Samurai – Terrible Poetry Contest

pink petaled flowers closeup photo sakur

I lay down beneath
Falling Sakura blossoms.
I’m best samurai.


This senryu was written for Chelsea Owens’s Terrible Poetry Contest 4/4, senryu. In order to make Karai Senryū (柄井川柳, 1718–1790) roll over in his grave, I decided to make fun of samurai and make a nonsense poem.

Photo by Brett Sayles on


one cheese pizza

“What is this?” asked Papaw. He squinted his glaucoma-weakened eyes, inspecting the food.

“Pizza,” Mama responded. “It’s just bread, cheese, and sauce.”

Mamaw harrumphed then told someone invisible, “This woman’s crazy. I’ll die – it’s poison. Look at how fat she is; I won’t eat her food.”

“Pees-ta,” Papaw said. “Sounds foreign. I was in the war, and I don’t like foreign food-”

“Just eat it,” Daddy commanded. “You’ll get used to it.”

Papaw took a bite, grimaced, and pushed away his plate. “This is for damn Garlic Eaters. I’m not eating this foreign trash.”

Mamaw just cackled. “Poison!”


I wrote this for the April 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge at the Carrot Ranch: Pizza.

This was based on a real-life event that happened in the late 90’s. My parents were silly and agreed to take my grandparents to Kentucky for a family reunion with my great-great-grand uncle’s branch of the family (they moved to Kentucky from North Carolina in the early 1900’s). At one stop along the way, my parents pulled us all over to a Pizza Hut, and my mom was surprised to find out my dad’s parents had never eaten Italian food before. I might have been, but I was still pretty young.


I still remember that event. “Pees-ta,” they called it. “Pees-ta,” they’d complain again, later in their lives when faced with the villainy of spaghetti with meatballs.

My Mamaw died this past December, but Papaw is still kickin’ around out there, driving despite being 97, nearly blind from glaucoma, and severely disliking Pizza.

Photo by kei photo on

American Chimera – 6.4

American Chimera Cover Small

Eventually I got up from the bed and carried my sorry hind-end back to the livin’ room. Dani was sittin’ on the sofa, legs wigglin’ with excitement while she waited for the news to come on. I ran my eyes over her black carapace, over the multi-faceted eyes, and down her long legs. My heart sank when I thought back to when she hatched from the egg and I had…I had…

“Dani,” I started, then scooted into the place of the sofa just next to ’er. “Dani, you know Daddy loves you, right?”

She leaned onto me and hooked two legs around my neck. “Oh, please, please let me go with Stacy. I’ll be good! I’ll wash the dishes!”

“I wasn’t going to say you couldn’t go, but-”

She hopped up and down, no more of my words mattering. “Thank you, Daddy! Thank you!” She hopped from the couch and ran in circles. “What am I going to wear? Ooh, what avatar should I use on the phone? This is so exciting!”

“Now, hold yer horses there, Dani,” I said. I stood and grabbed her by the large, curving abdomen, realizing after just how unafraid I was of this 80-pound spider. “Dani, I…I’m lettin’ yeh go ’cause I don’t want yeh to be gypped just ’cause yer Mama and Daddy’s poor. I don’t want yeh to have any less than the other kids in yer class. But I’m ’fraid, too, ’cause y’er not just any kid. You unnerstand that, right?”

Her excitement died down significantly. “What are you sayin,’ Daddy?”

I didn’t cry when I sat down and held her tight. Not a single tear was shed. “Somethin’ happened today, sweetie.”

“Yeah. The war ended.”

“And the war was about summat called chimeras.” I turned her head to look at me and placed a hand under her chin. “Dani, I…I think you’re a chimera. That means if the government finds you, they’ll take you away from me and Mommy, and I…I don’t want that, Dani. You understand?”

She was quiet.

“Stacy wants to take you to a military base tomorrow. They’ll have cameras, and they’ll be watchin.’ I’m skeered they’ll find you.”

Dani pulled away from me. “You don’t want me to go with Stacy tomorrow, do you?”

“I’d be lyin’ if’n I said I did. But I’m not gonna treat you like a father from the Bible treated his daughters. I’m not gonna lock you ’way. But please, Dani, you gotta be careful. Please, keep quiet, and keep yer eyes peeled. The Yanks – er, the gov’ment’s there, and they ain’t gonna love you near ’nough to let you live a happy life. You promise me you’ll be good tomorrow, right?”

Dani shook. “Yes, Daddy. I’ll be real good. I won’t take my clothes off or nothin.”’

I let her go. “Good. Now figger out what y’er gonna wear tomorrow. Mommy’ll be home soon, and she’ll check it to make sure it matches.”

She scurried off on her eight legs and went to her room. I noticed how much she had to struggle to stand on rear legs and open the door, yet with what happy vigor she rushed. The world wasn’t built for her, and I’d done nothin’ to help. Now the damn world was out to get her. The damn Yanks’d never done nothin’ right, far as I was concerned. They hated ’er ’cause of what she was, how she was born. It was unfair. No nation should be able to do that to any of its people, especially not mine.

I shambled over to the window, right aside the front door, and moved my flag just a tad bit so I could look down the road for Janie’s car. She wasn’t nowhere to be seen, so I sighed and let the flag cover the window again.

I grunted and tore the damn flag down. I ripped that sucker in half and bent the tension rod over my knee.


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Rebirth – #TankaTuesday #Cinquain

close up environment flora ground plant budding

From withered shoots,
New plants remember those
Which died before and and take their


This was written for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday #171, write a cinquain. Today, as we sit in hushed houses and watch our gardens grow in the back, I chose to limit my words and put everything into as small a bite as I could.

This one is dedicated to my raspberry briers which recently decided they weren’t dead.

Photo by David Alberto Carmona Coto on

Witty Nib Writing Club #4 – Research

06092019 Writing Club

The Witty Nib Writing Club seeks to provide an opportunity to engage in constructive writing activities online. Comments are key here at the writing club, and we’d love to have you join us!

For more information on the Club, follow this link to the club’s main page.

Quick Rules of the Club

To have your post included in the roundup, do the following:

  1. Make a post that follows the month’s theme. Using a pingback or a comment on this post, make it available to other club members.
  2. Comment on someone else’s post. Be constructive!
  3. Fill out the form below. Make sure you put good links – both to your post and the post you commented on.

Unless there’s a lot more responses than I expect, I’ll be checking those links! Even if you don’t want to comment, you can put your post in the comments and I’ll do my best to check it and comment myself. 🙂

This Month’s Theme

This month, we’re going to examine research for writers. This can mean anything from 17th century fashion to bleeding edge adenovirus developments, as long as it’s incorporated in some kind of flash. You can choose any genre and any message.

  1. Write a 500 word passage that includes something you researched.
  2. At the end of your post, tell us what you researched. You can tell us why if you want, or if you found something surprising! Citations and links would be a great bonus.
  3. Comment on at least one other person’s post. Be constructive if you can, supportive if you can’t! (I expect more support this time – it’s hard to make research suggestions unless you’re already an expert).

This means linking to your post in the comments below.  I’ll approve pingbacks, but you might want to comment if you don’t see it show up soon. I’ll read your stuff if no one else does!

The Form

Leave a link in the comments for other people to participate with.  This form is for the end-of-the-month roundup.  If you want to be included in the roundup, you’ll need to use this form.  If the form doesn’t seem to work, I’ll see what I can do for the next post.

American Chimera – 6.3

American Chimera Cover Small

I flicked the computer switch on the wall. “Computer, I need to call Victoria Ellington. She ’vailable?”

“Calling Victoria Ellington,” the computer answered cheerfully. A scanner from the wall stuck out and took account of my shape. It weren’t long before Victoria showed up in my bedroom, at least in holographic relief. Her face was bright with a smile, and her slick hair was curled so very stylishly.

“Oh, Brett. It’s so good of you to call. Wonderful news today, yes?” She sat in a chair the computer failed to replicate on my end.

“Yes’m, real good news,” I said. I cleared my throat. “I don’t wanna bother yeh, Victoria, ’specially since your sister’s comin’ back from the front tomorrow. But Dani says you’ve got ’er a pass into the military base at Fayetteville, and she wants to go with yeh.”

Victoria nodded. “Yes! Oh, it’ll be a once in a lifetime event. I gave Stacy the opportunity to choose one friend from her class to go with us, and I never expected anyone other than Dani to be her choice.”

I nodded. “I get all that, and I…I ’gree that Dani and Stacy’d benefit from seein’ the first wave of soldiers come back from the war. I just wanted to make sure you’d actually given permission, that it wasn’t just summat Dani and Stacy’d cooked up.”

Victoria’s light mood dampened slightly. “Stacy and Dani aren’t the types to lie, especially not about parental permissions.”

“Yeh cain’t tell me yeh don’t see why this might be a horrible idea though, right?” I gulped. “No offense, but…after today, you gotta see what Dani is. She don’t know ’bout the chimeras yet, and I don’t know what yeh’ve tole Stacy, but I just cain’t see bringin’ my daughter to a military base as a good idea.”

Victoria’s brows pinched so fiercely that I began to question my resolve. “What?”

“It makes sense,” I said. “We’ve run genetic tests, metabolic, everything, on Dani. It was all to help us figger out how to keep her healthy, of course, but it lines up too well with what they’ve said on the news.” I coughed and fought back tears. “She’s human in the brain, but her genes run the gamut of everything we know and several things we don’t. That’s what those poor bastards the Koreans made were like – genetic chimeras.”

“But Dani’s an American chimera.”

“America agreed to the Convention, though, which means they don’t recognize Dani as a person! They’re not gonna accept her as equal to me, or you, or Stacy.” ’Bout this point I sat down on the bed and gripped the post on the footboard. I gripped it tight enough that I could focus on the pain in my fingers more than the pain in my heart. “Any nation that researches chimeras, from here on out, will be obliterated by all the rest. Warshington cain’t ’ford to have Dani show her face. I’m…I’m ’fraid they’ll do somethin’ awful if they catch ’er.”

Victoria looked to her feet and intertwined her fingers. “I understand your fear. I…I’d thought of that, myself. But you do realize what you’re beginning to do? You can’t put Dani in jail for nothing. You have to be the best father you can.”

“Which means not lettin’ the Yanks get her!”

“It means not letting the…the ‘Yanks’ force you to keep her imprisoned!” Victoria’s face lit brightly with anger. “If you keep her locked up in your house, you’re just doing their work for them. Don’t punish her just because she wasn’t born the same as her friends.”

“It’s not punishment. It’s protection!”

I’ve never seen her so enraged before or since. She stood from her chair and formed fists that shook with anger. “In olden days, fathers would imprison their daughters to keep them from being raped. Are you that kind of father? Are you the kind of father that would hamper his daughter for the fear of something that isn’t even under his control?”

I gulped. I…was I that kinda Dad? Had I done an evil to Dani that no one else would even dream of committing?

Victoria seemed to settle, prob’ly ’cause my thoughts get writ all over my face. She reached out a holographic hand and comforted me. “I know you’re trying to do right by Dani, and I know you do this because you love her. But you’ve got to think – this experience is something she’ll never forget, and you’re just saying no because of what she is.” She released her hand. “We’ll have blankets and equipment to hide her if need be. Our family will be traveling in our own car, if you’re worried about my sister having PTSD and becoming upset at Dani.”

I remained quiet for what was prob’ly a longer time than was reasonable, but Victoria stayed on the phone. “I…If Dani wants to go, we’ll get her packed and ready tonight. What time you comin’ to pick ’er up in the mornin’?”


“Alright…she’ll be ready.”

“Good. Have a good night, Brett.”

“See ya, Victoria.”

The computer cut off the signal, and I just stood there, wonderin’ if I’d done right. What would I do if they took away my lil’ girl? How could I ever forgive myself? Had I let Victoria talk me into summat insane?

I lay back in my bed and watched my ceilin’ fan turn. I thought back to that trailer where Dani was born, how ever’thin was old, dirty, and broken. ’Til she come along, neither me nor Janie thought there’d be much reason to change it.

I wiped my eyes. It wasn’t because I was cryin’ or confused or anything – they were just itchy. Spring allergies were tearin’ me apart that year.


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Embrace Engineering


“Then using the continuity equation, we…”

The ceiling closed in to a circular point around the visitor’s mysterious symbols. We did not understand but jotted them in notebooks and promised to use them on pipes…


This Lovecraftian flash was inspired by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #150, continuity. The continuity equation is used in fluid dynamics to describe continuous flow and conserve mass/energy. Since Lovecraft was traumatized with geometry, I thought I’d use that equation to cause even MORE trauma.

Caravan Security

desert caravan dune ride

“Now, which of you men have been filching from our caravan?” He put the tip of his scimitar beneath my chin. “I’m not having it.”

I grimaced. Someone had to take charge, fight this maniac if we wanted to live. Al-Rashid approached quietly with a heavy stick, so I distracted with, “Can you prove it wasn’t you?”

“Yes. I’ve got the sword.”

Al-Rashid knocked the man on the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. I picked up his sword and finished the job.

I revealed a bag of coins. “I’ll share what I stole, since he’s dead now.”


This was written for the March 26 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge, take charge. This prompt wasn’t hard for me to come up with an idea for, but boy was it hard to come up with something that would fit in the word count! Hope you’ve enjoyed the flash.

Also – stay tuned to the Carrot Ranch on Tuesdays. You may be (pleasantly, I hope) surprised by what’s coming up this next Tuesday.

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American Chimera – 6.2

American Chimera Cover Small

Summer break don’t mean jack diddly anymore. Even so, the Fifth Geneva Convention ended on the 18th of June that year, and most schools let out on the 19th. Loved ones who had been fighting in the wars were coming home, and a national day of mourning was declared.

I suppose that kind of response is what you get when most of the poor sots returning from the front are the final kids and grandkids of people who’d since been sterilized. It was the last generation of expendables, so a war was inevitable, really.

’Cause my close relatives hadn’t had a kid since my little brother was born back in ’53, I didn’t know none of our soldiers comin’ back from the front. I ’preciated their sacrifice to keep me free, but that’s ’bout as far as it went. I also ’preciated that Janie, who’s just this absolute computer whiz, got outta bein’ old-fart-drafted on account of her finishin’ up school. So I was s’prised when Dani asked if she could go to Fayetteville and see the first wave of soldiers comin’ back.

I put down my Coke – I didn’t have Pepsi then, prob’ly ’cause of a sale – and squinted at ’er real good. “Why’d yeh wanna do that for?”

“Stacy’s aunt is comin’ back in the first wave, Daddy. She asked me if I wanted to come with her to Fayetteville tomorrow – she’s got passes to enter, and her Mama already said yes.”

I sucked in my gut and held my breath. Stacy probably hadn’t realized what Dani was, not yet. I wasn’t sure about Dani, myself. “You sure you got her Mama’s permission?” I asked.


“I’m gonna have to give ’er a call, without you spyin’ on me, and make sure she knows what she said yes to. Then we’re gonna have to wait ’til yer Mama comes home to figger this out.” I stood from the couch and headed over to my bedroom. She follered me, and I reckon she might’ve put an ear against the door to listen, but she’s normally too well-behaved for any of that mess.

I hope she weren’t listenin.’ It would shatter her little heart, and I needed to break the day’s news to her more… personally.


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Hatteras – #Tanka #TankaTuesday

hatteras lighthouse

Clouds hide midnight sky –
Do stars still shine under there?
The moon glistens through
Fog like a lighthouse guiding
Lost souls through rocky waters


This was written for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday #170, “The Night Sky”. I decided to write about what happens to the night sky on a cloudy night since we mostly think about clear, starry skies. Hatteras is the most famous lighthouse in North Carolina, guarding the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Image by George Stephens from Pixabay