Side Effects Of Mediocre Poetry

A project I worked on for one of my anthropology classes has provided me with a great deal of material, some comic, some not so much. Ever since I scrapped the Drunken Poet’s Campout story last week, I have been unable to shake the ring and rhyme that has infected the muse attempting to safeguard my sanity during the conflict inducing, merry making season that is upon us. So, this week’s Friday Fictioneer prompt seems a good reason to share some of my research on the history of human conflict.

How humans express what matters most to us is an important area of study for anthropologists. Art, in its many forms, attempts to help us understand ourselves as well as the rise and fall of civilizations throughout recorded time. I use writing and photography to make sense of the world around me, since Apple has pretty much ruined music for me.

Many art forms have been used to commemorate the conquests of great civilizations, dance, painting, photography, poetry. Cultural artifacts curated in museums around the globe, where acts of treachery and bravery are on display for all the world to see, give us a magnificent pictorial record of humanity’s triumphs and tragedies. The ancient war depiction at the Karnak Hypostyle Hall is the standard by which war scene art is measured.

The horrors of war are at our fingertips. So, why do we continue to ignore the warning signs? I don’t have an answer. I can only guess it has something to do with mediocre poetry.

Wrong All Along

Greedy and Stingy sittin’ on the sea


First came land

Then came chattel

Then came tribes with a sabre rattle

See what I mean? That is enough to instigate a playground scuffle.

King Alfred’s ships fighting marauding Vikings: Battle of Ashdown 8th January 871 AD in the Danish Wars: picture by Harry Payne


Thanks to Rochelle, who rallies the troops, and her childhood pal Lucy for this inspirational prompt. More Fictioneers are here. For my 100 word story, look out below!

Copyright Lucy Fridkin


The commander commands, “Pillage the village! Plunder the town! Turn the world upside down!” Teams move out from the shoreline.

Beyond the buildings and parking lots there are miles of unexploited territory. Orders are to fill ’em full o’ lead and kill ’em good-n-dead. Players are motivated to show what they’re made of. They gouge the stoney ground and feed their bloody lust. They crush the citizens into dust.

It matters not the weapons at their disposal. They simply use what’s on hand for the grand proposal, until vulture and vermin victory spied. The battle is over and everyone died.


Interesting Links:

Credit: Bayeux Tapestry animation by David Newton
Music and sound design by Marc Sylvan




Copyright - Madison Woods
Copyright – Madison Woods

Out of windows we make a deal,

Gold is the arch from pole to pole,

We praise forever the happy meal

For the drive-thru is our goal.

In the fell clutch of the dollar menu

We have not been more wholly proud.

Into the hallowed fast food venue

Limp and lifeless bodies crowd.

Beyond the face with painted smile

Lies meat product by the pound,

Faithful workers all the while

Flipping burgers wear a frown.

It matters not how high the price,

How unwholesome is the cost,

Corporate charity or vice,

We won’t remember what was lost.


We all deserve a break today. Thanks for reading.

Check out more Friday Fictioneers here.

The Precipice Of Our Own Madness

Copyright - Janet Webb
Copyright – Janet Webb

In the safety of community, we find guidance, choices, hope. The way forward is not behind us. Children watch us, taking note as withered wisdom’s blossoms fade, fortunes lost, ransoms paid. Icy roadblocks freeze our tracks, keeping us ever looking back, wishing for a different way than living to fight another day.

Surrendered to the calendar life seems futile. Commanded to obey instinct we lose the game of pray for prey. Melted puddles underfoot, embers defying ash and soot, dreams won’t be held against their will. Flickers flash one last mad dash soaring, imploring better angels, “Save us from ourselves.”


This week’s Friday Fictioneer prompt, courtesy of Janet Webb, inspired this poetic prose that pretty much sums up how I feel about current events. Final exams are next week and my brain has been working overtime. So, feel free to reel me back in from the deep end.



If You’re Reading This, I Must Still Be Alive


Summer zipped by like a drunken monkey on a unicycle and the fall semester smacked me right between the eyes before I realized September was going postless. If you have missed my rants and fictional accounts of the facts of life, this post has something for everyone. First, samples of bad poetry written in the wee hours of the morning in June.

My Neighbor’s House Blocks The Sun

His roof is high. Mine is not. I often wonder what he’s got under that high, high roof. I neither envy nor begrudge his treasure. I only long for the simple pleasure of warming my stiffened limbs while sipping a bubbly beverage, wishing I could get some leverage to lift my life back into the light that’s been blocked by the eyesore next door. Gone are the days when golden rays graced the daisies near my garden gate. Now I wait in the night.

Jealousy Loves Enmity

Stroll you two, you wicked two, off into the night.

I’m happy that you’ve gone.

No more wanting.

No more venom.

No more waiting by the phone.

You deserve each other.

I hope you drown. No, I hope you smother.

Never show yourselves around here again.

Get out of my head, you dead bastards!


Two beers and half a bag of oyster crackers later Later that same day…The first draft of another excerpt from the story of Pauline is all that stood between me and my garden plan. I knew I should be writing, so I took my iPad out to the porch swing. This is the result.

The article, one of dozens Walter had submitted, was rejected. Again. Walter was a private person. He would never dream of disclosing his intimate life. The title, “My Sister Married a Murderer and So Did I” was supposed to grab the editor’s attention. Instead it secured Walter a permanent spot on the magazine’s Do Not Respond list.

The final form letter read:

Dear Mr. Morton,

Once again, the content of your article does not seem to agree with its title. Perhaps you sent it to our office in error. Future submissions will not be considered and no further communications will be sent from our office. This is our final notice to you.


Herman B. Chaste, Editor

Who Wants To Be King Magazine

To which Walter replied.

Dear Mr. Chaste,

Final notice? You haven’t noticed anything. You’re too busy feeding everyone’s addictions to notice my article is about managing expectations. Did you even read it? The last paragraph is brilliant.

“If we intend politicians to disclose their foibles for our judgment, we shall never elect a leader. If we expect actors to value conscience above the play, we shall never be entertained. If we prefer businessmen to adopt every belief we hold dear, we shall go naked and hungry.”

Perhaps you didn’t understand what I meant by “neighboring nations go to war until nothing’s left worth fighting for. Allied forces on stolen horses shout, “Believe what we believe or else!” Occupiers and gun suppliers increase the body count and offer mothers nothing to remove the stains for which they grieve.”

Your rejection is not the insult you believe it to be!

Most Certainly,

Walter Morton

Pauline’s brother, Walter, was always scribbling something to people too important to care what he had to say. Walter thought of himself as a public servant, warning of the thought recovery and sensory collection that was happening right under everyone’s noses at TRASC Systems International where he had been a computer engineer for five years. Pauline didn’t believe anything Walter said. She knew something terrible had happened. She knew Walter was her responsibility now. One she took grudgingly. One she would gladly give up any moment should Walter decide to make good on his threat to disappear and never come back.

“I’m outta beer, Pauline! I need more beer or I’m outta here. Bring me another beer! I mean it, I’ll be gone and you will never see me again.” Walter shouted from his permanent spot on the front steps.

“Stop shouting Walter. I heard you the first time.” Pauline pressed her knee between Walter’s shoulder blades as she bent down to hand him the can.

“This isn’t the right brand.”

“It’s the brand we can afford. Now, stop shouting at me and eat your crackers.”

Walter poured the beer slowly onto the grass, being careful not to splash his shoes. The beer, you see, wasn’t for Walter to drink. It was for him to pour.

“The earth needs to drink until it is drunk,” Walter said.

“I wish you would drink it and pass out!”

“I am passed out, Pauline. You are too, only you don’t know it yet. Just wait. One day it will hit you too, and you will never recover. Just ask that boyfriend of yours. He knows EPS gives you ESP. Ask him about it. Ask him about old time religion. They make you believe it’s in your nature, that you don’t have a choice.”

“Shut up, Walter!”

Pauline sighed and went back into the house. This was their afternoon ritual, Walter eating oyster crackers and pouring beer into the grass, her waiting for her boyfriend to drop by after work. Soon she would long for these days of insane boredom. Soon she would discover something that would make her life anything but boring.

Now you know what I did the first day of my summer hiatus.

Foxy II

This grey fox showed up again yesterday, cruising my backyard, looking for a spot to call home for the winter, no doubt. Here’s how the place transformed over the summer.

Stage One

First I roped the pathway. Then came the stake out.

Stage One Part Two

Stake Out IIThe DigStage One Part Three



Then the fun began. Raised stone beds make the space seem larger than it is. The grass paths took a beating, but they quickly recovered. A truck load of soil and many bags of compost later…


A few trees and shrubs, things begin to take shape.


Then it rained…1-DSC_0370

…and as it always does, the sun came out again.

Rose of Sharon

Spring bloomers and summer stunners need to go in the ground this month. So, I will be busy getting bulbs planted and wildflower seeds scattered. Oh yeah, and writing essays, grant proposals, and research papers…and possibly some blog posts.

best seat in the house

All from the best seat in the house, of course. There will be more garden photos as soon as I tidy up a bit. And finish my homework!