When We Take Leave

This poem is for my dear friend, Cynthia, who died on April 26, 2014

Your number is still
on my speed dial,
and I continue to
check your horoscope
each week. I looked
for you at the coffee
shop yesterday,
surprised when you
didn’t walk in. What
has become of you,
my friend, and where
is it that we go when
we take leave of each
other? I feel you
between my bones,
breathing quietly,
as memories do.


Oulipost #30 – Patchwork Quilt

Conclude this project by writing a poem that incorporates words and lines from all of your past 29 poems.

Her Grasp

Hope rises in the competing narrative.
I imagined, with a vision of nightfall,
a rarity of generalities. I could feel it
in my chest, that she was sleeping
through sunlight, golden, remembered.

Eyes closed, she is iconic,
while we are distracted
by the afterthoughts, wreaking
mayhem in our isolation.

As sore as reasons come,
we tailspin, lipstick to the wound,
and I scorn this swooning. She
experienced something. The devil
is in the details, and the urge
for reinventing life obnoxiously rides
this end.

She was dreaming without fear,
silent and dying with grace,
her grasp slipping from my hand.

Source: A totality of writing days in April, in league with the Indianapolis Star

Oulipost Exit Interview-Oulipost Ends Where the Work Begins

Question 1:
What happened during the Oulipost that you didn’t expect:

I think the most unexpected thing that happened was the marvelous community that grew up around this “thing” that we were doing. Sharing stories, sharing poems, jokes, and pieces of ourselves was a great experience for me. And of course the writing. I will never look at a newspaper the same way again, ever. Suddenly, its articles are to be mined, for brilliant words and phrases, for an odd turn of a phrase, for unexpected illuminations of thoughts and new ideas. I loved it all.

Question 3:
What does your street look like?

I live smack dab in the middle of a city of about a million people, and my neighborhood is one of many little urban neighborhoods, modest older homes, tree-lined streets, a small triangular-shaped park down the street, a mix of young and old, all persuasions, a patchwork quilt of people!

Question 4:
Who is your Spirit Oulipostian?

I feel like I have many spirits circling the skies above me: Sonja Johanson, Douglas Louman (young god of all thing technological), Margo Ruby, and Amanda Earl, Winston Plowes, Nancy Chen Long, Lylanne Musselman. They all offered something to me during this enchanted time spent writing and posting, and I’m grateful. And there are many others flying in this same sky.

Question 5:
What are the top three poems you wrote during this project?

I have strong feelings for four, actually, but I’ll post three, in the spirit of fairness, and toeing the line:
Oulipost #30-Patchwork Quilt
Oulipost #17-Haikuiksation
Oulipost #8-Beautiful Inlaw

Question 2:
What questions do you have for your teaspoons? What questions do your teaspoons have for you?

My teaspoons are at an impasse with me, having been “outscooped” on this fabulous “Oulipost” project!

Question 6:
What will you do next?

This will be a hard act to follow. The richness of the daily writing challenges, and what they did for my writing mojo, I think I have to just keep writing, right? This project has succeeded in doing what I call “busting my chops”. Nothing I took for granted about writing has not been challenged on some level this month, in more ways than good. So I figure the best way to say “thank you” is to write like my life depended on it.

Oulipost #29 – Canada Dry

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

Indy Goes Viral

First we should be flattered,
it wasn’t long ago

We were India-noplace,
Naptown to some.

People are starting to notice
some amazing stuff is happening,
opportunities attractive
to people starting their careers

We should be grateful,
look at the competing narrative.

We should still take the attention
with a grain of salt.
It’s great to be excited,
by all means sing the praises,

but last week we recorded
our fiftieth homicide for the year.

Our homicide rate’s above Chicago.
Pride doesn’t mean complacency.

Source: Erika D. Smith, “Rankings Can’t Go To Indy’s Head”, Indianapolis Star, April 29, 2014

Oulipost #28 – Melting Snowball

A text in which each word has one letter less than the preceding one, and the last word only one letter. From your newspaper, select a starting word, and then continue adding words of decreasing length from the same source article or passage. Challenge yourself further by only using words in order as you encounter them in the text.


unintentionally three-continent,
extraordinary theatergoers

experience something
reserved, nervous.
Cannot laugh.

Play him, be I.

Source: Amanda Kingsbury, “He Waves Wand Showing Magic of Live Theater”, Indianapolis Star, April 28, 2014

Oulipost #27 – Irrational Sonnet

Create a 14-line sonnet sourced from lines from your newspaper that is divided according to the first five digits of the irrational number pi – that is, into stanzas of 3, 1, 4, 1, and 5 lines. As with the preceding sonnet assignment, you may interpret “sonnet” as formally or as loosely as you wish.

Pursue the Dream

She wants to go to college, meet new friends,
to sit in classes and absorb new ideas.
But this is about equality.

There’s only one problem, and it’s a big one

Choosing to stay in a state that needs
young people filled with potential,
illegal immigrants will pay more.
Here is what that would mean in concrete terms:

Her parents would face a bill they cannot afford.

Young people who want to pursue the dream
of a great education and a good job,
to create a path to citizenship,
they might not be able to accomplish,
there’s only one problem, and it’s a big one.

Source: Matthew Tully, “Laws Block College Dreams”, Indianapolis Star, April 27, 2014

Oulipost #26 – Beautiful Outlaw

The outlaw in question is the name of the person (or subject) to whom the poem is addressed. Each line of the poem includes all the letters of the alphabet except for the letter appearing in the dedicated name of the position corresponding to that of the line; when writing a poem to Eva, the line will contain all letters except E, the second all letters except V, and the third all letters except A. Choose someone mentioned in your newspaper to whom to address your poem. Compose a beautiful outlaw poem following the procedure outlined above and using words sourced from your newspaper text.
My poem is addressed to Marlo (as in Marlo Thomas!)

God, She’s Good!

She wants to clean it up, but first she wants to rave,
the single girl finding herself in the big city,
she wants to be about the novel
but first she wants to rave! Who knew?
Reinventing life? Just reissue a few years.

Reinvention is a popular topic.
boys, girls, upside down, God, she’s good!
She wants to chat it up, it’s classic.
Stuck or betrayed by a society in her throaty voice
Her new urges? Yes, she’s written it!

She hopes to bring clever little lies
to the prince with shoes to fit her foot.
Women? A myth she said, laughing.
Rescue them, there’s not going to be a prince.
It’s the part I play, but I’m still that girl.

Source: Jocelyn McClurg, ‘That Girl’, USA Today insert, Indianapolis Star, April 26, 2014

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