The poet extraordinaire, Brian Moses, published this poetry writing prompt on Twitter yesterday.  Following our brief exchange, this story literally fell out of me.  I would really appreciate some feedback.  It is a fifteen-minute first draft, as I was supposed to be cleaning before my visitors arrived …

Note – Edited following feedback from Marcela and Michael O Connor.



Chris was raised in a happy town, full of happy homes.

In the garden of every home there was a happy gnome.


On the outskirts of the happy town,

Lived a sour old woman who never smiled.

She shuffled along the High Street,

Glowering at the sky.


Chris asked his dad who she was.

He said he didn’t know.


Once Chris saw her in the Baker’s, she bought just one bread roll.

He asked the Baker who she was.  He said he didn’t know.


Once Chris saw her in the Butcher’s, she bought two chicken thighs.

He asked the Butcher who she was.  She said she didn’t know.


He saw her in the Greengrocer’s, she bought two tomatoes and an overripe banana.

Chris asked the Greengrocer who she was.  He said he didn’t know.


On his birthday, Chris saw the old woman shuffling along the High Street.

He smiled at her with his eyes.

She did not see him; she was glowering at the sky.

So, Chris followed the old woman all the way home.

To the outskirts of the happy town.

Where her house stood all alone.

And she didn’t have a gnome.


Chris ran back to his happy home,

Unearthed his gran’s shopping trolley,

Ate his birthday meal, blew out his candles and waited until after dark.


In the happy town, everyone was fast asleep in their happy homes.

Chris trundled resolutely by and he stole all their gnomes.


On the day after Chris’s birthday,

The old woman rose.

She drew back the curtains and glowered at the sky.

A technicolour blanket of happy gnomes grinned back at her.

The old lady smiled.