Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | March 1, 2021


Beach Mice burrow
beneath the sand,
aerate dunes
on coastal land.

Nesting, resting,
planting seeds, 
building forces
beachfront needs.

Roots deepen,
ridges form,
ramparts raised
against a storm…

but not withstanding
man’s construction—
wholesale habitat 

Mice, on men,
must now depend.
We cannot let
their story end.

This is an entry for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest. The challenge is to tell a story, intended for children aged 12 or under, in fifty words or less. To read all of the entries and learn about all of the prizes, use this link:

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | February 12, 2021


Cora wrestled in her bed 
while thinking of Miss Mae.
She hadn’t been to visit her 
since Grandma went away. 

The lemon scent. The comfy chair. 
The daisies in the vase. 
The Jello cups. The candy mints—
all things she couldn’t face. 

But up until tonight, at least,
she hadn’t thought to care
how all alone Miss Mae would be
without her grandma there.

So Cora tossed her covers off’
retrieved her art supplies,
then cut and colored paper hearts,
each one a different size.

Though Cora tried to wipe her tears,
some landed on her art.
“These should have been for Grandma too.”
She pressed one to her heart.

And then with all the crafting done,
while sitting in her bed,
Cora kissed the heart she held.
“Please give me strength,” she said.  


The smell of pancakes woke her up,
the heart lay on her chest.
She tucked it in her mirror’s frame
then gathered up the rest.

Before she sat for breakfast,
she took her mother’s hand.
“I’m scared, but have to see Miss Mae.”
My dear, I understand.”


“Oh Grandma,” Cora said that night,
“I bet you knew I’d see
those Valentines I gave Miss Mae
were also gifts to me.”

This is an entry for the 6th Annual Valentiny Contest generously brought to you by Susanna Leonard Hill! Writers need to craft a story, written for children, in 214 words are less. The theme is Valentine’s Day and bravery. Here is the link to the contest if you are interested in entering:

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | December 6, 2020


Jack-in-the-Box to Sir Slinky declared,
“No child will want me if I’m not repaired!

“My spring’s lost its sprung and I no longer jump
when you pop up my lid, I do nothing but slump.

“How I wish to be wrapped and put under a tree,
but Slinky, it’s not going to happen for me.”

Oh Jackie, don’t worry; this isn’t the end.
We’ll muster up some kind of magic my friend.”

“It isn’t a potion we need to be mixing.
It’s more like a solder; my spring’s needing fixing.”

“There’s Timmy the Toolman…

“The boy’s full of fluff.
He boasts he’s the best, but it’s only a bluff.”

“Let’s face it Sir Slinky, my countdown’s begun.
It’s Christmas on Monday; I’m broken and done.”

“No slinky surrenders and neither will you; 
let’s concentrate Jackie on what we can do.

Sir Slinky reflected while shifting his weight. 
But Jackie, dejected, just dwelled on his fate. 

Soon Slinky flipped over. “I’ve got it!” he said.
Who needs a repairman? Put me in instead!”

“Sir Slinky, you’re clearly the best friend I’ve known;
I can’t let you give up a life of your own.”

I’d only be losing if we had to part.
To me this would be not an end, but a start.

get ready for wrapping; make room on the floor
cause Jackie, my partner, you’re slumping no more!”


This is an entry for the amazingly generous Susanna Leonard Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest. The entry must be a story about a holiday (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza…) helper. It must be targeted for children ages 12 and under, as well as told in 250 words or less.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 28, 2020


The skeletons stared. The spiders crept.
With dinner downed, the children prepped
for trick-or-treat — well all except
the youngest, Tommy-Lee, who slept.

At least he closed his eyes and tried.
Those scary masks; the dark outside.
The prospects made him terrified.
“I’ve got a tummy ache,” he lied. 

The others knew their brother’s game
(In fact, Jolene had done the same.)
And so their mission now became
to set their brother’s feet aflame.

“Do you want buckets bulging through
with Reese’s Cups and Snickers too
with both of us protecting you?”
To that their brother said, “I do!”

99 words

This entry if for Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Halloweensie contest. All are welcome to compete. Simply write a story, in 100 words or less, about Halloween, for children, using the words skeleton, mask and creep.

Doin’ The Skeleton Dance! Announcing The 10th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 5, 2020

A Haiku Inspired by Last Night’s Sunset

Your brilliant flashlight
shines upon the evening sky
This never grows old

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 4, 2020

A Villanelle

Oh evil heart I’ll never know
the depth of bitterness you taste.
What makes your acrimony grow?

What seeds of sickness did you sow?
With what was innocence debased?
Oh evil heart I’ll never know.

The slate’s unscathed at birth, although
your soul and hate seem interlaced.
What makes your acrimony grow?

Did you resist the undertow?
From whence are your beginnings traced?
Oh evil heart I’ll never know.

Since self-reflection’s apropos
perhaps your mirror’s been misplaced?
What makes your acrimony grow?

Concern for you may overflow,
but hope, I fear, has been erased.
Oh evil heart I’ll never know
what makes your acrimony grow.


The form is a villanelle. The rhyme scheme is as follows:

A1 is the first refrain and A2 is the second.
Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | October 1, 2020

No Turning Back

Three autumns ago on a Halloween night
with the moon barely sharing a sliver of light,
young Templeton stalked through the neighborhood streets
in his Lucifer costume, no bag for his treats.
As Templeton strutted down Rookery Road
the children all acted as if he’d explode
which made him walk taller and narrow his gaze.
He determined his targets: the pumpkin displays.
He started with house number one fifty-four
where six of his marks lit a path to the door.
Undaunted by witnesses standing around
he picked up and hurled every gourd to the ground.
With subsequent smashings his smile grew slyer.
Every home he hit after increased his desire.
He ravaged his way to house one ninety-eight
where a brittle old woman stood guarding her gate.
She constantly petted the pumpkin she held.
From its openings lavender gasses expelled.
But Templeton’s focus stayed fixed on the prize.
If only he’d heeded the gatekeeper’s cries.
Her cautions of Karma rejected, instead –
he wore what she’d held in her hands on his head!
As he pushed and he pulled the woman said, “Son,
once punishment’s meted, it’s never undone.”

This is an entry for the Fall Writing Frenzy run by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. The rules for the contest are here:

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | April 9, 2020

Day Nine of National Poetry Month. Today’s word is “orange.”


Since April’s when the poet’s pen and craft is on display,
I’ve made the choice to add my voice and celebrate each day.
Though, since I wrote, “Don’t aim for near, but perfect every time.”
I cannot think of any verse to match this paradigm.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | April 8, 2020

Day Eight of National Poetry Month. Today’s word is “doctors.”


I’m not so good with facing death.
I’ll never be a doctor.
Since too much silence drives me nuts,
I’ll never be a proctor.

I won’t be teaching preschool kids;
I’ve little luck with whiners.
I’m rather fond of sleeping in,
so it’s a no for diners.

Because my sense of smell is strong,
I can’t work in a gym.
Which also means with fishing boats,
my chances there are slim.

Since I can’t hide my feelings well,
with acting, there’s a doubt,
and sitting still is not my strength
so, driving trucks is out.

I could go on and on and on
with things I will not do,
but Mother says to not decide
‘til puberty is through.

Posted by: Colleen Owen Murphy | April 7, 2020

Day Seven of National Poetry Month. Today’s word is “zoom.”


The deadline is looming.
My chores, all consuming.
My words? Mostly zooming
with no thought of rooming
together in verse.

With nervousness rising
(this fact not surprising),
my sense is surmising
I’d best be devising
to deal with this curse.

With minutes remaining
and intellect waning,
I’m done with complaining.
I’m writing (or feigning)
for better or worse.

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