Monday May 3rd, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: verse 47.

There's an author on Protagonize by that name who was considering changing it to something else. He was convinced not to but I became intrigued as to what the story might be behind this one and so... this prompt was born.


"And so we move on to verse number forty-six," the man spoke into the microphone, a thin finger returning his glasses back to their perch at the top of his hawkish nose.

"Oh man," I whispered to my friend Kevin, "I don't know if I can take much more of this."

"I know, but it can't be much longer, can it?" We exchanged silent glances, devoid of any and all hope, before turning back to the front of the lecture hall. Then, out of the corner of his mouth, Kevin asked, "Do you reckon he's a Vogon in disguise?"

"Not a chance," I replied softly as the speaker droned on. "They only write the third worst poetry in the universe."

I think we both would have laughed then, had the situation not become so desperate. As it was, all that escaped Kevin was a resigned giggle. Unfortunately that was enough to draw the attention of Mr. Phillips, our second year English professor, who glared at us with sufficient hatred to return us to inattentive silence.

And then the moment arrived that we had been praying for ever since our guest speaker had begun. Or so we thought.

"And now I shall conclude with the forty-seventh and final verse." I was half out of my seat, a whooping cheer bubbling in my throat. It only made what followed even worse. "Which, at two hundred and thirty-five lines, is the longest verse I have ever written..."


Greg said...

Oh fantastic! I well remember lectures like that (thankfully no poetry, but still, just when you think it's over, the lecturer reveals that "this may take a little while to prove").
It's a great story, very nicely balanced and told. This bed-rest of yours seems to be helping your writing and inspiration!

Verse 47

The cigarette was a Gauloise,
It was far too strong, too French,
And exactly what I should have expected.
They laughed, watching me trying to smoke it,
Stood in the sunlight, a pleasant day
For an unpleasant task. Or so I thought.
They seemed casual and relaxed, far too happy,
And sniggering away at giving me a Gauloise,
A cigarette I could barely smoke.
And then the chaplain stood before them,
Fire in his eyes and on his breath,
His bowl of chilli overturned at the table,
Shouting with the voice of God
And waving his Bible like some holy, burning sword.
All I caught were two words, "Verse 47",
But it make then jump and run like ants
Caught under a magnified sun.
And when they were gone, he took away the Gauloise,
Untied my hands and supported me while my legs shook.
I had a pardon that I didn't understand, and prayer
To cling to in times of desperate need:
Verse 47.

morganna said...

The words, the hidden words, shimmered with forbidden secrets. The novice turned the pages slowly, fascinated by the glowing calligraphy of verse forty-seven. He didn't notice the book growing larger and warmer. As he turned the last page, lips and teeth appeared, leap and snap! he disappeared. His screams died away as the pages fluttered closed and a large, pink tongue slid around the edges with a satisfied slurp.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks a lot, I had a lot of fun with that one.

And I'm getting a bit desperate for inspiration - I was using my commute and work days for a lot of previous prompts and I'm struggling without them :)

That's a great story you pulled off there, with some great images.

Morganna - oh, that was very vivid! That final line really painted a picture. Very well done :)