“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

When I met my Southern Baptist great-grandmother

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Photo by Ed Pirnak on Unsplash

The following story began its life as a 75-word novel, one of dozens I scribbled for a Facebook group a couple years ago. We were having fun, loving words, telling stories, challenging each other to be funnier, pithier, juicier in our offerings.

Writing these extreme short forms is excellent practice for writing in general. Every word has to count, has to contribute to the storyline and character development, and must generate a level of suspense. And most of all, it has to entertain.

And although these super-short novels were intended to amuse and impress the others, sometimes a story would…


An update to “Apocalypse Now”

A poem about the future of capitalism

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Photo by Tim Jones on Unsplash

When the rains came
to the cracked earth
rampant runoff
took the garbage
to the rivers
to the oceans
to the sea life
and our plastics
in tiny granules
fed the mollusks.

Then the otters
ate abalone
and the sea lions
ate the salmon
food for orcas
and for humans
and the fishermen
shot the mammals
then the ranchers
shot the wolf packs
and the farmers
shot the raccoons
that ate their chickens
and all their eggs.

Then the storms came to the seashore and the winds blew and the roofs flew and the trees snapped and the flags flapped…


Life lessons I learned from Nick and Isabel

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Photo by Lloyd Blunk on Unsplash

Nick and Isabel
came to Bufflehead Pond Farm.
My garden watches.

Ever since I was a little kid on a big farm, geese have fascinated me. So regal. So unapproachable and mysterious. Such prolific poop machines. My dog is fascinated with them too, and she perfumes herself daily with their droppings when they’re in town.

That’s the bad news. The good news is they literally mow our grass for us, fertilizing and aerating at the same time. But that’s not why I love and admire them so much.

My dear friend Betsy used to live nearby where Nick and Isabel…


A poetic proposal

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Vilnius, Lithuania: Three Crosses monument, by Polish architect and sculptor Antoni Wiwulskiorg — Mountain Park, Bleak Hill, overlooking Old Town. Photo by Adelia Ritchie

Coming down from the mountain
He carries a prize
Held close to his chest,
Away from my eyes.

I ask “What have you there?”
And he replies–
“A record of my communion with God.”
“What did He say to you?” I prod.
He says, “These words I cannot share.
They’re meant for me alone to hear.”

“But you must tell me! You must!
How can you be so selfish
to keep God’s words from us
who would benefit so much?

“We are lost and confused, we seek but don’t find, we worship gold statues, make war on mankind, we sin…


A new perspective

For a monumental city

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Photo by Peter Mitchell on Unsplash

On this day of symbolism, national monuments, deep exhalations, a Lady Gaga concert surrounded by a lot of important speeches, poems, and fervent testimonials, I’ve been shedding tears all afternoon. Tears of relief, most likely. Happiness, joy, restored faith in the system, whatever. Good tears.

And when I finally finished crying, I started laughing out loud, focusing on the televised visuals of our nation’s capital, and reminded of my many years of living in DC. It looks quite different today. But that’s not what made me start to giggle.

Years ago, when I worked in the Pentagon, my girlfriend Nancy…

Adelia Ritchie, PhD

A long time denizen of the Pacific Northwest, scientist, educator, artist, farmer, chicken wrangler, editor & writer at SalishMagazine.org.

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