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