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

Wednesday October 22nd, 2008

The exercise:

What a beautiful Fall day here in Vancouver. To celebrate, today's starter is: the colors of Fall.


The sun sets the tree on fire;
I hold my breath and admire
The brown, orange, yellow and red
Of Fall's vivid new attire.

The tree stands taller in new threads
Even as a lone leaf it sheds,
Swaying gracefully down to me
And landing gently on my head.

A breeze sets more leaves flying free:
Adrift in a ruby red sea,
Lost in a dark rainbow mire -
The stark beauty of Fall's debris.

Tuesday October 21st, 2008

The exercise:

Okay, one more from the workshop and tomorrow I'll have something fresh. For the record I haven't been taking a break from writing the last few days, just focusing on other stuff. Some of it is over on Protagonize, some of it is not.

*Ooooooh, mysterious*

Anyway, today's starter: your first writing memory.


Grade eleven - I was not at my most shy but I was still uncomfortable with my mind and my body. I couldn't take a compliment to save my life.

Writing class, a grade ten/eleven split. Being one of the older kids gave me some confidence. I sat behind a grade ten boy who was very academically gifted but he struggled with creativity - a math type, not an art type.

We had been given an assignment to write a short story that had a twist at the end. I remember my opening paragraph very clearly still - it was a first person story from the perspective of an ant, that was my big reveal at the end.

When our teacher was handing back our work I was quietly thrilled that I had done well, the boy in front of me was loudly unimpressed he had done poorly. He didn't understand what he had done wrong.

The teacher suggested that he he read mine as an example of what he should have been striving for. I handed it over with a heady mix of pride and terror.

He read my first paragraph and said that he could never manage that. I politely attempted to convince him otherwise but internally... I knew he was right.

That was the first time I felt proud of my ability to write. I think chasing that feeling is a part of why I write today. I bet he doesn't even remember that day, that moment, but it means so much to me still.

Monday October 20th, 2008

The exercise:

Another workshop writing exercise: close your eyes and just listen. Where does each noise you hear take you? Pick one and go ahead and go there.


The conductor clangs the bell at the end of the platform and hollers something in German. I think it's safe to assume it's the equivalent of "All aboard!" but not knowing the language makes it hard to be sure of anything.

I try to watch the other waiting passengers inconspicuously, to see what they do. I take my signals from actions these days, not words.

But no one is getting on the train. A man sits reading a newspaper in perfect stillness, the wind crinkling his paper the only audible indication of his existence; a couple are arguing behind me in a language I don't recognize, their words assault my ears.

What is going on? Are they waiting for another train or is this one pausing here for a while or... God, I hate not knowing the language.

I edge closer to the open compartment door in front of me, hoping to find a sign I can decipher. A destination would be wonderful - city names are a universal language. Well, most of the time. Lest I forget that incident on the way to Naples/Napoli.

The bell sounds again, the conductor hollers again. I swear under my breath and step up into the compartment. What's the worst that could happen? This is supposed to be an adventure, right? So be adventurous!

The door clangs shut behind me, the noise magnified by the small entrance way and the bare metal walls. I feel like the train is yelling at me - it could be a welcome, it could be a warning.

Typically German - always yelling but I'm never certain if the speaker is happy or mad or even indifferent. I really miss English on days like these.

Sunday October 19th, 2008

The exercise:

On Saturday we did a walking meditation on the grounds of Stanley Park in the area around our workshop. We walked slowly, we stopped often, we engaged our five senses and took everything in. The list of things I observed after only thirty minutes will give me writing ideas for weeks to come.

So go for a slow walk and find some tiny detail that sparks your imagination.


The bark of this tree
Has seen more than me.

I reach out to taste
Slowly, without haste,
The wisdom it holds,
Stories it has told.

My fingers can hear
The voice of the years,
The wind against leaves,
The webs being weaved.

I do not see why
This tree cannot fly;
People of this earth
Would learn from his mirth
The richness of peace,
The joy of release.

Each year the same pain
Of loss, wind and rain;
Each year the same joy
Of sun and young boys.

The bark of this tree

Knows much more than me.

Saturday October 18th, 2008

The exercise:

Well the workshop was amazing - and I'm not just saying that because the link to this page is going to be sent out to Ruth Ozeki and all of my fellow participants. But on that note - it was a pleasure to meet, speak with and hear from all of you this weekend. What a great experience.

I invite you all to drop by here whenever you're in need of a writing prompt or exercise or just want to see what sort of randomness I've come up with that day.

I wrote a lot in the last two days and I plan on sharing some of it here... but today is Saturday, and 'round these parts that means it's the day to write a four line poem. So - the topic for today's poem is: inspiration.


Moved by words and silence -
We're writers not islands;
So hear the words we use
And be each others' muse.

Friday October 17th, 2008

The exercise:

My workshop is starting right about now - wish me luck!

In my absence, Def Poetry Jam Friday presents America Calls by Sekou The Misfit and Steve Connell.


This one goes out to the 41 percent of Canadians who were eligible to vote on Tuesday but chose not to.

I don't really care what you've got for an excuse - do you know how many ridings might have had drastically different results if even half of you got out there and put an 'X' on a ballot?

Mr. Harper would like to say thank you for making this easy.

Three hundred million dollars for sixteen seats... I guess the economy really is in trouble.

Here's one from Steve Connell and one from Sekou.

Thursday October 16th, 2008

The exercise:

I'll have a post scheduled to go up tomorrow evening since I won't be around for most of the day. That's because my super awesome girlfriend has rounded up some of my super awesome friends and family and they're all chipping in to send me to this workshop as a (slightly early) birthday present. I'm super awesomely excited about it. I'll let you know how it goes.

As for today? The starter du jour is: finding time to write.


Finding time to write can be an incredible challenge to overcome. You think about sitting down to scribble thoughts on paper and your mind goes numb. That little voice starts telling you nobody wants to read what you have to say and your ideas are dumb.

My biggest obstacle is a beast called Procrastination; maybe you've heard of him and his friend I've Got Better Things To Do? But I've managed to write every day for the last 130 days, so there's no reason you can't too.

There's no question, I have sacrificed other things I enjoy doing in order to write. I've gone to bed later than I would have liked on many a night. Admittedly, I didn't have much choice in the matter - I could never sleep with all those ideas running around my head like mice.

The thing to remember is this: writing is its own reward. I don't write hoping to be adored. I know there's a good chance my words will be ignored. I write because not writing isn't something I can afford.

Wednesday October 15th, 2008

The exercise:

Write a scandalous poem about a favorite cartoon or nursery rhyme character. Definitely have a read through the ones on the site, there are some amazing poems there.

I came up with mine today at the tail end of my lunch break and then mostly finished it during my afternoon break. I then made the silly mistake of typing it up in a rush and then waiting until I got home to fix it up... but by then not one but two chapters had been added on and my post was locked. Blaaaah.

So here it is, in its intended form.


Donald was always an ill-tempered bird
Fighting and quacking those four letter words
He learned his fowl habits in the navy
Upon the the seas of the world so wavy

But have you heard why they gave him the boot?
And the real reason he still wears the suit?
Just sit back and I shall tell you the tale
Of an angry duck drunk on rum and ale

It begins on a dark and stormy night
At the pub Don was spoiling for a fight
The bartender said he had had enough
So with her Donald started getting rough

Fists, feathers flew - it was quite the thrashing
The duck won with a beer bottle bashing
But his victory was cut short, my chums -
Turned out Don had beat up his captain's mum!

His fate was sealed, he was soon a goner
Court-martialed and discharged, without honor
As for the suit on his body so plump?
It won't come off- it's stapled to his rump!

Tuesday October 14th, 2008

The exercise:

Something a bit different for today's starter:


"Wow... did you harvest all of that John?"
"I sure did - fresh from the garden, not two minutes ago!"
"I don't think we're going to need all of those for dinner tonight..."
"The recipe called for two cups of green peppers and two and a half cups of tomatoes though."
"Yes, but diced..."
"And those are buckets, not cups."

Monday October 13th, 2008

The exercise:

Back safe and sound from the Okanagan, had a really great time there. The drive back was a bit of an adventure though, so today's starter is: road trip.


Rain flooding the highway
Feel like I'll fly away
Passing cars spray gray mist
I am lost in their midst

A sports car in the ditch?
Well isn't that just rich.
Maybe we should slow down
Before our engines drown

Sunday October 12th, 2008

The exercise:

In honor of Thanksgiving weekend, today's starter is: giving thanks.


I thank the sun for its illuminating glow. It gives warmth to my soul and helps all good things grow. We will all be no more the day you go.

I am lucky to have my two sisters, my mom and my dad. Over the years you've all driven me mad... but your love and support have seen me through the good and the bad.

To Katherine, my girlfriend and muse, I can't say enough. Our time together has seen the calmest waters and the waves most rough. We have come through it all, better than before - we are made of stronger stuff.

I'm in debt to all the friends I've made through the years. Thank you for sharing with me your hopes and your fears, and may your lives be blessed and full of good cheer.

I am grateful for the doctors, nurses and Sir Banting who have kept me alive these past three years. Without you this would have all ended in tears.

Thank you to diabetes, type one, for the lessons you have taught. I know in the beginning I cursed and I fought... but I see now the healthier life you've brought.

I cannot forget the Internet. Without it these words might never be read and that would be a terrible waste of all that blood, tears and sweat. Through all this practice and feedback my writing has improved - but I haven't peaked yet.

And I thank you all for reading all of this and invite you to share what brings you bliss.

Saturday October 11th, 2008

The exercise:

This week's four line poem topic is: a haircut.


A little snip here,
A little snip there,
With nary a tear,
It's daring new hair

Friday October 10th, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings Amir Sulaiman's She Said, I Prefer A Broken Neck...


A beautiful, passionate performance about the supreme importance of family, love and support. About what true love is truly all about. About the sacrifices made today for a better tomorrow.

I'm grateful to have been brought up in the family I was lucky enough to have been born into. I'm thankful to have been welcomed as an honorary member of another loving family - I'm looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with them.

I've got a couple posts scheduled to go up this weekend, hopefully it works.

Here's another great performance from Amir.

Thursday October 9th, 2008

The exercise:

Inspired by my dad telling me last night that there is a person here in Vancouver who shares my first and last name, today's topic is: doppelganger.


Different name, different life,
Similar game, similar strife,
But matching eyes, and matching nose...
I cannot lie, my poor heart froze

So who is this, it is not me,
But does he miss... my family?
I must wonder, it can't be helped,
My blood thunders, my thoughts do melt

Lost in the crowd, where did he go?
It is so loud, but I must know,
Are we a pair, is he my clone?
The truth laid bare... I am alone

Wednesday October 8th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's starter is: the daily commute.


A peaceful morning ride to catch my bus
I glide down hills, I'm not in a rush
Dawn lit streets are rarely disturbed by cars
Fingers are frozen to my handlebars

The bus is busy but not fully packed
Commuters are mellow, we're not yet cracked
I step off my ride thirty minutes later
I will walk from here - fresh air is greater

At long last the clock ticks over the line
Free at last, free at last - it's quitting time!
Run for the bus - I don't want to miss it
With each passing bus there's less room to sit

Everyone pile in the Sardine-mobile!
Try not to slip on that banana peel...
Time to get off, it's a fight to the door -
See you tomorrow to do this some more!

Tuesday October 7th, 2008

The exercise:

It's the same in the end.

Step one: pick a song with lyrics.

Step two: for every line, remove every word except the last. So if the line is 'hip hop', drop the 'hip', keep the 'hop'.

Step three: write a poem, with each line ending with the saved word. So 'hip hop' could become 'watch the bunny hop', or 'watch the one legged man hop', or what have you.


Better Way - Ben Harper

Your eyes reflect the sunset
Your words seep into my bones
We step closer to the edge
And survey the waiting stone

Must it finish this way?

Are we really just two fools
Or is this decision wise?
Our love goes beyond this world
It can be seen without eyes

Must it finish this way?
Is there no other way?

I am proud to be your man;
With you I shall always stand
Listen not to the cynic,
He has no better plan

Must it finish this way?
Is there no other way?

The wind is biting and sharp
Your hair slices like a knife,
Like truths I wish not to know,
Like the lost hope of this life

Must it finish this way?

In pure silence we join hands
We step out and close our eyes,
Fall into a sweeter dream
Where our love can't be denied

Must it finish this way...
Yes, it is ending this way...
Yes, it has ended this way...

Monday October 6th, 2008

The exercise:

Today's prompt: flying.


Feet leave earth, propelling me skyward. My eyes are locked on the stars, I don't look backward. I dodge trees and power lines, feeling awkward.

Birds are jealous, I'm faster than a rocket. I'll keep going until I can put stardust in my pocket.

Through the clouds I continue to climb, higher and higher. Suddenly I'm surrounded by angel fliers. They laugh and play with me - God loves a tryer.

Sunday October 5th, 2008

The exercise:

The starter for today is: feeding frenzy. I'm um... not really sure where mine came from. I'm in a good mood right now, I swear. I'm even listening to really upbeat, happy music... so, I have no idea.


Splashing blood, cracking bones
Flashing mud, racking moans
Confused sight, banshee scream
Bruised fight, empty dream
Constant pain, blinding light
Instant strain, finding night

Saturday October 4th, 2008

The exercise:

The four line poem topic for this rainy Saturday is: slowing down. I tacked on an extra one from the expert on chill.


There's no need for all this rushing around
Precious moments in this brief life abound
The destination is the same for all
Take it all in before you get the call

Jack Johnson's:

Slow down everyone
You're moving too fast
Frames can't catch you
When you're moving like that

- Inaudible melodies

Friday October 3rd, 2008

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings you flowmentalz and Constipation.


It's been a bit of a long week, just wanted to end it with a laugh. I'll try to have something a bit more serious lined up for next week.

More flowmentalz joy can be found here.

Thursday October 2nd, 2008

The exercise:

I just want to say that the quote of the night from the federal leaders debate goes to Jack Layton for this comment towards Stephen Harper: you either don't care or you're incompetent, which is it? Also kudos to Elizabeth May and Gilles Duceppe for being the two most honest people at the table.

Anyway, today's starter is: constant interruptions. For the record, I had already decided on this one before watching the debate.


I've been temping in the same office for the last few days and I've been noticing almost everyone that works in and around my area share a personality pet peeve of mine.

They are constantly interrupting each others speech. They'll hear five words, think they've figured out where the conversation is headed, and break in to finish things off. I'd say about half the time they're right... but that means they're wrong the other fifty percent of the time.

It's a pretty busy office, so I guess they're just in a rush to get the talking done with and get back to work. But half of the time the original speaker has to explain that no, that wasn't what she was going to say, this was. And suddenly the conversation is doubled or tripled in length.

Aside from this time efficiency business, there's also the fact that whoever is being interrupted can't feel too important. If you behave like you're too busy to listen, people will notice. There's a very large difference in respect between rushing a conversation to its end and telling someone that you don't have time to talk right now, come by later.

I'm usually a slow speaker, thinking as I go, so I tend to get interrupted a lot in general. It infuriates me to no end. Thankfully though, the people I'm working with at the moment are letting me speak, maybe because they don't know me as well or whatever. But it is pretty aggravating to listen to others being denied their right to speak and be heard.

Wednesday October 1st, 2008

The exercise:

Today's topic: proceed with caution.


Harper with a majority?
What is our damn priority?
Do we love big oil companies?
Our children with no guarantees?

Go NDP or Lib or Green
Just... no more Harper - he's obscene
It's time to wake up Canada
Before we become Nevada