And the Clocks Tick Maliciously

Bleeding Pen--Objects

Writing is bleeding. Photograph ©Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014.

I was adrift, but now I’m back on familiar sands. To celebrate, here are a couple of sifted fifties of flash fiction for your reading Schadenfreude (only kidding!), submitted for the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge.

And the Clocks Tick Maliciously

While hiking, Ava rolls memories—arils of time—on her tongue. The blurred bridge from mother to daughter grows acrid, sways, begins to cinder. Cells synchronize, but strands draw taut. She forces violets to ease through mind grooves and presses any relics of familial contusions under sandals, into yielding clay.

Little Lives in Play

Your curly mop wheels with the wind. Dervish, sprite, or joy made bodied, you stack worlds skyward with your words. Shouts tumble out, raft down to me, Huck-like. Then, Icarean, on the highest rung, arms suddenly scissoring, and a sick smack of watermelon-splitting.

I wake in a skin of sweat.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Reflection Photo

Chihuly art glass reflections in front of the Climatron geodesic dome at Missouri Botanical Garden. Photograph copyright, Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014.

Reflection Close-Up

Chihuly close-up. Photograph copyright, Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014.

For this weekly photo challenge, I am offering up these photographs from several years ago. They were taken on a somewhat windy day as you can see from the ripples in the pool. These large-scale, floating glass sculptures are by artist Dale Chihuly and were installed at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. Glasstronomical sculptures, aren’t they? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) With or without an inspiring artistic installation, the Garden—also occasionally called MoBot—is a place to put on your travel itinerary should you ever visit the city that is perhaps best known for its Arch and dubbed “the gateway to the West.” Well, thanks for visiting my blog today; please drop by again anytime!

Four Ways of Looking at Life: Tankas

1p Pablo Picasso (Spanish artist, 1881–1973) Cat eating a bird 1939

I found this painting, from 1939 by Pablo Picasso, on the excellent “It’s About Time” blog, which I encourage you to visit. The blogger is a historian who promises a “little museum” in each of her blogs. The work above is titled “Cat eating a bird” and is not to be confused with Picasso’s painting “Cat catching a bird.”

These four tanka poems are meditations on yesterday’s Daily Prompt on WordPress. (As to the lateness, all I can say is that Nature took me out of circulation for a few days with the influenza virus.)

Daily Prompt: Talking in Your Sleep

Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation you weren’t supposed to? Tell us about a time when it was impossible not to overhear a conversation between people who didn’t know you were there. What was the conversation about? How did it make you feel?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us ACCIDENT.

My question to myself turned out to be: how do you [or the character/protagonist] perceive the event? One woman’s “accident” or crisis might be another’s serendipitous moment. Or, as the axiom goes, is it a danger or an opportunity?

How does your narrative on chance occurrences, which are part and parcel of life, go?


The Menace of Time

Nature brooks no near
mishap. Only full-tilt grief,
and aftershocked hearts.
At last, we are animals
cowering as Time devours.
Accidentally Your Child

To see your photos–
colors scoring my aged lens–
how you made yourself
a cocoon, walled silently
against the uproar of me.

It occurs to me
that even you loved someone once.
Bubbly and girlish.
But reality implodes
even the best emotions.
The serendipity of us

that I met you at all, much
less that circumstance
cut us out compatibly
mind to mind, cloth tailored fine.

Daily Prompt: Winston Churchill in Drag?


Let’s take a little trip back . . .

Appropriately, it’s evening-time, but I can’t see the sun sinking.

I’ve been in the room for hours, and delirium has taken me in its needle-toothed mouth. Every now and again it shakes me like an overzealous pup with a rope toy.

Amid shrill screams and attendants entering and leaving, I warble. And recite chapters in the book on medical coding that I’m currently editing.

“Winston Churchill,” I begin, off-tune. I’m certain the people in neighboring rooms are freaked by my shrieks and shocked by the absurd lyrics.

Genesis had yoked me—or should I say yolked me—to the birthing bed. Instead of real epidurals to soothe me, I chose music. Specifically progressive rock and roll music.

Such is the story of my life: at crucial points along the way, a song, album, musician, or band has entered stage left. And there in the limelight, I merged with the music, and it patched me up so I could pitch battle again.

Today, as the wife of a musician, I can’t avoid music. Not that I’d want to. It’s constantly in my ears and in my eyes and, as such, flares up persistently in my writing.

Naturally, a strong musical memory comes courtesy of my husband, who wrote a classical piece for me when we were courting, lo those many years ago. But I also owe a life-debt to musician and humanitarian Peter Gabriel. His popular ’80s tunes sledgehammered my sensibilities, shocked me with their grooves, and mercifully nestled in my neurons, big-time.

Then, as I made my way along and my existence complexified itself, I gravitated to the ground: to dig in the dirt, more specifically.

Finally, going zigzag through time, I arrive at what is, in my opinion, the zenith of prog-rock music. That golden period from approximately 1969 to 1981. And at the sweet chocolate-surprised center of that musical box lies one of my favorite bands: Genesis.

I’m not normally much interested in most celebrities, but I think it would be quite something to meet Mr. Gabriel. Other than in dreams, that is. (I once saved him from being trapped in a warehouse; I guess I was returning the favor.)

Now, fly away you sweet little thing, they are hard on your tail. Or hadn’t you heard?

This aforestory was written for the WordPress Daily Prompt. Please go there and follow the links to enjoy others’ musical reveries.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure



Rather than an object (or objects), I conceptualized this weekly photo challenge in terms of the people and things or values I treasure. I thought about posting more “categories” of treasures, but I think this is plenty enough to make me feel rich for now. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

What I treasure

  1. Family and friends
  2. Art (taken to mean music, literature, dance, architecture, etc.)
  3. Nature

NATURE-fungusART-architecture ART-Will   NATURE-bird NATURE-robinettes

Daily Prompt: Isn’t Your Face Red

Embarrassment, I embrace you. Wilkommen! Image from

Embarrassment, I embrace you. Wilkommen! Image from (now go buy or rent the movie if you want some moving pictures)

Red is a lucky color in some cultures, you know. Not so much, however, when it commandeers your body.

Embarrassment—the skull-and-crossbones flagship of all things red—and I have a long and twisted history. Some say I was born, no, not blue-skinned, but bright, bawling red. (Ohmigod, I’m naked in front of all these strange people in white clothes! And why the heck is that huge one spanking me?)

Throughout life, any indignities or embarrassments channeled right to my elfin-sized ears. Sometimes it would even seep to my cheeks.

But that’s me; sheepishly entering the red room of embarrassment from time to time has not left me without some worldly treasures in the coffers, burgled as they were from the King. (Whose book on writing I highly recommend, incidentally.)

Inexplicably, I was in a singing mood while working this whole embarrassment equation out long-handedly and -windedly, so I cadged an existing tune and mashed up the lyrics a little.

And now for your reading Schadenfreude, here’s a quick cavalcade of the (now mostly humorous) face-flushing moments.


My Mem’rable Slips

©Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014

Glasses on noses and mud-stains on cord jeans
Giant teenage face-pocks and bad-perm in my tweens
Peach sequined prom-dresses ruined by my trips
These are a few of my mem’rable slips

Small rounded green peas and big bullies’ harsh words
“Four-eyes” and “dork-face” and pill’ried as the nerd
“Cool” kids lack the wit, but still bring the whips
These are a few of my mem’rable slips

Mean boys in blue jeans with stoned acid washes
Hard falls in puddles, absent galoshes
Rainbow color Froot Loops burst forth from my lips
These are a few of my funniest slips

When that kid bullies
When this kid falls
When I’m feeling low
I simply recall my more mem’rable slips
And then I don’t feel, I grow.

Written in response to the Daily Prompt of 5 February 2014

Daily Prompt: Flattery, or, Can You Guess the Poet?

I’ve been reading a bit of poetry lately. Online and in bookish realms as well. Yeats mostly. I shan’t conjure that literary lion, but rather a lion of a different . . . kion.

Today’s Daily Prompt on “The Sincerest Form of Flattery,” urges:

Publish a post in the style of a favorite author/blogger or photographer.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us COPIES.

I thought of placing a graphic from the book of verse that I’m reading and whose form I’m trying to mimic, but I thought it might be fun to NOT hit y’all over the heads with the spiked club of obviousness for once. I’ve placed slashes to further note the line breaks just in case the formatting gets funky; please let me know if that is distracting or cumbersome.

See what you think about whether this style has any substance, or matter-y, to it. Is it bestiary or worstiary? Have I reached the level of worsifier or fallen to the nadir of parroty?


Elephant-smallThe Elephant

Gray and bristly, full of profundity,/

when I stand next to you, I get all stunnedity./

Your height, your girth, your mighty mem’ry:/

that you mourn your dead makes my legs go flimbry.


The Woodpecker

Late or early, he diligently drills/

Above us, noisy, hammering still./

Sergeant of the sky, he pecks at our roof/

Beak to metal drives us to 80-proof.


Misc.-Nature&Sherman 019The Mutt

Some dogs are purebred, and some are mutts/

All of them like to sniff their . . . /But

we love them, loyally, yet./

And they love everyone. Except the vet./


The Persian

Most cats have hair, this much is true./

Some are red or white or blue./

Take the long-haired, stately Persian./

If your allergies shriek,/

adopt a different version.


The Possum

There are a few things to be said for the possum:/

They hiss, they hang, and you can’t boss em.


The Japanese Beetle

June arrives with jittery jewels/

when all the kids are out of schools./

Emerald buggers bog down your roses./

They’re glad to come, but we best enjoy their go-ses.


The Duck

One sometimes wonders how the duck,/

dunking underwater, does not get stuck./

There’s trash and metal, dross and jetsam./

There are those who litter–and we just letsam.

And finally, the dead giveaway–

Welcome to Og’s Den

These days, pets are the fashion./

But for me, I prefer to get my Nash on./

If the Web is a zoo,/

don’t be surprised if the ‘Net someday comes for you.

If you made it this far, I urge you to check out the real deal, the true brew, the firstist versist, the sublimer rhymer,  . . . here or here. And enjoy.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Bleeding Pen--ObjectsThis is my first foray into photographic challenges (in other words, go easy on me, photography experts!). I do not see it explicitly mentioned in the rules, so I’ll gladly disclose: I obviously used a couple filters in this photograph. I took the photograph today with our ancient digital camera;  it’s so old, the maximum photo size is something like 1.3 megapixels. And as you can see, it doesn’t involve an elegant locale or exotic beast. I think I might have a few better object-y photos lying about, but I wanted to make this a fresh photo.

While looking at the other photographs submitted for the weekly photography challenge at the Daily Post, I’m quickly and completely floored. Obviously many of these folks work–and not just work, but excel–in the visual medium. Check them out, and submit your own composition if you so desire.

I tentatively title this: Pen, Word, Pool

Enjoy (or dislike!) . . . either way, I appreciate the look. And please consider sticking around for the writing.