PhotoChallenge/ Sunday Writing Prompt: A Fairy Tale with a Bad Ending: Maleficent #amwriting #fiction #photochallenge


Thanks to NEKNEERAJ of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this week’s photochallenge. I’m combining prompts with The Sunday Writing Prompt of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie and using the title prompt tale: A Fairytale with a Very Bad End.


Credit: Jeff Simpson


Maleficent stared from her dim dungeon-like castle eyeing King Stefan’s daughter, Aurora, playing in a wide open field.

She whispered to Crow, “They’re supposed to be watching her those three dim-witted fairies. When I was a good fairy, I watched my charges closely. How foolish they are, I could end her life now.”

Crow cawed, “She’s but ten years old and it isn’t her fault Stefan is her father. She doesn’t know what he did to you to become king.”

“Quiet, Crow. I’m thinking.”

“You think a great deal but never do much. Aurora knows what her fate is, those ignorant fairies told her. Now, whenever she can, she escapes to this field to play. She has no care for danger or death. Sometimes she sits and stares into the sky crying.”

“Why should I be merciful to her because she knows she will prick her finger and die in six-years? I owe her nothing. She is a means to an end.”

Crow cocked his head. “She is not responsible for her father’s crimes anymore than your parents were responsible for leaving you alone to rule the Marsh; your parents did not intend to die. Aurora, does not want to die either. Why not raise her yourself and find a way to undo the curse? Simply losing her will hurt Stefan deeply as the queen can’t have more children.”

Maleficent pinched the bridge of her nose. “I cannot undo such a powerful curse and I will not do Stefan any favours despite Aurora’s innocence. He raped me Crow, I was helpless. He cut off my wings. I will not save the girl.”

“You may change your mind yet. You have watched her for years and have become fond of her. You hate that she’s putting herself in peril now.”

“Fond?”

“Yes, you have this soft smile on your face when you watch Aurora. You never smile that way except with her.”

Maleficent’s voice went cold. “In that case . . . ” she pointed her wand at the blond beauty. Heart beating loudly in her ears, she struck the small girl down. Aurora death was instant and a single tear slipped down the dark fairy’s cheek.

“Now, you see, Crow? I have ended her life. I’m not attached to her and we will bury Aurora’s body in the Marshes. Aurora’s early death will bring Stefan greater pain. He will live his life not knowing what happened to his daughter. His queen will die in grief.”

Tears dropped as diamonds from Crows’ coal-black eyes and wouldn’t stop. “I do not think Stefan is the most evil being in the kingdom. You are the person most full of evil. Just as he lost his heart to become king and hurt you, you have ended the life of an innocent child and are no better.”

“I meant for you to truly act as Aurora’s Godmother — not to kill her. You should’ve been the one to guard and protect her; I thought you loved her.”

“Love is as treacherous as running off alone to a field . . .”

Crow’s caw was forlorn. “Aurora could’ve had a new beginning with us, but I cannot serve a fairy whose heart has become black with revenge, with blood on her hands from an innocent’s death. How far you have fallen, Maleficent.”

“Stefan is not responsible for your evil deeds; you are responsible for your own crimes.”

Crow bowed once and flew away forever. Maleficent was left alone and inside her chest her heart’s ache was perpetual.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

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Flash Fiction for the Aspiring Writer: Poem – Wrapped Refrain – “Caged in the Keep”  #amwriting #poetry #flashfiction 


Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW.

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Credit: Majestic Golden Rose

———–

My prison or my home? I shall, 

Never know what these empty halls —

Are; if they contain friend or foe, 

If they care about me, don’t know. 

Married off to a stranger, not unkind, not cruel, 

Not a friend, not yet a foe, stately and no one’s fool. 

——-

Behind these walls, a sullen keep, 

I’m kept, without sunlight’s relief.

My thoughts aren’t considered, nor my —

Opinions valued, I’m defied.

No special princess, just his highnesses wife kept, 

Safe from the world, from experience, trapped, bereft. 

——–

Where did childhood’s freedom go? 

Where are the green fields, wild flowers? 

I just want outside but then you’d, 

Never find me again, I’d far go —

Back to my father, to a life of freedom glad, 

My prison? Tigresses caged attack when mad. 

——–

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved

Day 6 -NaPoWriMo/ A to Z Challenge/ Flash Fiction for the Aspiring Writer: Poem – Blank Verse – “Coal Dust for Sunlight” #poetry #amwriting #flashfiction #NaPoWriMo #AtoZchallenge 


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view.” The corresponding GoodRead’s quote for the A to Z Challenge is the letter E. 

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Credit: Yarn Spinner
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“It’s one of those things a person has to do; sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly.” ― Edward Albee, The American Dream & The Zoo Story

——–

Down in the swamp, down in the bogs there’s —

Mud sucking at my feet, at my soul

Everyday I journey here and fight, 

The elements, the giant rocks, gnarled trees, 

Worst of all the swamp, pulling me in. 

There are days I believe I shall let it, 

But my wife she sees, working here means, 

In such a short while, we shall both be free. 

She says, we’re educated, we have more —

To us than meets the eye, we’ve wisdom

To work in horrible conditions, 

Because we know two years from now we —

Can leave this wretched bog behind, with all —

The tortures of the tormenting tree limbs, 

Nightmares left, there’s better; we’re going —

To the City, where education’s worth —

Something and I won’t have to hate each day. 

Mining for fuel, this coal coating my lungs, 

My wife’s happy, delighted, she is life

So I listen to my fathers last words:

“Don’t stay in this town all your life, move on. 

Take your girl, your college education, 

Leave this foul place behind, don’t be me, 

Coal dust in your lungs is misery and —

A cancerous death is what awaits you.” 

So, I worked and she and I, we left here

To the bustling city, with peaceful parks, 

We breathe, ‘neath blossomed trees, reading in light. 

——–


——–

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Tale Weavers: Crossing the Veil #amwriting #taleweavers #fiction


Thanks to Michael from MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this week’s prompt: A tale which takes place beyond the veiled mist. 

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Credit: Adventures In The Wild

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Kyria had been warned since she was a small child, beyond the veil was dangerous. Her older siblings had told her monsters lived there, that there were witches waiting to eat a young child. 

What the adults said wasn’t much better. Her Grandma Iris said she’d lose her soul if she was caught in the veil beyond. She talked about shape shifters and immortal creatures of the dark such as vampires and werewolves.

One day hanging the laundry on the line at her grandmothers, Kyria gazed at the veil nearby. She hadn’t thought of it for a long time and she wasn’t sure why it called to her now. She’d never admit she could hear the whispers of the creatures which lived their. They were tempting her and she knew it.

 Did everyone in the village see the veil as she did? Kyria believed they had no idea where it physically was, that to them it was was only folklore for children and not a real thing; it was extremely real to Kyria and she knew for her grandmother as well. 

Kyria was twenty-four and long past the age of adulthood. Her parents lived together and her siblings with their families. She hadn’t found a suitable man to marry so her father decided she should move in with her ailing Grandmother and care for her. He thought she needed to be of use somewhere since she hadn’t married quickly as her sisters did. 

The more Kyria thought about the veil and the mist shrouding it, the more she thought about how she’d never put herself out there in life. She’d always done what she was told and when others failed she was the one who took their place, who filled in so everything went smoothly. 

It was how she made up for her so-called “selfishness,” still being single and not having children for her family and village. She wondered why she had never pushed her boundaries and was tired of being ruled by her father’s and her grandmother’s whims.

Kyria loved her Grandma Iris the most because she understood Kyria better than anyone. But her grandma still cautioned her to never cross the veil daily. But grandma was inside sleeping and Kyria heard the whispers from veil more and more these days. They were a sirens call to her. 

She ignored all she had been told by her grandma, her family, and her friends as a child. She decided today she would cross the shrouded veil into the other world. Dropping the laundry Kyria walked towards the veil and into the mist surrounding it. The veil shimmered as she came closer and sonorous voice could be heard singing on the other side. 

When she reached the line where the spiritual and natural worlds met Kyria stopped for a moment and stood. She smiled and with both hands raised in front of her she was able to feel the mystical energy she was about to pass through. 

She stepped into the shimmering fog and breathed deeply. Her long blond hair flew out behind her and it was the last thing her grandmother saw as she watched her granddaughter cross into the other world. 

Grandma Iris sighed in frustration but she knew as it had been with her, the veil had been too much of a temptation for Kyria. She knew that adventure and discovery awaited her sheltered granddaughter. As it had been with Iris, the veil and it’s magic was in Kyria’s blood. Grandma Iris was the only one besides Kyria who actually could see the veil, she had made herself guardian of the gateway and hoped Kyria would take over for her one day. 

But as the last of Kyria’s blond hair slipped through veil and disappeared, Iris couldn’t help being thrilled for her granddaughter. What awaited Kyria would shape and change her. It would motivate and hurt her, it would be an experience far beyond the scope anyone in the village would ever experience. 

Iris blew a kiss towards the veil and whispered a blessing for Kyria. The feelings of excitement in Iris were so intense it was as if it were fifty-years-ago and she herself was crossing the veil. 

——

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Photo Challenge: Fiction – Guardians of Wonderland #fiction #amwriting #Aliceinwonderland


Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this week’s photo challenge.

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http://www.demilked.com

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Alice was excited to be eighteen and have her coming-out party in society. The young girl who talked nonsense about Wonderland was gone — the adult had almost swallowed her fantastical self completely. 

She participated in garden parties, having tea in different settings such as fashionable tea rooms with her mother and girl friends. Alice went out with friends on picnics and sometimes on a double-date with a girl friend, two gentlemen with potential, and of course a chaperone. 

Part of Alice always had a difficult time letting go of Wonderland. She knew it as a world infinantly crazy. At the same time, it was a place where she felt at home and life even though hidden beneath words and rhymes, made the most sense out of any place she had visited. 

Alice had been around the world. Her father and mother had taken her to Europe. She had seen art and buildings thousands of years-old. She studied countless kings, queens, poets, philisophers, and clergymen as she travelled with a tutor. She had even been to the Orient, stocking up on silk and tea for he friends. Something about having tea, always appealed to her. It wasn’t merely Victorian society’s obsession with the past-time. 

Throughout her travels, Alice found herself thinking about her days in Wonderland. She would consider if her two grand adventures actually occurred. If the dreams she still had of people and creatures in Wonderland — new and old, throughout her life –were true? 

Alice could picture her Wonderland friends drinking tea, eating cookies, and talking nonsense; it had all felt real. She missed her childhood, but at the same time thought she had indeed been bonkers. Her friends at school had quickly shown her how odd little girls were treated and mocked, until Alice ceased talking about Wonderland at all. 

As she grew-up, she believed she caught glimpses of a furry white rabbit in a vest following her, keeping watch. The White Rabbit would turn his head and smile at Alice, purposefully checking his pocket watch and then waving it at her. She didn’t know what the White Rabbit wanted from her and she was never quite sure if he was real. Alice began to ignore the White Rabbit, but he was persistent, even invading her sleep. Her dreams became increasingly vivid and she felt wherever she went, traces of Wonderland and its inhabitants,  grasped her with dreamy tendrils. 

Since Alice had first returned from Wonderland as a small girl of six, a pair of intense green-eyes and an attractive smile, had haunted her dreams. She knew this man, knew he’d always been watching out for her in the stickiest of situations as she grew up, keeping her safe. Alice had never had the chance to meet this young man, only knew that he lingered in her presence often, and that when he she felt him, she was at peace. 

——-

Alice’s eigteenth birthday was a grand affair. Several young men and women attended with their families. Last night had been an opulent coming-out ball but tonight was a private affair for Alice and her closest girl friends. The best potential suitors for Alice and her friends were also invited. 

She was sipping her tea when her eyes caught the eyes of a man she thought to be about five years her senior. His green-eyes were familiar and glinted knowingly at Alice. She stared at him enthralled; he seemed to know she was drawn to him. His smile was devastatingly familiar, but only in her dreams. Alice wasn’t sure she believedher dreams were genuine. Could magic still be real? 

The young man was a strange creature to her, as strange as those creatures she’d met in Wonderland long ago. Perhaps more so, if the sins of the flesh the Abbot talked about were as terrible as he said they were. But Alice didn’t much care about the Abbot’s warnings. She was intrigued and had always been a curious girl; she peered at the green-eyed man considering him.

 His suit was finely-made and he smiled at her boldly. He moved towards her, but Alice hid amongst her friends, not yet ready to meet him. Her heart fluttered when her eyes met the young man’s mysterious green-eyes again; he was laughing at her shyness

Alice perturbed by his making fun of her, left her own party and went outside to ponder. She sat on a bench in the garden behind her house. She still tended the roses in the garden but had forgotten the unique song of all flowers, she had sung as a child. Her roses were wilting and dry. She stood up and bent to pick a lone surviving rose. Hearing odd noises she looked up. 

She was unsure of where she was at first, the garden had disappeared and Alice stood on a large slippery brown rock in the middle of an ocean. A young man in a boat rowed towards her and the noises she heard was the water lapping against the stone.

“Oh, do hurry, this rock is so small and I think the water is rising,” Alice yelled to the man. She waved her arms until the boat was next to the rock and piercing green-eyes met her shocked blue ones. Strong hands gently held her steady as she stepped into the row boat. 

Alice was grateful to the man, but then she recognized his face from the party. He pushed his short dark-brown waves from his forehead. His green-eyes knowingly studied Alice. She felt as a if she were a child again, under a teacher’s gaze, but the young man was not upset at her; he seemed curious and careful with her instead. 

“Alice,” the young man said, “Please take a seat so I can row us to safer waters and neither one of us falls in the ocean.” Alice obeyed, sitting opposite of the man with her mouth gaping. The man gently closed her mouth, smoothing her skin with the back of his hand. 

Alice’s face heated and she blushed,”Who are you? And why are you here with me in Wonderland? I didn’t think you were real, real enough to attend my party.” 

The young man’s eyes twinkled cheerfully, “I’m Wren, Alice, and I’m here and your here because Wonderland needs us. It was time for you to return and time I met you in person — not only in your dreams.” Alice flushed red.

Wren chuckled, “You didn’t go easy on our friend the White Rabbit. He’s a bit peeved at you for ignoring him so long. He kept waving his prized watch at you. I’m surprised you weren’t curious enough to follow him, darling.” 

“Wren, are you from Wonderland or did you come here as a child too, like me? You’ve been with me before a great deal. I remember your green-eyes and smile; you keep me safe, but you never say hello. I’ve never seen how you actually look before.” 

Dearest, I’ve always lived in Wonderland and you’re correct, I’ve been with you when you’ve visited and I take care you are safe in the outside world. I have a Cheshire Cat who watches you closely, along with my friend the White Rabbit. I haven’t always been able to be with you, but when I cannot you can be sure the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit are there.” 

“Why do you keep me safe Wren and why do you call me dearest? I always thought you lived only in my dreams. It’s been so long since I visited through the looking glass; do you stand with the Red Queen or the White Queen?” 

Wren smiled softly as he rowed the boat effortlessly, Alice peppering him with questions; he listened contentedly as he rowed. “I’m supported by the White Queen Alice, but my influence is greater than hers and so your influence will be greater than any queen as well.” 

Alice studied Wren. She had been staring her boots shyly, for far too long. It wasn’t like her to be shy, when she bubbled with questions. Yet, she could feel herself blush anytime she looked at Wren; his smile brightened when he caught Alice staring. 

She brushed the blond hair out of her eyes and in her frilly white dress, balled her hands together on her lap, determined to have a long look at Wren. She was assured she’d seen him before in some form and felt his presence keeping her from harm. Wren was beautiful to Alice; he was handsome and lithely muscled beneath his clothes. He was from Wonderland so she was pleased not to have to hide nonsensical logic from him; he already would understand what Wonderland was like. 

She noticed his eyes peruse her and Alice blushed again. Wren reached for her small hand and squeezed it gently, as he stopped rowing the boat. “Alice, you’re beautiful.  As a girl, I thought you a fascinating girl, defeating the Red Queen and deftly dealing with Time. You had such a tousled head of blond hair and you still do. You’ve the same inquisitive blue-eyes and you’ve grown into a stunning woman,” Wren told her squeezing her hand again. He seemed genuine and the compliments made Alice flustered. 

“Your beauty is also an asset when one has been tasked to guard Wonderland as we have,” Wren continued.”Beauty can attract and fool people and often, at the same time,” Wren said, absently stroking circles on Alice’s hand. “It’s hard for me to explain. Especially since I’ve much more experience than you’ve in life. Humans age slowly in Wonderland –most creatures here do. But as in any land, we have our own ways to protect and our own tyrants to fight. You have proven yourself twice against our foes.” 

Wren held both her hands firmly,  appearing serious, “We have always had two guardians at a time, for a thousand Wonderland years each pair, ensuring Wonderland’s survival. Our guardians are a couple; a couple is stronger than one being. I am one guardian, born in Wonderland and familiar with its ways,” Wren said. 

“The second guardian is you, Alice, born of the outside world. You have learned and come to love Wonderland — though lately you pretend otherwise. You are the second guardian Alice and I’ve waited forever for you, my other half. You know forever can be a very long time.” 

Alice blushed and then upon realizing the great responsibility she now had, her face went white, “Why me? Is this why I have never been able to forget Wonderland all these years ? Am I to marry you, a man I don’t really know? 

Wren grinned at Alice tugging gently on her hands as she tried to free herself from his touch; he chuckled, playfully. Alice began to smile too and as she peered up from their joined hands, she saw the row boat resting on a beach. They stepped over the side of the boat and the vivacity and colour of Wonderland surrounded her as they walked into the forest. The flowers greeted Alice immediately, so happy she had returned. 

Wren stopped walking a moment, turning to face Alice. He was heads above her and tilted her chin up to look at him. “My Alice,” he began, “Magic is a curious thing. It can find the right people and draw them together. It has always driven me to you. I have loved you since I first saw you.” 

“That makes no sense.” 

“But it does Alice. You believe in magic, yes?” Alice nodded.

“Then you know. If you want magical things to happen, you must believe in them. We must believe in each other. And what’s knowing? People are together fifty-years in your world and they don’t know each other. Often, they’ve forgotten the magic — the love, between them. Here the world is magic and I will not forget you or our love.” 

“Wren, I’m particularly fond of you. I’ve never felt this way, except about you, ever — only in dreams when you visited, when I felt you near somehow. Is that love and is it enough? And I’m only eighteen-years-old, how can I guard Wonderland? 

Wren smiled and he gently pecked Alice’s lips.”We have forever. Forever is a thousand Wonderland years. All your old friends are here. Not those girls who were cruel to you for being you at school. Wonderland needs us both and you will soon know me as I know you. We will even know each other better than most people ever know each other. What you feel for me, I’m so thankful for. And yes it is enough, it is the beginning of love.” 

“I’m not sure couples should always know each other better.  Sometimes secrets are better kept,” Alice said thoughtfully. 

Dearest, we cannot have secrets. We have a responsibility but we have a haven in each other and perhaps much later, a child to carry on as guardian with another girl or boy from your world, when forever comes,” Wren stated stroking Alice’s cheek. 

“I can trust you, Wren? I’d rather have the truth in a nonsensical way than an outright lie,” Alice said firmly staring at Wren. 

He blushed this time, “I will be truthful to you —nonsensically and sensically.” 

Alice smiled and kissed Wren’s cheek before saying,”You never said Wren, who do we guard Wonderland from?” 

“From reality, Alice. From those who do not believe in magic. For those who would tell people love is not real and everything has to be logical and make sense. Though our world is much nonsense, we make more sense than the real world. There are always monsters in the midst and as you know, time himself is often one of them. So are Queens and many tyrants, there is always a bad guy somewhere I’m afraid,” Wren said a bit tiredly. 

Alice stared at Wren, standing on her tippy-toes, and stroking his stumbled cheeks in comfort. She felt drawn to Wren, as if she were in a pleasant fog. Gently her lips met Wren’s for a kiss. He kissed her back more intensely and she could feel what she knew was passion between them; it was Alice’s first real kiss. They lingered a while, walking and teasing each other, stealing more kisses which were more difficult for Alice to step away from each time. 

A stray thought occurrred to her as they walked, “Won’t my mother miss me?” Alice asked, “How can I leave her alone?” 

“She will believe you married a wealthy heir and will be pleased, as that will be the truth; we can visit her often, though she will be gone for most of your lifetime.” 

Alice nodded feeling sad, but realizing her duty with Wren. She wasn’t afraid, knowing he was with her. She knew their relationship was blossoming and would flourish, perhaps, with ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ as couples had — but perhaps, better. Their connection had been built her entire life. 

Taking Wren’s hand, Alice walked off into Wonderland. How curious her home would be here with Wren and his greeneyes  gazing at her with love, and the White Rabbit out of no where, jumping beside them. 

——

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Part 6 – Nineteen-Years Later #amwriting #flashfiction #thriller


Thank you to Alistair Forbes for hosting SPF. 

Ah! My apologies this is so late! I’ve never written any continuous thrillers, it’s hard! 

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A Mixed Bag

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“Chad, off the medical table and on the floor!” Uncle Sam yelled as gunfire grew closer.

“I don’t know how he found us Sam.” Marrion said. 

“I need to know the truth about my tattoo,” Chad yelled frustrated. 

“Secrets are dangerous Chad. They can expose you, crush you like a flower.” Marrion said, gazing between Chad and Sam.”Chad might be safer if . . .”

Sam squeezed Marrion’s hand, “Please, tell Chad what you know.”

“Tom isn’t dead. He wasn’t undercover; he is and was the enemy, has been for nineteen-years.”

 “My Dad?”

 “Tom isn’t your Dad; Sam’s your Dad, Chad. Sam and Mona had a drunken night after they thought Tom died.” Marrion admitted.

She peered at Sam, “You should’ve told Chad you were his real Dad. Your name is hidden within Chad’s cartoon seal tattoo. You gave Chad the tattoo as a baby to keep track of him and keep him safe. Chad should  also know, you’ve been running from Tom recently, not Garig; Garig is Tom’s lackey.” 

Sam sighed, hands shaking. “I kept it secret because if Tom thinks Chad’s his son, he won’t kill him.” 

I was the reason Tom disappeared. My twin brother almost ended up in military prison, sentenced to death.”Sam said regretfully. “What choice did I have? Tom was a traitor and wasn’t the only one undercover; I was undercover to bring him down.” 

“There’s more Sam,” Marrion said.”Chad’s tattoo has two more codes. Tom added his own code to track Chad along with a trigger code. I had to be careful when I scanned Chad’s tattoo because of the trigger code.” 

“Why?” Sam said afraid.

“Chad is a walking weapon of mass destruction. If anything reads a special encrypted trigger code on his tattoo — Chad explodes. This boat explodes and the water for miles and miles in the ocean will be full of radiation, which will cycle into oceans around the world. There will be great casualties.” 

Chad was about to speak. He felt sick again. 

Then, a stray bullet bit him; he felt a sharp stinging pain.

 A familiar voice shouted loudly, in Russian, as Chad passed-out.

——

Read Part 5 here

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©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Interview With Christopher Leo Couch


Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.


Christopher Leo Couch
Christoper Leo Couch
  1. Please Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medieval furniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA.  My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania to work. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).

I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.


2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?

I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while in college. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.

As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working  with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.

I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.


” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?

About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.

I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.


4. What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.


“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.


5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?

Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.

Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?

I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is a song to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be something lyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.

It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.

While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted  a verse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often in dramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.

I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.


“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch


7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?

I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.

For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lenten observance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.


8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?

I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literary agent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a group which might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.

On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?


“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch


9. What is Your Writing Process Like?

I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).

I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why or how. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer)  I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about something difficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.


10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?

I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres for fun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wife Charlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adult literature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.


“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch


11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!

When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.

If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like. Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.


12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?

I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies.  Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.


“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch


  1. Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces? 

The first poem is playfulGrandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:

“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”

By Christopher Leo Couch

Crimp pie crust,

Not too hard, ‘cause,’

Dust to dust.

Enjoy the crimp,

With elf and imp.

Like will-o-the-wisp,

When fall is crisp.

We bake our wares,

To cool on stairs.

Steam sprite-rises,

No surprises.

Wafting dessert:

Magic food alert!


My second poem is more soberly reflective:

“Failing Night”

By Christopher Leo Couch

 Just after five,

I have not been asleep.

Pain shoots through,

My leg, a single line,

Of nerve.

As if a wire was pushed,

Through inside.

Then something threw,

A supernatural switch,

And a low current of too-

Warm electric sting,

Without cessation.

Courses through tired,

Muscle.

Having surrendered the,

Day’s labors into,

Aspiration’s night of,

Negligent awareness.

Barely keeping guard,

Letting go of awake,

To turn into dream.

In hope to re-knit and,

Repair stretched.

Measures in the body,

And the mind.

It’s a cycle that’s supposed,

To work.

Why then is pain,

Ruining what I’ve made?

Not fair.

I want to rest then rise,

With normal consciousness,

Beneath the skin.


More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.

Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.


Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

Flash Fiction for the Aspiring Writer: Disarmed 


Thank you to Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW.

——–

Phylor

———

Who do you think you are, disarming my arms? 

I’m a memory; tween girl wronged, such harm.

Life wasn’t kind to a child, such as I, 

“Girl be quiet;” he hit me, my soul flies.

Woman, my mother, your fault it is not, 

You didn’t know his secrets; but I fought.

My own fault lay, his anger inciting, 

Daddies drunken rage; I went out with spite.

Ironically, you see; I shoved hard with both–

My arms, strong enough to make him me loath.

Hands claw at his throat; blind him in one eye, 

He’s in prison; and I with angels sigh.

Each day I see you cry with regret Mama, 

Your every breathe, sobbing from what you saw.

Words apologizing for not being there, 

How could you know? Woven in your despair.

Carved statue; youthful glow, eternal girl child, 

My soul hovering; watch statue defiled.

Did the marble break? No quality of stone?

Smooth form, my likeness made; please understand —

My soul’s not here kept; I’m where clouds form rain,

My life’s c’est fini; God will heal your pain.

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Poem: Cleave – “Don’t Burn Your Bridges”


Thanks to Annie from What The Woman Wrote for introducing me to Cleave Poetry. Another example of Cleave poetry can be found in her link.

—–

A Cleave Poem is in two halves; “one should be able to read the left column (what’s in regular font), right column (in bold font), and each line across as a combined thought giving you three distinct poems.”

——

http://www.cwbafacts.ca

——
Mother always repeated a saying; Father didn’t think much of my Mother’s wise words.

Don’t burn your bridges wherever you go, end a meeting with kind words; Father said, the world’s yours, make sure others see your authority.

Many people you’ll meet in life; too many people, will rob you blind given the chance.

And some people you’ll want to remain in your life; but they’ll leave, their purpose in your life done. Strike before they strike you, let them remember strong words when your business together is finished.

When it’s time to say goodbye ensure your words are meaningful and genuine; remind them who helped get them to where they are, to never cross your back.

Don’t leave malice churning between the both of you; smile at them, hug them hard; take them out for one last beer. 

Shake their hand and say ‘Adieu.’ Leave the bridge between you standing with tokens of remembrance; urge them with fear (while you both have a pint) to speak of you respectfully — to not burn their bridges.

—–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Story Continuation Prompt: Fiction – ” Uncle Jerry’s Photograph” 


Thanks to Wandering Soul who hosts this challenge. You are supposed to write one or two more sentences to make a three line story with the prompt sentence. I tend to get inspired and end up with an entire story, jammed into two too long sentences. So I’m linking to her blog with my story inspired by the sentence: ” The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it.”

——-

http://www.denofgeeks.com

——-

The picture on the wall was crooked; a lot like the person in it. I knew the photo was of my Grandpa’s brother Jerry, who had shot himself in the foot to get out of WWII. He had only been in France a week and spent most of his active duty attempting to make himself throw-up daily, so he didn’t have to fight but could remain in the infirmary. But Jerry’s Captain realized what Jerry was up to and put him back with his company to kill German soldiers.

Sadly, it wasn’t beyond Jerry’s cowardice to hide behind other soldiers in his squadron,  or use them as shields. I doubt Jerry’s company minded when he showed them  a German soldier had shot him in the foot; even though his squadron knew Jerry had shot himself to get out of fighting in the War. It wasn’t as if many soldiers hadn’t thought of shooting their own foot to escape War’s reality, but most of them knew their country needed them and took their duty as a soldier with pride.

Jerry’s fellow soldiers were glad to see ‘useless’  Jerry gone. He hadn’t made any friends and most men knew being Jerry’s friend meant he would desert you when you needed help; infact, life expectancy for members in Jerry’s old company went up when Jerry was sent home with a permanent limp.

Jerry told absurd and utterly fake stories about being a War hero when he returned to his family’s house in London. Jerry had even stolen a poor dead man’s medals to make it appear as if he had been recognized by England, Primeminister Churchill, and the Queen, for defending his country. 

But Jerry’s family didn’t believe his stories and doubted he had sacrificed himself to earn such high honours. Jerry’s family knew his personality, the cowardliness and cunning that always lurked behind Jerry’s every action. 

War was awful and terrifying, but Jerry’s father who had fought in WWI and Jerry’s permanently wounded brother Clancy, who fought in WWII, believed Jerry should be doing his duty back in France. Soldiers were being shipped to the beaches of Normandy and neither Jerry’s father or Clancy thought the slight limp that Jerry most likely gave himself, should stop a soldier from doing his duty.

 Jerry eventually left home during the War, wandering the roads in different towns, lost and afraid that death would catch up with him because he had avoided it in France. In the shadow of a pale moon, a bomb flew from the sky one night, and Jerry met his end in England, near his family’s home. 

Both Jerry’s father and brother Clancy, at last we’re proud of him. The bomb from a German airplane had hit Jerry and not another person or a building full of civilians. Jerry hadn’t intended on being the bombs target, but his family felt they could remember the cowardly man with a bit of pride now.

 Jerry’s photo, Grandpa Clancy said, should remind us Grandchildren to be brave and not use others because we are afraid, as Uncle Jerry had done in his life. Grandpa Clancy’s Grandchildren knew what true sacrifice was when their Grandfather showed them the stump that was once his left leg. 

Clancy had never bothered with a prosthetic limb. His leg stump spoke volumes to a generation who did not realize what a sacrifice so many men had made so their children and Grandchildren could be free from men such as Hitler and his Nazis.

Clancy had loved his brother. The part of Jerry who was a scheming coward, Clancy had never been able to understand. Scared or not, a man has to do what a man had to do, especially during a War. Clancy was cheered that in death, his brother Jerry may have been brave.

——-

©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.