Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Flash Fiction 55 for January, 2020

Welcome all, to our first Friday 55
of the new year.
On the last Friday of every month, I will once again host the opportunity to have both a kick-ass weekend and share a poem, piece of prose poetry or short fiction on any subject; 
in fact, whatever, 
so long as it's in the form of 55 words, no more, no less. 

The prompt will be live from Friday at 12:00 AM til Sunday at 4:00 PM. 

This is an informal sort of place, so there's no Mr Linky. Just copy and paste a link to your 55 in the comments.

Here's a link to the html code for those who like to leave a short and neat one word link.

Here is my own contribution:

 Widow's Wind

One marriage that burned,
another that froze,
one dead-alive so long ago,
a breath of dream for a child to grow;

all lost in the time-storm's
all holocaust
with an angel's form,
and a devil's price.

But a silence of moon,
the windowing woods,
a widowing wind,
ink's sudden flood;

these now are good.

~January 2020

The 55 is a writer's challenge in exactly 55 words, initiated years ago by Galen Hayes, and when he passed on, continued at various times by The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Kerry O'Connor, and by me. When I began doing this prompt in 2017, I wrote a lot about my feelings for it and for poetry blogging. If you'd like to read the background material, you'll find it here, in my Friday 55 Preamble Wanderings.  Unfortunately, the prompt will not be weekly at this time.

Images in order of appearance:  55 chevy pick up truck, via internet, manipulated, fair use
Mountain Fire,  1903, ©John Singer Sargent. Public Domain
Cottage On Fire At Night, circa 1750, ©Joseph Wright. Public Domain


Monday, January 27, 2020

Last Roundup

Last Roundup

Remember me when I ran with my kind,
my hooves struck the prairie like a xylophone,
kicking up bees in the cowboy rose,
grazing the weave of sweetgrass stems,
red dirt-dancing in the south wind's eye.

Then you brought your infinite calves, 
wave after wave of threadbare sheep,
mines and guns and the oil machine
to steal the grass, to suck up the land,
to push and kill til the red stones weep.

Now that you've turned the bees to wind
now that you've turned the grass to sand
now that you've turned a dancer to meat
now that I've gone 
where the dead can't ask,

only horse-ghosts run while the sweetgrass longs
for the wild tap of hooves, the mustang's song.

 ~January 2020

 for earthwheel challenge

Notes:You may wonder how this is related to climate change, but almost everything impacting animals negatively today is so related in one way or another. In this case, the climate of the West and Southwest plains has been growing rapidly more arid for several decades, increasing the stress put on the land to sustain the wild horse herds, native species like elk and deer, and cattle and sheep ranching populations. The public land areas are also feeling the push for oil and gas development, as well as unregulated trophy hunting. The ones to lose in this scenario are the wild horses.

More info:  The American Mustang is a feral horse that is descended from domesticated horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish in the 15th century, and is protected under the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. Populations are "managed" by the Bureau of Land Management  who use a series of yearly round-ups and contraceptive measures plus an adoption program to keep mustang numbers down. While control of these populations is necessary to prevent over-grazing and over-population, the BLM's practices have been criticized time and again for cruelty, corruption and incompetence, while civilian animal welfare groups have relentlessly pushed to reform and control them, with mixed success. The BLM has been accused of turning a blind eye to mass "adoptions" where the horses are slaughtered for dog food, as well as for keeping large herds of animals penned up indefinitely without any plan for their fate other than eventual slaughter. 

Most recently under the Trump administration, things have swung round to the worse scenario level, as might be expected in a 'pay to play' government:

 from 2018:
 "The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) winter roundup season is upon us. The traumatic helicopter roundups that will be conducted this season are even more concerning than usual,  since every single wild horse captured is in danger of being killed or sold for slaughter.

Signaling its intent for America's wild herds, the BLM is planning to conduct numerous roundups simultaneously. The agency's increased capacity for rounding up horses endangers more lives and  proves problematic for advocacy organizations that intend to document the mass capture of mustangs from their homes on our public lands." ~American Wild Horse Campaign

from 2020:
 "The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is putting together the fiscal year 2020 roundup schedule. Once funding is approved by Congress in the fiscal 2020 debate...we may see the schedule explode to include up to 20K wild horses removed each year for the next 3-4 years. These will be the largest roundup schedules in history.
This will decimate existing populations. It is based on the severely flawed parameters of politics in the 1970’s and perpetuated through a program based on excuses and chaos ever since." ~Wild Horse Education

Photos: header © Bev Pettit, footer © Carol Walker  Fair Use

Friday, January 24, 2020

Blue Norther

Storm Front

Blue Norther

If I saw you now
blue-sudden as a Norther
borrowed cherokee hair gone snowy
wolfhound jaw locked against
the puzzle in your buckshot eyes

would it be as it was, hard with
love and leaving,
full of the boy who wasn't ours,
of jaguar ghosts, bankrupt sacrifice;

an emptying out, a fumbled
 passing on?

~April 2013
reposted January 2020

55 sharply falling degrees, once for the g-man,
and once more for
 earthweal Open Link

Process notes:  BLUE NORTHER:    Refers to a swift-moving cold frontal passage in the southern Great Plains, marked by a dark, blue-black sky with strong wintery winds from the northwest or north and temperatures that may drop 20°F to 30°F in a few minutes.

Image:Storm Front by Vicious Kitten on the now obsolete flick'r  Fair Use

Countdown to the 55

Just a reminder,  as stated earlier this month, next Friday I will be reviving the Friday 55. The 55 is a form I learned of from a great-hearted and generous man named Galen Hayes, also known as the G-Man, who in the earlier days of the blogosphere posted a writing challenge every Friday: to link a poem, piece of prose, prose poetry, or anecdote on any subject expressed in 55 words, no more, no less. He welcomed all comers, and all forms, though his own posts were usually humorous asides accompanying photos. 

After he passed several years ago, he handed the torch
to The Imaginary Garden poetry site, now archived, where it was continued as an alternate prompt. Then I took it up for awhile, til my personal situation made it difficult to continue, and Kerry O'Connor held the fort. Now that things are calmer here, I hope to be able to host this challenge again. 

It will appear on the last Friday of each month, starting next Friday, January 31st, beginning at 12 midnight CST, and lasting through Sunday. I invite anyone and everyone to have a fling with it (in exactly 55 words, no more, no less.) The challenge is for writers, and the form can be prose, poetry, non-fiction or fiction.

Look forward to seeing you next Friday!

Monday, January 20, 2020



I went to sleep
in the cotton rows
child's hands raw,
belly empty as
my mother's brown eyes
 that hot day she left me
alone by the river mud's soft folded stink.

I cracked my lids
in the hard nitre'd bed where
time cries out loud in the torture of change,
where rain becomes air
on dry roserock hills, deep in the gulch
where the snake promised water
and had nothing but dust

visions without sight,
day without night. I was small as
the sand when I rose up again
on the last thermal's wings,
on the story of gulls, on the wild windy
ballad the dark singer sang
to the tide in my bones.

January 2020

Process note: I've tried to present here the transition from the presence of water, to its absence. The bottom photo is of natural geologic erosion in the Borrego Badlands of California, and the top, work in the cotton fields possibly in Oklahoma(?) around the turn of the century.* This poem tries to bridge the gap between, for what are fields now may in the future become the desert landscape, moonlike and barren, that the climate has made of the badlands, which extend over much of the western part of the US, from New Mexico to California.

Header Image, *Picking cotton, author, location and date unknown, from an Oklahoma heritage FB site, public domain (the people on this site discussed their memories of grandparents or parents hand-working the cotton fields in Oklahoma as children. Oklahoma still grows cotton and was the fourth largest producer in the US, according to this 2017 report. )
Footer Image: Borrego Badlands, California USA, author unknown, Fair Use.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Winter In The Blood

Winter In The Blood

The harvest is lost in the fields
when you're riding the crest of the flood;
spring is forever gone south
once winter gets into your blood.

Do the spirits you send me at night,
who twitch in the day's flame of dream,
long for a life behind glass
where their grief-mirrors silently scream?

I hang up their bottles by noon
as the mist leaves the prickling wood;
how it crawls where the heart cannot come
for winter has got in its blood.

Don't haunt the dead doorway tonight.
Don't put your white worm in the bud.
Don't look through the glass like you know
that winter was born in my blood.

August 2019-January 2020

a quick singsong, for Fireblossom at

"In old southern tradition, hanging bottles from a tree is intended to catch or confuse negative spirits.."

Images: Lace and Ghosts, 1856, drawing © Victor Hugo Public Domain. Manipulated.
Bottle Tree,  Author Unknown. Fair Use.