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SADDLE UP SALOON; COLLEEN’S DOUBLE ENNEAD CHALLENGE NO. 4

Happy May! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at Carrot Ranch with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we’ll explore how to use this form to inspire our poetic muse. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have an entire month to write your poem.

Check out the poems from last month HERE.

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.

Why Write Poetry?

When a writer embraces the ability to convey complex images and emotions in just a few lines, they have learned to strengthen their writing. In the same way, flash fiction helps us hone in on the words to tell our story, syllabic poetry does much the same by forcing us to find the best word and meaning. This brevity of words leads to more concise writing.

Syllabic verse is any kind of poetry defined by the number of syllables in each line. In English, syllables must have a vowel sound. For example, the word “apple” has two vowel sounds, which divide it into the syllables “ap” and “ple.” Depending on our accent, we pronounce some words with different accents on the syllables. For example, the word “fire” and “poem” can be read with either one or two vowel sounds.

Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is a very important tool to convey meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which gives you access to synonyms and rhyming words as you’re composing.

Using Themes in Poetry

What are themes? A theme is a message you want to convey through your poetry. Many poets choose a romantic theme for their poetry, but that doesn’t always appeal to everyone. Another popular theme is “human verses nature.” Writing about the human experience is one way we connect with others through the written word.

Here is a list of some the common themes in poetry from Emma Baldwin. “19 Different Types of Themes in Poetry”. Poem Analysis, https://poemanalysis.com/poetry-explained/poetry-themes/.

  • love
  • death
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • nature
  • beauty
  • aging
  • desire
  • travel
  • dreams
  • celebrations
  • new life
  • disappointment
  • failure
  • war
  • immortality
  • coming of age

Why are themes important? If you like to read and write poetry it’s because you enjoy “word craft.” At least that’s what I call it. Word craft is the way you, as a writer or poet, shape words into a distinct purpose. It’s your personal brand of magic that you employ to enchant your reader. Often, the theme of your poem reveals itself as an additional meaning. It’s that “a-ha moment” when you make the connection through a poem’s deeper meaning. Remember, without a theme, your poetry does not have a purpose.

The double Ennead is perfect for themed poetry. The three stanzas allow the poem to flow naturally with a beginning, middle, and end, much like our 99-word flash fiction flows.

When you choose a theme, try to break it up into three distinct parts. In my example, I write about the passage of time in the garden featuring a morning glory during the morning, at noon, and at night, per stanza. I added a bit of rhyme because it flowed naturally, unforced. As always, end rhyme schemes are optional.

Image by rachaeljklol from Pixabay
"The Morning Glory"

morning glory dawns bright
dew-speckled petals,
blossom forth to receive the sun's inner light
impermanence of life
eternal love's plight

morning glory day shines
purple, pink, and white
noontide sun feeds and sustains unplanted vines
no less a pesky weed
the will to survive

morning glory night wanes
flowers snuggle deep
under star glow, provocative scents remain
promising a new day
growth comes with the rain

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

At first glance, you might think this poem is only about the morning glory plant. Good grief, they’re weeds! However, there is much more here. I chose this flower because of its will to survive, no matter what. My theme is about perseverance and surviving when the chips are down.

This month, select your own theme for your double Ennead poem. Follow your inner voice for inspiration.

  • Write a double ennead poem. Remember to count your syllables.
  • Post it on your blog or in the comments at the bottom of the post.
  • Include a link back to this challenge in your post. (copy the HTTPS:// address of this post into your post).
  • Read and comment on your fellow poet’s work. Feedback from other poets is how we grow our poetry writing craft.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • I’ll visit, comment, and share your poetry on social media!

Now have fun and write some poetry!

How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It

Do we unknowingly write ourselves into pieces of fiction where we hide out of view until somebody unexpectedly points out that we’re in the story?

When Charli Mills (Head Rancher) here at the Carrot Ranch prompted us to write a 99-word piece of flash fiction with the prompt ‘Swift Passage‘, I immediately saw a big ship. No, I wasn’t at the beach or by the sea, but some prompts can make me think I’m there.

The image stayed with me for two days until my fingers started the journey that would bring a comment that got me delving deeper into what I had written.

I did a little bit of research for this flash fiction piece, something I’m not always very good at doing. As my eyes scrolled a list of names, hoping that I would find my name by a strange coincidence, I felt disappointed when it was missing. Not even a person with the same surname as me was on it, but my eyes were drawn and focused on somebody with the first same name as me – Hugh.

I instantly felt connected with that person and felt sad that Mr Rood had not survived his journey.

By the time I published my response to the prompt, I didn’t think much more about it. I sat back and waited for any comments to come in.

You might have a connection,’ were the words in one comment that got my attention.

Screenshot of a comment left on a WordPress blog post

It got me wondering. Had I’d unknowingly written myself into this piece of flash fiction, I’d titled ‘A Night To Remember.’

After all, I’d always been interested in the location of the true story where my flash fiction piece was based, and this was not the first time I’d used it as a location.

Earlier in my blogging journey, one of the first short stories I’d written and published was partly centred around the same location as ‘A Night To Remember.’ I particularly liked that some of the comments for that early short story highlighted the twist. The twist, it seems, was the last part of the story’s location – a place most thought they knew but which had them making the wrong assumption.

In that early story, I’d included a framed photograph, which was the main item the story was centred around. I laughed out loud when somebody asked in a comment, ‘is the photo in the frame, you?‘ Why had they thought it was me in the picture?

I read the story back to myself before responding to that comment. Although I denied it was me in the photo, something at the back of my mind disagreed. Then somebody else mentioned that they’d thought I’d written myself into the story. It was not long before I started to ask myself if all writers do the same thing without really knowing about it.

When we write fiction, do we sometimes write about our previous lives?

However, back to my piece of flash fiction, ‘A Night To Remember.’ Although my real name was not on the list of the dead, a further comment mentioned I could have had a connection to the actual location of the story. I then remembered that I’m terrified of water. If it goes above my knees, I start to panic. Despite many swimming lessons, I’ve never been able to swim, and I won’t go into the sea or board anything that floats on it.

Had I been on board the ill-fated Titanic (the location of both stories I’ve mentioned in this post)? And in my current life as a writer, author and blogger, had I written fiction based on events that I’d witnessed?

Have you ever written yourself into a piece of fiction? Did you know you were doing it, or did somebody point out that you were in the story? Do you believe some of our stories are based on our previous lives?

Image showing some straight lines drawn by different coloured pens on a white background

If you missed my first post on Diversity With A Twist, here it is.

Copyright © 2021 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.

***

Photo of the writer, author and blogger, Hugh W. Roberts

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

You can follow Hugh’s blog at Hugh’s Views And News and follow him on Twitter at @hughRoberts05.

Saddle Up Saloon; Secon’ Art Showin’

“Whoa! What’s goin’ on Kid? I ‘spect ya ta be whiny an’ even cheesy, but didn’t ‘spect ya ta be servin’ wine an’ cheese so fancy like here at the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“It’s what ya do at art shows Pal. An’ this week we’re showin’ art; I roped a few visual artists inta sharin’ their work here at the saloon.”

“Thet’s great Kid.”

“Yep, we got some great work ta show, some artists ya mighta met here last June, an’ a couple a first timers. Done turned the Saloon inta a gallery. You an’ me Pal, we’ll jist git outta the way and keep cuttin’ cheese. Jist gonna let folks wander ‘roun, enjoy the sights an’ they kin chit chat an’ comment down below.”

“Hmmf.  So… no innerviews?”

“Not this time Pal, jist gonna let the art speak fer itself. Though some a the artists have a bit a literary art ta accompany their visual art.”

“Soun’s real nice Kid.”

“Yep. There’s jist one thing….”

“Uh-oh.”

“Shorty’s uncle is somewhere aroun’ the Saloon. She said we should keep an eye out fer ‘im. Uncle Bernie? But I’m sure he’ll be fine. Now let’s step back an’ let folks see this installation.”

Bridal Bouquet by Bonnie Sheila

Bonnie Sheila is a quiller from the faraway island of Nantucket. More of her work can be found at crescentsandcoils. You might remember her visit at the Saloon last June.

From the Garden by Bonnie Sheila

“I recall Bonnie Sheila the quiller. She’s branchin’ out with this art form. An’ I ‘member this next artist. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. She was in the first art showin’ too. I think we’ll be seein’ more a her aroun’ here.”

“Yep. Don’tcha love her watercolors?”


DOUBLE EXPOSURE
The sun’s reflection
Shines in a sidewalk puddle
The lens adds one more.

UNDER THE SHIBUMI
Ocean breezes blow
Blue canopy flips and snaps
Pure relaxation.

“Beautiful. Kid, was thet her haikuin’ too?”

“Yep. She’s all kindsa artist.”

“Now what’s this? Why’s there a dog at the art show?”

“Look agin, Pal. That’s a handcrafted needle-felted sculpture by Vermont artist Sharon Somers. You should see her stuff.”

“Oh, shift that reminds me. Uncle Bernie!”

“Is that a heartfelt piece?”

“No, Pal, that’s Shorty’s Uncle Bernie. Visitin’ her daughter, looks like.”

“Hmmf. Thought he was stuffed. I wanna see more a this felt sculpture.”

“Well here’s a couple more, an’ ya kin always go to Heartfelt Woolies.com ta see even more.”

“Thet’s really cool, what she does with felt.”

“Yep. She kin do them sculptures up from a photograph.”

“Amazin’. Hey Kid, look’t these pictures!”

“Pal, ya know Jules Paige, the Ranch’s own Poet Lariat?”

“Yep, sure do.”

“Well these here photographs are from her. An’ a course she added haiku.”


brief respite from blues
positive thoughts blossom free
relaxing  strong for strength

©JulesPaige

present reflections
living in precious moments
details bring delight
 
©JulesPaige

“Now what’s this, Kid? Which is the sculpture? An’ is thet one on the right anuther a them felt sculptures?”

“That’s Uncle Bernie again. He’s visitin’ Shorty’s other daughter, the dancer an’ choreographer. Hmm. Uncle Bernie ain’t got the pose down.”

“Mebbe she’s s’posed ta be stretchin’ like he is. Leftward leanin’ upward facin’ down dirty dawgs pose.”

“Mebbe. But let’s check out the next artist. Another rancher, an’ columnist, Susan Spitulnik.”

“The quilter!”

“Yep.”


This quilt is called a sampler because each block is a different well known pattern. I made this as a sample for a Beginner Quilting class I taught in which the students learn the techniques to piece squares, triangles, and other shapes using a quarter inch seam. I then donated it to a local charity for one of their annual auctions.

This is just one of many patriotic quilts I have made. I gave it to Joe Mele who is a friend and member of the Rochester Veterans Writing Group. He is writing his parents’ love story using the original letters his father wrote home during WWII.

I made this t-shirt quilt as a high school graduation gift for my neice using her sports t-shirts that’s why there are repeat numbers. The band-aid fabric represents the fact she went on to college to study nursing.

“Wow, Kid, thet Susan Spitulnik’s as generous as she’s talented. Them quilts a hers warm in more’n one way.”

“I know what’cha mean, Pal. Yep. Sue Spitulnik is a regular Ranch Hand. When she’s not participating in the weekly Carrot Ranch challenges or preparing her Veteran’s Stories guest column she can be found sewing in her home studio.”

“Well I sure am glad she found time ta share her art here at the Saloon agin.”

“Me too Pal.”

“Ya got any more art hangin’ aroun’?”

“That’s it fer this showin’. Oh. What now?

If Charli Mills thinks that scrapin’ some nutmeg inta a French Press whilst campin’ is an art form…

uh, Pal, is it art?”

“Sure Kid, why not? An’ least ways she’s got track a thet uncle a hers.”


“Phew. Well Kid, ya made it through anuther Monday.”

“Yep. I enjoyed the art show but Charli’s uncle’s a bit of a handful. Has he always been aroun’ here?”

“Yep. Look:

“Huh. Never noticed him before.”

“Sure. He goes ta all the rodeos.”

“Huh. Hey Pal, we didn’t do so good ’bout stayin’ outta the way a the art showin’.”

“‘Cuz you have trouble keepin’ yer yap shut. But if I ain’t mistaken, ya did cut the cheese.”

“Mebbe. Shift! The dang mic is still on. I always fergit th—

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

May 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

Back at the Boston Homestead where my daughter and her husband are expanding their farm across what was once a neighborhood of company copper miners, their hens escaped the coop. The girls didn’t go far. Chanticleer, the rooster who crows when I sing to him about eating cracked corn, didn’t stray from them. They gathered among the budding blueberry plants and partied.

I’ll accept that as my cue to follow suit. Somebody blow party horn.

School’s out, but may the learning never cease. How quickly coursework gave way to gardening. Black soil slips under the tips of my fingernails, erasing twenty-one straight months of studies and writing for an MFA. Technically, I get my degree by mail after June 1. May is limbo month. A month of fresh ideas, starts and new paths. A month to find joy among emerging flowers, seedlings, and dreamers.

I’m with the chickens, pecking after the best blossoms. Except my escape from the student coop calls for cake not flower petals. I’ll confess to having had two lemon cakes already. One in late March after I completed my thesis. The special women in my veteran spouses group lent their stories and struggles. My protagonist met her own group of warrior sisters, ones she would called BABs. Danni Gordon gets cake in THE MIRACLE OF DUCKS. Lemon cake. When I completed my thesis and turned over my manuscript (MS) to my BABs, one of them made her famous lemon cake. After she read the MS, she baked me a second!

A fun aside to the second cake: Coming home from our last group meeting, I had lemon cake in my car. I stopped in Ripply where I haven’t been in ages because of the pandemic. In front of a friend’s house, we distantly gathered, delighting in the sunshine and recent second vaccinations. It seemed surreal to “people” and then I remembered. I had cake. A small village street consumed a lemon cake. Forgotten birthdays and private celebrations surfaced. Through shared cake, we felt human again.

I’m distancing my grad celebrations which is really an excuse to camp for three nights. But first, to Bayfield and the Old Rittenhouse Inn on Monday. My novel began in Bayfield. It flared in many directions, and in the end it became ashes. The thesis I wrote rose up from the ashes of my first novel to become a Phoenix among my drafts. I kept the title and protagonist but changed the premise, crafted a plot, and created a compelling character arc with a memorable group of women who carry the burdens their husband’s bring home from the battlefield. For me, to visit Bayfield is to reconcile the full journey I’ve been on to write my novel.

After a night in Wisconsin, I’ll pick up my incredible celebration cake from three Chippewa sisters in Minnesota. Then I return four hours to the Keweenaw to camp for three nights at McLain State Park. Cake, bonfires, cacao, and the sound of surf and spring peepers. Friday, I’ll go home to wish my Svalbard daughter a happy birthday. Then it’s off to the Unicorn Room for a Musical Zen Sound Bath with my sound therapist. She’s offering to do the meditation that bathes participants in sounds from drums to crystal bowls. It will be live on her FaceBook page at 5 pm EST on Friday, May 14. If you are interested in sharing this experience with me, shoot me an email at wordsforpeople(at)gmail(dot)com for links and instructions.

On Saturday, May 15, I’ve set up three Zoom Rancher Gatherings to cover a diversity of time zones and availability. Hop on to meet and talk with fellow writers at Carrot Ranch. Maybe meet the chickens of Boston or the wild Mause of the House. Celebrate. Socialize. I’ll read a snippet from my thesis and ask any questions about MFAs or writing. Bring your own bubbly! Times: 9 am/2 pm/7 pm (Eastern Time US).

If you are interested in the sound bath, socializing on Saturday, or setting up a time to chat, shoot me an email at wordsforpeople(at)gmail(dot)com for links and instructions. If you want to send graduation cards, you can mail to headquarters at 1112 Roberts Street, Hancock, MI 49930.

It’s my birthday on May 21. My son and daughter-in-law are driving up from Wisconsin for the weekend. I will complete my celebrations that weekend and start the new journey in earnest. For now, I’m going to party like hens let loose in the berry patch.

Note extended deadline on account of Party Business.

May 6, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about party hens. Who are these chickens and why do they party? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 18, 2021. Use the comment section below 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.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

The Hen Party by Charli Mills

Chanty shook his coxcomb. “Party ‘til the cows come home. Farmer Brown doesn’t know his party hens.”

The hens lunged for the blueberry patch. In the morning Farmer Brown would blame a blight or a bloke. Either way, he wouldn’t believe his best layer had a spare key to the coop. Seventeen hens clucked and clogged beneath the moon.

“It’s time,” said Henny Penny. They slowed their shimmies and wrote their plans in chicken-scratch.

“Party hard, Ladies. We have to write the next campaign to get a Madame President in Office.” Henny Penny held the party line – Chicks Only.

🥕🥕🥕

Hit the Road Jack

Inspired by the song Percy Mayfield wrote and Ray Charles sang, among other notables as Becca Krueger.

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.

I Once Knew Jack by Bill Engleson

I still count on my fingers,
my pleasures and my pains.
and though each of them lingers,
the fine points of memory wanes.

In the dark of evening’s decline,
sun dimming its luminous light,
shadows offer a sombre shrine,
as all I am slips into the night.

And there, entranced by the dark,
as silent as shadows can be,
I reflect on my lifelines arc,
the way time has had with me.

Poems come quite easily to me,
though I am a bit of a hack.
Still, I offer this assigned poesy,
that expires with, “Hit the road, Jack”.

🥕🥕🥕

Hit the Road, Jack by Hajar/Douryeh

I’d love to say these words again, despite lockdown

Luckily enough, I could, thanks to my traveling job

Very soon, it’s this road, we’ll go traveling down

A town southward, bus & train have a stop

There’s family in town, we just need to knock

So much love & footsteps are here, soon memories

Many photos testify of this love, kept in stock

But the future is a forward force that frees

Cherish your past, but the future is your lifehack

So you can sincerely say: Hit the road, Jack 🚘❤

🥕🥕🥕

Don’t You Come Back No More by Nicole Horlings

It was mid-afternoon when Jaclyn loaded the final box, and closed the back of the van. She went through the house one last time, checking for anything forgotten, turning off lights, and closing doors.

She swung up into the cab of the moving van, which was noticeably higher off the ground than her car. She’d be used it by the time she was half-way across the province though. She texted her husband, typed her destination into Google Maps, and turned on the van. “Hit the road, Jack,” played on the radio.

She laughed, and sang, “Don’t you come back.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Bully by C. E. Ayr

Jack is an aggressive moron.
We’re standing on a motorway bridge, watching commuters hurtling homewards.
Remember I always took your lunch money, he mocks, and how I made you do my homework! Best days of our lives, eh?
I’m glad I found you, he continues, you’re going to do me a favour.
He was a bully, and he hasn’t changed.
But I have.
I point down at a lane marking far below us.
Look, I say.
Then I bend, grab him round the knees, and launch him over the barrier.
That’s where you’re going to hit the road, Jack!

🥕🥕🥕

Remember by Sydney Dell

I cackle as I storm through the house, upturning chairs and tables, squeezing the family into their tiny corner.
They hadn’t known.
My eyes terrify the children, but I feel no remorse.
They hadn’t known.
I remember the screams, the horrifying murder of my childhood innocence.
They hadn’t known.
All of them whirled on us in a flurry of blades. The blood covered the walls. I’m there, hiding behind a small bookcase. I remember.
I want to laugh as I say, “Hit the road, Jack.”
They hadn’t known.
They hadn’t known it was my family they’d slaughtered that night.

🥕🥕🥕

The Rocky Road Back to Humanity by Anne Goodwin

When they dragged him from the boot of the car, he swayed, staggered, crash-landed on the dirt track. But the shock of pain receded when they ripped off his gag and blindfold, and vroomed away. For some moments his mind remained shackled, fearing the freedom, the vast purple sky.
In the distance, streetlights beckoned. His hunger and thirst responded but his beard and sweaty shit stench held him back. After being caged like an animal, how could he join humankind?
Limping, stumbling, Jack hit the road. By dawn, he’d reach the village. How many moons till he recovered himself?

🥕🥕🥕

Leavin’ It Behind by Michael Fishman

At 18 I’d heard “Hit the road, Jack” more than I cared to remember. It was as funny as being asked about my beanstalk. Or if my last name was O’Lantern.

It’s interesting what we do to rid ourselves of sad thoughts.

Like thoughts of love.

Years later, with the liquid chords of Chuck Berry’s steel guitar echoing through my head I walked east on US212. My backpack comfortable on my denim covered shoulders; the morning sun pushing me west.

Left arm out, thumb up.

A deep feeling, yes, indeed.

Sometimes, friend, it’s good to leave it all behind.

🥕🥕🥕

The Movie by Joanne Fisher

“Let’s hit the road, Jack!” Screamed Amy excitedly.

“I prefer Jacqui you know.”

“Okay, but let’s go!”

“We’re going!” Jacqui replied. They went to the car. Jacqui’s mother, Sandra, appeared.

“Where are you girls going?” She asked.

“Off to see a movie.” Jacqui replied.

“What’s it called?”

“Star Wars. It’s science fiction. Our friends are saying to check it out.” Jacqui told her.

“And we’re running late! Let’s go!” Amy shouted.

“Sounds important.” Sandra said. Jacqui rolled her eyes.

“It’s not like it’s going to change our lives or anything.”

“Well have a good time!” Sandra called after them.

🥕🥕🥕

Jack Kerouac by Doug Jacquier

‘Hear your book On The Road is out, Jack.’
‘Yeah, Ray.’
‘When’s it coming out in braille?’
‘Soon I hope. Why?’
‘I think there’s a song in there that I could make a hit.’
‘That’d be cool.’
‘Hear Truman Capote’s not impressed. Said this ain’t writin’, it’s typin’.’
‘I’ll remember that when I have breakfast with him at Tiffany’s. I’ll shoot him down in cold blood.’
‘Hear the book is full of beets.’
‘No, Ray, beats. Poetry, drugs and all that jazz.’
‘Hey, Jack, you talkin’ ‘bout my generation?’
‘No, Ray, not unless your name is Ginsberg or Burroughs.’

🥕🥕🥕

Got Eyewash (#2)? by JulesPaige

There wasn’t anyway to augur how a visit to the community pool would go. I had to auger into my parents that they had to stop bringing hidden cocktails. All their retired groovy generation wanted to do was to lay around the pool in a few strategically placed lei. Which I guess would have been better if they actually belonged to a nudist community. They didn’t.

“Too Much Information” could make elder matrons or curmudgeons ask management to politely tell them to ‘Hit the road Jack’. Then they’d move the party to someone’s backyard. Would that be any better?

🥕🥕🥕

A Fun Kind of Crazy by Donna Matthews

“What’cha doin’?”

“Writing a haiku.”

“Why?”

“April is National Poetry Writing Month.”

“Ohhhhh…read it to me…”

puddles form
raindrops cause ripples
thunder booms

“Nice. What will you be doing in May?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…if April is poetry writing month, what is May?”

“Oh, good question. But, I don’t know…maybe paint watercolor or draw or dance?”

“What?!”

“Or 31 days of karaoke?? Come on; it’s my favorite song to sing out loud…”

Hit the road, Jack
And don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more

“You’re crazy.”

“Yeah. But a fun kind of crazy!”

🥕🥕🥕

Hit The Road Jack by Ellen Best

He kissed me tenderly but clung on for a second too long. His eyes looked with suspicion, as a frown formed between his brows. I had to be firm in my resolve, and not back down. Blinking hard I reached out cold fingers and let them graze his cheek, my lips formed a believable smile as fleetingly his bottom lip quivered. With a straight back and a composed air I waved goodbye and watch him enter the beautiful modern building. Jack’s first day at nursery was the hardest. He beamed like a lighthouse when I arrived to collect him.

🥕🥕🥕

Nursery Rhyme Nursery School by Norah Colvin

“What’s upsetting you, Jack?”
“Mary won’t let me play.”
“Why are you contrary, Mary? Didn’t Jack build this house?”
“He broke it too!”
“Don’t blame me,” said Jack. “The alligator smashed it.”
“What alligator?”
“The doctor’s. He trampled everything.”
“Don’t blame me,” said the doctor. “Polly said come quick.”
“Because … ?”
“My dolly got burnt from the kettle.”
“Who put the kettle on?”
“I did. But don’t blame me. Jack bumped me.”
“You were hogging pies.”
“You were sticking your fingers in them.”
“Look, everyone! Humpty’s cracked!”
“Who pushed him?”
“Jack?”
Jack was gone. He’d fled the scene.

🥕🥕🥕

Playground Pirates by Kerry E.B. Black

Tanya scrambled into the boat with the rest of the kids. Jack, years older and tall as a masthead, captained the elementary-aged crew. He instructed them – lean right, then left.

They gave no thought to the danger of bouncing a boat set upon saw-horses. Instead, Jack sang an old song, one Tanya’s uncle enjoyed. “Rock the Boat, but don’t tip it over…”

Behind him, streetlights blinked, shining reminders of curfew.

Tanya called, “Gotta go. The streetlights woke up.”

“Nah, you can’t leave yet!”

“Sorry.” Tanya remembered another song her uncle liked and sang, “Got to ‘Hit the road, Jack’…”

🥕🥕🥕

A Sterling Send-off by Gena Daman

Jacqueline knew this goodbye was different. She’d been gifted her Mama’s 25th Wedding Anniversary silver necklace. It was a statement piece. Now it was a statement.

Mama was ill. Their embrace goodbye was
prolonged. She ran her fingers up Mama’s
spine, along her ribs, feeling the valleys
expanding in between.

Mama grew tight, shrank into her concave self. Neither would allow herself to cry.

“Why won’t you say goodbye?”

Mama kissed her cheek, “There is no goodbye.”

Smiling, Mama repeated what she always said when they parted, “Hit the road, Jack. Don’t run on empty, but be fancy free.”

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Jacks by Hugh W. Roberts

It was love at first sight. Or was it?

***

I boarded the bus to London with my whole life in a black bin bag and met the driver’s piercing blue eyes and incredible smile.

“Ticket, please,” said the owner.

It was love at first sight. The badge on his shirt told me we had the same name – ‘Jack.’

‘Hit the road, Jack. Take us to our ‘together’ future,’ I said without speaking.

For the next incredible seven months, we were lovers.

On the day of my death, ‘Hit the road, Jack’ were the last words he screamed at me before possessiveness forced him to mow me down.

🥕🥕🥕

Times Up by Anita Dawes

Hit the road, Jack. Your times up
Life in the slow lane isn’t working for me
I need more. With you, it’s all or nothing.
It’s nothing. I’m fed up with holes in my shoes
Sleeping in bus shelters
Going hungry for days on end
I’m tired of your promises
It’s time for me to go my own way
found out this was not as easy as it sounds
When you have nothing, it’s hard to find anything
I found a friend who took me in, gave me a chance
Warm food in my belly. I will not mess up…

🥕🥕🥕

Hard Knocks by Matt Wester

I’m out the door before you wake, son. There is no choice in it; I keep the roof over your head. One day the sledgehammer will be your responsibility. You’ll hit the road, Jack. You’ll break up the cement and by the end of the day have built new walls, heavy and impenetrable. There are days you will not want to do this but if you don’t, the house crumbles. You too, son, would crumble. As a man you’ll know why we don’t talk; those who talk aren’t working. But calloused, then, you’ll understand how much I love you.

🥕🥕🥕

Jack’s Escape By Charli Mills

He waited for her the mouth of the mine. She visited late at night with stubs of carrots. She’d light a pipe and he’d sniff puffs of smoke while she spoke her troubles, wetting his neck with tears. Life in a mining camp caged a white mule and a soiled dove forced into service. One night, she arrived with a rope, blanket, and satchel. He had no regrets stepping outside his pen, letting her rig a makeshift bosal. She said, “Let’s hit the road, Jack,” and they left behind what they had known, never to speak of it again.

🥕🥕🥕

Fair Game by D. Avery

Live chess, with human pieces; Roman had expected blunders but this, the pawns refusing to move, was beyond the pale.

“We serve no king!”

Except for the short-lived knights, everything was in gridlock, and though the opposition moved cautiously, it was over for the king’s court quite quickly.

Roman clambered down from the platform and stalked onto the chessboard to confront his pawns, only for them to tell him what he had already witnessed— they would not advance, even in their own defense.

Roman watched his white pawns turn and applaud the black queen’s demand.

“Hit the road Jack!”

🥕🥕🥕

Hit the Road by Heather Gonzalez

“Hit the road, Jack! And, don’t you come back no more…”

The radio was tuned to the oldies and the windows were down. There was a feel of autumn in the wind. Amber didn’t mind the goosebumps that began to form on her skin. She was happy to be free from the drama she was driving away from. Finally, she could live life on her own terms and make her own rules.

At that moment, Amber felt like she was on the right path. In the next moment, she saw her future change as a body hit her windshield.

🥕🥕🥕

She Said No More by Simon Prathap D

Hit the road Jack, She said no more

Hit the road Jack, She is no more

I stumbled down the stairs

I tried to grip all fours

Fell on a fluffy flower

She is beautiful and Clever

Felt that moment will last forever

Love, date, honey was sweet

Something felt that is not right

I thought I was the only Bee

Doubt and Fear screwed me

Found the hidden stash

She is married to Nash

She said no more, It’s a lie!

Hit the road Jack, She said no more

She is no more, NOW! Hide than gun Jack.

🥕🥕🥕

Irreplaceable by Rebecca Glaessner

“Hanniah likes lego for fractions,” he said, packing a bag to leave.

“Of course,” she said.

Of all the teachers, he could trust her. She’d take care of the kids.

He knew this.

“And Kione needs to ask lots of questions. Answer them all, please,” he scanned the room for remaining valuables.

“Always.”

Sirens blared in the distance.

“I have to go. Please make sure-“

“Everyone knows it wasn’t you,” she touched his shoulder, “time to hit the road, Jack.”

“Humans,” he smiled, shaking his head.

But their laughter felt hollow.

He left, watching home shrink in his rear-view.

🥕🥕🥕

Same Words, Different Thoughts by Sue Spitulnik

It’s interesting how song lyrics can elicit different thoughts in different people.
Thad played the melody to “Hit the Road Jack” on the piano and sang the words as if trying to perfect the phrasing.
Mac remembered being ushered out of his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend’s house by her unrelenting angry father and said, “Son, the band will NOT be singing that song.”
Michael added, “I don’t care to sing that either. It brings up painful memories.”
Tessa kept her good memory to herself. She had enjoyed a look of shock from her ex when she said it to him.

🥕🥕🥕

Hapless Jack by D. Avery

Like a hapless fairy tale Jack he was always certain his luck would change, that things would work out for the better.

But the perfect job always fell through, usually after a heated argument with his boss. Or he’d quit to pursue some entrepreneurial scheme. “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,” he’d say. But the scheme would fail.

“Next time,” he’d say. And he’d smile that smile and tell Jill no matter what, she was his princess. Once more they’d pack up. “Time to hit the road, Jill.”

Again.

Jill sighed. How much longer would she go stumbling after?

🥕🥕🥕

Years Later by FloridaBorne

The only heir to the home of her late father, Jack Smith, Becky opened a dust-covered box filled with legal papers protected in plastic bags so old they were crumbling from age.

He’d inherited this house from his father?

What? Pictures of her mother holding her?

“Mom died in childbirth,” Becky muttered. “I was an only child.”

Divorce papers, a year after her birth? A quickly scribbled note said, “I’m hitting the road Jack.”

An unopened letter from Mom twenty years later, with a return address, contained pictures of three children.

Becky planned a road trip of her own.

🥕🥕🥕

“Mars for Martians” (prologue?) by Saifun Hassam

“Hit the road, Jack,” Alice yelled as she jumped into a Martian rover
waiting near the Red Queen’s space shuttle.
Jack raced off down into the Schiaparelli Valley and into the dark shadows of Ares canyon.
“Were you able to activate the Queen’s shuttle?”
“Yeah! It’ll take off into space now, into the Asteroid Belt.”
Alice was the best hacker in the Sol System.
Jack grinned. A small victory. Important. He was born a Martian, second generation. Time for Earth to end its grip on Mars.
At the Weir Potato Farm, a Saturn transition shuttle was ready for Alice.

🥕🥕🥕

Runner Beans and Sky Dreams by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Jack’s a nimble lad, head in the clouds, quick with a story of why This went unfinished, and That was never started. He’s a good boy, though, quick to cheer the cheerless, and help the weak haul water.

‘Twas just him and his mum, since Da disappeared. Some say Da danced himself into the Tanglewood, chasing gold, hanging onto the coattails of the Green Man himself.

Mum was a practical woman, gave all to raise and feed her boy. She didn’t believe in magic.

When Jack traded Bessie for beans, she broke down, crying.

And then he left, too.

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #1 by D. Avery

“S’matter Kid? Yer lookin’ lost.”
“Dunno, Pal, got a crossroads kinda feelin’, don’t know which way ta head.”
“Thet’s cuz there ain’t no sech thing as the end a the road, Kid. But sometimes ya gotta look fer signs, git a sense a direction. So slow down, take time fer a story.”
“Alright, Pal. Do tell.”
“Hmmmf.
Was a strong woman, name a Jacquelyn, folks jist called her Jac.”
“An’ she hit the road!”
“Shush Kid. Asides, though Jac was stronger ‘an any a the lumberjacks in camp, she chose non-violence. Gen’le as a butterfly, she never hit nuthin’.”

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #2 by D. Avery

“Ok, Pal, so Jac lived in a lumber camp?”
“Yep.
Jac was the camp cook, but thet’s only cuz she liked ta cook an’ liked ta keep busy. See, she’d already felled trees, milled the logs an’ crafted fine furniture by the time the other jacks had even begun ta lumber off inta the woods.”
“What kinda furniture’d she make?”
“She always ended up makin’ writin’ desks.”
“Was she a writer?”
“Jist let me tell the tale, Kid.”
“Is this a tall tale, Pal?”
“Well, it’s certainly gonna be longer ‘an most, ‘specially with yer inneruptions an’ questions. Jeez.”

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #3 by D. Avery

“Jac made beautiful writin’ desks an’ hankered ta set hersef down ta one. The woods was full a poetry an’ the camp was full a characters, but more an’ more she felt them jacks was too much lookin’ over her shoulder. More an’ more she was feelin’ like her stories was down anuther path. So one day she loaded the writin’ desks onta her truck an’—”
“Hit the road!”
“Set off.”
“Bet she sells the desks ta make her fortune. Or trades ‘em fer magic beans.”
“She give ‘em all away, ta other folks with stories ta write.”

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #4 by D. Avery

“Jac set off beyond skidder trails an’ loggin’ roads, headed down the biggest widest road she ever seen.”
“Jac hit the road!”
“No, Kid, told ya, she wouldn’t do thet. But oh, how Jac marveled at thet road…
Thet road was like a trail a ink, ableedin’ from her past an’ aleadin’ ta her future. She didn’t hit the road, but she did pick it up an twirl it like a lasso. She caught stars an’ stories with thet lasso. Thet road had loops an’ swoops thet made it hard ta see ‘roun the bend, but she kept on.”

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #5 by D. Avery

“That sounds skeery Pal, not bein’ able ta see ‘roun the bend.”
“Kid, would ya really wanna be seein’ straight ahead all the time?
Jac kep’ on. At ev’ry turn she met good folks. Late nights, unner the stars, she’d set at one a the desks she’d made. Her adventures an’ ‘magination come t’gether inta constellations on the page. She was stronger ‘an ever. Each story she wrote gave her power an’ strength, more ‘an she ever thought possible.”
“What was Jac’s greatest strength, Pal?”
“Reckon thet no matter what, Jac kep’ on keepin’ on.”
“Down that road.”
“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Six-pac Tall Tale #6 by D. Avery

“Pal, ya said roads ain’t got no end. Does this story have an end?”
“Nope.
Jac coulda stayed on in the camp where she started, or even circled back ta it. On the road she saw plenny a folks in houses, some fine an’ some not so fine, places where them folks’d decided ta stay put. She saw plenny a folks with no house an’ plenny who would never stay put, no matter.
Jac knew thet road could lead back’ard or for’ard; could be knotted, looped, or pulled straight; but she kep’ it as a lasso fer her star.”

🥕🥕🥕

Three Homes in Three Years

    Before my high school sweetheart entered the Air Force almost fifty years ago, I had never been on a military installation. I didn’t know once I married him when he got to tech school after basic training, we would both have a military identification card. Mine was orange to signify I was a dependent. His card was green. Each card had the photo of the person who was authorized to carry and use it to gain access to installations and their amenities.  

     Back in 1972, the active-duty person was identified by their social security number, as were their dependents. Any activity the member or someone in the family did was connected to that number including on-base traffic tickets. I can still recite his today even though I haven’t been married to him since 1980. In 2011, with identity theft becoming a problem, the US military ceased using social security numbers and instituted a numerical system specific to each service branch.

     A military installation is a microcosm within a fence. A valid ID gets you into it through the guarded gates. Besides all the buildings and roadways that make it a unique place with a specific purpose for the US government’s use, there is a social center for the personnel and their families. That includes the Exchange (large department store); Commissary (grocery store); O Club for officers which consists of a restaurant and bar; NCO Club for enlisted personnel; child-care center; beauty shop; bank; hospital; security police offices; law offices; library; fire stations; movie theater; swimming pool and maybe a bowling alley and/or golf course. I’m sure I forgot some things.

      Also within the confines of the fence is base housing which to qualify for a military person has to have enough time in service and a family. Officers’ and enlisted housing are separated, but dependent children of both share the same schools. Sometimes housing is located away from the installation and is more like a subdivision of patio homes or quadruplexes. Individual yards are often fenced, and there are plenty of small children and pets. 

     In 1974, my ex received orders for a three-year accompanied tour to Lakenheath AFB, England. We only had one child at the time, so that meant he would report there on a specified date, and then he would have to rent a suitable home for us before the Air Force would cut our orders to join him. It wasn’t a quick process, but the government footed the bill. 

     When I got the news he had rented a brick house with two large bedrooms, an attached garage, and fenced yards on Thetford Road, in Brandon, Suffolk County, I was elated. Then I learned that it had been empty for a time, and wondered why. The crux was that the coal stove in the kitchen heated the hot water radiators in other rooms. The landlord would only rent the house to someone who knew how to feed the stove methodically during the day, bank it at night and not mind the mess of coal and ashes. My ex had no experience doing such, but he knew I did.

     I should interject the average low temperature during an English winter is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the summer high averages 70. Heat is necessary, but not like in the Finger Lakes area of New York State where I grew up with a large wood stove in residence.

     I loved that coal stove. During the winter I always had a hot kettle of water at the ready. I made soups and stews on it and I got so I used the oven as well, especially for pot roast. Our son had learned to walk while waiting to go live with Daddy, and he experienced “hot” very quickly, so stayed away from that side of the small kitchen.

     Our daughter was born at the Lakenheath AFB hospital in December 1974, which meant we became eligible for base housing. Thus, we only lived in Brandon for a year. I didn’t want to leave the house “on the economy” or the friendly town, but it meant an increase in the paycheck so, we moved into “substandard base housing.” 

     Moving while in the military is expected. It is also quite simple. A date gets set; the movers arrive, pack everything for you, and deposit it at the new address. You do have to do your own unpacking and decorating. I wouldn’t want it any other way, especially when it comes to arranging my kitchen cupboards. 

     “Substandard” meant we would live in a row house built in the 1930s at RAF Feltwell, Norfolk County. The rooms were small, the neighbors attached by thin walls, and no amenities. We had to drive seven and a half miles to Lakenheath AFB for those. 

     The following year we moved to “standard” housing in Thetford, Norfolk County. This home was much newer, had in-floor hot water heat, three bedrooms, a garage, and a fully fenced back yard. I enjoyed walking into town with our children in a large wheeled English pram (baby carriage.) The Little River Ouse runs through a park we frequented and my son loved to watch the fisherman. Still, all major shopping and other appointments happened on base, 12 miles away. My ex had coworkers living in the same subdivision, so they would share rides, and I often had a car at my disposal to do errands at Lakenheath. I didn’t find driving on the left side of the road a problem.

     We returned to the states in 1977 but my memories of our time in the UK seem like it was much more recently. I would like to revisit the area with my grandson so he can see where his Mom was born and spent her first two years. I would point out the 700-year old buildings that are still in use and make sure there is time to visit the coast which I didn’t do when I lived there.

     Have you traveled or lived someplace you would like to visit again? Have you had the opportunity to use an experience from your childhood, like a wood stove, to enhance a happening in your adult life? Please share your comments below.

                                                   ***

Sue Spitulnik was an Air Force wife from 1972 until 1979. She stays connected to the military/veteran community through her membership in the Rochester (NY) Veterans Writing Group. The group has recently published an anthology of some of their military experiences, United in Service, United in Sacrifice, available on Amazon. If you would like to contact her directly, you can do so on her Facebook page; Sue Carmichael Spitulnik

Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Howdy! Welcome to another month of Anyone Can Poem.

I enjoyed reading what y’all wrote last month, when we explored poetic parody. If’n you’re still in the mood, check it out and write to the challenge.

Now, on to more fun! Dust off your chaps and boots and cinch up your saddle straps. We’re going to jump into common poetry forms, beginning with haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is one of the most basic forms of poetry you can write, with the exception of replicating Ogden Nash’s “Fleas.” Despite this simplicity, an excellent haiku can still produce serenity of mind.

Furthermore, YOU can write an excellent haiku.

  1. Think of a subject. It’s traditional to use something from Nature, but no one says you can’t poem about ice cream.
  2. Frame your subject into very, very simple terms. If your subject is ice cream and you want to write about its melting, think, Cream hot melt. That’s right: I want you to jot down words like someone writing a telegram who only has seventeen cents to do so.
  3. Start writing! Actually write Cream, Hot, Melt. Write more; why not Chocolate Desires Now Sidewalk? Or, Mint Chip Pavement?
  4. DO NOT HESITATE. DO NOT ERASE. There is no wrong way to do these steps, apart from skipping out from fear of mistakes.
  5. Look over what you’ve got, and open your fingers. Count the syllables of your chosen words and split them into three lines of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then 5 syllables.
  6. Look over what you’ve got again, and edit as needed for clarity. Some haiku are rather nonsensical while others form a complete phrase or thought over the course of the three lines.
  7. Try to avoid rhyming. It is not necessary; plus, readers will assume you know what you’re doing if you don’t…

Repeat these steps as needed. Write several poems if you’d like! Who’s stopping you?

After you’ve had your fun, send your creation(s) my way through the form. You may also share a haiku or two in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

—–

Cream hot melt pavement
Chocolate sidewalk desires
Mint chip dreams now gone

©2021 Chel Owens

April 29: Flash Fiction Challenge

Pavement calls like a slithering snake that can wind to anywhere. Windows rolled down, engine roaring, music blasting. I’m seventeen again, driving my truck across the Nevada valley I once knew so well I could drive the roads in my dreams for decades after moving on. I didn’t know what came next but I knew I was outta there. Never did I think I’d move 22 times between then and now.

I’m not moving but I am moving on.

School’s out next week, and my wheels are turning. It’s hard to think beyond that one last essay I have to write because it’s Friday, due Sunday, and I really wanted to cross the finish line by now. Regardless, when I wake up Monday Morning, May 3, it will be like looking down a long stretch of road.

Where to next? Do I follow my map? Take a pleasure cruise, a side trip, an adventure down a two-track? Maybe I park under the shade of a black oak, and watch clouds scud across blue skies. May is not the month for hard decisions, nor is it time to lose momentum.

I’ve landed a freelancing gig and have plans to collaborate with a local artist, a podcaster, and a new storytelling center. I have business plans and job applications to finish, each taking me down different roads, each a companion to writing novels. The Ranch needs some new paint. My manuscript needs final edits. June 23 is the Big Day — the date I send my book to the agents who are interested. The wheels keep turning.

It’s the song, Hit the Road Jack, that comes to mind, though.

It’s more than moving on. It’s about leaving what is no longer needed. It’s telling 2020 to get lost. It’s declaring a new era. Claiming the road trip for your own purposes. Whatever happens next, I get to decide. When I left Nevada all those years ago, I never expected to live in almost every western state. I certainly didn’t expect to settle along one of the Great Lakes. When I hit the road, I had dreams.

I still do. We never stop dreaming.

Next week, I’ll let you know dates for my party plans. I have a truckload of fun to work out. Without a formal graduation ceremony, I decided to create my own. A friend is a neo-Druidic ceremonialist is going to lead an online graduation cacao ceremony. Another friend is going to host an online Sound Bath. I’m going to camp for three days at McLain State Park after I pick up the most incredible bucket-list celebration cake ever made by three young Chippewa sisters in Minnesota. And I will set up several readings and times for Ranchers to meet up on Zoom for friendly socials. Finally, my son and daughter-in-law will visit for a family weekend with a vegan cake (yes, two cakes).

On Monday, I also tell Covid to hit the road. I’ll be fully vaccinated and out of quarantine. It’s strange to emerge from the pandemic cocoon. Strange to not have coursework next week. But that’s the nature of moving on.

April 29, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “hit the road, Jack.” You can interpret the phrase any way you like — road trip, goodbye, or story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 4, 2021. Use the comment section below 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.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Jack’s Escape by Charli Mills

He waited for her the mouth of the mine. She visited late at night with stubs of carrots. She’d light a pipe and he’d sniff puffs of smoke while she spoke her troubles, wetting his neck with tears. Life in a mining camp caged a white mule and a soiled dove forced into service. One night, she arrived with a rope, blanket, and satchel. He had no regrets stepping outside his pen, letting her rig a makeshift bosal. She said, “Let’s hit the road, Jack,” and they left behind what they had known, never to speak of it again.

🥕🥕🥕

Earthing

Stories of earthing, grounding to the earth, barefoot or hands in the soil.

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.

A Pause in the Rush to Keep Up by Dave Williams

News said it was popular and she thought Why not? so she went to a creek trail and normally she would’ve felt happy inside the weekend crowd but not now so she went Monday (work was slow) and the walk was quieter, a pause from pre-Covid trend-flitting: coffee shops wine bars brunch cafes fusion restaurants new movies.

Seeing someone else do it inspired her to sit on a stone amid the creek, eyes closed. Listen. Water birds wind.

Her own idea: remove shoes and socks, barefoot in the creek. Feel. Chilly water smooth pebbles. Life underneath trends.

🥕🥕🥕

Would I Not Do Some Great Thing? by Chel Owens

New-spring mud gripped his ankles, bringing Naaman’s mind to thoughts of bondage rather than freedom. What sort of healing could he find here, at the lowest bank of the river? What sort of fool did that holy man think him to be?

A gesture distracted his thoughts. His wife’s maid dropped her gaze at his stare. Remaining bowed, she once again lifted a hand toward his feet. Her head tilted.

“Would I not do some great thing?” he hissed to himself. Drawing deep within the soul he’d long forgotten resided in his sickly shell, Naaman willed himself to believe.

🥕🥕🥕

A Spring Remembrance by Mr. Ohh!

Ah Spring and for the first I can remove these heavy shoes and woolen socks.

As I walk through the grass I come across a small patch of mud. Oh, how good it feels between my toes. It is as if a sacred bond is forming between the Earth and my soul. I must have more. I roll up my pants and kneel in the muck thrusting my hands and fingers into the wet slimy earth. The joys of childhood com bounding back. I am young again.

Later police remove my filthy, naked body. I went too far again.

🥕🥕🥕

Earth’ling by Rebecca Glaessner

Readings returned slightly less than optimal levels, but their shuttle-mind assured them of safety.

The first creature stumbled out, overwhelmed by colours. The browns and blues and golden yellows were not where they should be.

And it hadn’t ever seen so much green.

Their journey from the dying world began generations ago, long before their own time – what was left of them.

This world was here, now. All around. Spreading, reaching further into the distance than the ship-born ever thought possible.

The creature crouched, removing protection from an appendage, and touched the Earth.

All at once… it felt home.

🥕🥕🥕

Coming Home by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d sailed by the stars, rounding islands of moons to arrive home. Joanna leaned into the helm, her final tack bringing her ship into bayside.

Virtually all Earth’s inhabitants left to settle on these moons. First they went to escape overpopulation, then they stayed for the controlled climates. Joanna’d been an interplanetary bus driver since her raven-haired days. Now she was craggy and white as the mountainous docking station.

She ached with the blessing of witnessing of the Mother’s recovery. Her ears rang with the silence found only in pure nature.

Next time, she’d stage a crash and stay.

🥕🥕🥕

Simple Pleasures by Ellen Best

It’s time, to stop and stare as yellow paints the fields. Nature’s beauty shines. Drink in the hypnotic sway let it warm your soul. Remember that elegance has a sharp edge, for all its grace and beauty it is not to be walked among.

Rape is full of allergens, it will ulcerate skin, if you forget the country code … and walk through the farmers crops. like a fisherman’s lure, a fly dangled before you dancing on ripples. You can be grounded by its colour, mezmerized by the sway, let the earth paint your soul. Breathe and enjoy, the simple pleasures.

🥕🥕🥕

Earth To Great-Uncle Parfitt by Geoff Le Pard

‘You look chipper, Morgan.’
‘I’ve got my allotment at last.’
‘I thought you’d been banned.’
‘That was a misunderstanding. His cardigan was a known fire risk.’
‘I’ve never understood the attraction.’
‘Oh it’ll be grand. Hands in the soil, reconnecting with nature…’
‘That’s exactly it. The soil. Goodness knows where it’s been.’
‘It’s great for mental and physical well-being. It’s called Earthing.’
‘We can agree that earthing is essential.’
‘We can?’
‘Anyone who witnessed Great-Uncle Parfitt flying across the kitchen when he tried to fix his electric egg cosy would attest to the benefits of sound earthing.’

🥕🥕🥕

Earthing Not by Joelle LeGendre

No thanks, Earth, I’m not going to celebrate the corporeal world. You twirl around the sun, showing off your white chiffon clouds and blue skies, while inside our giant terrarium you laugh at our inability to understand one truth: Creatures must eat to live.

The last time I ran barefoot through the grass, stinging nettle attacked my feet. I’ve been attacked by ringworm, ticks, fire ants, and yellow flies. One time, walking along a moon-lit beach, I was eaten alive by sand fleas.

My “Earthing” is seven blankets on a concrete floor. Still, your vibrations lull me into sleep.

🥕🥕🥕

Paranoia by Reena Saxena

A non-believer in the metaphysical realm, he is compelled by his daughter to take the meditation course.

She finds him derisive at day-end,

“The teacher asked me to imagine myself digging deep in the soil, plug underground and get charged. Will she make me fly to compensate in the next session?”

“Dad, just keep doing what she says. You’ll sleep better today.”

His expression turned grim.

“Dreams tend to unearth imagination, and put me back in uncomfortable spots.”

There is seemingly no cure for paranoia of hypochondriacs, and the family does not have too many options either.

🥕🥕🥕

The Green Feet Club by Colleen M. Chesebro

Elsa reached the end of a miserable day. There had been so much death lately. She didn’t know how she would go on.

She stepped down the path toward the park, a new addition at the hospital. Verdant grass beckoned; she could smell it. At the first bench, she removed her shoes and socks. With her feet planted in the grass, she felt the Earth’s energy soothe her jangled nerves.

“I see you like earthing,” said Jake from the E.R.

“I do. It’s the only way I can recover.”

Jake smiled. “Me, too. Welcome to the green feet club.”

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Francine (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

On a glorious spring morning, Francine and the children planted mint and jasmine around the ancient temple.

Then off they ran down to the seashore. The tide was out.

Kicking off their sandals, forming a circle, they danced and sang on the wet sand.

Francine’s beautiful alto voice rang out, in prayer and praise for the sea’s gifts.

The children sang, spinning madly around each other, and again in a circle.

As her feet stamped the sands, Francine felt joy and gratitude fill her entire being.

Picnic baskets opened up. Savory rice cakes. Golden baked raisin and sesame bars.

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Roots by Sue Spitulnik

The hot day had Tessa itching to return to the park of her youth. She drove the streets admiring the colorful flowers in bloom, realizing the town had grown while she was away. She parked in the same space she used years ago, wondering if the forest trail that beckoned was still in use. Finding it even wider than she remembered, she took off her shoes in order to feel the warm packed earth underfoot. While walking, she imagined the day her granddaughter would be big enough to step over the same roots and share the experience with her.

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New Life by Joanne Fisher

Cindy went outside in the morning. She walked onto the newly sown fields to feel her bare feet in the warming earth. Last winter had been harsh and she was glad spring had come, the deep snow had given way to green fields. Living on a farm meant you seemed more close to the seasons.

Yesterday Cindy had found the IVF treatment had been successful. She was pregnant, but had yet to tell her wife Jess. Tonight she was going to surprise her with the good news. Cindy looked over their new rows of corn. New life was growing.

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Earthing on a Working Ranch by Charli Mills

Jerilyn’s house smelled like a barn. The danger of spring calving is weather that plummets into freezing blizzards after the bulbs rise. The night seven cows dropped calves she provided shelter in her newly remodeled kitchen. So much for pristine linoleum. Today, calves and mamas would reunite. Sam saddled their horses while Jeri mopped and dried breakfast dishes. Glancing at her Zen calendar, she realized it was Earth Day. A quote encouraged her to seek earthing, connect with the ground. She wondered if a mouthful of fresh clods counted? She didn’t relish getting thrown from that flighty mare again.

🥕🥕🥕

Reconnected to Serenity by Nicole Horlings

The bus wasn’t running that day, so she took the forest path home from work instead.

Upon hearing the sound of water cascading over rocks, she decided to take the time to visit her favourite spot. Eyeing the shallow pool of water at the base of the waterfall, she pulled off her socks and shoes, and padded barefoot down the dirt slope. The sensation of the cool earth was a welcome wake up from the dreariness of ordinary life, and the cool water felt like effervescent sparkles.

She sighed and smiled. This was exactly where she needed to be.

🥕🥕🥕

Nestled by Lisa Shea

Caroline wasn’t much of a gardener, but this year would be different. Mark had built her a raised bed, a full ten feet square, filled with rich, dark loam.

She stood over it in the warm near-summer sunshine, breathing in its aroma. Who knew soil could smell so wonderful?

On impulse, she slipped off her sandals and stepped barefoot into the soft dirt, scrunching her toes. A gentle breeze tickled her.

She knelt down, astonished at the dirt’s cushioning support. She took up thick handfuls.

She smiled.

She splayed out in blissful abandon, completely content.

🥕🥕🥕

The Young Gardener by Ruchira Khanna

“Aargh, my hands are dirty,” cried a five-year-old Pedro as he raises them in the air and flaps them irritatingly.

“That’s alright,” came the mom to his rescue as she dusted them off and kissed those fingertips, “Look at the plant you just put in the soil.”

Little Pedro saw the marigold and went his way.

A week went by; the tiny plant had two new buds.

Pedro was noticing it all this while.

Then one fine day, mom saw him bend over and kiss the flower.

“The flower is so happy,” he said as he clapped his hands.

🥕🥕🥕

By Idiot by Simon Prathap D

Stop shoving your hands inside mud, it’s not hygienic.

He jumped inside mud and rolled over, This is an earth that feeds me, you and our species, when I die, earth eats me. That is how this life cycle works, we came from nothing, disappear into nothing.

All these hygiene, beauty came in the middle by greedy business minded idiots. We are part of nature, the day we started to move away from nature we became more vulnerable to deadly disease.

He scowled ‘Idiots’

There will be a day, nature will be against you, mark my words, by Idiot.

🥕🥕🥕

A Letter from Mother Nature by Willow Willers

My Children,

I tried to warn you, painted warnings on walls and billboards with letters 20ft tall screamed, shouted and made a fuss.No one listens at all. The blooms are out in winter and summer flowers peek in spring. Snow falls in summer and sometimes in spring. You’re heading for another drought your reservoirs almost dry yet you let precious water waste. It’s starting with the smaller things but soon you will suffer too. This green planet that you call home is dying. I’m so tired and you just ignore my warning.

From a dying Mother nature.

🥕🥕🥕

How To Save The Earth by Hugh W. Roberts

They thought they had gotten away with first-degree murder, but the victims had other ideas.

***

It’s an attack I’ll never forget.

Why us? Why did they have to come here and try and destroy the safe community we live in? We weren’t hurting anyone. All we wanted was to help them. Don’t they know what they’re doing when attacking the innocent? It’s first-degree murder.

“Earthing,” announced Father Brier. “Earthing is the answer. The next time they come back, we must send them back from where they once came.”

Now the soil is full of human remains. Instead of attacking us, they feed us and help us plant life survive. Earthing is saving the Earth.

🥕🥕🥕

Small Steps to Earthing by Anita Dawes

I do not like gardening
Putting my hands in dirt horrifies me
I watch Jaye potting her bonsai
Sometimes with dirt up to her wrist
I wonder why the fascination when she is gardening
I am aware of the creepy crawlies
Which if they run across my hands
Would have me running to the nearest tap to wash.
I keep trying. I walk barefoot across the lawn
Aware there are ants and other things hiding
My daughter has ground bees.
Yesterday I managed to plant some sunflower seeds.
Now I need to graduate to the garden and real dirt…

🥕🥕🥕

For Earth Day by Norah Colvin

“They’re very quiet,” said Dad.
“For a change,” said Mum.
“Suspiciously quiet,” said Dad. Mum didn’t stir — no way she’d abandon her match-3 game mid-level to investigate.
“Hmpf,” said Dad, marking his page. He slid into his slippers and shuffled to the door.
“What’re you doin’?” he yelled.
Two small mud-spattered bodies frolicking under the sprinkler in his freshly-prepared garden bed froze.
“Nuthin’,” said one.
The other gaped.
“Sure don’t look like nuthin’,” said Dad. “Git yerselfs outta there.”
He killed the sprinkler and fun in one.
“We thought you made it for us—”
“—for Earth Day.”

🥕🥕🥕

Dirty Hands by Heather Gonzalez

Charlie washed the dirt off of his hands in the kitchen sink. It felt good to be one with the Earth for a moment. He didn’t think that he would have enjoyed what he did so much. It all happened quickly, but once he had his hands in the dirt, it all felt right.

After his hands were clean, he began to chop up the vegetables from his garden for a salad. There was nothing better than home grown food with natural fertilizer. Too bad his wife Madeline was now under the garden and couldn’t enjoy it with him.

🥕🥕🥕

The Good Earth by Anne Goodwin

Heather would’ve welcomed more support from her colleagues for her latest occupational therapy project. Instead, they queried the purpose of creating a herb garden in a hospital about to close. All she could say was that gardening had been a lifeline to her when depression struck.

When the manager arrived, Matty had her fingers in the soil beneath the lavender bush. “What are you up to?” he asked.

“I’m looking for my mother.”

Clive rolled his eyes. Her grave was in the cemetery, miles from here. “Do you think you’ll find her?”

“I already have,” said Matty. “Mother Earth!”

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Earthing Earthling by JulesPaige

In the dawn she spotted the mourning doves ‘coo pon’ capons?
T’was a white gown (a nightie really) but down to her bare toes
She danced, running to scare then no straight seams planned; go, shoo

These fine avians were her friends she’d fed them stale bread crumbs
If Grampa caught them there would be squab for lunch, that could not happen
A zig, a zag there until she fell and rolled in morn’ dew

off they few across
the creek, fields and into the
various spring trees

safe for perhaps one more day
dinner would be nut-spread and jam!

🥕🥕🥕

Price Paid in Full by Frank James

Tyrone toiled away in the prison field, giving him a sense of freedom. Harvesting food empowered him. He reminisced about childhood where he farmed with family. He helped feed the town, but not anymore. By circumstance, he now felt incomplete.

“Work hard men. This is a good price to pay,” a guard yelled.

“Pay who?” Tyrone mumbled, gathering corn.

Finishing the harvest, a bus pulled up. The door opened, and a stream of volunteers collected the crates full of food. One smiled and said to Tyrone, “You are feeding so many people during this pandemic. Thank you.”

His chest ballooned.

🥕🥕🥕

A Golden Day by Kate Spencer

Let us put away our cares, just for a day. For a golden moment we’ll forget our tasks and our worries. We’ll visit the meadow by the stream and pick honeyed blossoms for our hair. O’er the hills we’ll stroll, wildwood whispers drawing us close. A speckled fawn, a rose-white apple tree, both nestled among the firs. We linger until the evening mist guides us back home, wholesome and happy, having spent the day with earth’s energy.

Margot re-read the words she’d written and stared longingly out the window, listening to the rain drops conversing with her window pane.

🥕🥕🥕

The Gardener by D. Avery

In the moonlight she breathed deeply of the sweet loamy air. She knelt. The rich earth never failed to soothe her. Her garden was her oasis.

She straightened the ceramic sign, ‘Bloom where you’re planted’.

“Have to grow to bloom,” she thought. “Takes the right soil and light.”

Her garden was her oasis and her marriage a desert, with extremes of heat and cold, and violent unpredictable storms.

She squeezed a handful of soil. For him, a note on the counter. For her garden, a whispered goodbye in the moonlight.

She rose up, brushed herself off, and moved on.

🥕🥕🥕

Earthing by Robert Kirkendall

Rory tore down the hillside on his mountain bike, then hit a rut and pitched forward over the handlebars. He flew forward and headed into the ground.

His hands and face scraped against the dry top dirt, then he flipped, hit the ground, bounced forward, and barrel rolled over the abrasive terrain.

He finally came to a stop on a patch of soft, moist ground underneath the shade of an oak tree. He dug his hands into the cool, crumbling dirt and felt the replenishing and healing energy of the earth.

This really feels good, Rory thought to himself.

🥕🥕🥕

A Conversation Between Mervyn Martian and Edgar Earthling by Doug Jacquier

Mervyn: Edgar, what are you doing?
Edgar: I’m writing a novel.
M: What is a novel?
E: It’s a long story that contains characters the writer has invented.
M: So these ‘characters’ are not real?
E: Correct.
M: What will this ‘long story’ be about?
E: About a man who loves digging the earth in his garden and planting vegetables and flowers to feed and please his friends and family.
M: Just like you.
E: And he also has conversations with a Martian.
M: But these are not lies, they are facts.
E: Only if I say so, Mervyn.

🥕🥕🥕

Gittin’ Down Ta Earth Part I by D. Avery

“Kid, whut’re ya doin’?!”
“Boss’ orders, Pal. Anyways, last week you was all about me takin’ a bath.”
“Thet ain’t a bath! Yer wallowin’ in the mud! With yer puglet!”
“A mud bath. I learn from the best. Curly’s a natural at it. Earthin’. Try it, Pal, it’s good fer ya. Might even make ya less ornery.”
“I’ll show ya ornery ya grimy greenhorn! Oh! No! Whoaaaa!”
“An’ here ya are, Pal. Don’t that mud feel good?”
“No! I cain’t stand it. Cain’t stand up neither.”
“Grab holda Curly’s tail. She’ll pull ya through.”
“Shorty’ll pull through too.”
“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Gittin’ Down Ta Earth Part II by D. Avery

“Pal! Did ya see that? Whut’s Shorty up to?”
“What’sa matter, Kid? Ya know Shorty likes ta git out in the garden, play in the dirt.”
“Play in the dirt, sure. But look’t ‘er! She’s layin’ in it! Mebbe we best check on ‘er, make sure she’s all right.”
“Oh, Shorty’s all right, all right. She’s earthin’, Kid. Reckon thet’s how she stays grounded.”
“Pal, how come yer okay with Shorty’s earthin’ but ya got all mad at me an’ Curly when we was earthin’.
“What you was doin’ was wallowin’, Kid. An’ asides, thet weren’t mud.
“Aw, shift!”

🥕🥕🥕

Who Left the Dang Gate Open

“If you open a gate, you close it. You’re responsible for what happens if you don’t.” These are some of the live-by words my dad instilled in me from as far back as I can remember. They still bounce around the gray matter each time I open a gate – any gate. 

The consequences of not heeding his directive meant taking the heat over a gate being left open and the possibility of animals escaping. Even worse was trying to round up the stock before anyone became aware they were not where they were supposed to be! 

Your wake-up call comes when all you see at the end of the day is one lone herd member grazing. First and foremost, you are the one responsible for making sure you take every opportunity to close the gates. Always! When you are aware of what the repercussions can be, it is up to you to be the responsible landowner.

Keeping the gates closed is a concept that should trickle down through the generations as a learning tool on how we handle our social media posts. The last thing we want is to lose visitors and possibly sales because we have been remiss in performing our due diligence.  Rotating stock in and out of feeding pastures is necessary; however, you need the knowledge to control the gate and where they go. The last thing you want is the herd breaking free before they have filled up on everything you are capable of feeding them.

Blog writing, in my opinion, has to be one of the best ways to show the importance of closing gates to keep control of the herd, a.k.a., your visitors. We have all read about the benefits of sharing links to other information that resonates with your writing, but here is where you need to be on your A-Game. Those links to outside sources can be a nemesis or a feather in your cap. 

The Nemesis—Links that open to outside information might mean your visitors leave your website and don’t come back. Why? Because the gate was not properly secured. 

The Feather—Links to outside information that is properly secured show the reader that you are willing to provide additional material. If the gate is secured correctly, the visitor will wander in the new pasture with a view of the home corral still in their sights. An example of this is the links in my Bio at the bottom of this article. Each should open as independent pages without taking you completely away from this CRCL Quiet Spirits column. 

The goal should be to allow the reader to open links without leaving the original article. As they finish reviewing the material found through the link, the linked page can be closed, and the original piece is still before them. You have not lost this visitor. 

Opening content in a new window is an easy step to keep the herd (a.k.a. visitors) corralled on your land. Platforms offering blogs, in the majority of cases, provide the option to “open in a new window” when setting up a link. If you don’t use this option, I recommend you start. It is something I also use with links within my website. Why? Because I don’t want the visiting herd to get lost on my land and not know how to find their way back. 

The long and the short of all this is: Pay attention to how you add external connections to your work. Having links open in a new window will guarantee most visitors to your website/blog will stay with you when they close the external link. Losing them through an open portal may mean lost sales and followers. 

The concept is much the same for any platform. If you forget to include opening links in new windows, you can go back and edit your work to make the change. Closing the gate after the fact isn’t the best choice, but it is a step in the right direction to keeping the herd where you want them in the future. 

I have created a free downloadable, how-to cheat sheet to help you stay on top of keeping the dang gate closed.

Ann Edall-Robson relies on her heritage to keep her grounded. Reminders of her family’s roots mentor her to where she needs to go. Gifting her with excerpts of a lifestyle she sees slipping away. Snippets shyly materialize in Ann’s writing and photography. She is a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Edall-Robson shares moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWestDAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact her. Books written by Ann Edall-Robson are available through her website, at Amazon, and various other online locations.

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