She dreamed of becoming a famous poet. On her eighteenth birthday, she outgrew the foster-care system. She walked out of old man Henrys’ flat for the last time, carrying her journals, writing supplies, toothbrush, two pair of socks and underpants, two flannel shirts, and twenty dollars, all stuffed in her backpack.
In Central Park, she sat down and began writing about what she saw. Children playing tag; people jogging; women pushing baby buggies. As the sun set, she lay down on the bench, looking up. Just to get a different perspective. Everything was upside down. She saw how in the street of the sky, night walks. Scattering poems in her head, the stars blinked telling her it would all be okay. She’d sleep now. In the morning she’d stop in Starbucks and see if they’d hire a poet who could double as a barista.
Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe.
Today Linda is hosting Prosery Monday where we’re given one line from a poem, and expected to insert that line, word for word, into a piece of prose that is 144 words or less, sans title. In essence, it’s the one time poets at dVerse write flash fiction! We may add punctuation to the line; but we may not insert into or delete any words out of the line.
The line Linda chose for us to use is ‘In the street of the sky, night walks. Scattering poems.” It comes from Tulips & Chimneys by E. E. Cummings and is the last line of IX- Impressions.
Widowed at eighty-three, she didn’t cry until they closed the lid on Harold. Never to see him again in that beautiful dark blue suit, worn on so many of their date nights over many years. The love of her life, resting in the Peters-Carmody Funeral Home, before the hearse would take him away.
Five years later, Maud Smith noticed an elderly woman sitting in the front row of mourners patiently waiting for Father David to begin the rosary. She approached the funeral director and quietly asked “Who is that old woman in the front row? Why is she sitting with my family?”
“That’s Mrs. Crowley, ma’am. She often comes to our viewings if the decedent is male. Her husband Harold’s service was here five years ago. I think she imagines him lying there, near her again. You see, to her, death is quite romantic.”
That was it. She’d had it. Sliced away, leaving a scar on the ancient bark, the tree looked raw. Desecrated. His handiwork obliterated.
That night of infatuation, he carved a heart with their initials right there for all the town to see. “We’re forever entwined” he said. Except they weren’t. He left for college and never returned. It’d been years. She’d waited tables at the Oleander Café. Endured the town folk’s talk behind her back. Their whispers haunted her. They knew she’d carried his child for six months before the miscarriage. People pitied her.
She knew he was never coming back. She dropped the knife and walked out to meet the dusty road. She hailed the first bus she saw. Paid cash and finally got the hell out of there. No matter the bus’ destination, it was her turn to leave it all behind.
Written for dVerse where today Sarah is hosting our Prosery session. She asks us to include the line “she’d had it sliced away leaving a scar” from Michael Donaghy’s poem, Liverpool.
What is Prosery?A Prosery prompt gives a line from a poem and we are to include it in a piece of flash fiction of 144 words, sans title. The line must be word for word, although the punctuation may be changed.
He courted me online. Sent me airfare from Paris to Boston. Met me with flowers and a grin. We sped out of the city, not slowing down until we crossed the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod. Small towns appeared and disappeared until we reached Provincetown. Shifting into four-wheel drive, he maneuvered through a maze of sand dunes, finally reaching his secluded shack. The one he’d so romantically described. For three glorious weeks we made love under down comforters and hiked the deserted beach. Off season was best, he said.
On April thirtieth, he muttered “you’re not enough.” He walked out and left me stranded, scared to death. For how can I be sure I shall see again the world? On the first day of May, I got the nerve to climb up the nearest dune. I hoped the world was on the other side.
And so I wandered. Lonely as a cloud, seeking some break in the darkness you left behind. How did I get to this point?
Your proposal caught me off guard. I craved love for so long, my heart could not believe your words. We spent those next weeks in pure bliss. I asked to meet your family. “Soon enough,” you said. Then one day I came home to an empty apartment. Your clothes were gone. Your side of the bathroom, pristine. You’d stood there that morning, shaving off your beard until a fresh unfamiliar face looked out from the mirror. “I’ll have to get used to that,” I said. Did you want me to? They found me, wandering through the house. Incoherent. The darkness was everywhere.
I’ve spent years in this institution now, wondering if you were real.
Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. EXCEPT, today, we’re not writing poetry. We’re writing PROSERY! This is a form of creative writing, developed at dVerse. The prompter (today it’s me) gives a line or two from a poem of her/his choosing as the prompt. Writers must then write a piece of prose, think flash fiction, that contains the given line(s) word for word, within the body of prose. The punctuation may change….but the word order must be the same and it must be word for word. The prose must not exceed 144 words in length (sans title). As the pub tender/prompter today, I’ve selected the line “I wandered lonely as a cloud” from Wordsworth’s poem I Wander Lonely as a Cloud. The line must be used word for word within the body of prose (punctuation may vary), and the prose must be 144 words or less in length, sans title. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!
She was born in the fortieth century. Her lineage could be traced to earth, before it succumbed to supreme neglect. It is her wedding day. Carrying a bouquet of hybrid plumeria fertilized by star dust and carnage from deteriorated communication satellites, she slides between Ursa and its latest shard, to meet her chosen mate.
“Where is the payment I required for my body to wed your being?”
Handing her a package vibrating with energy he mouths “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. As you mandated.”
Once unwrapped, it floats toward her three breasts illuminating them, and then seemingly melts into her circuitry. She smiles, knowing she is now impregnated. Her kind will continue. No longer needing this other being, her eyes turn iridescent green and devour him. She fades into the celestial skies, content to know she will multiply.
Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Bjorn is tending the pub and asks us to include the line “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper” in a piece of fiction that is 144 words or less, sans title. The line is from the poem Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy, a Scottish Poet who was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 2009-2019.
Prosery: a form created by dVerse. A line from a poem is given for the prompt. Writers must include the line exactly word for word (punctuation may be changed) within a piece of prose (not poetry) that is 144 words or less, sans title.
They lived in the forest. Two offspring of Elsinora, the Witch of Evildore. They’d been learning her trade for many years. Memorized spells, chopped beetle wings, boiled cat’s blood. Now the time had come. Elsinora smiled through blistered purple lips. They were ready. They’d consumed all her ancient books; syphoned memory strands from her pustule covered head.
“Rest now, my dearies. Come to me and bring no book. For this one day we’ll give to idleness. Let’s take your measurements as you rest. Boot size for broom stirrups. Breath velocity for hexes. Quickly now, my loves, as the spirits have ruled. I shall disappear when the moon ebbs and you shall rule the lands. Control those naive two-legged creatures who assume they are the dominant strain. Come sit with me and I shall gift you reign over all, on this my dying day.”
Written for the prosery prompt at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Ingrid hosts and asks us to include the line “And bring no book for this one day we’ll give to idleness” within our work of fiction that is 144 words or less in length, sans title. The line must be used word for word, but the punctuation may be changed. The line is from Wordsworth’s Lines Written at a small distance from my house which is included in the collection Lyrical Ballads.Image from Pixabay.com
My great-grandparents’ home sold, I kept a battered trunk found in the attic. I’m ready to see what’s inside. Carefully wrapped motheaten clothes? A well-worn deep plum velvet dress with tiny waist. A once vibrant red and black plaid wool vest with watch pocket. And a faded sepia-toned photograph: them standing in front of their new house, wearing these same clothes. Eyes closed, I’m with them. I dress in their stories. Patterned and purple as night, they hold my hands. Celebrating, dressed up, I feel their happiness.
Back to the trunk! One last item. A yellowed brittle 1911 Sears Catalog. I open to the page marked by a faded ribbon. Houses for sale in a Sears Catalog? It’s this house! “The Clyde: $2,608. Kit includes 10,000 pieces of framing lumber and everything you’ll need, including doorknobs.” And I have trouble with model airplane kits!
Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, we’re not doing poetry. Rather, we’re to include a specific line from a poem given by the pub tender, in a piece of flash fiction that is 144 words or less, sans title. The line we must use today, worded exactly as it appears (we may change the punctuation) is “I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.” The line is in the poem When we Sing of Might by Kimberly Blaeser, an indigenous poet. This was a tough line for me to incorporate, partly because of the first person and tense used in the line. This, by the way, is pure fiction. Images from Searshouseseeker.com
Note: By 1908, one-fifth of Americans subscribed to the Sears & Roebuck Mail Order Catalog. At its peak, it included 100,000+ items on 1400 pages and weighed 4 pounds. It was free to receive in the mail. In 1908, kits for 40 “modern homes” were offered in the Sears catalog. From 1908 to 1940, the Sears Modern Homes Program offered mail-order houses, called “kit homes.” Would-be homeowners sent in a check and in a matter of weeks, they received everything they needed via a train car, to build their new home. IE lumber came precut with an instruction booklet. Everything was included, including doorknobs. Sears advertised their homes (each named, IE The Magnolia, The Clyde) could be completed in less than ninety days, without a carpenter, by someone with “rudimentary skills.” Over 75,000 homes were shipped. There is a website with photos of these homes that still exist across the US. Illustrations above taken from that site: Searshouseseeker.com
Namrah soared high. Twenty years after the Peabody children wished him live, he decided to return. Would they want to travel on his golden wings again? He’d taken so many children across the globe on secret midnight rides. Sometimes circling the full moon, chasing shooting stars across the skies. He’d not been above American shores in all these years. Would Allen and Susan consider themselves too old to climb aboard his teal feathered back?
Closer to their city now, but why so dark? Hovering over their yard, he stared in disbelief. Piles of bricks, uprooted trees, scattered roof tiles, shattered glass. Fear seized his heart. What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this rubbish? A solitary tear escaped one azure sequined eye. Has time destroyed the home, the town of his origins? Are Allen and Susan alive?
Prosery is a genre created by dVerse. Pub tenders choose one line of poetry and writers must use that exact line (only the punctuation may be changed; word order must be the same) in a piece of prose, 144 words or less in length, sans title.
Working in the kitchen, she ruminated on the unfairness of it all. Three times passed over. For men with less experience! She propped open the instructions for how to shuck oysters. Get oriented with your oyster; nestle it in a towel. Really???? What idiot wrote this? She stabbed the knife tip into the hinge. What a jerk she was for staying. Rotate the knife blade and separate the top shell from the bottom. She dug in the knife. Twisted it. “Are you upset?” he’d asked. Stupid dull blade! The oyster shell blurred. I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife into your gut. Oh how I wish you were nestled in this towel right now! She slammed the shell down on the counter in disgust. I’m done. She picked up the phone and dialed his private line.
Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where today Lisa introduces us to the writer Zora Neale Hurston. We are to write a piece of prose that can be no longer than 144 words, sans title, and must include the line I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife from Hurston’s “How Does it Feel to be Colored Me” in World Tomorrow (1928). Image cropped from a photo at Pixabay.com.