Friday, July 21, 2017

Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

So here we are again on a Friday. And it’s an in between Friday - not the first one where I post a picture prompt, nor the last one where I post my results, but one of the ones in between where I’m in a kind of limbo.

Originally I was supposed to post an excerpt from what I’ve been working on lately. Unfortunately, other than blog posts I haven’t been working on much besides poetry lately.

While I’m hoping to change that in the days to come, that doesn’t help me today. So after thinking about it for a while, I decided to give you an excerpt from one of my earlier works. And by early I mean one of my very first (if not the first) novel-length ideas I ever had. So early it was typed on a manual typewriter, which means I had to retype it on the computer.

It was a convoluted mix of fantasy and science fiction. Science fiction because it was set on Saturn and there were aliens and some technology involved, fantasy because of the magic and magical creatures. Most of what I have is notes on characters and creatures and cities, there’s a crude map, a brief history, and the beginning of a crude outline.

It seems to be part quest, part coming of age, part a hero’s tale. There’s not a lot to go on other than back ground information. All I really remember is that most of the action took place on Saturn, and Stonehenge was a link between Earth and Saturn. And the rings of Saturn are what keeps Earth from realizing there’s a whole civilization below. Yes, seriously!

There seemed to be two beginnings to this tale. One was in first person, the main character being a woman, and the other was in third person with the main character being a male. Since that’s the one that bore the title “Original Plot” that’s the one I’m posting here.

Untitled Novel

Tazrak stood and gazed at the distant hills as the sun turned the clouds from white to blood red. The sun sank below the horizon, yet still he stood watching. His hard, yet handsome features gave little indication of his thoughts. His sun-bronzed shoulders were tight with tension, and his brow was creased with lines of concentration.

It was the fifth day, of the fifth month, of the fifth year of waiting. It was the night that could bring despair - or hope. It was the first time in almost five thousand years that the ceremony of summoning was to be performed at the Circle of Stones.

“Tazrak,” called one of the guards, not daring to approach. “It is almost time.”

Tazrak nodded and turned from the darkness. He strode with long sure strides towards a large, green and gold tent. Lifting the flap he peered inside and saw that the Wizard Priests were ready for him. The priests had been sent all the way from the Great Temple. It was a great honour, and they had borne with them the ceremonial robe of the High Priest.

The moons started to rise as Tazrak donned the flowing white robe and placed the emerald pendant around his neck. A char howled in the distance - neither a hunting call nor a call to a kill but an eerie lament to the gods. A sudden wind arose as Tazrak, flanked by the two Wizard Priests, moved towards the Circle of Stones.

Tarzak turned and addressed the crowd below. “My people, tonight is the night we have awaited for five long years. We have awaited in fear and in hope. It is the night decreed by Zor that we may bury the past and for this night only once again perform the Ceremony of Summoning. Our need is great, my people. Let us hope that the gods are merciful on t his night.”

After that it skips to Earth where a young man gets lost in a cave system that opens up to a large chamber with a replica of Stonehenge in it. He finds a similar robe and pendant and on impulse puts them both on and steps to the middle of the circle. The date is May 5 and the time is 5 p.m.

Some day I may revisit this story - as cheesy as it seems, I think it has potential. All I have to figure out is the end game for the hero. ;-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bingo Blues

One of my jobs when I worked in the Municipal Office of our town (many years ago) was to record the bingo results from the weekend games. I was pretty surprised by the number of charities that ran bingos to raise funds. And even more surprising was how little they actually made from it.

But bingo was big business in our town, especially with the seniors. I can’t remember exactly when I visited one of the bingo halls one night - taking a message to someone, picking someone up, I have no idea. I know I wasn’t there long and I wasn’t there to play. The one thing I do remember is walking into the pervading cloud of smoke.

It was shortly after that that legislation was passed banning smoking in public places. It caused a pretty big stir at the time, but despite the artistic license in my poem, nothing stops a die-hard bingo player.

Bingo Blues

The room’s filled with fog
From the chain smoking grannies
Don’t mess with their luck
Or you’ll find yourself
Out on your ear

The concentration is fierce
Daubers flying furiously
Hearing aides at the max
Canes within reach
To snag a new card

It’s Saturday night
At the Bingo Hall
Truck on over
And don’t forget
Your pension cheque.

Then the hammer falls
In the form of a by-law
Banning the cancer sticks
Causing an uprising
Of the blue hair set.

Now it’s Saturday night
And they meet at Timmie’s
Walkers parked outside
While they reminisce
Over a cup of joe.

Friday, July 14, 2017


You're writing, you're coasting, and you're thinking, 'This is the best thing I've ever written, and it's coming so easily, and these characters are so great.' You put it aside for whatever reason, and you open it up a week later and the characters have turned to cardboard and the book has completely fallen apart. That's the moment of truth for every writer: Can I go on from here and make this book into something? I think it separates the writers from the nonwriters. And I think it's the reason a lot of people have that unfinished manuscript around the house, that albatross.
― Jacqueline Woodson

Don’t you hate when that happens? It starts out being the best story you’ve ever written, but eventually off come the rose coloured glasses and it’s not quite as great as you thought it was. In fact, it needs a lot of work. That’s where revision and editing come in.

And to me, that’s what really separates the writers from the non-writers - the willingness to revise and edit. Nowadays it’s so easy to self publish a book that literally anyone can do it. But should they? Definitely not!

Like most avid readers, I have an e-reader. In the beginning you just had to slap a FREE sticker on an e-book and I’d download it, but once I hit the 1,000 mark I became slightly more discriminating. I joined Book Bub and Amazon sends me a daily email offering several books for free or sale prices. Which is why I’m now at over 1700 unread electronic books.

Tree books are guaranteed to be professionally done. They’ve been edited (and revised and edited some more) and formatted and printed via a traditional publisher. With e-books there’s no such guarantee. It’s so easy to self publish these days that many eager new writers (and a few that have been around long enough they should know better) jump the gun and publish the book before it’s ready. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve had to delete from my Kindle because what starts out as a promising story gets bogged down with poor formatting, lack of editing, and sloppy writing.

It’s not enough to finish that manuscript, writing is the easy part. It’s the revising and editing and polishing that is the real work. If you think you’re done after one draft, you’re seriously kidding yourself. I don’t care what your great Aunt Gertrude says. You need to set it aside and then revise and edit until that book is polished until it shines.

And after setting it aside for a couple of weeks you realize maybe this book doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s no shame in having an albatross or two on your hard drive. They don’t take up a lot of space, and maybe someday you’ll figure out a way to fix it. Or maybe you know how to fix it, and yeah, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort but trust me, it’s worth it in the long run both in terms of sales and readership.

Just please, don’t let that albatross fly before it’s ready.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Caffeinated Dreams

This is a fairly new poem, written just a few weeks ago. I got the idea for it while, you guessed it, sitting on the pier sipping an iced coffee with a friend. The car was facing towards the beach and I made a comment about how nice it would be to sit under one of those trees to write.

The reality is that it wouldn’t be that all that conducive to writing. It was a weekend and there were hoards of screaming kids everywhere. Plus I’d probably do more people watching and looking at the scenery than actual writing.

But I came home and wrote the following poem:

Caffeinated Dreams

I sit on the pier
sipping my iced coffee
and I have a vision:
I sit in the park
under a tree
back against the rough bark
big floppy hat on my head
doodling, scribbling, writing in
a notebook propped up on my knees
words spilling over
right off of the page
racing away
with a shout of laughter
but I am unaware
that my story is escaping
and I keep writing
until it’s too dark
to see.
Anchored in reality
I take the last sip of my coffee
and with a wistful sigh
go home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Have you ever woken up knowing it’s not going to be a good day? Yeah, that was me this morning, even before I stepped in a pile of cat barf as I came downstairs. It doesn’t happen to me often - the knowing part, not the bad day thing. I get more than my fair share of bad days, but I don’t always know right off that’s the way the wind is going to blow.

I may have mentioned once or twice (or a couple of dozen times by now) that the writing hasn’t been going so good lately. While once again I got all my blog posts done last week, once again that was pretty much it. And it’s not like I didn’t have the time to write. There were a couple of nice chunks of time through the week, but I sat in front of the blank screen of my lap top and nothing. I’d pick up a pen and pad of paper and nothing. The strange part was I had no problem writing lengthy journal entries or poetry. It was only when I tried to write fiction that the connection between my brain and my fingers seemed broken.

So Saturday I sat in my office, but instead of writing I ended up doing a great deal of reading online, mostly blogs of other writers who are going through a similar ordeal. And man, are there ever a lot of us out there. And while no one seemed to offer any solutions, we all seemed to have one thing in common - persistence.

We may think about giving up, we may even talk about it, but no matter how bad things are going there’s just something inside us that refuses to quit. True writers are nothing if not persistent.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge

With that in mind, Sunday morning I changed my routine slightly. I did not, as I usually do, watch Criminal Minds on A&E as I had my breakfast. They run six episodes back to back and it’s kind of like potato chips for me - I can’t stop with just one episode.

So no distracting TV for a change. However, instead of buckling down to write my morning was spent on several mundane tasks that could have been put off - sewing a missing button on a shirt, doing some hand wash laundry... It wasn’t until after lunch that I was filled with an urge I hadn’t felt in far too long. The urge to work on my current novel.

Never mind the fact that I still had two blog posts to write, two quiches to make for a family dinner (one vegetarian, one traditional), and a house to clean, I wanted to write fiction. So I did. I got a few hundred words in before I had to stop and get the quiches made, which took longer than expected, and the cleaning done.

Sometimes, the best way to do a thing is to just do it. A little step perhaps, but a step in the right direction.

So tell me, what do you do to get out of your writing funk?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prompt Me - Wall Between Worlds

I was so busy patting myself on the back last night for remembering to schedule a repeat of my poetry post to my regular blog that I completely forgot to schedule my picture prompt. Fortunately, I get up early enough that I won’t be too late with this. :-D

However, you are not getting the picture I intended.

I had the perfect picture all picked out. And I even had the beginnings of a story to go with it in my head. But do you think I can find that picture now? Of course not! It’s hiding somewhere on my hard drive. I tried a Google search but while I came up with a similar picture, it wasn’t the picture. *sigh*

The picture below is actually the second, second choice I made. The first one was another really cool picture, but the options for a story/poem were rather limited and I wasn’t sure there was a non-fiction option. It was a little abstract.

This picture almost tells a story by itself - the wild woods on one side, the tamed field on the other, the stone wall in between. Lots of possibilities here, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope it sparks some creative ideas in you.

The idea is to write a story, poem, or a non-fiction piece inspired by the above picture. And I’d love to see what you come up with! So don’t be shy, you can send your creative endeavour to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and with your permission I can even post it here to share with others. You’ve got until the last Friday of the month to put your thinking caps on.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


This being the first Wednesday of the month, it’s time for a form!

After much consideration, I chose the Paradelle. This form was invented by Billy Collins (who was the U.S. Poet Laureate at the time) as a parody of the Villanelle. He did it as a joke, claiming it was one of the more demanding French forms. The joke was on him when people took him seriously and began writing their own Paradelles.

This form has four stanzas with six lines each. The first three stanzas have the following format: lines 1 and 2 are the same; lines 3 and 4 are the same; but lines 5 and 6 must contain all the words from the previous lines, using each word only once. And just to make things interesting, the fourth stanza uses all of the words from the previous stanzas, and again uses each word only once. Got that now?

You’d think with all that repetition this would be an easy form, but it’s not. The last two lines of each stanza were bad, but nothing compared to the final stanza. Trying to fit all the words from the previous stanza without leaving any of them out is pretty tricky. If anyone out there would like a poetry challenge, I highly recommend the Paradelle.

And I unashamedly admit that I did not create a new poem as an example, this is the one from my original poetry post.

Vampire Moon

Red moon in the sky, swollen and full
Red moon in the sky, swollen and full
Bathing the world in its ghostly light
Bathing the world in its ghostly light
Swollen in red, the full ghostly world
Bathing the moon and sky in its light

The time has come to embrace the night
The time has come to embrace the night
Rise, take your place in the mortal realm
Rise, take your place in the mortal realm
Take your place in the night rise, mortal.
Embrace the realm, the time has come to.

Soft velvet night of the vampire moon
Soft velvet night of the vampire moon
Awaits you with your heart’s desire
Awaits you with your heart’s desire
Velvet vampire desire. Soft night,
Your heart’s moon awaits with you.

In your sky, has the velvet moon come?
The night awaits with your place in
the world, swollen and full of the light.
You, bathing in its soft ghostly night.
Rise, heart’s desire, take the mortal realm;
Time to embrace the red vampire moon.

If you’d like to learn more about the Paradelle, and maybe even try one for yourself, check out one of the following links:

Shadow Poetry - Paradelle
Writer's Digest - Poetic Asides
Poets Online Archive

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pet Peeve

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, not posting so much, just reading. And I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of late. People using old, perhaps relatively unknown, stories or poems and creating smarmy Facebook posts from them and riding on the coattails of someone else. Let me explain.

I’m sure there are lots of examples out there, but the first one I noticed (a couple of years ago) was a poem that was attached to a picture of a really old man lying in a hospital bed and the caption read that the poem was found amongst his things after he died. I’m sure you’ve all heard the poem before:

“Look at me nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me...”

The thing is, that poem was one of my mother’s favourites some 30 40 many years ago. It was actually written by a woman named Phyllis McCormack, who lived in Scotland, in the 1960s. I was rather appalled that this was being used to generate “likes” on Facebook and just how many people were buying into the idea that this was a recent occurrence.

Just recently I watched a moving video account of a young man who was orphaned in the Philippines 30 years ago and was adopted by an Australian couple, and who was seized by the desire to find out what happened to his parents all those years ago. So he went to the city he was adopted from and found his birth mother. Sound familiar? If you’ve seen the movie Lion, or read the book, it should.

A few days ago I watched what was supposed to be a video to inspire you to think of others. It told of a young married couple - she had long hair and he had a broken pocket watch. He sold his watch to buy her new combs for her hair, and comes home to discover she’s sold her hair to pay for the watch to be fixed. C’mon people, do you live under a rock that you’ve never heard of O. Henry’s feel good Christmas story called The Gift of the Magi? One of my all time favorites, it’s both touching and humorous. And I really resent the fact someone ripped it off for another smarmy Facebook post. They ought to be ashamed of themselves!

There are lots more examples, but I think I’ve made my point. Between stuff like that and all the political stuff going on, I find myself going on Facebook less and less.

And does anyone else find the way the internet keeps track of where you live and what you’ve been looking at creepy? The hubby and I were looking at ceiling panels for the kitchen and suddenly I keep getting ads for Home Depot popping up in my Facebook feed.

/end rant. ;-)

Last week wasn’t exactly a stellar week writing wise, but it was certainly better than the week before. I got all of my blog posts done, some of them even posted on time, plus I did a story and a poem for the Brazen Snake Books weekly prompts, AND I managed to get a super short story done for my monthly picture prompt.

But that was pretty much it because it was a holiday weekend and a busy one at that. And considering the wet, depressing week during which I was suffering from a sinus cold and migraines, I think I did pretty good.

This week’s goal is to get my blog posts done, at least attempt the Brazen Snake prompts, and actually get some of those word things in on one or more of my current WIP.

So tell me .... what are some of your pet peeves?

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Reader on the Rocks

It’s the end of the month and you know what that means, story time!

First off, here’s a reminder of this month’s picture prompt:

I have stared at this picture off and on over the last 30 days and I have to admit that while I still think this picture is really, really cool, it didn’t really spark any great literary ideas. It didn’t seem particularly poem-like, nor did it seem to generate a non-fiction idea - rock climbing? Reading on the shore? To be honest, the picture seemed to be a story all on its own, which is what I finally went with.

And if the story seems a little short, well, that’s because I don’t normally sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to write a story and it’s going to be this many words.” Usually I just sit down and write and let the story take its own path. There's a quote - I think it's from Alice in Wonderland - that goes something like: "Start at the beginning and go on until the end. Then stop." That's exactly what I did here.

Reader on the Rocks

It was the fog, really, that made it the perfect spot. When she caught sight of the rocks earlier in the week she thought they looked a little exposed. But now she stared down from her seat on top of them and all around her was a sea of fog. Sea was an apt term for it - the waves of grey fog undulated as though being tossed by the currents of an ocean, even though the nearest water was miles away.

To her pleased surprise the climb hadn’t been that difficult. The rocks weren’t jagged as one might expect, but more rounded - big, but not too big. And the fog had only just begun to roll in so it hadn’t done more than slightly dampen them. Getting down might be a little trickier, however, the fog was heavier now and the rocks were bound to become a bit slippery.

The path she’d taken had been a round-about one, not too easy to follow she hoped. An hour or two, that’s all she needed; she felt confident she would not be found any time soon. First, as always, they would try yelling, the volume increasing with her lack of response. But she was well out of range of even the most piercing of screams.

When that didn’t work one of them might try poking around her usual hiding spots, but only half-heartedly. By and large they were a lazy bunch, which was another reason to be up here instead of down there. It’s not that they couldn’t do things for themselves, it was just easier to have her do them.

Taking a deep breath of the damp air she made herself comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could be sitting on a pile of boulders. Family relegated to the back of her mind, she opened her book and began to read. At last! She’d finally be able to finish it without being interrupted!

Hope you enjoyed my little tale. Be sure and stop back next Friday to see what the picture prompt for the month of July will be.

Until then, happy writing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Silent Sentinel

This week’s poem is just a random one I chose from my files. It was written in 2013 and I believe it was “poemwork” for a poetry group I was a member of. As I recall, the assignment was to write a poem from the point of view of an inanimate object. In case you can’t guess from the poem itself, the point of view is from a stone that was carved into a gargoyle.

Silent Sentinel

I remember my birth
torn from the quarry
then found to be unfit for the stone circle.

I remember the superstitions,
the Wild Hunt's ride, sacrifices to beg a boon;
the dancing and the Green Man's bride.

I remember the poets,
who spent years perfecting the faultless rhyme
that would make of them heroes

I remember the old gods
no longer worshipped, not knowing why,
turning their backs on man.

I have felt the passage of time
felt the reshaping of my limestone form
awakened in my new home atop the cathedral

I have watched the world turn
the pleasure and the sorrow of man
the life and the death. Oh, so much death.

I have watched the city rise and fall
the new replacing the old until only I remain
keeping your secrets carved in stone.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Catching Up and Carrying On

I’m a procrastinator by nature. Long time, unapologetic, hard core procrastinator. Never put off today what you can put off until tomorrow or the next day. I’m also the queen of excuses. This is a bad combination. There’s always a good excuse for putting things off. But the thing about procrastination is that you can’t put things off forever. There comes a time when you have to fish or cut bait.

One of the things I’ve been putting off is catching up on my blog posts. I keep telling myself I can write a few blog posts over the weekend so I’ll have them ready to post during the week. But my weekends end up getting used to catch up on all the other stuff I don’t get done during the week. The end of the weekend comes and I’m surprised to find that once again I’ve got no writing done.

I had this big plan of posting poetry on Wednesdays, something to do with fiction on Fridays, and an update post on Sundays or Mondays. So far I’m not doing so good. The last couple of weeks I’ve been getting the poetry done, but not ahead of time.

And blog posts aren’t the only thing I seem to be putting off. I’d rather not have to talk about my fiction writing, but I did promise to be honest about my writing here. Most of my writing lately has been flash stories for the prompts from the Monday posts on the Brazen Snake Books blog, Snake Bites. Last week I didn’t even get that much done.

I’m not lacking for ideas or words, and I don’t believe in writer’s block. So what’s my problem? I have no clue, other than the spirit is willing but the rest of me seems to be out to lunch. Or maybe it’s just a total lack of motivation. And when I do have the motivation, life interferes and sucks up my time.

I take small comfort in the fact I’m not the only writer out there who’s feeling the same way lately. Even a few big name writers are finding it hard to motivate themselves these days. Nice to know I’m not alone. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have any solutions either.

I have a coffee mug that tells me to Keep Calm and Carry On. Good advice, that.

Instead of wasting time analyzing what’s happening and how to combat it, I’m going to try just carrying on. No excuses, no promises, just doing. Who knows, maybe it’ll even work. ;-)

One of my favourite personal quotes is this:

And what good is a life
That leaves nothing behind
Not a thought or a dream
That might echo in time

~ What is Eternal, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It’s from the album Beethoven’s Last Night, which is basically a fictional story of Beethoven struggling with a choice given to him by the devil - keep his soul but be forgotten by the world, or give up his soul so that he and his works will be remembered.

But another, perhaps more appropriate quote for me these days is this one from their Nightcastle album:

I wasted my time
'Til time wasted me

~ Believe, Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Life’s too short to waste so much of my time. Something I need to keep in mind.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Flarf

Yeah, I know it’s not the first Wednesday of the month, but I’m sharing a form with you anyway, just because I can. :-D

The Flarf is the brain child of Gary Sullivan, and started out as a scam on a contest sponsored by the site. I’m sure he was as surprised as anyone when it became a whole movement.

What makes a Flarf both fun and easy is the fact you take your raw material from the internet, specifically a Google search. Simply use two unrelated terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "beautiful + corpse" and piece together your poem by cutting and pasting from the search results page.

You can also write a Flarf based on your Twitter or Facebook feeds, but I chose the more traditional Google search. The terms I used were "kitten + apocalypse".

Kitten Apocalypse

The world will end by kittens
and I want to explain how this will happen
in a lot of depth but
I have not made the video!

Mass resurrection
brings all dead party
and raid members back to life.
Beware.. The kittens have gone crazy!
To me, they are truly evil.

Do you see kittens staring at you?
Do they look sinister/evil!?
Avoid the radioactive zombie kittens
in a post apocalyptic nightmare!
Zombies, don't mess with angry kittens!

Kittens are the new ninjas.
Check out this vicious cat killing spree!
Meet Hiromi, the shy artist;
her cat Vince, who has a secret;
her best friend Kitty with all the visions

It's the kitten apocalypse! ..
. Animated zombie kittens!
Zombie kittens are attacking!
Why the hell are you still reading?

Apocalypse warning,
kittens involved.
If you see these,
you're probably screwed.

No one suspected
the zombie apocalypse
would look so cute.

If you’d like to learn more about the Flarf, try one of these links: - A Brief Guide to Flarf Poetry
The Truth About Lies - How to Write a Flarf

And since the quiz I included with the original post (many years ago) is no longer valid, I thought I'd include a short video to help illustrate my poem. :-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Do you remember, back in your high school English class, having to dissect a poem? Your teacher would pick something by Keats or Wordsworth or Longfellow and tell you to write 500 or 1000 words on what the author really meant when he wrote that poem. I don’t know why they do that. No one really knows what the author means except the author themselves. And most of the poets that are studied in school have been dead for a long time.

The poem I’m featuring today was one I wrote in high school. Because I wrote it a few weeks after I broke up with my first boyfriend, everyone assumed I wrote it for him. I even had a couple of his friends come up to me and tell me to leave him alone, he’d moved on. But the truth is, I didn’t write it for anyone. It’s just a poem about words - there’s no hidden meaning. I got to thinking about words and how they can mean something different from what you intended. And then I kind of segued into story mode just to make it longer.

Anyway, here it is in all its glory. :-D


Words to share with lovers
their meanings old as time,
and words I never said to you,
I thought them only mine;
words that can work magic,
that mend a broken heart;
words that seem to give you
another brand new start.
I wish that I had told you
the words I had in mind.
It might have made a difference
if we were given time.
The world's a mess because of words
that no-one thought to say,
and now I think that it's too late,
those words are here to stay.
I wish that we could build new words,
their meanings deep and true,
and I would take back words I said
and change them just for you.
You do not understand my words,
you never did it seems,
for words have double meanings
and I was filled with dreams;
I spoke too fast, I wasn't sure
of words I could not say,
and so I kept them deep inside
and now they're there to stay.
If I thought words could bring you back
I'd chatter day and night,
but it's too late for both of us
to make the wrong words right.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Poetry Anyone?

Once upon a time I participated in something called the PAD challenge run by Writer’s Digest. It was held during the month of April, National Poetry Month, and the idea was to write a Poem A Day using the prompts they’d supply. One of these prompts was for something called a sestina. With all the poetry I’ve written over the years, I’d never heard of a sestina before. It was a little challenging, and by the time I was done I was starting to wonder how many other poetry forms were there out there that I’d never heard of.

Turns out there were a lot!

For the next couple of years I had a separate blog for poetry and I’d share a new form with an original example each week. Sometimes I’d feature other poems, but mostly it was all about the forms. Then some person I’d never heard of sent me an email accusing me of using her information (not her poems) without citing her as a source.

So I dutifully went back through my posts and found two instances where the information was similar - not the same, just similar - to what she had on her site. I’m actually surprised there weren’t more. Although I used a variety of sources, sometimes there are only so many ways you can say: This is a Japanese form and the syllable count is...

Anyway, I reworded my posts and thought no more about it until I got an email from a gentleman with a similar complaint. Really? I checked, and once again the words were not an exact match but pretty similar. On a whim I checked the woman’s site and oh, gee, look at that. His words were an exact match to hers.

That was it for me. I was done. I’d started the blog to share my love of poetry, not to be harassed by small-minded, mean-spirited people. At this point I’d explored over a hundred different forms, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth so I pulled the blog.

For the next few years I only wrote poetry occasionally, and didn’t share any of it. Then I shared a couple of special occasion poems. Then Jamie and I did a PAD challenge of our own and it kind of revived my interest again. And now, here we are.

As a new feature on this blog, I’ve decided that Wednesday is going to be poetry day. The first Wednesday of the month (which would be today) I’m going to share a form. The rest of the Wednesdays will be just random poems - some new, some old, maybe even some old favorites culled from my library of really old poetry books.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the forms, for obvious reasons, but I will include links should you care to explore them yourself. So ... I’m going to begin where I began in the beginning, with the sestina.

The sestina was one of the most challenging forms I’ve ever encountered. It has 39 lines in total, divided into six verses of six lines each, and a three line envoi at the end. Sounds easy enough, right? Especially since it doesn’t have to rhyme. But here’s the thing. You start off by coming up with six words, and each of these words is used as a end word of one line in each of the six verses and the order changes in each verse.

For my sestina, I used the words: truth, grave, life, night, death, and stone.

Night Dweller’s Truth

In every breath there is a truth
that overshadows every grave,
a truth not found within a life
that shines its beacon into night,
a knowledge brought about by death
and graven into hardest stone.

A thought that’s carved in precious stone
contains what we perceive as truth,
unsuppressed by certain death,
as cold and alien as the grave,
deep and dark as empty night
just before it bursts to life.

If I’d but know how sweet is life,
not just a pathway strewn with stone,
perhaps I’d not embraced the night
that fills me with its awful truth
and takes me far beyond the grave
out of reach of even death.

And what is that which we call death?
Perhaps another way of life,
the end is more than just the grave,
a fresh turned mound that’s capped with stone.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth
before we pass into the night.

Come and share this sweetest night
where we can stand abreast of death,
and we will seek the perfect truth
of what is that which we call life
that gathers round us like a stone
and leads us blindly to the grave.

You look at me with visage grave -
accept my words, accept the night,
accept that fate’s not carved in stone.
Turn away from Lady Death,
her promise of the afterlife,
and know what’s in my heart is truth.

We’ll find our truth without the grave
and make our life within the night,
then vanquish death with shattered stone.

If you’d like to learn more or better yet, try your hand at your own sestina, here are a couple of sites that I’ve found helpful in the past:

The Poetry Foundation 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prompt Me - the Rock

While I dropped the ball on my story last week (I’m still working on it though) I didn’t forget that this is the first Friday of June which means it’s time for another picture prompt!

Who is this girl? What is she doing up on that rock and how did she get up there? And what is that book she’s reading?

More importantly, what does it inspire you to write? A poem? A story? And article on readers who can read anywhere?

Inquiring minds want to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I’ll share it here at the end of the month.

Happy writing!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Light On Her Feet

Once again the last Friday of the month has snuck up on me, although to be fair, May ends Thursday next week so I feel I should be granted some leeway. But a promise is a promise, so ready or not, here we are. :-D

Here’s a reminder of the prompt picture:

As you know, the idea of these prompts is to inspire you to creativity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or poetry just so long as you write something. In my case I’m working on a short story that seems to keep changing, necessitating me going back and changing the beginning. I may, or may not, finish it later today. Or tonight. Or tomorrow.

In the meantime, the oh-so-talented Jamie DeBree sent me this lovely poem inspired by my prompt. It makes me wish I’d done a poem too - maybe I will eventually. ;-)

Light on Her Feet

Like a bright burning
filament she
hypnotizing all
who dare stare into her flame.

While you’re waiting for my story, I suggest you check out Jamie’s on-line serial, Rattlesnake Falls. And if you’re curious about how the characters ended up where they did, drop Jamie a line and if you ask nicely she’ll catch you up.

Now cross your fingers and check back tonight, and if the planets are in the right alignment I just might have my story up too.

See you later.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Of Plots and Plans and Things In Between...

Writing is the dragon that lives underneath my floorboards. The one I incessantly feed for fear it may turn and devour my ass. Writing is the friend who doesn't return my phone calls; the itch I'm unable to scratch; a dinner invitation from a cannibal; elevator music for a narcoleptic. Writing is the hope of lifting all boats by pissing in the ocean. Writing isn't something that makes me happy like a good cup of coffee. It's just something I do because not writing, as I've found, is so much worse.
― Quentin R. Bufogle

This was the inspirational writing quote I sent to my best bud Jamie today, and in the accompanying email I said something to the effect that after careful consideration I have to agree with it. Writing doesn’t always make me happy, but it makes me a lot happier than not writing does.

The daughter was away for a conference this week, which necessitated me having to babysit during the day while her hubby was at work. Monday I was a disorganized mess. But Tuesday I discovered that by planning ahead things went much more smoothly. I even managed to get some writing in during the toddler’s nap time. Wednesday was the same.

I used to get very frazzled whenever I was expecting company, until I learned my aunt’s secret. She planned everything ahead of time, and did as much of the prep work for meals before the company arrived as she could. It’s amazing what a little planning can do.

During my writing time while I was babysitting, I was trying to work on a story but I wasn’t sure where it was going. So I jotted down a few plot points of what I wanted to have happen. That’s not to say I plotted the whole thing out, just a really short plan of the action.

A couple of weeks ago I used mini index cards to jot down the remaining scenes in the novel I’m currently working on, and even a couple of scenes closer to the beginning that I’ll have to go back to so I can fit them in. As plans go it’s not much, but it got me eager to start working on it again.

All of this made me realize that maybe there’s something to planning ahead after all.

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post about pantsers versus plotters. It’s fairly simple. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants - they just sit down and write, having no clear of what’s going to happen until they write it. Plotters, on the other hand, plan everything out ahead of time so there are no surprises.

Back when I was new to writing, I thought everyone was a plotter. So I spent a lot of time on outlines and maps and character sketches and eventually realized that I was spending more time on them (and having more fun in the process) than I was actually writing. My novel kind of stalled and it was years before I got back to it. Actually, my writing stalled - it was a few years before I got back to any of my longer fiction.

The first novel I actually finished was written purely by the seat of my pants. I was goaded convinced by Jamie to try my hand at a blog serial. I let the story progress naturally and most of the time I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was an adventure, albeit sometimes a frustrating one.

I wrote several other novels after that (that book turned into a series, of which I’m about to start number five), all by the seat of my pants. It was decided. I was a confirmed pantser.

But then I began to struggle a bit. My second series, based on that first attempted novel, began to flounder until I discovered all the character sketches, maps, and notes I made originally. While the characters had evolved well past those initial sketches, the notes were invaluable, as were the maps. Using the notes, I created the “scene cards” I mentioned earlier, half-sized index cards with a few words describing a single scene on each one. This will take me to the end of book three.

Maybe planning out a novel isn’t such a bad thing after all. Especially when you’re writing a series. And recalling those story notes I made ... I used to get an idea for a short story and just wing it. But knowing what’s going to happen actually makes it a little easier to write. And notes help jog my not-so-reliable memory when it falters.

So... while I doubt I’ll ever be doing a long-winded, multi-page, detailed outline such as plotters are famous for, neither will I dismiss the idea of a little planning ahead. I guess you could say I’m taking the middle road. “Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.”

I’m not totally a plotter, but neither am I strictly speaking a pantser anymore. I’m somewhere in between. I ... am a tweener!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Prompt Me - Artificial Light

Whoops! I was so busy writing I almost forgot today was Friday and time for a new picture prompt!

I was writing not one, but two stories from last week's Brazen Snake Books prompt, which you can find every Monday on the Snake Bites blog. This one was all about keepsakes and I wrote a poem, then a dark little tale, then had an idea for a sweet romance, then a longer version of the dark tale. All from one prompt!

This month's picture prompt was given its title by the photographer. It was part of a photography challenge she had with a friend, and I quite like the mystery of it.

Who is this woman inside the lightbulb? Why is she in there? Is she a woman, or something else? What is that smoke in there with her?

Don't forget, your creativity can come in any form - fiction, poetry, non-fiction ...

I'd love to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I'll even post it here at the end of the month.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week Four of the Jamie and Carol Poetry Challenge

Can you believe it? It’s the end of April, which marks the end of National Poetry month and the end of the poetry challenge.

I have to admit there were a few times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the end. And many times when I thought about cheating - I’ve done examples of all of the forms I used before and it was really tempting to use one of my pre-written examples, especially for the Xenolith, but I didn’t.

I come away from this challenge with 30 brand new poems to add to my collection, and a new energy towards my fiction writing. I’m glad I stuck it out, and maybe I’ll even be inspired to post a new poem here every once in awhile.

It’s something to think about, to be sure, but for now - the poems:

Poem #22
The Sijo is Korean, traditionally composed in three lines of 14-16 syllables each, totaling between 44-46 syllables.
Line 1 introduces the situation or theme of the poem.
Line 2 develops the theme with more detail or a “turn” in argument.
Line 3 presents a “twist” and conclusion.

* ~ * ~ *

I watch for the portents, like dark clouds fleeing towards the horizon
when a storm is coming, you can smell it on the wind
there are changes fast approaching, and we are totally unprepared.

* ~ * ~ *

On All Hallows Eve the veil between this world and the next thins
allowing spirits to roam at will, lingering at the fires of bone
before returning from whence they came, leaving us behind.

Poem #23
This was a Sunday poem and although I said I wasn’t going to do forms on Sundays, I thought I’d lighten things up with a couple of limericks:

There once was a girl from Nantucket
Who said all these forms can just suck it
with syllable counts
the tension just mounts
and as for the rhymes I’ll just chuck it.

* ~ * ~ *

These grey rainy days are so dismal
I’m sick of the heaven’s baptismal
There’s no end in sight
To the duckies delight
This weather is truly abysmal

Poem #24
The Tetractys consists of at least 5 lines with a syllable count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10. You don't need to limit yourself to a single verse, you can have as many as you wish following the 5 line format. It can also be reversed and written as 10, 4, 3, 2, 1. You might also want to try the Double Tetractys 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, or continue as long as you wish keeping to this pattern. I did both a double and a single.

the sky with pink
before it starts bleeding into the day
and then turning multiple shades of blue
until losing
cohesion -
fade to

are rising
and so we just
batten down the hatches and wait in fear

Poem #25
The Utenzi verse form is Swahili in origin and usually describes heroic deeds. It consists of four-line stanzas with eight syllables per line. The last syllable of each of the first three lines rhyme with each other while the last line has a separate rhyme that is consistent throughout the poem, tying the verses together.

The Lovers

She was not the fairest of face
but she possessed an elfin grace
and led him on a merry chase
‘till he was well and truly caught.

A smile, a touch, and it began
though she was from another clan
so they were forced to make a plan
escape would take much aforethought.

They fled along the old causeway
and soon they made their getaway
far to a land where they could stay
where her kin would trouble them not.

And so they loved and lived their days
wrapped as they were in love’s sweet haze
together at last for always
in happiness that love had wrought.

Poem #26
The Virelai is a medieval French verse form. It can have any number of 9-line stanzas but must have at least three. The syllable count is 5-5-2-5-5-2-5-5-2 and it has a running rhyme from stanza to stanza aabaabaab bbcbbcbbc ddcddcddc etc until the end, in which the long line rhyme of the first stanza is repeated as the short line rhyme of the last stanza, ffaffaffa. I’m pretty sure this was a form of medieval torture.


This form is a pain
I must be insane
to write
it looked rather plain
but it hurts my brain
this poem is inane
I’ve got a migraine
all right.

The second verse might
just worsen my plight
a curse
this poem is a sight
to give you a fright
must finish despite
my lack of delight

Yah! The final verse
this poem is the worst
a bane
a syllabic curse
really kinda terse
brain drain
the rhyme is perverse
my psyche needs a nurse

Poem #27
The Waka is said to be the classic verse form from which most Japanese forms developed. It is written in 5 lines with 31 syllables: 5-7-5-7-7

Thunder rolling in
lightning flashes in the sky
a scent of ozone
dark clouds on the horizon
preceding the breaking storm.

* ~ * ~ *

Relentless rainfall
pitter patter on the ground
quenching the earth’s thirst
‘til the earth can drink no more -
rising, then spilling over.

* ~ * ~ *

Words said in anger
ugly words like knives
sharp and painful
cutting deep, leaving a wound -
they cannot be unspoken

Poem #28
A xenolith is fragment of extraneous rock embedded in magma or another rock. A Xenolith poem is one poem of eight lines embedded in a poem of seven lines making it a fifteen line poem. The seven lines have twelve syllables per line and are mono-rhymed, the eight lines have eight syllables per line and are written in rhyming couplets. Technically, you can pull them apart to end up with three poems, all of which should make sense.

12 syllables
It starts with a poet who has nothing to say
some words will need coaxing to see the light of day
inspiration is as ethereal as the moon’s ray
you can give chase but cannot catch that which is fey
perhaps the will-o-the-wisp has lead you astray
to inspire others to follow the pathway
and see what remains left at the end of the day

8 syllables
magic appears when it’s not sought
it’s not a thing that can be caught
like dust left in a fairy’s wake
or beauty that makes a soul ache
the poet’s pen, the artist’s brush
the light of dawn’s first early blush
a song that’s sung with all your heart
a pledge that’s made to never part


It starts with a poet who has nothing to say
magic appears when it’s not sought
some words will need coaxing to see the light of day
it’s not a thing that can be caught
inspiration is as ethereal as the moon’s ray
like dust left in a fairy’s wake
or beauty that makes a soul ache
you can give chase but cannot catch that which is fey
the poet’s pen, the artist’s brush
the light of dawn’s first early blush -
perhaps the will-o-the-wisp has lead you astray
a song that’s sung with all your heart
to inspire others to follow the pathway
a pledge that’s made to never part
and see what remains left at the end of the day

Poem #29
The Yama verse is both a syllabic and a rhyming form. Traditionally it is a poem of death, grief or sorrow, although it can be expanded to include simply a poem of loss (even of a season). It can be any number of quatrains, but it is written in lines of 6 syllables with lines 2 and 4 rhyming, and must always have a title.

Regret For Time Lost

It happened much too fast
we’d no time to prepare
you were gone and we were
left behind in despair

I recall looking back
as you sat there alone
I never should have left
you to the great unknown

My big regret is that I
did not stay with you
I was young with no clue
what you were going through

The doctor lied to us
they said you had a year
it was just a few months
your sickness was severe.

I cannot help but think
that you are now content
you’re with mom in heaven
after a life well spent.

Poem #30
Zéjel is a romantic Spanish form with Arabic influence. Eight syllable lines are common, but others have been used. It can have any number of verses. The first stanza, known as the mudanza, has three lines, rhyming aaa. All the other stanzas as many of them as you like have 4 lines, rhyming bbba, the a rhyme harking back to the first stanza.


There’s magic in the air tonight
I feel it in the moon’s pale light
and I am filled up with delight .

I heard the horn from far away
to call the Wild Hunt into play
the riders soon will come this way
and I will witness magic bright.

You say I’m mad to wish to see
the huntsmen on their killing spree
on that I will not disagree
but I cannot resist the sight.

They take the damned, so it is said
to dwell among the restless dead
and sometimes take lost souls instead
because it is their ancient right.

Let others cower with a chill
next to the fire behind the grill
I will stand firm upon the hill
and I will watch the huntsmen’s flight.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And there you have it. An alphabet’s worth of poetry forms with a couple of extra thrown in to make 30 days of poetry.

Don’t forget to check out JAMIE'S final week’s worth of poems too. And come on back Friday to see if you’re inspired by the picture prompt I’ll be posting for the month of May.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Bleakness

Once again it’s fiction Friday and here I am with the story I came up with for this month’s picture prompt. How about you? Did you find yourself inspired by the picture? Just as a reminder, here it is:

My story turned out a little longer than I expected, and I have to admit it’s a little rough. But ready or not, here it is:

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The Bleakness

Clouds boiled in the sky, a sickly combination of grey and green and brown. That’s when she knew her spell had worked. Until that moment, she hadn’t been sure it would. It was a dark magic, and old magic passed down through generations but no one had ever used it before. No one had been consumed with the right amount of rage and sorrow....

The day had begun much as all the days did. While she hoed the small vegetable patch beside the house, she kept an eye on Lanni, her youngest, as she played contentedly with her doll in the shade of the apple tree. The branches of the tree were just starting to dip under the weight of the apples they held - it promised to be a good crop this year.

In the distance she could see Joseph working diligently in the fields, Henry and Robard close by. The sky was clear and blue, giving no hint of what was to come. She’d paused for a moment, leaning on her hoe, and watched a hawk wheeling above, then suddenly diving. He was so fast his prey had not even a chance to cry out.

And that was when the horn sounded.

She’d frozen in place. Out in the field Joseph’s head snapped up, and when the horn sounded a second time he sent the boys ahead of him as they raced towards the house. Shaking off her paralysis, she dropped the hoe and snatched Lanni up, ignoring the plaintive cries for the dropped doll as she rushed into the house.

“There’s no time to take anything,” Joseph shouted, catching up to her at the door.


He sent the boys on ahead then took Lanni from her. Frightened, Lanni began to cry harder.

“Things can be replaced, you can’t,” Joseph said grimly. “We’ve no time to waste.”

He was right and she followed him back out of the house without a second glance. There was not enough time to follow the road and they cut across the fields, stumbling on the uneven ground. As they caught up to the boys Robard fell, crying out in pain. They paused long enough for Joseph to pass Lanni over to her and then he scooped Robard up into his arms.

The gate was just closing as they reached the village wall.

“Wait!” Joseph shouted.

But the gate shut fast and they heard the bar drop into place.

“Please,” she called out, as Joseph set Robard down so he could start pounding on the gate. “You can’t just leave us out here!”

“It’s the likes of you what brung the raiders in the first place,” an angry voice called from behind the gate. “With any luck they’ll take you and leave us be.”

“At least take the children!” she begged, only to be met with silence.

They turned to run but it was too late. The small party of raiders, advance scouts for a much larger group, had them surrounded. Though they had no come specifically for her, once they saw the mark on her forehead she knew they were lost.

The raiders took them back to the homestead and made her watch as one by one they tortured and killed her family. She remained stoic, resigned, refusing even to shed a tear. Finally they beat her and raped her and left her for dead.

There no sympathy from the villagers who ventured out to see the raiders handiwork the next morning, but then she expected none. Dry-eyed, she stood and faced them.

“You have only yourself to blame, witch. This is what comes of consorting with the devil.”

“I am no witch,” she said proudly. “As you well know.”

“You bear the mark,” the headman’s wife hissed.

“It’s just a mark, it means nothing.”

“You need to leave,” the headman told her. “We don’t want your kind here.”

“And where am I to go? This is my home.”

“No longer. We want you gone before your trouble becomes ours.”

“You have no idea what trouble is,” she said softly. “But you will.”

They left without even offering to help bury her dead, not that she would have accepted. Her heart was stone, she was stone. Alone she buried her family, four graves lined up side by side. With each shovelful of rocky soil her anger grew, soon outweighing her sorrow. They would have only had to open the gate and her family would still be alive. But they were too superstitious, too petty - and they would pay.

She was not a witch, but she came from a long line of witches. They had but one spell left to them, passed down from generation to generation. Her mother had not used it, nor her grandmother, nor even her grandmother’s mother. But she did.

It was a summoning spell, it called the creature known as The Bleakness. It stood before her and she pointed at the village behind its wall, no words were necessary. At her direction it turned and drifted that way, the crops in the field it passed over shriveling in its wake.

She watched even though she could no longer see it, knowing that where The Bleakness passed, barrenness followed - fields, animals, women - no life would grow here for a hundred seasons. There would be no crops, no increasing herds, no children.

At last she turned away and started back towards the house to pack up what few belongings she was taking with her. As she passed the apple tree, fruit rotting on its limbs, she spied Lanni’s doll laying where she’d dropped it. She reached down and picked it up and a shiver went through her.

Numbly she continued on into the house. There was nothing she wanted to take from this place. There was nowhere for her to go where she’d be welcome. She sank down onto the hearth with the doll in her arms and wept.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Be sure and visit next Friday to see what the picture prompt is for the month of May. And don’t forget to check back on Sunday for the final poetry post.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week Three of the Jamie and Carol Poetry Challenge

Whoops! I almost forgot. It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time to post my week’s worth of poems. In case you missed the previous posts, you can find Week One HERE and Week Two HERE. And don’t forget to check out Jamie’s poems HERE.

Without further ado, POEMS!

Poem #15
The Monotetra can have any number of stanzas of four lines each, but must have at least two. Each stanza contains a mono-rhyme, so that the pattern is aaaa, bbbb, cccc, and so on, and eight syllables, and the last line of each stanza has a repeating four-syllable phrase, like an echo, to make it look like a refrain.

The Price to Pay

The wind is from the west today
I stand and watch the branches sway
a storm is coming, so they say -
perhaps it may, perhaps it may.

But wind and rain are not what wait
for one like me, no it is fate
upon my soul it’s hunger sate
so filled with hate, so filled with hate.

I dabbled in what I should not
never thinking I’d be caught -
it’s not as if I’d not been taught
but I forgot, but I forgot.

There always is a price to pay
for those who once were made of clay
but changed to stop life’s slow decay
to my dismay, to my dismay.

I come to you, confess my sin
remind you all of what has been
the world around me starts to spin
please let me in, please let me in.

It doesn’t matter anyhow
alas there is no succor now
for those who broke a sacred vow
the end is now, the end is now.

Poem #16

You know, you’d think Sunday’s poem would be easier because I’m not following a specific form, but I still have to come up with a subject, and my brain feels like it’s full of sawdust.

I Make The Plans

I make the plans and then I watch
as plans go all awry
all that time gone with a splotch
and all I can do is sigh.

I make the plans and then I see
other things to do
I go upon a cleaning spree
and then I sit and stew.

I make the plans and then I find
a web cam on the ‘net
I watch the feed ‘til I’m near blind
and so the pattern’s set.

I make the plans but never seem
to stick to them, I guess
plans for me are just a dream -
they only cause me stress.

Poem #17
Naani is one of India's most popular Telugu forms. The name means “an expression of one and all”. It consists of four lines, with a total of 20 to 25 syllables. The Naani has no rhyme scheme and there is no set length to each line, nor is the poem is not bound to a particular subject. My kind of poem! It was so much fun I did three of them. :-)

I offer you a cup of words
take what you want -
the rest will fly free
like dandelion seeds on the wind.

Look up, look up
into a clear blue sky
where thoughts and dreams drift
in the shape of white clouds.

Ink spills across the page
needing the mind’s eye
to decipher the meaning
of the poet’s thoughts.

Poem #18
The Ochtfochlach (points if you can pronounce it) is from Ireland. It has 8 lines, any consistent number of syllables, and the rhyme scheme is AAAB CCCB.


There is a darkness deep in me
Down where no one else can see
Filled with all of life’s debris
and what I perceive is pay back.
Sometimes I let the darkness out
but only when no one’s about
and then true evil starts to sprout
and there’s no turning back.

Poem #19
The Pensee is a syllabic form with five lines. The structure is as follows:
Line 1: subject – 2 syllables
Line 2: description – 4 syllables Line 3: action – 7 syllables
Line 4: setting – 8 syllables
Line 5: final thought – 6 syllables
Titles are optional, but I titled mine and did two of them because they’re short.

in the moonlight
flittering and dancing free
in the hidden magic forest
make me feel young again.

into darkness
the black dog is chasing you
to the edge of the mind’s abyss
the dark night of the soul.

Poem #20
I had a lot of choices for the letter Q and in the end I chose my two favorites.

A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. These syllables are distributed as follows:
Line 1: Statement of 7 syllables
Line 2: Beginning of question with 5 syllables
Line 3: End of question with 3 syllables

I always expect the worst -
why do I do that?
I don’t know.

The flapping of wings fills the air.
Where do ducks come from?
Will they stay?

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Quatern is a sixteen line French form. Rhymes are not a requirement and if one is used the rhyme scheme or rhyming pattern is entirely up to the poet. The Quatern:
1) Must have four verses.
2) Each verse must have four lines.
3) Each line must have eight syllables.
4) It must have a first line which is a descending repeated line.

Magic Rare

A quality of magic rare
dwells within the most worthy souls;
a hidden essence sometimes shown
but only to those who believe.

Like a ghost on the earthly plain,
a quality of magic rare
is often sensed rather than seen
like a will-o-the-wisp at large.

A moonlit path of fairy dust
that shimmers and glows will lead to
a quality of magic rare
for those who have the eyes to see.

With pen and ink I start to write
trying to capture the coy words
and wish that somehow I could find
a quality of magic rare.

Poem #21
Like so many other French forms, the Retourne is all about repetition. It contains four quatrains (four-line stanzas), and each line has eight syllables. It’s kind of like the Quatern in that it has a repeating line, but in this case the second line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the second stanza, the third line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the third stanza; and the fourth line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the fourth stanza.

My Path

I walk a path that no one sees
It takes me to unknown places.
I see things most others cannot
I hold the magic in my veins.

It takes me to unknown places
This path of mine I walk alone
Though others are free to follow
If they truly wish to do so.

I see things most others cannot
Which is disconcerting at times
But oh, the beauty in the world
So often overlooked by man,

I hold the magic in my veins
And walk a magic path of words.
As hard as it is, still it’s mine
And I wouldn’t trade for anything.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And there you have the poems for week three. Next week is going to be challenging because I’m getting into the harder letters of the alphabet. And seeing as April ends next Sunday, that’s when I’ll be posting the final week’s worth of poems. Don’t forget to check back!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Week Two of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

Wow! It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up the pace of the poetry challenge, but somehow we’re managing. Would it have been easier if we were posting every day? Hard to say. In any case, if you missed the first post about National Poetry Month, you can find it HERE and for those of you who’ve had these posts delivered to your email so you can’t just scroll down, my first week’s worth of poems can be found HERE

And now, on to the poems!

Poem #8
The Gzha is a Tibetan poetry form written in four unrhymed lines with six syllables per line. It's really only supposed to be one stanza, but because it's so short I kept going - technically any of the verses could be a stand alone.

Pearls of wisdom fall like
drops of blood from a wound,
bruising whatever they
touch with unwanted truths.

Whispers in the darkness
meant to lure and beguile -
a maelstrom of choices
too tempting to resist.

What good is truth really?
When a well thought out lie
is much more seductive
and easily believed.

Poem #9
This poem fell on a Sunday, and I’m taking Sundays off from forms and just doing whatever pops into my head. :-)

A Poem Every Day

What was I thinking?
A poem every day -
I really don’t have
all that much to say.

A poem every day?
It’s a lot of work
when lately my writing
I’ve tended to shirk.

And sticking to forms -
what’s that all about?
A lot of those rhyme schemes
fill me with doubt.

A poem every day
is a pretty big chore
but I hope by the end
I’ll keep writing more.

Poem #10
Today’s form is the Hexaduad which is comprised of one stanza of six rhyming couplets or twelve lines. The structure is fairly simple: 1st couplet has 2 syllables per line, 2nd has 6 each, 3rd has 8 each, 4th has 4 each, 5th has 6 each, and 6th has 4 each. The rhyme scheme is aa bb cc dd ee ff

Oh look,
a book!
Because it’s so well writ
I find I must read it
and nothing will stand in my way
even if it takes me all day.
Give me a chair
out of the glare
and a pot of hot tea
and perhaps a cookie -
no talk until
I’ve read my fill.

Poem #11
The Imayo is from Japan, a four line poem with twelve syllables per line. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, there’s a caesura (or pause) separating each line after the seventh syllable, giving it the typical seven/five pattern. Because it’s so short I did two of them, but I cheated a bit and did the five syllable part as single words.

Childish wish upon a star, imagination
the truth appears in a dream, interpretation
things fall into place for once, serendipity
the future spreads a bright path, illuminati.

Toxic waste flowing freely, contamination
always there is an excuse, justification
quasi clean-ups just in time, organization
money obscuring the truth, civilization

Poem #12
The Jagati is a Hindu verse form. The Jagati is written with 4 lines or padas to a stanza and 12 syllables in each pada.


A cool white moon, shining high in the midnight sky
Keeping silent vigil o’er an uncaring world,
Pacing across the heavens in an age old dance,
Seeking the perfect partner that does not exist.

A lost god, winging his way across the heavens
Forever in pursuit of the truth, of the way,
Fruitlessly searching for the vision gone astray -
Steadfast, the mission to find a forgotten past.

A rising sun, red on the distant horizon,
Herald for a new day of unanswered questions,
As eternal and enduring as time itself -
Archaic habits cannot be changed on a whim.

Poem #13
Today’s form is the Kwansaba, which is a non-rhyming form that consists of seven lines of seven words per line and each word cannot be more than seven letters. You’d think this would be a breeze with no rhymes or syllable count to worry about, but I kept wanting to use words that were more than seven letters. Go figure. LOL

I lie awake in the dark night
my mind awhirl with this and that
hopes and fears and what might be.
Sleep still eludes me for a time
but as my turning thoughts slow down
visions begin to appear in my mind;
soon I’m lost in a dream world.

Poem #14
The final form for the week (written fresh this morning) is the Luc Bat. Luc Bat is Sino-Vietnamese for "six eight", referring to the alternating lines of six and eight syllables. It will always begin with a six-syllable line and end with an eight-syllable one, however, it can be as long as you wish. It has a really funky rhyme scheme, which you can learn all about  HERE.

So It Begins
The drifts of snow are gone
and sooner comes the dawn, soft glow
the winds begin to blow
the sap begins to flow, unseen
the grass becomes more green
and has that special sheen, once more
the rain begins to pour
like it has done before, in spring
the birds begin to sing
celebrate everything, at dawn.

And there you have it. The second week’s worth of poems.

Don’t forget to check out Jamie's Poems too. She may not be using specific forms, but following prompts can be just as challenging, if not more so!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week One of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

As you know, my best buddy Jamie and I challenged each other to write a poem a day for the month of April. I’m following an A to Z theme of forms while Jamie is working from prompts supplied to her from a workshop she participated in.

We emailed our resulting poems to each other on a daily basis and today we’re posting them on our respective blogs.

Poem #1

My first poem is written in the Abhanga form. It’s a four line stanza with a syllable count of 6,6,6,4. Lines 2 and 3 rhyme:

Magic burning brightly
the heady perfume scent
of power in assent
filling the air.

A thought, a word, a spell
the magic works its will
and power rises still
to reach the end.

Poem #2

Since April has 30 days and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, I’m going to take a page from the A to Z thing and do whatever turns my crank on Sundays. This is a poem I’ve been meaning to write for a long time that’s part of a book I haven’t worked on in years (because it needs to be totally rewritten). It’s supposed to be more like a nursery rhyme.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

White the Myste that grasps your hand and takes you to another land.
Yellow Myste, the years will fly -
forwards, backwards, not knowing why.
Blue the Myste, transforming skin
into things that have not been.
Green the Myste you’ll lose your head;
Red the Myste, you’ll end up dead.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

Poem #3

The Balassi Stanza is named after the Hungarian poet Balint Balassi. It consists of nine lines with the rhyme-scheme AABCCBDDB and a syllable count of 667667667.

My escape is a dream
on a silver moonbeam
a gift from the stars so bright.
I can fly if I will
even go further still
and soar far into the night.
I can change how I look,
take the road no one took -
wherever fancy takes flight.

I can be anyone,
I can lay in the sun,
or swim in an ocean blue.
I can step in a book
maybe just for a look
or see the story comes true.
I would live in a dream
all my life it would seem
if choice was in my purview.

Poem #4

Choka is a form of Japanese long poetry pre-dating, but related to, haiku. As with haiku, the lines of a choka should not rhyme but should follow a syllabic pattern (onji). The most widely accepted pattern for the Choka is to start with a katuata of 5-7-5 syllables and continue in a 7-5 syllable pattern. It can be any odd number of lines and finishes with a 7-7 syllable count.

Gun metal grey sky,
clouds weeping for lack of sun,
chill dampness seeping
into the pores of the earth,
no ending in sight.
Boiling rivers and streams, dark
with mud and debris
rushing to leave us behind;
wash away our sins.
Like divine retribution
prayers go unheeded.
In the uncaring darkness,
voices turn to smoke.
Like a prophet false to truth
the dark continues
eroding creativity;
a slow death of the spirit.

Poem #5

Despite being called the Diminished Hexaverse, this form has nothing to do with the number six. It begins with a five line stanza of five syllables in each line, then a four line stanza with four syllables each, then three, then two, then one. Rhymes are to be avoided in this form and you can give it a title or not, as you wish.


The glide of a pen
A soft muttered curse
A brushing of paint
A starting over
Persistence is key

A finished poem
A finished song
A painting done

is never
that easy

but still
we do


Poem #6

This form is the Etheree, which is similar to the Diminished Hexaverse only longer. This one is ten lines long. The first line is one syllable, the second line is two syllables, and so forth until the tenth line of ten syllables. You can also do it in reverse, going from ten syllables to one.

write of
things unseen
and often things
hidden in the dark
abyss of a twisted
imagination - nothing
is planned, words flowing outward
and spread across the page in a pattern
that weaves the story that’s trapped within

But the spinner spins and the weaver weaves
and sometimes thread-thoughts become tangled
and I stare at the empty screen
waiting for inspiration
waiting for ideas
that might never come -
still I persist
until the
tale is

Poem #7

The Flarf is an internet dependant form that combines unusual phrases from Google searches. It takes its raw material from a search involving wildly different terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "exquisite + corpse." A poem is created by cutting and pasting words from the search results page (none of the website links are followed). You can also pull lines from your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but I chose the traditional Google search. :-D

The Ugliness in Beauty (revised)

Humans can be very conflicted
when it comes to the concepts of beauty and ugly.
Is Ugly the New Beautiful?
These are two variations of the same concept,
which, when literally translated, mean pretty-ugly
and beautiful-ugly, respectively.
Note the proportion of beautiful words to ugly ones.

What are we to define ugly?
We all enjoy beauty.
But an appreciation of ugliness is necessary to it.
The Beautiful and the Ugly are One Thing
Ugly is just another form of beauty,
Without ugly we would have much less,
Because even the ugliest thing has helped something.

How beautiful am I?
The beautiful and the ugly are not opposites,
but aspects of the same ...
Better to see the beautiful, ugly truth of the cosmos.
There are no certainties here, only struggle and contingency
In the natural world, beauty can be many things

Why am I ugly?
or not pretty enough?
It’s a pretty person’s world
I'm ugly, and I know it.
Stop telling me I'm 'beautiful'.
I'm ugly. It's fine.
The Beautiful Ugly. 143 likes

Heartbreaking, terrifying, thought provoking
Just who are these sinners
that are so ugly on the inside?
And the LORD God said unto the serpent,
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle,
and above every beast of the field; ...
Existence can be beautiful or ugly.
It can be lonely. Chaotic. Terrifying.
What matters is how you see it.
says the Joker in the Dark Knight
Am I ugly?

And there you have it. The first week’s worth of poems. I hope you had as much fun reading them as I did writing them. And hey, it’s National Poetry Month - why not give one or more of the forms I’ve included a try?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Prompt Me - the Masked Figure

Here we are again, the first Friday of the month. And here's your picture prompt for the month:

A cloaked figure in a mask crossing a barren field - if that doesn't inspire you to write a poem, story, or article I don't know what will. :-D

As usual, you have until the end of the month and I'd love to see what you come up with so feel free to email it to me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. With your permission, I can even post it here so others can enjoy it too.

And don't forget to stop by tomorrow to check out my first week's worth of poems!

Monday, April 3, 2017

On National Poetry Month and Challenges and What Was I Thinking?

Remember back in November when my writing wasn’t going well and I decided to do NaNoWriMo? The idea being it would give my writing a much needed boost and get me back on track. And it worked ... for a while.

Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events, over the Christmas holidays I kind of lost my momentum. And my motivation. So I thought, why not take part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge? This challenge has you doing a blog post every day for the month of April (except Sundays) following the letters of the alphabet. I’ve done it a few times in the past and it was a lot of fun - each day is a new letter.

But when I went to their site I discovered that they’ve changed the way they’re running it, which is their prerogative of course, but instead of a links list of participating blogs, you’re required to post a daily link either on their website, their Facebook page, or Twitter - or all three if you have the time and inclination. Which quite frankly, I don’t.

For my A to Z theme (it’s always easier if you have a theme) I was going to do poetry, seeing as April is National Poetry Month. More precisely I was going to do poetry forms, which I’ve explored with great enjoyment in the past, but writing an original example for each day’s form.

When I decided not to do the challenge I toyed with the idea of just posting my A to Z poems anyway, but a daily blog post seemed like a lot of work. I was all ready to just shelve the idea when I received an email from my best bud Jamie who was waffling over participating in a local poem-a-day seminar.

I goaded double dog dared encouraged her to participate and even suggested I’d be willing to match her poem for poem, never really believing she’d accept. ;-) But she did, and now we’re both writing a poem a day for the month of April. To keep each other honest, we’re going to email each other our poems on a daily basis and then post a week’s worth of poems on our respective blogs on Saturdays.

I don’t know who’s facing the bigger challenge: Jamie, who’s working from a specific prompt that’s sent to her daily; or me, who has to come up with an idea for a form. One year I participated in the Writer's Digest PAD Challenge where you write to a daily prompt, and it was indeed challenging. The only good part about it was you could post your poems any time, so if you fell behind it was easy to catch up. But that’s where I first discovered a poetry form called the Sestina, which I’d never heard of before and that sent me on my journey of discovery of poetry forms.

I started out writing poetry, and I’ve always felt that it gave my other writing a creative boost. I think Jamie will find that too. If nothing else, it’ll get us writing every day, right?

Don’t forget to check back Friday for the picture prompt for April, and then Saturday for the first week ‘o poems. :-D

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Wall

Here it is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s story time!

As a reminder, here’s the picture for this month’s prompt:

What did you think? Did it inspire you to come up with a story? A poem? Maybe a travel article? As seems usual for me lately, my imagination took a bit of a darker turn. And I had to do a surprising amount of research. Even so, I still managed to get it finished on the proper day this month. LOL

The Watcher On the Wall

My grandmother was fascinated by the end of the world and made it her life’s study. Don’t be too quick to judge, she wasn’t some crack pot, she was a respected university professor. Her specialty was end of the world mythology.

When I was younger I used to help her with her research and I have to admit it was intriguing to see how the different cultures believed things would end. It’s been predicted from as far back as the Mesopotamians, who believed the world was already slowly deteriorating and would end in the destruction of a corrupt society.

The Egyptians believed that after countless cycles of renewal, the world would dissolve in water, returning to its primordial state. The word apocalypse originated with the Greeks, who believed the world had already ended several times. But they, too, believed the ultimate end would come in water.

Surprisingly, the Norse Ragnarok, where the gods would battle Loki, the Frost Giants, Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent), and the wolf Fenrir was not the ultimate end of the world as there would be survivors. The true end would come when the serpent Níðhöggr gnawed through the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil, bringing it and the universe down together.

Of course the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012 was proven wrong. But we still had the Christian belief of the second coming of Christ, who would face off against the Anti-Christ, Satan, a False Prophet, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse during Armageddon.

But in the end, it was none of those things. It was not fire or flood or war that brought us down, but a meteor and a man with too much authority and too little sense. There were other ways the deadly piece of rock from space could have been dealt with, but in his arrogance he chose to make a display of his nation’s power and blast it out of the sky with nuclear weapons.

He was successful in that the meteor shattered, so there was no devastating impact, but the meteor was riddled with micro-organisms that managed to survive the journey through space. Perhaps they were inside the meteor - we’ll never know, and in the long run it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? The radiation from the nuclear blast changed the microbes, made them into something... something we were not equipped to deal with.

The fallout of the fragments cut a wide swath through northern South America and half way up through the United States, releasing a virus that spared nothing and no one - humans, animals, plants - it came down as a mist, and everything it touched was affected. The lucky ones died. The unlucky ones ... changed.

In the beginning we thought it would be contained in North and South America. Although we lost communications with them after the first month we still managed to receive the odd satellite image. That was months ago - I still have nightmares about them. If there were any survivors in the Americas, they were on their own.

Strangely enough, those infected were not contagious, which gave the scientists hope the virus would have a limited lifespan - a virus shouldn’t be able to survive for long without a host but this virus was unlike anything we could have ever imagined. Though they hoped for the best, our scientists began to prepare for the worst. Reports started filtering down from England and along the coast of Africa, of dark misty clouds, like a swarm of insects, leaving trails of chaos in their wake.

There was no hope of reversing the damage the virus had caused, but the scientists were confident they had a way of repelling it, of making our land and our people distasteful to it. It was an enormous undertaking, spreading the repellent. They retrofitted planes and helicopters like crop dusters, seeded the clouds, urged citizens to bathe in the chemicals so that everything this side of the wall was covered, saturated.

The swarms - it was easier to think of the virus as a living entity at this point - advanced. A call went out for volunteers to man the wall, both to give warning and as an early test of the results of the repellent.

And now we watch. And we wait.

Be sure to stop by next week for the picture prompt for the month of April!