Conflict

Prompt: WordBlocks

Words have multiple meanings. Meanings have multiple words. I think of wordblocks as a single-word stand-in to express multiple meanings, or an ambiguity of meanings. I use them in my writing all the time, and often generate them as a warm-up exercise before I write.

  1. Write a word.
  2. Make a list of other words that are related to this word, in meaning or in spelling.
  3. Combine these words into one wordblock sharing letters. (See pictures for example)
  4. Keep rearranging, adding, or subtracting words until you have a wordblock you like aesthetically both visually, and linguistically. A wordblock rarely looks great on the first try. Wordblocks have vast potential both handwritten, and typeset either digitally or with moveable letterpress type.
  5. Your wordblock can stand alone as a one-word poem, or be placed in a sentence. Try stringing multiple word blocks together. The result is a sentence that provides multiple ways to navigate it.

I’m not adept at digital manipulation, and the prompt’s examples were very visual, so I went with doing the rearrangement on the page until a concept “popped.”

 

Conflict

 

Convergence of community,

Confidence. Yes, please.

 

Today X told Y “You are less than I,

And thank your lucky stars I am merciful

Enough to let you exist.”

 

Community could be a warm word.

Confluence would be a mercy.

Crossing borders unscathed remains a challenge.

 

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Ethereal

Prompt #3. I’m caught up. This one involves staring at a word until it begins to “break down,” then writing from there. I used a random word generator and got “ethereal,” so I went with that.

Ethereal

 

The real, the most obvious, the least likely,

the unseen pressing against the seen in ways

we reject this presence, this unexplained

scent of flowers in a closed room, this real

 

awareness that the cats didn’t open cabinet doors

which I strain to reach. The real reluctance

to tell anyone what is happening, knowing

the likely jokes and reactions.

 

The cups didn’t stack themselves in a pyramid by chance.

 

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Easter

Prompt #2: Take a piece of junk mail, and replace nouns with words from a beloved poem, then modify it until you’re happy. My source material was a pamphlet for a Jehovah’s Witness church left on my doorstep, interspersed with words from Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’.

Easter

 

In the vast before he died,

Ozymandias assured his faithful

sculptor that they would be with him

 

in his heavenly visage. He later

promised a condemned criminal:

You will be with me in sand,

 

in decay. Bare and boundless, take my hand

as our works surround this colossal wreck.

 

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Presidents & Theaters

I’m getting a late start on National Poetry Month this year, but I’ll be following the prompts from the Found Poetry Review ( http://www.foundpoetryreview.com/ ). The one I got for the first prompt restricted me to choosing ten words from two pages of random text to represent the first words of a ten-line poem entitled Presidents & Theaters.

 

Presidents & Theaters

 

Observance: we continue

working, perhaps feverishly, sometimes

running towards fires set by accident, or

conjunction. We take a step back, inhale this

varicolored atmosphere, and then

 

say what erupts from our honest core, or we embrace

discontinued versions of ourselves,

mildly betrayed by ourselves—

permeated by concepts of obligation and spectacle,

“safety” becoming a convenient mantra.

 

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With the Dawn

With the Dawn

 

Admiration for those able to discover

sublimation in the tracks left by coyotes

in the snow; envy, as well, when one

captures the scent of honeysuckles in bloom

on a balmy July twilight. Here, beneath

sodium lights and stale cigarette smoke,

beauty assumes different gradations.

Across, always

across the room, someone stirs

an amaretto sour they have been nursing

for over an hour, each sip a prayer to lesser gods

from the pantheon of loneliness. Each time

a couple leaves, the glass empties a bit. Another

follows another before the lights

send the solitary out into the shadowscape.

Before the sun

spreads warmth to staggered patches of asphalt,

I will stop and breathe deep the diesel fumes

of my people in this concrete wilderness,

and I will feel gratitude when I see the streetlights

flicker on once more.

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Polyhedral Arcana

d20

Polyhedral Arcana

 

Dice

rolling

rituals

take many forms.

Punish the bad ones;

smash them with a hammer

if they constantly roll low.

Kiss or blow on them with each roll.

Never touch another gamer’s dice!

Good ones deserve a separate dice bag,

maybe chainmail. Others? Crown Royal bag.

Anoint new dice with holy bourbon—

the higher the proof, the better.

Stack them up in-between rolls.

New character? New dice.

Pray to Great Nuffle.

Encourage them

with whispers;

chant, then

roll.

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Miles Away, and Here

sword_beater

Miles Away, and Here

Some ascribe the label: The War on Decency,
for some given definition of decent, given by pastors
driving luxury cars, eating lavish meals. Your indecent hunger,

yes, but for nourishment from a different venue.
Our mouths open. Not to receive your communion of charity,
but to speak: There are already empty seats at the table.

So, yes, we fight your war–

For the young minds watching this unfurl, a wish:
that our unkindness will not be yours, that reason
blossoms within you to look past

hubris, malice, preconception — rusted tools forged
by people, not for the people, and breaking with every swing.

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