OLWG #25 – Flexibility

 This week’s prompts are at the bottom. I’m exploring the poetic form of Shadorma this week, sharing with you what I have learned; and practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



You guys may have noticed that I’ve been somewhat enamored with poetry of late. If you read this whole post you’ll figure out why. I thought I’d explore the mysteries of the Shadorma this week.

The Shadorma is a style of poetry written in stanzas with no set rhyme or meter scheme. It is a 6-line syllabic poem running: 3/5/3/3/7/5 giving a total of 26 syllables, and as near as I can tell, there are no other rules defining the form. I don’t have a lot of information on where or why it came about, but my research suggests that it may have originated in Spain. I have read that it originated out of a sense of frustration with Haiku. This may or may not be true but I like the idea. It makes me hope it is true.

A Shadorma may consist of one stanza, or an unlimited number of stanzas (a series of shadormas). I wrote a couple of them for this post. The first is a two stanza attempt about submarine warfare (I know, I know – not anyone’s idea of poetic). I titled it:

Steely Eyed

Iron men in
steel boats, protected
by depth and
quiet, wait
to dispatch death from below.
Run silent, run deep.

The death that
comes, bubbles up and
embraces
with a kiss;
bestowing rest and repose.
Run silent, run deep.

###

Not too long ago I found a Veterans Poetry Circle. We are led by a wonderful poet and teacher, Ruth. I believe that we are her first group of grizzled warriors but she has previously taught her craft to inmates of the local correctional facilities around here. I believe, truly that she could squeeze a poem out of a water pipe. It’s an honor to know her and absorb the skills she so generously shares with those of us who probably don’t deserve it.

We meet weekly and each week we all draw a word from a box that she carries. We then ponder and work with this word for a week. We can use it for inspiration and write something with it if we want. This week my word was:

Flexibility

We should seek
flexibility.
Strive to rise
above our
narrow ways, and always work
for an open mind.


OK – without further ado please note that this week’s prompts are:

  1. She smiled that way
  2. It’s a curse
  3. Money to burn

If you have more information on this form of poetry; share it with me, please. I’d love to know what you know.


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

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OLWG #24 – Happy Veteran’s Day Beth, Wherever You Are

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The short story below is just me practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



The moon was a new moon so the night was dark as we moved quietly up country. We needed to move quickly because we had fifteen clicks to cover before sunup or the mission would be lost before we even got started. There were three of us, Beth, Manny, and myself. Beth was officially a clerk. She wasn’t even supposed to be here but regulations could bend when someone was as good as she. She wore her self- made ghillies and carried her piece. She was ‘old school’ when it came to firepower. She used a bolt action Savage 10FP, and only a bolt action Savage 10FP. She liked the .308 Winchester cartridges and the Leupold black matte scope. It had a mil dot reticule and came standard with the Savage. It gave her an effective range of up to a little over 900m. She was OK with that and she had certainly made shots longer than that on the range but she never extended beyond that distance in the field.

Beth came from an upper middle class family. She grew up in small town Nebraska where her father was a banker and her mother a math teacher. She liked to shoot people. Manny came from a border town in south Texas. He was a scrapper who had fought for everything he ever got. He fought for food, growing up. He fought to get a GED when he had been forced to quit school and go to work after his dad died. He liked the whole idea of helping Beth kill people. Me, well I was the rich kid. I grew up in Connecticut, in a house where my father seldom visited because he was too busy making money. My mother was seldom seen, I was raised by nannies. We had cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, chauffeurs, and butlers. I was aware of families like Beth’s but I never suspected that there were people in the world like Manny.

Manny was Beth’s spotter and he was walking point. His attire matched the ghillie suit that Beth wore, but he carried only a sidearm and a Leupold Mark 4 20-60x80mm. The scope was a little heavier than the standard issue, but he wouldn’t use anything else. He figured his and Beth’s lives were worth the little extra weight. Manny and I had been friends since basic.

I took up the rear. My position was unique. Beth was the sniper, Manny was the spotter, and I was the sniffer. For reasons never understood I’ve always had the ability to detect scents from the future. When I was a kid I would know what was for dinner before anybody had even made the decision what to cook. I could come into the house and know that tomorrow, we were going to have pizza, or hamburgers, or whatever. I didn’t realize that I was the only person in the world to have this ability until I was about thirteen and I mentioned to the cook that I wanted her to grill my fish tomorrow night instead of poaching it. She laughed it off until one of Dad’s friends shared his halibut, caught in Mexico, with us the next morning.

Anyway, I digress; Beth, Manny, and I had moved up country, north of Khe Sanh, in an area rife with tunnels.  Not a very safe place for us to be, but we found high ground just as the sun was coming up to our right. We had an unobstructed view of the village below; where our objective was expected to arrive before noon.

We settled in and waited with a high sense of expectancy.

“Whatcha smell, Dawg?” Manny asked.

I sniffed and took several deep breaths through my nose, “Nothing, Man. I smell the jungle. I smell nothing but damp and rot.”

Beth stayed still and breathed slowly, “Does that mean he’s not coming?” she asked.

I gave her the best reply that I could, under the circumstances, “Maybe. I guess that would depend on who would notice if he was suddenly wasted.”

Beth nodded her head. Manny studied the village below. I watched our back. We sat in silence.

Twice more Manny asked, through hand signals what I could smell. Twice more I merely shrugged my shoulders. If a firefight was going to break out I should be smelling gunpowder and smoke. I might smell ordnance or fuel, but I only smelled the jungle.

The day came and went with almost no movement in the village below. A little after midnight we collected our gear and began moving back to the south. Beth was a little bummed; she hadn’t gotten to kill anyone. Manny took the point again, and I strolled along behind. I really wanted to whistle as I walked, but I was too busy sniffing for trouble. I didn’t need to invite it.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Whiskey in a glass
  2. The keen edge
  3. Antimacassar

Use these prompts to write anything you like and would enjoy writing. Or ignore them and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.

 


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

OLWG #23 – Walter Wade – Chauvinist, Bastard

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The short story below is just me practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



It’s a Saturday morning almost 7:00 am. Mom’s still upstairs, in bed. The winter months are upon them and it’s cold and grey outside.

Fifty-two year old Walter Wade put his coffee down before he sat at his mother’s kitchen table. The grey Formica surface decorated with black boomerang shapes had been worn white where the plates had been placed for every meal since he was a kid. There’s an aluminum band around the edge serving as skirting. Walter has a sheet of plain paper from the printer and a BIC pen with green ink.  He has a decision to make. He can’t keep putting it off. He feels as though he’s balanced on the edge of a razor blade; poised to fall in any one of three directions. He and Mom had discussed his options; and Mom had already weighed in, he knew what she thought. What side would Dad come down on if he were still here to offer advice?

Walter took a sip of his coffee and thought about his problem. He wrote three names on the top of the page, so that he could create three columns, one beneath each name. Writing around the coffee stain he jotted…

 

Mom said Mary Ann was the girl for him. She brought financial security and a condo in the city. She was older than he but if her mother was anything to go by she still had a long life ahead of her. Besides; Mom herself was a brunette, and she said that brunettes were “low maintenance” wives.

Walter knew that his dad had married a brunette but he had carried on for years with Ms. Ericsson, who lived just outside of town, she was blonde, of Scandinavian descent. Everyone in town knew that if dad wasn’t home; he was either at work or at Ms. Ericsson’s house. Walter decided Dad would urge him toward the blonde since Ms. Ericsson had been blonde, and Jenn did have the farm. Walter wasn’t sure if he was prepared to take on the work of a farm. He wasn’t sure if he even knew how to be a farmer.

Walter thought about what he wanted in a wife. Red hair was good (very exotic, very sexy) but so was lots of money. Lord knew he didn’t have any money of his own. On a superficial side, there was looks to consider too; a young woman who was built for speed was tempting. And, he was pretty sure that a 38 year old wife would outlive him; he would have someone to take care of him in his old age. That was an important consideration. The money thing might not be too big a deal. He and Martha could move in with Mom and when Mom passed he would get the house. It was paid for so, there wouldn’t be a mortgage to fret about.

Walter decided that Martha was the perfect woman for him. He finished his coffee and put the cup in the sink, then he headed out to the garage to tinker with his radio controlled model plane. If the weather held he might be able to take it flying this afternoon. In the morning he would go to the service at the First Baptist Church on Court Street. Martha Pembroke went there. He would introduce himself and put his plan into action. Hopefully they could tie the knot, and be happily married before the end of summer. Honeymoon in the Caribbean, perhaps if she had enough money saved.


This week’s prompts are:

1.    Diamonds on my windshield
2.    Try this
3.    I think I have one right here

Use these prompts to write something that you enjoy writing. Or ignore them and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.

 


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

OLWG #22

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The short story below is just me practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



It was almost lunch time; Shelly sat at the high table in the window of the shop. The desert sun streaming through the plate glass and the words “14th Street Coffee” shadowed on the stained concrete floor. She would occasionally glance up across the street at the stone statue of Victorio, famous war chief of the Chiricahua, long dead.

The stolen Botticelli, that her father had brought her, still hung on the wall behind the cash register. She had meant to give it back. She really had, but it looked so nice up there on the wall she decided to keep it; just for a little while. Everyone just assumed the depiction of the Madonna with Child was a reproduction. No one even suspected that a Renaissance painting would be hanging in a coffee shop, in a small dusty New Mexico town.

She felt it first; she felt eyes on her and knew she was being watched. The occasional surreptitious glimpse up and down the street revealed no one out or about. A few ranch trucks were parked at the curbs and baking in the midday sun but no one was in them. No one stirred outside in the heat. She continued to study the streetscape without being obvious about it. She knew how to watch without appearing to watch; her father had taught her that. A disturbance in the light across the street caught her attention and now she saw someone crouched behind the Victorio statue. For twenty minutes she watched but the figure lurking across the street remained motionless, clearly watching the front of her shop.

Shelly closed the top on her computer, stood, stretched, and casually walked behind the counter. She went straight to the back room of the shop and hurried out the back door, ran down the alley to where the road bent and emerged between the Cowgirl Gallery and the Pharmacy. She crossed the street and made her way behind the park where the statue stood. There was a man crouched there. He was watching her shop; wearing khaki clothes and Chukkas, a bottle of water sat on the ground next to him, a gun belt encircled his waist. She recognized the blued steel of a GP100 with a six inch barrel. She walked quietly up behind him and with a deft movement removed the pistol from its holster. The man stood and spun quickly around.

“Hey,” he shouted. Then he noticed who had disarmed him. His shoulders slumped, “Give it back,” he blustered.

Shelly tucked the piece under her belt at the small of her back. “You got some explaining to do before getting anything back. Maybe you should start by telling me who you are.”

“Special Agent Green, FBI,” he said.

“What are you doing here Special Agent Green? Why are you watching my shop?”

“I’m part of an International Task Force investigating art theft around the world. I’m interested in the painting hanging on your back wall.”

“Why would you be interested in that? It’s a reproduction that my father painted and gave me over ten years ago.”

“We think it might be the original that was stolen from the Uffizi gallery in Florence about two and a half years ago, when your dad had conveniently walked away from his incarceration.”

“Dad’s back in jail now. He’s been there for a long time. I told you he gave this to me long before you guys locked him up in the first place.”

“Then you won’t mind if I come in and take a look?” Special Agent Green asked.

Shelly sighed, pulled the pistol, spun it around and gave it back to Green, “I won’t mind if you promise to buy a large mocha. I’m having a slow day and I could use the sale.”

“Deal,” the Special Agent quickly jumped on the proffered arrangement and reholstered his piece.

“But,” Shelly continued, “nobody goes behind the counter but me or my employees, you can look from the front of the bar, and you can’t handle the painting. It means a lot to me, my dad did it, and for you, a large mocha will cost ten bucks… in advance.” She held out her hand.

Special Agent Green reached in his pocket and pulled out a money clip from which he extracted a ten dollar bill. She took the money and didn’t move.

“You should tip your barista,” she scolded him. “Twenty percent is customary.”

He fished out another two dollars and handed them to her. She stuffed the bills in her pocket and headed across the street.

“Well, come on,” she said as she beckoned over her shoulder.

Special Agent Green fell in line, followed her across the street.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. I have seen the devil
  2. What happened here?
  3. She won’t be having anymore

Use these prompts to write something that you enjoy writing. Or ignore them and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.

 


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

OLWG #21 – Relaxation

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. I have chosen for my practice today to write more poetry.  I’ve chosen, Cinquain. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



A cinquain is a five-line poem that was invented by Adelaide Crapsey. She was an American poet who took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka. A collection of her poems, titled Verse, was published in 1915, one year after her death, and included 28 Cinquains.

Cinquains are particularly vivid in their imagery and are meant to convey a certain mood or emotion.

A Classic Cinquain Example

Here is an example from Adelaide Crapsey of a cinquain that she wrote titled “Snow”

Look up…
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
The snow!

American Cinquain Form

Originally, Crapsey created the form for the American cinquain with five lines and a fixed number of stresses per line as so:

The first line has one stress, which was usually iambic meter with the first syllable unstressed and the second stressed.
Line two has two stresses.
Line three has three stresses.
Line four has four stresses.
Line five has one stress.

Because poets seek what is often intangible she modified the form to encompass a certain number of syllables per line:

Line one had two syllables.
Line two had four syllables.
Line three had six syllables.
Line four had eight syllables.
Line five had two syllables.

My first go is American Cinquain (of the latter form) that I have titled “Relaxation”

We love
In the cool shade
Of the cottonwood tree
Unashamed, we talk, touch, kiss, dream
We love

My second go is Tanka – also titled “Relaxation”

Note the form of Tanka is five lines but the syllable count is different than American Cinquain. Tanka is 57577. I wanted to convey the same idea, in both poems but I encountered considerable difficulty with this format. I chose to shuffle some Spanish in with the English, it was easier for me to do while adhering to the syllabic requirements of the Tanka.

a dry, dusty day
debajo del álamo
a sin vergüenza
we make love then lie apart
to talk, dream, kiss and reprise

This translates to English, in my mind, as:

a dry, dusty day
under the cottonwood
unashamed
we make love then lie apart
to talk, dream, kiss and reprise

A bit different and lacking the required structure, for the purist. I think I like the one with the embedded Spanish.

You guys can play with this. Play with the structure, play with language, pare it down then paste it back together again.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. I’m gonna be late for work
  2. Hippopotamus
  3. Wait till your father gets home

But if those seem a little redundant you can try these if you want:

  1. They had one greedy son
  2. King of clubs
  3. I do

Mix and match is also acceptable if you so desire. Alternatively, you can ignore them all and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.

 


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun

OLWG #20 – Like a Bird

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here is just for practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



Grandpa sat patiently on the wooden bench, my valise tucked under his knees and his hands resting on the top of his gaily painted walking stick. Glancing up, he looked at the time; 7:45. He sighed. I watched him as he leaned forward and peered down the track. He leaned back and took a dip then tucked it inside his bottom lip, against his gum. The platform light buzzed furiously.

He looked back at me, “This train is never on time.” He said matter of factly.

“Do I really have to go?” I asked.

“Your daddy’s gonna be worried about you.”

“I don’t wanna go back there.”

“Listen Sammy, you know I love you and, you know I loved your mother but he’s gonna come lookin’ for you. He’s your daddy. You need to give him a chance.” Grandpa turned his head and spit a great glob of brown tobacco juice that hit the spittoon about five feet away.

I turned my head and looked pleadingly at Grandma. Her eyes were watering as she nodded her head in agreement with what Grandpa had said.

Grandma never talked much but she put her arm around my shoulder and pulled me in close. She smelled like flowers, face powder, and mothballs. When Grandpa stood and walked to the edge of the platform to search for the missing train she wrapped her other arm around me, “You’ll be back,” she whispered, her voice crackling like a newspaper opening up.

The train whistle blew in the distance and she let go of me to straighten my cap. Grandpa looked back and motioned me to get up and bring my grip

That was the night I learned how to fly.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. my name’s not Bud
  2. Southern Comfort and smoke
  3. pull on your coat

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #19 – Paulo Realizes He Has a Soul

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here is just for practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.



Becka came to me that day in high school.

“Paulo, I’m late.”

“What do you mean, you’re late?”

“What do you mean, what do I mean? I mean I’m late.”

“What are you telling me for? What are you gonna to do about it?”

“What am I gonna do about it? This is as much your issue as it is mine.”

“You have to go to the clinic. I’ll give you a ride.”

“I think we should have it.”

“No way, I hate babies.”

“No ya don’t Paulo.”

“Fuck I don’t.”

“No one with a soul hates babies Paulo, and you have a beautiful soul.”

When she put it that way, I had to agree. We were wed three weeks later. I lost Becka when Catherine was born. They said it was complications of childbirth.

Maybe I do have a soul after all. Catherine just finished med school. I’m proud of her. She’s still my baby.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. Dirty little secrets
  2. The cure is worse
  3. Nothing they tell you is real

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!