Monthly Competition – May 2021

About Forums Den of Writers Monthly Competition Monthly Competition – May 2021

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    May the Force be with you… 🙂

    You are the person who sweeps the streets. In 350 words (or thereabouts), I’d like you paint me a picture of your setting, your character and your situation.

    Have at it!


    *warning for language and content*

    Sweep Weep

    Shit! That’s Gaz over there. He mustn’t see me like this. Oh my God! I don’t even know how he got into those jeans. I can see the bulge of his iPhone. He’s looking my way. Stay busy with the cart, keep my hood up, pick the big brush. He’s never going to recognise me.

    Called into the Woodpecker club early last night. Jake was still setting up the bar and Gaz was on his own, roller-skating on the dance floor in shorts and a little Kenzo T. I was going to brave the waves of Paco Rabanne and talk to him, but Jake gets in first with his, ‘Hey Girl! Get your minge over here I’m lonely.’ And Gaz does a lazy roll to the bar. So, I just finish my drink and I’m like ‘Laters guys.’

    Now I’m here sweeping this shitty road with last night’s shitty chip wrappers and shitty fucking crap that pricks are too fucking lazy to put in the fucking bin, while Gaz is over there window-shopping and looking too perfect for this world.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong. Some days there is a certain sense of, well, not satisfaction exactly, but rightness, when a section of pavement that was a tip is now spotless. But often as not, even as I look back, some snot-nosed pig will be stuffing his pig-face and dropping litter all over it. I know I shouldn’t, but I loathe my fellow men sometimes. Loathed them at school when they screamed ‘fucking bender’ at me. Loathe them with their Qashqais and knock-off Rolexes. Loathe them with their golf-bags and their Beamers.

    I stare at the ground. I sweep.

    ‘Colin?’ says a voice, ‘It is you.’

    And Gaz is right there.

    ‘Oh, hey,’ he says.

    He grabs my hand and he sort of rolls my middle finger between his thumb and forefinger.

    ‘There’s a surprise,’ he says, ‘that hi-viz looks so cute. On you.’

    My heart stands still. He looks into my eyes.

    ‘Are you coming to the club tonight? Oh, you must. And stay a bit longer. Please.’

    350 ex warning & title


    The Urban McGonagall [one expletive]

    Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays. I’m a poet.
    Not that many folk, to look at me, would know it.
    (Part because they look but never see beyond the Council-issued uniform: pea-green.

    Mostly I’m invisible. Indivisible, from barrow, brush and bucket. And yes of course, when drunks stumble, trip and tumble over my broom, uttering the inevitable ‘Fuck-it’ with lugubrious gloom …

    Besides, I’m not one of your moon, June, greeting card toon writers of rhyme. I’ve learnt too much about the shit side of life in my time. Am less a lover than I am a fighter which blinds me to the brighter side since years of picking litter from the gutter (without thanks) can make a man’s mind bitter.

    No, my writing holds more of an urban tone, though more stone, more setts than architect. I’m paid to sweep in strynds and wynds and snickets, to gather gum, fag ends and railway tickets from narrow alleys, step-impeded closes; where cobble-stones work loose beneath high-pressure power hoses.

    But what pisses me off more than the rubbish discarded,
    the spunk-leaking condoms, cans and triangular cardboard; the needles and knickers, poly-bags and ‘Green’ stickers, is no-one’s been taught to see it as mess; uneducated, ignorant, they couldn’t care less.

    So on Tuesdays and Thursdays, amid the grime, I concentrate more on the writing – and practice – of crime.

    [225 words]


    Hoping to get time this afternoon to read the entries and post results.


    Before I set this comp, I suspect the gentleman who sweeps our streets must have passed by my window. He’s an absolute star. Has a smile and a chat for everyone, knows the names of all the local dogs and has helped push my car out of the snow at five in the morning.
    But I don’t KNOW him, and I guess what I was looking for, on some hidden level, was for someone to give him (or someone like him) a story, although I didn’t realise that at the time of posting.

    Believe it or not, judging these two entries was no easy task because, in different ways, you both gave me what I didn’t know I was asking for.

    I enjoyed reading (living?) them both but, while I loved Sandra’s wordsmithery, her strynds and wynds and snickets, to gather gum, fag ends and railway tickets , Ath’s voice and his use of the big brush nailed it for me.

    Ath, the floor is yours.


    Thanks Gail, for your kind words and well done Ath! I had such high hopes of myself with this theme, having had several ancient, (I was 8 years old) nut-brown men in a Hertfordshire village to base a tale upon but strive as I might, (and I DID) it would not come right and each time I read it I knew that I’d missed the hoped-for essence.


    Ta ever so, Gail. My little story is about real people I knew a long time ago, and a real bar, so it was easy in a way. I liked your theme and I liked Sandra’s entry too. Pity about the numbers but that’s the way things are right now.


    @sandradavies You’re being too hard on yourself. I was quite impressed with your Urban McGonagall and your courage in trying something different 🙂

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