Aug 14

Manifesto of the Muse

(Response to the challenge Titles: Create a poem using only the titles of books near you. Write it in seven minutes.)



The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail
The Cucumber King
The Lost Track of Time
The Running Dream.

Under the Egg,


counting by 7s,
Mary Oliver’s Devotions


Voël (tentative title) - Settings

(Photo Credit: Pixabay, various contributors)

Setting 1: Washington D.C. USA, Earth -Summer of 2016

Tamasha lives with her mother, father and brother (though he is away for most of the story on a gap year trip around South East Asia) in Washington D.C. the capitol of the United States of America, in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C. ,  known for it’s ethnic diversity and emphasis on intellectual and cultural progress. Their family lives in one of the small Victorian style homes typical of that area.

Both she and her brother occasionally visit the Adams Morgan area, known for it’s entertainment and arts scene. Her brother is interested mainly in the restaurants and galleries, which she occasionly visits with him, but Tamasha is later drawn to the area for the musical venues and stores.
Aug 06
poem 2 comments challenge: Left Out

The People I'd Rather Not Be

The people who know what to say.
The people who say what they mean every time.
The people who talk, talk behind others backs--it makes them cool.
The people who are loved by everyone.
The people who get the inside jokes.
The people who want to be in the circle,
and The people who are...

I am not these people.
When everyone's talking,
I'm not.
I'm listening,
until I say something.
And then those people go quiet.
You could hear a pin drop.
Because what I say is not what they want to hear.
They want the funny.
The teasing.
The flirting.
They want the right thing every time.
But I'm not those people.
I don't have the right words to give...
But then, they smirk.
Almost turn away,
but not quite.
Inviting me in, kinda.
Almost daring me to make a comment again.
Just so they can smirk at me.
Aug 02
fiction 0 comments challenge: Run

Tap. Tap.

Jillian sat, lightly tapping her pencil against the wooden desk. The desk had begun to rot she noted, tilting her head slightly so she could get a better look at the dark mold that now crept along its underside. She paused for a moment, sucking in a breath before she swept her finger against the mold. It was fuzzy to the touch she noted, different than the mold she had spied on the leaves that morning. She wondered if there was some advantage to the textures, she couldn’t imagine what advantage there would be, but evolution crafted nature with such fine detail, that she imagined there had to be some advantage to a different texture of mold.
Aug 01
poem 1 comment challenge: Elephants

The little girl

Once there was a little girl
who had an elephant.

it is not clear how it came about,
but she loved it.

one day she decided that she wanted
to go to the house up the street,

where the humans were,
for she lived with others,

people she had created out of ink and paper,
enchanted and kind, but untouchable.

she came up to the door,
and read the sign that hung on the door.

read the sign in the big bold letters.

she looked at her elephant,
with eyes made of rain and chocolate,

and sat on the stoop and began to think,
grabbing a pen and paper.

the people inside the house read the little girl's paper,
the paper that was stuck on the door,

some began to weep for what they had lost
to get into the house.

some began to long, long for the outside world
Jul 31

On The Subject of Ill Luck

I was always superstitious.
Some would say I’m just suspicious,
I knew better than to cry,
“Superstitions are a lie!”
Then one day my neighbor said,
“All this stuff’s just in your head.
People fear silly signs,
Fantasies of their minds.”
I thought about this idea.
Now, what was I to fear?
If a black cat crossed the road,
Would I turn into a toad?
So I squared my shoulders boldly,
Looking in the mirror coldly
I ventured out for a view
Of the whole world anew.
The sun was warm, the birds were singing,
And in the distance I heard ringing.
I pranced onto the road, gleeful,
When something made me stop all fearful.
A shaggy horse walked up the street,
Chewing on a sheaf of wheat.
I ogled at the tired beast,
Who utterly enjoyed a feast.
What gave me such a dreadful fright?
The startling fact- the horse was white.
I crossed my fingers, clicked my toes,
Jul 27

Angry at Myself

When I'm afraid that I will get angry at myself for something,
I avoid it.

You see,
I don't like being angry at myself
So when I am angry at myself
About something I haven't done yet
Or am not doing,

I do other things.

A crossword puzzle
Eat some food
Check my email
Reread the instructions for the forms I should be filling out
Watch Netflix

Because I hate being angry at myself
For things I know I should have done
Or should be doing
In the sense of
Things I quite truly, really ought to be doing
Not just those "should"s that we feel pressure from despite their lack of reasonable source.
They're the should's like writing letters to my grandparents
Cleaning my room
Merely logging on to YWP
Starting college placement exams
Clearing my dishes from dinner
Responding to that text from last week.
Jul 25

Sparking Memory

Distorted photo taken by moving the smart phone camera rapidly over the objects while in panarama mode, forcing it to stich together disjointed images to creat this one. I then drastically increased the exposure and decreased the vibrancy (along with some other minor adjustments) to give the image a glaring, dreamlike quality. 

two opposing magnets
one having wrenched it's
pole to the flipping point
found non-repelled in a Box

-ed in my mind
Jul 23

Our Star-Spangled Foot Print

2007 CE
the year US annual carbon dioxide 
emissions peaked at
7.37 billion tons
-544 million tons of
potential exponential renewables
and recession
derived decrease in industry
over the next 7 years

As of 2016, 
one american = 4,600 pounds 
of carbon annually.
Population of the land of the Free
(ly cooking themselves in their breath):

4,600 x 323.13 million pounds
 of satellite-computerized
frigidly air-conditioned shiny black SUVs
fueled by the blood of the earth
Jul 15
poem 2 comments challenge: Random


America, I believe in you,
Even though perhaps I should not.
You repeat the same mistakes,
Over and over again.
So much so that these mistakes,
Have become the norm for you.

Still, I yearn for you to do better,
Even as history tells me you cannot.
Perhaps this latest mistake of yours
Is not a step away from your path,
As much as a reflection,
Of what you have always been.

Still, I worry for you.
Telling you that you can
And must, do better.

Your ideals have become,
A consultation to me,
Even as you so fervently reject them.
Spurning the huddled and poor,
From your shores.
You turn your back on them.
Caging them,
Tearing families apart.

And I don’t know what to say,
Because this is a mistake,
You’ve made before.
You said you learned though.
You promised you had.
Audio download:
Jul 10
poem 0 comments challenge: Random

over the summit


i straighten my mask
the one of pleasantries
and polite remarks
the one that has an illuminous smile
and i turn my back
fight against the roaring current
that tries
to pull me over the summit


the others 
they run to my side
they see i need help
they see i need aid
but yet
they too
turn against my current
the one that threatens again and again
to pull me over

it leaves me bait
promises of happily-ever-afters
but i say to it
"how can i fly if i'm bound in your chains?"


i turn away
and i replace the mask
Jul 09

The Swineherds Tale: A Rebellious Epic

An apology: I just realized that a word in the second stanza was mistyped as a word relating to an individual of a certain religous group, which can sometimes be viewed as disrespectful. I sincerely apoligize for any discomfort or offense this accident may have caused, none was intended. If you as a reader ever find something in my writing offensive, please let me know, as that is far from my intentions. It is important to me to respect all those who respect others. 

Crowned with olive branches,
the tangy scent of oil still clinging to their leaves,
the elders, cloud robed and faced,
gathered in meeting.

One rose,
as if to appoint himself
the central jewel in a tarnished crown,
but was intercepted by a hurled pig’s tail

Which lodged itself
between the twisted ruddy lip framing his mouth.
The storm clouds of Zeus himself
Jul 04

Bloody Freedom

Dear America,
What would have happened if we never stole this land?
Never polluted it with our cold superiority,
our ships swarming with sickly death,
our flashing bullets thirsting for blood.

If the people native to this land,
who tended it as a arboreous, continental garden,
were allowed to remain, 
in entirety?

Rather than as the scattered splinters
of the last tree standing
in a sacred forest,
burned to the ground
by the unquenchable flames of greed.

Dear Europe,
how do you feel that your reckless descendants
have polluted The New World
worse than the old?

That they have crushed it beneath 
hundreds, thousands, 6.5 million pairs
of heeled boots and polished dress shoes,
stilettos and Nikes,

Toppling the refuge of ancient forests,
Soiling the clear waters with the mud caking their soles,
Jul 02

The World Within

I have always worn glasses. Whenever I took them off, the world would double, triple, quadruple; everything would blur and jump around, and I would hastily cram my “second sight” back on. Therefore, as soon as I woke up, I would ram my glasses up my nose before even opening my eyes.

One perfectly normal morning, I woke up to the persistent crowing of Mr. Whitney, the king of our left-hand neighbor’s chicken flock. The steady hum of the kitchen toaster sent out an invitation to breakfast. To the right, a lawnmower was already making progress around a yard, spilling sweet grass clippings over the cropped lawn.

My fingers fumbled the bedside table for my glasses. Nothing. I continued to search, sliding my hand over the bed, lamp stand, and even the Bonsai pot. Guessing they had rolled off the table, I shook myself awake and opened my eyes.
Jun 30

Painting with Explosives

I don't know what I'm writing anymore,
I used to build poems like carefully layered paintings,
each brushstroke of the perfect hue,
placed just so.

Now each timeI pick up the brush,
my feelings and thoughts come toppling down 
in a cascade of experiences,
building like a crescendo
resonating through the fibres of my being
shaking the core of my consciousness
the air thrumming with ideas
radioactive particles
all invisible.

Notebook paper is poor armor in a flood.

I've never been able to rationalize my emotions in that way,
abstractify yes,
but not distill into simple,
straight forward language.

You can't right instructions for life.
People have tried,
they always sound at least mildly ridiculous.

Take Self-Help books:
some one else is vicariously showing you how to help yourself.
It's an oxymoron.

Jun 30


I remember the promise I made to you. Ellie began, only to stop, her pen hovering over the paper. Ink dribbled down it, landing first on the fine tipped point, and then crashing down onto the paper below, in a series of ugly blots. She cursed and put the pen back in the inkwell setting the paper aside.

She flipped over onto her back and stared up at ceiling. Her fan blew a light breeze over her that sent her papers flying. They scattered all over the room, and occasionally out the windows. How to write something, to someone you’ll never send it to. Would it be better or worse if someone was to receive it? Ellie pondered, pushing herself up. No matter, that wasn’t the case here anyways.
Jun 27

Once Again

Emotions are hard to convey.
I guess I learned that the hard way

I would rather not say what I've been through,
Even if it means you'll go through it too

I can tell you it hurts in different ways
And to heal it can take days

But do not fear the future, my dear
Cause love and good memories will always appear

So Farewell, my dear friends, I'll see you again,
When summer has finally come to an end

Jun 25

Summer of Stories 2018 is just one week away!

Each year, YWP engages in some storytelling, poetry and frivolity over the summer to keep your writing chops going. We have lots of prizes, fame, support and companionship! TELL FRIENDS.

We'll have two things for you this summer, SOS18:
  • SUMMER OF STORIES DAILY CHALLENGES. Whoa. These have been thought up by some of your compadres. Some are thorny. Some are wacky. Make all of them fun!
  • AND, drumroll please  A special, in-depth short-story Workshop that'll last as long or as short as you want.
This Summer of Stories Extravaganza kicks off June 25! Don't miss it. Write til you drop! Chocolate to best commenters, most prolific writers, zaniest pieces, and other categories we'll think up as we go along. (Suggestions, recommendations ALWAYS welcome.) Other prizes, too.

Does the SHORT STORY WORKSHOP led by YWP Mentor Eliza Mager appeal? (A six-part online course in short story writing that will lead a piece of writing that will amaze your friends, impress your elders and most certainly set you on the road to stardom!) Well get this: Spaces for Eliza's course are limited! Don't Dawdle. (And don't worry; no grades -- though you could possibly do enough to get credit in high school -- and while challenging, fun, too!) More info and signup here!

And remember, whether you choose the workshop, respond to challenges or follow your own muse, use a hashtag on everything you create: #SOS18

Your pals,

SR, SR (SO confusing, first one is  YWP Director SUSAN REID; second one is Intern Extraordinaire SHANNON RIPP) and AF (Anna Forsythe our Jill of All Trades.)

[Photo credit: Kevin Huang]
Jun 23

Una Carta Cada Mes (A Letter Every Month)

There was a promise and a purpose. Of course it was all part of the plan so that neither of them would fall victim to the harsh realities of what splits relationships apart in this world: time and distance are the real devils of losing touch. Even with all the technology and instant communication.