Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Man in the Arena

The July assignment in the Deadlines for Writers online group was to write a sonnet. Mine is based upon a speech given in Paris in 1910 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Man in the Arena

The man in the arena sweats and strains,
Lays bare before the world his life’s intent;
His every move, his losses and his gains,
Evaluated as his strength is spent.

And those who do not dare watch in disdain,
 “See how he stumbles,” comes the sneering voice;
Themselves untried, the critics loudly claim,
“I could do better, if I’d made the choice!”

The man who fights the battle stays the course;
His gaze, unbroken, focused on the prize.
Devotion to his cause his driving force –
He’ll stand or fall though thunder fills the skies.

 A life worth living calls for light and heat;
So armor up and dare to risk defeat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


The Poetry assignment for June in Deadlines for Writers was "blank."



I sat down to write

A poem tonight.

Beautiful thoughts filled my head.

My fingers were set

On the keyboard, and yet –

Eyes drifted to window instead!


The sun was so yellow,

Red flowers so mellow,

Blue skies and green grass so loud,

How could I stay

Behind glass all day

Just lost in my wordy cloud?


So I tucked thoughts away

To spend another day.

They’re locked in my mental bank.

Tomorrow’s the time

To put them in rhyme.

For now, my paper is blank.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Little Pieces

The last assignment for the Keep Writing Challenge is to write a 180-word story using the prompt "glue."

Little Pieces

“How are you?” mumbles the tight-lipped clerk as I unload groceries onto the conveyor belt.
“Fine.” I recite my line and follow it with the obligatory, “And you?”

Later, loading my groceries into the backseat of my pickup truck I imagine how differently that encounter could have gone.

“Oh, thank you for asking, Ms Grocery-store-checkout-lady.  I noticed how rudely that last customer treated you, and I am sorry for that. I hope you can forget it and enjoy the rest of your day. And, since you asked, I’m not feeling very well. The arthritis in my left hand has made it almost useless this week. My Mother’s dementia has made a dramatic turn for the worse, too, and I am afraid I shouldn’t have left her alone to shop for groceries. My daughter’s family is really struggling to pay bills since the pandemic ended their second income...”

I start the truck and pull carefully out into traffic. Life breaks us all into little pieces. We pile the pieces up and exist until we are able to glue them back together and live.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Shutdown Sultan

The penultimate Keep Writing Challenge assignment is to write a 300-word story using the prompt "hex."

The Shutdown Sultan

The Shutdown Sultan surveys the landscape of Mindy’s mind. He has feasted and controlled here. For thirteen weeks he has reigned here. The once-lush valley surely lies spent and exhausted in the wake of the Sultan’s invasion. Surely the spark of creativity he forced from her is extinguished!

The Sultan’s eye lingers on the myriad colorful canvases littering the atelier of Mindy’s home. Landscapes, seascapes, field flowers (relics of the remembered Outside) dominate the room. Giant roses, tulips, lilies-of-the-valley, and poppies grow in abundance. Flowers of indeterminate origin, many cultivated only in Mindy’s mind, threaten to burst the walls. Colorful splotches and splatters mar the floor; half-finished and hideous abstracts dare the timid to enter. 

He sighs. A small doubt has pushed into his consciousness. Has the isolation borne fruit? Has the enforced creativity devastated as he intended, or has its hex turned on him?

Turning his back on the offending atelier, the Shutdown Sultan strides into the study. Surely here he will find affirmation of damage from Mindy’s hex-induced creativity. His attention centers on Mindy’s laptop, and hope reignites in his heart. The device languishes beside the reading chair, exhausted but maintaining a tight hold on the 70 little stories that bear witness to Mindy’s dogged adherence to the Keep Writing Challenge.

The Sultan scrolls through the vagaries of Mindy’s mind as shown in her fiction. She has visited far-off lands, enjoyed the company of family and imaginary creatures, found adventure, made friends, honed skills. She has lived in her words, her scenes, her stories. Mindy’s creativity has taken the Sultan’s restrictions and pushed her to write, compelled her to paint, forced her to pound the ivories.

My fortress was so strong!  He thinks. How can it be that a simple creature like Creativity subverted the power of the Shutdown Sultan?!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Kids, Komputers, and Kolleagues

The Keep Writing Challenge for today is to write a 150-word story using the prompt "plunge."

Kids, Komputers, and Kolleagues

It had seemed so easy last month when I’d agreed to this! Now I was standing in front of my son’s first grade class and found myself unaccountably nervous.

This is crazy. I am a successful computer analyst. The state police trust me with their computer systems. I know this stuff backward and forward. These kids are 6 years old, for cryin’ out loud!

I had worked to simplify terminology to make my job understandable to children, so, smiling at the teacher, sitting all ears in the back of the room, I plunged in.

“I work at the police station, but I am not a police officer. My colleagues and I…..”

I continued, telling the children about how we study people’s computers to help the police punish the “bad guys.”

“Anybody have a question?” the teacher asked.

I quickly conceded abject failure when I heard the one question proffered, “What is a colleague?”

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Masters

The Keep Writing Challenge for today is to write a 250-word story using the prompt "tripod."

The Masters

Frances and Tom held hands and prepared to see the results. They had been disappointed so often! Could their marriage survive another?

Tom put out a restraining hand, “Honey, remember, if it’s not positive, we can always try again. And I will always love you whether or not we have a baby.” They prepared themselves for the possibility of another disappointment.

They looked at the stick – and then at each other - in disbelief. “It’s positive!”

Frances threw her arms around her husband.

The pregnancy was a dream, even through the long quarantine, and Tom treated Frances like a queen. Soon it was only three weeks until their Thanksgiving baby would be here.

The Covid-19 virus had caused the postponement of Augusta’s famous Masters Golf Tournament, usually held in April. Their hometown’s big event had been rescheduled for early November.

Tom left home early on the morning of November 9, a full three weeks before the baby was due, to watch the scheduled practice rounds with his friend, Gary. Suddenly Tom’s cellphone rang and lit up.

“Fran’s mother?!  What could she want?” Tom exclaimed.

“Tom! Frances is in labor!  Meet us at Augusta Hospital. I hate for you to miss the Masters, but you’ll just have to ask Gary to video it for you. Hurry!”

Frances was resting between contractions when the door opened. “Oh Tom! Thank God, you made it!” she cried.

Fran was flummoxed to see Gary entering the labor room carrying Tom's video camera and tripod!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Gift for My Mother

The Keep Writing Challenge for today is to write a 90-word story using the prompt "listen."

A Gift for My Mother

I concentrate on holding eye contact as my Mother talks. I’ve heard this family story – in these very same words – at least twice today – hundreds of times in total.

“Do you remember that?” she asks, expectantly.

I will myself to feel her enthusiasm. “Oh yes, he was such a prankster!”

I squeeze out a chuckle, light my face, and follow my script, “And, what was it Grace said then?”

Fire ignites in eyes often dull with diminished interest in life. There are so few gifts I can still give my aging mother.

I listen.

The Man Not Taken

The Poetry Prompt for May in the poetry division of the Deadlines for Writers website was "taken." We had one month to write a poem on that topic.  I submitted this one today. It is a parody of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

The Man Not Taken

Two suitors said my hand they sought,
And knowing I could not marry both
And be one partner, long I thought
And pondered one whose faults were naught.
Who promised to provide more growth.

Then I chose the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
For he was strong and debonair,
And, as for faults, they were not there.
So both men scored about the same.

Though both that night had great appeal,
With brilliant minds and loving hearts,
The die was cast; I’d sealed the deal.
And knowing that the choice was real
I set my sail and played my part.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two suitors sought my hand, and I –
I took the one that caught my eye,
And that has made all the difference.