The Pride of Prose
On looking through those you are following, I find it no wonder that you feel left out of the site’s community. You have failed to follow it’s most active, creative people. I am truly surprised that you have stayed active yourself for as long as you have without identifying it’s players.
I was originally glued to the site by a story dctezcan posted long ago, and then quickly deleted. It was a riveting, frightening post that made me aware that I had found a writing site with ballsy writers producing courageous content. The story enthralled me, while also leaving my skin crawling, and shamed by my gender. I thought it was one of the best short pieces I had ever read, and I have read a lot.
I love the challenges and witty rhymings posted by EstherFlowers1.
Mfrobs writes in a down home, long ago style that I love.
Posey writes, in my humble opinion, the best poetry on site. Every one of her poems is filled with a beautiful, nervous tension that leaves me wanting more, and less.
Mazzmyrrheyes’ structured stylings alone are worth an account on the site.
I have followed along as CatLady1 has grown into a creative, fun-filled storyteller.
rlove327 is an intellectual, and exacting stylist.
It is tragic for us readers that Undermeyou went to work for the site and is now depriving us of her energy, and angst.
I love sandflea68’s sixty-nine tales of dead men, JimLamb’s three word critiques, and Mnezz’s constant and instantaneous support and reposts.
I visit regularly for anarosewood’s dismantling of the night skies, and Mclarice’s putting those stars back together.
TomJonas tells a great story.
But mostly I fail to see how you can enjoy the site without following BonnieBoo, who does a little bit of all of the above, and does it all with a big heart and a twangy, mid-western, apple pie style.
Apologies to those who are deserving to be mentioned, but here it is for me.
Get on board the Prose train @EvelynDawn... before you are left at the station!
Adios, and vaya con dios!
The Road to 100: A Thank-You
When I had been on Prose for a month, I wrote a thank-you note. Having now written 100 posts (which, admittedly, included a one-liner about Pinky and the Brain), I find I have more to be thankful for. (Be forewarned; there is much navel-gazing ahead).
My seven months and counting on Prose represent my most sustained effort to write. I wrote requisite bad poetry as an adolescent, and I tried my hand at some short stories as a college freshman. But I concluded that they were bad and stopped; I filled my schedule with as many lit classes as I could cram, but I never took a creative writing course after that freshman year. A few years after I finished my masters, I took it into my head to write a novel, which I worked on off-and-on for two years, based upon the dates displayed in Windows Explorer. I pulled up that file now and am surprised to see that I wrote nearly 38,000 words of it before I decided it, too, was bad. One day I reread a chapter I had felt good about; I saw only flaws, and I stopped.
Somewhere in there, I also wrote an essay that was my love letter to community theatre and Shakespeare. That one I spent a lot of time polishing, and I actually tried submitting it to a few publications, but it didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t really expect it to, but I had worked hard on it and had hoped it would get read somewhere by the wider world. There was something symbolic about making “Rude Mechanicals” my hundredth post on Prose, though I couldn’t quite tell you what it was.
And I went through a period where I wrote short plays and sent them to various contests, though they also went nowhere. And again, one day I reread something I created and thought, “Why did you ever like this? What quality did you see?”
And that’s pretty much where I was before Prose.
But I learned something on those steps of the road. The aborted novel taught me how to plot out a narrative and develop a character indirectly. The essay taught me what it looks like to work on a piece for real, and with the aid of a trusted friend and skilled editor. The plays taught me how to write dialogue and adapt voice. And since I’ve been writing for Prose – and real people! – I’ve gotten better at giving scenes a sense of place, and at least a little better at finding the sweet spot between obscure hints and beating my reader over the head. And I have learned the value of a community of writers, whose work can inspire me when my efforts feel lifeless and who can help me to feel my words are worthwhile.
For the first time in a long time, I feel a level of confidence in my writing. In times past, and when I first started on Prose, I’d read the work of a writer who had been chosen for publication or a contest victory, and I’d feel hopelessly outclassed. I’d think, “I could never approach that.” Commenters on Prose are kind, though – sometimes (often?) more kind than my work merits – and supportive in a way that prevented me from throwing in the towel and walking away for months or years, like I had always done before.
By the time I finished editing and posted “Rideshare,” I felt pretty good about the story, but the response genuinely overwhelmed me. I did not expect to win the challenge, but more importantly, I did not expect the sort of comments that some of you left. And the unexpected result of this unexpected response is that I feel… competent. I can read some of those works that before left me feeling hopeless and small, and I can think, “maybe.” Those past pieces of mine no longer seem “bad”; they seem immature.
I don’t know that my writing is “mature” yet, but I know I’m going to try again for publication. I’ll submit some short fiction to some publications; there will likely be a self-published short story collection on Amazon some distant day in the future. I’ve got at least one yet-unstarted story idea that I’m excited about like I was “Rideshare.” I don’t expect anything grand to come of it. I don’t know that I belong in the big leagues; I’m definitely not all-star caliber. But thanks to my time and friends on Prose, I feel like I could be a slap-hitting glove-first bench player who might collect a base hit or two with a little luck and a lot more work. It’s a new feeling. And I wanted to thank you all for that.
When I wrote that one-month thank-you I tagged literally everyone who had ever Liked a post I wrote. Not gonna try that now, but I want to tag those who commented on “Rideshare” and a couple others. No omission intentional
Believing the last egg I cracked was cracked right up the middle is my prerogative, that is if there is a middle. If you ask me, the problem with eggs is their lack of structural perfection, so affixing blame to myself for my inability to predetermine the outcome of the break is no different than an eager beachcomber viewing a line in the sand as the tide ebbs and flows, expecting a straight edge.
Some will look at an egg and see the hand of God, a miraculous offering, the spherical elongation released from a chicken's vent; as food for the hungry. All I see is tangible irregularity. And I could eat a dozen. Two dozen. Waste not want not. Cracking them one at a time, releasing the yolk and the albumen flagrantly to sizzle unabridged upon the preheated griddle, as Jose Rameriz pitches a perfect game that I don't watch, and I want more, even after I vomit.
Tomorrow, when I wake up, the same exact time I woke up today, I will drive my clean car an equal distance between the double yellow line and the shoulder waiting three seconds before I proceed after the light turns green to buy more eggs. Two dozen. Maybe more if they are on sale, opening up the carton with anticipatory willingness only to be deceived. Eyeing every one of the twelve I rebuke the notion of God. There is no perfect egg.
One sip, one look, one taste, one shot,
Then all I had was suddenly not,
I had everything, but didn't know,
Now here I lay, frostbitten in snow,
Wanting more at first inspired,
Left me successful, little to be desired,
Provider of my own family,
A home to which I held the key,
But then enough was not enough,
Advertised happiness actually handcuffs,
Holding me captive, leading me away,
While I smiled and paid bits more each day,
Family warned me, but I didn't listen,
New friends gripped, diamonds glisten,
Wallet stayed out, wallet lost weight,
No need to tempt me, no need for bait,
Spouse and children left, days later I discovered,
Bought a playmate to replace them, easily recovered,
I truly had more now, though not all good,
Troubles, debts, STD's, paranoid attitude,
Dreaded day came, no money to pay,
Shakes of heads, new "friends" scurried away,
Sold all belongings to get one last hit,
Needed so desperately just a little bit,
Don't recall the day I lost the house,
Laid drunken in streets, christened a louse,
No home to return to, a craving to fix,
I headed downtown, for people to trick,
Moments in between, no money to spare,
Sobering up, wondering why I was there,
I'd been happy, comfortable even,
Kids, a spouse to whom I should have cleaven,
My head fills with screaming, I realize it's my own,
Desperate to move, but I'm chilled to the bone,
This moment of clarity comes all too late,
Tears freeze in my eyes, I've accepted my fate,
As I've given up, a light shines through the haze,
An angel has come to save me from my ways,
The light draws closer, shines orange and warm,
I can just make out a figure through the battering storm,
A smile appears, but not one that seems kind,
Chills colder than the temperature run down my spine,
The glow I thought divine to get out of my rut,
Was merely the burn of a cigarette butt,
Hands grab my jacket, tattered and tore,
"You once possessed wealth, but I've always been poor"
He says with a sneer, greed shines in his eye,
"I may as well take this, for soon you'll die."
Too weak to fight, too stiff to clutch,
The lowest reason I owe them this much,
I laugh as he walks away, drifting to dream,
Jokes on him as I see light, a shimmer, a gleam.
The contradiction of love.
Love is an emotion
sparked by chemical reaction
Love is an abstract
but also an absolute fact
Love is intangible
but inherently powerful
Love is our connection
but has no equation
Love doesn't subside
when our loved ones die
Love is eternal
yet lovers are just mortal
Love is contradictory
beautiful, but can turn ugly.
Love isn't a necessity
but without it,
where would we be?
"Let's not fall in love," he said, his voice reverberating off the subway tile and blending in with the crowd.
And you couldn't help but think that this wasn't the place for that statement, that request. You could pretend you didn't hear him at all, but that would hardly be honest. You heard him well enough. But in the subway, of all places? And then you think.
You think the subway is a dirty nasty place, and maybe that he equates it with you and that's why he is bringing it up now. You think, you don't like crowds. You think that maybe he couldn't go a moment longer without deminishing the possibility of connection. Though, mostly, you think about how it's a little too late for him to ask for this.
<b>This</b> being months of time together. You think about meeting in front of the apartment mailboxes. About finding out his dog's name was Ralph, like your uncle from Connecticut. The plans you made for next week. You think about the first time he watched <i>Breathless</i> with you and how you could tell he really liked it by the way he used it hands to talk about his favorite parts. You think about the fact he loves ravioli naked. How his birthday is coming up, soon. You think about his hands: clutching a pencil, scrubbing the wok, tapping laptop keys, making the bed.
How unfair, you think. And its only been seconds. You feel the weight of his gaze growing heavier. As if you were a boat and he an anchor. But you have needs too, you just don't know his and it's hardly right to ask now, isn't it. What do you say, then? In moments like these.
Looking up, you answer:
Long ago, but not so long as to forget,
Lived a welfare whelp, christened Dumb Annette.
Her clothes torn, her daddy's arms cheaply tatted,
Her mama's chain-smoking, and extensions ratted.
Dumb Annette sat silently on the porch all day long,
While hoodlum spawn screeched, "DA, sing us a song!"
Yet there she sat, quietly, not making a peep,
Staring into her persecutors, with eyes dark and deep.
First mocking, then screaming till they couldn't anymore,
Waiting for Dumb Annette's daddy to crash through the door.
Trailer trash scattered, like cockroaches bathed in light,
Knowing Dumb Annette's daddy would scream at her all night.
Eventually DA's mommy would surely step in,
Resulting in more extensions for her hair, freshly ripped thin.
"It's her own fault." Tsked the frequent passerby’s.
"The way she just sits there with that harsh look in her eyes."
Rumors are flies that land in a fresh pile of manure,
Opinions that give birth, maggots grow, truth shrinks fewer.
But maggots purify wounds, and flies don't spread speculation,
Human's mere mentioning of Annette's name caused violent elation.
"I hear she's feral," spat Butch Batram, "Don't know how to say a word."
"Listen up now," shouted James, "She's got rabies! That's what I heard!"
Back and forth, left and right, diagonally and upside down,
Nasty words filtered the air, enough to make one drown.
All in front of Dumb Annette, sitting placidly, alone,
Soaking in these wicked statements, a soul truly unknown.
Though the current shouts of daddy slapping mama stung her ears,
Was she finally ready to speak, after a baker's dozen years?
Tomorrow, she decided, tomorrow would be that day,
The day that she, Dumb Annette, finally had something to say.
Dawn shone early next morning, it's horizon red like fire,
Annette's mouth dry as cotton, would they all think her a liar?
Tiptoeing out of bed, she dressed carefully, making no sound,
Nothing seemed more terrifying than by her daddy being found.
At the edge of the porch, chewing her nails, to take her furthest step,
Forbidden to leave the rickety jail, her father's promise she had always kept.
On that morning, the air breathed cautiously, an occasional tense pause,
Gasping for oxygen Annette jumped wildly, like a cat extending its paws.
Landing, with a soft thud, on a patch of garbage, dirt and weeds,
Both thrilled and tremulous, hastily searching about for her only needs.
Finding a stick, sturdy and thick, the sun just giving enough light,
Dumb Annette bent down, thrust the tip in the soil and began to write.
Scribbling fiercely, heart racing, her tattered shirt colored nearly black,
But stopping was no longer an option, and neither was turning back.
Words formed like magic in the dirt, the stick a wand you could call it,
Feverish grins escaped from her mouth; her eyes once black now blazed lit.
It must have been nearly eight a.m. when the first bike went zooming past,
Seconds later were squeals of rubber, Dumb Annette had a reader at last.
"What's this here in the dirt?" Rambled Tom Dickley, slapping his face,
Another came, then more and more showed, to see what had taken place.
Birds tweets were outdone, by the rising hum, swelling with confusion,
Dumb Annette stood tall, just feet away, surely this was some illusion?
Sweaty, but proud as a peacock, Dumb Annette pointed down at the dirt,
However, people were too busy glaring at the state of her pants and shirt.
"Just look at her!" An old woman screeched. "Not even fit for trailer trash!"
While rumbling began in the crowd, the sky also started to crash.
Dumb Annett looked up expecting the sun, but found light raindrops instead.
Panic set in, if people didn't look, all her knowledge would soon be dead.
Waving frantically Annette pointed and stomped, which put the crowd in a fit,
"She's just like a simpleton ape at the zoo, dancing around a dirt pit!"
Tears were camouflaged by rain, as well as her message to the world.
Mud seeped up, and dreams sank down, and that's when the first rock was hurled.
Dumb Annette's ears rang, her eyes saw stars, even though it was not yet noon,
"Get out of our sight you stupid pig, you'd better run out of here soon!"
No chance to run ever came, calloused hands wrapped around her neck,
Dumb Annette flashed back to the first time when her speech he decided to wreck.
Dumb Annette was actually dumb, but the people were sadly mistaken,
For Annette was dumb, not in a secular sense, but because her voice had been taken.
Annette was smart, loving and kind, but her parents made stupid decisions,
Left alone to survive, no communication skills, Annette lived on welfare provisions.
The truly stupid pointed and laughed, calling Annette what they actually were,
Every day using so-called intelligent phrases, to laugh at and look down at her.
Who is to say what stupid is, but those who explain are those who speak out loud,
Perhaps when we learn more about what stupid is, we will learn to not make a sound.
Might Annette have had the knowledge of scholars? The crowd never looked down low,
Annette was dragged back inside, some say she died, but no one will really ever know.