Tag Archives: Words

For Christine: Nugatory

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After my poem that made use of the word “negatory,” which Christine Goodnough questioned; she challenged me to write a poem about the word “nugatory,” which I admit, I had to look up.  This is the result:

Not Quite Heaven

All the streets of purgatory
are lined with words like “nugatory”­­­­
that somehow just aren’t used quite right
so share the sinner’s sorry plight
by going to an “almost place”
before they reach their state of grace.
They’re obscure words you nearly know.
You aren’t quite sure, but even so,
you use them in a sentence that
does not work right off the bat.
You see that folks are looking wary,
then consult the dictionary
to find that you meant “Negatory,”
which completes your little story
better than its near-homonym
that’s left you looking rather dim.
The lesson, wordsmith? It’s absurd
to go ahead and use a word
you don’t quite know the meaning of.
You cannot merely push and shove
any word into a place
and think that you can show your face
in realms wherein the erudite
correctly scribe and speak and cite
words in their proper domain.
So please, don’t misuse words again.
Take it easy, just go slow
until you find a word you know.
“Almost there” just doesn’t do.
Be a gourmand. Avoid word stew.

Negatory: having the nature of negation, negative.(Much beloved by truckers.)

Nugatory: of no value or importance. Useless, futile. (I admit, I had to look it up!!)

 

 

 

 

Wordless

Wordless

Your words so vivid
that they roped me, 
binding me securely
as they drew me in.

The rub of your words 
and their scent and flavor.
Their nubbiness and length
and width and breadth.

The hands of your words
uprooting me
and planting something
solid in my place.

How could I have known
one day they’d vanish
as though never there.
Smoke signals

from a distant hill
now risen from my sight
and almost rubbed out
from my memory.

 

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The prompt word today was “smoke“.

Judy’s “Prompt Answers” Challenge #1: Dastardly Words.

Dastardly Words

Because it is a rainy rainy day and too wet, even, to make my way down to my studio, I’m going to recruit your efforts in trying to keep me busy and out of trouble. With this in mind, I’m posting a challenge for you to tell me the word you hate most in the English language. (This challenge was prompted by Helen Miekle’s absolute refusal to answer this question.  To console myself, I’m calling upon friendly bloggers to show me theirs if I show them mine.)  Not really fair, as if you’ve followed me for awhile, you already know that the word I hate most in the world is . . .. Nope, can’t say it.  Instead, I’ll reblog this poem I wrote about it a few years ago:

img_2272This is!!!!


Empty Praise

There was a time when awesome really meant ”inspiring awe”—
events like the moon landing that made one drop one’s jaw,
sights of numbing beauty or achievements of great skill,
art pieces by the masters or achievements of great will.

Yosemite is awesome and so is Everest.
Those climbing it are awesome.You know they are the best.
But today the word has fallen into widespread use—
ubiquitous right to the point where it’s become abuse.

Rap music is most awesome, as is that way-cool blouse.
You drive an awesome car and live inside an awesome house.
My friend’s boyfriend is awesome. So are her dog and cat.
Her garden blooms are awesome, like her new purse and her hat.

You might have guessed by now that awesome’s not my favorite word.
I think the overuse of it is frankly quite absurd.
This pizza is not awesome, though you may find me petty
for saying it is merely good, and so is the spaghetti.

Your child is lovely, so’s your dress, your silverware and smile.
But none of them are awesome—that word brings up my bile.
Please use some other word for it—some adjectival jaw full.
Because in my opinion, using awesome’s simply awful!!

 

img_6979This isn’t!!!!

So now that I’ve told you mine, please participate in this challenge in one of two ways. Either post your answer in your own blog with a link to this post and a link to your blog in my comments section, or simply answer in the comments section of this blog posting. It won’t take long, so please participate and if I receive enough words, I promise to make a poem out of them.

Update: I’ve written the poem! You can see it HERE.

Mutability

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Mutability

Farthingale and flour glue,
catamaran and kangaroo,
lamplit lizard, croquet pie,
tyrant’s glare and jam on rye––
there is nothing I can do
when words come marching two-by-two
but grab a pen to herd them in,
then quiet down their awful din
by separating them with commas.
Sitting here in my pajamas,
I refuse to start my day
in any other sort of way
than stacking words into neat piles,
sorting them by usage styles.

Verbs in rows where they might jostle
nouns like cupcake and apostle.
Adjectives like proud and pretty
aggravating, stuffy, petty––
have to line up in a row
and go where I tell them to go!
Sometimes I feel it is absurd,
how I imprison every word,
take it from its family
to serve me here on bended knee.
Do my bidding, tell my tale,
imprisoned here in each poem’s jail
’til other writers come along
to use that word in book or song.

Then once more the word’s set free
to go where it wants to be.
We pass each word—a bouncing ball––
to be exchanged between us all.
The words that Ogden Nash has used?
The very ones that I’ve abused.
Walt Whitman owned not one word more
than the pile in my store
of wordy possibilities,
to use however I may please.
I gather words from here and there––
words stark and silly, profound, bare.
The order that I put them in,
how often they appear and when
is the power I execute––
the sword I wield, the horn I toot.

I crack the whip and words line up.
“Naughty” shoulders “new” and “pup.”
“Sand” drifts over “bird” and “sea”
as words flow in to be with me.
New words invade my memory,
augmenting “seen” with what I see,
so old stories change a bit
accordingly, as I see fit.
History is made and changed,
altered, prettified, deranged
by new words slipping in to alter
facts where memory might falter.
The gore of war is changed to glory
as time steps in to tell the story.

The power of words might then be seen
to coat facts with nostalgia’s sheen.
A simple word like “maybe” might
distill the impact and the plight
of those whose suffering and pain
should be remembered as a stain
on the world’s humanity.
“May have been” should never be
confused with “was” in history.
Those of us who bandy letters,
using words to joust with betters
sometimes with hilarity,
need also heed their verity.
For words I fear are spoken in vain
if truth is altered to entertain.

The Prompt: Not Lemonade. When life gives you lemons… make something else. Tell us about a time you used an object or resolved a tricky situation in an unorthodox way.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/not-lemonade/

Travel Theme, Letters

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Can you match the place with the picture:  Lima, Peru; Villa Salvador, Peru; California; South Dakota; Patzcuaro, Mexico; Missouri.

Travel Theme, Letters

http://wheresmybackpack.com/2015/10/16/travel-theme-letters/

Head Shots

Morning Head Shots

Picture a woman sleeping, words wrapped close around as sheets.
Syllables slipping to the floor, loosed from their midnight feats.
A whole new world evolving as she’s lost away in dream.
All those single actions spilling from the seam
of those reveries she’s wrapped in, meaning more than what they mean.

Click

Picture eyelids opening as light begins to dawn.
See the eyelids close again, her stretching and her yawn.
See the dreams she’s had all night pulled to consciousness–
all tightly wrapped, but wriggling themselves free from all the mess
of what they’ve been bound up in to become what she’ll confess.

Click

See the words all rising from the place where they’ve been sleeping.
See her brow remembering bits it struggles now at keeping.
See her form a paper sheet into a little sack
and use her pen to prod the words back into a pack,
sparring with belligerent phrases that fight back.

Click

See her herding each into its place with little nudges,
overlooking warring words that seek to live their grudges,
making words that don’t belong together somehow fit,
forcing the recalcitrant to want to do their bit
to turn their separate strands into a story finely knit.

Click

Now see the picture on the page where words have come to rest–
stretched out vowel to consonant, best standing next to best.
Brutal words relaxing, flaccid words now showing zest.
Brought recently into the world where they have met the test,
here they stand before you, shaken out and neatly pressed.

Click

Then see the floor around the bed–the words she’s thrown away.
The words that somehow just don’t say what she wants to convey.
See them rising in the air to hover up above.
Words of anger, sadness, envy, honor, lust and love.
They jump, they float, they kiss, they spar, they hug, they joust, they shove.

Click

Tomorrow night they’ll rain back down to form adventures new.
To form themselves into the curious plots that dream parts do.
Picture them assembling into order all their own
or forming groups informally, wherever they are blown.
Ready on the morrow to once more go where they’re sown.

Click.

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The Prompt: Three Perfect Shots–Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots. (As usual, I’ve been excessive and done seven shots instead of three.)

P.S.  Yes, that’s my new Mac Air in the picture.  It just arrived with friends from the States last night.  I’ve been putting my coffee or Coke on the floor or a different table and hope you do the same.  Better to learn from my mistakes than your own.  It feels like I’m finally speaking my native language again after trying to negotiate the web in a language I’ve never spoken before for two months.  Ahhhhhhhh. Relief.  But, I now like my Acer PC as well.  Just still more of a struggle and I was able to transfer all but the last 10 days of what was on my old Mac onto my new Mac, thanks to my dedicated backup drive.  Too bad I hadn’t backed up for 10 days, but this is much better than nothing.

Romancing the Word

The Prompt: Oil, Meet Water—Of the people who are close to you, who is the person most unlike you? What makes it possible for you to get along?

Romancing the Word

Scrabble, Dice and Mexican Train—
I play them once and then again,
while he won’t play a single game
of any sort or any name.

I like to travel. He sits at home.
Walmart’s as far as he will roam.
Won’t go to movie theaters, clubs,
exhibitions, galleries, pubs,

museums, fiestas, meetings, for
such crowding makes him hit the door.
Tourist attractions leave him numb
and make him wonder why he’s come.

I fill my house with Mexican art
that drains my purse but fills my heart,
but my artful clutter makes him frown.
His décor? Purely hand-me-down.

I like people. He sits alone.
His desk chair is his chosen throne
where he supervises the internet—
the biggest nerd you’ve ever met.

I dance whenever I’ve the chance,
but you might have guessed—he doesn’t dance!
He’s six-foot-two. I’m five-foot-six.
Yet tall and short just seem to mix.

I know our friends and family
find us an anomaly.
for these differences are just a start.
We’re 1600 miles apart!

So how can he be my best friend
when our differences never end:
a scorpion talking to a crab,
a Chihuahua running with a Lab?

What makes our congress less absurd?
We’re both addicted to the written word!
We both love puns and definition.
Apostrophe errors? Pure sedition!

While other folks discuss Obama,
we dissect uses of the comma.
We discuss dashes from en to em,
and how the world misuses them!

Splitting hairs but not infinitives,
sound editing advice he gives
for everything I write online.
If words were grapes, he’d strip the vine

of sour grapes and slugs and weeds
and after he had done these deeds,
the wine would pour more sweet and rare,
culled out by his loving care.

And so it goes here on my blog.
In its machine he is a cog—
mending lost links and feeling free
to cut that spare apostrophe.

To wrestle errant prepositions,
question faulty suppositions,
to polish off each word writ wrong
until a ditty becomes a song.

We meet each day on the cyber page
that is the parchment of our age.
While you meet others of your type
at coffee bars, we meet on Skype.

Our discourse clever, funny, rare.
We do not pine and ache and stare
eye-to-eye hour after hour.
For us, it’s words that carry power.

(Here) is another response to this prompt that I loved! It is by Sam Rappaz.  Check her out!

Away

Away

Written in the morning, long before the day
sneaks in like an intruder, intent to have its say,
words born in the nighttime flower on their own,
bursting into bloom as soon as seeds are sown.

Truth is there behind us before it ever shows—
in words before they’re spoken, in wind before it blows.
Once recognized, I free these words to flow over the world—
off on their own to have a life wherever they’re unfurled.

Sent swiftly to their different spheres to live a life apart
from one who followed after, like a horse without its cart—
I like to set my words loose to canter on their own,
to feed upon wild grass that also roots where it has blown.

The Prompt: After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again?

Ghosts

Ghosts

It floated off to the side,
disappearing when I turned to face it head-on.
It hadn’t his features, really,
but I felt his presence a dozen times after—
something floating just off the corner of reality.

Then, weeks later, in the bedroom—a bat.
It flickered against the white curtain and then disappeared.
Moments later, there it was again.
I jerked my head quickly around, flipped the curtain out,
examined its other side.
Moments later, there it was again.
Then a circle floated across to join it.
A hair floated down from above and stuck, center-vision.

A few hours later, the fireworks started—
flashing corollas of light just to the right of me,
like subtle flashbulbs going off.

This was when I decided I needed to see a specialist.
Yes, a retinal detachment, he agreed,
but not yet perforated.
Now, my movements curtailed,
I await that new cloudy ghost
that will be a harbinger
of surgery.

Every tope, every cobblestone
brings a new flash of light—
a signal to still myself.
No jumping. No Zumba.
No jogging. No lifting.

I wait, inactive, watching floaters
move to the center of my vision
and off to the side again.
I practice various levels of exertion,
waiting for the flash that signals rest.

I wait for words to float
across my vision,
to rend my inactivity
and prompt me
to pin them to the page––
to stitch them together
into a clearer sight
of what is there, invisible,
inside me, waiting for the tear
to let it out.
They are the ghosts
of the future
and I am the one
who seeks to gather them,
to mend the tear
and anchor
these slippery ghosts.

As we sat in the waiting room waiting (of course) for my eyes to fully dilate so the dr could do his tests, Gloria asked what the red dot was on my blouse. I hadn't noticed it, but the nurse said, "Oh we put that on her to show she'd been dilated!"  Two hours later, I was still waiting for the dot to turn green so I'd know my eyes had returned to normal!!!!

As we sat in the waiting room waiting (of course) for my eyes to fully dilate so the dr could do his tests, Gloria asked what the red dot was on my blouse. I hadn’t noticed it, but the nurse said, “Oh we put that on her to show she’d been dilated!” Two hours later, I was still waiting for the dot to turn green so I’d know my eyes had returned to normal!!!!

Red Dot Syndrome

Red Dot Syndrome

Artist's rendering of my retinal disfunction.

Artist’s rendering of my retinal disfunction.

Gloria, contemplating my fate.

Gloria, contemplating my fate.

Retina specialist humor.

Retina specialist humor.

An undashing pirate wench

An undashing pirate wench

My reward!!! Gloria got to share.

My reward!!! Gloria got to share.