On this page you'll find a poem and several stories from writers who responded to a challenge on our Message Board. This is the challenge and these are the responses:

Challenge: It was a weekend workshop for writers and the first day's assignment was this: Outside you will find a three-acre section of the property marked with small red flags. Walk over it, or you may take a long view from one of our rocking chairs on the porch. Find a spot beneath a tree and write, or come back here to the lodge. But compose a poem, or a short piece of prose about what you see. You may write with humor or you may write a serious piece, but make your observations interesting. If you write about a bird, then write so we 'see' your bird. The leader ended by saying, "Your piece will be critiqued after supper this evening and you will receive another assignment tomorrow."


A Writer's Workshop
Response #1

Sitting under a Joshua tree, I contemplated the serenity the desert offers. It had been a rainy year so far, and the desert flora had awaken. Yellow blossomed brittle bush dotted the landscape. The many Joshua trees on the surrounding landscape, were as green as I had ever seen them. Huge rocks jutted out among the greenery. Purple sage was in full blossom, creosote sported tiny aromic yellow flowers, white bugle plants sprouted along the dirt roadways.

Two black ravens perched on one thin branch of a Palo Verde tree. That tree also had yellow blossoms. Further away, I could see Lupine, standing like small soldiers in purple uniform. Orange mexican poppies, scattered here and there, added more color to the scene.

Suddenly, I saw movement. When I looked closely, I saw a roadrunner, with tail straight out, and head straight forward, chasing a black and orange butterfly. The butterfly was snapped up in a second. The roadrunner continued his search for food.

On a nearby craggy hill, just an outline against the horizon, a coyote was trotting along without a care in the world. All other wildlife came to a halt, hidden from view, until the coyote passed. Then when they felt safe, the desert again teemed with life.

Cottontail bunnies, with tall ears, and cottonball tails, almost blending into the background with their coloring, began hopping about, sometimes into shrubs, and sometimes allowing themselves to be seen. Large white lizards slithered along, stopping to rest upon rocks.

Gamble quail meandered along, calling out to each other as they traveled, their question mark topknot quivering with every movement. I sat quietly and counted as they passed. It was amazing. There were thirty-five in all. I wondered where they were heading.

The warm sun was starting to sink. I could feel the chill of the evening air. It was time for me to go inside. I would return another day.

© By Sharon (Sunyskys1943@aol.com)

Three Acres

Sitting there in a rocking chair,
I looked over the property.
Three full acres were spread out there,
In the center, a tall fir tree.

I left the porch and walked that way,
With notebook and pen in my hand.
The sun shining, a perfect day,
To explore this parcel of land.

I settled myself at the trunk,
Pine needles cushioning my seat.
My entire world had now shrunk -
Three acres, my writerís retreat.

On all sides ran a split rail fence,
Rustic, made from old pines that fell.
And, beyond, the forest was dense,
What was in there, I couldnít tell.

By some fence posts, wild flowers grew,
Lavender, yellow, blue and white.
Tiger lilies, I saw but few,
But bright orange and quite a sight.

The uncut grass stood a foot high,
Undulating in the soft breeze,
A monarch came fluttering by,
And then disappeared in the trees.

In the branches a blue jay, too,
That appeared to be watching me,
Until to another tree it flew,
While cackling quite noisily.

A chipmunk showed itself just then,
Coming out from under a root.
It spied me, twitched, ran off again,
As if it had heard an owl hoot.

Random notes, I was jotting down,
Thoughts for a poem I might write,
When I saw the snake, green and brown -
A rattler! I ran off in fright.

© By RickMack (Rmrickmack@aol.com)

The Workshop

I am feeling exhausted from tromping around in a field! With all the money I spent for this workshop I sure wasn't expecting to be told to wander around on some ratty looking property. Well, I wandered. And I saw absolutely NOTHING! We are supposed to get some sort of inspiration from Mother Nature I guess. She must've taken a day off.

AHA! I found a spot of shade. Let me sink my weary bones down and see if I can find some cloud formations to wax poetic about. Well, wouldn't you know it? Not a cloud to be seen. The landscape is neither brown nor green but some shade in the middle of both. Not too inspiring there. O.K.---The tree will have to do. What can I say about this tree. It's got a trunk with brown bark and it's got green leaves. I don't know what kind of tree it is but I never was much for that sort of thing. HHHMMMM......Not even a bird in it.

WAIT! I do see something way up toward the top! It's kind of reddish and round. Maybe some kid got a ball stuck up in the branches. I think I can get up there. The branches are big and close together so it's easy enough to sort of lumber and lurch up there. HAHAHAHA! Get it? Lumber? Tree? (nevermind) There it is, let me just reach up and grab it..... Hey! It's an apple! How about that? This is an apple tree and so far all it's grown is one apple. Well, it's MY apple now. It's easier getting down than it was up. I guess gravity is on my side this time.

WWWHHHHUUUUFFFFF! Oh Boy! Now I need to sit down. Pretty nice looking apple I got here. Just in time for a snack after all those calories I burned up getting it.

CHOMP! crunch, crunch, crunch.........What the hell is that?

The snake looked up at me and smiled. "Hiya Toots! I have been waiting for a chance to do this again. So, tell me....Do you feel any smarter after eating the apple?"

I have the definite feeling I will be accused of plagarism for this one.

© By Swampetta (SWAMPETTA@aol.com)

A Writers' Workshop - The Real Story

Jenny Sue is thirty something. She is taking her maiden aunt with the stooped shoulders, bun on the back of her head and a three-footed cane to her arthritis doctor.

Cropped-haired Jenny Sue, dressed in a khaki shirt-dress and loafers, is playing like she's on a safari to ease her boredom while she waits. In the doctor's office she spies a "Sports Illustrated" magazine. Actually, it is the newest one in the office and dated only a year ago. Thumbing through, Jenny sees an ad for a writer's workshop for sportsmen. "Zowie" she thinks, "I'll bet this will attract many eligible men!" She can hardly wait to fill out the application and send it off.

Two months later. Jenny is rocking on the porch of the Old Dominion Lodge main-house log cabin in the woods. Standing at its steps, a cute and petite gray-haired teacher syrupy and sweetly states the workshop assignment:
"Outside you will find a three-acre section of the property marked with small red flags. Walk over it, or you may take a long view from one of our rocking chairs on the porch. Find a spot beneath a tree and write, or come back here to the lodge. But compose a poem, or a short piece of prose about what you see. You may write with humor or you may write a serious piece, but make your observations interesting. If you write about a bird, then write so we 'see' your bird."

Jenny is thinking "bird, my eye. My Ďbird' will be that handsome guy." Jenny is casing out the men who are attending this workshop. One is middle-aged and bald; one is bewhiskered and senior; one is frail with horn-rimmed glasses; one is an Adonis! Now Jenny has never been a grammarian, but her marriage time clock is ticking and she means business. Adonis will be her prey. Adonis, tanned, firm, and tall starts walking toward the first fluttering red flag to the left. Through weeds, grass and saplings he ploughs, for all the world the picture of a tiger hunter. Jenny in uncomfortable new boots and chic city Dockers, takes her note pad and writes: "While trailing through the jungle searching for a rare white tiger, Adonis stops, manly scratching a map of the terrain on his sketchbook, then pats the Colt 45 in his scabbard and adopts a stalking posture. He hears a soft snore from a creature he cannot yet see. Rounding the corner of a tree he sees...." About that time, Jenny Sue feels a nudge on her back. She turns around, sees a huge white face and screams, running as fast as she can right into Adonis's arms. The surprised Adonis who never knew she was following him, lets out a yell, and carrying Jenny Sue, runs completely around the three-acre field, red flag to red flag and ends up at the cabin entrance, Jenny Sue in hand. Humiliated, Jenny Sue stammers and she stands and smooths her Dockers, "What was THAT?" Laughter was heard from the four corners of the woody and grassy combined field! Jenny Sue had never seen a cow before, let alone, gentle old Bessie that supplied the milk for the lodge kitchen.

Red-faced Jenny Sue never attended the critique, and does not to this day know how to write, but she doesn't really care. Adonis, Jr. takes up all her time.

© By Norma (Twi1ite@sbcglobal.net)

From Ima

My name is Ima Welloff, and this is my story. Several months ago, my name was Ima Poorhouse, but a fateful day in January changed my name and my life forever. I am currently sitting on my porch overlooking a beautiful view of the Smoky Mountains. The mist is swirling through the green peaks like smoke from my Grandpaís favorite pipe. My home is nothing less than spectacular, but I feel no different than when I sat in my little log cabin in the valley. I have everything my heart desires now, but deep down in my soul nothing has changed. The mountains are no greener, my heart is no lighter and my feelings are no different. Whoever said, money canít buy happiness was right as rain. Oh, donít get me wrong, itís nice to have my bills paid and the comforts that money can afford, but my back still hurts, and my joints still creak now and then. My kin seem to be spending more time with me, but not because I am lonesome. Money does have its downside you know. Back when I was poor, I didnít have as many friends as I do now, and the kin only came over once in a while. Take my advice, just leave them lottery tickets at the store. They can bring you more grief than happiness.

I was Ďwalkin down by the creek this morning contemplating my plight when I made a big decision. I decided that I was going to turn my big house over to that nice little family in the valley with the six kids. You know the ones, with 3 bedrooms and no indoor plumbing. Their grand folks need help now, and there would even be room for them. Iím going to keep enough money out to keep the place up for them, pay the taxes and all. Iím moving back to my little cabin in the valley where I belong. Donít fret now, Ďcause Iím going to keep back some for the rest of my old age, but Iím Ďgiven the rest to that nice rest home on the edge of town. They could use some new rockers for their porch and a nice sunroom on the back. I recollect that this is the best Iíve felt since my windfall.

I wonít be buying anymore lottery tickets down at the store. Iíve counted my blessings and have plenty to be thankful for. I hope Lettie and Earl like their big cabin in the sky and the folks down at Shady Rest enjoy their time in the sun. Iíll be changing my name to Ima Grateful and moving back to my little cabin in the valley. Stop in and see me sometime. Youíll probably find me on the front porch admiring my flowers and looking down the road to see if any kin are coming, but itís doubtful theyíll be around as much. See you in the funny papers.


More from Ima . . . . . . .

People down in town are whispering about how I gave the big house in the sky to Lettie and Earl. They said they were illiterate, but I donít pay them no mind. Earl is a hard worker, and Lettie doesnít spend her time listening to them soap oprys all day like some of the young womenfolk do. Earl walks two miles to the sawmill every day come rain or shine, and he walks the first mile with the younguns to the school house. No tellen what them boys would get into, if he didnít. Caleb, whoís ten, meets the Thompson boys at the fork, and they can get into more mischief than you would believe. One day they put a frog down sister Mattieís back. She went plumb cold, and it took Earl the better part of two minutes to stand her back up again. Lettie has her hands full at home. The other day, little Earl spilt molasses all over Lettieís new rag rug in the kitchen. I guess he bout ruint it. Lettie just went to cleanin on it the best she could. She always takes time to send a lunch with Earl every morning. Itís usually a piece of country ham, a piece of cornbread and a sweet tater. Sometimes he gets an apple to eat on the way home. You know itís a far piece back from the mill. Well, I got to go now and do some chores around my place. Donít forget to look for me in the funny papers.

Till next time yíall,

© By Phyllis Ann (Starbird55@msn.com)

Watch these pages for more challenge responses.
If you would like to participate in our challenges
visit our Message Board. A link appears on the Index page.
In the meantime, click the links below for other
poems and stories by the authors at Lara's Den.

Those April Showers

A Cozy Nook

Oh! To Be In April

Legend Of The Lost

Games Of Love

Thoughts Of Eagles

A Room Under The Eaves

I Walk In Tulips

And.......for many others, click the index image.

Click here to send this site to a friend!

Graphics by Marilyn