The March of Time


Life was simpler back then, I’m told
And how things change as we grow old
The children now are uncontrolled
I once was important, you know

I made my choices long ago
And built this world for my ego
We ran fast from the nuclear snow
Now I give my messes to you

What a gift! If only you knew
These towers of gold are my due
Rome never fell, it’s in my view
Here, I’ll play you a little song

All the things I ever did wrong
The face I wore to prove I’m strong
These things meant nothing all along
And now I am growing so cold

Life was simpler back then, I’m told
I never wanted to grow old
The march of time is uncontrolled
The march of time never ends

I was in a cynical mood today, and I think my general annoyance with life came out a bit more than I like. This poem is a warning that if we don’t actively make choices to preserve the lives that come after us then we are doomed to be the villains we once hated in our youth. Because time always marches on, and that free-spirited youth we cherish will eventually disappear like a dream. Eventually, it will belong to someone else.

Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself to not be a jerk. Money, power, and fame are nice while they last, but there’s no sense in keeping a trophy case in your grave. Even the pharaohs couldn’t keep their treasures buried with them, and they tried harder than anyone to hoard their wealth in death.

Anyway, I’m still in a bit of a mood, so I’ll leave things off here. I hope you enjoyed my poem, and I’ll see you next time!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

Small Rebellions


Mother insisted on a pristine white dress for my former cotillion. It was traditional. The way things were always done was the way we were always to do things. She pursed her lips as she plucked away at the taffeta poofs that decorated the skirt and tugged against the tight lacing on the bodice, as if determined that her daughter’s waist should be even a centimeter thinner than all the other debutants. She plucked my hand away from the folds of the fabric where I’d buried them like a dark secret.

“Really, darling? Rose gold? I thought we agreed on rose pink.” She tutted at the color of my fingernails.

“We didn’t. I wanted to paint my nails black. You said no.” I tugged my hand out of her grasp and wrapped it back into the fabric. I didn’t like rose gold, either, but small rebellions are still rebellions.

“This is a party, not a funeral.”

“You didn’t let me paint them black for grandpa’s funeral, either.”

Mother scoffed. She picked up her wine glass from the counter and eyed me over it without taking a sip. “You’re not some hellion. What is this obsession you have with black nail polish? It’s unacceptable.” She spat the word unacceptable as if it was an insult. As if anything not normal was untrustworthy and wrong. To her, it was.

“I dunno, mom, maybe I just want my nails to match the color of my soul.”

She gasped. An honest-to-goodness gasp with one hand pressed to her sternum like a 1930s church lady. If she had a fan she’d wave it at her face and talk about how I’d given her the vapors. As it was, she set the wine glass back down a little harder than she should have, spilling bright red droplets over the counter.

I rolled my eyes. “It was a joke.”

“Jokes are supposed to be funny.”

“I’m surprised you even know what that word means.”

She flicked my ear. I smirked. Small rebellions, and all.

“I’d better not hear of you making any such jokes at the cotillion,” Mother chastised. “You have the family’s reputation to uphold.” She stormed out of the room before I could utter a word of retort.

I looked in the mirror at the soft, pretty little girl that my mother had styled me into. It’s not that I didn’t like to be pretty. I just didn’t want to be pretty like this. I didn’t feel like the girl she wanted me to be.

If I was a different person, maybe I would have torn the dress a little. Or a lot. I would leave it in pieces on the ground and run out of the room in the tattered remains. I would smear it with black eyeliner and brightly colored eyeshadow. I would be the hellion she envisioned. I would be worse than anything she could have imagined. But I wasn’t a different person. I was my mother’s designer daughter. There were expectations to be met, and no room for outlandish revolts. Only small rebellions.

My eyes lingered on the wine glass Mother left behind in her frustration. Normally she didn’t trust me around alcohol. Not that I’d ever imbibed. She didn’t trust me with much of anything, really. I traced my fingers through the red droplets on the counter, then slowly dragged the same fingers over the skirt of my dress. A streak of rose pink followed the trail of my fingers.

“Oh no! A stain!” I said quietly. Another small rebellion. Just like all the others. Little, pointless acts of civil disobedience to maintain my sanity. Some days, those small rebellions hardly felt like they were enough.

I touched the rim of the wine glass, considering. There were expectations of me. Those were important. My family was relying on me to…

To do what? To look good? To make them happy?

To be perfect. Even though I so clearly was not.

A slow smile spread across my face. The glass tipped precariously toward one edge, balanced carefully by my finger. The small rebellions were getting boring. Was it time for a revolution?

Mother stormed back into the room. “Well? Are you coming, or not? We have to leave in five minutes.”

I sighed. “Coming, Mother.” The wine trembled in the glass, still safely inside its container. There would be no revolutions today.

I wished I could shed my skin. Shed away everything that the world knew of me and live as the person that I felt like on the inside. I wished I had the strength to be unacceptable. Maybe then I could feel alive.

I had one of those days where living in my own skin felt a bit overwhelming. My whole life I’ve struggled with the feeling that I need to pretend to be less than I am in order for people to accept me. Today’s story was meant to embody that desire that exists within me to be unapologetically human in a way that I’ve never allowed myself to be. If I could find the strength to be unacceptable, something tells me I might finally be able to find the place where I can truly be accepted. But so often, just like with the character in this story, fear wins out.

Maybe one day we can all figure out how to shed our skin and transcend those limiting ideals that stop us from ever achieving the truest sense of our personhood. I hope that’s the case. Fear is our most debilitating emotion, but it’s certainly not our strongest emotion. So I’ll hold out hope.

In the meantime, I wish you luck with all of your own small personal rebellions. Thank you so much for stopping by to read my story!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

Remembering Death


The grass that swept between towering limestone monuments to the dead was well-manicured. But not too well-manicured. The graveyard was managed respectably, and the lawn was cut so that the final resting place of everyone’s grannies and uncles and whatever other loved ones they’d lost weren’t overgrown. It didn’t look bad. Just a bit tousled, maybe. A bit drab. A bit like a money pit where people were expected to pay thousands of dollars to put their family members in a patch of mildly well-cared-for dirt as if the dead cared at all where their abandoned shells ended up.

My dad’s patch of dirt was fresh. Cancer. I don’t want to talk about it. No, really. Just leave it. I’m fine.

His fresh dirt was mounded up to about the level of my shins, and someone placed a storebought wreath on the mound as if all those pretty little fabric flowers weren’t going to blow away in the wind and litter someone else’s final resting place. I stared at the wreath and wracked my brain for something to say, or some meaningful gesture that could respectfully send my dad off to the great beyond.

Nothing came to mind.

I didn’t really know my dad all that well if I’m being honest. My last pleasant memory of him was when I was six and someone commented on how enamored he was with my existence. At the time, I felt proud. My daddy loved me. Thirty-seven years later, I felt…something else entirely. I don’t know. I still don’t want to talk about it.

Rather than lift a prayer to heaven and wail loudly over the stranger I’d lost, I shifted uncomfortably on the spot and looked around the graveyard again. There were a lot more gravestones than I remembered from the last time I was there. It was like a morbid hourglass that measured time in human remains and engraved stone. Memento mori. Remember death. As if we could ever forget.

My grandma died when I was seven before I even knew to be sad when someone died. I didn’t shed a tear until my sister told me it was because I didn’t really love her. I cried a lot after that. My grandpa followed her a couple of years later. The romantic thing would be to imagine it was love that had him chasing her to the grave. It was not. Grandpa was a smoker.

I spent a lot of time in this graveyard, as a child. We would visit Grandma and Grandpa, then take walks along the winding path, counting out the lives of the people who’d gone before us. Some people’s lives were really long. Ninety-eight years. Ninety-nine. Others were a lot shorter.

Like Macie. A girl I knew in high school. We were in driver’s education together. She was pretty, popular, smart. I didn’t begrudge her for it. I did get a little annoyed that the driver’s ed teacher gave her a better grade than me, even though she was clearly the worse driver. I felt bad about it, later, after the car wreck that killed her.

My dad had already left my family, by then. I hadn’t spoken to him in months, so I never got to tell him how guilty I felt at being annoyed she got a better grade than I did. Or how strange it was to know someone who died without ever really knowing them. She wasn’t a friend. She was more than a stranger. I didn’t get the chance to ask him how you deal with a loss that isn’t really your loss. I didn’t get to ask my dad, so I asked no one. Those feelings stayed buried deep, and I held onto them like something precious.

Macie’s pink-tinted gravestone was somewhere on the other side of the cemetery from where I stood glaring uncomfortably at a thick earthworm that waved its body in the air as a temptation for any birds flying overhead. I wiped my palms on my jeans and peeked in that direction, though whether I wanted to see the gravestone or not was hard to say. Either way, it was hidden from my sight by the creepy mausoleum that contained a man-sized statue all the kids in town used to tell horror stories about.

Legend had it that if you peeked into the mausoleum at night then the statue would turn his head to look at you, his face agape in horror. He would steal your soul. He would chase you to the ends of the earth. He was the pig-man. Everyone had a different story. I remember my heart trembling as I held my breath, barely creeping up over the edge of the stained-glass window to steal a terrified glance at the mythic statue. We’ll both assume I managed to keep my soul, though I suppose it’s a pretty difficult thing to check. I can’t say I ever saw my own soul, personally, so maybe I wouldn’t notice if it suddenly disappeared.

Three more kids in my class died the same year as Macie. I didn’t know them as well, but the loss shook our entire school. There were candlelight vigils and a long line of kids trailing through the doors of the funeral home. I didn’t feel much of anything about it, really, except that there must be something wrong with me. Everyone else was so thoroughly affected by it, but it felt like any other day to me. A day with sad news: if you think about it, isn’t that all of them? My mom made me go to the funerals, even though I didn’t want to. She said it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t sure that was true. Watching their mothers weep next to their caskets felt profane.

If it were me, my mom would have wept like that. She would have buried her own heart in the ground with me. My dad wouldn’t have even known I was gone. Or he would have shown up at the funeral home three hours after the service and then shrugged and walked home. The daddy who loved me so long ago didn’t think much of his teenager. The angry, embittered person I’d become after he abandoned me wasn’t nearly as cute as the chubby little cherub who worshipped his every move. On the rare occasion when I talked to him, it was usually because my mother begged him to give me the time of day when my grades were slipping or because I was hanging out with kids she didn’t like. I would tell him that I was doing my best, and he would tell me that the proof is in the pudding and other colloquial dad-isms that made equally little sense. After each lecture, he would disappear for months, or for years or–as in the most recent case–forever.

The last time we spoke he’d admonished me for not being rich, not marrying rich, not doing anything of importance with my life, and generally being a waste of space. He couldn’t fathom why I turned out so miserably after all the effort he put into raising me. I told him I was doing my best. He said the proof was in the pudding. I told him my pudding tastes delicious, thank you very much.

Then he went and died. But I seriously don’t want to talk about it, so if you could stop asking, that would be great.

I don’t want to talk about the things I never got to yell at him about. Or all the memories of my life that he missed. He never showed up at my high school graduation. He wasn’t there when I got my associate’s degree, then my bachelor’s, and then the master’s. Dad didn’t console me when my pet mouse died when I was eleven. When no one showed up to my thirteenth birthday party, he hadn’t even remembered to call. There was no comfort from him when my best friend tried to kill herself when I was in college, or when she finally managed to finish the job ten years later. And I don’t want to talk about any of it. Not even a little. Because if I talk about it, I might end up resenting him. People say you’re not supposed to resent the dead. Even when you do.

I stood over my dad’s fresh patch of churned earth, thinking all the things I wasn’t supposed to think about him and struggling to understand what it all meant, in the end. Memento-ing mori. So many people at his funeral had so many pleasant words. His third wife cried as if the sun would never rise again. My aunts and uncles waxed poetic about how he was a loving husband and dedicated father. I stared dead-eyed at the horizon until the platitudes had passed, bearing the dastardly weight of people’s consoling hands on my shoulders as I wished that I had been anyone else’s child.

Long after everyone else shuffled uncomfortably away to do whatever somber activity was acceptable after a tasteful funeral, I stood by my father’s side. Without any pleasant words for the man who’d participated in my very creation. Dry eyed. Because, as my sister so wisely declared, maybe I didn’t love him. I scuffed my foot over a stray dandelion that grew at the edge of his burial plot. No answers revealed themselves in the dirt. I waited until the sun wavered over the horizon and the grass started to grow damp, but the burden of the unsaid only grew more oppressive with time. With nothing better to do and no easy answers, I decided to follow the example he’d set for me: I left.

This was a long one, but I was really happy with how it turned out. I wanted to tell a story about a character who lost an estranged family member and remembered their experience of that family member through tales of death. The purpose wasn’t to be morbid; I wanted to evoke feelings about the inevitability of death and allow the reader to feel the bitterness of the living. The main character in this story avoided their feelings, left too many things unsaid, and was eventually left dissatisfied with how things ended between them and their father.

I also thought this was a good opportunity to write a genderless character. More important than the sex of the protagonist, I wanted this person to feel very human. I was careful not to provide too many details that might sway the reader in one direction or another, and the end result is someone that I believe is easier to connect with on an emotional level. At least, I hope that’s the case

Thank you so much for stopping by to read my story!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

The Wind Passes by


“I wish you wouldn’t watch that crap.” Anabell fell onto the sofa next to her husband, scowling at the news reporter on the television.

“The world’s falling apart. We should be witnesses to it.” Another report scrolled across the screen. Something about fires, faithlessness, fighting in the streets; all in places they’d been to, once upon a time. Places they once thought would never be touched by such things.

Anabell scoffed. “It won’t fall apart any faster or slower, regardless of how long you watch.”

“But it’s meaningful. Isn’t it?” He finally turned from the screen to look at her for the first time that day.

There were wrinkles at the corners of her eyes that didn’t exist when he’d first met her. Her face was a little rounder. Her shoulders a little heavier. He loved the person in front of him even more now than he had when they’d first uttered the words. His feelings back then didn’t even compare.

Anabell took his hand. “This is meaningful,” she said.

“This won’t be written about in history books,” he pointed out. “No one will remember our names.”

“Then they won’t remember if we witnessed the end of everything.”

He turned back to the TV. Fire turned the sky black above government buildings and angry mobs. “Is it right to look away?”

“I don’t know. But it’s just a moment in time. Whether the wind is gentle or harsh, it’ll pass us by either way.” Anabell leaned against him.

Another urgent report crossed the screen. It was probably something important. He looked at Anabell, who smiled sadly at him, then turned off the television.

He lifted her hand to his lips and gently kissed her fingers. “I always hated the news, anyhow.”

It took me a while to get back on my feet after my last post, but I’m finally back to feeling better. I’m thankful that I had so many stories scheduled ahead because it took a lot of the pressure off and allowed me the time and space I needed to feel better.

This week’s story is based on my favorite book of the Bible. I’m a huge sucker for Ecclesiastes, which I’ve had described to me as the most depressing book in the Bible. Despite the unwarranted criticism I’ve heard regarding Ecclesiastes, I’ve always found it especially hopeful. On the surface, it’s a book that continuously stresses how life is meaningless. As you read, however, the writer reveals that joy can still be found–not in pursuing treasure, fame, or any of the innumerable things we think makes life enjoyable, but in the simple act of doing something you love and worshipping God. There’s a certain kind of peace that comes with this kind of philosophy. The things that make us feel as if the world is ending don’t matter. They’re pointless. In the end, all we can do is seek the thing that is truly meaningful: a life well-lived.

As I wrote the story, I was trying to call to mind those feelings that we can get while trapped in a doom scroll. In this regard, the husband in the story is a lot like me; he sees the terrible things in the world and a big part of him feels as if it would be wrong to look away or pretend that it’s not happening even if there isn’t anything he can do to fix the situation. Anabell, on the other hand, is the voice of Ecclesiastes that speaks to me when I’m spiraling. She says the world will do what the world does, and the only thing I can do is pay attention to the real life that exists in front of me.

I hope you find this story meaningful. Thank you so much for dropping in to read my work. Until next time:

Your friend,

CC Lepki

My Ugly Writing Journal

An Announcement

When I was first starting out as a writer, a more experienced author gave me the invaluable advice to never use a notebook with a beautiful cover. He said that no matter what you write in a beautiful notebook, it will never be good enough. It will never live up to its cover. And he was right. Whenever I tried to start a story or poem in a notebook with a lovely cover, I always ended up feeling intimidated and gave up easily.

Eventually, I learned how to bind my own books and I set about creating notebooks with covers that were intentionally messy and ugly. They became my favorite and most valued writing tools. With hastily scrawled writing reference on covers plastered with duct tape and spare bits of paper, I could approach all of my writing with confidence. So I thought, why not make ugly notebooks that other writers can use?

So I did.

It is my pleasure to announce the launch of My Ugly Writing Journal! This journal is designed to not intimidate. It will be the ugliest journal you’ve ever owned, and you will love it all the more for its hideous facade. My Ugly Writing Journal, in addition to boasting a terrible design with quick reference to plot points and the Story Circle on the front and back cover, also contains a brief step-by-step plotting workbook that will quickly take you from the brainstorming process, through a plotting questionnaire, all the way to an economic worldbuilding exercise that can help you focus your research to only the most important aspects of the world you’ve created. By the time you’ve filled out the pages of this journal, you’ll have everything you need to start writing your story.

If you want to find out more, feel free to check out my book page where you can see one of the ugly notebook designs and learn a little bit about why My Ugly Writing Journal is such a good resource. Or you can go directly to my sales page on and buy the journal write away. Whatever you decide, I hope My Ugly Writing Journal becomes a helpful tool in your writing adventures! Thanks for stopping by!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

so much for hope


let me drown in pillows
i’ll sink into the blankets
and let the storm pass overhead
memory foam seas take me away
let the bed frame be my lifeboat
and the headboard a gravestone
“here lies someone who tried
and who was never good enough”
curtains drawn and light dim
the sound of life moves by
there are sirens in the distance
but their music comes too late
i’m already too far into the depths
to be dragged down any further
they sing and fade away
and i lay dashed upon the rocks
never to return home
and never to leave my sea bed
i remember the days of joy
when the voyage was not so brutal
and we looked on to distant skies
with the innocence of youth
“ah. so beautiful,” we cried
“so much possibility
so much wonder”
so much for hope.

It might not surprise you to know that, lately, I’ve been feeling really run down. As I was lying in bed letting misery get the better of me, I had the passing thought of sinking into the softness of the mattress. Then I had a second passing thought that if I stayed in bed like I was doing, nothing would ever change.

Writing is pretty amazing in a lot of ways. Stories help us escape our reality, but the process of writing is therapeutic. I’ve been a huge proponent of writing therapy for many years, now. I’ve used it in my own life, as I did with this poem, but I also advocated for writing therapy in my professional career as a grant writer at a behavioral health nonprofit. There is so much science behind the benefits that writing provides to people experiencing depression, especially with regard to learning and practicing the technical skills of writing.

Today I was sad, and that sadness caused me to unexpectedly spiral back into the gloom-dungeon that is my depression. Writing helps me find the way out again. If you’re going through something similar, I recommend taking fifteen minutes out of your day to write out whatever it is that you feel. Let the writing carry away the pain so you can see beyond it.

And always remember that if you’re having a hard time or considering taking your own life, please seek help. Ask friends or family if you’re able. Find a behavioral health clinic or therapist in your area that can see you right away. Or, if you don’t have access to family or a therapist who can help, go to a local emergency room and let them know what you’re going through. They can help provide you with the resources you need to make it through. You’re worth it. (Call or text 988 to reach the national suicide and crisis hotline.)

Your friend,

CC Lepki

The Reluctant King

Fantasy/Fairy tale

King Eirdsidh was only twelve years old when he became the ruler of Dhaingneach aah Sithiche. A child. Merely a babe, to the fae whose lives he ruled over. Ten years had passed since then, yet he still felt like a child.

“Again, my Blessed King,” his attendant encouraged.

Eirdsidh grimaced. They all called him that; blessed king. As if he had done anything to deserve such a title. He couldn’t even bring himself to hit a practice target at the end of the field. If incompetence were a person, it would surely look like Eirdsidh of Sithiche.

His agitation grew strong when the attendant, an old Cairn Sidh that protected the ruler in the forests of the Sithiche, handed him another arrow to string on the absurdly long bow that dangled from his fingertips. Eirdsidh hated hunting. He hated death. Yet here he was, practicing archery to lead the wild hunt as the king of the fae was meant to do. Had the rulers of old felt such disdain for the practice or was it only Eirdsidh that found it so repugnant?

Flowers stirred around his feet and vines crept up his legs, reacting as they so often did to the king’s discomfort. It was nature’s blessing, the sign that he was the rightful ruler. Yet it only ever served as a reminder of the burden that had been forced upon him since childhood. He clenched his jaw, shutting his eyes and breathing deeply.

It wasn’t the fault of the flowers that he was irritated. They only meant to provide comfort.

“Must I engage in such a dreadful thing?” Eirdsidh asked at last. He slowly forced himself to relax, sending peaceful energy back into the flowers that loved him so. They clung all the more tight to his body.

“M’lord?” the attendant asked.

He sighed again. “The hunt. It troubles me.”

“It is the duty of the King, to lead in such events,” the attendant insisted. He grinned, though, coal-black eyes flashing with mirth. “Austere Brid once threw a fit and shot a chamberlain. So much did she despise the Hunt, she tried to run away. He told her Queens should do as told, and she grew fast incensed. He dragged her to the training grounds and there she pierced his toe.”

Eirdsidh grinned, truly relaxing at the tale of Queen Brid, his predecessor. “Am I not strange for my distaste?”

“More strange if you agreed,” the attendant assured him.

Eirdsidh nodded, taking comfort that he resembled the well-loved queen in any way. He placed the arrow on the bow and aimed at the target once more. This time, he imagined the bullseye to be the toe of the fusspot chamberlain of old and released. The arrow hit the center mark with a heavy thud.

“A truer shot was never made, oh my Blessed King.” The attendant bowed deeply. The flowers and vines crawled further up Eirdsidh’s body, singing their joy at his pleasure. It was the first time in his life he’d ever felt like a king.

The book I’m writing is a fairy tale with a pixie as the main character. She and her sister have moved away from the land of the fae, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where they came from and the King who once ruled it before the humans gained power in the world. I like my idea of King Eirdsidh and his benevolent nature. Most of the time the fae are either depicted as sweet, innocent creatures or as cruel beings. My vision of the fae in this world is a bit of both, but also neither. Much like nature, I don’t see them as good or bad. They are what they are. Peaceful. Vindictive. Lively. Soothing. The world rarely exists in duality, and I didn’t want the fae in my story to exist that way, either.

This story is a bit of a prelude to my book, and I’ll probably write a few more short stories as a way to cement the history of the world in my head, even if I don’t intend to include any of it in the book itself. Sometimes it’s just nice to know a thing. This particular history of the world may not be directly important to the story overall, but it still has some influence on the way the world looks later on. Maybe next I’ll write a short piece about the end of King Eirdsidh’s reign, which is tragic and meaningful in its own right.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this coming of age story about a young king coming into his own, and I hope you enjoyed it as well. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next week!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

Within the trees I bared my soul


Within the trees, I bared my soul
to sympathetic ears;
all the bitter memories
that plagued me through the years.

A skipping stone within my hands
and tears along my face,
I gave up that misery
along the river’s banks.

And when the winter froze my heart,
the woods became my spring;
melting all the ice away
to quell my suffering.

Within the trees, I bared my soul.
Within the trees, I prayed.
In the pleasant wooded grove,
my worries were allayed.

It’s another nature-based poem! I used Robert Frost as inspiration for this one, since he’s one of the poets whose work regarding nature I most appreciate. Still, I tried to make it my own. The intent was to have the poem truly embody my own feelings and experiences with nature.

In every place I’ve ever lived, I always make time to visit state and community parks. As a teenager, my favorite place to spend time with friends or even find a bit of alone time was in the local park. I would spend hours there, playing on the playground equipment, climbing trees, or walking aimlessly. It was the most difficult time of my life, but I was always able to find a small amount of peace among the trees.

Nature really is therapeutic. It gives in abundance and asks for nothing in return. It’s the safe place we can go when society becomes too demanding or complicated. I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Your friend,

CC Lepki

The Forest’s Heart


The forest slept, and my unsteady feet
pursued a path through thicket, thorn, and bush
to long-forgotten shrines of nature’s heart.
With youthful rage and little thought besides,
my hands began a work of ill design–
to burn and break; as I was, deep inside.
As forest’s heart succumbed to ash and fire
and critters fled in fear of wrathful acts–
perpetuated by a foolish child–
the spirits of the forest mourned as one.
Their stirring cries awoke a kindred soul.
Emerging from the depth of night, the war-
rior was tall and fair. A crown of this-
tle tangled in his hair and silver eyes
observed my every move. The knight removed
a golden sword and lashed a mark upon
my skin. He grinned, his mouth too wide and long;
and death itself could not instill such fear.
I fled as fast as stumbling feet would go
into the boughs I once destroyed with glee.
Behind, the calls of wild pursuit came near;
but trees gave shelter I did not deserve
and kept the raging fae from drawing near
until, at last, the knight perceived my lair.
The golden flash of sword ripped through the air;
into my chest, the precious metal plunged.
A sting of fire encroached upon my core
and I awoke amid a plain of ash.
Inside the ring of blackened trees I’d felled,
my smoke-filled lungs expunged themselves at last.
The hunt of night before was but a dream,
and yet my weary thoughts could not forsake
the memory of shelter in the dark.
I plunged my hands into the ashy soil
and grew myself amid the ruined earth.

It’s been a while since I’ve written in iambic pentameter, but I decided to try it out again as practice for a book I’m about to write where certain characters only speak in iambic. It’s a fun exercise either way, and I hope you all enjoy what I was able to come up with this time.

I love the idea of a character finding respite in a place she tried to destroy and then mourning for the destruction that she caused. The last line, where she says she grew herself, was purposefully ambiguous. The story is a fairy tale, so I wanted the reader to decide whether growing herself was a reference to emotional maturity or if it was literal growth as the narrator became a tree to replace what she’d taken from the world.

Some of my writing practice from here on out will most likely include themes of nature and magic while I’m working on my current book. I tend to focus my writing practice on certain elements that will be helpful in crafting the themes and prose of whatever larger story I’m trying to tell. This type of practice also builds a certain level of excitement in me with regard to the books I write. It’s always exciting to try out new things that I might be able to use to improve my prose.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading my poem! I’ll see you again next week with something new!

Your friend,

CC Lepki



The forest wept quietly around Zephyr. He closed his eyes and breathed as the rain pelted his skin. Rainy weather never bothered him, but there was something hypnotic about the asymmetrical rhythm that it drummed into his hide.

“I told you last time, you’ll not get another ounce until I see payment for the last batch.” The man was heavily armed. He wore a waxed cloak that made the water bead and roll as it touched him.

“I could take it from you,” Zephyr growled.

The man scoffed. “You’ll get no more if I’m gone. We both know it. Who else but me would bother coming to your infernal forest?”

Zephyr growled, but the man wasn’t wrong. He prided himself on keeping the most dangerous forest in all of the Eastern Continent. No human in his right mind would dare encroach on Zephyr’s forest. Which probably said something about the man who now stood before Zephyr with the gall to withhold the thing that he most desired.

“If you haven’t got a way to pay then we’re done, here,” the man said.

Zephyr panicked. He reached out one massive forepaw and snatched the man off the ground. A high-pitched squeal tore from the man’s throat as his feet left the ground.

“Don’t go.” He meant for it to be a command. It was supposed to be a command. Instead, the words that ripped out of Zephyr’s chest came as a desperate plea. “I need it.”

The man breathed heavily, his skin pale and sweaty. He tried to speak. Failed. Cleared his throat, then tried again. “Then you must pay.”

Zephyr set the man on the ground gently. “Wait here. I will return shortly.”

He turned and loped through the forest to a nearby cave. A host of creatures scurried away at his approach. Jackalopes skittered into their dens. Wrens and dryads hid amongst trees and bushes. A lone dire wolf yelped and disappeared into a thicket of trees. Zephyr dove into the massive cave and breathed heavily. A spout of flame burst from his maw to light up his cave.

Once, the cave floor was lined with gold, diamonds, and precious gems. Great scrolls and magical texts lined the walls. He’d slept atop heaps of treasures from near and far. Now it was empty of nearly his entire hoard of treasures. Save for one.

He’d been a mere hatchling when the adventurer stumbled into his cave. He slew Zephyr’s mother and attempted to take her treasures for himself. Zephyr took the man’s murderous arms first. His hunger sated, he crippled the adventurer and enjoyed him slowly over the course of several days. When naught was left but a pile of armor and bones, Zephyr took the magical sword that the adventurer had used to pierce his mother’s flesh and he kept it. His very first prize. His first treasure. And his last.

Zephyr brought the magical sword to the man who waited patiently in the woods. The man jumped to his feet when Zephyr emerged from the weeping woods with a glowing sword between his teeth like a toothpick. He spat it at the man’s feet.

“This will be more than enough to cover my debt,” Zephyr snarled. “As well as the next few batches.”

The man stared down at the sword and smiled. “Indeed, it is.” He picked the sword from the ground and carefully tucked it into his belt before removing a pouch from an inner pocket and tossing it gently up to the monster who waited eagerly for the prize. “Try not to use it all at once.”

Zephyr barely noticed the man’s departure. His entire mind was focused on the small purple pouch before him. Glimmergreed. It was a drug that Zephyr has first tried only six months before. Even small traces of it could kill a human instantly. But for a dragon, it was bliss.

He took a small crystal between two claws and popped it into his vast maw. The colors of the forest grew more vibrant. He could suddenly spot fairies dancing on the treetops, celebrating the gloriously rainy day. His entire body vibrated with ecstasy. This was better than any heap of gold or treasure he could imagine.

Of course, it would run out soon enough. He had no more treasure to trade for the stuff. A shiver of panic ran through his spiny back and made his leathery wings flutter. Something would need to be done before then.

The man had mentioned a castle town, not far away. He called it the capital of the something or another kingdom. Zephyr barely remembered the rise and fall of human kingdoms. But kingdoms held treasures. And treasures could buy him more Glittergreed.

Zephyr popped another crystal into his mouth and shuddered with pleasure. Yes, perhaps it was time to venture into the human realm once more. For a good cause, of course.