WEP Challenge August 2019: Red Wheelbarrow

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay
The story's protagonist, Ed, is a little batty

Before we begin:
This is the story of Ed and his red wheelbarrow. The story is composed of a series of limericks about a vampire named Ed and his love for gardening late at night with his red wheelbarrow.

Here is what I want in a critique.

I want to know about technical and formatting issues and the sorts of things which would improve the story's readability.

Here is what I do not want in a critique.

"I don't like limericks or poems. I don't like silly stories. I don't like stories about vampires with red wheelbarrows."

If you hate vampires, red wheelbarrows, limericks, poems, or silliness, do us both a favor and don't read this story. I don't want you reading stuff you don't like. You aren't doing either of us any favors. If that's what you're here to say, please move on down the line to the next story on the list. 

If you're still here, I assume you want to read 1000 words about Ed and his red wheelbarrow. So, here you go.

There was a vampire named Ed
Who had a house with a garden and shed
He planted flowers at night
Underneath the moonlight
Hauling dirt in his wheelbarrow so red

Everyone thought Ed was up to no good
Hauling dirt and stakes made of wood
What could he be doing
Besides slaying and slewing
And not sleeping when folks thought he should

Ed planted colorful posies
Pansies, daisies, and rosies
He planted fruit trees
And big pink peonies
To delight every passerby's nosies

Halloween was Ed's favorite day
He put dried flowers in a bouquet
He picked pumpkins and squashes
And went out in his galoshes
To spruce up the yard the right way

Ed's house was festive and spooky
He was harmless, though a bit kooky
But everyone was afraid
So away they all stayed
Leaving Ed feeling lonesome and ooky

The next day, Ed found a letter
He hoped it would make him feel better
But the letter was mean
Called him a blood-sucking fiend
As Ed read, his cheeks became wetter

Ed knew he had to explain
He didn't eat people or even their brains
His blood came in sealed bags
Labeled neatly with tags
From biting he always abstained

So, one day in the middle of winter
Ed invited the neighbors to dinner
He served a nice stew
And apple pie too
As a chef, Ed was no beginner

Ed printed booklets to tell his story
He was a vampire but not so gory
He presented no danger
To friend or to stranger
And he didn't go hunting for quarry

I must drink blood, it is true
But no harm will come to you
I must garden at night
When the moonlight is right
I can't be out when it's sunny and blue

I drink blood which has been donated
Or proper payment negotiated
I don't sleep in a coffin
At least not very often
I'm friendly if a bit understated

I haul dirt in my wheelbarrow red
To make a good flowerbed
I mow my lawn in the dark
Sometimes walk to the park
I promise you've nothing to dread

I like to cook cakes and pies
When night falls and the moon starts to rise
But sometimes it gets lonely
Cooking for myself only
I'd love to share my food with you guys

A few centuries ago, it would seem
Ed was a chef for a queen
He tended her gardens
And signed all her pardons
Tucked her in and wished her sweet dreams

While visiting a strange land
Ed was attacked by a vampire man
Who drank up Ed's blood
And left him in the mud
Out in the barren wasteland

Ed bit the vampire while fighting
On that night so terribly frightening
Ed didn't die
And so, by the by
He awoke to a sharp crack of lightning

Ed knew he'd become a vampire
And the sun would make him catch fire
He found an old mausoleum
Where no-one could see him
In the daytime, he would there retire

At night, Ed went out and drank blood
But didn't drain folks or leave them in the mud
He couldn't go home
He felt sad and alone
His life had become quite a dud

Ed moved from town to town
Slept in any mausoleum he found
He slept in ship cargo holds
And castle strongholds
He traveled the globe all around

In modern times, Ed settled down
He was tired of traveling around
He didn't need to hypnotize
Unlucky girls and guys
When it was time to chow down

Ed found a house where he could stay
And get his blood the modern way
He bought his wheelbarrow red
And flour to make bread
And thought that things would be okay

If you're nervous I understand, you see
Said the booklet Ed passed out for free
I'm glad you've come by
Please have a slice of pie
And maybe a nice cup of tea

Folks soon discovered Ed was quite nice
His house smelled of sugar and spice
He was a genial host
To both the living and ghosts
And his pie had each guest enticed

Then there came a knock at the door
A voice said, "have you room for one more?"
It was a voice Ed had known
In his long-ago home
He almost fell in a faint on the floor

"My Queen, how can you be alive?"
Ed inquired his eyes wide with surprise
The Queen shook her head
"Not alive, I'm undead.
I wonder, will you invite me inside?"

Ed asked the Queen to come in right away
She smiled as she stood in the foyer
"I knew you wouldn't leave me alone
So, when you didn't come home
I went looking for you the next day."

The Queen said she met a vampire
Who drank her blood and threw her into the briar
But she bit him back
While he made his attack
When day came, she hid in the church with the spire

"I searched for you for year upon year,"
The Queen said, her eyes filled with tears
"It was bad luck, I think,"
Ed said, and gave her a drink
"For with you, I can never feel fear."

"Ed, you were a wonderful chef,
And as a gardener, you were the best
But I must tell you the truth
From the time of my youth
I loved you and none of the rest."

Ed married the Queen Christmas night
And everything was all right
Then when spring began
According to plan
Their garden was a glorious sight

There was a vampire named Ed
Who had a wheelbarrow painted bright red
He used to be lonely
But he has his one and only
And his neighbors think he bakes the best bread

Ed and the Queen now have a pet crow
And they adopted a werewolf, you know
Instead of howling at the moon
He sings a cool tune
And dogs follow him wherever he goes

 With love from Ed, the Queen, and their family


  1. Huge smiles which I expected. A love story I didn't - and thoroughly enjoyed that too.
    I hope the people who were previously prejudiced, realise that pies and prejudice don't mix - and get their share of Ed's bounteous baking.

    1. Thank you for being Ed's first visitor!
      I didn't expect a love story either. It's like I said, my characters write themselves, and they're jerks! ;-)

  2. Hi,
    First, I enjoyed reading your poem. I am a romantic so that your story turned out to be a romance was great. I had to smile. The imagery is also good. I noticed that you didn't use any punctuation for the verses but only for the parts that were spoken. I added a period to sentences in the verses while I was reading it, which made it easier for me to read. So you might want to consider that to improve the readability.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    1. I'll give it a go and see if I like it. I don't usually use periods in my poetry, but maybe for something this long it would be necessary. I'll query the beta readers when the time comes!

    2. Yes Cie, 'enjambment' - no punctuation on end lines means the reader mustn't stop till they reach a period. Pat's right. It's hard to read this way. Most people would just pause anyway.

    3. Ah, well. I'm self-taught, and I'm not a very good teacher. I would probably cut my own classes if I weren't the only game in town. I'm a half-assed excuse for a publisher too. Nonetheless, I am intending to publish this one into a book. Each limerick will have its own page, and yes, they will be punctuated and not enjambed, or whatever one might say!

  3. So much fun!!
    Loved the story line and the effort put into the limericks (not an easy task to combine the two!). So glad Ed and the Queen found each other. Here's to breaking bread with neighbours who are just a little different from us :)

    1. Thank you. Once the neighbors looked beyond the surface, they found that Ed was a nice guy.

  4. Good tempo - I found myself enjoying the rhythm, the rhymes, and the tale too.
    Happy ending for Ed - even vampires desire love.

  5. Loved it! Poor Ed, so "lonesome and ooky" in the beginning. I'm glad he found his happily-ever-after with his beloved queen.

    1. Me too. I intended it to have a happy ending, but even I wasn't expecting that one! I didn't start out with the idea of writing a love story.

  6. Well, this was unique and fun to read. Love stories come in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer them in brevity and you've done that here.

  7. Hi Cie. This was a delight. What a romp. Ed sounds lovely and is slowing schmoosing the neighbours. I wish him and his queen every happiness. I can tell you enjoyed writing this.

    1. I did have a lot of fun with this one. Conversely, I've been having literal nightmares about my most recent WIP.

  8. What an adorable story. How skilful of you to write all those limericks. I had a great time reading and honestly can offer no critque because I was highly impressed.

  9. Had great flow and was fun to give a go. Funny how characters will just take a life of their own and turn things on their heads. Never expected the Queen to come back.

  10. Aww! This was a sweet and lovely poem! I thoroughly enjoyed the rhyming scheme, and I felt like it flowed pretty well. This is an incredibly creative take on the prompt! Well done!

  11. I don't think your characters are jerks. Were you referring to folks who left less than kind comments? Your characters are quite charming. I liked how integral the red wheelbarrow is to Ed's livelihood and, in a way, his sanity, that he could build a new life, find a way to connect with friends, and, surprisingly, to meet his one true love. Altogether, quite a satisfying read. I did miss punctuation. Yes, really. Sometimes the first two lines would run into the rest of the stanza. Punctuation was used within lines, but not between lines. If this lovely story-poem were read aloud, I'd find it hard to know the writer's pacing without punctuation. Ed's red wheelbarrow and his joy of life will stay with me.

    1. Haha, no, my characters really are jerks. I have ideas for them, and then the bastards flout my ideas and write themselves.
      I don't tend to punctuate my poetry except for the occasional comma. I wonder if sometimes on different platforms the formatting ends up looking weird. It looks fine to me, but perhaps it all looks like one big run-on sentence. I put spaces between the verses.
      Good thoughts, though. I'm intending to publish this, so I'll be giving my beta readers the Word version.
      When I publish work I've created in Word or Blogger on Tumblr, for instance, it reads just fine until it's reblogged, and then it all runs together. There's no standardization between platforms.
      Thank you for your suggestions.

  12. A nice vampire (just my type). I love the poem and didn't notice there wasn't punctuation at the end of the lines so my opinion is that I read it without the need for that. It flowed nicely with a good rhythm. It was great that your characters 'made' you write a HEA.

    1. Thank you. :-D
      I noticed just tonight that I put punctuation at the end of some lines and not at the end of others. I was probably tired when I wrote this. That happens a lot!

  13. Ah, that was so cute. Well structured, had a nice rhythm and flow. Eternal love is so romantic.

  14. Hi Cie - I think that's just great ... loved your take - Ed is a real treat in this world. Also your phrase 'wheelbarrow so red' - so clever ... loved it all - what a great story for many kids - congratulations ... such fun - cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you. I'm working with a friend who is creating illustrations for the story. I hope to publish it next year.

  15. I certainly love limericks. Though I felt that there was a slight rhyme issue with some paragraphs. Example: In para 15, fighting, frightening and lightning don't rhyme with each other. In para 25, alive, surprise and inside don't rhyme.

  16. I loved loved loved this! So fun and amusing! It would make a great children's book! Visually I saw Ed as tall and slender, while the Queen resembled Victoria. I imagined the neighbors at first as wide-eyed and fearful, then with smiles and laughter. Thank you!

    1. I like your descriptions of the characters! My friend who is a Chibi artist is creating some illustrations for the story. :-)

  17. What a fun story! I like the poem style, but I think some punctuation might make it easier to read. I'm no expert on poetry or sentence structure; perhaps this kind of poem doesn't use punctuation. In any case, I really enjoyed this. I wasn't expecting a love story, but it was a nice twist. A message of acceptance is always nice.

    1. I've come to the conclusion that because of the length of the poem, punctuation is necessary. I wasn't expecting a love story either, to be honest! It just turned out that way. :-)

  18. An excessively humorous poem with a strong sense of rhythm and flow to it. Alone with having a nice twist at the end. Well done.

  19. From the first two lines I was engrossed, loving this vampire gardener. Maybe, my Owain is related - even if his gardening is not at night. Your limericks are purrfect - and I've learnt to 'self-punctuate' when I read poetry. Sad until he makes friends and finds his Queen. Wonderful.

  20. Charming and fun. Nice read.

  21. I love limericks and it's a rare pleasure to find a poetry entry for WEP. This was delightful. Thank you for a lovely and fun read.
    My own view is that punctuation should be consistent throughout the stanzas - the absence or presence of full stops/commas/quotation marks etc don't affect me per se. Every poet is different in their execution and rules are anyway a bit more relaxed for poetry as compared to prose.

    1. I think I've learned that for a long piece like this, people tend to prefer punctuation. I will remember that for the future.

  22. I love limericks and this had me chuckling. I felt sorry for poor Ed and I'm glad he got a happy ending! Great job with sustaining the rhyme scheme all the way through.


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