The Journals: A Life #fridayflash #nationalpoetrymonth #poetry #amwriting

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In celebration of National Poetry Month, my Friday Flash this week is not a flash at all, but a poem (though if you consider it prose instead I suppose it could be called a flash). Be sure to check out Robert Lee Brewer’s  PAD challenge on Writer’s Digest and have a go at poetry yourself, whether you normally pen poems or, (like me), do not.

The Journals: A Life, was inspired by last year’s PAD challenge prompt, to write a poem about “new arrivals”. Though I quickly threw a poem together that day it was quite unorganized and so I’ve messed with it several times over the past year. I hope you enjoy!

the journals

The Journals: A Life, by Deanna Schrayer

Battered dun Samsonite filled near to                                    

flowing over, bought sixteen years hence,                    

from a stranger’s yard one Saturday.                                     

She knows there’s more room – the letters need          

only be rearranged. “You can’t take                                       

it with you,” friends mock… yet again.                        

 

Thin yellows move aside grudgingly.                            

Worn creams scoot over, more accepting,                    

(they are young yet, they know no better).                   

There are those that were once aflame with                            

neon glow, dim now beyond color                                

itself. Dull nothingness, remains.                                  

 

Tattered scraps dance with joy. Only these                            

are thrilled with the company, welcome                                                   

her new words with a potent hunger,                                     

leap into the dusty air, flutter                                       

about, embracing one another,                                               

glide like feathers to the bottom.                                   

 

She sits on the lid, blocking daylight                                      

altogether, clasps the lock, wonders,

once again, how many years will have

passed before her eyes feel the need to

touch those words flowed from ink-stained, aching

fingers. What those words will mean, then.

********

Go here to read a couple of my favorite poems. Who are your favorite poets? Do you have a particular favorite poem?

Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

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That Dog Won’t Hunt! for Uncle Bill #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

That Dog Won’t Hunt is rated PG by my standards. Please note: there is no specific reason the dog’s name is the same as my dad’s, it’s just what came to me.  🙂

For Uncle Bill, who loved his dogs, and a good joke

Annie, Uncle Bill's dog
Annie, Uncle Bill’s dog

That Dog Won’t Hunt, by Deanna Schrayer

“I told you Mabel, that dog won’t hunt! It ain’t gonna do you a bit of good to ask him to go get your newspaper. The darn thing is lazy!”

Ralph growled.

“Now James, he’s a good dog and you know it. Why, he always does what I ask him, watch this.” Mabel rattled the treats in her pocket and looked down at the old basset hound, “Ralph? Ralphie? You’re a good boy ain’t ya? I know you are.” She bent down and ruffled the fur around his neck, glanced at James to make sure he wasn’t watching before she took a piece of bacon out of her pocket and waved it under Ralph’s nose. She stood back up, “Okay Ralph, go get Mama the paper.”

Ralph took off down the walk, his floppy ears slapping the concrete and his tail wagging with pride.

“Humph” James said.

Ralph returned to Mabel, holding the paper perfectly in his mouth, just sideways enough to keep his slobber off of it. She stooped down and patted his head, took the paper and gave him the treat, “That’s my baby,” she crooned, “You’re mama’s boy, ain’t ya? Yes, you’re such a good boy, yes you are.” She went further and further into the baby talk until James couldn’t stand it any longer. He stood and stared at his wife, incredulous.

“How in the world do you do that?” he asked her, “He won’t do a darn thing for me, but he’d kiss your butt in a coon’s eye.”

“I’m just good to him, that’s all,” she replied, “You gotta show him you appreciate him James, just give him a little love.”

 “Come on boy,” Mabel told Ralph, “Let’s go upstairs and leave ole’ grouchy Daddy alone.

“Humph,” James grunted as he walked out of the basement.

Ralph followed his real master upstairs to the kitchen, growling his frustration along the way. He imagined himself standing on his hind legs and wagging his paw in James’s face, “Well of course I won’t hunt for you, you grouchy old man. Why don’t you try treating me like a human being now and then, huh? Would it kill you just to give your faithful dog a treat every once in a while? Darn right I won’t hunt, not for you, no how, no way!”

“Here you go sweetheart,” Mabel sat a plate of biscuits and gravy down at the table and Ralph jumped up in his chair and put his bib on.

“How long we gonna keep this charade up anyway Mabel?” he asked her, “Don’t you think we need to tell your old man I’m not a dog, that I’m really your cousin that didn’t truly get lost in the woods that day? Quite frankly I’m getting tired of fake bacon.”

“Now Ralph, you know his ole’ heart couldn’t take that kind of a shock. We can’t tell him and you know it.”

“Well I’ll tell you one thing right now,” Ralph replied, “I don’t care if he ever did start treating me better. As long as he goes on telling everybody and their brother I won’t hunt, then I won’t, ya hear? I won’t!”

Ralph and Mabel both jumped when they heard a boisterous thump! They turned to the kitchen door to see James sprawled across the threshold, his normally beady eyes bulging from his sallow face; he was panting and pointing a long bony finger at Ralph. 

“Ahahahaha,” Ralph hooted, “Guess I won’t have to worry about hunting for that ole’ grouch no more now will I? Ahahahahaha!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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A poem a day keeps the wrinkles away #poetry #worldpoetryday #nationalpoetrymonth

Wolrd poetry day

If you’re an avid (or is that obsessive?) reader as I am, you’ve surely encountered those articles that proclaim reading is not only a pleasurable experience, it also helps to preserve many aspects of our minds, even assisting in slowing the aging process. This Friday, the 21st, being World Poetry Day, and with National Poetry Month in April fast approaching, I felt it the perfect time to celebrate the many advantages of reading.

If you aren’t a regular reader, but would like to be, I suggest subscribing to The American Academy of Poets’ Poem-a-Day. It’s a fantastic way to initiate reading something each day as most of the time the poems are short and, (for those of you who claim “allergy” to poetry), the older, and usually long, poems are few and far-between. Often they are profound, sometimes silly, even outright hilarious. Plus, you may discover that you absolutely adore poetry, or you may decide one poem each day is not enough and start reading more and more and voila, you’re a reader! You might even be inspired to write your own poetry, something I encourage, even if you don’t know the difference between a sestina and a stanza. No one has to see it if you don’t want them to.

I could go on and on about the many reasons reading, and writing, poetry is so good for our souls, but I believe it’s better to give you a couple of my favorites. These particular two may make it seem I’m morbid but no, I just like the profoundness of both, and I believe, upon reading them, you’ll understand why I love poetry so much.

The Bolt, by Mary Kinzie

That girl so long ago walked, as they all did, shop girls,

Little cousins, and church friends, to the unflattering

Hack of the hem just where the calf begins to swell,

Felt ruchings of the bodice’s stiff panels

Gal the flesh beside the flattening ornate

Armature of underwear (like pads and straps

For livestock, fretted by tooling and bright studs),

So she must yank her knees against

Pounds of rigid drapery in the storm of heat,

 

Trailing through the pestering, gray heads

Of Queen Anne’s lace, wind raveling

Her hair and sweeping through prolific

Jagged-bladed grass – a wind that pressed down

There like God with both His hands, mashing the air,

Darkening the hole where the dry mouth of the wood

Yawned to drink the stumbling travelers already touched

By the heavy sacs of rain that broke and ran

In gouts down saturated pleats of surge…

Here that girl ran last, so long ago, to be run through

By one long lightning thread that entered, through

A slender purple bruise, the creamy skin of her temple,

 

The instant that it happened, nobody remembered

How she looked or spoke, so quickly had she blended

With this evocation of her having been.

 

This was the past: a stroke of imagery stare-

Frozen, finished in suspension.

*

I love how the poem uses two definitions of bolt – a bolt of fabric and a bolt of lightning.

~~~~~~~~

I Felt a Funeral in My Brain, (280) Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s poems were not titled, only given a number).

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading – treading – till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through –

 

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum –

Kept beating – beating – till I thought

My mind was going numb –

 

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space – began to toll,

 

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race,

Wrecked, solitary, here –

 

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down –

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing – then –

*I love how the ending here is truly as abrupt as “the end” always is.

~~~~~~~~

And here is [the link to] a poem I wrote, She Saw It Comingwhich was originally a flash piece but readers’ comments led me to realize it should’ve been a poem all along.

Who are your favorite poets? What are your favorite poems? Why do you believe you’re attracted to these particular poems and/or poets?

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The Beginning #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

The Beginning is rated PG-13 by my standards.

The Beginning

The Beginning, by Deanna Schrayer

This is not the beginning of the story. The beginning starts at the end. But as Austin waits on the front porch for Shannon to arrive he is oblivious of that forthcoming end. He’s eighteen-years-old after all, with all his life ahead of him. He has no thought of an end, any end.

Austin’s girlfriend is coming over to have dinner with him and his parents before they go out for the night. As he pushes himself back and forth on the porch swing, chewing on a straw and squinting towards the pine trees lining the long drive, Austin imagines where he can take Shannon this evening.

She loves to be where the action is – carnivals, ball games, concerts, anywhere she can listen to the roar of a crowd as she holds Austin’s sweaty hand and pulls him onward to whatever’s next. Austin doesn’t mind, he simply takes her proffered hand and waits to be moved. He walks slightly behind her, allowing her to lead while he watches her thick brunette hair bounce on her shoulders, occasionally tripping over his feet because he isn’t truly there, he’s in the back seat of his Jeep, Shannon’s hair tickling his nose, her mouth on his neck.

“Hey, you!” Shannon laughs and pulls Austin into her arms, whispers in his ear, “Watch where you’re going,” laughs again, kisses his cheek.

The crunch of tires on gravel startles Austin out of the daydream and he jumps up out of the swing, ready to run to her, to wrap his arms around her waist and swing her around as he pours kisses on her neck. (He hasn’t seen her for a whole week, she’d been on vacation with her family). But it’s only Skip coming up the drive, his dad’s friend who is here to help Darryl fix the tractor. Of course it wouldn’t be Shannon, Austin thinks, she’s never on time, so nutty-professor like, or maybe just always in a rush; she often has to search high and low for her keys, her phone, her purse. She’ll be a while, he’s sure of it.

Austin heads to the garage where he takes out his dirt bike and rolls it to the edge of the hills beyond the back yard. It’s a cloudy day, still sticky from the storm that passed through last night. The ground is soft, squishy, and Austin wonders if he should just put the bike away, if maybe he shouldn’t chance covering his whole self in mud as he knows will happen. But then he figures he’ll have plenty of time to get cleaned up before Shannon gets there. He jumps high in the air and lands perfectly on the seat, ignites the cycle and revs it a few times before gunning it, fishtailing the back tire, spewing grass and mud in his wake as he climbs the hill.

Austin still has no idea what’s coming. For now he thinks only of Shannon while the bike vibrates his entire body, like he’s descending the world’s fastest roller coaster, his girl by his side, screaming. 

*

Shannon wants to speed, to get to Austin as fast as she can, but she takes the curvy mountain road in her Datsun slow and easy. The roads are still wet up here, the full oak and pine trees casting too much shadow to allow any sunlight through to dry the asphalt.

She barely sees the deer fly through the air in front of her. Shannon slams on the brakes and skids off the shoulder of the road. She sits trembling in the car, just catching sight of the puffy white tail disappearing down the mountain. She wonders where the fawns are; she has always seen at least two babies wherever a doe is. But after watching a couple of minutes as the car idles, no more deer appear.

Her limbs begin to relax and Shannon feels her foot still pressing the brake and she lets up on it slowly, shifting the car into park. She reaches for her phone in the passenger seat with the intention of texting Austin. But her phone isn’t there. Shannon leans over and rakes her hand around on the passenger floorboard but it isn’t there either. She’s left it at home again. Sighing, she straightens up and readjusts the rearview mirror, squirms around until she’s back in driving position. She’ll have to turn around and go back home to retrieve her phone.

*

Austin’s dad throws the wrench down and turns towards the back field. “Damn it Austin, slow down!” he screams. He’s not been watching but Darryl Camfield knows the sound of that motorcycle as well as he knows the recklessness of his son riding it. He can’t concentrate on what Skip is trying to show him for the awful whining racket of that bike engine.

Austin rides on, oblivious, hitting the bumps in the ground as hard as he can in order to send the bike soaring through the air.

“Damn boy’s gonna kill hisself,” Daryl mutters as he turns back to the tractor. Skip stands by the open hood, beefy arms across his chest, grinning and shaking his head as if he’s seen this, heard this very reaction from his friend more than once.

“Austin!”

He hadn’t heard his dad’s aggravated shout a few minutes ago but he brakes now. One yell from his mother’s commanding voice and he knows: stop. Austin’s happy to see she’s up and around today at least. He stands with the bike beneath him, relaxing his hands to slow the revving. He looks to the back porch where his mother stands patiently, nods his head to tell her he’s listening.

“Shannon’s going to be a little late,” she hollers, “she forgot her phone and had to go back to get it.”

Austin gives his mom a thumbs-up, then jumps and once again the Honda engine booms to life, taking the young man on a fast ride. He catches a glimpse of his dad and Skip looking towards him, both of them shaking their heads, Skip smiling wide as always and Darryl almost smiling but quickly wiping his mouth as if to mime a frown. Austin takes his hand off the bar long enough to wave at them and laughs as he picks up speed, heading for the next makeshift ramp.

*

The back yard is fully shaded now; Austin’s been riding longer than he thought. He gets off the motorcycle and turns it towards the house, walking it down the hill. He’s hot, his muddy jeans and tee shirt sticking to his drenched skin, the sweat dripping from the ends of his hair onto his face when he takes the stifling helmet off. He blinks sweat out of his eyes, looks towards the driveway, and tries to focus.

Shannon is standing in the driveway, wearing a gauzy-looking white sundress that shivers in the slight breeze. She holds her hands out as if in supplication, but he can’t see the look on her face, she’s too far away.

And that’s when it happens.

Austin loses his balance and loses his grip on the motorcycle. He feels himself going down, feels his ankle twist grotesquely as he falls and falls and falls as if from the top of a mountain, he feels the motorcycle following his tumble down the hill with ever-increasing momentum and there’s a raucous crack as the heavy bike hits….

It’s over. It is dark and quiet and Austin doesn’t know where he is. He feels stupid as he remembers Shannon was watching, she had seen him stumble and tumble down the hill like an idiot. He sits up gingerly and is surprised to find he’s facing the back fields. He turns his torso, carefully, and wipes the sweat from his eyes with his sleeve, smearing mud on his face.

 Shannon is nowhere that Austin can see.

He pulls himself up off the ground and is relieved to find he isn’t hurt, maybe a bruise or two, his ankle throbs a little. The bike is at the bottom of the hill, resting against the back porch steps as if its owner had gotten disgusted with it and threw it down.

His dad is walking towards him, slowly, removing his greasy cap and slumping forward as with a great weight on his shoulders. The frown on Darryl’s face is not the same one he wore when he yelled at his son a while ago; it’s a look Austin has never seen before. Austin’s dad stands before him and stares, unmoving.

“Dad?” Austin says.

Darryl glances away and runs his hand through his hair, several times.

Something is wrong. What’s wrong?

“Mom? Is it Mom?” Austin starts to run towards the house.

His dad grabs hold of Austin’s arm and stops him. He shakes his head – no, not Mom.

He takes hold of the boy’s shoulders. “Austin,” he says and hangs his head. He looks back up at his son, grips his arms tighter. And he tells him, “There’s been an accident…..it’s Shannon.”

And this is it, this is the beginning, the beginning of the end for Austin Camfield.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First of all, I’m sorry to all of you who like happy endings! But stories have a mind of their own….

I don’t normally “cheat” where Friday Flash is concerned but this short, (around 1500 words), simply did not work well broken into two parts. It is also rare that I write in present tense but I hope you can see why this one called for it. Thanks so much for reading!

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The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Nurse #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors! The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Nurse, possibly the shortest flash I’ve ever written, is rated PG-13, according to my standards.

 mad nurse framed

The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Nurse, by Deanna Schrayer

The nurse stretched her thin lips wide to reveal a mouth full of jagged brown teeth. She held the needle up beside my face, and though her lips didn’t move, I felt her sour breath lick my ear. “Don’t worry,” she said, just before this….this noise escaped her….It wasn’t so much a laugh as it was an otherworldly gleeful madness erupting from her gut. “Don’t worry,” she’d said, and pointed the needle towards my neck, “this won’t hurt a bit.”

*****************************************************

I just finished a couple of terrific reads, (one of which has inspired me to dribble out all sorts of, I gotta say it – mad – stories like this one) – be sure to stop and browse my bookshelf while you’re here.

Click here to follow me on Facebook,and here to follow me on Twitter.

Click here for fiction, and here for nonfiction.

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Stories and Musings by Deanna Schrayer

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