Wednesday March 31st, 2010

The exercise:

You get a double assignment today: write a poem using some (or all) of the words in the following list:

Yoga, Muse, French, Dance, Teacher, Nature, Music, Garden

The second part of your assignment? It's Kat's birthday today and all those words relate to her in one way or another. So feel free to make your poem about her or for her or however you can manage it :)


Yoga mats are gently placed
Upon a deck beneath the sun;
Nostrils are filled with the scent
Of herbs swaying in the garden.

A calming voice leads us through
Deep breathing and meditation,
Before we progress into
Free flowing sun salutations.

We don't need a stereo,
Birds are providing the music;
Our souls perform a slow dance,
The peace is nearly hypnotic.

As the class draws to a close
We know we're all nature's creatures;
With a final vibrant chant
We say thank you to our teacher.

Tuesday March 30th, 2010

The exercise:

The Two Haiku Tuesday prompt this week is: new tricks.

Kat and I are leaving for a weekend in Osoyoos on Thursday afternoon so I'm scheduling the posts from today until Sunday tonight (Monday). We're going out for dinner Tuesday night and then it's Kat's birthday on Wednesday (more on that tomorrow!) so I won't have the time to do it before we take off.


There ain't nothing wrong
with how I do things, so just
let this old dog be.

*     *     *

Pick a card, good sir!
Don't be shy, any will do!
Er... except that one.

Monday March 29th, 2010

The exercise:

The prompt today: the learning curve.

I learned a very important lesson in training today: in order to survive seven hours in the sauna room, get there first and sit directly in front of the fan.


Perched on the starting line, the peak seems unattainable, hidden behind clouds of confusion. Students on either side of you are digging in their heels, crossing their arms, and muttering dark threats about not even trying.

There is a temptation to join them in their grumbling but you push it away. Instead you begin to examine the ground before you and soon realize that there is a way through the razor sharp glass and massive boulders.

Those who have gone before you have cleared a path.

Knowing that you are not the first fills you with confidence. You take the first step, leaving the others behind. The going is not easy but it is manageable.

As you near the top the clouds begin to clear and you pause to admire the view. Far below you hear the struggles of your fellow students and wonder what they are stumbling over. With a shrug you continue on to the peak.

Once there you smile as you survey the remaining terrain, knowing that it's all downhill from here.

Sunday March 28th, 2010

The exercise:

Your late night prompt is: lost in the jungle.

Not sure where exactly that came from, but let's see where it takes us.

Had a good time last night, with the final two fights sending everyone home happy. GSP is so good it's scary but I'm hoping the UFC will be able to find him some proper competition soon.


The mosquitoes are
Bigger than zeppelins
And the ferns are like
Nature's skyscrapers.

About a mile back
I saw a snake grin,
Its tongue spitting foul,
Poisonous vapors.

I'm losing hope so
Fast my head's spinning.
If only I could
Recall what I read

In that survival book
By Professor Ling!
I guess I really
Should have stayed in bed.

Saturday March 27th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four line poem prompt this week is: the baker.

Hanging out with some friends tonight to watch UFC 111 - should be a good night of fights. Unfortunately, the PPV will still be going when Earth Hour hits so I don't think I'll be able to celebrate it like last year.


He smells like pastries and bread,
Our friendly local baker -
But he's slender as a knife,
So I think he's a faker.

Friday March 26th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four lines of prose this Friday shall be about: the taskmaster.

On a (somewhat) unrelated note, that was one long week at work. I'm happy to see the weekend walking through the door as I type this.


His footsteps in the hall resounded like the drumbeats that galley slaves used to row ancient ships to - maybe that's what he did in a previous life. Beat massive drums to make convicts and prisoners of war propel his master's ship faster and faster until they died of exhaustion.

It wouldn't have surprised me if that was the truth of it.

I began typing away at my keyboard again as he neared my cubicle, the heavy iron chains attaching my wrists to my desk rattling in time with each keystroke.

Thursday March 25th, 2010

The exercise:

I collected a couple more gift cards at work today (from a positive quarterly review by my supervisor to the temp agency) so today's prompt is: the gift card.

Oh, I think it's well past time that I mention Seven Days Seven Answers - I'm really enjoying the writing prompts over there and highly suggest you check it out. If my prompt of the day doesn't do anything for you, maybe Cate's will :)


It came in the mail
In a plain envelope -
Most unassuming!

I thought it was junk
Or perhaps a bill -
Oh how presuming!

I sliced it open
With a rusty knife
(Nothing works better).

A gift card fell out
And on it was writ
(In bloody letters)

Good for one deathblow
To any member
Of your family

So I redeemed it
On my little brother

Wednesday March 24th, 2010

The exercise:

With a week to go until the end of March, your prompt today is: the deadline.


It’s the end of fiscal year and everything is coming due. The jobs are far too many while the minutes are far too few. Your boss is sweating bullets and it’s dripping down on you. You’re trying to stay on task but it’s really hard to do when you just want to escape to Peru.

Those cubicle walls are closing in now. You want to stand tall but all that weight on your shoulders is making you bow. You’d go live on a farm and raise some cows… if only you knew how.

With one eye on your work and the other on the time, you can feel the cracking of your mind. But stay focused, you’re doing just fine. Try to remember that if it doesn’t get done it’s not a crime. And always be grateful that it’s not a dead line.

Tuesday March 23rd, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday topic this week: the airport.

Sorry. I was talking to one of my sisters last night and she was telling me about the trip she's planning on taking with her husband to Italy and it got me thinking about travel.


You're drunk and angry.
That's fine - as long as someone
else can fly this plane.

*     *     *

It seems to me that
everyone's in a rush but
no one is moving.

Monday March 22nd, 2010

The exercise:

A little something different for your writing prompt this Monday: dragon riding.

I think I've been spending too much time at work staring out the window at birds.


The beat of red and gold wings,
Thunder storms drawing near;
The rush of breathless winds,
Are all I hear up here.

Dropping into a dive
This weightlessness I feel
Makes me feel so alive,
Makes it all seem so real.

Knowing this ride’s a dream
Makes it no less thrilling,
Since it makes real life seem
Not quite so bone chilling.

Sunday March 21st, 2010

The exercise:

Your late evening prompt is: dining for two.


One of the Christmas presents Kat and I received was a gift card to The Keg restaurant and tonight we finally got around to making use of it.

I got the Flat Iron Steak with Bacon Port Mushroom Sauce, done medium-rare, and it was absolutely delicious. Kat went for the Honey BBQ Chicken & Ribs and it was equally excellent. We both decided to have steamed asparagus in place of the baked potato and it was okay... but the steakhouse isn't exactly known for its veggies. But whatever, it kept the carb count low, which was all I wanted to do.

When the bill came the total was a bit under the amount on the gift card. Which was just about perfect but it didn't leave quite enough of a tip for the waitress.

So I dug out my wallet and found enough to make it right: two dollars.

That was one hell of a nice dinner for two bucks.

Saturday March 20th, 2010

The exercise:

I've recently rediscovered Artpad and have been playing around with it a little bit. It's hard to get any delicate details on a laptop but it's still fun just to create random pieces of art. I made something for Kat and emailed it to her but hotmail seemed to think it was spam.

"This message may be dangerous," she read out loud when she checked her email.

Thus, this week's four line poems shall be about: dangerous art.


I admired the painting,
The use of colors and bold lines;
But when I turned to walk away,
It kicked me in the behind!

Friday March 19th, 2010

The exercise:

Your four lines of prose this week shall be based around: up for auction.

Was back in the sauna for two hours of training this afternoon. Had a bit of trouble paying attention.


The auction house was brimming with nervous excitement and outlandish rumours as the final item up for bidding was wheeled onto the stage beneath a purple velvet drape. The six employees manning the cart, three of them pushing and three of them pulling, were red-faced and out of breath by the time they managed to bring it to its place in the spotlight.

The auctioneer stood at the podium with a relaxed smile and surveyed the eager men and women who so desperately awaited the unveiling of the object he had struggled to keep secret for the past six months.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said into his microphone, “I am pleased to present, at long last, the pièce de résistance of the late Monsieur Edward Teller’s estate: the first prototype of the hydrogen bomb!”

Thursday March 18th, 2010

The exercise:

I've been feeling a need to write prose lately. I think I'm still going through withdrawal after the completion of A Fighting Chance.

Anyway, that's my way of warning you that I went off on some prose today. Let's see where this prompt takes you: the ghosts of Saint George's Cathedral.


I sat in the front pew of the empty cathedral but was not alone. The seven candles that stood atop the altar created wavering shadow demons all around me while leaving the upper reaches of the cavernous room hidden from sight. Each candle was slightly taller than the one to its right, so that their flames angled upwards like a burning staircase to heaven.

Or, if one were to allow one’s eyes to travel in the opposite direction, a set of seven burning steps leading down to hell.

Allowing my mind to linger on this thought for a moment, I pulled the silver flask from the inside pocket of my suit jacket, unscrewed the cap with three quick twists, and brought it to my lips. The liquid courage worked its usual magic, warming me from the inside out and coating my twitching nerve endings with a soothing balm. I took an extra sip for good measure before replacing the cap and returning it to its home.

Glancing at my watch, I saw that the hour, minute, and second hands were preparing to point their accusing fingers as one at the 12 resting at the top of their circular prison. Zero hour was fast approaching; there could be no more delay.

I rose and moved to stand before the altar as the silence within the cathedral seemed to deepen. I told myself it was just my imagination but took another sip of whiskey anyway. A few hundred feet above and behind me I knew Father Timothy would be donning his earplugs and grabbing hold of the thick ropes attached to the cathedral’s massive bronze bells. We knew the sound would bring the entire city running to the gilded front doors of the building.

What we didn’t know was what they would find once they got there.

Taking a deep breath, I fell to my knees and spread my arms to the side as I arched backwards. And as the bells began to sound, I called out to the ghosts of the cathedral. I called them by name, one by one, the oldest to the youngest as the ritual required. I called for them to leave behind their aimless wanderings. I called them to me.

I called them to war.

Wednesday March 17th, 2010

The exercise:

I'm going to try something I've done a couple of times in the past: I'll give you the start of your first line and then you take it from there. Poetry and prose welcome, as usual.

Here it is: The blind man said to me...

Feel free to replace man with woman as well.


The blind man said to me,
“Treasure all that you see.”
And I, fool that I am,
Told him, “I understand.”

But he saw right through me,
So very easily.
“Don’t be so thick, young man!
I don’t care that you can
See the sky and the land,
Nor the hills, nor the sea,
Nor, for that matter, me.

“What you must learn to see,
What you must learn from me,
Is that you don’t need eyes
So you can realize
That all these precious lives,
From man to bug to dove,
Deserve nothing but love.”

Tuesday March 16th, 2010

The exercise:

Four hours of training this afternoon. In a room that was hot enough to kill off the weaker ones amongst us. I never would have guessed that this new program training was just a front for survival training. Who knows what the two hours of training on Friday will have in store for us?

Anyway. It's Two Haiku Tuesday. Let's write about: keep it simple.


Those big words you use
Go sailing over my head...
Like, way over it.

*     *     *

Simple it could be,
theoretically. But
simple this is not.

Monday March 15th, 2010

The exercise:

I'm going to be doing a lot of training at work this week so let me just apologize in advance for the grumpy, angry, writing therapy junk I'll be posting this week. Having said that, I'm sure it won't be that bad. I'm just covering my bases ahead of time :)

And though my writing today was inspired by my first training session this morning, it really wasn't that bad. I suppose.

Your prompt today: misplaced focus.


This training session
Is really messing
With my head.

'Cause you want to know
What it all has to do with you,
And so do you and you and you.

But y'all really need to learn
The definition of the word

Sunday March 14th, 2010

The exercise:

I just filed my tax return and thankfully it looks like I'll be getting a nice refund to help pay for the car :)

So today's prompt is: death and taxes.


"I've done everything I could but you still owe a little over two hundred dollars." The accountant swallowed noisily and wiped the sweat from his brow. He tried, for the tenth time in the last hour, to make eye contact with his client but swerved his gaze to the wall over his shoulder at the last second.

"I am not pleased."

The accountant shivered like he was standing in an arctic windstorm. Oh how he hated dealing with this client. The most powerful were always the most demanding. And terrifying.

"I appreciate that, I really do,"  the man said as he tidied his combover, "but in order to get you a refund I'd have to break at least a dozen tax laws!"

"Are you really more petrified of the pathetic pawns that enforce the law than you are of me?"

"Well that's not really the problem here..."

"I will back in one hour," Death said as he rose from his seat like a puff of smoke from a cigar. "By then you will have my taxes in order or you shall face the consequences."

The accountant was found that night by the building's janitor. The note, taped to his lifeless body, simply said:

It was inevitable.

Saturday March 13th, 2010

The exercise:

A good friend from my university days is in town this weekend and, along with my best man, we decided to take in a sledge hockey game today at the Paralympics. I've never actually seen the sport being played before and it was a really good time. It looks bloody exhausting to play.

Norway ended up beating Sweden in a shootout. I took a tonne of pictures but I think this one is my favorite:

And, fittingly enough, your four line poem prompt today is: one on one.


It's just you and me now,
With the game on the line.
Which of us will blink first,
Whose time is it to shine?

Friday March 12th, 2010

The exercise:

Kat is away until Sunday night on a retreat, so your four lines of prose this week shall be about: retreat.

Clever, no?


“The captain has sounded the retreat!”

“I’d rather die where I stand than turn and flee like a frightened kitten!”

“But they’re serving crème brulée for dessert at the Mess tonight…”

“Oh yeah… after you, then?”

Thursday March 11th, 2010

The exercise:

We're going back to the random CD prompt today, so go find a song with a good first line and steal it to use as your own. Poetry and prose are both welcome, as always with this prompt.

Question for you fine folk: would you want to see this prompt become a regular one (joining Two Haiku Tuesday, Four Line Prose Friday, and Four Line Poem Saturday)? Would every week be too often for it? Maybe once every other week, once a month?

Let me know what you think.


k-os - Crabbuckit from his album Joyful Rebellion

I took a trip on a bus that I didn’t know, hoping to see a different side of the city that I’d called home for the previous twelve years. I‘d decided that it was past time to get out of my element; to deviate from the same, staid route to and from my downtown office, to and from Jimmy’s One Stop Shop, to and from church. I was tired of passing by the same store fronts day after day, of seeing the same unsmiling faces. At least, that’s what I told myself as I got on the number 8 bus that sunny Sunday morning.

It was far easier than admitting I was tired of my terminally uneventful life.

I glanced at my fellow passengers as I moved to the rear of the bus and a tingle of excitement tap danced up my spine when I didn’t recognize any of them. I settled into the empty back row with a satisfied smile as the driver lurched us into motion, the roar of the diesel engine resonating in my bones like a primal drumbeat. At the end of the block he took us to the left and an uneasy feeling immediately materialized in the pit of my stomach. My bus always took the right turn at that intersection; I wasn’t expecting to leave behind the known so soon.

Sweat began to collect in my armpits and where my legs pressed against the seat. Swallowing became a difficult task. I could feel my heartbeat accelerating at an unsustainable rate and my breath entered and departed from my lungs in erratic bursts.

Before conscious thought could intervene, my left hand had reached for and pulled down the cord to signal for the next stop. It was another two, agonizingly long blocks before the bus pulled to a stop and I could escape its confines. Stumbling down onto the sidewalk, I paused to lean against a lamp post as I tried to collect myself.

It was then that I heard your voice for the first time.

Wednesday March 10th, 2010

The exercise:

I saw snow for the second straight morning today. After taking February off and most of January as well, it would appear that winter has come back in March.

Thus, your prompt today is: winter's march.


Through woods and fields,
Over hills and dales,
He comes, he comes.

Through pale blue lips
And ice cube teeth
He hums, he hums.

He brings the snow,
He brings the ice
With grace, with grace.

He strings the trees,
He fills the sky
With lace, with lace.

With thick wool gloves
It's time to sound
The drums, the drums.

For Winter with
His frosty touch,
He comes, he comes.

Tuesday March 9th, 2010

The exercise:

Your Two Haiku Tuesday topic this week: the fisherman. Or fisherwoman! It matters not to me.


His beard of sea salt
feels like the finest cashmere
to his waiting wife.

*     *     *

Two missing fingers,
one torn nose. I guess the fish
were biting today.

Monday March 8th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt today: certified.


Yesterday Kat had her final practicum for her Yoga Teacher Training program. It was basically a final exam – she taught a small class (some fellow students as well as a few ‘outsiders’, me being one of them) while one of her instructors observed her. She taught us for an hour and then we got kicked out while the instructor went over how she did.

I knew that Kat had done really great but that was still a very long twenty minutes while I waited for her to come out of the room. But when she did I just needed to see her smile and glowing face to know that she had passed with flying colors.

That was a pretty incredible seven months she just went through: of giving up every other weekend to learn, of doing homework during the week while still teaching high school French, of practising and practising and practising.

But she did it, and did it so well. I couldn’t be more proud.

Congrats Kat.

Let the next stage of this adventure begin.

Sunday March 7th, 2010

The exercise:

Your assignment today: tell me a travel story (preferably a real one).


Yesterday's big purchase has got me reminiscing about the first and only other "car" I ever purchased. Hmm? Oh yes, those quotation marks are quite intentional.

When I decided to go backpacking in New Zealand toward the end of 2003 I thought it would be best to get around in a car (no quotation marks there, I'm sure you've noticed). This was a bad idea for several reasons and the way I went about it only made it worse.

You see, I knew absolutely nothing about cars. And I didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on one. Pile on top of that the desire to get a car before I left Auckland and hit the countryside and I might as well have tattooed Sucker across my forehead.

So there I was, the day after I arrived from Vancouver (I believe it was about a 14 hour flight from LA but it's been a while and I can't be bothered to double check), going car shopping. Sadly, I was unable to find a car. I did, however, find a very nice lemon.

It was cheap. It was old. It was small. I only needed something for six months so I thought it was perfect.

When it stopped being able to go faster than 60 km/h I began to suspect I had chosen poorly.

When the engine began overheating so badly I had to pull over every fifteen minutes I thought maybe I should have shopped around a little more.

When the reverse stopped working I had to admit defeat (I still kept driving it for another month or so).

It was quite the experience though. I met a lot of very nice locals along the side of the road who stopped to see if I needed help. I could do a lot more sightseeing since I was forced to travel so slowly. It really did transform the first two months of my trip into something I could have never predicted.

But... been there, done that. I'm hoping this one will go much more smoothly :)

Also: in searching the blog to make sure I hadn't told this story before I came across this other car-related New Zealand post. Man, I need to get back there one day. I'm absolutely positive Kat would love it there.

Saturday March 6th, 2010

The exercise:

Feeling better today. Had a good sleep last night, so that helped.

Also this:

That's a 2006 Saturn Ion. Kat and I thought it looked unhappy at the dealership so we decided to give it a new home. It seems happier here.

Your four line poem prompt this week is: a new addition to the family.


Our little family
Has grown from two to three:
Two members organic,
One needs a mechanic.

Friday March 5th, 2010

The exercise:

It's a beautiful, sunny Friday outside... so of course I'm not feeling very well. Sigh.

Anyway, your four lines of prose this week, partially inspired by Kat starting Spring Break today, shall be about: breaking point.


We all knew Ernesto was close. We just didn't know what would be the final straw.

But we should have at least known better than to continue carpooling with him.

Now as we're stuck in yet another traffic jam and he's pulling a gun out of the glove compartment, I guess it's safe to say he's finally reached his breaking point.

Thursday March 4th, 2010

The exercise:

Today's prompt is inspired by a story that Dark recently posted on Protagonize. I'm quite excited about the whole thing and hope that I'll be able to join the fun. If not I'll still enjoy following its progress, I'm sure.

Anyway, the prompt: hunting humans.


She walks the streets,
Night after night,
Looking for a face
Shaped just right
So that she may
End a life.

And while she hunts,
Others hunt her;
But not by choice -
They're no monsters -
Just normal folk
Whose lives were upturned.

The winner of this game
Wins their chosen prize.
But as they play
With madness in their eyes,
Do any of them see
That all ten souls will die?

Wednesday March 3rd, 2010

The exercise:

I have to admit, I quite enjoyed the chapter of Lessons in the Dust that I worked through last night. I'd take that as a good sign, but I seem to recall the quality dropping off pretty quickly. We'll see.

The exercise today is to give a caption or two (or more!) to this bit of concept art from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which hits movie theatres this Friday:


"Go to your room or I'll have my makeup artist do his worst with your dog."

*     *     *

The Red Queen was not impressed with her guest's opinion that dinner 'tasted of skunk spray' and insisted that they leave immediately.

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010

The exercise:

I managed to survive the opening segment of my NaNoWriMo novel last night without having an aneurysm, so I guess it wasn't that bad. I think the most galling thing was seeing words that had been left out.

Kat and I are in the beginning stages of shopping for a used car.

So this week's Two Haiku Tuesday is brought to you by: car shopping.


I can't believe it!
This one's totally perfect!
... Does it come in red?

*     *     *

The greasy salesman
says it's a steal. The police
would seem to agree.

Monday March 1st, 2010

The exercise:

Tonight I open up Lessons in the Dust, my NaNoWriMo novel, for the first time since the end of November. Let the rewrite begin!

Assuming I survive the experience, I shall be back here tomorrow to let you know how it goes. Until then, your prompt today was inspired by the light-hearted theme of the closing ceremonies last night: fun with stereotypes.


I've got me a pet beaver,
I went and named him Bucky;
He helped me build our igloo
And he brings me good Lucky!

Every night for dinner
We have us some baby seal;
Some people think that's so cruel
But I laugh and say, "Get real!"

Don't be so down on this dish,
Y'all really need to cheer up;
Try a bite and if you like,
You can add maple syrup!

Well it's time for me to go,
I got me some wood to chop;
Then it's time to play hockey
With our bright red mounted cops!

But feel free to come over,
We'd love to show you our ways;
And if you behave yourself,
We'll throw in a couple "Eh"s!