Category Archives: Writing Categories

Index Poetry

It’s been some years since we’ve done index poetry, and I have to confess that it’s actually Table of Contents poetry.  Last time we used Annie Dillard’s Table of Contents to The Writing Life, and the results you all shared were quite invigorating.

I will take the first word of each chapter listed in the Table of Contents of Brenda Ueland’s wonderful book, If you Want to Write.  Your task is to rearrange these words into a poem that makes sense to you.  You can add up to five of your own words, but not more.  With punctuation, anything goes.  Here you go!




















One Tiny Window

The one tiny window was glued shut with many gummy layers of paint.  It had never been opened as far as Ramon knew.  Problem was, it was the only way out of the silo workshop now that the ladders to the loft space had been sabotaged.  He was getting hungry.  And thirsty.  Twelve year old single malt scotch was not going to be good for dehydration.

Give Me a Story

Give me a story that includes these five elements:  a crack in the sidewalk, rat poison, rust-colored corduroy pants, leftover lasagna, and Einstein.

I could use a good story.

What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

Here’s what I found in mine.  What did you find in yours?

  1. Stick-on Googly Eyes
  2. Five screw drivers, but never the one I am looking for.
  3. Three tubes of dried up Super Glue
  4. Old unused stamps in very odd denominations that I will never use.
  5. A shoe box filled with pens, pencils, and markers—more than I can use in a lifetime.
  6. Batteries that may or may not still work.
  7. A ruler and a protractor
  8. A small compass and a step minder that work, but not for me
  9. Three hand calculators
  10. Notes for poem and story ideas that I may or may not write
    1. A flap of skin next to my thumb nail catches on everything
    2. Anger as a lifeline
    3. Dear Hillary: Thank you.
    4. The Abortion Diaries
    5. Forgiveness, redemption, surrender, evil, suffering, healing

Now What?

I invite you to predict the future of America.  If ever there was a time for writers to write, this is it.  Give it some thought and words.  Your honesty–and creativity–are always appreciated.  You are poets and word wielders.  Take us into a possible future, give us a new perspective, or blat out a personal reaction.

How Many Genres Can You Mix?

“Shields up,” Captain Ransom Nevermore barked.

“Aye aye, Captain,” said First Officer Angelina Octarina, just before the AI unit attacked her, ripping the top of her uniform half off as he moaned with repressed desire.  She grabbed the tattered shreds of her uniform and tried to conceal her two ivory orbs.

The resident deconstructionist author tapped her note pad.  “Can someone turn off that AI unit?  His moaning is making it hard for me to write this fascinating multi-genre interaction.”

“El Capitan,” said Jefe Carlos, materializing on the bridge with five Mexican banditos wearing battered sombreros.  “Hand over your weapons, por favor, or we will have to toast you over a slow fire.”

The incognito Secret Special Forces Agent in Charge stepped forward to confront Jefe Carlos.  “Produce your Certification of Authority, or I will be forced to put you under arrest.”

Carlos sneered.  “Badges?  We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

“Did someone say the Badgers stink?” A man in a plaid flannel shirt and baseball cap that had a big red W on it barged forward, looking for someone to fight.  “We’re 14 and 1.  We’re going to the Rose Bowl and UCLA better watch their backs and eat their sox.”

“Here’s my trenchcoat, sweetheart,” the man with the Fedora told Angelina Octarina.  He spoke with a Camel dangling from his lip.  “We can’t have those twin bazookas distracting the troops.”

Chief Engineer Wonky Spanner stuck his head up through a floor hatch.  “I’ve fixed the shields, Captain.  All it took was some ladies’ hair pins, a sticking plaster, and a Rube Goldberg contraption I put together from an umbrella, a bicycle pump, and sixteen gears driven by a moaning AI unit I handcuffed to a treadmill.”

Meanwhile Carlos and his banditos had begun to harmonize to an upbeat version of La Bamba.  Not to be outdone, the man in the Fedora teamed up with the Agent in Charge to croon a melancholy, One for My Baby, and One More for the Road.  Incensed, Captain Nevermore and Engineer Spanner tried to tune everyone out by breaking into the chorus of Nessun Dorma, from an opera by Puccini.

First Officer Angelina Octarina looked around, sighed, and straightened her trenchcoat.  She waved at the writer, said the magic words, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Your Old Car, Your Preferred Color, Your Favorite Season, and an Old Pet


I gratefully grabbed the empty parking space facing down the steep hill, curving my tires into the curb.  I’d need that hill to bump start the ‘56 Pontiac.  It ran okay, but it had a cracked block so that whenever I had to stop at a light, I had to throw it into neutral and gun the engine so it wouldn’t stall.   I needed that downhill parking spot to pop the clutch.  So far, that had worked.  I was heading for the consignment store, Clever Threads, where they’d show my home-sewn clothing and hopefully sell it.  I had made a flowing sky blue skirt with many layers and a deeper blue and black vest (the colors of deep dusk) to match.  Maybe it would catch someone’s eye.  I could use a little money.

Thanks goodness spring had arrived in Wisconsin.  I was exhausted from the chores of making wood to heat the house and heat water.  It wasn’t just that; I was pregnant.  It had seemed like such a good idea at the time—I’d decided I wanted to be a lady with babies, and Billy and I had been together over two years.  But he was traveling with the band a lot, of which I was no longer a member, and I was alone more than half the time.

We’d rented an old farm house and traded our old pickup for two baby calves.  But now I had to mix formula for them twice a day in a five-gallon paint bucket and hold my fingers underneath the surface so the calves would get the idea of sucking and then be able to drink on their own.  Problem was, I was scared of the barn.  There were spiders in there, maybe mice or other bad things.  And the calves were two more animals that pooped and pee-ed wherever and whenever they wanted, trusting me to keep things cleaned up.  Their noses were always wet, and they seemed to enjoy wiping them on my jeans leg, leaving wet stains. They were not sweet old pets, but colossally dumb and needy baby cows.

As I climbed the hill back to my car, I decided to trade them for something else.  I was going to need a washing machine.