Ditch Shoes

I’ve started looking into competitions or literary magazines as a way to build a reputation or at least a portfolio of published work.  It’s something that is always mentioned in agent’s bios so maybe a couple of published works will give us some street cred.  So here we are researching places to submit, with a special place in my heart for the free ones.  One such magazine is called On the Premise.  They recently issued a call for a short story competition about a piece of clothing that runs through the story.  I chose shoes.  I chose shoes because of another real life inspiration, a gentleman who tried for months to find a home for a new pair of shoes he found in the ditch behind his construction trailer.  He would ask everyone with such a genuine persistence if the shoes fit with an obliviousness for the rest of the happenings in his life. I found it fascinating and hilarious.  So I decided to try my hand at a short story about these series of events and it ended up being a hard story to write.  It was difficult to capture the character because I was so baffled by his motives.  Why was he trying so hard to find someone to wear these shoes when it seemed the rest of his life was crumbling, when it seemed like he had a lot bigger fish to fry then some ditch shoes?  Maybe the reasons why it didn’t seem like a good idea were the reasons he thought it was. This was the premise I tried to convey and unfortunately it did not hit the home run I was hoping.

Dear RYAN:

Thanks for entering the 31st “On The Premises” short story contest. We received 231 entries. Of those, 10 were selected for the final round of judging. We’re sorry to have to inform you that Ditch Shoes was not among them.

Our next contest, a mini-contest, will begin the same day Issue #31 is published (in mid-April). Look for it, and keep on writing!


The “On The Premises” editorial staff


Yet it was a good learning experience.  It seems the short story is a great vehicle to practice your writing and hone your writing style…..find your voice as they say.  I think I’ll try again here soon.

One Eyed Wild Winking John

I have a book that I write in on the train.  It’s a larger yellow book, a mustard yellow book with worn white marks.  White marks and dog ears from the startled packing of my bags every morning when my stop sneaks up on me.  While it seems I might mistreat it in my urgency, the book contains the contents of all those ideas that may or may not pan out as a story worth the pursuit.  Sometimes the story starts in the middle, sometimes it’s one rhyme or one line that I become particularly fond of and do my best to make something of it.  The poem below started from a gentleman who always has one eyed closed when he talks.  One eyed closed like the sun seeks out his face to shine the brightest whether One-Eyed Wild Winking John is outside or whether he is inside.  So that begs the question, how does one get dressed when one constantly winks?……

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his clothes on.

He stares at his clothes while he thinks

then makes a choice as he winks.

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his pants on.

Right leg first, then his ear

“This is going to help me hear.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his shirt on.

Left arm first, then his nose

“That’ll be warm I suppose.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his shoes on.

Right foot first, then his hand

” Watch this now, I can stand.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

tries to put his belt on.

Around his waist, over his toes

“This’ll keep on all my clothes.”

One Eyed Wild Winking John

Says he has his clothes on.

With pants on his ears, and a shirt on his nose

Shoes on his hands and a belt on this toes

With a hat on his finger and a scarf on his knee

“Looks good” John says as he winks at me.

Now getting dressed while you’re winking

Must be harder than we’re thinking.

So unlike One Eyed Wild Winking John

who winks when he puts his clothes on.

When you decide to look your best

Open both eyes when you get dressed.

One At A Time

When it all comes pouring down on you at once, how do you pick your medium?  How does one go from a short story about shoes in a ditch to a poem about racism to a children’s book about luchadores?  At times, it seems I spend more time capturing these blasts of potential brilliance than I do writing them out.  And then there’s the whole Pour on the Cool book, the story that started all these other stories, the eloquence that Bill continues to put out for everyone’s enjoyment. You work yourself up, up into these tangled ruminations of who you are and what kind of stories speak to you, of which ones are worth pursuing first, which ones will be the best of the bunch because you are ready for the harvest now.  It spins and spins until you find yourself overwhelmed with the prospect of what this whole thing is about.  But then that’s over, it has run its course, and you are surprised that a neat little cliché has come to the foreground.  A little mantra of a cliché that you can repeat to yourself when you flip through the ideas, eyeing your next pursuit.  You don’t know which ones will work best or which ones will bust.  So you take it one story at a time my friends….just one at a time.




Oh Shoot! It’s Wednesday!

Oh Shoot! It’s Wednesday!

Um, so, what’s today?

Yeah thought you’d say

That to me.  You sure?

Probably could use one more,

Maybe just one extra night.

To try and get something right

For my weekly post.

I feel like a poor party host.

But, anyway thanks for stopping by

Next week I will really try

For something bold yet, a little off

Something to create an involuntary cough.

Like lunching on alligator casserole

Prepared in a sourdough bread bowl.

Like watching hipsters put their heads in the sand

While crossing a wild, broken, barren land,

Or like wrestling luchadores

On ships sailing to distant shores,

Or maybe a yellow pontoon

With large swells that make us swoon

Until we get tossed like a balloon

And float up to see Jay Z on the moon.

Yeah, Oh yeah, that’s the one…stay tuned.

Bathroom Karate

Sometimes you need to rage, just let it loose to alleviate the frustrations.  Sure there’s the gym and I do frequent that establishment but it’s nothing like a good roundhouse kick in a public place or a karate chop as you open the door not knowing who might be in the next room.  It’s exciting after sitting in a cubicle all day, it’s riveting after explaining bureaucracy, it’s refreshing after a team building event.  In my opinion, the risk of getting caught doing karate in the bathroom is the essence of feeling alive. Here’s to life my friends…and doing karate in the bathroom.

I enter the room, looking around just to see

If anyone has been following me.

Clear to my left, no one on my right

Look behind me in the mirror ,then …HIGHT!

Karate Chop, Karate Chop, Flying Fists

Round house, jump kick, no one’s missed

Then more ninjas, over there, through the door, You fool

I crouch down low before I pour on the cool

Hi Ya Left Kick, Right Kick, to the fists of fury

Hi Ya overhead punch as I watch them scurry.

More coming at me, yes this time from behind

I see 6, or 7 is that 8 no its 9.

I serve up some elbow, then downed with a knee

Perhaps you would like something from the menu I see

 Kung Fu Kicken with a Karate Chopped Salad

And some ice palm slice cream to cleanse the palette.

  Now it goes beyond the insane…..

Spitting camel, wading duck then crane of pain.

As the dust  settles, I hear the silence of victory

And realize I don’t have one nick on me.

I stand upright and victorious

Dwelling in all that is glorious.

When the bathroom door becomes a jar

And I hear someone enter from afar.

Quickly, I become composed

Back to myself, from head to toes.

I dry my hands. “How are you today?”

And smile because my secret is safe, sensei.