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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)

TITLE: The head louse's tale
By Helen Paynter


I am a head-louse; my name is Pediculus.
Most of my friends call me Pestilent Ped.
Though I look strange, do not judge me ridiculous,
Think of the itch I could cause on your head.

I stumbled once on a banquet quite sumptuous:
Beef, brawn and brave with a great shaggy head.
Three metres high (with a swagger presumptuous),
I though Goliath would keep me well fed.

He was a soldier (with armpits malodorous),
Dwarfed all the others, who viewed him with dread.
I was content in my billet commodious,
Splendidly catered-for. ‘Perfect,’ I said.

Thus was the start of a partnership glorious:
Just by his helmet, I sat on his head.
Itching his scalp made the giant so furious,
No-one could vanquish Goliath and Ped.

Then came a stand-off: two armies so tremulous;
Shaking their spears but desiring their bed.
Carnage and gore seemed excessive and strenuous
Up stepped Goliath with Plan B instead.

Swaggering forth, his demeanour contemptuous,
‘Send out your hero to fight me,’ he said.
‘Which of yon Israelite horde feels adventurous?
What? Have your nerve and audacity fled?’

Out stepped a boy, his appearance innocuous;
Fresh-faced and beardless, cheeks smooth and red.
Shrill voice denounced pagan practice idolatrous;
Marched at Goliath with valiant tread.

Girt not in armour, the boy was conspicuous;
Wool was his mantle and bare was his head.
Stooped and selected five stones (so meticulous);
Playthings for boys from the cool river bed.

Seeing the youngster, Goliath was furious.
‘Am I a dog or a soldier?’ he said.
Bold, the youth answered, ‘By Yahweh the glorious,
He will uphold me and give me your head.

‘Trusting in armour, your logic is spurious;
Size is no ally, and you should have fled.
I am on God’s side; we will be victorious;
You are the one who will topple, instead.’

Puzzled, I pondered his meaning mysterious
Surely this infant could not be a threat?
Helmet and mail proved the giant was serious;
This callow youth would not live to regret.

Puny of bicep, the boy was impetuous,
Into the teeth of the giant he sped.
Maddened, Goliath’s reply was tempestuous,
‘Vultures today will be very well-fed!’

Spinning towards me with motion vertiginous,
Stone from the sling-shot! I watched it with dread.
Doom for the man, and his vermin indigenous;
Fatal trajectory straight for my head.

Now my predicament seemed quite invidious;
Trapped as I was on the top of his head.
All of my knees knocked from misgivings hideous;
If I’d had wings, I’d have certainly fled.

Dazzling bronze made the target conspicuous;
Three metres high stood his towering head.
Narrowly missed me! The aim was meticulous –
Right between malice-filled eyes to embed.

Down crashed the giant, his end ignominious;
Felt his own sword as it cut off his head.
His last expression was less supercilious;
Dinner himself for the vultures instead.

Who should be thanked for this triumph miraculous:
Turbo-charged sling, or the giant’s neglect?
Whether a weakling, or muscled and fabulous –
Ponder in depth on which side you’ll select.

What of the fate of your hero, Pediculus:
Swinging aloft on a body-less head?
Swiftly defecting, with leap inconspicuous,
Now I’m infesting the victor, instead.

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This article has been read 1453 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teri Wilson06/07/07
I don't even know what to say about this. Wherever did you come up with the POV of a head louse? And ending up on a bodiless head? Creative beyond belief! Did Kenn and Maxx co-write this one?
Steve Uppendahl06/07/07
This is too cool. I must say, though, for the "children" reading this, we might need to hand out dictionaries and thesauruses.

Loved the rhyme scheme and POV.
Sharlyn Guthrie06/07/07
I'm impressed that you could find so many -ous rhyming words, not to mention that your poem was VERY entertaining!
Dee Yoder 06/07/07
I like the poem very much, but I, too, wonder if children would struggle to read it. The POV is clever!
Joanne Sher 06/08/07
A joy to read - and I love the last stanza. I'd also be concerned with the vocabulary, but I just loved this piece.
Jan Ackerson 06/11/07
I'm not concerned with the vocabulary, as I love poetry like this that bright and motivated children would enjoy. I think they'd love the repetition of the -ous words, and would be able to figure most of them out from the context. And even if not, they'd love the rhythm, and the meaning is certainly clear.

This is a masterpiece! Ick.
Beth LaBuff 06/11/07
What an imagination the author has!! (and such a funny ending). I think you are a skilled poet.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/11/07
So melodious!
I am so envious!
David Butler06/12/07
Uproarious! Curious! Hilarious! This is wasted on the kid's lit genre, though this would be a marvellous piece for a year 7 or 8 English class. Oh the joys of the English language!
Birdie Courtright06/12/07
Tee-hee! What an imagination!