The Amateur Tradesman’s Lament

[Today’s prompt from The Daily Post — describe one or more skills I’d like to have. For some reason, I’m inspired to respond this time in verse.]

Were I to learn a trademan’s craft

A carpenter I’d be;

With hammer and nail, saw and wood

I’d build a pleasant home.

But could I be happy in any house

Without electricty?

I’d need skill with wires, breakers, conduit 

To make my comfort dome.

And water’s essential, let’s not forget

To cook, or bathe, or pee.

Oh plumber’s craft, so often disparaged,

You must I also hone.

Aw, screw it all! These tasks would never end,

No chance of rest for me!

To Angie’s List, and for five-star reviews

 Will my searching eyes comb!

What the Headline Says

[Today’s prompt from The Daily Post — incorporate the third headline from a news site]

“I’m depressed.”

Butch was familiar enough with Rune’s genuine bouts of despair to recognize the irony in his friend’s voice. Seeing Rune was looking at his phone, the tow-headed teen leaned and twisted to look at the screen. Rune was looking at Yahoo’s home page, but none of the headlines he saw seemed particularly disturbing — no mention of wars, crimes, or scandals.

“That one.” Rune pointed to the third headline — Thanos in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Here’s the Latest.

“I thought you liked that movie?”

Rune clicked the power button on his phone, turning the screen blank. “Well first of all, I haven’t seen it because it hasn’t come out yet, so I can’t exactly say whether I like it or not. But that’s not the point. It’s a useless bit of trivia about another superhero movie — yeah I like them, but I got other interests too. I wannna know what’s going on in the world, you know?”

Butch shrugged. “So, scroll past it. Or go to a different site.”

“Well, duh.” Rune being indignant and dismissive like this was the one mood Butch found most difficult to handle. “But I’ll have to do a lot more scrolling and selecting different articles to read, before my personal algorithm updates on Yahoo and I start seeing headlines for more important articles at the top of the screen. Until that happens, I’ll keep on seeing stupid articles about stupid characters in stupid movies.” Rune tapped himself on his chest, looked at Butch intently. “What does that say about me?”

“It says — ” never a quick thinker, Butch hesitated before right-sounding words finally came to him — “that you’re far too worried about what some programmer thinks about you.”

The Break

[A response to today’s Daily Prompt on The Daily Post, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” — an immediate reaction to incredible news]

She had actually forgotten about her application a few days after submittal, her mind finally able to focus on work and family and the welcome distraction of her favorite shows, when Stan called to her in an excited voice from the street outside.

“It’s here!” The memory of all those months spent in preparation came back to her instantly, her heart sinking reflixively as anxiety ripped through her like a November gale.

She heard Stan stumble into the front door, curse; she was standing by the time he pushed into their home with annoyance. “Jesus, it’s here!” He extended the manilla envelope toward her, his eyes wide with desperation, as if the envelope would disappear if she didn’t take it from him, now.

A quick glance at the return address stamp — not that she didn’t trust Stan, the contents were just too important, would have such a dramatic effect on her life, to not verify that yes, what he held before her was indeed the direct result of all her efforts. And when she opened this package, its revealed judgement (acceptance or rejection) would be the opening lines of a new chapter in her life, filled with the excitement of discovery, the stress of even more toil, and more pain and frustration than she cared to consider.

So as she took the envelope from Stan’s quivering hands, she closed her eyes briefly, and recited a silent prayer of thanks for the break she had enjoyed. Eyes then snapping open, she fixed her gaze on Stan’s wide eyes. “Thank you.”


Double-J walked off the strip, lifting the gray metal fencing mask from his bearded face, which was, unsurprisingly, not smiling, despite his easy victory. Butch handed him a water bottle, which he promptly waved away with his saber like a bothersome insect.

“Don’t like to drink at tournaments. Just makes me wiz.”

“Oh!” Butch withdrew the bottle apologetically. “Don’t you get thirsty? I mean, it gets pretty frenzetic out there.”

Double-J frowned. “Huh. Frenzetic. That’s one of your words, isn’t it?”

Butch stared back blankly at the burly teen.

“Sorry.”  It was one of the few times Butch remembered seeing an apologetic look on Double-J’s face. “You got a way with words, dude, that’s a little — unusual. Everybody knows what you mean, but the way you say it — “

“The words?”

The only saber fencer currently at Bark Bay High School shrugged. “Sometimes it’s words, other times it’s stuff like mixed metaphors — “

“What’s that mean?”

Double-J sensed something unusual about their conversation, a peculiarity he also saw in the portly teen’s concerned face. And then it came to him — Butch never interrupted people, and while he often looked confused, never did he seem as worried as he was now. He shook his head. “Like I said, we all know what you mean, so don’t let none of the rest bother you. Somebody’s bothered by how you say something, that’s their problem.” He grabbed Butch’s right shoulder. “You good with that?”

Butch’s expression resumed its comforting befuddlement. “I — guess.” Double-J then led him back to the team’s equipment bags, silently enjoying the thought of Annie’s continuing her efforts to correct Butch’s language. 


“It used to fit real good, but it shranked.” Butch looked down forlornly at the t-shirt that stretched uncomfortably across his protruding belly.

Standing alone with him at the edge of the cafeteria as the rest of the fencing team practiced with each other, The Bird asked Butch whether he knew he’d used the wrong word. It’s shrunk, she told him, his shirt had shrunk.

“Oh! Really?” His face a storm of wonder and confusion. “No, wait. When something just happens you say shrunk, but if it happened a while ago, you have to say shranked.” His face now beamed calmed assurance. “So I guess we’re both right, you could say it shrunk and that would be technically correct, ‘cuz the shirt did shrink in the past, but since it was a while ago, you’d have to say shranked. But only if you wanted to be truly accurate.”

“Hey, Bird.” The tiny teen nearly jumped at the sound of Coach Dan’s voice, and sped to him with relief when he saw him call her over.


Leaning forward from the back seat of Double-J’s car (a well-maintained coupe no longer manufactured), Butch tapped the top of the passenger side’s front seat. “Why don’t they just borrow us some epees?”

Annie decided not to waste an explanation of the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. “You talk to Coach Gavy, and she’d be all I don’t have enough equipment as it is.”

“Oh!” Butch leaned back in his seat, Rune shifting on his right to make room. “Sounds pretty shelfish to me.”

Double-J snorted, glanced at Butch’s reflection in the rear-view mirror as he raced his car through the business district of Bark Bay. “This ain’t got nuthin’ to do with lobsters and clams, buddy.”

“When will — ” But Rune’s attempt to divert his friend from pursuing this debate was instantly thwarted.

“Nuh-uh!” Butch’s most ominous exclamation. “Stuff you get from the sea, like crab cakes, that’s called shell fish, cause they’re fish that have this hard shell. But when somebody can’t be bothered to help their friends out, that’s what you call being shelfish, because you’re only thinking ’bout your self.”

“Got it.” Annie was looking out the passenger window, her eyes desperately scanning for signs of intelligent life forms.

“It’s how you say it. Shell — fish, that’s two words, because you’re describing two things, a fish and its shell. But shelfish, that’s only one word, because you’re only describing one thing. That’s the problem, people don’t always use language correctly. Every word has its own meaning, and what you have to do is, figure out what you want to say first, and then choose the right words. But what happens is, people start choosing words without thinking what they want to say, and then what they say comes out all wrong. That’s why people say shell fish instead of shelfish — they’re just not being careful.” He turned in this seat, looked at Rune. “You know what I mean, right?”

“Completely.” And was relieved to see his agreement brought an end to the topic.


“That’s really what she said?” Coach Dan did not often openly challenge his students on the Bark Bay High School fencing team, but he had trouble believing what he’d just heard.

“Yuh-huh.” Butch’s eyes as round as his face. “Coach Gavy, she said if we didn’t have — ” he reached across his chest with his left hand, tapped his right shoulder — “what are they called?”

“Plastrons.” Standing to Butch’s right, Rune waved his greasy hair off his forehead. “Dammit, she knows we don’t have equipment like that.”

Coach Dan laid a reassuring hand on Rune’s shoulder. “Lemme talk to her, see what’s going on.” The middle-aged English instructor and volunteer fencing coach quickly scanned the gymnasium, no recognition registering in his searching eyes, which then landed back on Butch. “You said she was going to talk to the bout committee?”


Coach Dan shook his head. “Supposedly?”

Butch nodded. “Yeah, stuposedly.”

Coach Dan opened his mouth, but then his body stiffened, as if here were suddenly under someone else’s control. Excusing himself quickly, he then left the wall of the gym where the team had deposited their equipment.

“You know, that’s not really a word.” Rune’s tone was almost apologetic.

“Oh!” Confusion contorted Butch’s round face. “You mean plastron?”

“No, no. Stuposedly, I mean.”

“Yeah it is.” There were times Rune would have appreciated less self-assuredness from his friend. “You say it when you think you know something, but you’re not a hundred percent sure. It’s like that other word.”

“What other word?” Rune regretted the question before Butch gave his answer.


Optical Delusion

[Another entry in my series of Butchery, in which one of my novel’s principal characters displays his unique linguistic talent]

“Yeah, I saw it too.” Rex folded his body forward, reaching down for his epee. “Looked like flying saucers. It was cool.” The tall teen walked to the center of the empty cafeteria floor, where OK stood waiting for their bout.

“Yeah.” Rune sighed in recognition of Butch’s self-assured tone. “It’s an optical delusion.”

“Illusion.” Taking off her fencing jacket, Annie shook her head, brown pony-tail waving behind. “It’s called an optional illusion.”

“Nuh-uh.” Butch stepped defiantly towards Annie, and Rune knew from experience the futility of trying to stop his friend at these moments. “It’s something you think is there, but it’s not there, which means it’s a delusion.”

Illusion.” Asking Annie to withdraw from these arguments was equally fruitless. “An illusion is something that isn’t there. Back of left hand slaps right palm — “Optical — ” SLAP — “illusion!

The tow-headed son of the Bark Bay First Baptist Church’s minister squinted, his round face pained with consternation. “Sometimes, Annie, you make me wonder about you.”

Ending February at the end of March

Yesterday was my last post for February, the sixth chapter of my novel. One of my goals when starting that chapter at the start of the year was to maintain my focus, prevent myself from going down unproductive tangents. Some of my writing projects the past year and a half have turned into baggy monstrosities — I knew what I wanted to accomplish for chapter 6, but if I had spent six months drafting the chapter (as I did with January), it could turn into something far different.

It very well could be that I ended work on chapter six too soon. But for this project anyway, I felt that ending sooner would be better than having regrets later.

So now it’s on to some smaller projects, Daily Prompt responses and such, until I take on another lengthy project. As always, thanks for following my blog, and I hope you continue to find what I write interesting and entertaining.