Quiet Desperation

Concentrated innuendo brings about maximum effectiveness


Six words may not seem like a lot, but think of the evocations of “I love you. Or do I?” You have a story, complete with conflict.

Entries in the six-word story contest came from California, Illinois, Ohio, and Colorado. From a well-known, local radio voice. From an 80-year old, former high school English teacher, and from a 17-year-old aspiring writer.

I received entries from two notable Colorado artists, and one each from a husband and wife.

Many of the stories were straightforward, a few were oblique, some were witty.

Here are the best ones.

Gretchen Goetz (Santa Monica), submitted, “We have five. Will bring them.” There was no explanation.

It reminded me of the cryptic title of a Jack Nicholson film. If you have ever wondered what “Five Easy Pieces” means, it refers to the title on a piano recital program that appeared in a scene that was cut.

My high school English teacher, Sharene Schmalz (Cincinnati) sent, “Bunnies lost to the cat today.”

I replied, “After 80 glorious years of Chaucer, Dostoevsky, Faulkner, and Shirley MacLaine, you send a story about tiny field animals being confronted and consumed by a feral cat?”


Anne McWhite (Arvada) wrote, “Climate change solutions: do or die.”

Art McWhite (Arvada) wrote, “Big bang collapse: all’s said done.”

One of my favorites brought a smile with it: “Why do I read your column!” was written by Parker’s Pete Miller. It wasn’t a question, exactly. It seemed like an exasperation.

Painter Amy Metier (Boulder) wrote a six-word mystery: “If your evil twin wants to.”

You might recognize the name Scott Arbough (Castle Rock), who entered a bit of existentialism: “Where you are, there you are.”

Stanley Gould (Castle Rock) took the opportunity to pitch his new “platform for finding and building local communities.”

After “Knowledge Power. Get Knowledge. Get Power,” he added a few hundred additional words about his project.

The most unusual entry was submitted by Ken Faig Jr. (Glenview, Illinois). It consisted of six mathematical symbols that translate to, “Not no one equals some one.”

Laura H. (Arvada), “Cheap land: Pele erupts, owners burned.”

Kendle Frank (Parker), 17, “Be brave. Contact my restless heart.”

Brett Ganyard (Aurora), “American flags continually at half staff.”

Bill Hines (Highlands Ranch) might have read the news the day he wrote: “Took a hike. Lost at night.”

Rescued Hawaii hiker Amanda Eller eventually apologized for being “irresponsible,” and clarified earlier comments that her ordeal was a “spiritual journey.”

Deb Bollig (Wheat Ridge): “Open door. Spilled drink. Dog barking.”

Ambiguation: Rebekah Holmes (Thornton), “Never left box. Gone by tomorrow.”

Disambiguation: Hilary Perry, (Highlands Ranch), “The dog ate his poop. Again.”

Stan Syta (Parker): “Ever try running through ball bearings?”

I think Syta was referring to ball bearing balls. The bearings are the housing. However, a run through ball bearings would be challenging too.

Robert Bond (Castle Rock), who works for the “Department of Redundancy Department,” wrote, “Cynical curmudgeons become pessimistic with age.”

Don Martinson (Parker), “Game over, no buzzer, silent loss.”

Assemblage artist Mark Friday (Denver), “Shame! Shame! Radio ventriloquist. Lips move.”

Six little words are capable of implying many more, and they can provide the pleasures of imaginative speculation, like the title of a documentary: “There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane.”

(Note: the haiku contest will return in January.)

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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