September Call for Submissions: A Lesson Learned

Hey, Writers Forum Members!  I hope you had an amazing summer.  I had an incredibly challenging and equally rewarding time in Uganda.  I’m thankful for my loved ones there, but also thankful to return to my loved ones here.

Thanks to all of the members who responded to the July Call for Submissions surrounding the theme “Summer”.  We are now accepting submissions from Writers Forum members in good standing to be published in September.  The theme is “A Lesson Learned”.  Poems, essays and fictional pieces are welcome.  Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free.  During September we will also be featuring the young writers who submitted essays surrounding this theme for the Writers Forum/Enjoy Magazing Young Writers Contest.  Should you choose to submit a piece, please feel free to include a short bio, a headshot and links to your website, blog, etc.  Submissions may be posted on the Writers Forum website and/or the Writers Forum Newsletter.  Please email submissions to:

Thank you!

Alicia McCauley, webmaster

Best of Member Monday 2012 #7

The Webmaster is off to Uganda; great time to re-run past Member Mondays based on fan comments.

Backpacking the Trinity Alps
by Gayle Madden

In what poets refer to as the dead of night, poets who obviously have never slept beside an alpine lake in the high country during a warm summer night, I got up and stepped out of the tent.  I gazed skyward, looking into the purple-black heavens in absolute awe, breathing out slowly, imperceptibly.

Stars hung low, big, bright, too bright to even twinkle, more like a glow.  Silent stars tinkling their songs over the millenniums like sirens, luring, rendering one powerless yet powerful at the same time.  I called softly to awaken my husband, luring him out to see the starlit sky.

He stepped into the night and scanned the sky with the practiced eye of a pilot and the heart of a mystic.  “Look,” he whispered, then nodded.  “The Big Dipper.”

There it was.  Not only huge in the sky but closer than I have ever seen it, dipping perfectly into the outline of the black-inked mountaintops, cradled like a babe held tenderly in arms, resting before resuming its eternal journey in the sky.  It was in that moment that I saw what I had never seen before.

The smooth black water of the lake transformed into sky.  The Big Dipper, along with hundreds of other stars, glowed golden white in the watery sky.  A perfect mirror image of the lights rose from the bottom of the liquid blackness, mysteriously dancing.  I stood frozen in time, gazing into the bigness of nature that man has gazed into since the beginning of man, the Bigness that fills man with a sense of being a part of something greater than himself. There I stood, with ancient man, with every man, filling myself, feeling myself.  More than myself.  Alive.

Best of Member Monday 2012 #6

The Webmaster is off to Uganda; great time to re-run past Member Mondays based on fan comments.

The Nurse and the Pastor
by Ed Sulpice

Alanah scared herself as she laughed in her mind. Laughter and suicide were not good mental companions. One was sure to overcome the other and she wanted no competition regarding her intended demise. It was the thought of starting her goodbye letter with the words, “to be or not to be” that had made her laugh. The answer, of course, was “not to be”.

“Nobody quotes Shakespeare when they’re writing a suicide note, do they?” she thought to herself.  She would have to look that up on the computer when she got home. Not that anybody would care about her dying thoughts,  she just wanted her last words on earth to validate her course of action and at the same time, to be, at least, minimally creative.  Would any of this really matter? No!  Joe would be the one who found the note, after he pushed her body aside searching to the remote control. Yes, the one detail which was set in stone. Wherever she decided to lie down for the last time, she would make sure the television remote would be under her body. He would hate that.   Anyway, Joe would just throw the note away or use it to light one of his cigars. But then again, he’d probably keep it as evidence that he had not committed a murder. Alanah laughed again. Damn. She forced her mind to concentrate on the scene in front of her.

She had come to the shore hoping to receive some sort of guidance or encouragement. But the ocean was silent this morning. The grey of the clouds pushed itself down onto the surface of the water, blotting out not only the greens and the blues that Alanah loved, but also the horizon, which spoke hope to her. It was just grey. Everything was grey.  The locals called it June Gloom. She just called it another day.

The breeze, thick with salt and moisture, seemed to be more suffocating than invigorating. The waves even seemed hesitant to come ashore, the tiny swells of salt water reluctantly wetting Alanah’s aching feet.  A twelve-hour shift would do that to anybody’s feet. The fact that number five had died right at the end of her shift did not help. Another baby wave dripped onto the sand, not quite reaching Alanah’s feet. Looking to her right, she noticed a small, orange periwinkle sea shell rolling along the edge of the water.

Immediately identifying it as an Ovatella, a Mouse Ear, she wondered how this inhabitant of northern California had managed to travel so far south. “Probably the storm,” she said out loud.

She picked it up, appreciating the rounded lines and twirling peak of the shell. Alanah placed it gently into her collection bag. This time it wasn’t humor that made her chuckle, but the irony. Here she was collecting shells in an effort to entice people to live, while at the same time plotting her own demise. Just another day.

As was her custom, she reminded herself to be sure to pass up the next shell she had an impulse to collect. Alanah loved sea shells. It was how she came to be known as “Shelly”, a name she now hated.  Her father had bestowed the name on her as a playful way of encouraging her fondness of the ocean. As always, along with the encouragement came the warning. The same warning he gave to all of his students.

She could still hear the passion in his voice as he taught his Oceanography students on these very sands. “When it comes to the ocean,” he would say, “there are basically two groups of people. Hunters and Explorers.  Hunters come to the beach only to satisfy themselves. They surf. They sail. They sunbathe.  They hunt for sea shells.” He would only mention seashells if Alanah was sitting in on one of his classes. And he would always smile at her as he spoke. “Now, these activities are not bad,” he would continue, “I do many of these things. But hunters don’t care about surfing or sailing or the ocean. They are hunting first for identity or pleasure or diversion. And it’s those intentions that separate hunters and explorers.  You see, explorers are always thinking first about the ocean. An explorer’s main concern is with health of the ocean and the beach. People with this loving attitude, explore the ocean in an effort to strengthen it.”

The memories of her father teaching opened a wound inside Alanah’s heart from which an awareness escaped and made its way to her brain.

Here, at thirty-six-years old, standing on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, receiving reluctant greetings from wave and wind, Alanah “Shelly” Albright was forced to agree with the thought now dancing through her mind. She had been many times hunted, but never explored.

Best of Member Monday 2012 #5

The Webmaster is off to Uganda; great time to re-run past Member Mondays based on fan comments.

Author’s Note: We were renters of a place that had a  pond with twin waterfalls, 7 koi and 11 gold fish. And raccoons feasted. The owner hired a trapper who’d catch one or two, then nights would pass. Thinking we’d had the last, we stopped setting the traps, and a week later another koi would disappear. The trapper said they were the biggest raccoons he’d seen. Finally the owner threw in the towel.

Rocky and the Mystery of the Boxes at the Pond
by Larry Watters

Rocky waddled up to the pond, listening to the soft splashing of the twin waterfalls. There were no more of the big fish; in the past, they had been so plentiful all could not fit under the ledges. This stop also had a food box occasionally, but no more. The boxes were far different from the food bowls that his clan used many moons ago.

Rocky remembered when more than twenty of his clan would gather on a deck by the river, feasting on dry crunchy protein-laced kibbles. Occasionally there would be piles of softer food, but the older, more senior, clan members would claim first dibs. Moon in, moon out, the deck was a steady, reliable source of food, no matter what the season. His elders told tales of earlier famines during those periods when the big orange orb that was overhead during their sleep would begin rising later and be lower in the blue, just before the leaves would start drying and falling to the ground. But this horn of plenty seemed to always be there.

Then one dark it wasn’t. The clan was not concerned. There had been other times that it would not be there for a couple of darks, forcing them into small groups to seek food elsewhere. Each dark it was their wont to forage, eat, and when sated, return to their sleep-trees.

But this time it never returned. Roaming and foraging in small groups of three to five, the clan survived. One group told of a magic pond that had fat, colorful, and lazy fish. And for those that didn’t want fish that dark, the ground nearby held fat grubs that could be had with very little digging. They told of how a single fish could feed them. There were also floating toys that they could play with, even out of the water, as long as you returned them. Only once had they not returned one. The group told others that they could not come, keeping its location a secret. But then Uncle Frank didn’t return one dark.

A mysterious food box had showed up. With an enticing aroma that reminded him of the food on the deck of the past, Frank had squeezed into one of the oddly configured boxes; only one opening with a lid. The lid had dropped with a loud clunk, trapping Frank. The others had waited for him to come out, but they tired of waiting, so they left.

The next night two boxes were there, but Frank was not. But the food smelled just as good as it had the dark before. So his other uncle, Sid, had gone in. Again there was a loud clunk and Sid was trapped. An older cousin thought it couldn’t happen twice, declaring it was safe for him, and went into the other. CLUNK! The group decided it was time to give up that food source, sending only an occasional scout.

Cousin Scout, for that was his name, came back one rising with the news that the boxes were not there anymore, and the big fish still were, having gorged himself on one of them. So another small group with several new members set out the next dark. But the boxes had returned. Ignoring the warnings from the others, and thinking he was smarter than any old box, cousin Dilbert succumbed to the temptation. CLUNK! Scattering, the group left the pond once again. Scout volunteered to check it out every few darks.

After many darks, Scout reported that the boxes were gone; again. Only one big fish remained after Scout had fed, but smaller ones were as plentiful as they had been. Returning the next dark to feed, the newly reformed group, that included Rocky this time, was surprised once more to find that a single box had returned. Thinking that Scout had tricked them (after all, there was a power struggle for clan leader), they forced him into the sole box. CLUNK! The group decided that Scout had got his just desserts for tricking them, and vowed to never again visit the pond.

But one dark, Rocky decided to return, curious more than anything. Seeing no boxes, he edged up to the pond, slipped quietly into it, and caught the sole remaining big fish. Returning to the clan, he made no mention of it, keeping it to himself, superstitiously thinking that if he told the clan, the mysterious boxes would return.

The next dark, he returned, and the boxes were not back; nor the next night, nor the next. Rocky was happy to have the smaller fish and the grubs all to himself.