Saturday February 28th, 2009

The exercise:

How is it the last day of February already? That was some kind of quick.

For this week's four line poem the starter shall be... the invitation.


The writing is crisp and clear,
Without any hint of fear;
You would never really know
She doesn't want you to go.

Friday February 27th, 2009

The exercise:

Def Poetry Jam Friday brings you Louis Reyes Rivera's Place I've Never Been.


Usually I'm not a big fan of repetition but when it is used this effectively I'm happy to make an exception.

The personification of the bullet is so incredibly powerful - I love the idea that it knew what it was being used for and it desperately wanted to stop it.

One of my favorite lines has to be this description of Malcolm X: "Did you go to hear a poem in his every word?"

And to keep the theme, here's a totally different Malcolm X performance by Reg E. Gains and Savion Glover.

Thursday February 26th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's prompt: labels.


You can't escape your label,
So don't think that you're able;
They're simply everywhere -
They're even on your underwear!

So whether you're Naughty or Nice,
Sugar or Spice;
Doesn't matter if you're Dull or Bright,
Black or White.

You are what they say you are,
Whether it's near truth or far...
Unless you remember where the real you resides -
Which is, of course, a place deep inside.

Wednesday February 25th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter is 'the job is done.'

I always find it interesting when a starter is inspired by something and then I write about something else entirely. That wasn't the case yesterday, but it certainly is today.

I was celebrating the completion of an extremely dull task at work today and then I went and wrote this.


The last nail is in place,
Sweat rolls down your face;
Brush away the dirt
From a well worn shirt.
Stand back and admire
This work so inspired.

Stand quiet to hear
Deep peace drawing near;
Your work is now done,
Your rest is hard won.
Please sit for a spell,
Breathe deep and be well.

Tuesday February 24th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter: just a drop in the ocean.


Did you hear? NASA threw two hundred and seventy-eight million dollars into the Pacific Ocean this morning.

Okay, look. I'm aware of how important the work they do is. I am. But, seriously - if you're going to invest that much money into one basket, shouldn't you make sure the launch is going to work?

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, this was caused by human error. This thing wasn't struck by lightening, a flash hurricane didn't blow it off course, it didn't hit a flock of seagulls - somebody screwed up. It was made by humans, from scratch - that means somewhere along the line somebody, or perhaps multiple somebodies, dropped the ball. A very, very expensive ball.

Do you know what I could accomplish with $278 million dollars? More than I care to list here, but you can rest assured - I wouldn't throw a penny of it away.

Maybe it's time NASA become reacquainted with the value of a dollar.

Monday February 23rd, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter: life in a fishbowl.

I had originally intended for mine to be a tribute to our betta fish, who died over the weekend. But then it turned into something else entirely and I just went with it.

We'd had our fish nearly three years - considering that bettas, on average, live about three years and the ones you buy in store are usually already a year old, I think he did alright for himself. I don't have a picture of him but he looked a whole lot like this.


My life is measured
By the circumference of this bowl;
I wish I'd treasured
My time in the ocean patrol;
Those days of leisure
The net oh so callously stole.

The days pass slowly,
The view now unchanging and stale;
My work so lowly,
Skin once bright now sullen and pale;
By all that's holy,
Swear I'll flee this cubicle jail.

Sunday February 22nd, 2009

The exercise:

Sunday seems like a good day for music. So, with more restraint than I showed last time around, here comes Musical Linkstravaganza number two!

I've limited myself to three artists, two songs apiece. See how good I am?


Oh man, only three? Okay, I can do this.

First up is the Dave Matthews Band with Satellite and So Much To Say.

Your Canadian content for this edition is k-os with The Love Song and Crabbuckit.

And lastly, for now at least, I'll leave you with Morcheeba's Over And Over and The Sea. I was introduced to Morcheeba by two British girls I met in New Zealand who were shocked I'd never heard of them before. Now that I've had a few years of listening to them, I can say I fully understand.

And that's that. I shall hit Publish Post before any further music invades my skull.

Saturday February 21st, 2009

The exercise:

The topic for this week's four line poem - handknit.


The wool against my skin
Resonates with the heat
Of the soft loving hands,
Whose touch make me complete.

Friday February 20th, 2009

The exercise:

A sleepy and tired Def Poetry Jam Friday would like you to have a look at Lamont Carey's I Can't Read.


A sad story put to poetry is somehow even more poignant.

A passionate plea for better schooling for kids that need it most that seems to be falling on deaf ears.

A performance that makes you shut up and listen.

That's what that was.

Here's some more Lamont Carey goodness for you - this one can be difficult to watch at times, but that just means it's worth watching.

Thursday February 19th, 2009

The exercise:

President Obama visited Canada today, which attracted quite a little crowd of his fans over in Ottawa. I was reading an article on the visit this afternoon and there was a mention near the end that standing next to Obama, Prime Minister Harper received a few 'unfavorable comparisons' from onlookers.

This made me laugh. And then it made me think - that's a good writing prompt! So go ahead and make a few unfavorable comparisons. I'll admit a few... okay, all of mine made me laugh.


His beard hairs were like the bristles of a porcupine that had recently performed a somersault in a compost pile.

Her voice reminded me of the screeching sound heard when a speeding car rubs against a metal railing.

His shirt was about as attractive as a three-toed sloth in heat.

At first I thought the paintings had been created by a rabid, color blind, one-armed monkey. In heat.

My nose caught a whiff of her perfume and I wondered how many Tasmanian devils had died to create that unique fragrance.

Wednesday February 18th, 2009

The exercise:

Apparently I live in the gang capital of Canada now? That's um... exciting.

So today's prompt is: gangs.

I decided to torture myself and do a song parody with mine - I don't know why I do these things to myself. It's pretty long so I'm just putting the first bit up here; you can find the full version over on Protagonize.

Please feel free to not do a song parody. Seriously. I'm looking out for your sanity here.


Coffins Are Forever (The Vancouver Remix) - rapped to Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) by Kanye West and Jay-Z


Coffins are forever
You will be there soon you’ll see
You’ll be beautiful as can be
As you lie there so still
Have no fear that it will
Desert... thee


Coffins are forever, forever, forever...
You keep drivin’ them nice cars,
With them gold-rimmed bars...
Coffins are forever, forever, forever...
All of yo drug money,
Will not stop this spree...
Not ever ever? Not ever ever? Never never?
Never never? Never never? Never never? Never Never?

Tuesday February 17th, 2009

The exercise:

What are you talking about? I did not almost forget to do this today. You're all crazy.

Today (*cough* tonight *cough*) the exercise shall be: write a haiku (or two) about memory.


I remember you,
How you dismissed my feelings -
Your loan is denied.

The fog is too thick;
My eyes cannot see your face
The day we first met.

Monday February 16th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter: empty hallway.


I am alone,
Or so I think.
The floor is black,
The walls are pink.
I walk slowly,
Come to a stop;
I thought I heard
A single drop
Fall on the floor
Two steps behind.
I turn around
Only to find...


An empty hall,
No one in sight.
But what was that -
A trick of light?
My tired mind
Is playing games;
Too much coffee
Is what I blame.
Behind my back
One more drop hits;
I'd turn to look
But I know it's...


Sunday February 15th, 2009

The exercise:

It's an absolutely beautiful day here in Vancouver - sitting here, with the sun pouring through the window, it feels like Summer has arrived.

So today's starter is: sunshine.


The flowers on the table
Can weave a lovely fable
When posing in the sunshine
That rests gently on its shrine.

The tree branch waving outside
Casts a shadow that divides
The living room with a line
That's had a bit too much wine.

The skin on my face drinks in
The gentle heat with a grin;
It's been too long since the day
The sun last came out to play.

Saturday February 14th, 2009

The exercise:

Happy Valentine's Day to all the couples, and a Happy Screw You Marketing Companies of the World Day to all the singles.

Today's starter, in a shocking turn of events, is: Valentine's Day.


In a healthy relationship
You appreciate your partner
Every single day...
Not just the day the commercials tell you to.

Now, having said that, there is a vase full of flowers on the table and we're going out to dinner tonight. I just happened to get all the sappy love poem out of me already and wanted to express the other side of the coin.

Friday February 13th, 2009

The exercise:

Alright, this is ridiculous.

It's Friday the 13th.

This blog currently has 13 Followers.

I'm working on chapter 13 of my novel.

I'm not a superstitious man, but I've got my limits.

At least this is day number 250 in a row and not 213, or 313 or... 1313!

Anyway. Def Poetry Jam Friday would like to present Dreams Are Illegal In The Ghetto by Twin Poets. Because twins are creepy. And because it's a great piece.

(Guess which was the deciding factor)


The first verse is poignant and funny but then the real story emerges. The struggles of poor kids in bad neighborhoods are obviously no joking matter, but I think it's made all the more powerful by the misdirection provided by the opening.

The harmony starts out a bit off but by the concluding verse it's so strong that it's almost hypnotizing.

Great final words as well: ...the devil is trying to make dreams not not drugs but he's trying to make dreams illegal but dreams... are not... illegal.

Thursday February 12th, 2009

The exercise:

Today marks the start of the one year countdown to the Winter Olympics here in Vancouver. I couldn't resist the temptation, so today's starter is: the countdown.


The second hand edges inexorably towards the patiently waiting twelve. The minute hand prepares for one final leap.

We watch with clamoring hearts and silent breaths. Our eyes no longer blink, our thoughts are still. The only sound that reaches our ears is the ominous tick, tick, tick of the clock.

At last the moment is here; the final second has been counted, the closing minute now lost to history.

Midnight has come.

Wednesday February 11th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter: transmission.


Come in, come in,
This is Earthman Jim!
Can you hear me?
I am so lonely...
I'm stranded here
On this silly sphere
Some call the moon,
Others call la lune...
Answer me please!
I'm missing green trees,
My town's blue bay;
Up here is all gray.
Oh no - this reeks!
My suit's sprung a leak!
I've gotta run -
This transmission's done.

Tuesday February 10th, 2009

The exercise:

I'm half asleep at the moment, so I'm going to go open Google News and pick the first interesting word I find as today's starter. Fingers crossed it's a good one.

And... here we go: Timberwolves. That was harder than it should have been - my brain is finding very few things interesting right now.


In a forest somewhere
A hare is unaware
Of its doom coming near.
His ears cannot hear
Slow moving padded feet;
He eats his leafy treat.

Watching with hungry eyes
Their prize of meaty thighs,
The wolves descend as one.
Hare runs but knows he's done;
The ground splashed with his blood,
The flood reddens the mud.

The wolves dine savagely,
Then free howls so ghostly.

Monday February 9th, 2009

The exercise:

I've linked yesterday's post to the left under Daily Writing Music for future reference and I'll add more links as I do more musical linkstravaganzas. Which I will. I was remembering today all the great stuff I forgot to mention yesterday. You've been warned.

Today's starter: out of the loop.


I've always tried to avoid watching trailers for movies I know I'm going to see anyway - they always show too much, or the best scenes, or whatever. I do love a good teaser trailer though; it gets me excited about seeing the movie without giving anything away whatsoever.

Only getting one channel on our TV means I don't have much trouble dodging movie trailers... but it also leads to me not hearing about some movies altogether. Thankfully, being totally out of the loop like that can lead to truly great discoveries.

I was in our little neighborhood video store Saturday afternoon looking for a rental and was having trouble picking something out. It ended up coming down to two movies and, to be totally honest, the reason I chose The Visitor was the cover - an old man, apparently in a subway station, playing the djembe. Kat and I have two of our own and playing them is really something we should make more time to do.

Would I have enjoyed this beautiful little movie more if I knew that Richard Jenkins has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar? No. In fact, I would have enjoyed it less. I would have gone in focused on his performance, with high expectations, and it would have been totally distracting. But I didn't know and the movie totally won me over on its own merits.

Sometimes knowing less is more.

Sunday February 8th, 2009

The exercise:

And now for something completely different.

Today's exercise: musical linkstravaganza! Inspired by the discovery of A Fine Frenzy through Ana and Mutemath from Irish, I'm going to share some links to some of my favorite music, hopefully some of which you've never heard before and, even more hopefully, most of which you'll enjoy.

Your job is to fill up my comments with music that you love so that I can be introduced to more great music and learn a little bit about you fine folk in the process. Link away!


My taste in music could best be described as 'eclectic'. So hang on tight, we're about to go rip roaring across the musical spectrum.

Our first stop on today's journey is that oft-beleaguered category: rap. Let's get this out of the way right off: most rap that gets radio play is utter crap. That's not what I listen to. What I listen to is Mos Def's Kalifornia and Katrina Klap. I listen to Talib Kweli's Just To Get By and Listen!

Yes, I listen to listen. Hush.

I groove to Lupe Fiasco's Dumb It Down and Superstar.

I could list more but we've got a long way to go. Next stop: the man in black, Johnny Cash. Hurt and God's Gonna Cut You Down are two of my more recent addictions, but you can't go wrong with San Quentin.

In a similar vein is Matthew Santos (who appears on Superstar with Lupe) in this recording of Daughter of the Sun. I enjoy almost everything CandyRat has put up on YouTube actually - have a poke around in the More From: rpoland sidebar.

Moving on down the road, we find two artists I was introduced to while bumming around New Zealand - Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. Here's Jack with Banana Pancakes, here's Ben singing With My Own Two Hands, and here they are together covering Ben's Please Me Like You Want To.

Getting hungry? Have some Cake - either Short Skirt/Long Jacket (quite possibly the greatest music video ever made) or Frank Sinatra should fill you right up.

I was introduced to The Weepies by a free compilation released by the Vancouver Sun which included Gotta Have You. I think Nobody Knows Me At All is equally brilliant.

How about a quick jaunt down to Cuba? Yes, I think the Buena Vista Social Club will keep you entertained with Chan Chan and El Cuarto De Tula.

Let's finish the trip up with some good Canadian content for you - The Weakerthans song My Favorite Chords was the last song at a good friend's wedding reception last summer and I fell in love with it immediately. I find Left And Leaving equally spellbinding.

Great Big Sea is a whole lot of awesome - try on Mari-Mac and The Old Black Rum for some maritime magic.

Sarah Harmer's Don't Get Your Back Up and Escarpment Blues are insisting on being included on the list.

And The Tragically Hip must be included in the fine Canadian music category - let's go with Bobcaygeon and Nautical Disaster as your introduction to the boys.

I might have got a bit carried away there. I'm rather fond of music, did you know? I'll probably do this again at some point so that I can include some more tunes. I hope you enjoy these ones.

Saturday February 7th, 2009

The exercise:

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

Sorry, was listening to this when deciding what to use.


Full lips part so sweetly,
Words drip forth so neatly;
Never has such a lie
Looked so good to my eye.

Friday February 6th, 2009

The exercise:

This musical edition of Def Poetry Jam Friday is inspired by my finding my Ipod last night (I hadn't seen it for about a month and a half).

So here come KRS-One and Doug E. Fresh with 2nd Quarter.


For the second Friday night in a row I'm heading out tonight so this has to be quick. Where did this social life come from, and who should I be returning it to?

Anyway. KRS-One is great - positive messages, positive role model, positively brilliant. And Doug E. Fresh can beat a mean box.

For the record - that woman's reaction when Doug E. comes out? Man, just once I want that response when I walk into a room. Is that too much to ask?

Here's some more musical def poetry from John Legend. Take care all.

Thursday February 5th, 2009

The exercise:

Today's starter, pulled from a random Google news headline: keeping the beat.


Quack, quack, quack
Shouts the duck in the shack;
Hoot, hoot, hoot
Goes the owl in the boot;
Caw, caw, caw
Says the crow with the saw;
Moo, moo, moo
Calls the cow named Sue;
Woof, woof, woof
Yells the dog on the roof;
Purr, purr, purr
Chants the cat burning myrrh;
Roar, roar, roar
Knocks the lion at the door;
This, this, this
Is how nature beats its bliss!

Wednesday February 4th, 2009

The exercise:

I'd like to indulge in some self-promotion, if I may? Yes? Good.

So over on Protagonize a story I started has been chosen as this week's featured story. It has become a collaboration with four other very talented writers, so the honor certainly belongs to all five of us.

It's called
Tagged and you're all invited to have a gander, should time allow. It's up to 21 chapters now, of which I've written 8 and Greg, who's been poking around these parts quite a bit lately, has written 6.

As a little celebration, today's starter is: tagged. Mine ended up being a bit more abstract than I had intended, but I still like a few parts of it.


Fresh paint glistens in the light;
The man listens to the night,
Like a statue lost to time,
With a painted dark red rhyme;
A slim body fueled by hate -
It's too early to be late.

His art bigger than his soul,
Soon he'll return to his hole;
To be hidden in plain sight,
His pen bidden to be trite.
With the setting of the sun,
There's no betting where he'll run.

Tuesday February 3rd, 2009

The exercise:

Have a song that's running through your head and just won't get out? Take it's first line and use it as the first line of a poem or short story.


Coldplay - See you soon

So you lost your trust
And you never should have
So this life's not just
And it never could have...

It can get you down
If you only let it
You must swim or drown
When your tender heart splits...

You have to stand tall
And don't forget your smile
Rise up from your fall
And walk another mile...

Monday February 2nd, 2009

The exercise:

Parkovic over at Protagonize came through for me in a big way today with a modification of my profile picture. I think it's brilliant and I am deeply grateful - though I suspect this might lead to him getting pestered by a lot of people to draw a lot of pictures.

So as a tribute to his awesome drawing skills, today's starter is: caricature.


The old grumpy drunk with his big red nose,
The stressed office worker with running hose,
The glitzy rich chick with her stylish furs,
They're really all just caricatures.

The teenager lost in his own drug fog,
The ditsy blond bombshell with her purse dog,
The TV cat with its pitch-perfect purrs;
They're truly all just caricatures

The intellectual smoking his pipe,
The homeless man who smells overly ripe,
The gruff cowboy with his over-sized spurs -
Just some more lazy caricatures.

The way sad news is such a dreadful bore,
The way we speak of death in metaphor;
And though of this I'm not completely sure...
Perhaps we're all just caricatures?

Sunday February 1st, 2009

The exercise:

Welcome to February - the month I have to mispronounce in order to spell correctly!

Let's start the month with the prompt: a close shave.


I hate shaving. A lot. In fact, if a genie wandered into my living right now and offered to grant me three wishes, my very first wish would be to have full and complete control over my facial hair. I would then proceed to set its growth rate at 1mm per year, except for special occasions where a full beard is required, like Halloween. Or Look Like A Bum Fridays.

If my hair's usual growth rate was normal, I'm sure I wouldn't hate shaving quite so much, but I can grow a full beard in a week. Please note: this is only a slight exaggeration. It's probably closer to two weeks.

Being back at work in an office means I have to make some attempt to be clean shaven pretty much every day - this is extremely annoying. Please note: my girlfriend considers this extremely excellent. Probably not in those exact words, mind you.

Anyway, I'm just grumpy because I just ripped the hair off my face as part of my preparation for the work week starting tomorrow morning. For the record, I'd totally just grow a full beard and avoid the whole process if a) it wouldn't drive me crazy with its itchiness, and b) I didn't want to have a girlfriend.

Seeing as both a) and b) are false, the torture shall continue indefinitely.