Friday, June 30, 2017

The Reader on the Rocks

It’s the end of the month and you know what that means, story time!

First off, here’s a reminder of this month’s picture prompt:

I have stared at this picture off and on over the last 30 days and I have to admit that while I still think this picture is really, really cool, it didn’t really spark any great literary ideas. It didn’t seem particularly poem-like, nor did it seem to generate a non-fiction idea - rock climbing? Reading on the shore? To be honest, the picture seemed to be a story all on its own, which is what I finally went with.

And if the story seems a little short, well, that’s because I don’t normally sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to write a story and it’s going to be this many words.” Usually I just sit down and write and let the story take its own path. There's a quote - I think it's from Alice in Wonderland - that goes something like: "Start at the beginning and go on until the end. Then stop." That's exactly what I did here.

Reader on the Rocks

It was the fog, really, that made it the perfect spot. When she caught sight of the rocks earlier in the week she thought they looked a little exposed. But now she stared down from her seat on top of them and all around her was a sea of fog. Sea was an apt term for it - the waves of grey fog undulated as though being tossed by the currents of an ocean, even though the nearest water was miles away.

To her pleased surprise the climb hadn’t been that difficult. The rocks weren’t jagged as one might expect, but more rounded - big, but not too big. And the fog had only just begun to roll in so it hadn’t done more than slightly dampen them. Getting down might be a little trickier, however, the fog was heavier now and the rocks were bound to become a bit slippery.

The path she’d taken had been a round-about one, not too easy to follow she hoped. An hour or two, that’s all she needed; she felt confident she would not be found any time soon. First, as always, they would try yelling, the volume increasing with her lack of response. But she was well out of range of even the most piercing of screams.

When that didn’t work one of them might try poking around her usual hiding spots, but only half-heartedly. By and large they were a lazy bunch, which was another reason to be up here instead of down there. It’s not that they couldn’t do things for themselves, it was just easier to have her do them.

Taking a deep breath of the damp air she made herself comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could be sitting on a pile of boulders. Family relegated to the back of her mind, she opened her book and began to read. At last! She’d finally be able to finish it without being interrupted!

Hope you enjoyed my little tale. Be sure and stop back next Friday to see what the picture prompt for the month of July will be.

Until then, happy writing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Silent Sentinel

This week’s poem is just a random one I chose from my files. It was written in 2013 and I believe it was “poemwork” for a poetry group I was a member of. As I recall, the assignment was to write a poem from the point of view of an inanimate object. In case you can’t guess from the poem itself, the point of view is from a stone that was carved into a gargoyle.

Silent Sentinel

I remember my birth
torn from the quarry
then found to be unfit for the stone circle.

I remember the superstitions,
the Wild Hunt's ride, sacrifices to beg a boon;
the dancing and the Green Man's bride.

I remember the poets,
who spent years perfecting the faultless rhyme
that would make of them heroes

I remember the old gods
no longer worshipped, not knowing why,
turning their backs on man.

I have felt the passage of time
felt the reshaping of my limestone form
awakened in my new home atop the cathedral

I have watched the world turn
the pleasure and the sorrow of man
the life and the death. Oh, so much death.

I have watched the city rise and fall
the new replacing the old until only I remain
keeping your secrets carved in stone.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Catching Up and Carrying On

I’m a procrastinator by nature. Long time, unapologetic, hard core procrastinator. Never put off today what you can put off until tomorrow or the next day. I’m also the queen of excuses. This is a bad combination. There’s always a good excuse for putting things off. But the thing about procrastination is that you can’t put things off forever. There comes a time when you have to fish or cut bait.

One of the things I’ve been putting off is catching up on my blog posts. I keep telling myself I can write a few blog posts over the weekend so I’ll have them ready to post during the week. But my weekends end up getting used to catch up on all the other stuff I don’t get done during the week. The end of the weekend comes and I’m surprised to find that once again I’ve got no writing done.

I had this big plan of posting poetry on Wednesdays, something to do with fiction on Fridays, and an update post on Sundays or Mondays. So far I’m not doing so good. The last couple of weeks I’ve been getting the poetry done, but not ahead of time.

And blog posts aren’t the only thing I seem to be putting off. I’d rather not have to talk about my fiction writing, but I did promise to be honest about my writing here. Most of my writing lately has been flash stories for the prompts from the Monday posts on the Brazen Snake Books blog, Snake Bites. Last week I didn’t even get that much done.

I’m not lacking for ideas or words, and I don’t believe in writer’s block. So what’s my problem? I have no clue, other than the spirit is willing but the rest of me seems to be out to lunch. Or maybe it’s just a total lack of motivation. And when I do have the motivation, life interferes and sucks up my time.

I take small comfort in the fact I’m not the only writer out there who’s feeling the same way lately. Even a few big name writers are finding it hard to motivate themselves these days. Nice to know I’m not alone. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have any solutions either.

I have a coffee mug that tells me to Keep Calm and Carry On. Good advice, that.

Instead of wasting time analyzing what’s happening and how to combat it, I’m going to try just carrying on. No excuses, no promises, just doing. Who knows, maybe it’ll even work. ;-)

One of my favourite personal quotes is this:

And what good is a life
That leaves nothing behind
Not a thought or a dream
That might echo in time

~ What is Eternal, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It’s from the album Beethoven’s Last Night, which is basically a fictional story of Beethoven struggling with a choice given to him by the devil - keep his soul but be forgotten by the world, or give up his soul so that he and his works will be remembered.

But another, perhaps more appropriate quote for me these days is this one from their Nightcastle album:

I wasted my time
'Til time wasted me

~ Believe, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Life’s too short to waste so much of my time. Something I need to keep in mind.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Flarf

Yeah, I know it’s not the first Wednesday of the month, but I’m sharing a form with you anyway, just because I can. :-D

The Flarf is the brain child of Gary Sullivan, and started out as a scam on a contest sponsored by the site. I’m sure he was as surprised as anyone when it became a whole movement.

What makes a Flarf both fun and easy is the fact you take your raw material from the internet, specifically a Google search. Simply use two unrelated terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "beautiful + corpse" and piece together your poem by cutting and pasting from the search results page.

You can also write a Flarf based on your Twitter or Facebook feeds, but I chose the more traditional Google search. The terms I used were "kitten + apocalypse".

Kitten Apocalypse

The world will end by kittens
and I want to explain how this will happen
in a lot of depth but
I have not made the video!

Mass resurrection
brings all dead party
and raid members back to life.
Beware.. The kittens have gone crazy!
To me, they are truly evil.

Do you see kittens staring at you?
Do they look sinister/evil!?
Avoid the radioactive zombie kittens
in a post apocalyptic nightmare!
Zombies, don't mess with angry kittens!

Kittens are the new ninjas.
Check out this vicious cat killing spree!
Meet Hiromi, the shy artist;
her cat Vince, who has a secret;
her best friend Kitty with all the visions

It's the kitten apocalypse! ..
. Animated zombie kittens!
Zombie kittens are attacking!
Why the hell are you still reading?

Apocalypse warning,
kittens involved.
If you see these,
you're probably screwed.

No one suspected
the zombie apocalypse
would look so cute.

If you’d like to learn more about the Flarf, try one of these links: - A Brief Guide to Flarf Poetry
The Truth About Lies - How to Write a Flarf

And since the quiz I included with the original post (many years ago) is no longer valid, I thought I'd include a short video to help illustrate my poem. :-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Do you remember, back in your high school English class, having to dissect a poem? Your teacher would pick something by Keats or Wordsworth or Longfellow and tell you to write 500 or 1000 words on what the author really meant when he wrote that poem. I don’t know why they do that. No one really knows what the author means except the author themselves. And most of the poets that are studied in school have been dead for a long time.

The poem I’m featuring today was one I wrote in high school. Because I wrote it a few weeks after I broke up with my first boyfriend, everyone assumed I wrote it for him. I even had a couple of his friends come up to me and tell me to leave him alone, he’d moved on. But the truth is, I didn’t write it for anyone. It’s just a poem about words - there’s no hidden meaning. I got to thinking about words and how they can mean something different from what you intended. And then I kind of segued into story mode just to make it longer.

Anyway, here it is in all its glory. :-D


Words to share with lovers
their meanings old as time,
and words I never said to you,
I thought them only mine;
words that can work magic,
that mend a broken heart;
words that seem to give you
another brand new start.
I wish that I had told you
the words I had in mind.
It might have made a difference
if we were given time.
The world's a mess because of words
that no-one thought to say,
and now I think that it's too late,
those words are here to stay.
I wish that we could build new words,
their meanings deep and true,
and I would take back words I said
and change them just for you.
You do not understand my words,
you never did it seems,
for words have double meanings
and I was filled with dreams;
I spoke too fast, I wasn't sure
of words I could not say,
and so I kept them deep inside
and now they're there to stay.
If I thought words could bring you back
I'd chatter day and night,
but it's too late for both of us
to make the wrong words right.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Poetry Anyone?

Once upon a time I participated in something called the PAD challenge run by Writer’s Digest. It was held during the month of April, National Poetry Month, and the idea was to write a Poem A Day using the prompts they’d supply. One of these prompts was for something called a sestina. With all the poetry I’ve written over the years, I’d never heard of a sestina before. It was a little challenging, and by the time I was done I was starting to wonder how many other poetry forms were there out there that I’d never heard of.

Turns out there were a lot!

For the next couple of years I had a separate blog for poetry and I’d share a new form with an original example each week. Sometimes I’d feature other poems, but mostly it was all about the forms. Then some person I’d never heard of sent me an email accusing me of using her information (not her poems) without citing her as a source.

So I dutifully went back through my posts and found two instances where the information was similar - not the same, just similar - to what she had on her site. I’m actually surprised there weren’t more. Although I used a variety of sources, sometimes there are only so many ways you can say: This is a Japanese form and the syllable count is...

Anyway, I reworded my posts and thought no more about it until I got an email from a gentleman with a similar complaint. Really? I checked, and once again the words were not an exact match but pretty similar. On a whim I checked the woman’s site and oh, gee, look at that. His words were an exact match to hers.

That was it for me. I was done. I’d started the blog to share my love of poetry, not to be harassed by small-minded, mean-spirited people. At this point I’d explored over a hundred different forms, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth so I pulled the blog.

For the next few years I only wrote poetry occasionally, and didn’t share any of it. Then I shared a couple of special occasion poems. Then Jamie and I did a PAD challenge of our own and it kind of revived my interest again. And now, here we are.

As a new feature on this blog, I’ve decided that Wednesday is going to be poetry day. The first Wednesday of the month (which would be today) I’m going to share a form. The rest of the Wednesdays will be just random poems - some new, some old, maybe even some old favorites culled from my library of really old poetry books.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the forms, for obvious reasons, but I will include links should you care to explore them yourself. So ... I’m going to begin where I began in the beginning, with the sestina.

The sestina was one of the most challenging forms I’ve ever encountered. It has 39 lines in total, divided into six verses of six lines each, and a three line envoi at the end. Sounds easy enough, right? Especially since it doesn’t have to rhyme. But here’s the thing. You start off by coming up with six words, and each of these words is used as a end word of one line in each of the six verses and the order changes in each verse.

For my sestina, I used the words: truth, grave, life, night, death, and stone.

Night Dweller’s Truth

In every breath there is a truth
that overshadows every grave,
a truth not found within a life
that shines its beacon into night,
a knowledge brought about by death
and graven into hardest stone.

A thought that’s carved in precious stone
contains what we perceive as truth,
unsuppressed by certain death,
as cold and alien as the grave,
deep and dark as empty night
just before it bursts to life.

If I’d but know how sweet is life,
not just a pathway strewn with stone,
perhaps I’d not embraced the night
that fills me with its awful truth
and takes me far beyond the grave
out of reach of even death.

And what is that which we call death?
Perhaps another way of life,
the end is more than just the grave,
a fresh turned mound that’s capped with stone.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth
before we pass into the night.

Come and share this sweetest night
where we can stand abreast of death,
and we will seek the perfect truth
of what is that which we call life
that gathers round us like a stone
and leads us blindly to the grave.

You look at me with visage grave -
accept my words, accept the night,
accept that fate’s not carved in stone.
Turn away from Lady Death,
her promise of the afterlife,
and know what’s in my heart is truth.

We’ll find our truth without the grave
and make our life within the night,
then vanquish death with shattered stone.

If you’d like to learn more or better yet, try your hand at your own sestina, here are a couple of sites that I’ve found helpful in the past:

The Poetry Foundation 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prompt Me - the Rock

While I dropped the ball on my story last week (I’m still working on it though) I didn’t forget that this is the first Friday of June which means it’s time for another picture prompt!

Who is this girl? What is she doing up on that rock and how did she get up there? And what is that book she’s reading?

More importantly, what does it inspire you to write? A poem? A story? And article on readers who can read anywhere?

Inquiring minds want to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I’ll share it here at the end of the month.

Happy writing!