U is for Ugly

Image source: theage.com.au

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


We watched the hippos or river horses (as Swinging Cindy from Vermont insisted we call them) lolling in the shallows of the Zambezi. But our boat steamed past without so much as a waggle of their ears. How cool those beasts looked compared to us, bobbing along in our floating tin hotpot, crammed with what appeared to be a representative from each of America’s states. And like you, our fellow tourists gazed at the scenery with bucolic indifference.

Except for grumpy Ohio Edgar who, dabbing his face with a crumpled handkerchief, declared hippopotamuses about as interesting as earthworms. This prompted Leonard the Arizona Kid, he of the thick-lensed glasses, to wax lyrical over the endless fun he had with his wormery. Never did such a harmless-sounding hobby sound so abnormal. His furtive leer and the hitching laugh told me of long pink strings dropped down the fronts of pretty gingham dresses.

You whispered something in my ear, but I didn’t catch it. And we descended into the call-and-response routine that passes for conversation these days. After the fourth or fifth round of what? followed by it doesn’t matter! I realised you were saying something rude about Edgar. If I were the target, you’d have bellowed it out at the top of your voice.

My giggles started when I realised how ridiculous we had become. And as your face morphed into its customary moue of disappointment, my laughter became unstoppable. When I began choking, you flapped your hands and made tutting noises, a picture of outraged embarrassment. In the end, the old lady from Hawaii came to my rescue. She gave me a carton of warm orange juice, which, like her breath, hands and clothes, stank of onions.

You ushered me to the back of the boat. Stern I heard your correction in my head. There you ignored me and pretended to be fascinated by Kendra from Kentucky and her theories about the true parentage of Jim Carrey. And gender. According to Kendra, Jemima Carrey was the love child of Marilyn and JFK. Or maybe it was Elvis.

I didn’t care, and I’d had enough. Were there no ordinary people on this trip? People who didn’t sweat constantly or smell of food they hadn’t eaten?

Our second honeymoon was turning into a disagreeable nightmare. I’m glad I can say, hand on heart, that I enjoyed our first. And I had high hopes for this one. Until I overheard you telling the Kentuckian Klutz that this trip was your idea and you had to bully me into going.

How bloody dare you? You were the one disappointed in life. The one with next to no interest in the concept of togetherness. You were the one who didn’t want to come.

I was on the wrong continent, but all I wanted was to grab a tiger by the tail and beat the old farts, the little tykes and, most of all, you to death with it.

T is for Therapy

Image source: whyy.org

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


Eighteen years of my life are gone, just like that.

How could you do this to me?

I was always there for you. Through the tax evasion, the bank robbery, and even the murder, I stood by you and defended you from your critics.

People said you were no good for me, and I should stop seeing you, but I couldn’t. You fascinated and beguiled me, and I loved you with all my heart.

Now, you’re gone, and I am bereft. But not alone. There must be other people experiencing this same pain. Maybe, I can find an online support group…

S is for Schadenfreude

Image source: ideas.ted.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.
Also includes the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: too/to/two.


Fancy footwork from a writing class with St Francis (patron saint of journalists, hacks and authors).

“I can’t do this, Frank!” sobs Gadsby.

“Is my task too hard for you?”

“I am struggling to find words that comply with your instructions, which is turning my writing into pompous rubbish.”

“Gotcha!” Frank guffaws.

“Stop laughing!” snaps Gadsby. “Avoiding this common symbol is making it difficult to construct a plot for my story.”

“Is that why your copy is so tortuous?”

“This is all your fault, and I want you to go.”

“Your output may fall to nothing without my support.”

“I’ll risk it. Now, will you just sod off?”

“Told you this wouldn’t work,” Frank grins in triumph. “From now on, pick your prompts mindfully, and try trusting your own instincts.”

R is for Revenge

Image source: qeretail.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


My workload is shrinking: he’s only sending a fraction of his usual non-post-worthy inane nonsense. And it doesn’t require as much tarting up these days. I can’t believe the thick berk has developed enough savvy to produce good copy and manage his own media profile. This is a man who thinks TikTok is the noise a clock makes. So, why am I only in charge of FaceFarce and Twatter these days?

I remember the interview, where he assured me how busy, how full-time this job would be. He smiled and offered me £25 an hour. I laughed in his face. It worked, and he upped the offer to £35. At first, the job was easy, a piece of piss, as my father would say.

We had a few teething problems until I took away his admin rights. I had to save the planet from his assaults on the English language. A fact made all the more depressing because he is English. At least he speaks the language beautifully, his posh accent has opened doors and legs for him ever since he was spotted in the crowd at THAT football match.

And thanks to me, he is worth squillions: stick his image on a dog turd, and people will kill to buy it. But I bask anonymously in his reflected glory because I am contractually bound not to reveal the true nature of my job.

Sad state of affairs for a marketing graduate, but this gig pays more than being on the dole. And up until recently, I had high hopes he would commission me to ghostwrite his autobiography. But our once harmonious relationship is slowly disintegrating all because of Jaydee Meriwether.

Ever since she won the last series of Campus Creepshow, she has been unstoppable. If you have no idea what CC is, I applaud your good taste. It’s a cross between The Hunger Games and The Apprentice. And she won, not just for her ruthlessness and business savvy, but because of her willingness to flash her jugs to the camera. And I suspect my client has been seduced into abandoning me with a few private showings of her plastic bazookas.

I am not happy with this, I’ve spent weeks building up his profile. And if she poaches him now, I’m history. But believe me, that won’t happen without a fight. I also have a couple of WMDs in my arsenal. And I’m not afraid to use them.

Put it this way, I know where the bodies are buried and I have the photos to boot. Time to put the screws on my fake, floppy-haired employer and the fear of God up Jaydee’s Prada kilt. If they don’t come around to my way of thinking then I will destroy them both.

Q is for Quixotic

Image source: Vorkutlag

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


“Mr Lambert!” Barlow tore off his cap. “I have a gold watch.”

“Everyone should have something nice.” Lambert winked at him.

“Will it be enough?”

“Oh, this is for me!” Lambert expressed surprise. “Why, thank you!” He removed his leather gloves. and inspected the watch. “This will do the trick.”

“Soon, I will be free from all this pain.” Barlow grinned with relief. “When do I leave?”

“Now.” Lambert stepped back. “Guard, shoot him, please.”

Barlow sank to his knees. “What are you doing?”

“Giving you the release you wanted.”

“I never meant like this.”

“Then you should say what you mean.” Lambert shook his head. “Semantics, dear boy, semantics.”