OLWG #17 – Sometimes the Tension is Provided by the Reader

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here – well – it’s not really a story today. Let me slide along just a little, people. Let me slide along.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Today I want to talk a bit about imagists. At the risk of over simplifying, and stereotyping, this is my take on Imagist poets in a nutshell. The idea is to capture an image that reflects a given moment in time – the moment before is different. The moment after is different still. There are three standards by which these poems should be judged:

  1. Treat “the thing” directly. Never dance around it either subjectively or objectively
  2. Use no word that does not contribute to the presentation
  3. As you compose, keep the phrasing in mind, not the beat, ignore the drummer

All the poets that I have known, without exception, professed that verse should be pared down. All superfluous and unnecessary words should be removed. Adjectives and embellishments should be minimized and used only when absolutely required. Abstracts should be abandoned and particulars should be embraced.

Allen Ginsberg believed in the imagist’s tenet of condensation. His work eschewed articles; tiny words were virtually nonexistent in his work. Along with this paring providing the condensation he wanted, it also provided a sense of urgency and import to his work.

As a young man I developed the idea that haiku was the ultimate embodiment of the element of condensation, and yet, Ginsberg never wrote haiku. His solution was the American Sentence. One sentence (maybe more, or less), seventeen syllables, story’s done. -Did you see what I did there?-

In juxtaposition to haiku which are seventeen syllables reading down (per the Japanese convention of top to bottom); the American sentence is seventeen syllables reading across (per the American convention of left to right).

Examples from Ginsberg:

Seventeen syllables:

That grey-haired man in business suit and black turtleneck thinks he’s still young.

Seventeen syllables:

Bearded robots drink from Uranium coffee cups on Saturn’s ring.

 Seventeen syllables after a scene setting title:

Tompkins Square Lower East Side N.Y.

Four skinheads stand in the streetlight rain chatting under an umbrella.

Seventeen syllables in multiple sentences with a scene setting preamble:

Rainy night on Union square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead.

Seventeen syllables in an incomplete sentence:

To be sucking your thumb in Rome by the Tiber among fallen leaves…

This week’s prompts are:

  1. You might choose to write some poetry!
  2. You might choose to write American Sentences!
  3. You might choose to write something else. I just want you to write!

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!


OLWG #16 – John Detweiler Moves On

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here – well – is just for practice.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

“I’m looking for someone named Detweiler.”  Mr. Ogilvie kinda grinned sheepishly and looked around the room, studiously avoiding looking in my direction, I was off to his right on the dais table. “John Detweiler?” he intoned. People at the other tables were cat calling and pointing in my direction. Lorraine Newsome, from accounting, clapped me on the back and urged me to stand up.

Now, I’ve known Ogilvie for almost thirty years; since he came on board here at MegaPharm, as CEO. I met him first when I was a Creative Engineering Associate, working in the “Creative Copyrighting” department. We were a young and fledgling department of only about 50 people at the time, before that I had been a marketing whiz kid. Ogilvie was hired on as CEO about that time, and has since added “Chairman” to his job title.

Creative Copyrighting was formed to generate names for new drugs developed by MegaPharm. Drug names should be random and non-language specific. They should not mean anything in any language known to man. I had about ten years under my belt with the company when the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this exciting new department was offered; I jumped on it and never looked back. I was the one who created the common names, “Thespiscarium” and “Imagenoctotoly” for drugs that had been developed to combat specific artistic disorders. Those particular drugs were not really commercially successful (actors with stage fright and authors with writers block tend to not have enough money to afford these types of medications), but they helped me to establish a reputation within the department. I rapidly rose to the position of Assistant Director and began working closely with Ogilvie on the Steering Committee that he headed, to define corporate direction.

“John Detweiler?” he asked again without looking in my direction.

I stood to a smattering of applause and made my way to the podium where Ogilvie was looking around the room, he feigned surprise when he saw me there, “Can I help you sir?” he asked me.

I pasted a serious and somber expression on my face, “I’m Detweiler.” I said.

“No, no; you can’t be. The John Detweiler I met was a much younger man.”

“Well, I used to be a much younger man; I think I’m the John Detweiler that you’re looking for.”

He shrugged his shoulders and removed a small box from his pocket, “If you say so, Director.”

We both grinned and he carried on, “Seriously, John; I have real mixed emotions about this. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this gold watch, or what it symbolizes in terms of your service to this company, but damn man; do you really have to retire?”


This week’s prompts are:

  1. As if no one cared
  2. soy muy hocicon
  3. One in the chamber

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #15 – Three Words

 This week’s prompt is at the bottom. The story here is my run at the prompt.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

I was recently challenged to “Describe myself in three words”

I thought about this – you know it’s not something easy to do, describe yourself in three words.

I’m the “one who got away,” the “fly in the ointment” or the “wrench in the works;” too many words

I’m the “cast off broken toy truck, forgotten at the back of the closet;” way too many words

I’m the “oxygen mask that falls from the ceiling;” still too many

I could be the “punch line,” the “Louisville Slugger,” or the “ball;” not enough words

I am my father’s son
I am the passenger air bag
I am without a doubt
I am the terms and conditions
I am time and materials
I am the ways and means
I am tougher than you
I am the poor and downtrodden
I am Arianna’s sex toy
I am the yellow brick road
I am your suicidal tendencies
I am the colour of consciousness
I am of the earth
I am the cycle for delicates
I am on borrowed time
I am the voice of reason
I am making this up

Maybe that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Only one prompt this week. The prompt is:

  1. Describe yourself in three words

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #14 – Writing

 This week’s prompt is at the bottom. The story here is just for practice.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Pablo hit the switch and the lights came on, at least one of them did.  The warm white color of the single working bulb in the single working fixture was almost yellow and did not offer a lot of illumination.  Something stirred on the other side of the room and he peered deeper into the gloom.  Huddled in the corner sleeping was Kona, his dog, his best friend.  She came over for some attention and then retired back to the corner to continue her slumber.

Pablo sat down at the typewriter, pulled the cork from the bottle and poured whiskey into the highball glass that sat on the corner of his desk and drank it down.  Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he stared at the typewriter keys, then sighed and pulled a couple sheets of paper from the ream in the desk drawer.  As he ran the paper around the platen the light bulb blinked once and then went out, plunging the room back into inky darkness.  So fix it, he thought, pushed his chair back and went in search of a replacement bulb and a torch.

His late wife’s admonitions rang in his head.  “If you would write during the day, like a normal person, you wouldn’t have these problems,” she used to say.

“Too many distractions during daylight,” he answered her.  “I can’t get anything done then.”

“You’re not getting much done now are you?”

“You’re right,” he said aloud.  “You’re always right dear.  I don’t want to argue with you now though.”

“Good,” she said and it was almost as though she were standing in the darkened room next to him.  He could smell the citrus scent she had always worn.  The one that she said was lemon but always made him think of grapefruit.

He felt her lips brush against his ear and she whispered, “Are you going to kill him tonight?  Do you have everything ready to do it? What are you waiting for?”

“I’m not going to do anything until I get this light fixed,” he answered and made his way into the laundry room off the garage.  He found a bulb and a torch and went back to his study.  Using the torch to see, he removed the defective bulb and put the new one in its place.  It blinked on and he flicked off the torch, sat down at the desk again, staring at the blank paper he had loaded into the old Corona machine. He poured another healthy draught of the whiskey.

He heard her in his head again, “What are you doing?  Kill him, kill him now!  Don’t be a pussy! Are you scared? Do it!”

He rested his fingers on the typewriter keyboard.  It was a dark and stormy night, he wrote. Suddenly a shot rang out.

“Are you happy now?” he asked her.

Only one prompt this week. The prompt is:

  1. The splendor of the moonlight

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #13 – A Career Changing Development

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here is just for practice.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Yolanda Quesada had been a trouble maker in elementary school. She grew into a delinquent in high school. She was beautiful. She was long and lean; with clear and deep eyes shaped like perfect almonds. Her irises were flecked with gold. She wore her brunette tresses thick and long. When she walked into a room; all conversation would stop and all eyes would follow her.

She learned to hot wire a car in the eighth grade and by the time she started her third year of high school she was running with a ring of thieves. In her senior year she disbanded her crew. Working alone and only on weekends, Yolanda personally stole thirty-seven cars and sold them to chop shops. She targeted high end cars like: Mercedes, Audi’s, Alpha’s, BMW’s, and the like, making an average of $1,500.00 per car. That year she cleared almost $56,000 in cash, no taxes and, she hadn’t been caught. She saw no need for college. She had a rep on the street. Her customers referred to her simply as “Yo” and only whispered her name. She began to get bolder.

Miss Quesada started bringing a camera along when she worked. This was before the days of smart phones and digital photography. She had a 35mm SLR which she kept mounted on a high quality Velbon collapsible tripod. She would set up the camera, start the timer, lean against the hood of her target, wait for the shot to trigger the flash, collect the camera and steal the car. She processed all her own film and printed all her own photos. She moved to California, set up shop there and created a scrapbook. Her income grew.

She was making serious cash. Clearing over $150K in almost no time, but the automobile industry wasn’t sitting still. As thieves figured out new ways to steal cars –  alarm companies developed new ways to deter the thefts. It was early in the 1980’s when Yolanda got scared. She had still never been caught. The police did not know her, but her name, “Yo”, was legend on the streets. It was a cool morning in October when she went to take the Ferrari from the parking garage at the Bay Club.

Yo liked to steal cars between 3:00 and 4:30 AM. People were tired then, less alert, or asleep. She wore a black silk blouse with a black pencil skirt, and heels when she strode into the garage like she owned the place. There were no security cameras here. She didn’t hurry when she set up her tripod and adjusted the focus of the Nikon. She had decided that in this photo she was going to kneel down next to the driver’s side headlight. She was going to turn her head in such a manner that it would present a profile to the camera, she was going to be kissing the fender of the burgundy coloured Dino Ferrari when the camera flashed.

She took two steps towards the car when the headlights came on. She stopped, waiting for an alarm. She had learned to disable a car alarm in short order, but nothing else happened. She took another step towards the Dino and someone spoke.

“Yo, step away from the car.” They had spoken from the car. She froze. The voice had been calm and cool. Had she been made? Tentatively she took another step forward.

“I said, ‘Yo, step back. Don’t come any closer.’”

Yolanda backpedaled slowly, with her hands in the air. She collected her camera and tripod and beat a hasty retreat away from the parking garage and, picking up her car from where she had parked half a block away, drove to an all night coffee shop not far from her home. Her voice wavered as she ordered a cup. Her hands shook as she sipped.

“How did they know it was me? How have they found me out?” She thought. She resolved then and there to move to the Midwest and go straight. “I can’t risk prison” she told herself. “Maybe I can get a teaching certificate or get a job as a security consultant. Marketing? Anything but this, I can’t do this anymore!”

This week’s prompts are:

  1. Two scoops please
  2. I need to believe
  3. lose it’s luster

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #12 – The Bus

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here is just for practice.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

The tall man with the mustache, wearing a black ball cap and duster stepped up on the number 17 bus. He flashed his pass for Isaac and moved down the aisle. Isaac put it in gear and pulled carefully into traffic. He started heading the two blocks down to where he would pull onto the 387 ramp.

The tall man had headed right towards that nice Miss Ramsdale. She took the 17 downtown every morning. Isaac assumed that she worked near the Ferguson and Solvada stop, since that was where she got off the bus. Isaac watched all his regulars; he looked out for them and made up stories about their lives in his head. It helped him to pass the time as he drove his route every day. Sometimes he stayed up late and wrote his stories down. He had made Miss Ramsdale  a legal secretary in a firm located on one of the top floors of any of the myriad glass faced office buildings in that neighborhood. He turned his head slightly to eavesdrop and watch in the mirror.

Excuse me ma’am,” he heard the man in the duster say, “is this seat taken?”

Miss Ramsdale scanned the almost empty bus, “No, no, it’s free.” He sat down and pushed his cap back on his head.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” the mustache asked.

Miss Ramsdale looked out the window and ignored him. Isaac signaled to move back to the right; back towards the curb. He could see what was happening.

Mustache cleared his throat, “Ahem, I asked you if you thought it was a nice day.” He said with an edge in his voice. An edge that Isaac didn’t like, not one little bit.

Miss Ramsdale continued to ignore the man as Isaac braked hard, he spun to his feet, then ran the three steps to where Miss Ramsdale sat, pinned next to the window by the stranger.

“I’m afraid you need to get off my bus, sir.” Isaac said to the man.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” the man stammered as he stood, “I don’t want any trouble. I’ll just move to another seat.”

“You should have taken another seat when you boarded, sir.” Isaac intoned, “It’s too late now to try and make amends by simply moving. You need to get off my bus.” Isaac raised himself to his full 6’ 8” and looked down at the man.

“No need to make a federal case out of it, man. I’m going.” He made his way back to the front door and when Isaac opened it, mustache stepped down to the pavement.

Isaac looked in his mirror at Miss Ramsdale who sat looking at him with both hands clamped over her mouth and her eyes wide. He touched two fingers to the brim of his driver’s hat, nodded his head, took his seat and moved back into traffic heading towards the 387 on ramp.

As he merged onto the freeway he checked his mirror again. Miss Ramsdale’s hands had moved down to her lap but she continued to stare wide-eyed at Isaac.

She should thank me he thought as he worked his way through the gears accelerating to 65.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. Are we there yet?
  2. These kids today
  3. Scram

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!

OLWG #11 – Chekhov’s Editor

What was I thinking when I wrote this? This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here is just for fun.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

“A dark figure eased from the shadows and peered down the moonlit street. Glass, from the shattered hulk of a burned out staff car crouched at the curb, glittered like a gem stone; and the black shadow of a furtive search chopper rolled past like a ball.”

Daniel Wellborne shook his head and placed the manuscript back on his table, carefully squaring the corners, lining them up with the edges of the blotter centered on the desktop. Pulling open his drawer, he grabbed three aspirins and washed them down with a healthy slug of Maalox. Reading tripe like this all day was not good for his health. As a junior editor at the boutique publisher “Incidental Crib” though, it was his lot in life.

Samantha Sandburg, and Roland Hightower got to read the good stuff. They got the fancy corner offices on the top floor, the three martini lunches, and the flights to London, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro to meet with the talent. Meanwhile; he sat in this closet beneath the stair, eating fried potato sandwiches and, reading crap all day – every day. He needed a promotion, but to get a promotion he needed a real author. He needed to discover a new talent. He looked at the manuscript he had placed so carefully on his desk.

Anton Chekhov was the name on the cover page. Daniel considered the document and what he had read so far. The story wasn’t too bad. It probably needed a stronger love interest and maybe a car chase. The writing was OK, albeit a bit ostentatious. Maybe a letter to Mr. Chekhov was in order. Maybe Mr. Chekhov would agree to a voluptuous damsel in distress and a few automobile crashes. Maybe Mr. Chekhov could tone down the flourishes of his prose. Maybe he needed a pen name too. Who would read anything by someone named Anton Chekov. Maybe Mr. Chekhov would consider writing under the nom de plume of “Slate Sideiron”

Daniel grabbed two clean sheets of erasable bond letterhead, stacked them together, and rolled them into the Royal Typewriter he kept on the return beside his desk. He squared them up and placed the bail over the top of the worksheet.

August 5, 2017

Dear Mr. Chekhov:

Thank you for submitting your new short story to Incidental Crib 
Publishing. After reviewing your manuscript we have some suggestions 
that might help to facilitate our selection of same for publishing...

Blah, blah, blah


Daniel Wellborne
Incidental Crib Publishing

Daniel grinned and hoped that this Chekhov character could take constructive criticism. He was tired of eating potato’s on rye.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. Wait for it!
  2. Can I call you Brenda?
  3. It will tarnish

Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes!