Gumshoe

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

Photo prompt courtesy and copyright property of C.E. Ayr via the Friday Fictioneers event hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Join in and/or find others’ contributions here.

Gumshoe

Derelicts dotted the sidewalk, silently flapping their gums. Dust cloaked the lot of them, but some were outfitted with fashionable flair; wool vests, knitted scarves, and random shoes all about. The only sense of symmetry came from the odd globs that spotted each garment.

I never understood any of this until I fell to the sidewalk. One of my shoes gummed in place, plastered to the curb, and my coat subsequently stuck to the cement. I managed to hold my face barely above dirt-caked disks when I realized that the derelicts wore whatever the concrete claimed.

I surrendered its bounty.

Orizuru and Migration

Orizuru

One thousand paper
cranes, shadows against gold dusk,
scatter on the wind.

Migration

|    deft claws                               heft                    gold stones
|          honed   wings steady the breeze     cranes
|      in fear                      sink                          release


Written for Ronovan Writes’ Haiku Challenge, which provided the prompts “crane” and “gold.” Orizuru are paper cranes, and legends tell that a crane will grant a wish to someone who makes (and keeps) 1,000 of them. As way of explaining the second effort, it is said that cranes will deliberately carry extra weight to ballast themselves against stronger winds. From what I can tell, that may be a matter of ancient lore.

Revising the Old Lie

JHC5

Photo prompt courtesy and copyright property of J. Hardy Carroll via the Friday Fictioneers event hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Join in and/or find others’ contributions here.

Revising the Old Lie

An ancient man bowed his head, but his words rose like ghosts, “‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’”

A nearby pilgrim couldn’t bear it. “How many times are you gonna repeat that old lie?”

“But it’s true.” His eyes became grave as his knurled hands glossed the gabbro. “I missed my chance.”

“Life isn’t issued out by your country. It springs from struggle and from death.” The ancient man lifted his head and looked at the scar the monument made into the earth, then the bare trees beside it. “Want the truth? Revise it. Dulce et decorum est mori.”


**Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is Latin for “It is sweet and glorious/right to die for one’s country/fatherland.” It was originally used by the Roman poet Horace in his Odes, but became known as “the old lie” after Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem “Dulce et Decorum est” about the tragedies he witnessed (particularly the use of chlorine gas). Pro patria, which is omitted in the “revision,” means “for one’s country/fatherland.”

If anyone is willing to submit constructive criticism, I’m most interested in how the conclusion reads. I fear that a reader’s experience may be wildly different than what I experienced writing this, though that surely can have its benefits. (Also, if anyone knows Latin, could you inform me of any grammatical error(s) at the end? I tried to verify its accuracy, but my knowledge is limited.) Of course, any constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated.

Digging

PHOTO PROMPT - © Connie Gayer (Mrs. Russell)

Photo prompt courtesy and copyright property of Connie Gayer via the Friday Fictioneers event hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Join in and/or get your drabble fix here.

Digging

Between my finger and my thumb, the squat pen rests. “Snug as a gun.”

“What?!” The cosmetically composed woman a table away eyes my scarred surface, the irrepressible stains that forever remain. She doesn’t look at the stack of poetry or the notebook before me. Only me. The untenable me.

“Sorry, just about to do some digging.” I thump my pen on Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist that was buried on the shelf behind me. Her eyes are too narrowly drawn to notice.

As she shakes in her seat, I rise from mine. I’ll have to find better turf today.


*The first paragraph is the excerpted beginning of Seamus Heaney’s poem, “Digging,” from the collection referenced within the story. One of my professors once mentioned that I write similarly to Heaney and that I should study him. (Aside from teaching my poetry courses, he also instructed the Irish Literature class, which might explain why he used such a reference.) My conversations with that professor (often after class) were probably the most influential moments of my undergraduate experience, and I remain grateful even now. (PLEA TO TEACHERS: Support your students beyond the necessary material!)

Anyway, I graciously await your criticisms.