Homestead

I drove for hours, listening to oldies on the radio. Six lane highways shrunk to two. My speed decreased for maybe three minutes at a time, as highway turned into Main Street in rural towns.

I found the cemetery first. Scuffed through fallen leaves until I found their headstones. My eyes blurred reading the dates. All just one year apart.

Back in the car, two miles down the road, left at the fork. I found the house. Shingles half gone; flaking paint and boarded up windows. Mama’s rusted clothesline poles still there. The stones we lugged and stacked to separate mama’s garden from our play yard were half-gone. I peered over what was left, imagining Gina swinging and laughing. But there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles.

You can never go back. They warned me. But I didn’t listen.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today Merril is hosting Prosery Monday.

Prosery? We’re given a line from a poem, and we must use it exactly as it is worded (punctuation may be changed) within a piece of fiction that is exactly 144 words in length. It is similar to flash fiction except it must include a specific given poetic line. The line we must use is “There is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles.” It is from Liesel Mueller’s poem Drawings by Children. Photo from Pixabay.com

Inspection

From across the room, we look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of time. Up close, we see now, he should not be here.

He sits alone at the same corner table every day, all day, playing solitaire. Narrating his rational plays, he slaps down cards so hard the table shakes. His sane voice, loud above the moans and snores of others. They sit slumped in wheelchairs or on upholstered couches with protective plastic seat covers. Some have spittle hanging from parched lips. Between hands, he talks to the teenage aide standing nearby. “I lost again. Nobody wins here. Did you see that string of clubs?” She nods, bored with her job.  “I want my Science magazine. They didn’t renew my subscription!”

How was this man, an inconvenience to someone, surviving here? We will definitely report this hellhole to authorities.

Written for Monday’s Prosery prompt at dVerse.
Kim hosts today, asking us to include the line “From across the room, we look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time” in a piece of flash fiction, exactly 144 words in length. The line is from D. H. Lawrence’s poem Humming Bird.

Image in public domain at Pixabay.com

The Hunt

Love is primal, fiercely protective. She understands that. Why doesn’t he?

Listening with a keen ear, she stands on rocky ledge, exhausted but alert. Will he find them? Her little ones are quiet now. Appetites sated, they sleep so sweetly. Their limbs tangled together, lying so close to each other. A red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills, illuminating the only path he can take to reach them now. Bramble burs prickle her scalp, tangled in her hair. Days on the run, she is more than disheveled. His bullet only grazed her, but the wound is beginning to fester. He will still want her. Will he continue the hunt? He covets her little ones. Their young fox pelts will bring a good sum. She hopes this new den will escape his site and he will turn to other prey.

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today I am hosting PROSERY MONDAY.

The prompt is to include either the line “a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills” OR the line “moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops” in a piece of prose (not poetry) that is 144 words or less.  The two lines are from Carl Sandburg’s poem JAZZ FANTASIA – you’ll find his full poem here

PROSERY: inclusion of a particular line (word for word) from a poem, in a piece of prose – can be flash fiction, memoir, or nonfiction. A form unique to dVerse where we usually write poetry! The PROSE must be 144 words or less.  

Photo from Pixabay.com

A Story Left Untold

She sat on the antiquity store’s floor and opened the diary – forcing its bent blackened silver latch. The first water-stained page said Miriam‘s Property. Turning that page, she began to read the faded script.

Dearest sister. I shall explain only here. It is far too difficult to say aloud, as surely your tears would flow. We have shared our mother’s womb; secrets; our very clothes. Never have we needed a mirror as our faces reflect each other’s. But I am no longer you. I long to experience more than our future holds. More than mother dearest teaches us; than father expects. You gossip with ladies on our streets. I near choke as dust engulfs my dreams. We go in different directions down the imperturbable street. And so tonight, I

There were no more words. Just empty pages ~ fragile and mildewed, minus Miriam’s hand.

Written a bit late for Monday’s dVerse prosery prompt; posted today for OLN.

Prosery is a form unique to dVerse: flash fiction, no more than 144 words, that includes a given line of poetry, exactly as it is written.
Merril asked us to include the line “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street.” The line is from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire.

Sun Driven

Alien-532 was born into the black sky. He witnessed creation of earth sun, man and his mate. His was a world of no light, no death. A crowded dark portion of the cosmos ruled by Alien-1, who did not acknowledge the sun. From birth, Alien-532 was different from his kind. He did not possess endurance, their one supposed trait. He dreamed of light and human touch. And so he fled toward earth and sun. But it was not to be.

Alien-1 caught him and declared his punishment. You shall forever have human form, but no living matter. You shall exist only under your beloved sun. You shall walk behind or in front of every human ever to be born, but never love.

To this day, his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream, even as day exists. Alien-532 is forever darkness, even in the sun.

Written for dVerse where it’s Prosery Monday.
Prosery defined: a work of prose that is 144 words or less, and includes a given line of poetry, exactly as it is written.
Bjorn is hosting and asks us to include the line “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”  from Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird.  Photo from Pixabay.com

The Second Act

“You said you’d follow me anywhere,” he yelled out above the roar. She stood there shaking. Obviously he didn’t understand the meaning of hyperbole!

Her parents had warned her. Her stodgy father mumbled “He’s a fly-by-night.” Her mother wrung her hands and kept repeating “He’s not good enough for you.” But she loved him. So she followed her heart.

It was romantic at first. Driving cross-country in his converted VW van. Lying on the hood looking up at the stars. Then he got this ridiculous idea. She didn’t think he meant it literally for God’s sake! Who really runs away to the circus??? But here she was. Sequined tights, gaudy tiara, leather grips on her hands. No one left and no one came on the bare platform. It was her turn. And there he was, hanging upside down swinging on that damned trapeze!

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Sarah is hosting Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. However, we’re not writing poems today! Prosery is the use of a given line from a poem, word for word, within the work of flash fiction which can be no more than 144 words, sans title. 

Sarah’s line which we must use within our flash fiction is “No one left and no one came onto the bare platform.” it is from Edward Thomas’ poem Adelstrop.
Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Mother Dearest

I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended. My mother taught me love could be turned on and off. As a teenager, I could only go steady with a boy for six weeks. She kept track on her calendar. I hated her every time I fell in love. But then, after about five weeks, I’d tire of the boy and happily blame the break-up on my mother.

When she died, so did my excuse. So I became a recluse. Until I met John. He surprised me with his persistence. We met in coffee shops at first. Then his place. I was a good girl and told him no sex until I got a ring. I marked that special day on my calendar. Now I’m in widow’s weeds with a blood encrusted knife holding this year’s calendar on the wall.

 

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today is Prosery Monday.

Merril is hosting and asks us to use, word for word, the line “I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended” in a piece of flash fiction that is exactly 144 words or less, sans title. The line is from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, I wanted to be surprised. 

Back Again

She’d agreed to this assignment. Put retirement on hold for one more case to smoke out a mole. The honeypot. Dumb blonde stereotype. She still had the body for it, so she gave in to their persuasive pleas. And he’d fallen for it.

Now as he snored, she quietly rolled over, about to get up and finally walk out on this life. Until a cold blade chilled the back of her neck. No sounds except her gasp of shock. There are moments caught between heart-beats. Some see their whole life flash before their eyes. She saw only what could have been.

His hand tangled itself in her hair. Jerked her head back. One last look at that god-awful bare ceiling fixture. It looked different from this angle. More sinister than when she was lying on her back. The yellowed light flickered. Then sputtered out.

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Kim is hosting Prosery Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. She asks us to use the line “There are moments caught between heart-beats” from Louis MacNeice’s poem Coda in a piece of flash fiction that can be up to or exactly 144 words. Back Again is 144 words. Photo from pixabay.com. 
YES! Even though dVerse is usually poetry….this is a prompt for flash fiction, using an exact line from a particular poem.

The Trek

We were warned. “There are grave risks to crossing that unforgiving land.”

I set the pace. Our cow, her calf, my daughter, wife, and babe of four months following me. Lips blistered, soles of my feet cracked, I move determinedly toward the border. After thirteen days, we are parched. The calf is emaciated because we’ve squeezed its mother’s teats to near emptiness, claiming her milk as our own. And then, a freak of nature. Torrential rain. Cow and calf tethered to nearby scruff, we huddle as darkness falls. Lightning strikes. The calf slips its noose, rushing headlong into the gully. That rocky dry earth unable to absorb the storm. The cow is screaming across the arroyo as her calf flails and disappears.

We survived that terrible night. Followed that implausible creek and crossed the border: my daughter, wife, and babe of four months.

Posted to dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today is Prosery Monday where flash fiction collides with poetry. Linda is hosting and we are to include the line “A cow is screaming across the arroyo”  – a line from Jim Harrison’s poem entitled Cow – in our piece of flash fiction that must be 144 words or less, sans title. Photo from Pixabay.com
An arroyo is a deep-sided gully formed by fast-flowing water in an arid or semi-arid region.

September Memories

It’s been years . . . years engrossed in toddlerhood, PTAs, junior high whims and the highschool weaning – mine, not hers. Knowing she’d leave for college. How’s that possible?

I’m really the single mom now. Dropped her off and just kept driving. Back in time to Provincetown. Famous for literary genius and rollicking good times. My first taste of love had sand above his lip. Took me to places that whipped the breath of my soul. Summer seeds of passion. Literally. Back at University, my belly grew. Summer faded and she became my life.

The beach is different in late September. Standing by the ancient wharf’s remains, deserted by history. All these memories were left here with the trees’ ancient pilings. But I found my true compass in Sandy. No regrets. Someday, I’ll bring her here to see where she began.

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today Merril hosts our 4th Prosery session, a new form created by dVerse. It is “flash fiction” (of any genre) that incorporates a line from a poem — and is not more than 144 words long. Merril selected the line “These memories were left here with the trees” by Jo Harjo, the new U.S. Poet Laureate. This is fiction.

Photo taken on our Provincetown walk earlier this week. There are a number of pilings from abandoned wharfs here — in its heyday, Portuguese immigrants settled here and created a vibrant fishing and whaling center.  

Provincetown was a summer home to many of America’s intellectuals, artists and writers  including Eugene O’Neill, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, John Dos Passos, and of course the beloved Mary Oliver.

Provincetown is at the extreme tip of Cape Cod.