Category Archives: Short Stories

Limericks, Rhymes, Haiku, Short stories

The Atchafalaya Basin by RL Brown

“This was written as a haiku, but I trashed it and started over. The haiku may have captured the essence of Louisiana’s swampland but missed its vibrancy.” on April 2, 2023

The Atchafalaya Basin by RL Brown

Across the boot parishes, a vast swampland exists where the Cypress reign as keepers of the river forest. 

Underneath a feathery dome, robed in reddish-bark with shields of twisted branches, resides the age-old kings. 

Gators serve as sentries guarding the murky waters below, instilling respect for life and doom for the ignorant.

Sinkholes, shifting sand, watchful eyes always stare, ever mindful of a changing landscape.

A river basin teams with bass, crappie, and crawfish, full of beauty and wonder. Its esse seeps into a Cajun's soul. 

Stagnant water breeds relentless mosquitoes. Yet, the yellow warbles and purple martins feast. 

Host to mink, otters, muskrats, bears, deer, and bobcats, this bayou exists for life and shares in its hardships.  

Standing between worlds is a glimpse of immortality, a time passage that remains under the Cypress' rule. 

essential nature or essence.
"two traditions, each of whose esse is opposition to the central tenets of the other"

Across fourteen parishes, the longest swamp river flows, the Atchafalaya River. The Cypress tree reigns as king in the sleepy waters of the Atchafalaya and Chitimacha rivers. They stand tall and proud, robed in a reddish-bark, untouched by time. Adorn with delicate leaves that sparkle in the sunlight, branches stretch to cover their domain.

If the Cypress is king, gators stand guard in murky waters beneath, keeping unwanted or unaware at bay.

This ecologically rich heritage is as diverse as the cultural peoples who have come to make it their home. European, African, Caribbean, and Native American descendants dug their roots deep into the bayou. The bayou blends them all into a cajun or creole cultural mix.


A Kid’s Tale/ by RL Brown/ Excerpt

       Kid’s Tale of a Day with Gramps (WIP)
        A Slice of Life/ or A Slice of Pie
      (True stories told in a fictional style.)
                 By RL Brown

	Morning's first blush slips through the mizzling mist; sunlight pours over the windowsill. I feel a wiggle. 
	“Roll out, sleepyhead!” says Gramps. 

	The day begins with Gramps in his bucket hat. I grab breakfast as we head out the door, the screen door snaps back. 
       “Gotta grease those springs,” says Gramps.

       We walk to the pond, a pole in each hand - no buckets, no boats, or carrying large totes, just Gramps, Chico, and me. Gramps says there is no better companion than a good dog beside me. Crickets hide by the pond bank. Gramps catches the bait.

	He shows me how to thread a hook, attach my sinker, and snatch a cricket. Learning to cast a line is best done with just two. 
Secrets are safe. 
Photo by RL Brown, Little Red, AR

Every Once in a While

Every once in a while, 
inspiration hits, and a desire 
is lit to convey a message 
deep within one's soul. 

Every once in a while, 
misery accompanies loss; 
difficulties attack and strike deep. 
Disappointment mellows the soul. 

Every once in a while, 
we understand that truth divides,
despair is a deep hole of nothingness, 
and hopelessness engulfs the soul. 

Every once in a while, 
love overwhelms and memories comfort. 
Friends appear, and sadness disappears- 
a face-to-face connects our souls. 

Every once in a while, 
we grasp the assurance of hope, 
the rallying cry of faith and 
discern the doubled-tongue. 

Every once in a while, 
endurance is perfected, 
wisdom is perceived, faith is steadied, 
and peace settles within. 

Every once in a while, 
we flourish resting in God's hand, 
our soul knows it very well.

For the flourish writers out there!

Romans 5
Hebrews 4
Proverbs 19
James 1
Psalms 37
I Peter 5

Picture by RLBrown/ Moss Mtn Workshop

The Easter Song / Denial or Acceptance

His message rings true 
of grace's gift freely given,
yet, honors free will.
Our eternal destination is our own to decide. The gift has been freely offered. We choose to accept or deny.
fmf April 7, 2023
The Troubadour's Song

Overcome by fear
despairing loss, hope gone
Peter denies Him,

Judas walks beside 
the true Messiah, daily
impervious to truth,

ignorance succeeds, 
Pharisees deny their Messiah,
Jerusalem cries,

overwhelmed by grief,
John couldn't contain his tears,
his Messiah dies,

dementia cries out,
darkness envelops the cross
death's grip shakes the earth,

heartbreaking loneliness,
despair descends to hell's depth,
where is my hope?

We walk every day beside 
the true Messiah,
impervious to truth,


a single voice sings,   
illuminating darkness
with salvation's song,

the morning light hums,
the eternal wrapped in clay,
has set terra free.

His message rings true 
of grace's gift freely given,
yet, honors free will.

The song of the church
is the gospel story of
God's eternal plan. 

The harvest complete, 
the church caught up, 
Israel will once again 
have a hand in redeeming

Hebrew 4:1 For the word of God is living and active, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 
Matthew 13: 18-32, Parable of the Sower, Tares among the Wheat and the Mustard Seed, denial and faith to overcome.

Denial or Acceptance come from the heart, here is an excerpt from:
Parable of the Sower/ and the Mustard Seed Parable Excerpt
"Jesus uses the idea of seed metaphorically in a parable to explain how different people receive the word of God. Christ, who sows the word of God in human hearts, scatters the seed, but some falls on stony ground or is choked by weeds. However, those who receive and understand the word of God are like the good soil which nurtures the seed (Matthew 13:3-9). In another parable he compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard-seed, which is ‘the smallest of all seeds' but which, as it grows, develops into a well-established tree (Matthew 13:31-32). (See also Big ideas: Parables.)

Jesus also used the image of a seed to explain how his death and resurrection (see Big ideas: Death and resurrection) would have a significant impact on the world, resulting in the redemption of humankind (see Big ideas: Redemption, salvation). He explained that, just as a seed would not grow unless it was buried, so he had to die and be buried before his word could be spread: ‘unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds' (John 12:24).

Sowing and judgement
The product of a seed is also used symbolically to stand for the natural consequences of one's actions, both positive as well as negative. Paul warned that ‘people reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature … will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life' (Galatians 6:8).

Spring Sings! By RL Brown

Spring Fling Contest 2022/ revised for another submission

     Winter howls at Spring like a middle schooler's biological clock clanks. 
     "It's too early," Winter yawns.

      "Autumn has arrived in the southern hemisphere,"says Sun.   

     "Not yet." Winter flops back, adding another blanket of snow. 

     "Cold moon will be full soon." says Spring. Winter loves to hangout with Cold Moon on the longest night of the season.  

     "Okay, I'm up." Winter sits very still, blowing another chilly breeze. 
    "Come along," says Blizzard. Winter stands and stretches.
     "I see you've been at work. A resplendent day in pastel hues," says Winter to Spring.
      "Thank you, Winter." 
Bowing gracefully, Winter whispers, 
     "See you next year." 

     Spring smiles at Sun, "It's time to melt the crusty earth and direct your rays to tickle the fertile dirt."
     "As you wish," says Sun and bows to stir the sleepy earth.   

    Spring sings! 
"Zephyr, carry the seeds far and wide. Loam, provide their needs. Seeds, shed those winter coats. Nightcrawlers, dig underground moats. Clouds, let loose April's showers, so 
May can bring forth bouquets of flowers!"

"Zephyr, carry the seeds. 
Loam, provide their needs. 
Cloud, let loose April's showers. 
May send bouquets of flowers!"

Read Out Loud-Never!

Entry for 1st Annual Kids Choice Kidlit Writing Contest 2022/ (Max -WC 200)

All the Henderson children read, except one, Rex.
Read Out Loud-Never!
by RL Brown

Rex Henderson hated to read out loud. 
	slipped – 
	tripped –
	over his tongue 
	like jabbering 

Flustered, Rex snapped the book shut. He spluttered,
	“My brain hurts. 
	My eyes won’t work. 
	Why do letters move?” 

The letters giggled. 
	 “Who’s that?” Rex demanded. 

Memes crawled out and stood on top of the book. He dressed like a sailor- colorful bandana, baggy pants, checked shirt.
	“I’m here to be your first mate,” said Memes. “We letters are an ornery lot. Yet, we need a Captain to guide us on our way.”

	“Me, be Captain-of these letters- 
	they're never still, always-
	and swopping.” 

	“Sound out their name, they’ll snap too…b, d, c, f, g, ha, speak up h, …” 
Rex joined in, calling each consonant by name.
	“These vowels are a rascally bunch,” Rex complained. 
	“Vowels flow here and there. Practice, you’ll get their names.” Memes smiled.

Memes handed Rex a script. 
	“Read aloud-Never!” 
	“You’re their captain,” Memes told Rex. 

	“Laugh and I’ll knock you off the page,” Rex warned his crew.
Captain Rex read out loud. and the letters snapped-to. 
Why do letters move?
Not today!
His words
     slipped – 
     tripped –
     over his tongue 
     like jabbering 

Her words 
       slid in 
      of streaming 
#HaikuSaturday, #haiku 
(excerpt from 'Eyes of a Dyslexic' by RLBrown


The Eyes of a Dyslexic Child By RL Brown (WC 190)

My brain hurts.
My eyes won’t work.
I can’t read anymore.
Why do letters move?
Be still, so I can read you.			
The letters whisper-
Don’t give up.

Jumbled Words.
Letters flip and flop. 
Then they jump and hop.
Why do letters move?
Be still, so I can see you.
The letters whisper. 
Say my name.

Grumbled Sounds,
And mumbled tones, 
Never sounding the same.
WHY do letters move?
Be still, so I can hear you.
The letters whisper-
Blend the sounds.

Teacher, Teacher!
The letters are moving!
Oh, no, that’s in your head.
Why do letters move?
Be still, YOU!
The letters whisper-

Taking Test
Orally, I’m best.
Squiggley scribbly letters  
Why do letters move?
Be still, so I can write you.
The letters whisper-
Yes, you can. 

Read aloud!
Nervous mistakes,			
Makes my insides quake. 
Why do letters move?
Be still, don't laugh.
The letters shout. 
Keep going. 

Every day,
my teacher says,
“You’re reading better today!”
“Why did letters move?”
Not anymore! 
I shout, hooray!
I’m reading today. 

Rex hated to read aloud. Words skipped, tripped and stumbled over his tongue like jabbering gibberish. Flustered, Rex stopped.

Susie loved to read aloud. Her words slid in seamless syllables of streaming sounds. Her correctness rattled Rex. 
Susie closed the book. Torrents of confusion ceased; his heart sank in horrible comparison.  Susie can read and he cannot. 

Rex wished he could slash words off all the pages. Then there would be no more letters picking at his brain. The pages would be as silent as quiet rain.

Photo by mentatdgt on

Permission to Love Your Soul like the Soil Loves the Tree.

Photo by RL Brown, Edinburg, Scotland

How many times have you started your day like you were already behind? Your list of things to do is long, necessary, and mundane. You have pulled up into the driveway on auto-drive and didn’t pick up the milk. In the Bible, there is a reference to people being like grasshoppers. The grasshopper never looks up.

Maybe today, you take a long way home and slow down, knowing your destination will always be there. Raising a family is for the long haul, but you are here right now. Give yourself permission to enjoy the ride, take time to look at your moments, and write them down.

Love your soul like the soil loves the tree and gives it all the space it needs. (That is not my metaphor. It is by Dovan Beck, my niece, Chloe, sent it to me through FB) I’m borrowing his metaphor with a different application.

Colossians 2:6 speaks of being rooted in faith, growing in knowledge, and overflowing with gratitude- one faith, one hope, one Lord.

Colossians 2:6: Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude.

God’s Word is the soil where we root our faith. The soil (God’s Word) loves the tree (me) and gives the tree (you and me) all the space it needs to grow. Give yourself permission to look up and take the rest your soul needs.

Picture Books for Today

Today’s picture book market is very different from when I was a child. The book market is more selective. There exits an underlying pc culture. Very few publishers like in the past take direct submissions from new authors. So now you have written a children’s book, but does it cut the mustard (meet current standards)? 

The first step is to compare your book to what’s currently written. Go to your library and read. Read in your genre, then read books out of your genre. But read current books. Water is Water by Miranda Paul is a perfect example of a nonfiction narrative that varies vastly from the expository/factual nature of picture books in the past. Books like I Talk Like a River explore the world of a stutter and address personal issues that kids face beyond friendship or bullying. So, read and find your mentor texts. 

The second step is to know your craft before sending the query letter. Editors and agents get so many manuscripts that if they are not near perfect, they toss them. It’s like a resume filled with grammatical errors or false information. Research your agent, editor, or publishers. Make sure they are open to submissions in your genre. 

The third step is to use the tools at hand. Microsoft Word has a review function that reads your work out loud. Use Grammarly or one such program to edited your work. Don’t pay someone like I did to take the extra space from behind the period when you can do it yourself. Crtl A copies, and Crtl H brings up a dialog box to make edits all at once. 

Lastly, participate in a good critique group. Not an online, never see your face type but a Zoom group. It makes people accountable for what they say and why. A picture book must allow the reader to see for themselves what you are trying to say, not telling them what you think. For young readers, you are helping to develop their imagination. A mind free to think will imagine, reason, and then decide to act. (My synopsis line from a CS Lewis study with Hillsdale college.)

I will end by saying I had made every newbie mistake in the book by sending my manuscript out before it was ready. Take your time, learn the process, research, get your work ready, then submit.