Time Out

Today, some words. Use them proudly.




Quickly’s taking some time. Kicking back. Doing the tourist thing for a bit. Drinking, eating things I’ve got no business eating. Hey. Spring break. Life is good.

See you in May.


Unless life gets too good.






What It Is

A thing is what it is.

[If you believe every thing in the universe—air current, dust mote, life, death, slow cooker, apple tree—is in its singular place for a reason: stop here and write.]

A tree exists. How it came to be planted–by man, squirrel or gravity–is irrelevant. Anything about it that doesn’t present to the senses right now, is irrelevant. It has no past or future. History is human, is in the human mind, it isn’t HERE. The layers of meaning that charge a rose don’t belong to the rose—they are human. The thing is the thing.

Emotion. Personal History. Cultural history. Art. Music. Politics. Pain.

None of those belong to the thing. They are ours.

Write about an object. As you do, peel away layers. Symbolism, history, intention, possibility. Try to see both the thing and the “added value.” Your poem might be in the thing itself, it might be in the layers. It might be in the process of peeling away.


Choose your own something, or use one of these to give you ideas.


Next week’s prompt will be our last for a while. Celebrating National Poetry Month with a little inspiration-gathering.


Note: If the words don’t slay you today, skip to the images.

Have you ever read as advice to writers:

go back and cut out the adjectives


It’s one of those suggestions that has always raised my hackles. I love my descriptives. Well. At a used book store the other day I picked up a chunky paperback, first of a fantasy trilogy by someone I remember from my days of consuming fantasies like so many oatmeal cookies.

Okay. Page One has some superscript and ornament, then the title. Text begins about halfway down the page. I quit reading halfway down Page Two, opened Scrivener to my most recent poems and started looking for words to cut.

In roughly 44 lines, 250-300 words, the adjective/noun sore thumbs poked out so much they hurt. Da, da, da, adjective noun, da da da, adjective noun. As Donald Trump would say: So sad.

I should have guessed from the thickness that there was padding involved. And the uncracked book was wearing its second used book store sticker. Enough ranting.

How about we get some use out of it? Column A modifier, Column B noun (Yeah, I know—not precisely so) Do some mix and match. Create a title and three or four phrases. Take them where you will.

strong arms
slim shoulders
dark-haired, driven man
blazing crest
terrible doubts
tender need
suspended moment
inexpressible joy

1st paragraph, 11 lines

small-boned enchantress
threadbare quilts
fretful sleep
muted cry
unglazed croft window
full awareness
irreversible reality
mild sea winds

6 lines

muffled boom
stainless sands
ferocious, clawing breath
white-mantled dales

4 lines

open glens
scrub oak
rustling flats
frozen marsh
driven bursts
ill-fitted shutters
frosted arc
leaked bit of moonlight
spent tang
cut cedar
frost-damp miasma
moldered thatch
deep breath
runaway pound

11 lines



Tell us what you see:





Lose Yourself

Bruegel, Pieter the Elder
Bruegel, Pieter the Elder



Today I want you to lose yourself.

Think about the most interesting thing you did last week. Something active, if it’s no more than going shopping. (hey, it might have been a slow week.)

Write about what you did, saw, etc—but using ONLY the third person plural. As in: “They Went to Walgreens for a Walking Cane”.

Tinker around with it, see how it works. You can start confabulating about halfway through if that appeals to your sense of what should be. If it doesn’t work well with “they,” you might try “you” or “he,” but go for the choice that gives you the more interesting result.

Let yourself go


Open the Book


Good Morning.

I know I said I would buy you an ice cream. How about a trip to the used book store instead? (If you’d rather, though, you can write about disappointment.)

Below are some random book titles. Avoiding any that are familiar, pick one or two that appeal to you, jiggle your curiosity, or send you off onto a tangent. Maybe you want to rewrite one of the titles? [for instance: I misread Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge as “Notebooks of the Malta Laurids Bridge” and was fascinated.] Change anything that you want—I’ve already removed the initial “The” from several, but you can go much farther.

Okay? Imagine the book(s) in your hands. Covers. Paper. Weight. Smell. Dust?

Decide on one and open it, somewhere in the middle.

Using the title alone as your guide, write the poem you would find there.


Year of the Flood
Ottoman Centuries
Death on the Installment Plan
Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Monarch of Wit
Shoot the Kids
Prisoner of Grace
Life of an Amorous Woman
Language of Vision
Travels with Herodotus



Funny Thing Happened

Oops. I lost track of time.

Promise not to do that again.

Buy you an ice cream cone after I get my allowance.


Until then…Mardi Gras.

Play it straight or play it kinky.

Invent your own version of the parade. Maybe even make up your own Krewe. What’s your thing? What do you throw to the crowd?
Or would you prefer to be on the receiving end? Talk about the sidewalk. The sounds, or the smells.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!