The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to Terrible Poetry Contest #36!

Need a bit of guidance? Read my basic outline here. This is the sort of contest only undertaken by the satirical at heart, by the artists who know that starving is a silly way to be.

Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. Topic: A tribute to your ‘favorite’ relative. We all have them: that maternal aunt who means well, that grandfather who keeps asking when you’re going to make something of yourself, that sister who’s so successful you just want to bless her heart.
  2. Length is totally up to you, but I prefer short. Grandma probably does too, Dearie.
  3. Rhyming is optional. You do what feels right to you, like that time you were with what’s-his-face -remember? That didn’t end well, now did it? -Of course, your relationships usually don’t turn out for the best. I was just telling your mother, the other day, that…
  4. Speaking of, I’m sure your mother would have something to tell her bridge club if you made it terrible. We wouldn’t want yet another Christmas where I only have your collection of Star Wars toys to share in the family newsletter, now would we?
  5. Let’s not shock your relatives, unless cementing your status as a Black Sheep is your thing. PG-13 or classier is fine.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (August 2) to submit a poem.

Use the form below if you want to be anonymous for a week.

If not, and for a more social experience, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.

Have fun!

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Photo credit:
Ashwin Vaswani

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Six

“Not that I knew much about being a dad,” Rob continued. He looked at his hands, his wife, his children, his hands. “I was …pretty freaked out about the whole idea but I knew I couldn’t have someone out there…” He paused. Cynthia leaned a little closer to her husband and squeezed his arm.

Rob breathed in deeply, the air sounding ragged at the edges. He released the breath slowly through his nose. “I just… thought I couldn’t let a kid, out there, had made be …well, be killed -or, to think another guy was raising my kid.”

Wil sat back upon her ankles, stunned. “People,” she said in a hoarse whisper, “people kill their babies?”

Jakob responded first. “Duh, Nina. Happens all the time.”

Cynthia cleared her throat carefully. “While I don’t know what you’ve heard or learned, Jakob, I think that’s a bit exaggerated to say it ‘happens all the time.'”

Shrugging again, he settled back to his original position of half-closed eyes and slouched posture. “Seems like it.”

“So Gwen- my moth- the woman who actually had me wanted to get rid of me?!” Wil asked, her voice rising in anxiety and pitch. “Like, permanently?!” Tears pooled in her wide eyes and she felt them run down her cheeks. Of course I won’t respond to Guinevere Greene! she resolved. Who would do that to her own child -to me?!

“Wil,” Cynthia said in a beckoning tone. “Wil; come here, Sweetheart.”

Wil complied; how could she not? Rising and stumbling over Jakob’s feet, she walked to her parents and sat at the available edge of couch to the side of her mother. With a gentle, loving touch, Cynthia brushed Wil’s loose strands of hair away from her tear-streaked face. Wil turned to face the mother she knew and loved. She sniffed dramatically and Cynthia bit back an amused smile.

“Wil… Guinevere, your mother, did want you.” Her mother paused, stroked at Wil’s hair, took Wil’s hand beneath her own. “Your father was only trying to explain his thinking at the time.”

“Then why,” Jakob, the statue, asked, “Didn’t this Guinevere keep Meanie?”

Wil closed her open mouth, surprised that her stepbrother had voiced the question before she had.

Now was Rob’s turn to clear his throat. “Erm, well, you see…. she wasn’t trying to get rid of you, Wil.” He rubbed at the back of his neck. “I think she just was a bit upset at things at the time and felt… well, maybe she felt like she would have to try to take care of you all by herself and just …um, well, maybe didn’t know how to do that.” He faced Wil and gave her a sheepish smile. “I lov- I liked Gwen a lot at the time we …were dating; but, honestly, she was a bit much for me to understand.” He coughed a nervous laugh. “Now that I’m older and can look back, I think she didn’t really understand herself either.”

They all paused to consider this, though Jakob may have been considering someone else of similar temperament.

“Anyway,” Rob said with more confidence, “I was saying that I told Gwen I would take care of you.” He sat up and smiled. “I didn’t quite know how to do that, and that’s when I went to the truck stop, and saw-” pausing, he caught Wil’s eye. His own eyes were twinkling with an unusual humor. She smiled, catching on.

Together, he and Wil chorused, “…The ugliest and scariest person I’d/you’d ever seen.”

 

Continued from Seventy-Five.
Keep reading to Seventy-Seven.

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Five

Breakfast and cleanup passed without incident or smoke alarm, although the whole family kept eyeing Rob as if he might break out into spots.

“I suppose,” Rob began, once they settled in the living room, “I thought I could start by telling you all the truth, Wil. And you, Jakob …but I always told you the truth about your mom -my sister-” He seemed flustered, rubbing at his cheek enough to make it red, and blinking around at his attentive family.

“Not that your mother didn’t love you, of course, Jakob -” Cynthia added.

“S’okay, Mom,” Jakob said. “I’m over it.” He shrugged from his leaning posture against the armchair and looked bored.

Rob cleared his throat. “Hm.” He frowned as he studied his stepson, then turned back to his daughter. “Wil, you like hearing the story of how I met your -I mean, of how I met Cynthia.”

Wil nodded, and then realization flashed in her eyes. “Oh!” She sat up from her kneel upon the floor. “That -that -that’s how you met Mom, I mean- Cynthia, but then you, you…” She faltered; looking up at her father, then back to the woman she’d thought of as mother, then to her father again.

That story is true,” he said slowly. “But I don’t tell you a few things.” He paused. “Like, how I was out of work because I …well, I didn’t plan on needing to work so early in life.”

Jakob laughed, which startled Wil. “Were you f***ing around?”

Jakob Clair!” their mother exclaimed.

Jakob stopped smiling and looked down at his clasped hands. “Sorry, Mom,” he mumbled. After a pause, he added, “Sorry, Wil.”

Their father cleared his throat again. “The point is, I …hmm. Well, Jakob’s point is accurate in a way..”

Cynthia placed a hand on his arm. “Maybe you could just say that you were overwhelmed with some responsibilities you weren’t expecting.”

Rob smiled gratefully and sheepishly up at his wife. “Yes. That sounds good.”

“What do you mean?” Wil asked, her confusion coming across in her tone.

Her father met her gaze and gave her a half-smile. “How about I just tell you the story you know, with a few additions?”

Wil smiled in return; hers a full face-lighting that, unbeknownst to her, unearthed his memories of her birth mother like a sudden slap.

“Wee-e-ell,” he began, and composed himself. “I had just started a new job, at the factory I work at today. Just the day before I went to the truck stop, I had learned that I had …that I was a father.” No one even dared breathe to fill the silence. “But Gwen didn’t want to be a mother and wondered if I wanted to keep you.”

His eyes met Wil’s again. “I told her, ‘yes.'”

 

Continued from Seventy-Four.
Keep reading to Seventy-Six.

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Four

“That’s okay, Wil,” a scruffy voice said from the hallway. “I’ll get the breakfast.” Wil turned and saw her father, but did not believe she had. Her father was never up so early on a Sunday, never so vocal, and never used her favorite variation of her given name.

“Rob?” Cynthia asked, her tone indicating a similar disbelief. She immediately began coughing and the man who looked and sounded like Rob crossed over to the couch to comfort her.

“You all right, Dad?” Jakob said, talking over their mother. He stood from a paused action of pouring cereal into a bowl.

Wil felt tears form; she blinked at them. “What is going on?” she cried. First, her father was calling her Wil and now Jakob was calling Rob Dad. If the hospital nurse had walked in and announced she, Nurse Bea, was Jakob’s real mother, Wil would not have been surprised.

Cynthia laughed through her coughing, which exacerbated the condition. “Get some water, please, Wil,” Rob instructed.

Wil complied, wiping at her sleeve and sniffling as she went. She filled a large, plastic cup Jakob handed her without comment, and walked to the living room unsteadily.

“Sorry to worry you, Wil,” her father said, once her mother was drinking the water. He sighed. “I’ve been awake for a while. I -” He ran a hand over the stubble of his unshaven face; over his right cheek. “I didn’t sleep much all night. Or the ones before.” Another pause. “I’ve been thinking about things.”

Besides the time she had asked him about whether she could kiss a boy in first grade, and the few moments she was able to get him to tell her favorite story, Wil had never heard such a long, voluntary explanation from her father.

The noise of the utensils drawer opening behind them made her jump. She turned back and watched Jakob open and close the refrigerator next, tread across the floor with milk and bowl, scrape a kitchen chair out, sit heavily upon it, then set his bowl down and pour milk into it. He began stirring his cereal with a *clink* *clink* of spoon against bowl. “Well?” he said, taking a mouthful of Wheaties. After swallowing, his next word was spoken more clearly, “Thinking?”

Wil faced her father again. Rob rose and moved to the nearby armchair. Frowning, he stood and pushed the armchair closer to Cynthia on the couch. He sat again, his face cleared, then he frowned again and rose once more. He looked at the two women he loved most in life and smiled. “I forgot the breakfast.”

Her mother wiped at a few lingering tears from her coughing fit and smiled in return. “That’s okay, Rob.” She and Wil watched him until he moved past the couch. While Rob moved around the kitchen, Cynthia swallowed heavily and drank more from the water. “While he’s getting that, Wil,” she directed at her daughter, “Would you please get my medications?”

Wil nodded, stood, and headed down the short hallway to her parents’ room. She stopped in the doorway and scanned the space for her mother’s bag. Since the last time Wil had been in the room, even more clothing and paperwork had joined the mess across the floor. Her father was the sort to keep things in their place, always looking faint at the sight of Wil’s bedroom compared to his own. Wil viewed the lumpy piles. Perhaps the world really was turning upside-down.

“Wil?” her mother called from the living room. Wil tried to focus. The bag. I need the bag. Searching for it by color would help, she knew. Red, she thought. Red, red, red -ah! She finally located it shoved between her mother’s side of the bed and the nightstand.

“Wil?” called her father’s voice, again using her preferred name. “Need help?”

“Only always,” she heard Jakob respond.

“Jakob!” (her mother.)

Wil stepped back through the detritus of the floor like a ballerina. After reaching the door, she felt safe enough to call back, “No, I got it. I’m coming.” She cradled the medium-sized bag that housed her mother’s small infirmary, and walked down the hall to her waiting family.

 

Continued from Seventy-Three.
Keep reading to Seventy-Five.

Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Three

“You’re grouchy,” Wil said, ever tactful.

Jakob grunted in response and shuffled over to the gurgling and clunking coffee maker. He stared at it, perhaps encouraging it to succeed with positive thoughts. Wil suspected he was trying to focus and knew the barely-functioning machine would aid that process.

“When’d ya start it?” he growled. He turned a scraggy, bloodshot face to squint at Wil.

“She’s only just,” Cynthia called from the couch. She cleared her throat and swallowed with a deliberate, slow motion. “Why don’t you have some food first, in case it doesn’t pull through this morning?”

Jakob rewarded his mother’s tease with a sigh, with a slight side lift of his mouth. Keeping his eye on Wil, he said, “Depends on if I can eat the food.”

“Uh!” Wil put a hand on her hip. “I’ll have you know that these eggs are perfect!” Just in case, Wil glanced down to check that she’d remembered to turn off the stove beneath their pan.

“Ha!” He turned to stare at the coffee maker again.

Wil decided to not let him off so easily. “Who was it who burned a few grilled cheese sandwiches Friday night? Hmmm?”

Jakob ignored the gibe.

Who will we have to get a smoke alarm for now, Jakob?”

He continued staring, continued to keep his back to Wil.

She edged closer. “You can’t say anything about my cooking anymore, Mister!” Close enough to poke his arm, she did so. “Mister…. Mister Reagan-lover!” More quickly than Wil thought possible with his sluggish actions of earlier, her brother grabbed at her and pulled her into a gentle but firm headlock. “Gah!” she squealed. “Lemme out, Jake!”

“Jakob…,” their mother warned from the couch.

“Don’t worry, Ma, I’m just giving my dear, old, nosy sister a hug.” He squeezed a bit tighter and leaned down to Wil’s ear. “Aren’t I, Minnie?”

“Ugh!” Wil slapped at his arm and side without much effect. “Go brush your teeth!”

Jakob laughed. “Noogie first!” His right hand knuckles dug into the top of her head before his left arm released her at last. “Think I’ll have some cereal; maybe brush later.”

Wil rubbed at the sore spot atop her head as he clunked around the cupboard getting a bowl. “Brothers!”

“If you two are finished bonding,” Cynthia said, “Would you mind bringing me some of those excellent scrambled eggs with a bit of ham and some toast?”

Wil turned to her mother and caught her favorite smile. “Of course, Mom.”

 

Continued from Seventy-Two.
Keep reading to Seventy-Four.

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Eight

Wil looked up, startled. Sure enough, there stood her beloved step-brother. His mouth was turned up in its characteristic jeer. From where her mind had just been, she immediately wondered if Jakob knew the content and meaning of the papers an inch beyond her reaching hands. Instinctively, she snatched them and brought them to her chest.

She sniffed, raised her head, and turned to look back at the windows. Jakob laughed a bit, though not as deeply as any of them had for years. Looking around the room once, he dropped into a chair near the table and put his feet up. His imitation down coat exhaled against the imitation leather backing as his worn boots clunked onto the imitation wood tabletop. If Wil hadn’t moved her things, his feet would have landed on them.

She carefully backed into a chair that was still upright. Lifting her required reading for English class in her left hand, she pretended to be absorbed in it. As Jakob snorted, tilted his head onto the back of the chair, and closed his eyes, Wil slid the sensitive papers to her side with her right hand. She winced as they crinkled audibly, and hurriedly shoved them under her thigh.

Jakob snorted again, and turned his angled head to look at Wil. “Is Mom in the back?”

Wil nodded. Aloud, she added, “She was coughing a lot and said we needed to come to the hospital.”

Regular sterile hospital sounds filled the quiet after she spoke: distant footsteps, muted beeping and paging, and the rush of the heated air warming the room from floor vents.

Jakob cleared his throat, then swallowed. Though he tried to hide it, his voice sounded huskier as he asked, “Is she okay?”

Wil looked over the top of the page and met his eyes. They were blue like Cynthia’s, but more serious than his stepmother’s ever were. As much as Jakob teased Wil, it was this seriousness that stopped Wil from teasing as much as he did.

“I don’t know,” she admitted, “but I don’t think she’s dying yet.” She attempted a weak smile, and Jakob’s mouth resisted the urge to complete one of his own. He rolled his eyes and breathed in deeply.

“Nice, Minnie,” he said sarcastically, and closed his eyes again.

Between his pretended napping and Wil’s pretended reading, they only jumped a bit at the door suddenly opening and admitting a plump nurse into the room just a few minutes later.

“Well, hello again!” her ever-cheery voice enthused. It was Nurse Bea, forever full of glee.

 

Continued from Fifty-Seven.
Keep reading to Fifty-Nine.