Poetry Prompt of the Week: Do you love yardwork? Spring-clean up? Not so much? Wax poetic about an afternoon of outdoor spring cleaning…
Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: It’s a “dark & stormy” night, and there’s a sound at the door. When the door opens, there’s a large cat on the stoop, soaked to the bone and determined to come inside…
Ode to Bindweed
by Jamie DeBree
Solemn and quiet the brown earth lays,
newly exposed after winter abed,
waiting patiently for nutrients and UV rays,
to warm the dark soil and summon the dead.
Deep underneath, where no light penetrates,
the tiniest microbes wiggle and churn,
tough twisted roots begin to replicate
preparing for their evil master’s return.
The rake turns the soil, pulls back the top
tiny seeds scattered wide, a last ditch hope.
The rake cuts the roots, but they don’t ever stop
indeed they grow into stronger, deeper rope.
Those arrow-shaped leaves, the bell-shaped flowers
would surely be pretty at some other abode.
In this place the sight is one quite sour
akin to licking the back of a toad.
A Night With Poe
by Jamie DeBree
Carrie twitched as the sound of thunder rattled the windows and lightening flashed outside the semi-sheer curtains almost immediately after.
“Gotta get blinds,” she mumbled to herself, glancing at her grandparent’s old anniversary clock on the mantle. Nine at night, and the storm had already been brewing for nearly an hour. Surely it would pass by and be over soon.
Another loud boom, another bolt of lightening that she thought might have been at least a smidgen farther behind than the last one.
Then something hit her front door with a solid, unmistakable thump.
Setting the worn copy of Poe and her favorite afghan aside, she rose from the couch and tip-toed toward the door. The front light was on, but she didn’t see any shadows or silhouettes through the window at the top of the door, nor through either of the long windows on either side.
Somewhat relieved, she moved closer. Maybe a tree branch had been knocked down. Using one of the side windows, she peered out into the night, her gaze panning what little of the water-logged world her light illuminated. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she looked down, down, down until she found herself face-to-face with the biggest pair of glowing yellow eyes she’d ever seen.
Instinctively she knew the animal on her step was a cat, but it almost looked like an otter with its soaking wet, slicked-back fur. She would have expected a somewhat downtrodden look from an animal in such a predicament, but it actually looked rather angry.
She supposed she’d probably be a bit angry too, if she were locked out in this storm.
A somewhat muted thunder rolled overhead, and the cat came alive, raking its claws down a good chunk of Carrie’s front door and looking at her with a mixture of longing and murderous intent. The thought that the cat might be rabid crossed her mind, but it seemed inhuman not to offer shelter to someone…or thing, who so clearly needed it.
Reaching up, she flicked the deadbolt and pulled the door open. In two seconds flat, the black beast was inside and deep under her couch. Carrie closed and bolted the door, and then went to the living room and stood in front of his much drier hiding place, hands on her hips.
“It seems only polite to offer you a towel,” she said, squatting down for a better look. He blended in with the shadows so well, all she could see were his glowing eyes. “Maybe some food? Something to drink? Do cats really like milk, or is that just a romantic myth?”
And now she was talking to a cat. Shaking her head at herself, she rose and went to the kitchen. Yesterday’s grilled chicken might do, she thought, and she trimmed and cut it into tiny cat-sized pieces. Tossing a big towel over her shoulder, she got a small bowl of water and the chicken, and went back to the living room.
Spreading the towel on the floor, she set the water bowl close to the couch, and then sprinkled chicken right at the edge of the towel.
“There now. That smells pretty good, right? Wouldn’t you like to come out, dry off and put some food in your little belly?”
The cat hissed.
She took that as a ‘no’.
“Okay then. Well, it’s the proverbial dark and stormy night, which is the perfect night to curl up with Poe, and since you are black and somewhat of an oddity, I do believe I’ll call you Poe while you’re here. Any objections?”
The cat hissed again. Tiny curmudgeon.
“Too bad. He’s really a fascinating character in his own right, and he wrote some marvelous stories. Here, I’ll show you. We can read together.”
There was no response from the cat, and she got her book and blanket and curled up on the couch again. Opening the book, she began to read Poe to his namesake. She started with the famous raven, and moved on to the Telltale Heart.
Carrie had no idea when she’d fallen asleep, but when she opened her eyes again, sun was streaming in the window and there was a heavy weight laying in the center of her stomach.
Poe had decided to join her at some point, and was curled up in a decent-sized ball on her lap, his fur finally looking more normal and fluffy.
She glanced at the towel on the floor, and noted that the chicken was all gone. The motion must have been just enough to wake the cat, and he paused just long enough to give her a pointedly dirty look and then jumped off the couch.
Rising from the couch, Carrie stretched and then followed the cat down the hall to the front door. He sat in front of it, watching her over his shoulder until she was just two feet away.
Then he reached out with a single paw and swiped it down the door, giving the inside scratch marks to match those undoubtedly gracing the front of the door as well.
“Okay, okay — no need to get all impatient.” She reached over him and unbolted the deadbolt, and then pulled the door open.
With far less urgency than the night before, Poe stalked out into a sunbeam that was so bright it blinded her eyes. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was on his way to heaven, and walking in like he owned the place.
But at the end of the day, it was just a trick of light, and he was just a cat she’d sheltered in the storm, and slept with, and like so many one-night stands, he was leaving her too.
Carrie looked at the claw marks on the outside of the door. Nothing a little wood putty, some paint and some sealer couldn’t fix.
Tires screetched in the street just across the yard and her stomach turned over, her heart pounding a million miles an hour.
“Poe? Poe!” She ran down the sidewalk, sheilding her eyes with one hand and desperately hoping he’d been long gone. A white sedan was stopped in the middle of the road, driver’s door ajar and a very confused, though well-dressed woman standing in the road looking frantically around and under her vehicle.
“What happened?” Carrie asked, her heart slowly recovering when she realized there was no dead cat lying in the road.
“I swear I saw it. A black cat just ran out in front of my car, and then just disappeared. I was so afraid I hit it…”
The sound of metal on metal and glass being broken reached them. It was coming from the intersecton half-a-block up.
The other woman gasped. “That could have been me! It would have, if I hadn’t stopped for that cat…”
Carrie smiled. “It’s a good thing you did, then. Will you be okay now?”
She nodded and got back in her car. Carrie looked through the window to find Poe sitting in the passenger seat.
“Looks like he’s adopted you. Will you take him home? I don’t know who belongs to, but he spent the night with me.”
The woman nodded, running a hand through the cat’s sleek fur. “I think I have to now. Do you know anything else about him?”
Carrie shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. But his name is Poe.”
She grinned at the cat, and he hissed at her as the woman drove off.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to submit your stories in the comments if you’d like. And check back Monday for new writing prompts!