A shopping list (noun) is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper, a grocery list is the most popular type of shopping list– including items that need to be procured on the next visit to the grocery store.
Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
Hard to believe the queen of lists missed the shopping list prompt for the promptless. It certainly wasn’t for lack of lists floating around in my life. Just maybe it was all those other things floating around with them that I’m too lazy to grab hold of and run with.
So, two prompts in one – Voila! – a list-y poem about breaks. No, I can’t explain how I came up with that exactly. But that’s the beauty of poetry – the inspiration for it rarely makes sense. And I’m going with the part of the prompt that said to make up my own.
I have plagiarized and hopefully improved upon my own work from a previous poem. I won’t link to it, because it sucked even worse than this one. But I’m having fun! And that’s all that really matters, right? Don’t be critical, you could break my heart.
Things That Break
When dawn breaks,
Morning has broken.
Night falls, but it never breaks.
Give a guy a break and break it to him gently.
Then take a coffee break.
Go ahead and break a leg, break a horse,
Break the connection, break a code.
Break away and break bad habits.
But don’t step on a crack and break your mothers back.
I don’t know what I’d do without you. Well, I guess deep down I do know that without you there would simply be no me. That would suck. I know sometimes I say that YOU suck, but of course I don’t mean it. Not really.
Mostly I love you to pieces.
I love you when you’re busy and crazy and tell me to hurry up, but I love you more when you’re laid back and mellow and lazy. I love how you make me breathe the air, see and touch and hear and know the incredible beauty of all the other lives around me.
I love that you are funny and strange and complicated. I love your ups and downs and detours. I love your crazy joy. I even love your sadness. Your bad bits teach me to embrace and appreciate your happy side and all the good things that fill you up and make you so worth living.
I love that you are beautiful and good. Sometimes I think you’re hard, but then I look around and see others who are not so lucky and not so blessed.
I am so very grateful to have you. I know how fragile you are, and I try every day to do the right things so that you’ll be around for a long, long time.
I know one day we’ll have to part. But let’s not let fear and worry kill the fun we’re having in each small moment, okay? I know you will always give me a kick in the ass when I need it and that’s okay. I will still love you with all my heart. And all my might. For however long we have together.
I love you, my wonderful life, no matter how you may change in the blink of an eye; right here, right now, just the way you are.
Prompts For The Promptless:Sometimes called a billet-doux, or a love letter, a love note is a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection. The loved one does not necessarily have to be animate, human, alive, or known.
Prompts For The Promptless : Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives.
Oh for a life filled with nothing but approach-approach conflicts! Should I read a book or take a nap? Pick up an actual paperback or flip open my Kindle? Read inside or outside? Or upside down?
I think I was born to read. Time on my own with a book is one of this life’s greatest pleasures. I’m always just one good book away from an excellent mood.
Books are time travelling magic and sometimes it’s hard to start a new book when I’m still living in the last one. And sometimes it’s equally hard to read just one book at a time. I will be in the middle of something when I decide to download the next great read, and then I’m impatient to get into that as well. Often I have three open books in three different places and my kindle collection in hand. My head is full of delicious choices.
What authors mind and voice and soul will speak to me today? Decisions, decisions.
1. Get inspired by something. It doesn’t have to be anything amazing. In fact it can be as inconsequential as a dust bunny under your bed or a flat tire. Good poetry comes out of nowhere.
2. Read poetry by other people, listen to song lyrics and attend poetry readings. Inwardly scoff. Then steal lines or phrases or words from several different sources and arrange them randomly on a page. No matter what your topic, this will form an excellent base for your own poem.
3. Think about what message you want to convey to your readers. Absolutely do not make it easy for them to figure this out. Great poetry is always totally confusing.
4. Choose a style – limerick, sonnet, ballad, villanelle, sestina, haiku – there are hundreds to choose from. Or you can make up a style of your own. Be sure to give it some fancy sounding name. It might catch on, you never know. If all else fails, free verse is pretty easy and has the fewest annoying rules.
5. Look up some big interesting sounding words, especially ones with obscure meanings which are difficult to pronounce. The thesaurus is a poets best friend.
6. Build a strong structure with your words, sort of like building a tower of blocks in all different sizes and shapes. There should be rhythm and flow. Or a big pile of rubble. It is totally your choice.
7. Use imagery and vivid description which appeals to the senses. Enhance the crap out of everything. A fire doesn’t just burn, it blazes with monster flames and crackles and spits and shoots sparks into the stratosphere. Everything in poetry should always be super emotional and intense.
8. Try to make a few things rhyme here and there, just to show you put a bit of effort into the whole thing. Pick easy words for this like boy, toy, and Illinois.
9. Have a punch line. Poetically speaking, this is better known as a powerful ending. Go out in a blaze of glory. But never attempt to explain what your poem actually means. Refer to step three. Give your reader something to scratch his head over once he’s plowed his way through to the end.
10. Share your work. Read it out loud with a ton of emotion. Set it to music. Join an on-line poetry group and ask for suggestions. If others are critical, inwardly scoff. Refuse to edit, and never apologize.
Each of us has a way of putting language together that is ours alone. So seriously, how hard can this be? Go ahead and write your poetic little heart out. I hope you find these ten steps helpful. If not, as a last resort before tossing out your work, try giving it to your mom. Critics be damned, she will love it unconditionally, simply because it’s yours.
I missed answering the promptless prompt last week about retrocausality (“can the future affect the present, and can the present affect the past?”) because, frankly, it confused the hell out of me. I took one set of philosophy classes in my life where everyone sat around a table and argued themselves in bewildering circles, and that was enough with the thought experiments for this poor befuddled little brain. I passed the course, by the way. I found out I could say any bizarre thing I wanted and the rest of them (including I guess the professor marking the final exam) would be properly astounded by my deep thoughts.
Well, my thoughts aren’t that deep anymore. Sometimes I believe we think entirely too long and hard about things and that’s why we get headaches and are all crazy as loons.
Which brings me to the promptless prompt for this week – L’appel du vide is French and translates to “Call of the Void”. It is the unexplainable urge to jump when standing on the edge of a cliff, or tall height. It can be considered a form of self-destructive ideation, or a protective instinct to let the brain play out what the body should not. It’s definition has been expanded to describe responding mentally to the call of the siren song– whether that means the desire to reach into a fire, drive into a wall, or walk into the eye of the storm.
See? Bat shit crazy. With death wishes. Not a great combination for the survival of our species, is it?
I am going to be alive (although perhaps just barely) in the year 2040. (A psychic told me this, if you’re wondering how I came up with it.) I believe the reason for my longevity will revolve around the fact that I am a gutless wimp. I have never in my life experienced the urge to jump off a cliff. I do not reach into fires. I crawl under my bed when there’s a storm.
Okay, I made that last bit up, but I certainly don’t go out for a stroll during a tornado watch or drive my car at breakneck speeds like all the other lunatics out there. Or jump out of airplanes. Or engage in any activity that has the potential to cause physical pain. Like hot yoga or housework.
Even in my head or my dreams I never do anything even vaguely adventurous. I do not understand extreme sports like mountain climbing, or taking unnecessary risks or the mindset behind any of that stuff. I think roller coasters are stupid. I had an adrenaline rush once, but it was from a cortisone injection in the bottom of my foot and completely by accident on my part. I thought I might be having a heart attack but the doctor said it was a normal reaction to the shot, and kind of rolled his eyes when I suggested he might have warned me. I never went back to him.
I don’t even answer the doorbell or the phone if I’m not expecting a visitor or a call. So the voidcan call me all it wants – it will get no response from this chicken-hearted scaredy-cat with a brain that can’t fathom the worst case scenario and has little desire to try.
These are the words that make a mother deliriously proud. Or cause her to weep uncontrollably, depending on the situation. Either of these reactions have also been known to follow all do it yourself projects performed by me in the privacy of my own home. Friends and family will see and be prompted to praise the results of the successes, and the failures will die with me, along with other various missteps, fiascos and sordid secrets.
Prompts for the Promptless:Do it yourself (DIY) is the method of building, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals.
What do we need experts and professionals for when we’ve got Google? said a lot of clueless people who went on to learn that experts and professionals are not completely without merit after all.
For my do-it-yourself project today, I will be making a sun catcher. I don’t really need or want one, but I have plastic beads hanging around which no grandchild seems at all gung-ho to string. And I don’t want to throw them out and be all wasteful. Better to throw out the finished product and feel good about myself for having at least given it a try. Or file it under F for fiasco. It’s kind of exciting to have no idea how something will turn out.
Notice the artistic arrangement in both cases with some opaque beads in one and only clear green, blue and purple in the other. This is about as artistic as I feel like getting today.
While waiting for the oven to heat to 400 degrees, on the other side of the kitchen counter I ponder what to do with these three avocados I bought because they are supposedly so good for me. The creative, multi-tasking side of my brain thinks putting them in a smoothie might be interesting, while the other side of my brain reminds me that I haven’t yet had breakfast. Voila! Coconut almond milk, a banana, scooped out avocado, key lime greek yogurt (which I bought accidentally thinking it was vanilla) and a bag of frozen spinach and kale results in this delightful looking concoction.
The consistency and color are great, but the taste is rather disappointing. In fact, there is no taste. So I add a squirt of lemon juice, a shake of cinnamon and a couple scoops of frozen blueberries. This makes the smoothie look like mud, but a lot easier to swallow.
I can’t say for sure whether the aroma of melting plastic is adding or detracting from the avocado smoothie taste experience.
The melting process is supposed to take twenty minutes, but I’d suggest forty is more realistic. This number comes from my admittedly limited experience – please note that I am not a professional or expert melter of beads.
The next thing to do is let these things cool, slip them out of the plates (ha – I’m not optimistic about that one), drill holes in them and hang them up with something like fishing line to catch the rays of the sun. It’s cloudy today, so I’m not optimistic about that one either. I notice the one on the left already has a hole close to one edge, so how forward thinking was that? Flukey forward thinking is probably an apt name for it in this case.
Oh. My. God. They really do pop right out of the pans. And there is a little hole in the second sun catcher as well, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no luck like dumb luck.
Okay, all that’s left of this Sunday project (which didn’t turn out to be from hell after all), is to air out that burnt plastic smell from my house and wish for some sparkly sunshine. Plus think up some totally awesome weird thing to do with the two remaining avocados. That should not be a problem as I appear to be on a roll.
Prompts for the Promptless: Qualia (single form, quale) is a term that refers to the individual, conscious, subjective elements of experiences. Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, or the perceived redness of an evening sky. In other words, qualia refers to “the way things seem to us”.
I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding this subject because I like to think I’m perfectly normal. Who isn’t reluctant to admit the possibility of some sort of inner weirdness. But I suppose if I never admit it, I’ll never know if there are other people out there who experience the same thing. I have made vague references to it in conversations, or given out random hints, but the reaction is always confusion and skepticism, and then we just talk about the weather.
I’ve already admitted elsewhere that I think of spider webs when I spritz my perfume. My honey yogurt soap to me smells exactly like the beach, although when I’m at the beach I never think of that particular soap. Large bodies of water make me want to stop breathing. I have to remind myself to inhale and exhale and stay calm and think about something else. My moods are associated with colors. When I’m happy I’m yellow. Green is super charged. Pink is perfectly lazy.
All of that is curious enough I suppose, but there’s something else I’ve felt several times in my life. I will tell you about one of my quale experiences, and then you can look all confused and skeptical and go check out the weather channel.
At some kind of Christmas party or dance (I don’t remember exactly what it was) many years ago, W and I were saying goodnight to my brother-in-law and his wife when I was suddenly hit by a thunder-clap of doom. There was no noise, but it was deafening. I was knocked off my feet, but I didn’t fall over. The feeling was black and overpowering, like a severe electric shock with no physical pain. It lasted only seconds and then it was gone. I hugged my brother-in-law a little too hard, and held on to him a little too long, knowing that something really bad was going to happen to him, although I couldn’t have said what that might be. I remember telling him I’d see him again because those felt like magic words to ward off some terrible disaster. He laughed and said of course we’d see each other again, we were all going to be at his parents house the next day.
I felt like crying, and sat in stunned silence on the drive home, thinking they might be involved in a car crash, or their house would burn to the ground, or they’d be abducted by aliens. I also thought that quite possibly I’d had way too much to drink and was being completely ridiculous. But I did tell W about my bad feeling, almost like a premonition, that something awful was going to happen to his brother. Then I reminded him of that a few months later when his brothers headaches had become unbearable, and he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Now here’s the strangest part, if that’s not strange enough for you. When we got the phone call with this sad news, I felt almost euphoric. That was the bad thing that was going to happen, but it wasn’t that bad after all. The surgery would go well, and he would be fine. I knew this. I kept saying, amidst all the worry and the sadness, he’s going to be okay. And he was, for a lot of years after that.
This was not the first or last time for me, having this bizarre experience, but I don’t think it can be called an ability when I really have no control over it. The feelings are always extreme. I don’t know where the crazy joy or the devastating sadness comes from, but when it happens I think those few seconds will kill me, but I don’t die. Or haven’t yet anyway. It has made me try to put up a sort of invisible shield around myself when I’m with people so that if they are sending out bad vibes I won’t get them. It has made me stay away from places I should have been where I might have given comfort because to me, ignorance of the bad things is equivalent to bliss. It has made me try hard not to feel anything too deeply, or get too involved, or be too empathetic. But inevitably this avoidance seems to build up to my quale, my personal internal sonic boom, the explosion that shatters me and no one sees me break.
This was all so hard to admit, because, like I said, I prefer to have people think I’m normal with normal quirks and eccentricities, with qualia that might be considered a little out to lunch but not psychotic or insane. I don’t tell anyone any more when I have the gloom and doom experience because I don’t understand where it comes from or what it might portend. It could be nothing. I always hope it’s nothing.
So what’s the weather like where you are? May your whole day be nothing but shades of pink and yellow.
Prompts for the Promptless : Ostranenieis a Russian word meaning, roughly, “defamiliarization”. It is the artistic technique of encouraging audiences to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar in order to enhance perception of the familiar.
If you were asked to contemplate the number seventeen, to focus on it non stop for hours in order to enhance your perception of it, would you eventually come up with something strange, wild and unfamiliar? Even if you don’t happen to be a gifted mathematician? Would you bore yourself to sleep? Give yourself a colossal headache? Maybe lose your mind?
Princeton University students Michael Spivak and David Kelly were assigned this task in the 1960’s. Their list of interesting properties of the number 17 somehow came to include a yellow pig with seventeen eyelashes. This is why mathematicians have been enthusiastically celebrating Yellow Pig Day on July 17th for several decades.
Well, hey, who are we to judge. There’s probably not a lot of things for mathematicians to celebrate that would be interesting to the rest of us numerically challenged calculator dependant people.
The most elaborate festivities are held at HCSSiM, where the holiday has been celebrated annually for roughly 34 years. In preparation for the event, students decorate shirts (often mathematically themed) with yellow pigs on them. On Yellow Pigs Day students, staff, and visiting alumni wear these shirts. Ultimate has long been the official sport of the day, and a competitive student/alumni game is held. In recent years, origami yellow pigs have been folded.
David Kelly gives a lecture on the historical and mathematical properties of the number 17, and his impressive collection of well over 289 (17 squared) yellow pigs is on display. The celebration concludes with the singing of Yellow Pigs Day carols and the eating of a yellow pig cake. Gifts containing or consisting of yellow pigs and mathematical knick knacks featuring the manifold properties of 17 are frequently exchanged among friends. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Samir/Yellow_Pigs_Day)
Seriously, will you ever again think of July 17th as just another hot day in July? Will you now start counting the eyelashes on pigs? Did you even realize that pigs had eyelashes?
And what are you doing in celebration of the seventeen eyelashed yellow pig? I hope you will think Ostranenie, and have a wildly perceptually enhanced day.
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