Mama, Will Things Get Better?

Written for:  dVerse Poets Pub – Prosery #7:  Jim Harrison 
(posted by Linda Lee Lyberg)

“Hello Everyone and welcome to our 7th episode of Prosery, where poetry and flash fiction collide.
Write a story of 144 words or less (not including the title). Sounds easy enough right? Here’s the twist: You must use the line I have given you within your story.

Today, I have chosen a line from a poem by Jim Harrison, one of my favorite poets who died on March 26, 2016.  The line I have chosen was taken from his book, Dead Man’s Float from the poem titled Cow.

Here is the line you are to use within your flash fiction of 144 words or less.”

“A cow is screaming across the arroyo.”


Mama, the sand is scorching my feet. Is everything in the world
going to dry up forever?

Mama, will we never have enough water to drink and wash with properly?

Mama, What of the animals? There is no grass left, just dried
pieces that crack in half when stepped on. They need food and
water too.

Mama, did you hear that terrible sound?

“Yes. It sounds like a cow screaming across the arroyo.”

About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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19 Responses to Mama, Will Things Get Better?

  1. Beautifully realistic. Nice!


  2. This is a sad tale.


  3. Alas not an unlikely future.


  4. Frank Hubeny says:

    I can see how such a drought would make the cow scream.


  5. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar says:

    The only question the mother feels she can answer without worrying her child…


  6. Like it short and not so sweet. Different take. I liked that the child keeps asking impossible questions the mother doesn’t answer until one comes that she can. The concreteness of that final question and the flat reality of the answer make the horror of the situation come sharply into focus.


  7. The line of poignant questions that draw us into the parched landscape, filling us with the unanswerable despair. The unknown at least retaining mystery. The last question the mother answers opens the door finally to further questions. As if the brutal reality of their own lives can only be discussed in the context of this specific screaming cow. I love this!


  8. supermelanie24 says:

    Got serious post apocalyptic vibes from this 😀 Great stuff!


  9. lillian says:

    I like the use of dialogue here…..the questioning of the child to mama. Parents, in the eyes of children, should have all the answers. But alas, in the case of so much that is happening in the world (drought, famine, war, climate change’s effects, etc), it becomes very difficult to answer some of the very hard questions we are asked.


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