Tuesday September 30th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: under attack.


I'm sitting on an uncomfortable bench (aren't they all though? I've yet to meet one that isn't) outside the building I'm taking my lunch break from, trying to write. The sun is high, white clouds dot the sky, conditions are nearly perfect. Nearly, but not quite.

You see, I'm under attack.

In the five minutes I've been sitting, shifting and squirming here, no less than eight inchworms have descended from the tree branches above and landed either on or beside me.

Okay, I'm inside now. I love nature and all that good crap but I have my limits. An inchworm rappelling onto my nose is well beyond them.

It's probably for the best that I left when I did - that squirrel in the grass ten feet from my unforgiving seat was probably their backup. Inchworms - annoying but manageable; squirrels - those bastards will mess you up.

Update: I just found one sneaking around on my backpack. I think we all know what this means - they sent an agent to follow me home so that they could get me in my sleep. Not this time you creepy, crawly cowards. Not this time.

Monday September 29th, 2008

The exercise:

Just to show that I do read the news every now and again, today's starter is: financial free fall.


Finances are free falling
Government comes a calling
Got to save those big spenders
They must keep being lenders

Don't worry about granny
Just dump her on her fanny
Why even spare her a dime
When being poor is a crime?

Sunday September 28th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: the glider.


Old becomes new
Sun welcomes dew
Air rushing past
Feet pushing fast

Ride Glider ride
Glide Rider glide

Warm glowing air
Wild flowing hair
Dark shoeless feet
Heart's careless beat

Ride Glider ride
Glide Rider glide

Day becomes night
Wood welcomes light
Sleep under stars
No wonder scars

Ride Glider ride
Glide Rider glide

Long dreamless sleep
Time's seamless leap
Yes forgets no
Joy regrets woe

Ride Glider ride
Glide Rider glide

Saturday September 27th, 2008

The exercise:

In honor of post number 111, this week's four line poem topic is: the number one.


One can be lonely
Or bliss flowering;
The one and only
Or empowering

Friday September 26th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings you a video originally aired in 2005 but only uploaded last week: Ratsack's Free The Toes.


What a fantastically imaginative way to proclaim that high heels are ridiculous. They are not sexy, they just look uncomfortable and unnatural.

Do you know what the least sexy thing I've ever seen is? An otherwise attractive woman walking down the street, struggling to maintain her balance, as she teeter tottered along on what appeared to be ten inch heels. I suspect now that they were closer to five inches, but the image is pretty well seared into my head.

Did she think she was increasing her sex appeal? Are there men out there that actually found her hotter because of those silly shoes? If so... are they really worth impressing?

I won't even get started on women who wear jeans with high heels... just... no. Seriously, stop.

I'll leave you with another Ratsack video from a smaller venue.

Thursday September 25th, 2008

The exercise:

I was watching Jeopardy tonight and decided to use whatever the Final Jeopardy category was as the starter. Thus: island chains.


Old man Enki sat motionless in his rocking chair, feet planted firmly on the rotting wooden beams of his front porch. He watched the young men stroll past his home without a glance in his direction, too caught up in themselves to notice a relic like him.

Pushing down with his toes, Enki brought the rocking chair back into action. The miniature islands on the chain around his neck clinked softly against each other, as they always did; slowly, surely rubbing the paint off of each other.

There was Mykonos, where he had met his first wife when he was too young to know better; Jersey, the island that took his right arm in the boating accident; and Vanuatu, his only son's burial ground.

Memories, so many memories, clinked rhythmically together, as Enki rocked back and forth, back and forth, until he saw the sun fall below the horizon for the final time. He closed his eyes, rested his chin softly on his chest and drifted away, the waves of time carrying him home.

Wednesday September 24th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: shadow figures.


The candle light draws a wavering cartoon figure on the walls, larger than life. His nose is too small for his head, his hair is unkempt and one arm is pointing straight up, a single finger extending upwards.

He will never be drawn exactly this way again, this version will pass from existence with a single breath. I try to memorize his shape, his bearing, knowing that I will be the first, last, and only witness to his life.

I give him a silent salute and gently usher him off the walls and into the uncertain history of memory.

Tuesday September 23rd, 2008

The exercise:

Time for more haiku; this time around the topic is: goodbyes.


My time here is done
Is the battle lost or won?
Well... it matters none

One door is shut
But another opens up
The end is not now

Monday September 22nd, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: the first day of fall.


Fall has arrived, the leaves are turning
Soon fireplaces will be burning
Get out your sweaters and your hoodies
Not long now 'til trick or treat goodies

T'is the season for pumpkins and soup
Time to round up turkeys in their coop
Autumn returns with orange and brown
The harvest of good food from the ground

Farewell to summer's long sunny days
Welcome to autumn's short windy ways
Grab a good book, get comfy cozy
Cool winds will cause cheeks to be rosy

Enjoy the crisp fall air while it lasts -
Winter's frozen nights are coming fast

Sunday September 21st, 2008

The exercise:

Using my writers group prompt from this morning: write a conversation with one of the characters in a story you have written/are writing.


"We need to talk, Mister Writerman."

"Okay," I replied, "what do you want to talk about?"

"My life and what you're doing with it."

Uh oh.

"Well, listen -"

"No no, you listen," he interrupted sharply. "You think that you're my God or something, your wish is my command right? Well let me ask you this - why didn't you make me rich, with a beautiful wife and fast cars?"

"Well, that wouldn't be very interesting," I said. "I find rich people rather boring."

"Oh, so you made me a drunken, doped up bum for your own entertainment?"

"Hey - you're clean now and you even have a proper job!"

"Ah yes, my place of work... where my 'friend' Tommy showed up and waved a gun in my face!" he yelled, his face turning an alarming shade of red.

"Yes, but that all worked out alright in the end, didn't it?"

"Right - because my previously unknown sister tricked him into it since she wants me dead! What does next week have in store, the black plague?"

"That's a bit much... I was thinking more like you'd get beat up a bit when the store got robbed -"

"I quit."

"What? You can't quit! Get back here!"

Saturday September 20th, 2008

The exercise:

The topic for this rainy Saturday's four line poem: reception.


I cannot help feeling pleased
When my work is well received
It gives me strength to go on
And faith that I'm not a con

Friday September 19th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday presents: Scorpio Blues with Second Guessing.


It's late, I'm tired, I was up way too early this morning. But this is still a brilliant piece.

The way she switches back and forth between rational and irrational is perfect... the timing, the tone, the words themselves.

And after all the laughs she produces, she ends on such a beautiful, sincere note. Magic.

It's late and I'm tired and I can't find any other performances by this lovely lady on YouTube. I did, however, find her album.

Thursday September 18th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: on the payroll.


I was temping at UBC again today, this time in one of their payroll departments. I was entering time card info into a database, not really paying attention to names since it was organized by employee numbers.

Then I started entering the custodial staff cards. I couldn't help noticing all these beautiful, romantic, exotic names. They were mesmerizing and thrilling

And I wondered - what are names like these doing on floor washers and toilet cleaners? The names screamed out at me: we should be actors, musicians, poets! And maybe they were, but are no longer.

Or maybe they were and shall be again.

Wednesday September 17th, 2008

The exercise:

I just want to say a big thanks to those who came by yesterday to post their poems, I really enjoyed reading all of them.

Today's writing prompt is: waiting for the phone to ring.


I hate waiting for this thing to ring: now is when I want the news it will bring! But I'm stuck abiding here, a bird with broken wings.

I try to go on with my daily chores but every sound is like a ringing roar. So I stop to listen... but it was a bird and nothing more.

Ah, it rings, at last! Now perhaps my day can move past this distraction and on to having a blast. I think I shall go read a book on the grass.

Tuesday September 16th, 2008

The exercise:

Wow, 100 days in a row of writing practice. This has been so much more rewarding than I could have ever expected, I can't wait to get to one year of uninterrupted postings.

As a celebration of sorts for hitting the century mark, I'd like to invite everyone who reads this little blog of mine to post their take on today's writing exercise - it would mean quite a bit to me and it should be fun.

So here she be - today's exercise is: write a poem about the strangest thing you've ever seen.


The strangest thing that I ever did see
Was at a hostel in northern NZ.
On a sunny day just after Christmas
I had the oddest honor to witness
A wedding most strange, with four open bars -
A joining of two used backpacker cars!

A Swede drove the Lada, a Brit the Ford,
The guests gathered 'round to watch and record;
The groomsmen wore aloe vera leaf ties,
The bridesmaids had sincere tears in their eyes.
A hostel guest volunteered to preside,
Though we weren't quite sure which car was the bride.

It was a day I could never forget:
No objections were raised, we were all set;
Loving vows were exchanged with engine roars
And in a sight I'd never seen before
The ceremony concluded like this:
The cars lurched forward for a bumper kiss!

Monday September 15th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: a sombrero's shadow.


The man takes the stage, a guitar in his dark hands, a sombrero on his head and a restless, noisy crowd before him. There is no mic for him to sing into and I worry that he will go unheard, unnoticed, unknown.

Squinting into the spotlight, he tunes his instrument, the shadow on the wall behind him matching his every move. The shadow appears to be wearing a serving bowl balanced on its head and carrying a gun in its hands.

His fingers move lovingly over the strings but I do not hear their response. Clouds of cigar smoke float lazily between us, then he begins to sing.

His voice is soft at first but gradually grows stronger. As he sings louder, the crowd becomes quieter, until his voice and his guitar are the only sounds in this crowded room. We hold our breath as he celebrates his.

He sings of love won and lost, of life and death, of the days gone by and the days to come. When he finishes he is engulfed by applause and invitations to join tables for free drinks and conversation. But he gives a humble bow, waves goodbye and returns to the night from whence he came.

Sunday September 14th, 2008

The exercise:

So I typed up a poem to post at Protagonize but when I went back to submit it someone else had already taken it's spot. I rather liked what I had come up with and I didn't want to toss it so it's going up here. The first post in the 'story' was: The Essence of the Color, the Color is Blue.


The color of red
Is the color I bled
When they prematurely cut your thread

It is the anger I knew
The roses coated with dew
And your coffin's sad and gentle hue

It is the warning we missed
The lips I kissed
The dress you wore when we danced in the mist

It is the passion we shared
The fires that flared
When we held each other with souls bared

It is the cherries we tasted
The love notes we pasted
The wine we opened but then wasted

It is the traffic light
That was out of sight
For the driver that hit you that night

The essence of red, too
May it forever be true
Is the color of my love for you

Saturday September 13th, 2008

The exercise:

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


I wish these other drivers,
My fellow nine-to-fivers,
Would stop thinking it's uncool
To take transit and carpool.

Friday September 12th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings us Heru Ptah's Why.


Whenever I watch this performance there is one line that always jumps out at me: "That's bad math!" It made me laugh the first time and it still makes me smile even on my most recent viewing.

Heru pokes a lot of gentle fun at a lot of things that most people take for granted these days and it's a great reminder that looking at the everyday from a different viewpoint can bring new insights. If we all did this more often, either when facing problems or the mundane, I suspect our lives would get a lot more interesting.

I can't find any other performances by Heru on YouTube, but I did find some of his poetry.

Thursday September 11th, 2008

The exercise:

Finally getting around to the idea of using lists as a starter, here are the lists to work from:

- The last three places you went that were not work
- Two artists you admire/enjoy
- Two places you would break into if you were a thief
- Three favorite Olympic sports


Three places: grocery store, garden, farmer's market
Two artists: van Gogh, Rembrandt
Two thieving locations: bank, mansion
Three Olympic sports: sprint, diving, trampoline

As the checkout girl rings up my purchases I go through the grocery list in my head. I'm pretty sure I've got everything but I always seem to forget something and Helen never lets it go.

"Is that everything sir?" she asks with a hideously fake smile in a faux-chipper tone.

"Yes," I say, oozing with confidence.

"Great, that will be eight hundred thousand, two hundred and thirty-five dollars and... twelve cents!"

"Those Rembrandts really add up," I observe as I pull out my cheque book. It's a good thing we're running out of wall space at the mansion. I fill out the topmost cheque but just before I sign I realize what I've forgotten. "Oh, do you have any trampolines in this week? The kids won't leave me alone about getting one."

"Sorry sir, we're all sold out."

Thank goodness. Now I just have to talk the brats out of taking up platform diving and they might just live to see their teens.

"Do you need a hand carrying this out sir?"

"No, I'll send my driver in to collect it. Good day young lady," I say with a tip of my top hat.

"Good day sir," she sing-songs back, "it was a pleasure serving the head of the Bank of North America!"

"Of course it was. Good day."

Wednesday September 10th, 2008

The exercise:

Continuing with yesterday's theme, today's starter is: virus. Yay!

Note: the "yay" was simply a very, very sarcastic exclamation of joy about the virus (technically, viruses). It is not part of the starter... unless you want it to be!


Great, a virus has been found,
My protection is unsound;
Hmm, all of my programs crash -
Throw this junker in the trash?

No no, we can fix this crap -
Just give it a little slap
And maybe try some voodoo -
We can rebuild and renew.

Cross my fingers, cross my eyes,
Cross my heart and hope to die;
Please let this ordeal be through -
Don't let this happen to you.

A virus rocking your boat?
Try avast! - it gets my vote.

Tuesday September 9th, 2008

The exercise:

Seeing as my computer is going haywire right now, the topic of the moment is: frustration.


Technology is over-rated
This computer is a big pile of suck
Another program error?
Well I don't give a *blue screen*

Monday September 8th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: the night ride.

Feeling pretty zonked tonight, I did what I could with this one. Bed is calling.


Legs pumping, propelling me through the darkness. Cool night air rushing past, rejuvenating my tired body. Alive, feeling so alive...

Faster, faster!

Swerve around the car pulling suddenly out of its parking spot.

Onward, no slowing, heart pounding.

Dodge careless pedestrians, their shouts of alarm fading into the distance so quickly. Pedals are my feet, feet are the pedals.

Shadows. Street light. Shadows. Street light.

Home already?

No, not yet, time for once more 'round the block.

Sunday September 7th, 2008

The exercise:

Stealing something I wrote today for Protagonize: write a poem from within a favorite fairy tale.

I was going to do something else entirely but this took so long to finish up and I've got too many things to do today, so... there we go.


My youngest son's name was Bob,
He was such a dirty slob;
He made his house out of straw -
Dumbest thing I ever saw.

One day Bob hosted a bash -
He invited me, how brash!
"It will be such a corker!"
That stupid little porker.

The wolf came that night, of course;
He took the party by force.
He ate Bob and all his friends -
Must have been a nasty blend.

Joe we named the middle son -
He was such a simple one.
He made his home out of sticks,
Can you believe it? How thick.

We begged: use something stronger,
Bricks would last so much longer!
But did he listen to us?
No, bricks would be too much fuss.

Those twigs couldn't stop a fly,
Much less a wolf's hungry sigh.
So Joe's wooden walls did fall,
Wolf ate him up, sticks and all.

Our eldest lad's name is Lee -
Oh he's such a smart piggy!
Lee listened to us right quick -
He built his house brick by brick.

When that big bad wolf arrived
We heard only one survived;
It was not that stupid beast:
Lee was not hurt in the least.

Now I really must be off:
Lee's prepared a lovely trough.
You'll be joining us, won't you?
Dinner is a nice wolf stew.

Saturday September 6th, 2008

The exercise:

It's funny that I had originally decided Saturday would be four line poem day so that I could have a pseudo day off but the reality is that the challenge of getting a point or story across in four lines can be more difficult that writing a poem with no restrictions.

But I shall continue on because I do enjoy a good challenge. This week the topic shall be: endless meetings.


Winston the worm was restless and bored;
He wished he wasn't chairworm of this board.
Hearing enough, he stood and he squirmed:
"This meeting of worms is now adjourned!"

Friday September 5th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday says: go watch Idris Goodwin performing What Is They Feedin' Our Kids?


I know there have been some improvements in our schools recently, in particular the banning of junk food (which I'm a huge fan of), but man... it's hard to forget what I grew up with.

Vending machines where the healthiest option was salted, sugared, preserved better than a mummy peanuts? Check.

Hot dogs with white buns with toppings that were more chemicals than toppings, with a wiener made of... only the good lord knows what? Check and double check.

Your correct answer is rewarded with candy so full of sugar you're so hyper you can't sleep that night? Yeah.

I know so much more about proper nutrition now, I guess we all do. I just hope we find a way to get the message to the kids in high school who react to the junk food ban by going for lunch at the McDonald's around the corner.

Apparently Mr. Goodwin is also a rapper? I approve.

Thursday September 4th, 2008

The exercise:

I was feeling a bit stuck while working on the next chapter of Spare Change so I thought I'd make use of this blog to help with that blog. If I scratch this blog, maybe this blog will scratch that blog? Or something. Leave me alone, I'm crazy.

Aaaaanyway. The topic for today is: a gun is not the answer.


The unthinking piece of steel in your hand is not your path to salvation. It will not bring you to the pearly gates, only to damnation.

Pulling the trigger will not clear the fog of confusion that has settled on your head. The only thing you're pulling is the wool over your eyes and your delusion will spread.

The bullet in the chamber cannot set you free. It will only dump you behind bars, can't you see? Please, please just give the gun to me.

Wednesday September 3rd, 2008

The exercise:

I came across an interesting site through Facebook the other day called Protagonize. It's an interactive fiction site, with the basic idea being that one writer contributes the first chapter then anyone else can write the next chapter, then the next, and so on. I think it's a pretty cool concept and I urge you to check it out even if you don't want to write anything. There are some very good stories going on right now.

Anyway, to the point, at last! I wrote my first piece there in a 'story' where the first chapter was a poem about the number one, the second about two and yadda yadda yadda. I came in for the poem on ten and I thought I'd share it here. So the exercise is to write a poem about a number, be it ten or twenty or whatever you decide on.


Alright it's time right now for ten to shine,
This poem will be ten's very own shrine.
For the number that signals perfection,
Let us take a moment for reflection.

Without ten, coveting our neighbour's wife
Would simply be a normal way of life!
What would Letterman be without his Top Ten?
Would we ever watch his talk show again?

One plus none is 10, this is strange new math -
Must be the effect of Sylvia Plath.
At least there are still ten cents in a dime;
I'd say more but it's time to end this rhyme.

Tuesday September 2nd, 2008

The exercise:

Go here. Find a radio station that appeals to you and go to their website, the majority of which should have a 'now playing' listing. Use the next song title that appeals to you as your starter - it doesn't have to be your first line, just be the foundation for today's writing.


Cold Driven - Heavier than heaven

Thomas wiped his mouth with the back of his over-sized right hand and let loose a belch saturated with chicken grease. He had begun his lunch two hours ago but he at last felt sated.

As he rose from his cumulus chair the angel Anthony materialized before him. Thomas sighed and rolled his eyes - he knew the lecture by rote now.

"Dear, dear Thomas," Anthony said without speaking, "you have been warned countless times, yet you continue to insist on indulging in this Gluttony."

Thomas could hear the capitalization of that silly word, could feel it settling into place around his neck like a pillory. What he did not notice was that he had sunk into the nimbus ground up to his ankles.

"You know it is one of the Seven Deadly Sins," Anthony continued. "We cannot allow this to continue."

"This heavenly food must be appreciated!" Thomas cried defiantly. "If it is not... what is the meaning of this?" He was now submerged up to his knees, he could feel the clammy cold inching up his thighs.

"You have been granted too many chances," Anthony said as Thomas began to flail about wildly, now waist deep; his bulging belly made him look like a demented fallen church bell. "We send you on your way this day, to the punishment your actions have made necessary."

"You can't do this!" Thomas screamed as he plunged suddenly to neck deep, the once comforting ground now clawing at his throat.

"Goodbye dear Thomas," Anthony said as Thomas began the final stage of the fall that had begun so many centuries before. He sped through the air, dropping to earth like an overripe fruit, threatening to burst before impact.

But his descent did not stop at ground level. Thomas fell through the cracks of the earth until he landed in the warm, welcoming dining hall of Lucifer, where a feast of fire awaited.

Monday September 1st, 2008

The exercise:

Today's prompt is: Labour Day. Sometimes it's best to go with the glaringly obvious. Especially during times when creativity is apparently taking a vacation with the rest of the nation.


We do not work on Labour Day;
We do not fight on Boxing Day;
So why do we name them this way?

On Labour Day we celebrate
The working class' hard earned fate -
And it's summer's last camping date.

On Boxing Day (or is it Week?)
We honor our poor and our meek.
But really? It's the sales we seek.