Oulipost #16: CHIMERA


April 16, 2014

The Prompt: The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.




Building a Surreal Mousetrap


The better space on the business mouse

off of the house

is called one, for over two

cats and mice have been wearing.

Since cats, those online postage noses have approached.

According to tails, have become from the attempted mousetrap…

these mice are as far back as walls.


Recently the intercepted trap of bottles banned Cheetos,

and suddenly the financial critters set out

and took to the days. So the better wall turned out to be:

why has it been the northern mice–so long, worn, involved?


Were the mice listening to the house?

First, let’s reach the authorized week regarding fake scratching.

Trap covers the poor measures in force

to seem this type of mouse and the stove complains as follows:


bogus scheme.


Base Article: Ungetheim, Bruce. “Why the foot-dragging on erosion control?” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 12 April 2014.

Nouns: Stinnett, Chuck. “She was able to catch ‘The Quiet One,’ but she hasn’t caught ‘The Last One.’” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 12 April 2014.

Verbs: Irvine, Martha. “Dress codes: Where should schools set limits?” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 12 April 2014.

Adjectives: AP. “Scammers using fake US Postal Service emails.” courierpress.com. Evansville Courier & Press. Web. 12 April 2014.


Notes: For this one, I found it useful to print the three Noun-Verb-Adjective articles out and go through with a highlighter to find the parts of speech I’d be pulling. That made it a fairly simple matter to plug those into the base article. A chimera is, by definition, a fairly weird beast, and this poem is a little more nonsensical than I (generally) prefer, but as usual with these prompts, the process allowed me to see a poem in a new and interesting way.


Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.


Filed under Oulipost, Poetry

3 responses to “Oulipost #16: CHIMERA

  1. And, hey, it’s hard to resist anything where a mouse is the protagonist. Love the phrase ‘these mice are as far back as walls’.
    I agree with you re being able to see how this exercise might work as a way to a poem, especially one where the mind has bogged down. It would act like a novelist’s ‘What next?’.

  2. Beth Ayer

    “Were the mice listening to the house?”

    I also thought this prompt could result in a lot of nonsense but also kernels of something more. Enjoyed reading yours.

  3. Having the mice reappear throughout the poem gave it a bit of narrative; I think you get a thumbs up for this one!

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