PLUMLY COVER

February 4, 2016

My new story will be coming soon. The cover will look like this.

plumly cover

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THE OLD FENCE POST

February 2, 2016

fence post

Two little men, neither the one nor the other of ’em taller than a jar of jam, came out from the hollow under the tree where they lived and started off walking along the road, arguing furiously all the while.

‘You can’t, I tell you. You can’t, and that’s the end of the bargain,’ said Red Cap, chopping the air with a hand for emphasis.

‘I can, and I will,’ was the stubborn retort of Shaggy Boot.

And so, red of hat and shaggy of boot, they continued on with many a gesture and contortion until they arrived at their destination, an old fence post all by itself by the side of a good sized pasture.

‘There it is, then,’ said Red Cap. ‘Go on and make your puny effort. I’ll wait in that length of grass yonder.’

So saying, Red Cap marched off into the tall patch of grass, leaving Shaggy Boot standing defiantly in a stiff straight up pose by the old fence post.

‘All right, here it happens now,’ muttered Shaggy Boot, and he untethered a plump brown pouchbag from his tunic belt. He shook its contents over the post, and a cloud of sparkles shimmered.

He hurried to the stand of grass and joined Red Cap, saying, ‘Now we wait. You’ll see.’

Red cap snorted and folded his arms.

It was dusk before a cart pulled by a pony rolled slowly down the road. Its driver, half asleep, chewed idly on a long straw.

‘Halt! Pay the tariff!’

‘Huh?’ said the cart driver, looking around and seeing nobody anywhere.

‘Me! Here! The fence post! Pay the tariff! It’s 4 pennies to pass!’ said the fence post.

‘4 pennies?’ repeated the confused simpleton. ‘All right, I guess. Where do I put ’em?’

‘On top of my head! And hurry up!’ snapped the fence post.

The cart driver dug into his pocket, found four pennies, climbed down, placed the four in a neat row on top of the fence post, resumed his perch on the cart, and drove off.

‘Well, knock my head with a thimble. You did it. We split the money, right?’ said Red Cap, removing his red cap and scratching his bald head.

‘Maybe, maybe not,’ said Shaggy Boot with a toss of his triumphant head and a wave of his triumphant hand.

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THE THREE WANDERING TREES

January 16, 2016

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High on a snowy mountain, three trees, neighbors for hundreds of years, exchanged complaints.

‘All we ever talk about is eagle this, hawk that, or oh the bear has twins this year. I, for one, would like to go over to the other side of the valley and see what’s beyond the glacier,’ said the tallest, bushiest tree.

‘You and me both. I think I’ll scream the next time an arrow of geese passes by overhead. Just exactly how are we to go about seeing beyond the glacier, being rooted and all? Tell me that, oh tall and bushy,’ said the thinner of the short twins.

The chubbier twin chuckled.

‘What if a sorceress spells us with the ability to walk?’ said the tall tree, not really believing anything like that could happen, but saying it just to have something to say.

Right then is when a strange thing occurred. A sorceress in a sky sleigh pulled by eight pelicans and four swans sailed to a landing in front of the three trees. Her long purple silk scarf lifted in the breeze, and she regarded the trees with her flash golden eyes.

‘You spoke. I heard. I grant your wish,’ she said, and without another word, she was swept off into the sky and away by the eight pelicans and four swans.

‘Uh, did that just happen?’ said the thin twin after several moments of silence had passed.

‘I don’t know,’ said tall and bushy.

The chubbier twin chuckled.

Hardly daring to dare, the tallest tree strained to tug and take a root step.

‘I did it! I can do it!’ said the tree, staggering in circles.

The twins followed the tall tree’s example, and soon the three of them were dashing about, giggling madly.

‘Wait!’ cried the tall tree, suddenly slamming to a halt of stillness. ‘The glacier. Let’s go see what’s beyond the glacier!’

And they did.

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THE DISSATISFIED BROOM

January 10, 2016

broom

‘I’m going to leave,’ said the broom, wiggling for emphasis. ‘See if I don’t.’

‘You’ve been saying that for years,’ said the cauldron from its comfortable position above the warmth of embers in the fireplace. ‘And yet you never go. You complain a lot, but you’re quiet as Obadiah when the witch is around. Isn’t that so, Obadiah?’

A small gray mouse nodded.

‘Well, this time it will be different. Just you wait,’ said the broom.

The cauldron sighed and rolled its imaginary eyes. The mouse darted into its crevice. The cottage door swung open, and the witch entered. Muttering nonsense and bobbing her head, shrugging and twitching, she circled the room aimlessly.

‘Now what was I about? I knew I was supposed to do something. What … Oh, I have it!’ she said. ‘Collect fresh henbane.’

She snatched the broom and flew out the door and away. The mouse poked its nose from the crevice. The cauldron, looking forward to burbling up a new henbane recipe, began to sing.

Time passed, and the witch returned, tossing henbane onto the table and propping the broom in the corner. She worked hard for the next few hours on an invisibility brew, stirring and adding ingredients to the happy cauldron. When the completed potion had been properly bottled and stored, she climbed to the attic to sleep.

‘I’m going to leave. See if I don’t,’ said the broom when all was quiet.

‘You’ll never leave. You’re all talk and no action,’ said the cauldron, basking in a rosy glow.

The cauldron was wise. The mouse was quiet. The broom knew in its heart that what the cauldron said was true.

‘You’ll see,’ said the broom. ‘Just you wait.’

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NONSENSE POEM

December 22, 2015

Larks perch on my pillowcase.

Eels occupy my shoes.

I’ve nothing further to report.

There is no other news.

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THE SUMMER SNOW

December 11, 2015

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Yardith, daughter of the sorceress, sat baking on a rock under heavy hanging heat. The sun burned in the sky. Drops of sweat fell in steady patient rhythm from her nose, enlarging the dark purple blot on her violet satin tunic.

‘Can’t you cast some spell to make it cooler? This is the worst,’ said Yardith to her mother, who was gathering scraps of sage nearby.

‘All things in season, each to its own, my pet,’ answered Fomilla, for that was Yardith’s mother’s name.

Yardith muttered something under her breath.

‘I heard that,’ said her mother. ‘You know my hearing is keen.’

Yardith thought something.

‘I heard that, too, young lady,’ said Fomilla. ‘I am a sorceress, you know.’

Yardith decided to give up and torture herself by walking away and probably dying for all her mother cared. She got to her feet, sighed the loudest, most accusing sigh she could, and trudged off. An hour later, when she passed over a dry muddy stripe that should have been a stream, a snowflake settled on the back of her hand. She looked up. Snow fell. For twenty minutes it fell, unhindered by even the slightest breeze. Yardith returned to where her mother was waiting. Inwardly, she rejoiced in the bliss of winter cool defeating summer heat. Outwardly, she sat on the rock where she had formerly been baking and said, ‘It’s a dry snow. I like moist. You can make snowballs out of moist.’

Moral: Ah, teenagers.

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THE WALL

November 24, 2015

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No one noticed when Temulon left the village. They were all too busy preparing the new ship for launch. Temulon trudged through snow up the steep hillside to the trees, where she rested, gasping little puffs of mist. She was determined to find the Wall, to get through it, to see for herself if what her grandmother had told her was true. Rested, she moved on.

For weeks, search parties fanned out in all directions to find her. When, in time, a full moon had twice sailed the skies, even her brother Karlek gave up. The village mourned, believing Temulon had been dragged off and devoured by wolves.

When the moon grew fat for the third time since Temulon had left the village, a tiny figure throwing a tiny blue shadow staggered through snow blanketed trees toward a tremendous wall at the crest of the highest peak. Temulon’s overjacket and highboots had become collections of tatters. Her long pants and full shirt were hardly in better condition.

‘So, you are true,’ said Temulon, and she placed a hand on the great wall.

A terrible cracking and grinding of earth sounded. The wall stood firm, and all that was left at its base where Temulon had been standing were her footprints in the snow. Temulon herself was cutting a piece of cake for her grandmother.

Karlek stood at his grandmother’s grave. Wolves howled at the moon.

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REGINALD SPOONMERRY

November 18, 2015

Reginald Spoonmerry went off to swim

wearing a hat with a vastly wide brim.

The hat, it was blue where it fit on his head,

but the rim all around was immensely quite red.

Shouting ‘Hurrah!’ and ‘Bumpeddy bump!’

Reginald Spoonmerry did in the sea jump.

His hat floated off and sailed out of sight.

Reginald sulked all through the night.

Then he got up and out of the water,

went home and complained to his unsmiling daughter.

‘Oh, daddy,’ she cried. ‘Don’t fret. Our pet spider

has woven a hat with a brim even wider.’

Reginald Spoonmerry leaped all in glee

and nevermore swam with a hat in the sea.

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THE VALLEY OF MIST

November 4, 2015

mist

There once was a palace standing all alone on top of a high mountain. The valley below it hid under a motionless blanket of mist. To descend into the mist was a crime, and nobody cared to defy the law, for legends of the horrors waiting in the mist below were more than enough to keep the mountain top dwellers within the the palace walls. A tribe of pelicans flew all the supplies needed to the mountain in exchange for songs and dances performed by the weaver and his daughter, Klopka.

One day in the palace kitchen, Klopka, who was apprenticed there in addition to her weaving and singing duties, hurried to fetch this or mix that in response to the cook’s shouted orders. Klopka was distracted, trying to memorize a new song to be sung for the pelicans that evening, and she bumped into the cook and dropped the bowl of grain she carried. It shattered on the floor, and the grain flew everywhere.

‘Pick up every little bit of that, and twice fast, or there will be trouble for you, Clumsy Klopka,’ said the cook.

Klopka curtsied, as she was expected to do, and sank to the floor to gather the grain. With each piece of grain collected, her resentment grew until it erupted in silent fury, causing her to race up the stairs, through the Grand Hall, out the door, and straight down the mountain toward the valley of mist.

‘What happened?’

‘Come back!’

‘Oh, look!’

Klopka heard nothing. Red anger boiled in her brain. Why must I always … Why can’t others … It isn’t fair … I’ll show them … I …

Klopka suddenly realized she was in the mist. She stopped running and stood terrified, not believing what she had done.

‘Finally,’ said a voice. ‘I’ve been waiting ever so long.’

The mist creature wrapped its arms around Klopka.

‘You’re safe now,’ it said, ‘if you can sing.’

Klopka sang her new song then and there so sweetly that the mist creature wept tears of dew and gave Klopka all the cake and money she desired.

Moral: If you do one thing, learn to sing.

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THE HARVEST HEN

October 26, 2015

harvest hen

oh, my dearie, have a care

be not captured by her stare

feathered leggings does she wear

beyond the mist, you’ll find her there

These words were sung in a creaky voice by the ancient beggar seated on a great boulder near the road. They made no sense at all to Mabel, the potter’s daughter, who was headed to the castle market hauling a cart filled with her father’s newly fired and gaudily painted clay gourds. She ignored the song, but not the singer. For you see, her heart ached for the elderly confused woman in rags. Mabel’s own grandmother had not fared well in her final years. So Mabel stopped and gave water to the old one. She said, ‘I’ll return when my father’s wares are sold and carry you in the cart to our home by the banks of clay.’ The old woman lowered her head, trembling with gratitude, speechless, and she smiled a crooked smile.

Mabel went on her way, sold all of her father’s gaudy clay gourds, bought a bolt of bright blue cloth, and set off toward home. When she drew within sight of the great boulder by the path, Mabel discovered that the old beggar woman was nowhere to be seen. The potter’s daughter hurried to the boulder and walked a careful circle around it. Then she stood for a moment in the road. She heard a gentle hissing, and mist wafted up in lazy twining spires from the ground all around as far as she could see. Soon she could not see the boulder. Soon she could not see her cart. Soon she could see only white, dense and silent. The words of the old woman’s song sounded in her head, but not in a creaky voice this time, but rather wafted in the softest of chimes.

oh, my dearie, have a care

be not captured by her stare

feathered leggings does she wear

beyond the mist, you’ll find her there

Mabel walked forward, her hands thrust out in front of her. And after the passage of time and a half, the mist thinned, and then raced in swift swirls completely away. Mabel found herself in the middle of a field of stubble. A lone white hen with feathered leggings stared at her. Mabel, taking no chances, avoided the hen’s gaze.

‘I am the Harvest Hen. You are a young maiden. You do not look at me. You have been given the gift.’

The mist returned. The mist retreated. Mabel stood in the road next to her cart. In the cart were a bolt of blue cloth and a red velvet pouch filled with emeralds.

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