Haibun Thinking: Precious Time

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

– Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Pictures of moments slide through in flashes. Tiny feet taking the first stumbling steps toward embrace. Toward freedom. “Daddy, Daddy, I did it!” Those first wobbly pedals as I let you go, finding the balance necessary to stay up on your own. “Daddy, Daddy, I did it!” The day you came home with your driver’s license, all smiles as you show off a horrible DMV photo. “I did it, Dad.” Sitting as I watch you cross the stage for your diploma, waving at your mother and finding your friends to celebrate. “Later, Dad.”

I remember those moments so clearly, but as I watch you descend into the ground, all the moments in between blur and twist. “I’m tired right now.” “Not now, I’m busy.” “We’ll play/watch/do something later.”

Later came, and I was too late. I thought we’d have more time, but the truth hits me: There’s never more time, only now.

“I’m sorry, son. I didn’t do it.”

When the Earth reclaims,
memories are what we hold
loss of precious time

There’s a new challenge for you haibun writers out there: Haibun Thinking. There are two prompts to choose from. One is the quote above. The other is this photo:

Ranger and Monty © Kathryn Forbes 2013

Ranger and Monty © Kathryn Forbes 2013

Head on over and check out the challenge. The people hosting it are great and I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

J. Milburn

The Secret of Pithy Power

The rains pour down and I huddle underneath my cloak, hand firm upon the hilt of my Claymore. My gaze burns through the shadowed streets, ever searching for the minions of she who calls herself Enchanting Queen, Awesome Ruler of the World. I have already survived one attack. Thank goodness a goose splattered white filth upon the walk, alerting me in time to foil her perfidy, but unwary backs soon find a dagger thrust upon them.

A shuffling noise reaches my ears. I can tell by the sound it is my last loyal gremlin, member of a treacherous troop that switched sides, coming with intelligence of the one who offers with one hand whilst conspiring to take away with the other. “The Morpethroad begs clemency.”

A Mixed Bag has no favorites,” I reply with the countersign. “Report.”

Gremlin #19 snuffles and holds out his clawed hand. “Payment.”

The urge to strike grips, but instead of steel I draw out their ambrosia: apple juice concentrate. #19 snatches the box, slurping greedily. He uses his free hand to fan away stray drops that may dilute his precious nectar. I wait with the patience of benevolence until a loud belch signifies his completion. “She doesn’t give us anything but gruel. She is a cruel taskmaster.”

I nod. “Of course. I need to know what magic she possesses that would cause normally right-thinking beings to flock to her banner.”

#19’s head twists, worry about her spies making him cautious with his words. He motions me close and I kneel. His apple juice-sweetened breath lies heavy upon my cheek as he whispers, “Her tiara.”

My brow raises in shock and understanding. “It was right in front of me the whole time…” My hand finds #19’s shoulder in excitement. “Were you able to retrieve it?”

The slow shake of his head quells my burgeoning joy at the possibility of freedom. “I sent a cockroach in to recon and she killed it with a katana. WHO DOES THAT?”

We both wince at his shout and scurry deeper into the shadows. “Obviously she does,” I say, voice low and soothing. “We shall just have to think of something else.”

Pointed teeth glisten with rain as he grins. “What about an army of cockroaches?”

“An army of cockroaches? Hmmmm…”


A little bit of fun prompted by this post and this one, by the multi-talented Anja at Oh Pithy Me. She accepted a challenge to write a story using the words ‘juice’ and ‘fan’ from The Professor over at The Punchy Lands, so I decided to respond by doing the same 😉 If you don’t already follow those who are linked, I suggest giving them a click and checking out their site. They are a good group of people.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Speakeasy #142: Interpretations

Big Ben UK

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Yeshasvi whispered.

“Oh, well. I’m going to do it anyway.”

Jack stalked the cold streets of London, hands dug into the pockets of his frock coat. The tools of his trade, hanging from the leather apron hidden underneath his bend, clinked as he strode the lit walk. The noise caused coves and haybags to glance his direction, but the beauty of the moon and the weight of their own cares pulled their attention away from him.

He espied a ladybird flouncing her wares to all and sundry. He admired her nancy-sway, and pulled down the brim of his top hat as she chatted up a crusher on the corner. The judy undoubtedly made plans to dab it up with the copper. Jack believed she was just a dollymop, but maybe the rozzer was her abbot.

A feral grin distorted Jack’s features as the tail scampered off with a wave.

“Wait, wait, wait! Ladybird? Nancy-sway? Dollymop? What are these words?” Miss Anja demanded.

“I have a translation at the end, Miss Anja. Just be patient.”

“Jay…” she said in her warning tone. She sighed at his innocent expression. “Continue.”

Jack scurried after his pidgeon flying the coop, ducking his head as he passed the miltonian. He needn’t have bothered as the pig stared through him, no hint of alarm aside from a slight shiver.

The mark strolled her merry way to The Chapel, his old hunting grounds. He passed sharps taking muck snipes for their last mag, while mumpers on the blob wrangled a fadge from grasping fists as Nox deepened her sway over London.


“Yes, Miss Anja?”

“Nothing,” she said, cradling her forehead in her palm. “Carry on.”

London Particular rolled in, further obscuring him from the toffer. Thoughts of her Miss Laycock made his Nebuchadnezzar fight the constraining kecks. He wouldn’t put him out to grass, that wasn’t his way, but he would satisfy the old king.


“Yes, ma’am?”

“Did that mean what I think it meant?”

“Well, tell me what you think it meant and I’ll tell you.”

Miss Anja opened her lips, but the expectant looks of a full classroom stopped her. “After class.”

“May I continue?”

“Yes.” She shook her head and muttered, “Why did I ever become a teacher?”

The nemmo ducked into an alleyway, confused by the pea soup. Jack kept a weather eye out for mug-hunters and stepped to the alley mouth. He heard a Prater squall, “The End Is Nigh!”, behind him. Appropriate.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Jack whirled at the voice. A tall, lean man appeared from the white-bank. “Spring-Heel, what are you doing here?”

Spring-Heel nodded in the direction of the alley. “Them nobblers from America is waitin’ on you. They’s right punishers, those Yanks.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed as his hand tightened on his Neddy. “I’m not afraid of some rampers from the colonies.”

A voice yelled from down the alley, “And we ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”

“Oh, God!” Miss Anja moaned.

“What now?”

She glared at her recalcitrant student. “You know what! Ghostbusters? Seriously?”

“It fits the milieu.”

Miss Anja threw up her hands. “Just finish, if only because I can’t believe you know the word ‘milieu.'”

Four varicolored beams lit the alley in oranges and purples. Jack and Spring-Heel screamed as the energy streams pierced their incorporeal forms, dragging them to a small box. One of the men, with tall hair and glasses, stepped on a pad and the top opened up, light pouring forth and blinding the two specters.

Jack felt his essence distend as he warped and twisted into the trap. A rotten egg smell caused the four men and their decoy to gag a little bit. The man with frizzy black hair looked at the woman they hired to play bait. “So, how much?”

“I think that’s enough!” Miss Anja held out her hand. “Paper, please.”

Jay shuffled forward, inching the paper out. Miss Anja read the list of translations, eyebrow arching as she went along. “To the principal’s office, young man. We’re calling your parents.”

“Awww! Why? I did the assignment!”

“The assignment was to write a scene from a play in the style of Shakespeare!”

“Murder, ghosts…sounds pretty Shakespearean to me.”

“Go!” She pointed to the door.

“So, I guess I don’t get any pudding?”


“You know…the song?”

“Yes, you don’t get any pudding if you don’t eat your meat…” A titter roiled through the class.

Jay snickered and left.

Word Count: 750

Speakeasy #142. This week’s prompts: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” To be used anywhere in the story. There is also a photo prompt, which can be seen at the top of the post. The challenge: Use 750 words or less to tell a story incorporating those elements in some way.

I was going to go dark, but decided to lighten it up a bit. As promised, Miss Anja, here are the translations 😀 Please don’t give me detention (I mean, I didn’t kill you off 😉 )!

I believe this is the site Jay used (ahem) when he wrote his story: Victorian Slang Glossary

Cove: man

Haybag: woman

bend: waistcoat, vest

ladybird: a prostitute

nancy: buttocks (so nancy-sway is…you get the picture)

crusher: policeman

judy: a woman, specifically a prostitute

dab: to bed (dab it up with ____ means sexual intercourse)

Copper: a policeman

dollymop: a prostitute, often an amateur or part-time street girl; a midinette.

Rozzer(s): policmen

abbot: the husband, or preferred man of an Abbess (a woman who runs a brothel. A Madame.)

tail: prostitute (I really should have grouped these together 😉 )

pidgeon: victim

Miltonian: policeman

pig: survives to this day…you know this one

The Chapel: Whitechapel

sharps: card swindlers

muck snipes: people who are “down and out”

Mag: Ha’pence

mumpers: begger or scrounger

on the blob: begging by telling hard-luck stories

fadge: farthing

London Particular: London “pea soup” fog

toffer: a superior prostitute

Miss Laycock: female sexual organs

Nebuchadnezzar (out to grass): male sexual organs; to put out to grass = engage in sexual intercourse

kecks: trousers

nemmo: woman

mug-hunters: a street-robber or footpad. Hence the modern “Mugger”

Prater: a bogus itinerate preacher

nobblers: (1) One who inflicts grevious bodily harm.  (2) A sharper’s confederate

punishers: Superior nobblers.  Men employed to give severe beatings

Neddy: cosh

rampers: a tearaway or hoodlum.

Head over to Speakeasy on Sundays for the prompts and Tuesday through Thursday for some great writers who participate in this challenge.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Dragon’s Loyalty Award

Thanks to Kayla over at Perfecting Patty for The Dragon’s Loyalty blog award! Apparently, this award is a combination of The Versatile Blogger Award and The Very Inspiring Blogger Award (cool, a two-fer! 🙂 ). This is the second award she’s nominated me for, the first being a Liebster Award. I’m glad she’s a fan!

So, the “rules”:

  1. Display the Award Certificate on your website
  2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers (I think I’ll do ten.)
  4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. 

Okay, so 1 and 2, check. 3 and 4 after 5.

Seven Interesting Things About Me (disclaimer: These types of questions are my bane 😉 )

1) I’ve been an aircraft mechanic, working on F/A-18 Hornets while in the Navy.

2) I was treated to a Cirque du Soleil show in Hong Kong after giving a French-Canadian woman a tour of the flight deck on the John C. Stennis. I even got to eat with the performers and go backstage after the show 🙂 Awesome experience at a time when I was feeling pretty low.

3) My first experience with karaoke came in New Zealand.

4) I used to perform “Baby Got Back” so much that people actually started requesting it!

5) I helped chase down what we thought were truant sailors while on Shore Patrol in Victoria, Canada. It turned out to be a trio of very nice Canadian guys, who took it all in stride.

6) I completely pissed off one young woman while at journalism school when I did better on an article that I had written drunk and at 2:00 in the morning than she did after spending 6-7 hours on it sober. On the off-off-chance she sees this; sorry, Sara (but it did make me feel great).

7) I have three stories scheduled to be published in 2014.

On to my 10:

Anja at Oh Pithy Me

EA Wicklund at Momus News

Kerri Ann Salsac at Writing For Life

Janna at JannaTWrites

C.C. at consciouscacophony

Yeshasvi Mahadev at TinyPurpleMe

iamfunny2 at JED’s Playhouse

Katie Kurtz at e.g. | a writing blog

Glynis at The Between

Momo at Momosapien

So there’s my ten. If any of you wish to participate, wonderful. If not, I completely understand. Just know that I like each of your blogs.

There you have it. Thanks again to Kayla for the award! And to all my followers and other readers, Thank You!

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn