Tag Archives: writing

Before the First Word, the Universe Sang

Motion Poem and a Found Language Poem– the source text was a letter written by John Muir, January 10th, 1873 to J. B. McChesney. Erasure was applied.

Images are all stock-imagery. Music used to arrange the composition is provided by the Sparkol program.


Before the First Word, the Universe Sang


Just the landscape of numberless

boundaries and human-carved rocks—


striking, suggestive as steel-tempered sentences. Absurdities

ready-to-burst, tethered like the stars by Nature’s own chains,


the forge of convention. Transparent and well-nigh invisible,

as if loose over this world and the next, yet enclosed by bellglass.


Its bounds live, move, brandish verbal spears

made of the heaviest, most opaque stuff in the universe—


denser than hammered steel, yet indefinite. What they shall be:

nothing, hope, all possibilities, longing of heaven and eternities.


Weighed, measured, branded and bound by order,

like bricks. Machinery. Books lack faith in the Scriptures of Nature.


The joint work of evil and good must dwell in contact with beauty,

the vulgar heresy, familiarity with contempt. Intervals to be measured


instead of inhaling every moment in order

to act, to say anything with the purest words of deceit.


Reason was born and bred and dwells in the barren rock,

the bleak winds, the solitude of seas—


they have language, but declare nothing.


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May 9, 2014 · 9:36 am

Beneath an Oak, Thirty-five Years Ago

So, I’m trying to write a Mother’s Day poem that recalls a significant shared memory but doesn’t sound like a Hallmark card. This is my initial effort–



Beneath an Oak, Thirty-five Years Ago


One afternoon when I was young,

you took me to a brown patch of dry soil

along our driveway,

along with a handful of plastic animals

and toy cars.                               You gathered twigs,

planted them upright in a circle and said

Let’s play zoo.                              Then you drew roads

                                with your fingers, carefully:

This is where the cars go, to make sure

                               the animals are taken care of.

It blew my mind,

how you made fallen tree parts into props for the imagination.

How you made

                                                            time to play. With me.


You taught me:

Embrace your imagination. Never forget

                             where you come from.                 I remember relish trays

filled with olives and cheese and sweet baby carrots

          before Saturday Morning Cartoons, and

who was there with me

as we escaped a burning home

together.                                                           I remember

who has been there,                                        always.


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Carpet Circles and Winter Mornings


Carpet Circles and Winter Mornings

after Kelly Moffett


What to replace the emptiness. You


Another collected blame like gazing crystals.


Your morning shower came before “good morning,” before

“Want coffee?” and before I ever did.


I loved the prismatic bursts before my eyes,

your silhouette through the curtain

leaning forward to shave, head bowed. Prayer

fogged upon the mirror.


Then the usual hurried talk:

“Coffee’s ready” and “Where are my keys?”


I found an affinity for candlemaking. For you–

auto mechanics, smudging.


And I preferred darker places,

Rooms and hallways shrinking.


You would have liked this waterfall.


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May 4, 2014 · 2:03 am

Margo Said

Margo Said


Crow woman,

don’t try to cool the fires,

but you stood your ground,

impossible to resist. Ascend

wisdom before risks.


A girl hangs ghost-like from a washing line—

snip, remove, arrange

anarchists need not be irresolute:

People like stories but they don’t like words.


Gather the actor of your artist,

lost, terrified, and besieged by the wild forest,

before it’s too late. Wear your heart on your sleeve,

sometimes, in the mornings.


As for tricks,

I loved you                                                      once.

A duration remaining night–          roots cut loose,

Night brings his lips                                       inside–

He ignores his thin chances –


I can’t.


Sometimes the best wean                    to bring harrow to a skein                                             is to be assertive.

Unleash the power of the female brain,

considerable in extent and intensity,

the sleeping creator,

mercurial moments.


But jump:

all we can do is try to trace out patterns

and the potential for meaning.


Source: The Oulipost poems of Margo Roby during 2014’s Oulipost event. All of them.


Filed under Oulipost, Poetry



April 30, 2014

The Prompt: Conclude the project by writing a poem that incorporates words and lines from all of your past 29 poems.


Harvesting the Seconds, Pen On Page


We’re trying to find touchpoints by day,

to be reminded of how beautiful—

the rustic setting, old Kentucky home.


We want to show that we are a strong community.

Time will tell, my tribe. It’s upon us.


Who am I? A person or thing

equal or similar to another,

one able to cope with another

before returning to a nearby aphrodisiac.

We descend like locusts

on our elbows, on the other:

empty, then refilled.


Complex conditions, an ugliness/fury. Nonsense.

Poems lie. The chicanery, bogus scheme. Never

let them get in the way. We cling

to superstitions. We do it all. Small, then—

You, us, I. We’re common.

We’re more. Play my part?


Many can, as flinders in a burn, an abattoir,

slowly undone. Ale got onto the altar,

familiar with the Maker’s Mark. Still,

we harvest one second after another—


–as life goes on, the biggest issue? Time.

This is not rocket science.

That definitely holds true.


Sources: My previous 29 Ouliposts! This National Poetry Month was an absolute blast. Thanks to the wonderful folks at The National Poetry review, the Evansville Courier & Press, and my fellow Ouliposters for providing laughter, inspiration, encouragement and camaraderie throughout the month. Until next year!


Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.

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Justice League Senryus

I have a critical essay due tomorrow for my next semester in grad school, but I /lost/ the book somewhere between buying it (and getting the author/my current mentor to sign it) last fall, so I reordered it from Amazon around the 20th.

Of course, they listed it as “Shipped” on the 22nd, but they must have sent it to an alternate dimension or something, because even after paying a bit extra for expediency, it still wasn’t here yesterday…so I drove two hours to Louisville this morning, knowing that either Carmichael’s (support independent booksellers!) or the college bookstore would have it.

On the way home, my mind was wandering over potential topics for next semester’s 30-page extended critical essay, and one of the conversations I had with the aforementioned mentor, who loves Haikus/Senryus. Next thing I knew, I was counting syllables in my head and comparing comic book characters to the Greek pantheon.

Weirdness ensued.



Apollo in flight,

yellow sun-cloaked paragon,

bathe in accolades.



Hades as dark knight–

Gotham, his underworld cave.

Fear, the greatest tool.


Green Lantern

Beware his power,

patrolling space with his ring:

modern Hephaestus.


Wonder Woman

Immortal huntress,

making prey of lies Men tell.

Golden Artemis.


The Flash

Run, scarlet Hermes;

ride the lightning, messenger

of swift justice. Run.



Ruler of the seas–

all which dwells within obeys

you, blonde Poseidon.

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Oulipost #29: CANADA DRY


 April 29, 2014

The Prompt: The name of this procedure is taken from the soft drink marketed as “the champagne of ginger ales.” The drink may have bubbles, but it isn’t champagne. In the words of Paul Fournel, who coined the term, a Canada Dry text “has the taste and color of a restriction but does not follow a restriction.” (A musical example is Andrew Bird’s “Fake Palindromes” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pqYTTW4hKk&feature=kp)

Be creative, and write a poem sourced from your newspaper that sounds like it’s been Oulipo-ed, but hasn’t.



Firefighters are Still at the Scene


The War hopscotched south,

as might a storm. Swallowed people up,

people whole, people

by the millions. It really did, if you want to know

the truth. Hollowed out communities. Enough.


The goal: stay alive until there’s no one left.

Who is appropriate?

Do we even have to ask?

Black. Brown. Poor people of whatever hue.

The Man said facts are an inconvenience.

Never let them get in the way.


He never did.



Butler, Hunter. “STUDENT VOICES: Scenes from your favorite book.”

Morris, Rick. “COMMUNITY COMMENT: Letter-writer blindly follows liberal agenda.”

Pitts, Jr., Leonard. “PITTS: One nation with liberty and justice for some.”

Sainz, Adrian. “UPDATE: Tornadoes tear through South, killing 11.”


Notes: This prompt was somewhat confusing; still, confusion is as good a place to begin as any, especially on a morning when the coffee has yet to kick in and I’m facing four hours on the interstate to and from Louisville to hunt down a book which Amazon seems to have mistakenly shipped to an alternate dimension instead of Evansville (which, admittedly, can feel like some bizarro-version of reality at times…). I went with a faux-quote cento vibe, rearranging portions of quotes phrases and applying erasure.

I considered trying a bit of antonymy, especially with some choice phrases from a letter which asserted “the left are vile and insidious people with radical agendas and damned be anyone who opposes them,” but I figure the author’s words and overall tone are clear–they are what they are. My “radical agenda” today is to create poetry. If this individual considers that “vile and insidious,” so be it. I won’t be losing any sleep, but I am under absolutely no obligation to be silent for his convenience. The open road awaits.


Read how other Ouliposters tackled this prompt here.



Filed under Oulipost, Poetry