleasure to read, all these very heart touching poems. Michael

    • Charli Mills

      The community continues the circle of inspiration and creative response. Thanks, Michael.

      • OIKOS™-Editorial

        Thank you very much, Charli! We will never forget Sue, as the inspirational angel she now is.

      • Charli Mills

        We have a muse on the other side.

  3. Doug Jacquier

    Express Trains Hurtling into Tunnels Awards to D (Lifted), Anita, Ritu, Liz and Saifun. Jonathon Swift humour passages to Jules and Geoff. But stratospheric moonshots to T. Marie and Anne for pieces that shine spectacularly in the firmament.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for initiating the (Jonathan) Swift passages, Doug! D. did a beautiful, collaborative act to “lift” 99 words from Sue. I think we may play with that idea of lifting words like found poetry in the near future.

    • reading journeys

      what a surprise – thank you! & second Charli’s comment.

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    A beautiful collection inspired by a beautiful prompt. ????

    • Charli Mills

      It feels full circle. Thanks, Sarah!

  5. joanne the geek

    A wonderful collection again.

    • Charli Mills

      Always my favorite part of the week!

  6. willowdot21

    A lovely collection ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Willow!

      • willowdot21


  7. ellenbest24

    She would be smiling to know she inspired such a collection.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so pleased that the writing community gave Sue that smile before she took wing. Her inspiration is part of her legacy.

      • ellenbest24

        She inspired so many to try something out of their comfort zone. X

  8. Simon

    I see, ‘swift passage’ are the most chosen title.. wonder why authors ran out of title ???? good work everyone..????

    • Charli Mills

      Swift minds often stall on writing a title. 😉 If a story is submitted without a title my mind is not swift enough to presume one so I’ll use the prompt. Other writers do the same. Some figure out that a title can enhance the story and carefully craft it. Good point to bring up!

      • Simon

        Thanks ??

  9. Colleen M. Chesebro

    This was an amazing group of flash and poetry… some made me emotional they were so poignant! Excellent read! <3

    • Charli Mills

      I especially appreciated the poetry and stories directed at Sue and used those to lead into the idea of “swift passage” in its various thoughts. I also appreciated the stories writers wrote to express their losses because I believe grief never leaves us and that it’s healthy to find expression in our art for deep emotion. I appreciated the bizarre, the humorous, the dark, and the unexpected ideas that surfaced in stories. Overall, I appreciate getting to work with so many fabulous writers every week to create something that is a collaborative voice as a whole. Thank you, Colleen!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Charli, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m overwhelmed with “swift passage” right now, my dear friend Debby Gies’ husband lost his battle to cancer yesterday. Death touches us all in different ways. Our writers are so intuitive. I’d say that is a gift. ??

      • Charli Mills

        I hope Debby finds comfort in her writing and the words of others. I left her a message on one of her photos. I could feel the devastation of her heartbreak in her message. It’s distressing when our friends grieve but I know you will find ways to support her. <3

  10. E.A. Colquitt

    Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a bit – my condolences to everyone. These (and the Rodeo Classic stories – congratulations to the winners btw) are lovely! I never met Sue, but her writing was beautiful; they are fine tributes to her. Thinking of you all 🙂

  11. noelleg44

    So very touching. Sue would have loved reading them!


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