Wednesday December 31st, 2008

The exercise:

With the end of the year at hand, today's starter is simply: 2008.


We’re about to enter the final year of the first decade of this millennium. Do you remember all the nonsense going on at the end of 1999, with all the y2k concerns bouncing around? Yeah, that was 9 years ago.

2008 has been a year of big birthdays. I, along with the vast majority of my friends, turned 30; throw in two 60ths, a 70th and an 80th within my family’s and Kat’s and you’ve got a pretty significant year.

I’ve done a lot of writing this year and I feel like I’ve made some big improvements. I don’t know about practice making perfect, but it sure makes a difference. I’m finally starting work on a novel, the first draft of which will be going online starting this Friday over at Protagonize - I’ll be sure to post a note here when it begins. I know it’s going to need a lot of rewriting but I’m looking forward to finally reaching that stage in the process.

We’re celebrating the end of the year tonight by having some friends over for drinks, games and general good cheer. I’m looking forward to it.

And I’m looking forward to 2009 and all it holds in store.

Happy New Year’s to you and yours; be safe and be joyful.

Tuesday December 30th, 2008

The exercise:

I failed to mention it last week, but my second story over at my Creative Outlet has come to a conclusion. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out and I would appreciate you checking it out if you haven't already done so.

So as a delayed celebration, the starter for today is: spare change.


Do you have a quarter to spare?
You could change my life, if you dare…

Nope, I need to make a phone call
And then pay for my parking stall.

Then perhaps I could have a dime?
I don’t think I have much more time…

Sorry, ten cents is far too much;
I just don’t have the Midas touch!

A nickel then, is all I ask;
Surely that’s not too great a task…

Again, I must tell you plainly:
That amount is just ungainly!

A penny then, I shan’t ask more;
I hear Death knocking at my door…

Hey, money doesn’t grow on trees;
Earn it yourself - get off your knees!

Monday December 29th, 2008

The exercise:

The prompt for today is: wind storm.


The trees are dancing in the sun’s fading light while the gingerbread houses of my neighbourhood watch silently, their eyes painted with white and blue Christmas lights. The wind whistles through my window as I observe the maple tree’s swaying limbs and the pine tree’s fleeing needles.

The street light is rocking gently back and forth, unable to resist joining the ballet. A solitary bird struggles by on feeble wings, too stubborn to turn and allow the gusts to take it where they please. The SUV across the street rumbles to life, unafraid of the slush and snow covering the road like dunes of sand on a far away beach.

Will I find the courage to join this perfect parade? Or shall I hide inside, awaiting calmer conditions?

But what is the use in waiting? There will never be another now, so join me as I go out to embrace this moment of wonder and beauty.

Sunday December 28th, 2008

The exercise:

Write a poem about a country you've visited. I wrote mine this morning for a story over at Protagonize and liked it enough to bring the exercise over here.

... also, I seem to have used up all of the writing in my fingertips for today.


I know I can never forget the beach
That ended where my eyes could not reach,
Or the waves crashing over my head,
Or watching the sunrise from my bed.

On the South Island I jumped from a plane
And the view made me forget my name;
On the North Island I watched oceans
Collide like conflicting emotions.

In one night I saw more stars in the sky
Than all of the world's tearful goodbyes;
I trekked across moonscapes, through lush trees,
Up mountains that brought me to my knees.

As time passes and old age settles in,
I will think of the sun on my skin,
Of the kind and welcoming faces,
Of New Zealand's gentle embraces.

Saturday December 27th, 2008

The exercise:

We had a rather eventful trip back to Vancouver today, which has resulted in this week's four line poem prompt: winter armageddon.

It's so bad out there that I had to write two.


Winter has come, snow everywhere;
Abandon cars, cancel all flights!
Sidewalks are ice, walk if you dare;
Stay in your homes, survive the night.

Tonight the air is filled with the sound
Of tires spinning without gaining ground;
In the distance impotent car horns
Give the signal that it's time to mourn.

Friday December 26th, 2008

The exercise:

Oh man, I have to come up with a starter for the first time in almost two weeks.

Alright, I'm caving under the pressure. The starter for today is: boxing day.

Shut up.


When I was backpacking through Europe I met an American while staying in a hostel in Heidelberg Germany. He was a very interesting fellow, with some unique ideas and he was one of the first Americans I met that didn't really fit in with the 'loud and proud' stereotype that I considered the norm at the time.

What really caught me off guard though was his perception of Boxing Day. He was under the impression that it was this major day in Canada and was utterly shocked by my admission that all it meant to me was cheap deals at all the major stores. He seemed quite intent that it was a day that represented something so much more to his neighbours to the north and he had a lot of trouble accepting my view that it was no big deal to any of us.

Sadly I can't remember what exactly he thought it was meant to be about but every year when Boxing Day comes around, I can't help but think of that small American man who had no idea what the day meant to Canadians.

Thursday December 25th, 2008

The exercise:

Merry Christmas to all, I hope the holiday season finds you in good health and in better company.

The countdown ends, on the 200th day in a row of writing practice, with the starter: a partridge in a pear tree.


"What's that bird doing in our tree?" Tim asked Becky.

"I'm not sure but that is one lovely hymn," Becky told Tim.

"But it's eating all of the pears!" Tim said with an angry glare.

"Well maybe it doesn't eat meat," Becky replied without missing a beat.

"We need to get rid of it before it calls the rest of its flock," Tim muttered as he picked up a rock.

"If you do that I will tell mother," Becky warned her little brother.

"Oh fine, let's go play tag under the bluff," Tim said with a shrug, falling for her bluff.

Wednesday December 24th, 2008

The exercise:

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the blog, not a post was written without this for a starter: two turtle doves.


Um, how does that even work?
I don't mean to be a jerk,
But how did a flying dove
And a land turtle make love?

What is even more shocking
Is that their interlocking
Produced such lovely babies,
With not a sign of rabies!

I suppose it matters not
If I figure out this plot;
So leave the questions behind
And be thankful for their kind.

Tuesday December 23rd, 2008

The exercise:

Le startere: three french hens.


Justin entered the tiny butcher shop in Toulouse and stopped in shock. This was not what he had been expecting at all.

"Bonjour monsieur!" The butcher was not the issue for Justin - he could have come straight out of a child's book. A rotund man with rosy cheeks, bushy mustache and an apron with a French phrase scrawled across it that Justin was fortunate enough to not understand.

No, his shock was the result of seeing the three, very much alive, hens sitting in a cage on the counter.

"Um, hello," he replied haltingly. "Um, do you -"

"Yes, yes," the butcher said with only the hint of a roll of the eyes. "What would you like?"

Justin paused; he was not considering his options, he knew what he had come in the shop for. Three chickens for his host family's Christmas Eve dinner. However he had not been counting on them still being alive.

"Three chickens please," Justin said slowly and hoped the man would produce three nicely package, plucked, very much dead, chickens. Instead he nodded gruffly, reached into the cage and grabbed a hen by the neck. Justin's eyes went wide as the butcher picked up a large cleaver with his free hand. "Ah, wait!"

"What is the problem?"

"Ah... um, I'll take them alive," he said in a rush. "We'll, ah, cut them up ourselves, thank you!"

The butcher frowned but put the hen back in the cage with her two sisters. Justin paid the money owed, grabbed the cage and flew out the door. Once outside he considered his options.

And that, my friends, is why there are three hens running loose in the woods surrounding Toulouse to this very day.

Monday December 22nd, 2008

The exercise:

We're almost there!

Today's starter: four calling birds.


On a branch covered with snow,
Sit four midnight-feathered crows;
They come a calling each year;
When snow starts falling I hear,
Their cries of greeting and news,
Of folks they’re meeting in twos.

They stay but briefly and then,
They leave to return again,
The next time winter stops by;
As we watch stiffly they fly:
The cold has frozen their wings.
But still we notice them sing.

Sunday December 21st, 2008

The exercise:

That is a whole lotta snow out there and it's not stopping. White Christmas, incoming.

The starter: five gold rings.


There is a room that has long passed from the memory of living men, deep below the mountains of this country, but I have not forgotten it. I forget nothing.

This room contains the salvaged treasures of civilizations that once ruled this planet, who later became legend, then myth and now are not spoken of by anyone who wishes to maintain a reputation for rational thinking. But I am not concerned with reputations, and so I speak of them.

Within this mess of mementos there is a box; wooden, plain, no etchings or paintings of note, but finely crafted by a loving hand. Inside this simple container are the signets of the five most powerful men to have ever graced this humble planet with their presence.

And I do not make such a claim lightly.

The five gold rings stored in that box, in that forgotten room, are the key to the return of our great nation to its rightful place as rulers of this planet. When it is time, when the right men are once again among us, they will be retrieved, and they will see the light of day and the stars of night once more.

And, I promise you, they will never be forgotten again.

Saturday December 20th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for the four line poem this week continues the countdown to Christmas: six geese a laying.


Six golden eggs in six broken nests,
Six golden geese fleeing in distress;
One sigh of delight is softly hissed,
One petty oaf has found his breakfast.

Friday December 19th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday is taking a well deserved holiday break. It will be back in the new year, but for now the countdown keeps on keeping on: seven swans a swimming.


I sat on the park bench watching the family of swans float serenely in the murky waters of the pond. Their pure white feathers were such a contrast against the mud brown waters in which they swam. I wondered how they could stand to be in such filth.

A family took a break from their afternoon walk to admire the scene. Their young boy stepped to the water’s edge and stared silently - struck dumb by their beauty, I hoped. He couldn’t have been more than five.

The father allowed him a few minutes before calling him back in German. They had places to go, people to see, things to do. I sank deeper into the bench and continued my vigil, glad to be free of obligations on my European adventure.

The swans continued to float, I remained in my seat, and we spent a happy afternoon in silent companionship.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the spirit of the holiday season, I'll leave you with a spoken word performance of a different sort.

Thursday December 18th, 2008

The exercise:

Christmas comes closer, the countdown continues. Today's starter is: eight maids a milking.


Eight maids keep busy by milking in a long row; each one has her hair tied back with a blue bow. They seem sure of themselves but the cows just don’t know. They get a little nervous and the milk no longer flows.

The maids pause to look at one another in a panic. They need this milk for dinner tonight, their mother will be frantic! Something must be done to fix this mess and right quick!

Suddenly a maid breaks out in song; the first note is pure, high and long. The others join in, hoping that the first will not be wrong. The cows nod their heads and moo right along.

A few more notes, two more tugs and once again here comes the milk! Who needs violence and weapons when you have sweetness and silk?

Wednesday December 17th, 2008

The exercise:

I saw a man on a bicycle today, riding down my snow covered street. I think I have a new definition of crazy.

Anyway, on with the show: nine ladies dancing.


Nine ladies in the club
Dancing in a circle;
Nine boys against the wall
Acting like Steve Urkel.

"We should go talk to them,"
The bravest suggested;
"But my hair is a mess!"
The shyest protested.

The others said the same,
So off they went to comb;
But when they came back out
The ladies had gone home.

Tuesday December 16th, 2008

The exercise:

And so it goes: ten lords a leaping.


Mi lords, this simply won’t do,
Mi lords, someone might see you!

Oh Jeeves, let us leap in peace,
Oh Jeeves, don’t call the police!

Mi lords, I cannot stand by,
Mi lords, your mothers would die!

Oh Jeeves, always so uptight,
Oh Jeeves, fun is rarely right!

Mi lords, when will you grow up?
Mi lords, you’re no longer pups!

Oh Jeeves, old folk are a bore,
Oh Jeeves, can’t we leap some more?

Mi lords, enough is enough,
Mi lords, stop lest I get rough!

Oh Jeeves, we will stop for now,
Oh Jeeves, we’ll end with a bow!

Monday December 15th, 2008

The exercise:

The countdown continues. Today's starter is: eleven pipers piping.


Ten men and one woman entered the auditorium from the door to the right of the stage as the chattering turned to whispers and then were hushed and shushed to silence. Peter picked up the bagpipe that was situated at the far left of the platform and the remainder of the band took up their positions, ending with Paul at the far right.

Paula, standing proudly in the middle of the assembled pipers, played the very first note of the very first song. Paddy joined in next with a flourish before Pablo added his pipes to the medley. The well dressed spectators gave a roar of approval when Patrick and Phil blasted two prolonged notes in unison at the crescendo of the first performance.

After the final note of that song had faded into the night, four pipers had not blown even once. They had listened, as though they were in the audience, not making a move or a sound. But as one they played the first note of the second song and none watching could tell which note came from Percy or Pascal, and they would have sworn Pierre and Paris played the same pipe!

The plethora of pipers played long into the night and when the pipes had blown their last, well that audience gave them an ovation that lasted until morning! Just as the sun peeked over the horizon outside the pipers, having absorbed their due, exited stage left with smiles on their faces and pints in their hands, until only the lonely bagpipes themselves were left behind. And there they waited for the next piping performance, predicted to be pretty soon… but not nearly soon enough.

Sunday December 14th, 2008

The exercise:

With twelve days to go until Christmas I thought it would be appropriate to have a little countdown to the big day. So it begins today, with the starter: twelve drummers drumming.


Gather ‘round the campfire my friends,
Let us tell you how it begins;
Close your eyes and feel the drum beat,
Breath deep and stomp your weary feet.

It will arrive with a whisper,
With not a shout but a whimper;
It will sweep through the back alleys,
No need for speeches or rallies.

It will lift up the downtrodden,
The elite will think it sudden;
Words will die as they are struck dumb,
The day that change finally comes.

Saturday December 13th, 2008

The exercise:

The topic for the four line poem this Saturday is the stuff that's coming down outside right now: snow.


Falling gently, covering the street
Running swiftly, searching for the heat
Sipping deeply, cradling the mug
Missing dearly, comfort of your hug

Friday December 12th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday has babies on its mind, as did Bassey Ikpi when she wrote Apology To My Unborn.


"Practicing slow this breathing that will one day usher you into this world." That, that right there, is one hell of a line.

Speaking of fine lines, this is pretty high up there as well: "I still think you deserve more than this threat of me as your mother." This piece is littered with incredible lines, I should give up trying to capture them all.

Such powerful honesty, such open insecurity. The image of one very pregnant woman, alone on stage as she shares her fears and hopes for her child is one that is hard to forget. I hope that I never do.

Here's another performance from the very talented, but this time much less pregnant, Bassey Ikpi.

Thursday December 11th, 2008

The exercise:

Only two weeks to go until Christmas - well that's a mildly scary thought.

Today's starter is: boxing.


I duck, dodge, move around the ring. Feet keep moving, fists keep firing. He moves around me like he's got wings but I keep doing my thing.

Gloves meet flesh with a resounding beat. If this keeps up I won't make it to my corner to take my seat. Sweat mingles with the blood running into my eyes as I feel the heat. He fakes a left and then gives me a surprise right uppercut treat.

My head snaps back with a crack. I hit the canvas with a sorry smack; the will to get up again I lack. I close my eyes and this nightmare fades to black.

Wednesday December 10th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: between death and dreams.


Do you think the dead dream?
I suspect that they do.
Those that are new to death
Dream of places they knew,
While those who are long gone
Remember morning dew;
Feeling it with bare feet
When their life was still new

When my final day dawns
I hope to meet that glow
With peace inside my heart,
Many friends and few foes;
May the dream I wake from
Be filled with those I know
And be devoid of fear
That it's my time to go

Tuesday December 9th, 2008

The exercise:

When I logged in to upload this post I noticed there was a new Blogger Buzz update and I clicked over to see what was new. Turns out there's a new thing bouncing about called iLike that lets you add a sample playlist to your blog. As a rather massive lover of music, I couldn't resist... so you'll find a sample of the sort of music I like to listen to while I'm writing over there on the right, under The Rules.

Getting back on track, today's writing exercise is another round of haiku, with the topic: corruption.


For a senate seat
In the state of Illinois
A price can be found

You want out of jail?
And a clean record to boot?
That's gonna cost ya

Money changes hands
In backrooms every day
Welcome to real life

Monday December 8th, 2008

The exercise:

Pick a Beatles song title and use it as the topic of a poem.


The Long And Winding Road

When four lanes dwindle down to two
I know I'm halfway home to you;
I've been driving since dawn today -
I won't be late, I hope and pray

The sun goes out, headlights come on,
Turn up the music, I'm 'bout gone,
But there are still too many miles
Between me and my angel's smiles

Asphalt transforms into gravel,
Trees lean over me like gavels
Trying to sentence me to life,
Severing our bond like a knife

I fight the wheel and I fight sleep;
A promise to you I must keep:
To be by your side when our child
Leaves the womb and enters the wild

Around this bend another waits,
From this road there is no escape;
But I know you're waiting for me
So I drive oh so carefully

Just one final corner to go...
When I feel the tires slip I know:
Of all the precious things I'll miss...
Above all else will be your kiss

Sunday December 7th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's prompt is: mind reader.


Kat and I went to a good friend's birthday party last night and had a really wonderful time. We ended the night with a board game (and maybe some drinking).

The game was called Telepaths and the basic idea was to split into teams of two, each team was given either a word or picture and then had to individually write down words they associated with it. Depending on which square on the board you were on, you had to write down anywhere from five to eight words. For each matching word your team got, you moved forward one space.

The first team to start play to begin the game was the one that had known each other the least amount of time. It was a little odd to go first, seeing as we've been together for 3.5 years, but everyone else knew each other either from high school or university. We had quite a few funny 'what were you thinking?' moments between the various teams, it was a really good time.

It didn't hurt that Kat and I ended up winning. I guess we've got each other figured out pretty good. Not that there are not still surprises (a few of them last night) but we're definitely on the same wavelength more often than not.

Saturday December 6th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for this week's four line poem is: Christmas shopping.


When did we get to December?
So many things to remember,
Can't forget presents for you...
And a wish list for me too

Friday December 5th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings you Joe Hernandez-Kolski's definition of Cool.


You have to admit, Joe knows the deal. I can't even pretend to disagree with any of his points.

He's particularly spot on about cell phones and the email thing, although I don't get too many of those any more. But cell phones? Man alive. You want to see me on the brink of physical assault? Watch me when someone nearby is walking down the sidewalk, or standing on the bus, looking at their phone, trying to figure out who it is, or whether they want to speak to that person right now.

All while their cell phone is blaring some stupid song.

Me? I'm embarrassed if I forget to switch my phone from ringing to vibrating when I'm on the bus. These people? Not a care in the world. Because, you know, their taste in music is obviously awesome and needs to be appreciated. By everyone. Ever.

Anyway. I'll leave you with another of Joe's performances. Enjoy.

Thursday December 4th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: heating up.


The fire is burning bright,
It keeps away the cold night;
Flames lick shadows so softly...
Before dying abruptly

The night moves in eagerly,
The fire fights meagerly;
Now the heat is gone away,
And the frost is here to stay

Wednesday December 3rd, 2008

The exercise:

For today's starter, I think I shall go with... by the numbers.


The numbers go up and down
And I go with them;
Rising too high brings a frown
But too low condemns

The middle ground is most safe
It brings sweet relief;
Against these bonds I oft chafe
Battling this thief

But I do not fight alone;
Grateful for support,
I will not falter or moan,
Life is just too short

Tuesday December 2nd, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: overthrowing the government. I know, how current am I?


I’m not really sure how I feel about what’s going on over in Ottawa these days.

On the one hand, my disdain for Stephen Harper is not something I’ve tried to hide so of course I’m thrilled at the prospect of not having him as my Prime Minister any more. I was deeply disappointed when he was not only re-elected, but with more seats. Not enough for a majority though; that was a relief at the time.

Now? It’s hard to say. It’s difficult for me to support the idea of the leader of this country, a democratic one through and through, not being elected. Not only that, Stephane Dion has made it clear that he still intends to step down as the leader of the Liberal Party early next year. So then the Liberals will have a leadership convention to replace an un-elected Prime Minister with… a Prime Minister of their choosing?

I guess it boils down to one big question: how badly do I want Harper ousted? Realistically, from where I’m sitting, it would be very, very difficult for the Liberals to choose a new leader that I would dislike even more than Harper. So at the end of the day, it will be a step in the right direction.

But at what cost?

If I, a proud Harper hater, am uncomfortable with this course of action, how much damage will this do to the Liberals and NDP in the eyes of the rest of the country? Random aside - I bet Bloc supporters are friggin' thrilled.

But the facts are the facts - Canada elected more non-Conservative officials to Parliament than they did Conservatives. I don’t think this is what we were expecting when we did that… but it’s most likely still better than being stuck with Harper for one, two, three or four more years.

Monday December 1st, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: fear.


What is going on?
I don't understand
What is this?
I want it to stop
Please make it stop
Make it stop
Make it stop
I don't want this
What has gone wrong?
It's all gone
Make it stop

Sunday November 30th, 2008

The exercise:

November ends with day number 175 and the prompt: checkmate.


Pawns fell by the wayside,
None listened as they cried;
Bishops prayed for their queen
While watching ghastly scenes

Brave knights waged hellish war
While soulless soldiers tore
And clawed at giant rooks
With blood crazed frenzied looks

Lives were blindly traded;
The king watched and waited.
He hoped his strategy
Would set his people free

Too late he saw the flaw,
Too late to seize a draw;
Before the clock struck nine
He was forced to resign

Hmm, technically not a checkmate... but! He resigned because he saw it coming! Yes, quite so.

Saturday November 29th, 2008

The exercise:

This week the four line poem starter is: subversive.


You cannot stop us,
Don't even try to;
The pretty lies are
More ugly than truth

Friday November 28th, 2008

The exercise:

From a brand new laptop, Def Poetry Jam Friday brings you something long overdue: the host himself, the mighty Mos Def.


The laptop took a while to get all setup so this is going to be quick.

Mos Def has become one of my favorite artists in the last few years; he is a representation of what hip hop should be. His lyrics are intelligent, imaginative and moving.

I wish more people would give his music a chance. If you're interested, I've got a few suggestions for you. As always :)

Thursday November 27th, 2008

The exercise:

Managed to not buy a laptop yesterday. Probably won't tonight. The weekend is another story though.

But today let us write some haiku about: baking.


Golden brown you rise
First filling the stoneware pan
And then my tummy

Chocolate and nuts,
The aroma of cookies,
Haunt me in my sleep

The days grow colder
But my spirits are lifted
By pumpkin muffins

Wednesday November 26th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today: impulse purchase. I'm writing mine at noon but scheduling it to get posted at six tonight because... well, no good reason, really. But I am and you can't stop me!


I'm sitting here at work, on my lunch break, thinking about buying a laptop. Today.

There are several problems with this idea.

One: I know very, very little about laptops. I don't know what brands are good, I don't know how fast it needs to be to not drive me crazy, I don't know how big a screen I need not to go cross-eyed... all that good stuff. Not a clue.

Two: I don't have the money to buy a top-end model, which is fine. But I have no idea how low the price can go before I get into the 'will break in one month' range.

Three: This really seems like a purchase I should research. But I don't want to wait.

This won't end well.

Tuesday November 25th, 2008

The exercise:

I'm under the impression that the CPU on my home desktop computer died last night, so that's why this is late.

I'll be updating from work for the next few days, hopefully it will be taken care of by the weekend.

Anyway, the exercise is: write an acrostic. I wrote mine last night - I bet you would never have guessed.


There it goes again.
Every time it
Crashes I wonder
How much it will cost,
Never expecting
Or hoping for a
Lightning fast repair;
Only wishing this
Garbage would happen
Yearly, not monthly.

Monday November 24th, 2008

The exercise:

Inspired by my morning, today's writing prompt is: icy arrival.


I tip-toed down the front steps in the dark, early morning cold. Each step down brought me closer to earth, closer to safety.

Would the grip of my shoes fail me? Would the slightest slip lead to a bruised hip, a twisted knee, a crack of the head? Such comfortless thoughts were my only companions on that perilous descent.

It was a slippery slope I traversed as my nervous breath fought the cold off with steaming clouds that obscured my vision. Gentle, exploring steps prodded ice-covered wood; nothing could be trusted.

A final fragile step brought me to the bottom but my journey had just begun. Gleaming sidewalks and streets told me that ice's arrival was not restricted to my front porch.

Sunday November 23rd, 2008

The exercise:

The Sunday starter this week is: lost in the mist.


Going for this walk was a bad choice. I can hear someone calling from beyond this wall of gray but I can't find the voice. I should have stayed home tonight, I should have listened to Joyce.

Every direction I look it's all the same: gray picture in a gray frame. In my heart terror is fighting with shame. I think I might die out here but I know that I will shoulder all the blame. Leave me to this please, this is all my fault; I wish they would stop calling my name.

My footsteps are so heavy and slow. I stand still because I don't know which way to go. I look up to the sky to pray but instead see the first flake of snow. I am captivated by this final falling show.

Saturday November 22nd, 2008

The exercise:

A good friend of Kat's had a baby boy last Friday and we paid them a visit tonight. It was a pretty quick visit, but I got to hold a week old baby in my arms and that was pretty cool.

So the four line poem starter this week is: newborn.


When you sleep, do you dream?
Do you speak, do you scheme?
When you wake, your blue eyes
Look at me, seem so wise

Friday November 21st, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to share with you Mr. Wyclef Jean's Immigrant.


Knowing that Wyclef Jean was picked on in school is oddly comforting to me. I suppose it's a reminder that no matter what sort of crap you deal with in your youth, the adult world is a whole new deal and anything is possible.

Also, you have to respect a man that can incorporate a handspring back flip into a spoken word performance.

The situation in Haiti, however, is another story. How have we managed to not make things right there yet? And why won't those damn storms leave the poor place alone?

I'll leave you with my favorite Wyclef song.

Thursday November 20th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's prompt is: betrayal.


The light is growing less luminous,
My eyes are getting more mutinous;
This mountain becomes harder to climb,
My legs have lost their battle with time.

Music doesn't sound as fine these days,
Between notes and ears there lies a maze;
Food no longer seems bitter or sweet,
With lifeless tongue there are no more treats.

The truth of years is hard to evade
When by your body you are betrayed.

Wednesday November 19th, 2008

The exercise:

Scroll through your iPod, turn on the radio or pick up a CD. Find a song title that sparks your imagination and use that as your starter.


Keep Fishin' - Weezer

The fish don't seem to be biting today,
Not here in my secret spot anyway;
But Autumn's mural is on full display,
So I am in no rush to get away.

Standing knee-deep in this clear glacial stream
My lure sails through the still air like a dream,
Meets rushing water with a gentle scream,
And floats downstream, quite happily it seems.

The peace of this place seeps into my bones,
Far from busy people and ringing phones;
At one with the divine and great unknown,
I am content to keep fishing alone.

Tuesday November 18th, 2008

The exercise:

I cover reception for fifteen to twenty minutes a day and it's usually very quiet, maybe one or two phone calls. Today was no different, except that the one phone call sparked my curiosity. It went something like this:

"Good morning, Place of Work."

"Hi, I'm calling from A Building. We had a sign put up this morning."


"There's a really *big* typo, we need to have it taken down."

What was the typo? No idea. I couldn't think of a way to ask without sounding like an immature dolt... but let me assure you, I spent the rest of the day wondering what it was. So today's exercise is to think of various signs you see on a regular basis that would look very different with just one letter changed.


Road Work Ahead - Road Worm Ahead (eek!)
Be Prepared To Stop - We Prepared To Stop (... and then what?)
Loose Gravel - Goose Gravel (I don't even want to know)
Slow Children Playing - Slow Children Praying (this could take a while...)
Buy One, Get One Free - Buy One, Set One Free (buy a dog, set one free to roam the city!)

Monday November 17th, 2008

The exercise:

Before I get to the starter for today, I need to share this with you:

So welcome to my blog, I have between one and two billion readers!

Anyway, the exercise today is: twist the ending. Whatever you write, end it with a twist.


"Bobby, what did you do on your Summer vacation?"

"I built a tree fort!"

"That's wonderful! How about you Lisa?"

"I went to Disneyland!"

"Oh, that sounds fantastic! Doug, what did you do?"

"I sold my parents on eBay."

Sunday November 16th, 2008

The exercise:

Swing by Google News and pick one or two words that jump out at you from the headlines to use as your starter.


My words: Space Station

Alarm ringing off the walls
Soldiers running down the halls
Knowing nothing they can do
Wishing someone will pull through

But the radar screen won't lie
The rocks continue to fly
The collision will come soon
On the dark side of the moon

At the observation deck
They await the coming wreck
And in that final red glow
I pray that peace they will know

Saturday November 15th, 2008

The exercise:

It's Saturday, which can only mean one thing: I slept in this morning. Oh, two things I guess: it's four line poem day here at Daily Writing Practice.

I have been struck by inspiration - let's use sleep as the topic for the poems this week! Zee genius, it is overwhelming for me sometimes.


Head resting on pillow
Eyes watching smoke billow
Legs running through water
Arms stopping the slaughter

Friday November 14th, 2008

The exercise:

Have company tonight so this will have to be quick. In fact, this is quite possibly the shortest Def Poetry Jam performance to be found: Epiphany by Kent Foreman.


A good haiku is
A beautiful, profound thing;
Just like this one is.

Alright, gotta run. See you tomorrow!

Thursday November 13th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's writing exercise: pick a James Bond movie title and use that as the title and subject of your poem. The title, not the movie itself.


The Spy Who Loved Me

My sweet savvy Sarah was never lame...
If, you know, that was in fact her real name.
Sarah was no regular girl, you see:
She was, truth be told, the spy who loved me.

We met on a rainy night in New York;
She showed me how to kill rats with a fork.
While her hair around a finger she twirled
She spoke to me in the tongues of the world.

I swear her legs went on for miles and miles,
Though I did tire of all her new hairstyles.
Oh how I loved hearing her pant and moan...
But I hated the way she tapped my phone.

Our love story began to unravel
Due to her excessive 'business' travel.
I did not get jealous, nor whine and groan,
But love can't grow when you're always alone.

So one day I went out for cigarettes
And never came back - I've got no regrets;
I left a goodbye letter next to the sink,
Using her favorite invisible ink.

Wednesday November 12th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is's word of the day: soiree.


I have prepared all year for this one night. The guest list is impeccable, the food beyond compare, the wine pairings are as perfect as my wife's red gown.

The violinist is hitting every note, the pianist's fingers are a study in melodic harmony. They are two of the most beautiful musicians money can buy.

The candles cast artful shadows while revealing the subtle beauty of the marble statues placed discreetly around the dining hall. Servants flow in and around and out the room like black and white ghosts.

The polished oak of the dance floor stands ready for the after dinner festivities of waltzes and tangos. We have practiced our steps for months, Grace and I; we are ready to be the talk of the town. The moonlight shall be our spotlight at exactly 9:05 pm.

Everything is going exactly to plan; not a hair out of place, not an empty glass, not a spot of dirt to be found. Everything is perfect.

So why is no one talking?

Tuesday November 11th, 2008

The exercise:

In honor of Remembrance Day, today's starter is: I remember.


I remember the water;
The sons, brothers and fathers
Pressed together so tightly,
Their eyes shining so brightly.

I remember the gunfire
And grenades of hell's dark choir;
The ricochets gave us fits
Inside that tiny damn ship.

I don't remember the beach,
The bunker I'm told we reached;
The men who died all around
Just to capture precious ground.

I remember the silence
Of woods where birds made me wince;
Days without seeing a soul,
Digging and living in holes.

I don't remember the night
They found us without light;
I remember dawn breaking -
My hands were still shaking.

I remember the last day:
I fell on my knees to pray:
For pardon for what I'd done,
And for thanks that we had won.

Monday November 10th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter: complete and utter nonsense. Have fun!


Why do the pigs fly,
Way up there so high?
What's wrong with the mud,
Are they too blue blood?

The cows have come home
From their nightly roam:
Downtown in the pubs,
Cheering on the Cubs

Poor old Farmer John
And his little spawn
Must clean up the mess
Of hens playing chess

Sunday November 9th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: protest.


I was in the Bay downtown this afternoon with Kat spending my roulette winnings on a new watch. Which I'm very happy with, but I shall refrain from getting into that. For today.

While I was paying for my nifty new timepiece (sorry) there was a bit of a commotion at the nearest entrance, maybe thirty or forty feet from where we were standing. It took a few moments but we eventually determined there was some sort of anti-fur protest going on.

It wasn't immediately obvious what was happening because their shouts were almost indecipherable. After consulting with the sales lady we decided the last bit of their repeated chant was "Don't buy fur!" Lord only knows what else they were saying.

Here's the thing: I fully support their cause; besides being cruel to their original owners, I think most clothing that incorporates fur is just plain old ugly. But you know what? This is not the way to go about spreading the word. The only thing these people accomplished today (other than possibly ending up in jail) was annoying everyone in the store. They didn't gain any support screeching out some unintelligible slogan - hell, I was tempted to ask for my watch in the fur-trimmed version.

You know you're doing it wrong when you're protesting for a good cause but everyone who sees you considers you an annoying lunatic.

Saturday November 8th, 2008

The exercise:

The topic of today's four line poem is: surprise!


I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that -
What did you just say about Matt?
No, that simply cannot be right -
He'd never change his name to Sprite.

Friday November 7th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to introduce you to Gemineye, beginning with Poetic Bloodline.


This man is like an oncoming train of penetrating, pervasive punchlines. I couldn't get out of the way if I wanted to. Which I don't.

If there exists a better tribute to the hall of fame poets that have gone before, and those that still walk and work with us, I am unaware of it. There have been many moments, staring at a blank page or computer screen, that I could have used an injection like that. What an incredible scene he paints for us.

And if you liked that, then let me assure you: you will love this.

Thursday November 6th, 2008

The exercise:

Not having the best day ever, so the prompt is: bad day blues.


Bad day blues
Blindly drinking booze

Dark bitter days
Disjointed blurry daze

Answers give away
Anger gone astray

Gritty acrid glow
Gloom always grows

Sad footsteps slow
Secret feelings show

Falling snow flakes
Facade so fake

Wednesday November 5th, 2008

The exercise:

First off, to celebrate my 150th consecutive day of daily writing practice I've added a couple of new links over on the right there. The first is to my favorite Def Poet Rives' personal website - like his spoken word performances, I find his site mesmerizing.

The second is a page I discovered through yesterday's Blogger Blog of Note - for those of you who 'just can't find time to write', can you manage to squeeze in one minute a day? I should think so.

Today's starter is: pumpkin patch. No, it's not a little late for that. There are still plenty of pumpkins to be found, thank you very much.


Orange bowling balls
With curved green handles;
Scarecrows making calls
For more red candles.

Children pulling pranks,
Full up on candy,
Feasting without thanks,
While mom drinks brandy.

Sugar coated souls
Lost in this fable;
Eating empty bowls
Filled with odd labels.

Tuesday November 4th, 2008

The exercise:

You'll have to pardon me for being too obvious, but today's starter is: change.


Thank you America.

You had me worried there - Obama may have been the clear favorite going into today's voting but I still had my doubts.

After all, you did elect Bush to a second term. Although to be fair, I'm not sure I would have voted for Kerry either. Nader for president?

Either way America, you took a leap forward today. I'm looking forward to seeing what Obama can accomplish in the next four (hopefully eight) years.

Congratulations on electing your first black president and, more importantly, the better man in this contest.

Monday November 3rd, 2008

The exercise:

Set a scene. You can continue it if the mood strikes you, but the idea is to create a setting where a story is about to unfold.


It is a wet, gloomy night and the street is poorly lit. The weary street lights conceal secrets within the shadows they cast while struggling to find the effort to illuminate the leaf-dotted sidewalk.

Fall has settled in on the city and his cool breath can be felt in the breeze. Falling leaves slice through the air, flashing brightly in their brief time in the light before landing in darkness. Cars line the street, somber and brooding as they await the turn of a key. They guard their homes with jealous eyes and imposing strength.

A lone porch light reveals a red door adorned with an antique black handle. The house number above the doorbell is aligned diagonally and read '327'.

The door is opened from within...

Sunday November 2nd, 2008

The exercise:

Scroll through your Ipod playlist, scan through radio stations, or grab a CD at random and just listen to the songs until you hear a first line that catches your imagination. Use it as your first line and then go wherever it inspires you to go.


Audioslave - Like a Stone

On a cobweb afternoon
The air is more still than death;
An old woman crafts her moon
With silver thread and held breath.

There is no other movement,
No shifty squirrel scaling trees,
No wild words borrowed or lent,
No memory of a breeze.

The white windmill gathers dust
Like a bucket collects rain:
Without desire or lust,
Without joy, sorrow or pain.

The sun shifts lazily west;
The woman completes her art
And lies down to take her rest,
Knowing she has done her part.

Saturday November 1st, 2008

The exercise:

Welcome to November... today's topic for the four line poem is: gambling.


I walked onto the casino floor
With sixty dollars and nothing more
Three hours later I hit the door
With one hundred and forty-five more

I should revisit this topic the next time I visit a casino and lose all the money I bring with me - I suspect it would produce a very different poem.

Also: I love roulette.

Friday October 31st, 2008

The exercise:

The Halloween edition of Def Poetry Jam Friday brings us Jamie Kennedy (not that one) and Grim Fairy Tale.


A stirring tribute to imagination and a father's love for his daughter.

There are some really great lines in there, but I particularly love the mention of unicorns putting the holes in Swiss cheese. Something about that just makes me happy inside.

There are little fairy tale creatures running around my neighborhood tonight, cracked out on candy and showing off their costumes with pride. Here's to them making it home safe and sound and sharing their enthusiasm for life with their parents.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday October 30th, 2008

The exercise:

For some reason I'm in a haiku kind of mood. With Halloween tomorrow, I thought a good topic would be: ghosts.


Did you hear that noise?
Coming from outside the door?
Are we not alone?

Children under sheets
Knocking at our door for treats
Shall we give them beets?

Sit by the camp fire
Tell stories of long lost souls
While they listen in

Wednesday October 29th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter comes from another walking meditation note: the crying statue.


The statue is weeping. I stand silent vigil while the city lays sleeping. The rain hits the tin roof above me more persistently than an alarm clock's beeping.

The street lamp stars are clouded by fog. A bum stumbles by like a homesick dog. Leaves plug the drains of this parking lot bog.

And I bear witness to the tears being shed; for the children without a bed and the elderly who go unfed. For the newly born and the long forgotten dead.

Tuesday October 28th, 2008

The exercise:

Tonight's starter is from a note I made after the walking meditation during the workshop: an empty stage.


The stage stands at attention
Waiting for the mere mention
Of Lights, Camera, Action!

But those three words do not come
The walls are missing their hum
The empty seats remain numb

Where have all the actors gone?
Are there no costumes to don?
No king to control his pawns?

No more kisses to be blown
No more flowers to be thrown
The curtains have turned to stone

Monday October 27th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: the gift of time.


In our home whoever makes the meal doesn't do any dishes. On the vast majority of nights Kat makes (delicious) dinners so I do the clean up. I'm not a particularly fast washer; I'd say dishes take up about an hour (often more) of my time each day.

For my birthday several friends (including Kat) got together to buy me a dishwasher. I was so thrilled; why, you may ask? Because I look at it a bit differently than you.

You may see a counter top dishwasher. I see time.

I see seven hours a week, twenty eight hours a month, three hundred and thirty six hours a year. That's two weeks per year of my time that has instantly been freed up. How often are you able to give someone more time? What a great, great gift - thanks again everyone!

I'm going to get a whole lot more writing done.

Sunday October 26th, 2008

The exercise:

At the workshop last weekend our final writing exercise was to write a poem (or something similar) with the theme (and repeating phrase) of 'I am from...' Ruth read us an example but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the author.

I shared what I wrote and it was suggested to me later that I should share it on my birthday in some form or another (I had mentioned that my birthday is today). I thought that was a very nice idea, so here it is with a few minor edits. Where are you from?


I am from Laurie and Aggie,
Joseph and Mary.
I am from a Maritime farm
and streets filled with Jamaican charm.
I am from families of nine
and palm trees and pine.
I am from the nearest beach
and the mountains most out of reach.

I am from dinner together every night
and "Go outside and get some light",
from "There is no swearing in this house"
and "You're as quiet as a mouse."

I am from the Air Force
and the teachings of the How To Be A Man course.
I am from the Stay At Home Mom
and the fiercest storms and deepest calm.

I am from Catholic guilt
and the hands that made my bedroom quilt.
I am from the Island of Vancouver
where Snow Birds practiced their maneuvers.

I am from a high school that was filled with white,
where my tanned skin nearly led to fights.
I am from the music and words that move me,
from melting ice in black coffee.
I am from Canada but I do not skate,
from stoic masculinity but "are you really straight?"

I am from van Gogh's museum in Amsterdam,
from Guinness in the pubs of Ireland.
I am from the sinking streets of Venice,
from a Brazilian's unexpected kiss.
I am from the vineyards of New Zealand,
from the smiles of the girls of Japan.

I am from the waters and the trees
but none of this truly captures me.
I am from this and so much more
but I am who I am to my very core.

Saturday October 25th, 2008

The exercise:

The topic for this week's four line poem is: getting older.


Another day goes passing by
The year turns over with a sigh
Another milestone, here we go
I am just getting started though

Friday October 24th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday presents Mike Mcgee's Like.


Welcome to my birthday weekend. My first present to myself was to decide to take a week off from my Creative Outlet, so no new chapter over there until next Friday.

My second birthday present to myself was to go through various Def Poetry Jam performances that I hadn't seen before and stop at the first one that made me laugh. We have a winner: Mike Mcgee, come on down.

For the record, the magic moment was around the 1:10 point. Yes, I'm mature like that.

Sunday is my actual birthday but I'm stretching this out for the whole weekend, as is my right. So tomorrow will still be four line poem day, but I suspect I'll do more than just that. And Sunday will feature my last un-posted workshop poem which is all about me and where I'm from. Hope to see you around.

I'll leave you with some more Mcgee goodness.

Thursday October 23rd, 2008

The exercise:

I wanted to write a poem while relaxing my more rigid, self-imposed rules of poetry. Feel free to do the same with today's starter: the hour is getting late.


The hour is getting late
The clock fills me with hate
There are not enough hours in the day
For me to write all the things I have to say

I need to get some sleep
I have promises to keep
So I turn off the light
And wish you all a fond good night