Bram Riddlebarger

Bram Riddlebarger writes, plays music, and lives in SE Ohio.


The Hornworm and the Green Tomato


The hornworm had eaten the better part of the upper reaches of the tomato plant.

The green tomato was petrified. It was already late in the season and now this.

“YOU BETTER NOT EAT ME,” screamed the green tomato as the hornworm cast glances its way.

“I’m so fucking horny,” said the hornworm. Its rear horn rigid.

“I’ll BE RED IN A FEW DAYS,” negotiated/bargained/pleaded the green tomato with a faint blush.

“You’ll be red-y now,” leered the worm. It ashed a cigarette as tobacco worms did. The cherry burned.

The hornworm bit deeply. The sexual juices of the green tomato grew into flight.




“Nobody loves me,” said the fern.

The water of the pond reflected a gray sky.

“I hate this fucking job,” said the fern.

The wind blew across the cubicle of the earth.

“There’s no future,” said the fern. “No hope for a better life.”

The western fires had all died.

But they would return.

“It’s cold out here. I’m freezing to death!” said the fern.

The sun set on the ridgeline.

“Even Job was better off than me,” said the fern. Its fronds covered its face.

The fern swayed as the cold settled in from on high.

“Boy, you sure are a sensitive fella aren’t you?” asked the sedge grasses grown brown and brittle. “What kinda fern are you anyway?”

The fern’s nose cleared with the change in season.

“A sensitive fern,” said the fern.

The sedge fashioned a casket for the fern.

The first frost set in.


The Bumblebee and the Stink Bug

for Graham  

The bumblebee sat exhausted on the large green leaf of a delicata squash plant overtaking the beans. The bumblebee was covered head to toe in orange pollen. It had been up since 4am. It barely slept at all.

“Fucking shit,” the bumblebee cursed. It combed the pollen to fly.

A stink bug watched from the next row of beans.

“God, I’d murder someone to be carefree,” said the bumblebee taking longer than the regulated 15 minute break.

“That’s not pollen, baby,” said the stink bug. “It’s just my sexual juices.”

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MARBLES by Bram Riddlebarger

"Sit down and take a load off," said Jack.

"We've been working like the queen's bees."

"Yeah," said Tommy.

He was tired.

"Which one did you go out on today, Tommy? I thought I saw that #4 sagging a little."

Jack wasn't joking.

Tommy was real fat.

He was tired, too.

"No," said Tommy. "I stayed on shore and flirted with that cute little Amy. The one with only one eye. Besides that, she's real cute."

"Are you shitting me?"

"Nope," said Tommy.

They drank warm beer out of brown bottles.

Jack couldn't believe this Tommy.

"Hitting on the ladies, huh?" said Jack.

"You know, I'd watch out for that one-eyed . . . "

But that was as far as Tommy would let Jack go.

He let Jack have it with some real dialogue.

"Now, hold on there, Jack," said Tommy.

"Just watch your mouth about the one-eyed women.

Amy seems okay."

"Okay?" said Jack.

"Have you lost your marbles? Or did this one-eyed Amy eat ‘em already?"

Jack was a mean-spirited man.

He had watched Amy switch around in the office at the building beside the water many times himself.

He had wondered what it would be like to be with a one-eyed woman.

Tommy said, "Yeah. She ate them."


"She ate them."


"She ate them."

Jack emptied his brown bottle of beer.

He looked at Tommy.

He squinted at Tommy with one eye closed.

And he knew that they weren't there anymore.

Poor guy, he thought.

No marbles.

Jack stood up to get another warm bottle of beer.

Tommy said,

“We both got something missing now."

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SOY by Bram Riddlebarger

It was when he started drinking the milkshakes that the trouble began. Before two weeks had passed he had ballooned up fifty pounds and was beating the pulp out of every motherfucker that came within an inch of his mind’s eye.

His power, he believed, came from his special method, patent pending, of milkshake making. It had to do with split-second timing between milk added and ice cream stirred, although quick wrist action was as necessary a factor as any. Of course, he didn’t use an electric blender. It was just pure spoon on glass like a junkie and his needle. He needed these milkshakes. They were his rebirth into the realm of the gods and he was their master.

In one sick instance of his depravity, he beat a skinny blond-haired boy to a bloody mess as he recited the current thirty-one flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream in 3/4 time: one flavor for every blow to the boy's ever-flattening blond melon. Then he went home for a vanilla milkshake. He needed simplicity in the wake of triumph.

Then, when all the cows died, he was ruined. There was just no room for soy in his life.

He cried about it sometimes, later, but mostly he just dwindled away.

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