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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)

TITLE: Phantom of the Reptile
By Beth LaBuff
~1st Place


A seashore near the ocean where
The breakers scattered foam,
A turtle dwelt with two small friends—
The sandy beach their home.
“Benevolence”—their motto,
A Marine Society
Of turtle, clam, and hermit crab
Companions by the sea.

The turtle’s shell – beguiling—
Chartreuse with flecks of puce,
But flawed, she had a seal-leak,
Her shell, a trifle loose.
Her leak issues let in a draft
When ocean breezes blew,
The gusts that wafted ‘round felt like
El Niño coming through.

Just two weeks past the little group
Ceased daily occupation,
They gathered with the turtle for
Her birthday celebration.
They all partook of birthday cake
Some kelp steeped in sea brine,
To celebrate her sixty years.
(In turtle years, that’s nine.)

The turtle then proceeded to
Unwrap her gifts as planned.
The clam presented turtle with
A coarse brown grain of sand.
The sentiment read, “Keep this sand
Positioned near your heart,
In time your irritations change—
A pearled work of art."

Inside her shell she tucked the sand,
Though contact wasn’t pleasant.
Then hermit crab, with shifty eyes
Presented her his present.
To her surprise the second gift
Opened that afternoon,
A shiny sleek harmonica
To play a turtle tune.

With cake and presents finished,
They bid each one farewell.
Two special gifts from two rare friends
Were tucked within her shell.
‘Twas later on that evening
She basked in ocean’s breeze,
Then noise issued within her shell,
A harsh and jarring wheeze.

It gave the turtle such a fright
A rasp sprang from her beak,
It sounded somewhat like a “Phbiss!”
That’s turtle-speak for “Eek!”
Well mercy me! the turtle thought.
Her turtle eyes grew wide.
She bravely sought the noise’s source,
She pulled her head inside.

The jarring, wheezing dissonance,
Refusing to be quelled,
Chords ebbed and flowed around inside
And echoed in her shell.
The discord and cacophony
Had left the turtle daunted.
And in her mind she was convinced
Her turtle shell was haunted!

Her head and turtleneck popped out
For what was she to do?
Her quandary was astounding,
Put her in a turtle stew.
Afraid to tuck her head inside
Where once it used to dwell,
She thought perhaps she’d hire one
To exorcise her shell.

A fortnight since her birthday,
And two weeks since she’d slept,
She had a plan to use the clam.
Herself— she was inept.
The clam, squeezed in her turtle shell
Armed with a D-Cell light,
He hoped to find the origin
Of turtle’s awful plight.

Then what he found inside her shell,
The noise secret—unlocked.
He couldn’t wait to tell her,
Was sure she’d be shell-shocked—
‘Twas through her leaky turtle shell
When wafted airy breeze,
It blew through her harmonica
And made the breathy wheeze.

The hermit crab confessed his scheme,
He’d coveted her shell.
He hoped she would evacuate,
Give him a place to dwell.
The turtle, though a trifle mad,
Revenge did not demand.
To show ‘twas no hard feelings,
Gave him her grain of sand.

Benevolent Society—
Was weighed—found to be wanting.
The hermit crab, sand in his shell,
Still for a new one—hunting.

Thou shell not covet thy neighbor’s house.
Exodus 20:17
(paraphrase and emphasis mine)

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Leah Nichols 03/05/10
Groan! That pun at the end....wow....

I liked your creative story. Great for a children's book, I think.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/05/10
This is so great. I'm in awe.
Virgil Youngblood 03/05/10
Wonderfully written.
Earl Taylor03/06/10
Gosh.... first a catfish and now a turtle... If I am not careful I am going to start liking poetry... especially yours... wonderful play on words. Sounded like a farm girl wrote this who had caught a few snapping turtles herself!
Allen Stark03/06/10
Terrific! One of my top favorites this week. Made me want to live near the ocean again.
Linda Payne03/08/10
Loved this! Very creative with a great ending. Well done.
Connie Dixon03/08/10
This was so great. I loved everything about it and it flowed so nicely. Awesome work!
Donna Wolther03/09/10
Very inspiring. Something for a beginner to set her sights on. Can I get you a harmonica?
Kate Oliver Webb 03/10/10
Honestly, this was such perfection, I am humbled and in awe. Poetry is not usually my choice--but I'd read you any time! Such descriptions: I smelled the brine and sand, and wonderful sea creatures; felt the sea breeze. What a talent you have!
Sarah Elisabeth 03/10/10
How creative! I thoroughly enjoyed this piece from beginning to end. Humorous with quite a message. Superb!
Carol Slider 03/10/10
Wow! This is masterful from beginning to end. I loved every well-chosen word!
Ann Grover03/11/10
Brilliant... I love your twisting and turning of words and phrases to say "just the right thing."

I didn't trust that crab from the beginning, with his shifty eyes.

I can see your poems in a children's book... delightfully illustrated... Or a series, each poem a book of its own.
Joy Faire Stewart03/11/10
Congratulations on your first place win in Masters and EC with this delightful poem!
Sheri Gordon03/11/10
Congratulations, Beth. This rocked!
Dianne Janak03/11/10
Beth Girl.. you are on a ROLL!! Not surprised, very excited and blessed to read another master piece!
Janice Fitzpatrick03/11/10
Congratulations! It's all been said before but I do agree, this is a wonderful piece.

I am a sucker for poetry anyways, but this one was so delightful and I needed something whimsical and lighthearted right now.

Thank you for writing this. Love it!
Connie Dixon03/11/10
Congratulations on this great piece. So unique and creative. Incredible!
Mona Purvis03/11/10
Oh, my! Congrats on your well-deserved EC #1.

Yvonne Blake 03/11/10
Ha ha ha! I love the application at the end. Congratulations, Bethy!
I hope you compile all these someday into a wonderful book for kids.
Joan Campbell03/11/10
Congratulations Beth! This is such a clever, funny poem and beautifully crafted. A joy to read.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/11/10
Congrtulations, Beth on BOB for this week. Wonderful writing...as always!
Patricia Turner03/11/10
Crafty, clever, winsome, winning...ever so deservedly first! Wonderful piece Beth and so glad it won! Congratulations!
Sara Harricharan 03/11/10
Ahh, simply lovely, Beffy! I laughed through this, could see it playing out as a cartoon in my head. ^_^
Sunny Loomis 03/11/10
This is great, Beth! Congratulations!!
Jackie Wilson03/11/10
Your imagination is breathtaking! If it weren't against the rules (Thou shell not covet...) I would be so envious! I'll just settle for admiring your talent and being charmed by your work. Congratulations on your win!
Carol Penhorwood 03/11/10
Congratulations, Beth, on winning FIRST PLACE! Awesome and well, well deserved.

I loved this so much I read it to my daughter on the phone and then gave her your name so she could look up more of your writings for her kids.

Way to go!
Noel Mitaxa 03/11/10
Congratulations Beth, my tiny brine can't comprehend how you produce such wit and wisdom so consistently... Brilliant entry!
Ruth Stromquist03/11/10
Congratulations! This is a fun poem!
Celeste Duckworth04/27/10
I am in love with a poem and I want to buy a harmonica. How sweet this was so whimsicle! Loved the lesson at the end. This could be a child's book I can just see the illustrations in it already. I can even see me reading this to my grandchildren. Congrats...