Training Day



Rex is a good teacher. He gives Willow a chance to flex her little kitten muscles, gentle but firm. They chase each other around the house, they go on hunts together, and they cuddle at night. It’s pure kitten katten love

Daily Post: Mentor

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The Lines on Daddy


old cowboy

When I was little, I thought the lines on Daddy made him look old and worn like one of his saddle blankets full of stains and rips. Both had seen better days. Now I understand each line helped him earn the spurs to be a farmer and cowboy.

A river delta of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes cut deep from hours of squinting against the sun’s ruthless pounding as he guided the plow down one row and back up the next, sun up until sundown, just trying to put food in our bellies. The lines worked their way across his brow to a canyon between his eyes. Which bills were stamped red? Which ones could be put off?

A crisscross of scars marked the backs of his hands and drew a roadmap of his life against the ripple of sinew and weathered skin. The bite of barb wire. The burn of the branding iron. Too many scars to remember their origin, too many years to fade the memories.

The creases on his palms captured the dirt from the day and smeared across his forehead as he swiped at the sweat. Every drop a payment on life. Tears not wept from his eyes.

As my own body fills with its own lines, I see it’s not about being rode hard and put away wet. It’s about wisdom and experience. It’s the story of your life. It’s about doing your best and hoping it will be good enough.

Daily Post Challenge: Lines



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Historic South Dakota



When people hear “South Dakota” they often jump to an image of an endless prairie. Believe me, there’s plenty of that, but it does have a rich history and great beauty.

I live in the Black Hills. This is my town, Sturgis, around 1890. Surprisingly, it doesn’t look that much different today, just replace the oxen with motorcycles.

This is the Corn Palace in Mitchell. I’ve never been there probably because it is a ‘palace’ made of corn, but don’t miss out on this live feed. Or do, because there is literally nothing happening on it. It is famous for being the ONLY corn palace in the whole wide world. I wonder why.

Here’s a picture was taken during branding season a couple weeks ago, oh wait, it says 1891. It’s hard to tell cause some things never change.

This is Calamity Jane in front of Wild Bill Hickock’s grave in what is now called the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. Jane, Potato Creek Johnny, and Seth Bullock are buried beside Will Bill.

Check this link for a few more old South Dakota pictures.

Daily Post: Notable

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Free-range grapes

20170906_140307.jpg    20170906_140334_001.jpg

I don’t garden. I find it a sweaty, dirty endeavor with little reward, at least the way I do it.

Why did I think I needed a yard? The grass just keeps growing. I keep mowing. It’s a vicious cycle. Maybe I need a goat, but then there would be poop.

Anyway, these guys grow without my love, carefree, just soaking up the sun, living their lives, totally oblivious to my neglect.

If anything, I have abused them. I’ve only watered them once in four years. I have whacked them like a mobster on the pier, and yet last summer they produced more grapes than a rabbit hides eggs on Easter. (Okay, that wasn’t the best metaphor, but I couldn’t think of a better one.)

I’ve heard they make a good jelly, but if I don’t garden, you’re a fool to think I make jelly. Maybe next fall? Ha!

WordPress Photo Challenge: Prolific


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The Crank


I walked these woods every day, and I usually kept to the path because the undergrowth grows thicker than an Italian’s beard, but that day I decided to explore the gully. I heard the rumors. They say a little girl got lost in these woods a couple decades ago. They never found her body even though they covered the hills with a fine tooth comb.

At least they thought they did.

When I found the metal monument of her grave, the moss coating the housing made it look like the trunk of a tree. If I hadn’t rammed my shin against the rusty crank, I would have walked right by. As I cursed and rubbed the rising bruise, I noticed the rotten corpse of an old doll. Not much of it was left, after all, it had been years, but it’s plastic eyes stared at me as lost and lonely as that little girl must have felt in her final hours.




Daily Post: Crank

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New growth


Grandma wore a floppy hat and garden gloves. I would carry the watering can, following her down the row as she scattered the seeds.

She would kiss the seeds before she planted them in the ground.

“Grandma, why do you do that? Why do you kiss the seeds?”

“To help them grow big and strong.”

“Does it work?”

She kissed my forehead. “It works on you.”

Daily Post: Awakening

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Disruption to the cutest degree

cat (2)

Every cat-owning writer is plagued with this disruption. Rex is too big to fit on the keyboard now, but he does insist on sitting on my lap when I write, or should I say, try to write.

Note the excellent choice of letters in the background. They’re better than some of mine at times.

Daily Post: Disrupt

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South Dakota Treasures

This is the beauty of South Dakota backroads. You have to go where the signs say “Dead End” or “Bridge Closed.” Meet the Belle Fourche River (pronounced Bell Foosh) near Vale, South Dakota.

Anybody know what year and make of the car? I’m guessing 1950s? It had a last wide ride. Hey, I feel a story coming on.


Daily Post Challenge

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Broken Heart

Heart Broken Love Pain Broken Heart Sad Ba

Consciousness taps on the inside of my skull, but something pulls me back into a dream that isn’t mine. I’m in a room, foreign yet familiar. I want to leave, but I can’t.

Dank air, ripe with mold, drifts across the room. Cobwebs droop from an ancient chandelier, a witness to countless travesties and transgressions. Faded wallpaper hangs in shreds clinging to a different era. A broken desk tilts, its top illuminated by light beams streaming through my legs. Hearts, engraved with a lover’s knife, litter the oaken top, a premonition of things to come. I can’t quite make out the letters, but I don’t need to. I know they belong to people who died in this room.

There is so much blood. Beautiful spatters cover the wall like a Jackson Pollack painting, some dark and dry, others bright and fresh. They haunt me, and I am drawn to their dance. A chaotic blend of memories storms inside me. Somehow I feel responsible, but I know that’s ridiculous.

A mirror leans against the far wall. I see legs. They must be mine. I hold a crowbar. It drips a thick liquid. I know what it is and who it belongs to.

A girl cowers beside the desk like a cornered mouse. She was beautiful once, I can tell. Her golden hair hangs in bloody strands over blackened eyes full of fear. Slashes crisscross her arms. Her clothes hang in blood-soaked ribbons.

“Please let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”

“Tell anyone what?” My words sound hollow and far away. What is this place? Where am I?

“I… I don’t understand.” Her doe-eyes drift over the darkening blood. “About… this.”

“Oh, I know you won’t, little girl. I’ll make sure of that.” My lips move, but it’s not my voice.

I claw through the mixture of memories but can’t put the pieces together. I want away from this gruesome scene. I want to wake up. Something’s not right.


The fierce hospital lighting pains my eyes.

“He’s waking up.” My wife’s words pull me the rest of the way toward the light.

I shouldn’t be alive, but the familiar ache in my chest is gone. I attempt to sit up, and the morphine soaked haze evaporates as the sutures pull at my skin.

They did it anyway, went ahead with the transplant. Damn them. I told them I would rather die than have a killer’s heart inside me.

I push the pain aside and reach for my wife. She’s the one I love, and the one who bore my children.

“Did you use his heart?”

“I had to save you, baby. I couldn’t let you die.”


They send me home with the new heart, the one that feels like a ticking time bomb in my chest. I spend my days trying to write, but the words don’t flow.

My wife brings me my afternoon tea.

“What the hell have you done to your desk? You’re never going to get that out!”

I drop the carving knife unable to recall picking it up. I trace the new etching with my finger. It’s a heart… with my wife’s initials inside it.


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Halloween, crackers, dirty money, heirs and spares, folklore, robots, the looking glass, over the rainbow, and many other themes!

18 Themed Submissions

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20 Free Writing Contests with CASH Prizes

Paying Submissions


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