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2020 Rodeo

The results of the 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo are riding in week by week in the order of each contest. We hope writers had as much fun as the Rodeo Leaders and Judges. We got to play within the western theme this year and had plenty of challenges!

Rodeo Contest #1:

In Folk Tales and Fables, Kerry E.B. Black asked participants to spin a yarn as long as the Rio Grande in 99 words.

This year’s winner is Colleen Chesebro!

Honorable Mention goes to Norah Colvin, Liz Husebye Hartmann, and Mike Vreeland. Congratulations!

Each Rodeo has different independent judges. Judging is done blind. Thank you to Kerry E.B. Black for managing this contest and to her judges, Debra R. Sanchez and Beverly V. Blickenderfer!


Why Wolf Howls at the Moon by Colleen Chesebro

Long ago, the Moon Spirit danced upon the waters of the lake. When she met the spirit of the Wolf, they danced together on the shoreline.

One night, Moon Spirit said, “I must return to the ebony sky and take my place alongside the stars.”

Bereft, Wolf gobbled up Moon Spirit’s reflection as it floated on the waves. “I wish I could keep Moon Spirit’s magic with me forever,” he cried.

To this day, whenever wolf drinks from the lake, he cries to the Moon Spirit hoping she will return so they can dance upon the shore once more.



Snow White and the Seven Gunslingers by Norah Colvin

The huntsman made the all-too-common mistake of revealing everything before enacting the deed. Snow White kicked him in the shins and escaped into the forest.

Exhausted, she chanced upon a cottage. It appeared abandoned, so she went inside and soon fell asleep on one of the seven beds. She was startled awake by a septet of menacing, heavily-armed gunslingers.

When she explained her predicament, the gunslingers were outraged. “He’s a bad one, and she’s the worst. Stay here. We’re onto it.”

She heard them say as they rode out of sight, “Hi ho! We’ve got a job to do.”


Sky Rider’s Happily Ever After by Liz Husebye Hartman

Rapunzel was a rodeo champ by day, a sky watcher by night. Nobody could beat her barrel riding and calf roping. Stormy nights, she’d climb the Tower Mesa, hear thunder roll, knowing someday she’d join that rodeo.

It got so she spent both nights and days on the Mesa, losing interest in regular rodeos. Family couldn’t call her home, but took comfort, watching her lengthening golden hair glinting in the sunlight.

Along came Pepe LeGume, with his offer of magic beans for her golden tresses. She took the offer, cut her braid, and rosed her lasso to that magic vine.


Flem and the Rattlesnake by Mike Vreeland

Flem, Unlike most cowhands, was toothpick thin, bow-legged, and always smiling. Never once did he lose his cool, even when he found a large rattler in his bedroll. Instead, he cajoled the snake, letting it sleep next to him for warmth. 

Their bond grew.

One day, cutthroat robbers were after Flem. With nowhere to hide, the snake swallowed Flem whole, shook its rattles, and frightened off the thieves. 

After a bit, Flem crawled back out.

“Thank you immensely, Snake,” he said, sharing his hearty meal.

The moral of the story: Sometimes it’s okay to have Flem in your throat.



The Ride by D.L. Finn

We’ve made this journey on horses every year for our wedding anniversary. The only stop was to admire the beauty of the sunset before setting up camp by the gently flowing creek. This was our place. I know you’ll be there waiting for me. That’s why I brought your horse. We’ll ride as spontaneously as we did in youth, with the winds tangling our hair and the carefree laughter running freely. I won’t leave you until you have to go, my love. Then, I’ll return home comforted, knowing that we can stay there for eternity when my time comes.


The Tale of the Two Horse Women by H.M. Hallman

“These women morph into horses, and that’s why they aren’t to be owned,” the chief warned his son. 

“But father, what if someone owns one?” 

“Young Feather, no one has caught one,” the chief said. 

Young Feather couldn’t sleep. The moon was high. He walked to a river and slumped against a tree. He noticed a dark mare drinking from the river. The horse transformed into an eighteen-year old woman. 

He snuck over to see her. 

Startled, she said, “hello.” 

“Don’t fear. What is your name?” 


“Can we be friends?” 


Now, he would protect her and others.


Is He Really That Big by Sue Spitulnik

“Tanner, what’s your lasting memory of high school?” Jake asked.

“Sheriff Bullhorn’s dog that was so big he couldn’t fit in the car without the seat removed. He’d sniff around town at night and catch me every time I tried to kiss Betty Lou. Rodeo weekend when the dog got locked inside so he didn’t scare people was my only opportunity all year.”

“And what if the Sheriff caught ya?”

“The dog was a good warnin’ system, that never happened.”

“And now you’re married to Betty Lou?”

“Sherriff’s a good father-in-law but that huge dog’s still squeezin’ between us.”


Down That Lonely Trail by Bill Engleson

I could’ve circled ‘round, I guess. Kept goin’. Avoided Gopher Flats entirely. Nasty little watering hole. Didn’t even know if Belle still lived there. She’d been a bit of a tumbleweed in her time. Me too, I suppose. Flipped a coin. 1885 Liberty head five-dollar gold piece. One of my last. Didn’t matter which way it landed. I needed Belle. Someone who knew me. So, I came in from the south. Tied up the Roan outside the Gopher Union. Musta been midweek. Quiet night. The kid came up behind me. Bullet got me in the throat. Loved ya, Belle.


Cay-ote Killer by Clesea Owens

Swirled campfire gunsmoked ’round old Ernie’s head. His eyes shone in the firelight, two August moons ‘gainst a desert sky. “An’ that,” he whispered, “whers th’ last any cowboy heard o’ The Coyote Killer!”


“Ah’ll be!”

The talk still swam ’round the camp like Loui’zana fireflies when a shadow fell ‘cross the nearest cactus; when a howl yipped ‘cross the open sky. “Aowhoooooo!”

Scramblin’ to horse, rock, cactus; no man dared admit what he clearly saw: a baying, skulkin’, fur-dressed man, jus’ like what Ernie’d said.

An,’ like’n old Ernie said, no man lived to tell it still


The Barrel Racer: A Fable by D.L. Williams

The mare blinked against the billowing cloud of dust. 14.38 seconds, the time to beat, and she was last to go. She approached the gate. “Just this run,” she thought, “before I win.” The thunderous pounding of her own hooves echoed in the mare’s ear, vibrating the ground like mini earthquakes. She rounded each barrel with the speed of a twister before returning across the timer. Beaming, she turned towards the clock to bask in her winning time. The numbers flashed red: 14.39 seconds. She lost. The mare trudged from arena, tiny puffs of dust languishing at her feet. 


Seven Sisters by Saifun Hassam

Eleanor and her little girl Jessie lived for a few months in Saguaro Township. Jessie was four, her legs crippled by a high fever on the wagon trek to Arizona. 

Jessie loved to picnic by the giant saguaros near the horse corrals. One day Eleanor saw an apparition. Seven beautiful maidens chanted and danced, fantastic quill patterns shining on white buckskin dresses.

Within the circle, Jessie was dancing! Heart pounding, exuberant, Eleanor danced with her! 

That night, Eleanor gazed at the glittering stars of the Seven Sisters. Her heart was full of gratitude and hope for Jessie’s new life.


The Origins of a Cowboy by Floating Gold

“Mommy, where do cowboys come from?”

Barb turned around and smiled. She was aware of Tommy’s bedtime trickery but took the bait anyway.

Sitting back down, she told her son about the first-ever criminal who kept stealing apples. No one was fast enough to catch him. Then, one day, in a billow of smoke, a man with a lasso in hand descended on a horse from the clouds. He chased the thief all through the Arizona desert but finally caught him thanks to his rope and the speedy stallion.

“But what came first – a cowboy or his hat?”


Packin’ a Punch Without a Fist by JulesPaige

Lucy was fit as a fiddle and head of this crew, after all she’d grown up ranching. Some of the new hires on this cattle run didn’t think a woman should be giving orders, and wouldn’t follow her directions. That just wasn’t fair. One night, she couldn’t take any more of their bull. Lucy got up on her high horse without getting in the saddle and quietly said I’ll start firing any poke who won’t work!” Then quoted Dr. Seuss; “You have brains in your head, feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!”


The Journey by Darnell Cureton

She evaded the posse that was looking for her. Colored mayor Edith Fowler, low on food and water was determined to make it to Gold Rose County. She set her horse free and emptied the contents of the chest her buggy pulled behind the animal. With two days of a four day journey left, she set out on foot in the darkness. A worn blue cotton shirt, denim overalls, and old boots were the only barrier from biting desert bugs as the moon illuminated her way. The promise of a new life and love awaited if she made it. 


The True Story Of How Butch Cassidy Rode Off Into The Sunset by Doug Jacquier

The old train robber, with a face that looked like it belonged on Mt. Rushmore, loved all those Hollywood movies about Butch and Sundance dying in a hail of lead. He didn’t want anyone knowing that he’d returned to Utah to write in peace, without having some hired detective on his tail or that crazy Sundance always wanting to do one more job. His style was spare and clear and full of insight. Before his death from a rattle-snake bite at 103, his books sold well under various pseudonyms but his favourite was always the Pinkerton-taunting Perce P. Cassidy.


Tall in the Saddle Tale by Frank Hubney

One man can’t do much unless it’s Billy, but even he didn’t do much good.  Evil was his expertise at least until he overreached and felt the end of a rope.

But if it weren’t for Billy we wouldn’t have Todd, broken, good-for-nothing, who nonetheless stood up and took that bullet for the mayor, Billy’s bullet. His body blocked the door knocking the revolver from Billy’s hand.

Nor would we have Sarah who aimed her rifle ten feet from Billy’s head. Even Billy knew she would shoot having been married to her for longer than Sarah cared to remember.


The Deal by Tina McFarlane

Travis couldn’t believe his luck. “Well, I’ll be damned if she ain’t a beauty. How much?”

“Ten dollars. Just want the cursed thing off my farm.” The old man spit in disgust.

Travis stared at the horse’s black coat, shining in the sun.

“We got a deal?”

“Uh, yeah.” Travis fished the bills from his pocket. As he rode away, a figure dressed as a merchant emerged from the cabin. He smiled as he watched the old farmer wither and die.

Thinking he just made the purchase of a lifetime, Travis never noticed the fields as they turned black.


Shoot First, Aim Later by Darlene Foster

The Kid was always shootin’ off his mouth. Calling Tiny Bradshaw a lily livered chicken meant trouble. The cowboy Clyde saddled up. He rode into town as Tiny strode out of the saloon and down the street. He saw the Kid come from the other direction. “Shit!” Clyde jumped off his horse, ran into the church and up to the belfry. He aimed at Tiny. The Kid drew but Tiny was quicker. Clyde took a shot. The outlaw lay dead. The kid wasn’t moving either. Clyde buried his son the next day and hung up his six shooters forever. 


Rodeo Contest #2:

In Double Ennead Syllabic Poetry, Colleen M. Chesebro asked writers to wax poetic in a new 99-syllable form she created for Carrot Ranch. This one was not easy and hats off to all the participants!

This year’s winner is ANNOUNCED.


Some Places Have No Names by Kerfe Roig

summering storm, becalmed
grey hiding the sun
that surrounds everything until it dissolves–
cacophony lurks, comes
galloping unheard–

what will replace what is
not there? return breath
to wandering, release the held spirits to
be dreamed, scattered into
wishes unneedful

of understanding or
explaining—all is
deadlocked, lingering on the edge of almost–
as yet unattached to
outcomes or designs



Masked Terror by Reena Saxena

the dark shadows of fear
plains in deep valleys
are prominent above designed contraptions
living in terror – tears
again percolate

down those parched, shrinking throats
struggling to stay out
of the way, of an unseen monstrosity
paralysed in panic
as shadows loom large

on erstwhile bonds, buckling
down under pressure
of unmet expectations, knowing full well
it’s either an embrace
or life – choice is yours


If This Be… by Bill Engleson

Let’s gather in the woods,
weep, and not forget
the burning wagons and the still smoking skies
swirling above the plains,
death choking the air.

If this be travelers,
Dixie refugees
from Jim Crow, beaten, stripped, flesh-whipped, burned alive,
is this humanity?
Is this who we are?

And within these scorched woods,
wind and time smolder,
ashes of flesh congeal in the bloodied mud:
a saga to be spoke,
hung against the sky.


Plains Speaking by Doug Jacquier

Plains, wider than a life,
as distant as death,
white-knuckle riding in hell-driven dust storms
followed by deep peace, and
still a sacred home.

Plains, stolen from others,
who live in exile,
earning from slots where they once hunted bison,
looking for the peace that
their ancestors owned.

Cowboys, your stories of
hard-driving glories
should conjure the spirits of those gone before,
and celebrate all ages
that’ve ridden here.


The Rodeo of Life by Sam “Goldie” Kirk

And I jump on the horse
to gallop through the
wide meadows of absolute grief and sadness.
The blood on my lips sweet.
Winds envelop me.

“Laugh! Don’t cry,” they all say.
Voices rattle in
the head of mine, leading deeper down the hole.
All I need is quiet.
Dusk envelops me.

Glad I am when I run
and don’t think at all.
Day in and day out we face the foul music.
Would you run away with
me? Envelop me.


Nes Season by D.L. Finn

Is it finally here
When magic has blown
From Summer into Fall in one cooling surge
The night’s longer and the
Sky hides behind clouds.

Blooming blossoms retire
Trees bathed in scarlet
Pumpkins flavor and decorate the season
Apples are abundant
Harvest is flowing.

Gray squirrels collect nuts
Black bears fatten up
Yes, nature’s preparing us for winter’s chill
When Autumn’s blessings are
Blissfully embraced.


Nature’s Saga by theindieshe

Plains dusky and dreary,
Shrouded deep in death,
White lies of greed defiling the oasis,
Its bounties defiled and
Still and mired in lust.

Crimson sky now mellowed,
Its dreary aglow,
Turned wide expanse of aquamarine waters,
A dull caesious hue,
That silently surfed.

Nature’s untold saga,
Taking what it gives,
For we failed to treasure the bounties bestowed,
It will set the wrong right,
To wash off grey blight.


Rain by Saiffun Hassam

Wildfires scorched green forests
From summer to fall.
Leaves and ashes were swept into streams and creeks.
Charred, forlorn, barren earth
Under winter snow.

Winds stir, soughing, rustle.
Cumulus clouds from
The ominous thunderous skies; light zig zags;
Rivers cascade greening
World, yellow parched earth.

Rain on high chaparral;
Redstone buttes; foothills
Spring with yellow brittlebush, and blue lupines;
Cholla spines; prickly pear;
Dusk: Saguaro blooms.


Evening Classes by JulesPaige

Embers slowly fading
Heads, settled resting
We look up to the constellations and try
Reading weather patterns
For the cattle drive

We hear our slow breathing
Allow awe to fill
Every nook and cranny of our weary souls
Tumbleweeds whisper soft;
listen to the wind…

Laugh with the prairie wind
With clouds passing in
The magic purple sky that holds ancient stars
Their wise ancient quiet
Dusk offers guidance


Cattle Drive by Sue Spitulnik

Line those cows single file
Stream crossing coming
Get the leaders to plunge and the rest follow
No white water danger
Grazing fields ahead

The ladies run to food
The horses’ sense rest
The dinner wagon slops hot meals and coffee
Everyone satisfied
Dark comes, fire burns

Coyotes howl ownership
Cowboys rarely laugh
In the starlight night, they trade short shifts of sleep
Always protecting the
Quiet munching cows


The Commission by Geoff Le Pard

I’m just a simple bloke
Who’s kept in the dark;
Then I’m to ‘write a poem about some stuff’
As if that is my thing
And is rather rude.

Again, it’s not a joke,
It isn’t a lark.
Lovers dancing round the moon? That’s just such guff.
I’d rather have to sing
On stage in the nude.

Now it’s to be bespoke.
I’d need to be Clark
Kent’s alter ego for this. I’ve had enough.
I’m off so please don’t ring;
Or I might be crude…


The Lonely Cowboy by Marje @ Kyrosmagica

The cowboy has no friends,
Riding through the plains
Death on his shoulder, his horse gallops and neighs
Kicking up stones of white
And on he must ride.

He lives and breathes this day
Lassoed in his fear
He wipes his brow contemplating fierce outlaws
Then eats his beans and waits
For the moon to rise

He’s a lonely drifter
No gal by his side
There ain’t no cute young’uns for him to cuddle
The stars give him comfort
And guide his way home.


Chasing the Moon by Eloise De Sousa

Alabaster skin that
draws the shadows in,
she thunders through the distant Gemini twins,
chasing the rattled stars,
scattering my dreams.

Galloping; froth mounting,
flared nostrils find north,
through whispered threads of darkness where clipped glimpses
spill their secrets from the
Zodiac above.

Once darkness eats daylight,
my heart lies in wait-
each hoof beat drumming into my velvet skin-
her lunar imprint’s grace,
to admire again.


A Child Appeared by Myrna Migala

Snow cold so pure and white
Falling, falling, on
A town; look up a shimmering star so bright.
Bethlehem sees Winter
Night of holiness!

Forever and ever
A world will rejoice.
The joyous birth of happy festivity
A Birthday! Remember.
Everyone! Cheerful!

The world now indeed is
Coming together —
Bitterness fades; disagreements set aside.
All this and more because
A Child has appeared.


Never Again by Josie Holford

Heart sick of traitor Trump
And his posse of
Me-diocre incompetents, grifters all
We must remain firm. Let’s
Forget about nice.

We know that we must drum
The Trumpian ilk-
Springtime for Hitler – out of America
Decency, matter.

We need to ensure that
He plus enablers
Are so thoroughly driven beyond the pale
They never again stain
Our America.


Within a Kiss by Kyra Jude

It starts like a whisper
Supple and discreet
Hints of pleasure pining in euphoric winds
Each moment long and tense

What spells bind eyes to lips
And bear the soul’s taste
How does a gaze say words, the tongue never could
Words of need, words of want
And lips meant for love

Snow may fall, cold then warm
These love-lips twist on
A sweet taste of bliss, moaning deep with desire
Like vast stars in winter,
Night is kissed to life.


Dawn’s Memories by D. Avery

Greening, graying, moss cloaked;
transitory world,
shout from beneath moldering leaves; from rock, sprout;
spreading shoots take root in
my dreams recalling.

Living, loving, laughing—
innocent again.
Lark song breaks the day, calls the sun, warms the rock;
green and gray are lovers,
sing dawn’s memories.

Death wanders in disguise
whispers shades of white
and dances in autumn’s ecstatic colors.
With the lark we sing still
when recalling dawn.


A Pitiful Plague by Debby Gies

Shout loud at what it is.
Words and actions in
My head ring clear of the assault on mankind.
Open your eyes and ears.
A call for kindness.

Stifling in ignorance,
Poison fills the mind.
This hate virus infects and sheds viral ash.
Soil, rinse, spin, and again,
The story repeats.

The cure for this madness,
Some will fail to learn,
Only love and kind words can conquer this plague
For a fresh breath of life –
Love thy fellow man.


Pain, Inside and Out by Norah Colvin

Hoofs pound across the roof
Hunting a way in
pillow muffles but still they thump so loud
Relentless drenching rains
r all around

Hoofs pound inside my head
Brutal throbbing pains
Lightning lasers pierce my eyes I cry dry tears
The torture does not cease
Blinding like a rage

Hoofs pound inside my chest
Warning it will burst
While my clammy skin pours sweat in waterfalls
Pain grips my heart and shreds
What remains of me


Noted Notes by Kerry E.B. Black

Gray mists obscure the moon.
Still howl coyotes.
Laugh as though their voices mean nothing to you
while I remain quiet.
Dusk appears again.

Perpetual cycle-
here and yet not hear.
Examine sacred writings with words whirling,
and I without glasses
read a different text.

Ghosts groan from all corners,
begging to be seen.
Walk through their funeral finery unscathed.
Sinking, I sob, silent
into dust again.


Song of Monson by Kitty’s Verses

Over dark, rainy nights,
Thundering clouds, the
Quivering silence of soul brushes against ,
Unforgettable rim,
Of recollections,

As each drop pit patters,
Crossing multitudes,
Plummeting through images it settles on rim
Of dainty bud coaxing,
To open its layers,

Bud and soul pondering,
Nature plays awhile,
Circumspect to open their oft hidden layers,
Song of monsoon calling,
Beauty to reveal.


The Party of Life by H. R. R. Gorman

Celebrate for the next

Day is not assured.

Carouse while you can, and we’ll remember when

We’re old and don’t want to

Party ’til we drop.

Pass the bread of pleasure

Down the table with

Impish delight – regale in togetherness,

Celebrate with shared eyes

Gray we’ll be one day.

What a fickle thing is

Memory! Recall

The good as well as the embarrassing thoughts,

For the food of the gods

Is a good time had.


Gathering Pluck by Marsha Ingrao

Gray glances glimmering
Howls a coyote’s
Laugh at his dry humor, mellowing his soul
Silky muslin in
The dusk fades into night.

Tanglewood hills beckoned
Hushing trembling hearts.
Inky evening shadows descended welkin
Leaves crunching underfoot
Cemented resolve

Chill enveloped courage
Distant coyotes
Barked against the silvery moon breath frozen
Arms sheltered out the cold
“Will you marry me?”


Rodeo Contest #3:

In Git Along and Start Writin’, Marsha Ingrao combined a western classic song with the three-act storytelling structure.

This year’s winner is ANNOUNCED NOVEMBER 17.



Rodeo Contest #4:

In Wanted Alive, Sam “Goldie” Kirk offered a poster prompt on a familiar wanted western theme in 99 words.

This year’s winner is ANNOUNCED NOVEMBER 24.



TUFF Rodeo Contest:

In TUFF Love, Carrot Ranch’s Charli Mills asked participants to revise an original western romance through a 99-59-9-99 word process with each step requiring a different craft twist.

This year’s winner is ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1.



Anyone who participated in the 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo can download and use this icon to show that you can “Write and Rodeo”!

Thank you to all our Rodeo Leaders, their Judges, and our Participants! See you next year when the Flash Fiction Rodeo returns!

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