Wednesday, April 30, 2014

thirty is the loneliest number

thirty is the loneliest number
food is clearly part of the reason, Pam,
cause resentful displeasure (you you know):
f-bomb. Except it’s not my club;
mandibles, calm as amylase, self-
cleaning (parents);
                              hard as balls,
recyclable, an arid, Nordic
colander: a default couple, near
sense: yolk, considered hoarding.
red phase: and she has content, not
skin. Justin Bieber, moon. Perfect,
our normal.
                    smudged, your mercy,
not our business. Ursula Le Guin
vaunteth not herself. Australian
mariachi-rap. we’re electronic


The last post of the month, a compliation of the earlier poems. I wasn’t sure what constraint to put on myself here, but I decided to sample my poems for the month in order, picking favorite phrases, words, lines, or punctuation.

Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Conclude the project by writing a poem that incorporates words and lines from all of your past 29 poems.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

huh, Canada Dry

huh, macs
the biography here is attempting to criminalize
epitaxy. integrate: we’re electronic, with
a more appropriate vacuum of hundreds of
victims, charges and accounting practices

Houston is approximate to swindling a false
space that described itself as a victim;
question ethical standards for all firm and
inaccurate innovations if the allegations are true
Wermund, Benjamin. 2 UH Professors Accused of Scam. Houston Chronicle. 29 Apr. 2014. A1, A11B3.

The goal was to produce an oulipost that looked like an oulipost, but wasn’t. Fortunately, this article had a lot of great words I scrambled around at random. I am still not 100% clear on what epitaxy is, but I’m glad it exists.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
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.

Monday, April 28, 2014

a melting snowball oulipost


any given
Horswell, Cindy. Festival Gets Off to a ‘Good’ Start. Houston Chronicle. 28 Apr. 2014. B1, B3.

This may or may not be cheating, but I was really happy with the result. Not just because it looks like an ice-cream cone. The photo in the original article drew me in, and the progression turned out to be a really nice mélange.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
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.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

rational lapdance: a sonnet

rational dance: a sonnet
birthday has been charged with a felony
according to the documents she
refutes in a substantive way
she vaunteth not herself
you baby happy birthday
long and is kind charity
property but only temporarily
drugs though prison officials say
the rich are actually doing well
and the other students yelled
it’s difficult to hire and retain guards
mere mention of unequal
hoarding disorder like this fall
dance according to court records

Lezon, Dale. Lap Dance Lands Teacher in Hot Seats. Houston Chronicle. 27 Apr. 2014. B3
Editorial. Feeling the Heat. Houston Chronicle. 27 Apr. 2014. B6
Bible Verse. 1 Corinthians 13:4. Houston Chronicle. 27 Apr. 2014. B6
Krugman, Paul. Economist Exposes U.S. Myth of Meritocracy. Houston Chronicle. 27 Apr. 2014. B7
Szymanski, Jeff, Frost, Randy, & Steketee, Anti-Hoarding Ordinance Stigmatizes Mentally Ill. Houston Chronicle. 27 Apr. 2014. B7

I limited myself to the B section of the newspaper, as that’s where all the fun is, and when I am on a limited time budget, it’s the best place to find stuff. I like how it came together. I did some minor jiggering to make it fit (tenses, genders, and the like).  
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
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 (see April 14) you may interpret “sonnet” as formally or as loosely as you wish.

puppy love, belle absente

Puppy love
You, Jacqui and him’d celebrate with KFC, and then go up (this was before zinc oxide, UVA)
and quick lay out and wish. Me: it was extra-agonizing to be July and five
in June, experiencing the frequent micronized TV, the block/body shows.
Zap, be extra smart, you’d say, your priceless heirloom just as quick to fade or giveaway,
to explain Ursula LeGuin and randomized just-worlds to one who’s five and frequent
and whose hospitalizations (infliximab) and even fingernails just say anti-quarterback


Hoffman, Ken. Chick-Fil-A Pushes Ahead of KFC in Sales. Houston Chronicle. 26 Apr. 2014. E2
Roizen, Michael, & Oz, Mehmet. Accelerated Treatments for Crohn’s Show Results. Houston Chronicle. 26 Apr. 2014. E2

This was an instance where getting closer to the instructions actually helped. I started with the name “Spanky” who is the “Pethouse Pet of the Week” (I don’t fully understand why Spanky has an opinion about KFC, but that’s okay). Originally, I thought I was to build words from the entire newspaper, but that led to the paralysis that comes with too much freedom. I then understood that I was to get all my words from the article, but that was too little freedom, as Spanky was absolutely missing a few letters. So I compromised and took the article directly below, which as kind fate would have it was a medical column full of all those difficult to find letters. I didn’t start out with the narrative that emerged, but found that there were certain words that I really wanted to include and they set the narrative for me.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Beautiful Outlaw- Belle Absente: 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 at the position corresponding to that of the line: when writing a poem to Eva, the first 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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

not affirmative authority, a larded psalm

not affirmative authority, a psalm
there are no more fires in the
restroom true I continue to
be very confident in our position
in the litigation the data just isn’t
there you do have your critics
out there the earth is full of
your mercy not our business
our kids are not commodities
finally let the people decide
I wasn’t so sure about that very
modest there’s one side of me
that says to go ahead the people
should decide teach me your
laws I’ve noticed that they’re
exiting kids as quickly as they

accept them all it really did was
allow them the right to proceed
the halls are no longer like a party

Falkenberg, Lisa. Not Sold On Abbott’s School Takeover Plan. Houston Chronicle. 25 Apr. 2014. B1, B7
Collier, Kish. Sports Authority Debt Lawsuit is Back On. Houston Chronicle. 25 Apr. 2014. B2.
Bible Verse. Psalm 119: 64. Houston Chronicle. 25 Apr. 2014. B8
Krauthammer, Charles. Court Makes Right Call on Affirmative Action. Houston Chronicle. 25 Apr. 2014. B9
I enjoyed this a lot. Given the relatively free range I had, I decided to limit myself to one section of the newspaper, the B section, which is usually where local news, opinions, and (I only just discovered this) a bible verse all reside. Two news items, an opinion piece, and the aforementioned bible verse gave me all I needed. There were no erasures, but I did play a little loose with the definition of sentence. In some cases what appeared to be two separate closures were separated by a colon, which I treated like a period. My starting two-sentence piece was “there are no more fires in the restrooms. The halls are no longer ‘like a party.’” Then, I just inserted the most promising of my building blocks between them, and so on and so on. I finished up by making the lines roughly the same length and organizing them in a way that I liked.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Larding aka “line stretching.” From your newspaper text, pick two sentences. Add a new sentence between the first two; then two sentences in the new intervals that have become available; and continue to add sentences until the passage has attained the length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

stop both are right, a homosyntaxism

stop both are right
stalling, they entice sadly
smudged, she hobnobs, almost
knows, I moved, just
entertaining, you see critically
entertaining, she signs just
smudged, you love almost
knowing, they click critically
stalling I list sadly
know?  they ask critically,
stall, she will be almost
smudged, I host, just
entertain, you buy sadly.
Hoffman, Ken. Food and Reading Fans Will Love This Event. Houston Chronicle. 24 Apr. 2014. E1, E2.
I saw a lot of different ways of approaching this exercise. I started with my favorite sentence in the article: “stop, both are right.” This, as near as I can figure, parses as “verb intransitive, pronoun, verb transitive, adverb.” I decided to limit myself to other words found in the article that fit into one of these four categories. There were four each of intransitive verbs that I could find (and some are debatable), four pronouns, four adverbs, and a crap-ton of transitive verbs. I figured I would see how close to exhausting my list of transitive verbs I could come by shifting around the other sets of four. I am pretty happy with the result, although it’s far more repetitive than exhaustive. I may have said this already, but I like repetition.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Homosyntaxism is a method of translation that preserves only the syntactic order of the original words. To give a rudimentary example, if N=noun, V=verb and A=adjective, the outline NVA could yield solutions such as “The day turned cold,” “Violets are blue,” “An Oulipian! Be wary!”)

Option 1: Choose a sentence from your newspaper source text and write as many homosyntaxisms as possible based on that same variation.

Option 2: Complete a homosyntaxism of an entire paragraph or article found in your text.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

couple's inventory, in order, unless (after Dear Abby)

couple’s inventory, in order, unless
pronouns, personal, ascending:
I, we, me, we,
you, you,
he, it, him, it,
nouns and substantives:
man, years, marriage, goal, dilemma, husband, track, time,
sex, times, year,
sex, times, life, couple,
sex, times, year, mind, business, days,

have been, may be, ‘d had, married, is, is
keeps, have, has, informed, was,
do, think,
married, having, is, keeps, travels, is
negations, descending:
not, not
to, for, of, in, that, only, that,
for, about, for, in, that, in, that,
for, about
conjunctions and junctions and miscellany:
a, but, this, a, a, and, and, a, a, what, also
numerals, no particular:
100, 30, 2013, 76, 30-plus, 76, 60, a
adjectives, ascending:
quite upset, sex, your, every, my, my, adequate, sex, normal, quite good, wonderful,
personal, perfect, our, normal
Dear Abby. Couple’s Sex Life Is All About the Numbers. Houston Chronicle. 23 Apr. 2014. E5.

I didn’t have a lot of time, so was in the market for something short. As fate would have it, there was a disturbing, albeit relatively succinct question asked of Dear Abby today. The poem, as well as the question (and Abby’s unrecorded answer), is all about couples and relationships. Or rather, a particular approach to above.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Inventory is a method of analysis and classification that consists of isolating and listing the vocabulary of a pre-existing work according to parts of speech. Choose a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article and “inventory” the nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, articles, etc. Bonus points for creative presentation of your final lists.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

wellness departs from beneficient infinity: an antonymy

wellness departs from beneficent infinity
Ford periphery
will be nude
against an aberrant
regular-season snuggy
or emptied apart from
common division of
ease: moon-night, day.
Feigen, Jonathan. Issues Return at Bad Time. Houston Chronicle. 22 Apr. 2014. C1, C5.

This was another fun one. The starting sentence was: “Toyota Center was dressed for the occasion, adorned with the usual playoff t-shirts and filled with rare levels of  electricity Sunday night.”
There are some words that don’t lend themselves well to opposites. For the title, I did the same thing. I wasn’t sure what the opposite of time was, but I think the title went in the direction of particular instance (“time”), which meant the opposite seemed to be “infinity.” “Ford” seemed like the opposite of “Toyota”, but your mileage may vary (see also “snuggy” as the opposite of “t-shirt”). Some words gave me plenty of options and I had fun playing around with different ones.
Here is the prompt I was responding to: 

In Oulipian usage, antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite. Each word is replaced by its opposite, when one exists (black/white) or by an alternative suggesting antonymy (a/the, and/or, glass/wood).
Original: To be or not to be, that is the question.
Antonymy: To not be and to be: this was an answer.
Select a passage from your newspaper source text to complete this exercise.

Monday, April 21, 2014

women, dust, life's detours: a confabulation

women, dust, life’s detours
I let shame run rampant (justin
bieber hasn’t got a chance) no
one knew I had a child (a judge
in florida) more a rumor than a
fact (excuse me, judge) I didn’t
have my baby (for may fifteenth)
the time of facebook (driving
while intoxicated) I released her
from her shame (that’s cinco
de mayo) thirty five years is
too long (roll over) we don’t
operate in forgiveness (I’m not
doing this again) they’re more
than enough (to get flat)
Cowen, Diane. Jakes Helps Women Navigate Life’s Detours. Houston Chronicle. 21 Apr. 2014. D1, D2.
Dustin. Houston Chronicle. 21 Apr. D8.
Garfield. Houston Chronicle. 21 Apr. D7

This is an intermingling of quotes from hes and shes. All the quotes from women are taken from the same article. The male quotes are taken from two comic strips from the same section of the newspaper. I did some erasures to smooth out and the conversation spilled from line to line. I quite enjoyed this process.

Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

role plays a race

role plays a race
…wish those treatment would
explain how exactly the men
of the race would differ if
president were indeed mix of
the part what them would make
misbehavior say ok color is
definitely about this. of content
not skin. of I because from where
behavior sit which of the Obama
toward behavior would
need white…
Pitts, Leonard. Race Continues to Play a Role in American Politics. Houston Chronicle. 20 Apr. 2014. B10

It was tough to find text that wasn’t so littered with non-nouns that it was remotely interesting. I picked this article, and a section about halfway through that seemed somewhat more promising than anything else I read this Sunday. The title was another lescurean permutation on the relevant portion of the title of the article.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Select a newspaper article or passage from a newspaper article as your source text. Switch the first noun with the second noun, the third noun with the fourth noun, and so on until you’ve reached the end of your text.

and she has, a sestina

and she has
ask for some help if you need it
and she has
an invitation will come forward that you’ll yes to
i started to hear the walls creak and i said lets go
what are you crying about
a different maker’s generic doesn’t work at all
it’s not about me at all
garcia could not get a hand on it
that’s what sound science is all about
and she has
an honor to get to go
perhaps schedule a massage or two
he can still get a lot better because he wants to
we sail a bit sometimes not at all
and i said lets go
keep putting forth effort and working at it
and she has
that’s what sound science is all about
what are you crying about
there will be happiness but a somber moment too
and she has
its not about me at all
he told her to keep it
it’s an honor to get to go
we’re ready to stop talking and just go
that’s what sound science is about
ask for some help if you need it
there will be a somber moment too
but sometimes not at all
and she has

and she has
to get to go
not at all
crying about
he wants to
need it
MacInnis, Roberta. Runners Go Extra Mile for Boston. Houston Chronicle. 19 Apr. 2014. A1, A12
Minge, John. Gulf Recovery Efforts are Making Progress. Houston Chronicle. 19 Apr. 2014. B7.
Kaderka, Susan. Damage to Wildlife Remains Significant. Houston Chronicle. 19 Apr. 2014. B7
Creech, Jenny Dial. Happy With His Game. Houston Chronicle. 19 Apr. 2014. C1, C2
Harvey, Randy. Howard’s Postseason Attitude? It’s Super. Houston Chronicle 19 Apr. 2014. C1, C2.
Verdejo, Angel. Lee’s Magic Run Ends With Semifinal Loss. Houston Chronicle 19 Apr. 2014. C6
Duarte, Joseph. Thomas, House Obtain Conditional Releases. Houston Chronicle 19 Apr. 2014. C1, C8.
Bigar, Jacqueline. Horoscope. Houston Chronicle. 19 Apr. 2014. E7.
MacInnis, Roberta. Charter In The Caribbean. Houston Chronicle 19 Apr. 2014. L1, L3
Graedon, Joe and Theresa. E-Cigarettes May Not Help Smokers Quit the Habit. Houston Chronicle 19 Apr.                                                                                                                                                    

Wow, that was tough. Here is my raggedy sestina. I found myself getting attached to certain phrases and with a limited amount of time. So there are multiple repeats here, especially of the title line. I worked with a small set of sentences, and mainly did erasures.

Here is the prompt I was responding to:

This will be one of your most challenging Oulipost prompts! A sestina is a poetic form of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the lines of each stanza repeat those of the first, but in a differing order that in each successive stanza follows the permutation: 615243. The entire sequence of end words is thus: 123456; 615243; 364125; 532614; 451362; 246531. All words and phrases must be sourced from your newspaper text..

Friday, April 18, 2014

studly homoconsonantism

for stud, no harem
Eden to so chosen a map:
red phase, ocean as icy
path. No doom stabs,
tipped, farm-pour,
city can game deacon.
Falkenberg, Lisa. Cases Against Surgeon Show How Tort Law Fails. Houston Chronicle. 18 Apr. 2014. B1, B2.

This was a lot of fun. Like a lot of these, this was really an exercise in free association. I basically just wrote out the consonants and then took the words that jumped out at me, then filled out with the words that clanged from the words that first jumped out. I guess the moral is there is not truly free association. The finished product quasi- makes sense, I think.
Here is the root sentence: “Duntsch is an impaired physician, a sociopath, and must be stopped from practicing medicine.” The title is a similar treatment given to “first, do no harm”, which is also the first line of the article.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
Choose a sentence or short passage from your newspaper to complete a homoconsonantism. In this form, the sequence of consonants in a source text is kept, while all its vowels are replaced. For example:
ORIGINAL: To be or not to be: that is the question.
CONSONANTS ONLY: T b r n t t b t t s t h q s t n
FINAL PRODUCT: As burnt tibia: it heats the aqueous tone.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hoarded Questions: A Haiku Series

haikus, hoarded questions
to battle insect
or rodent infestations
of the property?

how is this going
to be brought to light- by smell?
by infestation?

how much paper
in a person’s home is too much-
considered hoarding?

Fraser, Jayme. Hoarding Law OK’d But Poses Quandry. Houston Chronicle. 17 Apr. 2014. B1, B10.

Based on the instructions and the limitations imposed by the form, today’s version is going to be somewhat more on the nose and in line with the actual article than is usually the case. I decided to return to the hoarding, which is an occasionally recurring theme. Two of the sentences I chose were questions. I made the other a question as well, as it seemed to fit with the minor erasures I did.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
The haiku is a Japanese poetic form whose most obvious feature is the division of its 17 syllables into lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Haikuisation has sometimes been used by Oulipians to indicate the reduction of verses of normal length to lines of haiku-like brevity. Select three sentences from a single newspaper article and “haiku” them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chimera's Egg: Yolk disagrees

yolk disagrees; manifest to affect Easter at first ways
For a week who is eggs-
and straight you- for
heightening with contact
of fiery and sometimes
very dejected eggs, loosen.
could?- to see eggs with eggs
closer to his own eggs-
may?- pop a good landslide
for eggs, eggs.
Wire Reports. Berlusconi To Spend Time at Senior Facility. Houston Chronicle. 16 Apr. 2014. A2.
Morago, Greg. Celebrating the Egg. Houston Chronicle. 16 Apr. 2014. F1, F6
Bigar, Jacqueline. Horoscope. Houston Chronicle. 16 Apr. 2014. E5
Creech, Jeremy Dial. Fiery Guard Could Tell a Title Was In the Air. Houston Chronicle. 16 Apr. 2014. C1, C3

This is one heck of a mixture. I had intended to start with something local, but nothing was that interesting, and the short piece on Berlusconi caught my eye. This is the first paragraph of an article about him, which I logically combined with a food column on (you guessed it) eggs, a horoscope (starting from the beginning which is Aries) and a sports column on the Houston Rockets.
The title is the title of the Berlusconi piece with similar treatment using a subheading for the egg piece, today’s horoscope and a subheading for the sports piece. I stuck with the rules, although I did change things like tenses and quantities to make it slightly less nonsensical.
Here is the prompt I was responding to:
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.