Life Was Hard, Life Was Grim

Weekly Writing Prompt #290 from

Prompt words in red.

(Two, because once I had the poem I started fleshing it out in prose.)


Life was hard.

Life was grim.

Sold on the idea of a fresh start,

with care

they’d burnt the letters.

The family Bible too.

Leaving nothing but ashes

and the rusty pickup chassis

(maybe an empty bourbon bottle

or two),

and carrying a bedroll each,

they turned their backs on the scene,

headed off to nowhere

anyone would ever find them.

After their drunkard of a father died (the official report said he'd stumbled into an irrigation ditch and drowned, but the sluice hadn’t been opened in weeks), his sons were free to set in motion their plan to leave the “farm.”

Not much of a farm; indeed it was more of a grim compound, a prison, a place lost strangers would regret stopping in for directions and so-called friends calling on their father would never be seen leaving (for no one came out their way on purpose nor on honest business).

Two sons already dead, the remaining two spent many nights with heads together,  bowed over the family Bible in faux piety.  Sold on what they considered the “perfect escape plan,” they waited.  Finally, with the old man dead, freedom reared her tempting head.   

The letters were burnt, as was the Bible, care taken nothing was left but the ashes, which were ground into the hard baked soil by weathered leather cowboy boots.

Leaving the rusty pickup chassis in a yard littered with bourbon bottles, carrying a bedroll each, they headed off to nowhere anyone would ever find them, long before the sheriff, cutting the chain, drove down their rutted road, unaware of the bobby-traps a half-mile from the house. 


©2020 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved


  1. Well you certainly gave us our money's worth with a bonus prose piece with great writing in both. Well done!

    1. Thank you so much! I wanted to know why they were leaving everything behind!

  2. I love how you work so hard to maximise the prompts - it always pays off

    1. Thank you. I enjoy these 12 word prompts!


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