When I need a break from poetry I've found dabbling in microfiction can be just the thing I need. Micro, or flash fiction is any story under 1000 words, and writing it is a good exercise in precision, editing and finding the essentials of a story. I've been vaguely taking part in the #VSS365 Writing Prompt movement on twitter, where you have to write a story or poem that fits into a tweet (so under 280 characters) based on a single prompt word. It's been very fun, but also very frustrating, as I tend to let my words run away with me, and always feel like I need to throw everything out on the page in order to be understood. But I'm learning from excellent writing colleagues such as Laura Besley, Martha Lane and Keshe Chow how to be economical with my words while all the while retaining the essence of what my story has to say.
Here's a few of the ones I'm proud of so far. I cheated with some, using poems or excerpts from stories I already had that fit the theme! Some I will also develop into longer pieces, although they will probably stay within the realm of micro/flash.
Prompt words are hashtagged and linked back to twitter.
I sharpen my daughters' nails and teeth into points. Sew grenades into their hems , line their skin with barbed wire. I infuse their hair with poison, steel plate their feet and fists.
I'll not send them unequipped into battle against the #ubiquity of male violence.
I did it to protect you, with the only means I could. I had no alternative, trapped as I was, between the mountains and the sea.
I didn't even try to protect myself.
The bathroom door closes with a click.
Water runs, not to cleanse, but drown out the sound.
She can't let them see her like this. She can't let them hear.
Into the cold tiled floor she sobs silently.
"#shoddy excuse for a mother! Bad excuse for a wife!"
The equator girds my waist. The oceans cascade down my back.
My skin made of mountains, and dusty desert sand.
One hand made of thunder, the other made of stars.
But my thoughts are yours, as they converge towards the #corner of the world, where you are…
I cried on the edge of the precipice, looking out over the ocean- now the only thing that connects us.
Tears travelled on the atlantic current, round Cabo de Hornos, to be sucked up by the clouds.
Now each one is a salt #goodbye, falling as raindrops over Puchuncaví.
Rotation: the key to successful homeschooling.
#Rotate activities so kids don't get bored.
#Rotate languages to ensure maximum retention.
#Rotate responsibilities to create sense of achievement.
#Rotate where you hide the booze so daddy doesn't find out.
Neither of us had ever played this game, but we revelled in the thrill of it, and scrupulously respected the rules.
How can it be that we both #lost?
It's triggered by the most #random of things.
A tremor in the earth. An election in the Congo. A mosquito's dying breath. A cold front, moving in from the east.
I blame the doctors. It was their mistake to sew me back up with pieces of you still inside.
Rules for my daughters to live by:
1. Whatever you do, give it horns. Especially the first time round.
2. Be nice. Don't gossip.
3. Brush your hair daily. Wear sunscreen.
4. Never #scramble for purchase on a man who doesn't want to stay.
It's here again.
Stiff-necked, everywhere itches. A layer of salt lines my skin. Lips, breasts swollen. Heaving.
I wake up in a tangled mane. Ravenous.
No moon tonight. Outside my window, the #birds are gathering in the low branches.
They always know...
Dinner's too salty. She shrinks.
Better watch that waistline! She shrivels up a little more.
The house is in a state! What do you even do all day?
With every criticism and complaint, she #folds herself up smaller + smaller.
One day you look up, and she's gone.
By moonlight she sits among the wreckage, floor littered with ex-lovers, bad haircuts, mistakes, loss, and chronic pain.
With the sturdy thread of a father's love she stitches the rubble and detritus together. Surely this will be the finest #gown she's ever made.
Now that the battle has been lost, I make no #request for myself.
I only ask for safe passage for my daughters. An honourable burial for my soldiers. And, above all, water for my people, as they continue to struggle, and thirst, for what is right.
Poem for an equivocado
How I wanted you to know the truth-
to put an end to this foul mystery.
How I wanted to show you the #proof,
yet I was forbidden from it’s delivery;
I am condemned to wait for you to come to me…
The quality of wine depends entirely on the vine. The key is not the sun, but the root.
The sun is either there, or it is not. But the most challenging, most forgiving soil will always yield the strongest, and sweetest #grape.
As is the soil, so grows the fruit.
What is wrong with me? I can’t even say his #name. Those three syllables that rolled so sweetly off my tongue since we first met, now stick in my throat.
Teeth clenched, I gather up my courage. This is not the ending I deserve…
(This is an excerpt from my forthcoming short story "Marcelo, un beso")
I nothing i feel nothing get dressed feed kids kiss husband feel nothing get to work write list have coffee too much sugar feel nothing work 'til lunch sun shining feel nothing see nothing work some more home noise phone kids feel nothing see nothing #fog won't lift