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Tag Archives: prose poem

Wisdom: Five Sentence Fiction

          As usual, I have no idea how I landed on this site, but…today I discovered Lillie McFerrin Writes—Home of Five Sentence Fiction. The clever and mysterious Lillie posts a one-word prompt every week and asks the world to respond with a five-sentence story. Love it! This week’s prompt is “Wisdom”.   Almost the moment I read it, Wisdom sidled up and whispered this story in my ear…

Wisdom says she’s done with being wise, done with handing out mountains of calm, clear-hearted advice to dolts who do not listen or listen and then still go off and steal the jewels, quit the job, rush the altar, buy the day old sushi, worse, eat the day old sushi.

“I’m sick of the very sound of my name, which I’ve discovered also means Prudence, as if things weren’t bad enough,” she tells the old elephant over mugs of Earl Grey.

The elephant has known Wisdom a very long time and expects she’s exaggerating when she says ‘Done’ since Wisdom gets fed up, of course, who wouldn’t, but in the end she gathers herself and dispenses herself for free again, like a reliable though battered old vending machine, wise enough to seldom say never.

“Definitely Done for good,” says Wisdom as she throws clothes into a too-small satchel, paints the elephant purple, drapes him with jewels, and climbs onto his back, beautifully bedecked herself in cinnamon scarves.

Now, she says, now is our time to finally leave home and never knowing where the next cup of tea may come from, be Foolish in the world with our names changed to Adventure and Gull.

Encourage The Bears


The Sunday Whirl, #115 Below, my attempt at using all these words, though this turned more storyish rather than poem-shaped.

Next life, I’ll move to a wild island in the sea. This when regrets and bridges in cinders are so thick on the ground that I can’t sweep them up or move through them for one more day. The weight of them, once like piles of fallen leaves or heavy snow become heavier and unstable, a loose scrill of rocks, shale that flakes and cracks, crumbles at every step. Moving cautiously has got me exactly here.

So then, the island. It is difficult to find. In truth, I bent reality, curved the oceans oh so slightly, just enough to make it a challenge. The birds, of course, have no trouble finding it by the scent of green and the whisper of insects. There are bears. Or, at least, a bear. And a sign.

One country lane meanders across the island, linking beach to meadow. I live at one end, the beach end, to get the spectacular view. The bear lives at the other end of the lane, in thick woods beyond the edge of the meadow.

I hear him sometimes, snuffling along through the woods, hunting the wild raspberries we both crave, both the taste and the shape of the word. When he stands at the edge of the wood—Seven feet tall? Nine feet? Who can tell? Who would dare measure? When he stands so tall, it’s hard to follow the directions on the sign I found posted at the edge of the meadow. This small wooden sign says, in careful block letters: Encourage The Bears.

When he’s eating flowers in the meadow, down on all fours, or picking at the berry bushes delicately, his paws careful as hands, and his fur shines so soft and warm in the sunlight, well it’s easier to imagine then, and I shout Positive Messages to him: Looking Good! Nice Fur! Excellent Berry Foraging!

That kind of thing.

The bear, he’s gone with me everywhere in this life. Is he Fate? Chaos? Or just a lost bear, dragged here to keep me company, to fit inside my head, my stories? Maybe, in the beginning, his whole existence was so I’d never heed, or even find, the piece of sign fallen long ago into the tall grass, disintegrated. The part of the sign that said “Don’t”.

In any case, story contrivance or accident, he’s here and real as teeth now.

Late, Again

Welcome back to the tightness in the chest, the almost-frantic voice demanding, Hurry, from between clenched teeth. Hurry means wrong again, means miscalculations in the intricate morning mix, ingredients that must be layered in particular order, precisely measured, a cake that never rises, a dance the whole household knows and nobody greets with joy. Hurry means measured wrong again, one shower too long, or shampoo in somebody’s eye, lunch boxes left on yesterday’s bus or we’re out of bread. Again. No one can find a pen for the permission slips that appeared in the night and so they pile up, years of field trips, from zoos to Shakespeare festivals, signed in crayon or eyeliner or not at all. But there are shoes on every single foot and each delivered to its proper place to spend the day. By the time you reach the office, someone should be there to greet you with a medal, a fanfare, at the very least a gold star and a mug of coffee, crowds applauding all you’ve achieved before 8 a.m., followed by space inside a quiet room with a soft chair where time stops sprinting towards the finish line. This room is yours for as long as you need to breathe, to settle your racing heart, a room where absolutely nobody ever says You’re Late.

The Moon’s Report

She writes:
You asked about humans.They are easy to describe, since I see everything in my light—with some small help from the Sun. I’ve watched and I know. I can tell You all about humans. As You hoped, they are very wise.

But, really, how could they not be filled with wisdom? You handed them understanding on a silver moonlit platter. Honestly, not that it’s my place to criticize, but their world is a little too obvious. Look at the hints You gave—on their round home, with their round heads and round babies, they couldn’t possibly miss the point. Then, all those wheels and spirals everywhere—seashells, seasons, nests, rings buried in tree trunks. And besides that, all the going and returning—tides, of course, but flowers, blizzards, leaves…oh, the list goes on and on.

How lovely it is for them, how clear. My advice: It would have been more interesting to give them a challenge, or at least a tiny puzzle. A static world, or one where all movement was linear. It would have given them something to figure out, instead of surrounding them with answers.

Look how they dance, how they gather together for births and weddings and deaths, living their circled lives on their round planet, calm and joyful, with so much evidence to show them the difference between finished and unfinished.

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