OLWG #21 – Relaxation

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. I have chosen for my practice today to write more poetry.  I’ve chosen, Cinquain. Practice makes perfect.

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

A cinquain is a five-line poem that was invented by Adelaide Crapsey. She was an American poet who took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka. A collection of her poems, titled Verse, was published in 1915, one year after her death, and included 28 Cinquains.

Cinquains are particularly vivid in their imagery and are meant to convey a certain mood or emotion.

A Classic Cinquain Example

Here is an example from Adelaide Crapsey of a cinquain that she wrote titled “Snow”

Look up…
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
The snow!

American Cinquain Form

Originally, Crapsey created the form for the American cinquain with five lines and a fixed number of stresses per line as so:

The first line has one stress, which was usually iambic meter with the first syllable unstressed and the second stressed.
Line two has two stresses.
Line three has three stresses.
Line four has four stresses.
Line five has one stress.

Because poets seek what is often intangible she modified the form to encompass a certain number of syllables per line:

Line one had two syllables.
Line two had four syllables.
Line three had six syllables.
Line four had eight syllables.
Line five had two syllables.

My first go is American Cinquain (of the latter form) that I have titled “Relaxation”

We love
In the cool shade
Of the cottonwood tree
Unashamed, we talk, touch, kiss, dream
We love

My second go is Tanka – also titled “Relaxation”

Note the form of Tanka is five lines but the syllable count is different than American Cinquain. Tanka is 57577. I wanted to convey the same idea, in both poems but I encountered considerable difficulty with this format. I chose to shuffle some Spanish in with the English, it was easier for me to do while adhering to the syllabic requirements of the Tanka.

a dry, dusty day
debajo del álamo
a sin vergüenza
we make love then lie apart
to talk, dream, kiss and reprise

This translates to English, in my mind, as:

a dry, dusty day
under the cottonwood
we make love then lie apart
to talk, dream, kiss and reprise

A bit different and lacking the required structure, for the purist. I think I like the one with the embedded Spanish.

You guys can play with this. Play with the structure, play with language, pare it down then paste it back together again.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. I’m gonna be late for work
  2. Hippopotamus
  3. Wait till your father gets home

But if those seem a little redundant you can try these if you want:

  1. They had one greedy son
  2. King of clubs
  3. I do

Mix and match is also acceptable if you so desire. Alternatively, you can ignore them all and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.


Go ahead and dive in,
Write something
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.

Have fun


OLWG #20 – Like a Bird

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

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

Grandpa sat patiently on the wooden bench, my valise tucked under his knees and his hands resting on the top of his gaily painted walking stick. Glancing up, he looked at the time; 7:45. He sighed. I watched him as he leaned forward and peered down the track. He leaned back and took a dip then tucked it inside his bottom lip, against his gum. The platform light buzzed furiously.

He looked back at me, “This train is never on time.” He said matter of factly.

“Do I really have to go?” I asked.

“Your daddy’s gonna be worried about you.”

“I don’t wanna go back there.”

“Listen Sammy, you know I love you and, you know I loved your mother but he’s gonna come lookin’ for you. He’s your daddy. You need to give him a chance.” Grandpa turned his head and spit a great glob of brown tobacco juice that hit the spittoon about five feet away.

I turned my head and looked pleadingly at Grandma. Her eyes were watering as she nodded her head in agreement with what Grandpa had said.

Grandma never talked much but she put her arm around my shoulder and pulled me in close. She smelled like flowers, face powder, and mothballs. When Grandpa stood and walked to the edge of the platform to search for the missing train she wrapped her other arm around me, “You’ll be back,” she whispered, her voice crackling like a newspaper opening up.

The train whistle blew in the distance and she let go of me to straighten my cap. Grandpa looked back and motioned me to get up and bring my grip

That was the night I learned how to fly.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. my name’s not Bud
  2. Southern Comfort and smoke
  3. pull on your coat

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

OLWG #19 – Paulo Realizes He Has a Soul

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

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

Becka came to me that day in high school.

“Paulo, I’m late.”

“What do you mean, you’re late?”

“What do you mean, what do I mean? I mean I’m late.”

“What are you telling me for? What are you gonna to do about it?”

“What am I gonna do about it? This is as much your issue as it is mine.”

“You have to go to the clinic. I’ll give you a ride.”

“I think we should have it.”

“No way, I hate babies.”

“No ya don’t Paulo.”

“Fuck I don’t.”

“No one with a soul hates babies Paulo, and you have a beautiful soul.”

When she put it that way, I had to agree. We were wed three weeks later. I lost Becka when Catherine was born. They said it was complications of childbirth.

Maybe I do have a soul after all. Catherine just finished med school. I’m proud of her. She’s still my baby.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. Dirty little secrets
  2. The cure is worse
  3. Nothing they tell you is real

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

OLWG #18 – A Love Story? A Tragedy?

 This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The story here – well – I’m paring it down. only the necessary ornamentation , with minimal embellishment. Today, I’m trying to tell you, not show you.

Last week I asked the reader to supply the tension – this week I ask you to supply the images.

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

“Bye, Mom. I’m taking Bingo out for a walk.”

“Poop Bags, Jenn, don’t forget Poop Bags”

“Bye, Mom.”

She rushed out the door dragging Bingo on his leash and turned left, hurrying down the street towards Rodriguez Drive where she went right to the park and found a seat on a wooden bench near the bowl to watch the skaters; to watch Angel.


Angel and Jenny went to the same school. Angel was going to be a senior, Jenn, a junior.

Angel had caramel coloured skin; Jenn was pale, tall and slender.

Angel was tall too, strong, with broad shoulders and narrow hips.

They both liked dogs, they both liked Bingo.

They both had long, wavy, dark hair.

They were not just in love. They were lovers.


Jenny’s dad did not like Angel. Angel is not one of us, his hair is too long, he’s a skater and probably on drugs, “I mean, just look at him Jenn, no ambition! You could do so much better.” But, Jenn’s dad didn’t know what Angel was puttin’ down.

Angel’s mother did not like Jenn. Jenny was no como nosotros, ninguna sustancia, solo una puta, “Quiero decir, ¡solo mirarla, por el amor de Dios! Podrías hacerlo mucho mejor.” But Angel’s mother didn’t know what Jenny was putting down, either.

Jenny walked Bingo three or four times a day that summer.

Angel worked weekdays, but went to the skate park early and at lunch, if he could get away. He’d swing by on the way home and again after dinner. They could talk during the week, hold hands, and kiss.

But, it was easier to steal time together on the weekends; as long as Jenn got home before midnight; as long as they were not seen together by their parents.

When school started, it got harder but Jenn still walked Bingo at least three times a day.

At Angel’s graduation Jenny told him that she was a month late. They made plans to run away; to get married. Angel joined the army and they moved. Bingo stayed with Jenn’s folks. When Emilio was three months his father was deployed overseas. Almost eighteen months after that, the army sent people to tell Jenn that her young husband was never coming home; she cried, but took Emilio back to her parent’s house. Two weeks later Jenny, Emilio, and Bingo thumbed a ride to Colorado.

As an army widow she received a small stipend from Uncle Sam. She could get a job working nights. She could make it work. She knew she could.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. I don’t feel any different
  2. Life in flip flops
  3. Go easy on the cayenne

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

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!