Microcosms 82

Welcome to Microcosms 82! On this date in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the US constitution was ratified, finally granting citizenship and all its privileges to African Americans. For those of you not in the US, you may or may not be aware of the long, storied history of the battle for civil rights in this country, which many consider to still be ongoing.

Here’s what history.com has to say:

Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”

In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
history.com

 

In some ways, I feel conflicted about using this topic for a prompt, as I hate the idea of “using” someone’s tragedy. But I think there are many compelling stories waiting to be told.

I drew inspiration for this week’s prompts from the battle for civil rights in this country, from slavery to freedom to the civil rights movement in the 1960s to some modern day events. The history is fascinating and, at times, incredibly sad and disturbing. You can read more about it here, if you are interested. I also wanted to include other elements that celebrate a few of the cultural contributions of black and African American heritage in this country. Obviously, not everything can be covered in one post, but I didn’t want everything to be sad.

Please don’t feel obligated to limit yourselves to any one topic or theme. If you want to include civil rights, go for it. If you’d rather write about aliens, have at it.

There is an optional photo prompt. The park in Birmingham, Alabama is filled with remembrances of the Civil Rights Movement. This particular statue represents the police dogs that were used to attack unarmed citizens. Walking through this sculpture was very surreal and chilling; it left a lasting impact on me. You can read more about what happened there here.
KM

 

Polcie Dogs Birmingham AL Statue

Photo by KM Zafari.

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact us.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Assassin, setting: On a Stage, and genre: Drama.


Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.

*** HEY! Remember to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry ***

*** NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS ***


  • Soldier
  • Slave
  • Slave Owner
  • Blues or Jazz Singer/Musician
  • Freedom Fighter
  • Bus Driver
  • Protester
  • Minister
  • Police Officer
  • Dancer
  • Poet
  • Assassin
  • President
  • Actor
  • Southern US
  • Plantation
  • City Street
  • Night Club
  • Battlefield
  • During a March/Protest
  • On a Bus
  • On a Stage
  • Your Choice!
  • Hotel
  • In a Theatre
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Memoir
  • Thriller
  • Comedy
  • Steam Punk
  • Drama
  • Poem

Spin!


The judge this week is TBD.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EDT) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

Microcosms 83
Microcosms 81
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79 comments for “Microcosms 82

  1. Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
    28 July 2017 at 7:33 am

    The Fly in the Ointment

    Elements: freedom fighter, during march/protest, poem
    163 words

    @el_Stevie

    I am the fly in the ointment
    The one who walks
    The one who talks
    Of equality and justice
    And other fanciful things

    I am the fire ant
    Burning out bigotry
    Breaching the walls
    My refusal to die
    The sting in the tail

    I am the spider
    Weaving a web of silken truth
    Catching the unwary
    In a casual conversion
    An opening of eyes

    I am the worm
    Turning over the lies
    Of the dumb and the blind
    To reveal the truth
    Of the hypocrite’s heart

    I am the butterfly
    Beating its wings
    Bringing the beautiful chaos
    Of our diversity
    Into the light

    I am the one who walks with ghosts
    On Freedom’s Road
    I am the one
    I am the many
    And we are swarming

    We march and we fall
    And we crawl if we have to
    To the feet of black-visored puppets
    A civilised barricade
    Of guns against words
    Where we will talk
    Of equality and justice
    And other fanciful things

    10+
    • Eloise
      28 July 2017 at 9:31 am

      I loved the imagery in this poem. My favourite lines were: “To the feet of black-visored puppets” and “Weaving a web of silken truth”. Well done.

      2+
    • Sian Brighal
      28 July 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Love how you use quiet and normally unnoticed creatures….but *numerous* creatures of fear, pain, beauty and function. The use of ‘swarming’ was fantastic and ominous.

      2+
      • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
        30 July 2017 at 4:05 am

        Thank you, Sian, especially as I wasn’t completely happy with this as I was really pushed for time this week which is bizarre considering it’s summer holiday!

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 6:14 am

      Your poem has some wonderful concepts and original metaphors. I’d just suggest that you pay a bit more attention to cadence and rhythm and form. Even free verse has a structure to it. I would also pay attention to the focus of the poem. What is the message you are trying to convey? I feel that you tried to say a bit too much – you had diversity, bigotry, hypocrites, those who won’t see the truth and an unspecified protest and yet your unspecified protest in the last two stanzas was the strongest image. Look”

      I am the one
      who walks with ghosts
      On Freedom’s Road

      I am the many swarming
      We march; we fall
      We crawl if we have to

      To the feet of black-visored puppets
      A civilised barricade
      Of guns against words

      Where we will talk
      Of equality and justice

      Remove a few ’empty’ words like ‘and’ (which is also removing unnecessary repetition) restructure the line and stanza breaks and WOW! So if I can make one suggestion – EDIT – if flash is the distillation of the short story into its most concise and refined form, then poetry is the distillation of flash. Write your story, then cut, cut, cut till you are left the very essence of what you want to say … Hope this helps.

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
        30 July 2017 at 4:01 am

        I quite agree with all of your comments and normally I would have cut it and edited a lot more. I knew it required more work but this week I only had an hour to write due to family and I had to make the decision of either posting as is or not posting at all – in the end I thought I’d show my support for the site and post as I have been absent at times recently 🙁

        2+
    • 29 July 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Wonderfully rendered, Steph. Especially loved…I am the fire ant
      Burning out bigotry
      Breaching the walls
      My refusal to die
      The sting in the tail

      2+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Nice job! I liked how you used creatures to convey points.
      I really like this part too.
      We march and we fall
      And we crawl if we have to
      To the feet of black-visored puppets
      A civilised barricade
      Of guns against words
      Where we will talk
      Of equality and justice
      And other fanciful things

      0
  2. Eloise
    28 July 2017 at 9:28 am

    Plantation/Protester/Crime

    Sugar wars

    The body was in the sugar cane field. The blood seeped into the ground providing nourishment for the plants. The murder had been brutal. The police were scurrying around like cockroaches. Trying to find any evidence. They need to find the killer. This had been the third killing of a protestor. Each one growing in brutality. Each one killed for their belief. This one had been protesting outside the sugar cane factory. The argument: sugar causes obesity. The murder had sharpened the cane and played dart with the victim’s body.

    The farmer rushed towards the body but was tackled by two police officer before he got to the body.
    “Hey! Leave me alone. Get that body of my land NOW. ” screamed the farmer as he tried to jostle himself free from the officer. Another officer walked up.
    “What seems to be the problem, officers?”
    “This man was running towards the body. We are not sure what he was planning to do but we tackled before he got there”.
    “What do you want with body?” demanded the new police officer. He was bigger than the other two in stature as well as command.
    “I want that body removed from land”
    “Sorry sir, but that won’t be happening for a few hours as we are investigating a murder. This crop has become a crime scene.”
    “I don’t care. That body is losing blood into my crop and it will affect the sweetness.” And he sprinted towards the body again.
    The officers clambered on him again.
    “Listen very carefully to me. This crop is a crime scene. If you continue to interfere with my officers I will have to send you to jail for obstruction of justice. Do you understand?” growled the officer.

    6+
    • Eloise
      28 July 2017 at 9:29 am

      word count: 290

      0
    • 28 July 2017 at 1:49 pm

      I love the depth of your story –what it says about mankind. I was sad to see it end!

      2+
    • Sian Brighal
      28 July 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Great read. Almost like the murder was a protest in its own right….and probably will leave more of a mark.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 6:32 am

      I like the concept of this – murder as protest against the protest while at the same time giving the protest power it didn’t have before. Very nice twist there. However you need to work on the ending. This ends very abruptly you, you set up the notion of the serial killer, and you provide his motivation, but you fail to arrive at a denouement.

      There are also a few problems.

      Sugar wars

      The body was in the sugar cane field. The blood seeped into the ground providing nourishment for the plants. The murder had been brutal. The police were scurrying around like cockroaches trying to find any evidence. (one sentence) They need to find the killer (Why do they NEED to find the killer? It is their job to find the killer, so you can say they HAVE to find him, but need is a desire, and that brings a different dynamic to the sentence which may be what you intend, but then you have to explain it). This had been the third killing of a protester (spelling). Each one (killing/murder rather than one otherwise it is too ambiguous) growing in brutality. Each one (ambiguity again) killed for their belief. This one had been protesting outside the sugar cane factory (to avoid confusion rather just locate everything on the farm/plantation because otherwise you have to deal with body being moved and too many details / strands for a flash to resolve). The argument: sugar causes obesity (beautiful, topical, but not something someone would protest. Subtly underlines the fact that the murder gives a weak protest power it didn’t have). The murder had sharpened the cane and played dart with the victim’s body. (brilliant image!!)

      The farmer rushed towards the body but was tackled by two police officer before he got to the body.
      “Hey! Leave me alone. Get that body of my land NOW. ” screamed the farmer as he tried to jostle (incorrect word usage. jostled means to accidentally bump or knock something/someone). himself free from the officer. Another officer walked up. (why? another character is too many for this scene).
      ( “What seems to be the problem, officers?”
      “This man was running towards the body. We are not sure what he was planning to do but we tackled before he got there”.) (delete all this)
      “What do you want with body?” demanded the (new) police officer. (He was bigger than the other two in stature as well as command.) (you don’t need another character to ask this question which leaves you enough space to resolve the story).
      “I want that body removed from /my/ land”
      “Sorry sir, but that won’t be happening for a few hours (as we are investigating a murder – the reader knows this so you don’t have to say it). This crop has become a crime scene.”
      “I don’t care. That body is losing blood into my crop and it will affect the sweetness.” And he (you need to specify who because there are two policeman as well) sprinted towards the body again.
      The officers clambered (incorrect word usage again. clambered is a synonym for climbed. He wasn’t on the ground with them on top of him) on him again.
      (“Listen very carefully to me. This crop is a crime scene. If you continue to interfere with my officers I will have to send you to jail for obstruction of justice. Do you understand?” growled the officer.) Here you want to segue into a reveal and tie up the connections – why is the farmer upset? Is he the murderer? Is the killer watching? Do they catch him? Does this action of the farmer reveal a clue that reveals the killer? You need to resolve the situation.

      1+
      • Eloise
        31 July 2017 at 3:52 am

        Dear Meadow, thank you for your advice. I really appreciate the effort you went to. I will definitely keep in mind what you said and incorporate them into my next flash story 🙂 Thanks again.

        1+
    • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
      30 July 2017 at 4:08 am

      Loved the use of the sugar cane as the murder weapon playing ‘darts’ with the body.

      1+
  3. 28 July 2017 at 10:00 am

    Assassin; On a bus; Crime
    @billmelaterplea
    300 deaths a drop in the bucket
    http://www.engleson.ca

    No Man’s Death Diminishes Me

    Some might think I am a man full of dark thoughts. Even those who know me not, who only observe some quality in me that causes their spine to screech and run cold.

    They skulk away, concerned that my shadow might darken their lives.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    My thoughts are buoyant, my shadow, the one I permit to freely roam, is a charming little darling.

    Why, even the sky pleases me. And the air, ah, the sweet tang of blossoms flowering.

    So much delights me.

    I am not, nor have I ever been, a man full of dark thoughts.

    But, if you think I am a man who has done dark deeds, why, you’d be dead on the money.

    I smile as I board the bus. The woman ahead of me is on the larger side. She can barely manage the steps.

    She looks behind, down at me. “I’m sorry,” she chatters. “A few too many of Charlotte’s Pecan Pies…”

    I forgive her her weighty encumbrance. “Who could resist Charlottes Pecan Pies,” I reply.

    She is befuddled, stuck between her lumbering impasse and the thought that I might indeed know Charlotte. “How do…?” but she lets it pass, realizing, I suppose, that I am, at best, some sort of jester, and at worst, well, she will have to think about that. What apparition could I be?

    I sit at the back. The view is wide. The bus is full. Children. There are many. Mothers, fathers, a few quite elderly travellers.

    What an odd contract. Select a public conveyance. Make sure there is a host of citizens, a smattering of ethnic diversity, many demographics.

    I am more accustomed to the single shot. The solo target.

    This venture into chaos.

    I quite like it.

    I tingle.

    I do.

    10+
    • 28 July 2017 at 1:52 pm

      This gave me chills. Well done!

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      28 July 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Wonderful. Your writing is always wonderful to read. This was such a chilling read.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 6:47 am

      Taught, well-written, builds tension beautifully. Some lovely juxtapositions of imagery and really puts you inside the killer’s head. Well done. This is how flash should be. It reveals the entire plot with a few well placed words, it creates an immediate image and holds it to the end, it builds tension, and resolves the tension.

      No Man’s Death Diminishes Me (excellent title – sets up the inherent conflict of the story, reveals just enough of a hint of the plot while setting the tone in a way the reader doesn’t fully appreciate until the end.)

      Some might think I am a man full of dark thoughts. Even those who know me not, who(delete) only observe some quality in me that causes their spine to screech and run cold. (to be pedantic spines lack a mouth to screech with and it is usually blood that runs cold, there are better adjectives to use to convey the same thing, sometimes the tried and true imagery works even if it feels stale.)

      They skulk away, concerned that my shadow might darken their lives.

      Nothing could be further from the truth.

      My thoughts are buoyant; (semi-colon) my shadow, the one I permit to freely roam, is a charming little darling.

      Why, even the sky pleases me. And the air, ah, the sweet tang of blossoms flowering.

      So much delights me.

      I am not, nor have I ever been, a man full of dark thoughts.

      But, if you think I am a man who has done dark deeds, why, you’d be dead on the money. (love the use of ‘dead’ here).

      I smile as I board the bus. The woman ahead of me is on the larger side. She can barely manage the steps.

      She looks behind, down at me. “I’m sorry,” she chatters. “A few too many of Charlotte’s pecan pies…” (unless Charlotte’s Pecan Pies is a brand name it isn’t capitalized)

      I forgive her her weighty encumbrance. “Who could resist Charlotte’s Pecan Pies,” I reply. (missing apostrophe)

      She is befuddled, stuck between her lumbering impasse and the thought that I might indeed know Charlotte. “How do…?” but she lets it pass, realizing, I suppose, that I am, at best, some sort of jester, and at worst, well, she will have to think about that. What apparition could I be? (I’d delete this last sentence as superfluous, it’s not bad, it’s just not good.)

      I sit at the back. The view is wide. The bus is full. Children. There are many. Mothers, fathers, a few quite elderly travelers. (spelling)

      What an odd contract. Select a public conveyance. Make sure there are (plural not singular) a host of citizens, a smattering of ethnic diversity, many demographics.

      I am more accustomed to the single shot. The solo target.

      This venture into chaos.

      I quite like it.

      I tingle.

      I do.

      (lovely ending! the paucity of words is a richness of image – just beautiful)

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
      30 July 2017 at 4:11 am

      So much darkness hinted at only by reference to the pleasanter things in life, your phrasing and pacing spot on as always, Bill.

      1+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Entertaining and chilling read. Favorite line – But, if you think I am a man who has done dark deeds, why, you’d be dead on the money.

      1+
  4. Sian Brighal
    28 July 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Sian Brighal
    76 words
    Slave owner/City street/Poem

    Market Day

    Under watchful stares
    The hollowed out wares
    Cleaned up put on show
    Stand in their neat row

    No pedigree breed
    But don’t need much feed
    Going cheap today
    Come take them away

    Check out their full set
    Not lost their hair yet
    Lean, strong and wiry
    Quiet and healthy

    They’re easily trained
    And so well-behaved
    That’s easy to prove
    Their backs are so smooth

    Guaranteed to bear
    Reasonable wear
    If that’s not ideal
    Then two-for-one deal

    6+
    • Profile gravatar of Ashley Gardana
      28 July 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Loved the format and rhyming scheme on this. Great job!

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        30 July 2017 at 5:06 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:11 am

      Ok so you have 6 quatrains of rhyming couplets. The thing is with rhyming couplets is that it is not very ‘in’. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s a bit passé as a form. Going one step further – talking about meter – this is iambic pentameter – but watch those stresses – read back to yourself to check that you are not losing the rhythm – although this is also a matter of accent and pronunciation so I will leave it to you to decide if you kept it or lost in places. Also watch your rhymes. For me, personally, trained/behaved isn’t a good rhyme.

      So technical stuff aside, on to the poem itself. It is descriptive, but somehow bland. I feel that the passion is missing. The theme of this week is civil rights – a theme that is marked by how passionately people feel about it – for or against. Read any literature from the civil rights movement and it is marked by the strength of the emotion. Look at Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech – if you can sit through that and not be moved … or the poem “Bitter Fruit” (https://genius.com/Abel-meeropol-bitter-fruit-annotated) (coincidentally also written in rhyming couplets) . Think about what slavery meant to people. Think about the people would have felt being lined up and put on sale, or even how the merchant felt – he must also have felt something, or nothing, and his perspective could put a violent chill on the scene … but yes, find the passion!

      2+
      • Sian Brighal
        30 July 2017 at 5:01 pm

        Thank youI’m really new to poetry…started reading ‘The Ode Less Travelled’ a few months ago, so your comments have been incredibly useful. I’m confused about iambic pentameter now, though…thought that the ten beats had to be on the same line…? I agree about the stresses, but as I didn’t think about the iambic pentameter, I wasn’t paying attention…sorry. I used the short AABB pattern (couplet?) as it reminded me of short linked chains…like handcuffs, and I was aiming for end-stopping (think that’s the term), as Fry commented on its ability/tendency to stifle sometimes. I thought these would make a very constrained poem…as though in chains…And the mis-rhyme…I think I was being a bit pompous there; it made me grin a bit that the one bad rhyme was when discussing how easily they were to train and their good behaviour. Rightly picked up on that.
        As for the theme…I thought we could be inspired by the theme rather than use it directly? My theme was more in tune with slavery…or the reduction of people to property…to a product. With this is mind, I rarely get passionate about buying sugar or a tool, etc. And I recall a close friend’s recent anger over the diminishment of her recent dilemma with a rather callous, ‘oh dear, but that’s how life is, isn’t it!?’….this rendering of something so tragic to something so mundane really got to me. How much worse to be a person and thought of as nothing more valuable than a hammer or pack of sugar, where even those who own you don’t care. I guess I didn’t quite get it right. I’ll certainly focus on the stresses and re-read Fry’s first couple of chapters, as I’ve missed the point somewhere along the line.
        Thank you for the links and the comments. Hopefully next time there’ll be an improvement.

        1+
        • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
          31 July 2017 at 1:53 am

          Sorry yes, there have to be 10 syllables in a line, and you have 5.

          Useful tool if you are focusing on form:

          https://www.howmanysyllables.com/syllable_counter/

          0
          • Sian Brighal
            31 July 2017 at 4:32 am

            Thanks for clarifying re beats per line….I thought I was going daft. I use the syllable counter for haiku; it’s very useful…and surprising too. Things I thought had two syllables have one, for example. Not sure if, as you said previously, it’s down to accent and pronunciation or if there’s some rule I’ve missed.

            0
    • 29 July 2017 at 7:48 am

      Rhyme done sad is difficult, I think, but you pull it off excellently. Tragic and haunting.

      0
      • Sian Brighal
        30 July 2017 at 5:09 pm

        Thank you 🙂

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Stephanie Ellis
      30 July 2017 at 4:19 am

      Very clever of you to mask the selling of human slaves in what appears to be a simple, almost throw away rhyme form – this to me makes the inhumanity of what was happening appear even starker. You almost dismiss the poem as just a little verse and then suddenly you are jolted back to realising this is actually people it’s talking about. Very manipulative, Sian 🙂

      1+
      • Sian Brighal
        30 July 2017 at 5:10 pm

        Thank you 🙂 That was my intent. Just have to work a bit more on execution. Glad you liked it.

        0
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:26 pm

      I enjoyed reading this! That seems to difficult to pull off! I guess with practice, writing poems come easier. I am new to it too. Great work!

      0
  5. Profile gravatar of Ashley Gardana
    28 July 2017 at 3:01 pm

    From the Ashes
    124 words

    Poet/Plantation/Memoir

    asgardana.wordpress.com

    The pages in her hand were red. Everyone she knew was dead.

    Jill traced the words, the ink a raised texture against her finger, greeting her in a way that almost mocked because the past was on these pages, and the future was in ashes.

    Her plantation had burned to the ground; she had set the pyre. The blood that dripped down her arms (some hers, some not) stained the words of the past. The memoir that was supposed to be her life’s work was nothing now. Only a reminder that ‘once upon a time’ things were different, she was different.

    Now only one thing remained the same between her and the memoir: they were covered in blood and destroyed from the inside out.

    7+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:19 am

      You have written a powerful image here, and very subtly told a story within the lines of the image. You evoke a very visual response from the reader so all in all well done. If I had to nit-pick I could say that this isn’t a memoir (one of your elements) but you have included the memoir as an object within your story, so – interesting interpretation. Colouring outside the lines is always good.

      What is interesting to me, is that this could almost be a poem. Isn’t quite a prose poem (which would also have worked by the way) because the writing doesn’t tip over into being quite lyrical / poetical enough to be a poem but it is very close. I think that if you had taken a bit more time to tweak the cadence and lyricism of it, this would have tipped over from almost into wow! Think how that additional layer of depth would have impacted this writing and elevated it to the next level. I know you can do it, because this is so almost there.

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Beautiful read. Loved the image of the ink rising up to greet her fingers.

      1+
  6. Angelique Pacheco
    28 July 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Poet/on a bus/drama
    Word count: 14

    Rosa Parks -1955

    Colours swirl in hate
    She refuses to stand up
    The rose of peace parks.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:23 am

      Very succinct, certainly takes ‘flash’ to its extreme. I think that the failing of this (if there is one) is that relies too heavily on people knowing who Rosa Parks was and what she did. In a way poetry needs to have a universality to it, that even a person is ignorant of some of the specifics that there is still something in it they can relate to, but when you lean to heavily on information the reader may not have been exposed to, the work loses the ability to reach a wider audience. In some instances this can help to expose the reader to new things, but even then there has to be that connection to the material on another level that draws the reader in to the unfamiliar. If you didn’t know who Rosa Parks was – does this poem still have something to say?

      1+
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Nice senryu/ haiku. Taken out of civil rights context, it still incites a great deal of thought.

      1+
  7. A.J. Walker
    28 July 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Exit Stage Left (in a body bag)
    A.J. Walker

    The note was pushed beneath the door.
    ‘Tonight’s performance then no more!’
    I took it with a pinch of salt.
    A slug of whisky and gut rot.

    Besides the stage was full of friends
    No-one near me to make amends.
    The show went on without concern.
    Until Act Three when I did learn.

    The understudy with red hair
    Who’s sword play was with greatest flare
    Her eyes of blue and scary glare
    Was not known by anyone there.

    She was an assassin sent to kill.
    Me, Mike and Mary, Steff and Bill.
    It seems she was the best of billers.
    With some promotion for ‘Multi-Killers’.

    The audience watched in rapt attention.
    With no idea of this invention
    The cast was felled one after one.
    Until lastly I was one… then none.

    The curtain fell to great applause.
    To shouts and cheers, ‘Bravo!’ and ‘More!’
    The killer bowed, took off her wig.
    Said she’d be back same time next week.

    —-
    WC: 161
    assassin / on a stage / drama oh so much drama

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:33 am

      Rhyming couplets was the perfect form for this! It evokes images of music hall routines – over the top, exaggerated, dramatic and murderous, if not in actuality, certainly in back-stage jealousies. My only suggestion is that a motive is missing, and perhaps could have helped with the problem you ran into with kill/bill/billers/killers … she was an assassin sent to kill … me etc and Bill because ….

      I did laugh out loud reading it, so it worked. Well done.

      1+
      • A.J. Walker
        30 July 2017 at 9:02 am

        As an assassin the motive was money. Kerching! 😉

        Thanks for the comment!

        1+
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Fantastic! Great fun to read.

      0
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:34 pm

      Nicely written and entertaining!

      0
  8. Profile gravatar of JK
    JK
    28 July 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Crimson Street

    Slave owner
    City street
    Poem
    158 Words

    Bloody knife tossed to the ground
    Faces of acknowledgement
    Quickly turning on heels
    Not a finger lifted to help this soul
    Some believed man plagued with loneliness
    Selfishness of once full heart
    Thriving from control others and wealth
    No direction but up on the backs of others
    Leaving people behind crumpled up in piles
    Sucking life like the greatest rapid The Devil’s Toilet Bowl
    Son, Brady left in wake
    To pick up the pieces
    Of anyone unlucky enough to be in the destructive path of The Slave Owner
    The Slave Owner, his father
    Brady was a good young man
    In touch with humanity
    This particular foggy day will never be forgotten
    Sharpest blade in hand
    Dug deep through flesh and organs
    Aimed for the heart, if existent
    That city street was never the same
    24th street in Birmingham, Alabama was stained with blood past and present
    But this will always be remembered differently

    4+
    • 29 July 2017 at 7:22 am

      Poingnant piece. I like how you take the reader to the exact place by zooming in on it.

      1+
      • 29 July 2017 at 7:24 am

        *poignant lol 😉

        0
      • Profile gravatar of JK
        JK
        31 July 2017 at 6:36 pm

        Thank you! I can only imagine what things would have been like!

        0
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:40 am

      This is certainly written poignantly, sufficiently so that I thought you must be referring to a specific incident that I didn’t understand because of my ignorance of the details. However when I looked up 24th street Birmingham Alabama there are no specific incidents remembered by history that happened there. I am left feeling that I wish you had brought this poignancy to a real incident and helped to keep the memory of it alive.

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of JK
        JK
        31 July 2017 at 6:37 pm

        Thank you for the comment and thoughts. I will try to do this again with a real event and see how it works for me!

        0
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Read this as a comeuppance, revenge, justice piece…potent poem. Also left me thinking about what changed the man of ‘once full heart’ and if some of them mourned him. Made me ponder the father’s death from a few viewpoints.

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of JK
        JK
        31 July 2017 at 6:39 pm

        Thank you for the comment it is nice to know thoughts! Good things to think about or areas I can develop more in the future.

        0
  9. David Allen
    28 July 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Blues or Jazz Musician/Night Club/Crime
    243 words
    David Allen

    A Graves Situation

    I was the first detective on the scene, it looked like it could be the grisliest murder we had come across in years. As I walked in I had noticed the sign out front advertising legendary Blues singer Manny Graves, I was a fan and sincerely hoped that it wasn’t him I was here for.
    I caught the eye of the manager who lead me towards the stage. Sure enough Manny was sitting there slumped in an unnatural position, as I got close I could see the knife in his chest. It was looking more and more like a murder.
    The crime scene boys were already taping off the area, they must have been close to have gotten here so quick. I began to look over the scene when I noticed something was off with the blood, the smell was wrong and it looked more like lubricant than anything else.
    I looked at the body, without touching, as the M.E hadn’t arrived yet. That’s when I saw the final clue as to what I was dealing with. I motioned over the CSI who looked and confirmed my suspicions, the gears showing through the chest cavity proved it.
    We had been called to the scene of poor maintenance of a droid, someone had used transmission fluid for an antique road car instead of the regular mineral oil in this look alike droid causing a catastrophic malfunction.
    What a night.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:53 am

      I like the sci-fi twist you brought to what starts off in tone like a noir gumshoe detective story. Excellent blending of genres. Under-appreciated piece by your fellow contestants! Where are the votes?

      A Graves Situation (Your attempt at a noir title is good, but I’d go with A Grave Situation as being a better fit, as well as setting the right tone for the twist at the end.)

      I was the first detective on the scene, it looked like it could be the grisliest murder we had come across in years. As I walked in I had noticed the sign out front advertising legendary Blues singer Manny Graves, I was a fan and sincerely hoped that it wasn’t him I was here for. (ok try to channel your inner Dashiel Hammet or Humphrey Bogart here, and try to capture more of that tired NY detective rhythm and tone in your writing. It’s there but not quite enough to satisfy).

      I caught the eye of the manager who lead me towards the stage. Sure enough Manny was sitting there slumped in an unnatural position; (semi-colon) as I got close(r) I could see the knife in his chest. It was looking more and more like (a-delete) murder.

      The crime scene boys were already taping off the area, they must have been close to have gotten here so quickly (or fast). I began to look over (tense – I looked over…) the scene when I noticed something was off (suspicious – avoid modern slang) with the blood, the smell was wrong and it looked more like lubricant than anything else.

      I looked at the body, without touching, as the M.E hadn’t arrived yet. That’s when I saw the final clue as to what I was dealing with. I motioned over the CSI (modernism – rather make him another officer) who looked and confirmed my suspicions; (semi-colon) the gears showing through the chest cavity proved it.

      We had been called to the scene of poor maintenance of a droid, someone had used transmission fluid for an antique road car instead of the regular mineral oil in this look-alike (spelling) droid causing a catastrophic malfunction. (This sentence is a bit clunky. I’d like to see it reworked, perhaps broken up into smaller parts to flow more smoothly).

      What a night.

      1+
      • David Allen
        29 July 2017 at 9:13 am

        Thanks for the suggestions, I think I will use some if not all of them. I didn’t have a chance to polish this before I posted it, I was playing stay at home dad and the boys went bonkers. Such is life.

        2+
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Fun read, thank you 🙂 Raises some fun and interesting questions. Did the droid stab itself? Did it get stabbed to hide the bad oil? Did someone stab it, thinking that it was Manny?

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Dave Allen
        31 July 2017 at 1:31 pm

        Thanks, I have been putting some of the suggestions I received earlier to use. I also changed it so that it’s just an object that looks like a knife, more likely a piston protruding. If your interested a more polished version will be up on my blog in a couple of weeks. Here’s the link for any interested parties: https://fictionalmoments.wordpress.com/

        2+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Nice work! I enjoyed the twist at the end.

      0
  10. Profile gravatar of Kaylee Schuler
    28 July 2017 at 8:07 pm

    President, Your Choice, Crime
    296 words

    Lest We Forget

    “Lest we forget our past, remember that today is a day of mourning,” declared the President. One lingering voice drifted across the wind to his ears.
    “This is an era of mourning, thanks to you.”
    Those gathered whirled, searching for the treasonous voice. The President’s brow furrowed. A young man clambered atop a car outside the barrier.
    “‘Lest we forget our past’?” he shouted. “They say if we forget the past, we will repeat it. Answer me this, Mr. President: if we haven’t forgotten our past, why are my people dying? Why are you killing them? Why do you deny us our freedom, our rights, our will to live?”
    A furious uproar burst from the crowd as they surged toward the man, becoming a writhing mass that struggled to surpass the barrier. The man stood his ground.
    “Who are you?” the President demanded, seething.
    “The voice of a people you claim to protect,” the man bellowed. He dropped to the ground and dashed into an alley, disappearing.
    The President murmured something to an officer beside him.
    “Don’t bother,” he called into the microphone to quell the masses. “There is no need to incite violence because of the words of one fool.”
    A day passed before the assassin arrived.
    He crouched atop a roof, steadying a rifle in his hands. He centered the sights on his target.
    “I will never allow history to repeat itself,” he breathed, easing the trigger toward him. The blast jarred his shoulder and, wincing, he stood and hurried into the building.
    Grief over the young man’s death rippled through the city, the state, and the country. There was so much clamor that the President arranged to give a speech.
    “…I therefore proclaim another day of mourning,” he said, rubbing an aching shoulder.

    2+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 7:56 am

      I like the twist at the end. The only thing is missing is what it is about. What history mustn’t they forget? What is the issue? It feels like you have skirted so carefully around some major issue without specifying what the issue is.

      0
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:34 pm

      Yes, the ending is jarring and worrisome. Going to be many days of mourning.

      0
  11. Patrick Stahl
    28 July 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Dancer/Battlefield/Comedy
    @patrickjstahl
    300 words

    “Heavy Metal Shuffle, Mostly Pop”

    Eloise pumped up her jams loud enough that she could sort of hear them over the sound of the heavy guns’ firing. She swung her hips in the rhythm of “Drive By” by Train. With her eyes closed, she could almost pretend she was in a club. A super lit club.

    A soldier tried to yell something to her, but she waggled her finger and ran a few steps toward some barriers. Eloise didn’t need to worry much about being behind the walls of metal and sand; she could always occupy another body if this one got shot. It might hurt a little if she got blown up completely. Still, she couldn’t turn down the thrill of a good battle.

    She was packing, of course. Sometimes a song needed a couple extra bass thumps to make it really kickin’. If a few soldiers from the opposing army died, so much the better. It took a little convincing to get most militaries to hire her, especially when she required a steady stream of iPod Nano 4th Gens. What could she say? The 4th Gen Nano was the best of the best. Unless there was a record player handy, it was the only way to go for maximal dancing swag.

    This time Eloise was siding with the Americans. Even as a bodyshifter, she had a sense of patriotism, and as American music was her current favorite, it was the natural choice. Her current body was French, so she kept a couple Louane songs in her shuffle too.

    The rumble of Algerian tanks cut against her favorite Tori Kelly song. She bobbed smoothly away, dropping low to hide behind a small bank of earth. If she was lucky, a good hip-hop song would start up around the time the machine gunners noticed her.

    3+
    • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
      29 July 2017 at 8:04 am

      While there were some comedic beats in this, I feel that you slid into a more serious comment about war – perhaps a bit of authorial intrusion – to really sell this piece to me as a full on comedy. There is the old formula that tragedy+time=comedy but the issues here are current, and topical so the comedic beats are a bit lost. Comedy is tough – not everyone finds the same things funny and perhaps another reader would find more to laugh at in this than I did.

      For me this was the best line – “She swung her hips in the rhythm of “Drive By” by Train. With her eyes closed, she could almost pretend she was in a club. A super lit club.” genuine laugh out loud moment, so you definitely have it, you just need to bring it more.

      0
      • Patrick Stahl
        29 July 2017 at 10:08 am

        I gotcha. I’m still working out my comedy skills. Plus, it’s harder past 11 pm, haha.

        1+
        • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
          29 July 2017 at 10:56 am

          comedy is tough, but I find that if I’m laughing while writing, someone else will laugh too when reading. And timing is everything. If you watch any live comedy you will see the comedian put in pauses and wait for the beat …. da da da aaaand DUM .. cue laugh. When you write comedy you have to write in the same beats and pauses. Practice makes perfect, even after 11pm.

          0
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:39 pm

      I like the images this created…a dancer picking a playlist as an arsenal…dancing as some martial art.

      1+
  12. Profile gravatar of Meadow337
    29 July 2017 at 8:09 am

    So this week, I missed the boat so I offer an older poem I wrote some time ago as a late entry.

    George Stinney is dead

    George Stinney is dead
    Prosecuted and
    Electrocuted
    In a chair
    too big for him
    with scared eyes
    and saliva
    on his chin
    The State
    sealed his fate
    in under an hour
    is this
    what they call
    justice?

    George Stinney is dead
    let us mourn
    for him
    then get up
    and protest
    fight with
    all our might
    a system
    that predicates
    murder is OK
    when performed
    at the hand
    of the State

    George Stinney is dead
    convicted
    by a jury
    denied the facts
    fed a lie
    about his confession
    absolved
    of murder
    seventy years
    too late
    his name
    is cleared
    perhaps his family
    vindicated
    but it
    does not
    bring him back.

    3+
    • 29 July 2017 at 3:57 pm

      And only a child. Christ, that was barbaric.

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Meadow337
        30 July 2017 at 3:43 am

        It was horrific. I’ve toned it down, reading the actual account is too awful.

        0
    • Sian Brighal
      30 July 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Powerful poem, encouraged me to read up about George Stinney. Three children dead.

      2+
    • Profile gravatar of JK
      JK
      31 July 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Powerful poem. Love reading your entries.

      1+

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