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Creative writing goes beyond stating facts by also transmiting ideas, images and feelings. The purpose is to tell stories, create ideas, and reveal emotions. For an analogy, consider the difference between a photograph and a painting. 

Writing on this page includes various genres: assorted arenas of poetry - narrative, lyric, dramatic and prose poems.

It also includes the relatively new genres of microfiction.  This is abbreviated story telling that often implies or assumes knowledge of facts.   Flash Fiction and Flash Plays are condensed, intense versions of short stories and drama.

 

Genres

 


Narrative poetry tells a story. It has a beginning, middle and end-not necessarily in that order. Because of this structure, you should be able to sense a passage of time. The ending can be either conclusive or open with no resolution.

                                                                                                

"Ryan"

2 a. m. and he is breaking  
in my thoughts like a soundtrack  
breaches a quieted theater.
He was first at everything:
the dry wafer of communion
marriage and adultery,
scotch, then secluded vodka.
While on television men his age  
host talk shows, he invades my sleep.
What else can a man do
imprisoned in the ground?
I sent flowers to the funeral,
my card and a wreath of something.   

It's true, we always stood
on opposite ends of a row.
But there was that one evening  
at a pompous cousin's wedding  
we drank Manhattans, and he revealed,  
"Did you know they are tearing down  
the Rialto on Broughton Street?"  
Blinking in the balcony, we'd slip  
through the crack of self-forgetfulness. 

Soon I will have no one left
with whom to compare myself. 

 

"The Last Maypole"

That last May Day something broke
with a slight, definite sound
like ice settling under hot sugared tea.
I was in the seventh grade
neither skinny nor fat
but self-conscious with my new breasts.

Mother nudged, and my flat-chested friends
entered us into the dance contest.
Meek as worn-out water on my feet,
my tap shoes danced blue and flat
trailing through the studio
in whispers willful and evolving.

Courage sticking at each turn, I weaved
crepe ribbons about a painted pole.
When my friends trooped on the stage,
I stayed in the bleachers
watching others dance in unison,
glad that I wasn't among them.

Behind, my mother was calling;
ahead, just the vast expanse of me.
That surface touched, I won't go back.
Even an ebb tide finally turns.

That year I quit dancing lessons.  

"Hand Lake In August"

Hand Lake is summer-thin and sheer.
Fendered by tires, transformed by neglect,
the dock’s a splintered stage, drab and vacant.
Careless boats lay stranded on a bank
slick and black as onyx,
their keels deep in mud, nonplused,
able to lift no higher.

With a sense of being able to swim anywhere,
bass rise near the dock, tinting fronds like sumi ink.
They appear with the grave display of a hangman,
their luminous eyes made brighter by innocence.
As though ironed into the algae, they hang
like ancient bronzes dredged up in sections
and arranged in the spindly worm of water.

Shinny as bangles on the arm of a moment,
they stir, moving to breath, then slowly leave.
Impeccable, their fins, tail and gills all go east,
continually passing into one another.
What remains is constant, resonates
in soft ripples to lap the dock, and map
the peacock sheen of  petroleum,
almost reaching the boats.

 

"Tallulah Falls" 


Old Tallulah Falls stands in a graveyard 
of bare oaks. With calm servility, 
the falling water is iced and stilled. 
In apathy and abatement, the creek 
has lost half its flow. Once my feet slid
like a sled on the ice. My hands reached 
to touch soft clouds of air wandering 
from the mouths of cowed birds. 

This year I press hard against 
the cabin picture window wanting 
the bright, upward childhood ice and flight. 
In a surprising snow, birds glide down, 
a flock of kindness
shaped something like charity,
moving smoothly
through the polished disparity 
of the winter sun. 

 

 

 

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Lyric poetry uses one central topic as its theme and is often addressed to the reader. It can be written in a wide range of forms, songs, elegies, ode, etc. They focus on one subject throughout.

 

"The Coloring Book"

Over the flower cross
the cloud of incense spreads

expanding in many stages
like sperm in a woman.

How intent you were hunched
over the page with crayons!

Such lovely flowers, I said,
turning you in the sun

to open like a kaleidoscope.
Wrapped in thought, I close

the coloring book. Bent
in the shape of a cross

it is large enough
for the casket.

 

 

"Homecoming"

Dirt, rocks, clay, the whole earth  
curves to the half-lit sky.  
Stars wash out as the sun  
colors the field.  
A buzzard, weightless,  
rises on the updraft,  
drifting like a girl  
in a room of strangers.  
My eyes follow the slide  
of petals off my shoe 
while I pause to breathe.  
The path turns quietly hillside.  
The earth curves and turns  
without my arrangement  
and myself with it.  
Vines bend with dew,  
fill to brim, don't spill  
but turn and catch the light
of the contained sky.

 

 

"No Gumption" 

I lacked the gumption to kill Daddy.

Wanted to, had the perfect plan. 

Push the chair down the tabby path. 

at the dock's end release the brake, 

and Daddy's gone with the high tide. 

If he'd just kept a word 

more than yes. 

Yes to pie, yes to cake. 

Yes to life, yes to death. 

You see, I was afraid 

he'll lift the last thing that worked, 

his bald head, from the thin water 

and say No.

 

"Driftwood" 

How many summers behind sunglasses 

with silvered mirrors sweeping the beach   

and I am trailing over the hot sand 

behind people I never  know

casting silent names to call them,

names lost when they are past.

Will any one of them turn back, 

asking, will one ever turn,

look straight at me

and ask my name?  

 

"Measuring the Blood"


She is measuring the blood again.

If she could make the blood lighter
the weight of hearts
she could have the bed red
with regret by morning.

If she could cut the flow smaller
the size of drops
she could fit a nine months flood
behind her in a cup.

If she could turn the blood thinner
maybe she could slip
the baby under the mat,
a secret forever.

 

"After the Fray"

Each leaf a wick,
day sweeps up the sullen
lantern of morning.
Dew fills every blade
as if someone stood
crying on the lawn.

In the window frames,  
panes are captive lakes,  
reflecting trails of glass stars.
From each corner of the room
white light rives  
my face along the mirror.  
Angles break the line  
of my smile.  
The sun of me,
in constant rotation,
sideways slides away.  

 

"Twilight"
    

Outside the back window 

the sun drops from a sky 

that's orange, pink and still pure. 

At last full of itself, 

the felted light rolls out

unraveling all its color.

Its marbled fringe thickens

in a purgatory chill

that fills the empty house.

 

"

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The Prose Poem is not free verse nor prose but a genre in between. It differs from prose by the use of rhythmic and sound repetitions, intensity of language and, from free verse because there are no line breaks. 

 

Fort Screven"

This is how my summer ends. Stepping past glass thrust up like jagged peanut brittle, I stand in the slot where cannons once sat, coming here like mother to watch the tide pooling on the flats in bodiless heat. For me the fort has always been a ruin, an abashed shadow that came and went but mother can tell of dances, then looking for U-boats the year my brother was born. Mostly I recall a wall of bulwarks big as rail cars that fronted the beach where my brother and I would float high with the tide to sit above waves and look for China.

Summer goes out like the tide and my surroundings empty. The sun fills a few bottles of Four Roses then spirals down cinderblock steps to the Armory. In worn-out light, scattered and white  like cockled skins of worms, spent condoms stubble the floor. All else has been cajoled, culled, erased into abiding clarity like the stolid concrete bulwarks, like my brother waving goodbye, dead at ten. Only with me will he step out, hovering in the glare of the outgoing tide. I remove my shoe, place my sole in the sand. Foolishness of course, yet my footprint curves the leaving light.

 

"Earthworm Planetesimal"

“Must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.” Shakespeare

The astrology of the yard is intractable. Morning slides over the lawn like an eclipse of light, and I bend for the Ledger-Enquirer, noting with curiosity the orbits of earthworms as they leave the freedom of dirt. From the first most fear light, recoil from the journey, but some climb through soil, blindly crawling toward the hypothesis that is the sun. Drenched in its relentless heat,  they rotate steadily, slightly boundless. In minutes they are dead, solidified, their small masses shriveled on the pavement like planetoids, the dense segments forming an augury, jagged and nearly unreadable.

 

"Catacombs"

Do you remember how the stairs cut down through limestone bedrock, how the sun spiraled into slow decay following the dip and rise of cobble-steps that sharply dropped to the wall of bones? And the skulls, how they stared at us, our heat and movement; their sockets fountainheads of absolute black and blame seemed to follow us as we walked through anonymous bones stacked on both sides of the narrow corridor?   Tibias, femurs and clavicles streaked gray and brown, stained by leached water, heaped in crannied vaults like calcium reefs. 

The cold holes, remember them, carved in the quarried rock, those uneasy rooms, now human landfills holding the dead, at rest if such a thing is possible. Deaf and dumb, we kept the silence to confound the devil as we drifted passed frescos of fish, lambs and anchors, the hope of resurrection held in the faded colors.

Remember how we moved, following the path between chambers, the black-rock passage, the manner of our walking, tip-toeing, shuffling, hanging back, always keeping close to the corridor center, sometimes touching the bones to feel the change, smearing our fingers with phosphorous remnants? In the flash photo, the skulls you held in each hand cast a play of shadows, the advance of darkness through cracks coming hard and hollow as your breath. Remember the green fungus flowering seductively, the thick air beneath the earth where bones replace stones, and how we learned heaven is still distant and non-negotiable as ever? 

 

"

 

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Flash Fiction is very short fiction that gets right to the meat of the story without a preamble.  There is often implied characterization. 

 

"Some Bad News"

 Uncle Will overlooks the island stop lights and speed zones. Veering left across two lanes of coming cars. We enter a tabby marsh road, oyster shells spew out behind us. Squeezing the arm rest like an orange my mouth drops into an "O." Up front my father doesn't miss a beat, hatches plans for line dancing. His older brother Will  answers with his hands. The 1978 Buick clips palm trees, follows a tidal creek. Far back, I enter the crab shack. The brothers are calling   "Hey, bo' " to locals, a coke in one hand, to break blue-crab shells,    a Miller in the other to wash them down. A polite nod to foreigners    with king-crab legs and Michelob. Beer comes and goes  like a quick summer squall    empties vanish through the top's center hole. I know better than to keep up.   Learned the hard way. (Once squatted and peed on a parlor chair, thinking it a toilet.) Worn and baggy as his blue shorts, Uncle Will said , "Got some bad news,"  taps his chest twice.   "Two spots. Can't operate. Quit smoking this week." Across the marsh, a boat motor sputters. I stammer, "I am so sorry." Drowned half way out by my father's boom, "Well, you had a good run." Those brown eyes stared at each other. "Yeah...... I had a good run."
During the dancing, Daddy began to cry.
 


"Blood Ties"

Loaded up with grits and fried whiting Daddy and his dying brother Will go grave hunting, take me along, a sealing wax to fasten their deeds. With no regard for the speed-bump Uncle Will enters Bonaventure Graveyard sails between the brick posts, flight practice for his wings, I guess. On  flat land, risen where graves mound one site is left in the clan plot.  Grandmother, who lived to ripe old age, lays back to belly to that first escapee from Ireland. But consumption killed their father so young that his family took him back to their own half-full lot. I began a solemn discourse- "the canopy of stone angels, susurration of Spanish moss." Would have missed their departure hadn't they stopped to scuff dirt on some cousin's old grave. At supper, my instructions came Will is to be buried next to the Father whom he didn't know but was said to resemble. And in due time, Daddy goes next to Will. They were blood, you see, and everyone knows blood stains and binds. 


"Every Little Bit Helps" 

Butcher knife and ragged broom in hand, Uncle Will loped over the dunes, then Daddy, me on his shoulders my pudgy hands gripped his blond hair and the rubber game ball. They sat me near the surf and cut the broom into a swinging bat, the ball into a hemisphere for pitching in the game of half rubber.  The split ball sailed toward home-plate. Sweat glistened like armor as they charged  like knights looming over the low tide infield. Wins and losses were quick-lived. From nowhere, they drew a crowd of cheers. I dripped sand and salt into white spires, made towersas high as the sky.  Again this March, my hands leaned into the wet sand and felt those astonishing castles I once built. Now beyond my reach. Almost twins, Daddy and Uncle Will approached moving past sea oats at a slow gait, carrying nothing but loose skin. Still, the laughter went down to the bone. I dipped a fistful of wet sand, started a castle. Every little bit helps.


"Lift Off"


The dirt was purple. Honest, Mom. 
Not much of it, just a little patch under the grass.
I did, Mom. I looked for that spot again, but couldn’t find it.
We were at that big field near the stadium, the one where the bulldozers are.
I don’t know how he got there.
Ok, ok, Mom, don’t get excited. Here’s what happened.
We left home on my new bike. 
Mikey climbed up on the table, and I pushed the handlebars close enough.
No, he sat just fine on the handlebars. After all, Mom, he’s not a baby. 
When we got to the field, Mikey hopped off my bike so I could jump a ramp.
I didn’t want to take a chance on his falling when I landed. See how careful I was.
After while, I cruised by to check on Mikey and to wipe off my spokes.
Well, yeah, I used my shirt, but it’s an old one, right? 
Anyway, Mikey was eating dirt. 
It looked purple to me. I think it was magic.
He began to get wider, like a balloon, then he flattened out like a pancake. 
It was really neat. 
No, Mom, honest, I am not making this up.
Me?  Well…. I kept wiping off my bike. It had a lot of mud all over it. 
Besides, what could I do?
Soon, Mikey lay spread out on the grass. That’s when it happened.
I am telling you the truth, Mom.
The wind swooped down, and Mikey flew up like a kite. 
No, Mom, he was laughing. Well, it looked like fun to me.
Sure, of course, I ran after him, but he just went higher.
What did I do? 
Well, gosh, I went to get some of that purple dirt. To eat. So I could fly too. You know, go after Mikey.
Yeah, that’s why my face is so dirty, but I never did get stretched out enough, never lifted off.
I don’t know why. I ate a lot of dirt.
No, Mom, I am not making this up. 
The last time I saw Mikey he was sailing over the hill.

 

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Flash plays are intense, one act dramas.

 

"Production Problems"

 

Persons In Dialogue

HOMER: author

DIONYSUS: director

Scene: Corporate Office of Achaean Productions, Acropolis, Athens,  Greece  . 900 B. C. 

{Curtain up: Dressed in togas, characters approach and greet each other. They sit.}

DIONYSUS: My dear HOMER, welcome to Athens ! Great news, we finally signed Jocasta for the lead. We “have” our Helen. Big bucks for the Pretty Lady, but at last we are ready for production!

HOMER: Delighted about Jocasta.  

{HOMER turns and glances out window}

What a terrific view! I heard the city was going to build the Parthenon up here.

DIONYSUS: Ha! Not this century. Now about the “Iliad”—fascinating story- sure to be a blockbuster. We’re off to location this week, just as you  demanded.

{HOMER smiles.}

HOMER:  Well, being on site at the actual battleground where Hector died should cram every stone bench with spectators. 

DIONYSUS:  And that’s what we want—a full house! We’re lining up the rowers for the trip now; should take about five ships.

{HOMER reacts in a startled manner}

HOMER: Only five?  What about the Silver Horse?  Cut in sections, it alone will take at least six ships.

{DIONYSUS clears his throat}

DIONYSUS: Uhhh, about the horse—Jocasta’s fee put us over budget. {HOMER stands.}

Take it easy, HOMER.  Sit down. After all, it was  you that insisted on getting her.

{HOMER paces.}

HOMER: But, but...... the crux of the story is the silver horse. How it shines so  brightly the men of  Troy are blinded  during the battle. 

(DIONYSUS shrugs and gestures with his hands.}

DIONYSUS:  Sorry, Homer. It is not going to happen. The backers just cannot swing the extra financing. Don’t worry; you’ll have the whole voyage to Hellespont to rewrite that part of the story. Just be sure to come up with a prop that is cheap to build, something cheap as wood.

{Curtain}

End

 


"Bone Cold" 

Cast: 

MRS. JONES – lovely young widow of wealthy businessman, Emery Jones
MR. WELLS- sales executive of Pict Studio

Setting:  Office at Pict Studio- two chairs & a desk.  Mr. Wells is seated at desk.

Props: Bottle of brandy, glasses and telephone   

 

Act One:

(DOOR CLOSES. MRS. JONES STRIDES ONSTAGE IN AN OSTENTATIOUS MANNER.)

MR. WELLS: (STANDS) Come in, Mrs. Jones. I am George Wells, your late husband’s consultant here at Pict Studios.

MRS. JONES :(SMIRKS) Well, Mr. Wells. How are you?

(MRS. JONES IS SEATED AND PRIMPS, SMOOTHING HER DRESS)

MR. WELLS : (CLEARS THROAT) Uh, yes. My condolences on your husband’s passing.

MRS. JONES :(SIMPERS) Thanks, he was a sweet old thing.

MR. WELLS: Errr, yes, yes, indeed. (DEEP, SOLEMN VOICE) He was a fine man, a chief of industry, a self-made millionaire. Yes, a fine man. (SLIGHT COUGH) 
Well, now, what can I do for you?

MRS. JONES: I came for my surprise present. The week before he “passed”, Emery had me sign stacks of legal papers (SIGH)-it took forever. (BRIGHTLY) Said I’d have a big surprise after he was gone. 

MR. WELLS:  Present?  Oh, yes, it is like a present. He wanted to be sure you’d be well provided for, just in case. And let me assure you, he got the best money could buy.

MRS. JONES: (CONDESCENDS) Well, of course.

MR. WELLS: (SHUFFLES PAPERS ON DESK)  Let me see….. Here it is, the legal form, all signed and sealed. May I see a driver’s license, to verify your identity? Just a formality. 

MRS. JONES: (REACHES IN HER PURSE AND HANDS HIM AN ID CARD.)  Here. 
(THEN LOOKS AROUND THE ROOM IN A BORED MANNER)

MR. WELLS: Ah, yes, a striking photo.  I must admit, I am amazed that you came in on your own.  Would you like to hear the details?

MRS. JONES: (RISES AND WALKS ABSENTLY DOWNSTAGE) Pict Studio, what’s a pict? It sounds like a movie set.

MR. WELLS: Movies? Well uh, we’ve always considered movies, but ……….

MRS. JONES: What is that? (POINTS AT THE AUDIENCE, THE FOURTH WALL OF THE OFFICE) That painting of a blue swordsman on the wall? Is it the studio logo?  Like the MGM lion?

(JONES RETURNS TO HER CHAIR, SITS AND TAKES OUR HER COMPACT MIRROR TO APPLIES LIPSTICK DURING FOLLOWING DIALOGUE BY WELLS.)

MR. WELLS: (PONTIFICATES) Yes, my dear, the Pict warrior is the company logo. Trouble with people today, we’re too civilized.  We used to be wild Picts- tattooed in blue, the scourge of Britain, as feared as a Druid.  We’d raid shrines; slaughter cattle and when a chief died, we’d bury his wives with him.  We were dangerous, very dangerous. (SADLY) But look at us now- peaceable and proper.

MRS. JONES: Yeah, anyway, about my surprise, I bet it is a screen test for a movie, right? (RISES, PIROUETTES ABOUT THE STAGE) I’ll be stunning, my face will fill the silver screen, be bigger than life. I’ll drink champagne with Brad Pitt and the audience won’t even notice him. (RETURNS TO HER CHAIR)

MR. WELLS: Er... yes, a movie can definitely be shot. 

Now, the details. your late husband came in several weeks ago, gave us your vital statistics-weight, height, heart rate. I must say, he certainly seemed chipper for his age.  Who would have thought he’d slip off that embankment and break his neck!  At least he got his last wish—to be stored in a frozen state.

MRS. JONES: (EXACERBATED SIGH)  Yes, Emery had all sorts of odd ideas. Well, let’s get on with it. I don’t want to hear the details. I am ready for action.

MR. WELLS: (SMILES)  Aren’t you a refreshing change! Usually we have to send an escort.  Will you take brandy, Mrs. Jones?  It’s a seven star import. (POURS A DRINK AND HANDS GLASS TO JONES WHO DRINKS)

MRS. JONES: This has such a bitter taste. I feel a chill down to my bones. (RUBS HER ARMS) Strange, usually brandy warms me up.

Mr. Wells: (SETTLES BACK IN HIS CHAIR)  While we wait, let me sprout just a tad- I am so proud of our company. We have state of the art equipment; a special high tech unit with a battery back-up in case of a power outage.  Our work is guaranteed a minimum of 150 years, and I am proud to say, there is no longer any dizziness.

MRS. JONES: Ok, ok,that sounds fine. I could leave the screen test as a legacy to my fans.

MR. WELLS:  You are something else! No wonder Mr. Jones was so determined.  Alright, I agree. The entire production will be made into a movie, and I personally guarantee global distribution.

MRS. JONES: It must be the excitement, but I feel faint, and so cold that I can barely speak. (SLIPS TO FLOOR, DROPPING GLASS)

MR. WELLS: It is just the sedative in the brandy taking affect, numbing all your motor reflexes. Let me ring down to the cryogenics unit, be sure all is ready, and get someone to video each step. (PAUSE) Usually wives and widows aren’t as eager as you.

(PICKS UP PHONE) Danny, got a client hot to trot. Send up the best gurney, the one with the lilac tubing and find somebody with a camcorder to tape the entire procedure. Yes, I said camcorder. She wants movies. Yep!……… Amazing woman!

(MRS. JONES GRASPS HER THROAT, TRYING TO TALK, JUST MAKING SOUNDS.)  

Now, now I know it’s thrilling, but you mustn’t try to sit up. Don’t worry, your clothes and jewels will be placed in security storage, and your will is already on file.  Mr. Jones thought of everything.

(MRS. JONES SQUIRMS ABOUT ON THE FLOOR)

 Well, yes, of course, some clients do seem to feel a bit odd going under but never at all dizzy.

End

 

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Links

  Poetry and Flash Fiction Links


Arther Rimbaud
The Garden of Jorge Luis Borges
Story Starter
Meg's Writing Tips

Sistine Chapel Bulletin Board 
Reverie
Rhyme and Quotations
Inscriptions
Prose Poems 
Prose Poems Archive

Poetry Online

Poetry Room
Web Links for Flash Fiction

Fiction Techniques

Short History of the Short Short

Short Comparisons

Flash Drama
Group
Brian Turner's Playhouse

 

 

Zine Markets  

Recursive Angel
Gravity 

Riding the Meridan 

Ygdrasil

E2K 
Eclectica

Kimera
Melic Review

Moveo Angelus

Niederngasse
Disquieting Muse

Doorknobs & BodyPaint
Zoetrope

Publishing Information and Free Programs-see section on Books page

In conclusion I offer a link to my favorite poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot.

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 Copyright 1996, Edited Jan 2006