Saturday January 31st, 2009

The exercise:

A quick thank you to Ana for awarding me with a shiny new button to add to my collection. You're too kind and I'm glad this little blog has been of some use to you.

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


You linger too long,
I dislike your song;
It reminds me of
Unrequited love.

Friday January 30th, 2009

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to present Basikknowledge's Numbers.


This is going to be short - we're heading out to a party in less than an hour.

Given the time constraints I thought this would be a nice little history lesson - I've heard the phrase 'running numbers' before but never really knew what it meant.

It turns out it originated from illegal lotteries organized by the mob back when lotteries were outlawed in the States. Number runners were mob lackeys who went around to the various establishments that collected bets and money to gather them up. The mob took their cut and paid out the winners promptly.

The only reason the government didn't like them was because they didn't get a slice of the pie, not because people were being scammed.

But back to the performance - it's a powerful piece with several great images, my favorite being his grandmother sitting behind the TV because her imagination was better than any show.

Alright, I best get a move on. Have a good night.

Thursday January 29th, 2009

The exercise:

Hey howdy. Happy Thursday!

I'm feeling a bit random tonight, be warned.

Let's see what comes of using this as the starter: disguises.


Transform yourself with a thought,
Become someone else with naught
A care in this crazy world;
Forget the pain you endured -
That belongs to yesterday,
And you are made new today.

What to do with such freedom,
Who will you choose to become?
A thief, a hero, a ghost?
Or will you simply, like most,
Make the same tired mistakes,
But with a mask on your face?

Wednesday January 28th, 2009

The exercise:

Well the government is still standing, for now anyway. I should think the Liberals managed to win a few more votes just by not sending us through another election so soon after the last one.

In other news, the starter for today is: clocks.


I don't care for the time
This clock does chime;
It cannot be this late,
That tock must wait.

There's too much to be done,
My rest I've won;
My writing time well earned,
Candles still burn.

But my eyes grow weary,
My thoughts are leery;
So I shut off the light -
I've lost this fight.

Tuesday January 27th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter: on a budget.


So the Conservatives unveiled their new budget today as Prime Minister Harper finally came out of his corner to play with the other children. I didn't catch the announcement but I'll just go ahead and assume he was sucking his thumb and holding on to his blankie throughout the proceedings.

Now the question is whether or not the Liberals will go along with it or attempt to form a coalition government with the other two parties. We'll find out the answer in the morning, assuming we can trust a politician to keep his word.

Me? I've made my disdain for the Prime Minister (note the lack of 'my' or 'our' before the title) abundantly clear but I'm still not convinced a coalition is the way to go about getting rid of him. But hey, if I can't trust my fellow Canadians to not vote for the slimy bastard, maybe this is the only way.

And if it does happen, at least the Liberals no longer have a leader who might have been even more embarrassing a representative of our country as the current Prime Idiot is.

Monday January 26th, 2009

The exercise:

I was hit, over and over again, by inspiration at work today. So the prompt is: strange noises.


My desk is much too near
The elevator here;
The reason, my dear friends:
It's driving me to my end.

Whenever it arrives
My sanity's deprived,
Because the sound it emits
Is the first note of a hit.

So now I spend my day,
Singing my work away;
I'll sing this 'till I'm dead:
No Surprises by Radiohead.

Sunday January 25th, 2009

The exercise:

The starter for today is: dead battery.


I cannot move,
My song won't ring;
Can someone tell me
What's wrong with this thing?

Oh, I see now,
It's as you've said;
The problem, quite clearly,
Is that my battery is dead.

Saturday January 24th, 2009

The exercise:

The topic for the four line poem this week: household chores.


The toilet flushes,
The bathtub drains;
Who knew elbow grease
Left mental stains?

Friday January 23rd, 2009

The exercise:

Beth over at the One Minute Writer was kind enough to pick out my contribution from last Sunday as her One-Minute Writing of the Day. Thanks Beth, I shall wear my shiny new button with pride.

It's that time of the week again - Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to share with you Jason Carney's Our Soldiers.


With the official swearing in of Obama as president, there is renewed hope that the soldiers of the world will be able to return home to their families. Jason Carney provides a few reminders as to why that is a good thing.

There are some truly beautiful turns of phrases here. "Like coffins could ever be proud" is by far my favorite, but the repeated description of soldier burials is an amazing collection of images.

The links to where all that war money could (okay, should) be spent instead of on death and destruction were well placed and well chosen. The idea of a school not being able to afford books because they had to buy a metal detector is just... sigh.

Alright, another Jason Carney performance for you right here and I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday January 22nd, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt: the lonely worker's lament.


This place of work has taken away
My favorite way to spend the day.
I am feeling lost, lonely and beat;
My only company: this spreadsheet.

I don't know how I can operate,
I must get home, I can barely wait!
Why did I leave there, did I forget?
That at work I have no internet...

Wednesday January 21st, 2009

The exercise:

I was having trouble deciding on the prompt for today, as it is a day weighted with a lot of meaning for me, but it was also my first day of work at the new temp position.

So I caved and decided to write about both by simply making the prompt: today.

I may or may not have written mine after reading several pages of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.


Today, today,
Is an anniversary.
Also, also,
Off to work I go.
Alas, alas,
The day went by not fast.
But wait, but wait,
Guess what I did ate?
Cookies, cookies!
(Sugar free thanks to diabetes).
Three years, three years,
Since that diagnosed fear.
But hear, but hear:
I am very much still here.

Tuesday January 20th, 2009

The exercise:

Quite a bit of writing was done today and I'm feeling a little bit drained, creatively speaking. So I'm going to cheat.

The prompt today over at Pictures, Poetry & Prose is politics, what with today being a rather important day down south and... for the world, really. I chose to write mine while watching the inauguration ceremony and thought I'd copy it over here. Quick note about mine - CBC made it clear directly afterward that the stumble during the oath was the fault of the Chief Justice, not Obama's - but I left it as is anyway.

And I'll make the prompt slightly more direct: Obama.


I did not vote for you,
Though I wished I could.
There is so much pressure now,
For you to be better than good.

The world is watching,
Your citizens are daring to dream;
But you look so calm,
Like you're ready to jump into this mad stream.

Aretha is here to serenade you,
On this historical day.
All are gathered together,
To hear what you have to say.

The moment is coming,
The time is almost here;
But first your right hand man,
Swears his oath with such great cheer.

One final performance
By the musical masters;
The notes are beautiful,
My heart beats faster and faster.

The words are spoken,
A slight stumble, a show of nerves?
But now it is official,
You have begun to serve.

I wish you luck.
May your dreams come true.
May this raging storm not sweep you under,
And may God watch over you.

Monday January 19th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt: sweet relief.


So the wait is over, at last. I heard back this morning about the temp job and I start on Wednesday.

I think this was the best Monday morning in recent memory, if not ever. Okay, probably not ever, but you get the idea. This is the way a week should start.

No more worries about making the rent payment, I'll be able to start saving again and there's a reasonable chance that the position could extend beyond the end of March. It'll just be a matter of finding the budget for the position and me being a model employee. At least I'm in control of half of the decision, that's more than I could say for most jobs I've had previously.

It'll mean less time to write, but I'll find and make the time as I always do. And I get tomorrow to do whatever, which is nice. It'll probably end up being a whole lot of writing. And maybe a haircut.

Okay, definitely a haircut.

Sunday January 18th, 2009

The exercise:

The wedding was lovely, everything went off without a hitch. It was fun getting dressed up too, I really don't get a chance to very often.

So today's starter is: suit and tie.


The suit is plain black.
In the front: a crack;
A shirt of pure white,
Split by one more bite -
A tie of deep red,
A tongue to be fed.

Saturday January 17th, 2009

The exercise:

I'll be away for the rest of today at my best friend's wedding, so this is going up early.

The topic for today's four line poem is: wedding wishes. I'm putting up the first four lines of the poem that I wrote in their card, I think they stand alone okay.


May the years ahead hold
The happiness you've always deserved;
May your love always be daring and bold,
Never hidden, nor reserved.

Friday January 16th, 2009

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday presents Patrick Washington's Letter to the Editor.


If ever there was a performance that could be summed up by one line from that performance, this would be it. And that line would be:

"Homework ain't ever been a punishment - being stupid is a punishment."

Here's a more lighthearted performance by Mr. Washington to get your weekend started right, this time as one half of the Poem-Cees.

Thursday January 15th, 2009

The exercise:

Alright, you can blame Greg for this one: write a pantoum. Feel free to use any topic of your choosing, if you're silly enough to do this one.

Oh, the interview seemed to go really well. I'm supposed to hear back this afternoon.

Update: they didn't get back to me, so I have to wait until tomorrow. I hate waiting. I would make a terrible waiter.


Leave behind the stress of reality,
Escape into the world of fantasy,
Where dragons and orcs are nothing to fear,
The hero makes right and wrong seem so clear.

Escape into the world of fantasy,
Reach the highest levels of ecstasy;
The hero makes right and wrong seem so clear,
The villain kills without shedding a tear.

Reach the highest levels of ecstasy -
Nod along, there’s no need to disagree.
The villain kills without shedding a tear,
Using a dagger or poisonous beer.

Nod along, there’s no need to disagree,
You’re in Middle Earth now, not Tennessee!
Using a dagger, or poisonous beer?
On these pages the answer will appear.

You’re in Middle Earth now, not Tennessee,
Grab an Ent-draught, put down your Hennessy!
On these pages the answer will appear,
So come along, explore this new frontier!

Wednesday January 14th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt: new tricks.


I received a call from the temp agency I'm with this morning for a possible assignment which starts on Monday and goes until the end of March. Things have been pretty slow since before Christmas so I was glad to hear from them.

Unfortunately the position isn't exactly ideal - in fact if I didn't need the money I'd probably have passed on it. But I said I was interested and they passed on my resume and now they want me to come in for an interview tomorrow morning.

Which I'd be totally excited about if it didn't mean I have to teach myself a couple of rather complicated Excel functions before then.

I've been out of school for a few years now, so my brain isn't used to this last minute studying thing. I think I've got a basic grasp on one function and a pretty good understanding of the other so I'll just have to wing the rest. I'm hoping the position doesn't require as much knowledge as was initially implied - you can only bluff your way through so much.

But then again, I'm a writer - making stuff up is what I do every day.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday January 13th, 2009

The exercise:

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


The stained glass litters the floor,
The priest tries to bar the door;
But their numbers are too great,
This church is doomed to its fate.

Marble statues lay broken,
Too late to hide the tokens,
The monks flee the screaming men,
Lost is this temple of Zen.

Can't they stop and look around,
To see this truth so profound:
Life is light as a feather,
We're all in this together.

Monday January 12th, 2009

The exercise:

I just want to say a quick thank you to Laura Jayne for picking my silly little cat poem for her Exceptional Writing Award for last Monday - I shall wear it on my blog with pride. I'd also like to say: go check out her beautiful writing prompt blog, Pictures, Poetry & Prose.

Last night I finished reading John Connolly’s latest book, The Reapers. He’s one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend that you check out his Charlie Parker series if you like… oh, I don’t know, good writing? It’s sort of a detective, occult, supernatural mystery line of stories. That is full of excellent characters and gripping storytelling. So if that sounds like your thing, get started with Every Dead Thing.

Anyway, today’s starter is oh so appropriately: the reapers.


The sun beats down on the fresh cut field,
The men gather ‘round the season’s yield;
Sweat dances with dust to become
Passing scars of bounty hard won.

The afternoon air is heavy
With quiet talk of new levies;
Soon the maple leaves will change hue,
And they will take the rest they’re due.

Sunday January 11th, 2009

The exercise:

I'm sitting here trying to think of what to write today while listening to Justin Taylor's Cheesy Little Love Song when it occurs to me: that's it!

So go ahead and write a cheesy little love song of your own. Mine might be the strangest thing I've ever written. And that's saying something.


When you're gone I'm feeling blue,
I just can't stop myself from missing you;
My brain goes all gorgonzola,
Like I'm stuck in a broke down gondola.

Truly, my sharp little feta,
There could be nothing betta,
Than you, me and brie,
Sitting with a view of the sea.

Let us build a roquefort,
From which we'll hold court;
I promise life will be gouda,
You'll be happier than Buddha!

Saturday January 10th, 2009

The exercise:

The topic for this Saturday's four line poem is: relaxing.


With one long breath,
Set your stress free;
With one short sigh,
Stop and just be.

Friday January 9th, 2009

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to share Beau Sia's I'm so deep.


With an opening line like that, how can you possibly go wrong? Well, okay, it goes wrong, sometimes very wrong indeed, but you know what I mean.

Also, the allusion to GI Joe (that people in the audience didn't seem to catch, sadly) just makes this poem even more awesome. It would only have been more... deeply awesome... if he had name dropped Snake-Eyes.

And the end, which was really the beginning, was the perfect note on which to... begin?

Here, have another dose of Beau Sia magic.

Thursday January 8th, 2009

The exercise:

I picked up a wireless router this afternoon and just finished setting it up. All I'm going to say is this: doing this update on my comfy couch is significantly nicer than doing it from my butt-destroying computer chair. Laptop + wireless internet = win.

To mark the occasion, today's starter is: no wires needed.


All eyes are on me as my right foot reaches out to feel the tightrope wire. If it were not for the cloth ceiling directly above me I'd be even higher. A bead of sweat slips into my eye - being in this spotlight is like being set on fire.

My left foot joins his companion and I sway gently back and forth, feeling like I'm flying through the air. Without a safety wire to reassure them, everyone is silent, breath held - even the dancing bear. I know my mother is in the crowd, probably mouthing a prayer. I take a deep breath and throw my arms above my head with a flair.

I spin around twice, arms out with a single raised knee. I leap into the air, land and leap again without spilling a single drop of tea. I dart forward like a mouse escaping a hawk, leap twice more and land on the opposite platform safely. Ballerina's ain't got nothing on me.

Wednesday January 7th, 2009

The exercise:

Schott’s Miscellany continues to be a source of inspiration - I suspect this trend will continue.

Anyway, today’s page features a poem titled On Men & Shoes, so today’s starter is simply: shoes. Write about your own, your partner’s or a friend’s. One pair or a collection, the shoe closet is the limit!


I’m not a particularly fashion conscious man (just ask my poor girlfriend) but I think I have more than my fair share of shoes. I try to have a set for most occasions but lately I’ve only been wearing one pair.

I bought them just over a year ago and they are truly an all in one wonder. They’re comfortable, so I can wear them for long periods of time or for hikes or what have you. They’re plain black so I can get away with wearing them with fancier clothes. And, most importantly for Vancouver, they’re waterproof.

I wasn’t sure about them when I first saw them in the store because they are slip-ons and I’ve always worn lace-ups. But man, do they ever fir like a glove. For my feet. I think I shall call them Glovefeet.

Tuesday January 6th, 2009

The exercise:

Have fun with homonyms.

I got totally carried away with mine, feel free to be more reasonable like my previous attempts were.


Did you say this dish is awful?
I say that’s a load of offal!
I’m here to give this food its due,
And tell you what you need to do
To make it so your kid won’t bawl,
Or curl into a little ball.

Use veggies from your garden here,
No more bland store bought crap, you hear?
Not so many tomatoes, dear;
You’re making it look like raw deer.
That is far too much garlic too;
Lets drop it down to one or two.

If each ingredient you weigh
And cook it in its proper way,
Then your child’s woeful, weepy pleas
Will turn into, “I’ll have more please!”
No longer hidden in a cache -
In fact he just might pay you cash!

Monday January 5th, 2009

The exercise:

For Christmas my sister Nicky got me a Schott’s Miscellany 2009 page a day calendar and I’m already loving it just 5 days into the year.

Today it mentions an online survey conducted to determine the most unpleasant sound… ever. Number one was vomiting, microphone feedback took second place and wailing babies finished third. While I’m intrigued by the tenth place finish of ‘a Tasmanian devil’s scream’, I think I shall resist the temptation to hear it for myself.

So the writing prompt for today is: what do you consider to be the most unpleasant sound?


Perhaps it wasn’t among the options to vote on, but I don’t know how the sound of nails on a chalkboard didn’t make the top ten. Honestly though, even if it wasn’t on the list there should have been enough write in ballots for it to screech into the top five.

I suspect a conspiracy.

A close second for me would be the sound of ice being scraped off a car windshield. But only when someone else is doing it - I’m totally not bothered when I do it myself. Don’t ask - I don’t understand it either.

Sunday January 4th, 2009

The exercise:

It's been too long since I've done my favorite writing exercise so I'm bringing it back today.

So: scroll through your iPod, or grab a CD and pick a random track, and use the very first line of the song as the first line of your writing. It can be a poem or short story or whatever you want.


Jack Johnson - Fall Line

By the way, you know
That hope will make you strange,
Wherever you go,
Because we’re scared of change.
We like things the same
As they have always been;
When you know the game,
You bend the rules to win.

But do not falter,
Carry on and be strong;
This course you’ll alter,
These methods you’ll prove wrong.
Though you stand alone,
Know that your brash bravery
Will be widely known
And live on in history.

Saturday January 3rd, 2009

The exercise:

The starter for this Saturday's four line poem is: walking in a winter wonderland.

... yes, it's still snowing like Vancouver was uprooted and tossed into the Himalayas.


I crunch my way through the snow,
More flutters down as I go,
To fill the footprints I laid,
As though they were never made.

Friday January 2nd, 2009

The exercise:

Alrighty, the first chapter of the novel is online. Please do check it out and let me know what you think - all feedback is appreciated and will be kept in mind when I get to the rewrite stage. Yes, when - not if.

For those of you who might be new around these parts, on Friday I like to post a Def Poetry Jam performance to discuss. It’s a pseudo-day off for me.

So this week, after a two week break, Def Poetry Jam Friday returns to present Al B. Back’s Super Negro.


This is simply a brilliantly pieced together performance - the misdirection, the pauses, the facial expressions, everything.

That it is all used to address the ever so touchy subject of racism just makes it all the better.

It’s tough for me to isolate just one line, but I’ll go with this one as my favorite: “All minds and all eyes and all hope is on me in a room where a wallet is stolen.”

Have a good weekend.

Thursday January 1st, 2009

The exercise:

2009? Seriously? Yeesh.

Anyway - the year is off to a fine start: at the request of a relatively new Protagonizer, I've added the Following Gadget over on the right. So if you've got a Blogspot account and you're interested, you can join Alya and Follow this blog. You'll get a notice on your Blogger Dashboard every time I make a new post - so every day. But seeing as I update at pretty much a different time every day, some people might find it useful.

To mark the occasion, the starter for today is: following. Mine went places I had no intention of going to, but hey, that's the way it goes... most times.


I feel no eyes on my back,
I hear no feet in my tracks,
I see no men in alleys,
I taste no dark finale…

But I know I’m not alone.
I know this deep in my bones.

My skin has been followed here,
My throat burns with swallowed fear,
My eyes are failing me now,
My ears cannot hear a sound…

But my thoughts have company.
It’s a certain guarantee.

My feet cannot go faster,
My eyes have a new master,
My voice has become a mime,
My heart’s beating out of time…

For I know my end is near.
No; for now my end is here.