OLWG #38 – The Tourist

 Written for OLWG #38

She spent years diligently socking money away to pay for a tour of Europe. She left in the Spring from Kansas City, connecting through New York to Paris. For three days in Paris she walked the avenues; saw Montmartre, The Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe. She visited Bistro’s and Cafes, she took a coach to Versailles. She skipped around the continent: Firenze, Rome, Athens, Wien, Zurich, München.

Wherever she went, she sipped and supped brilliant food and marvelous drink. She immersed herself in the colourful and diverse cultures. No guided tours for her, she roamed the back streets and explored the galleries on her own schedule. She loved speaking with the locals, without an itinerary.  She hopped a plane to England and went to Picadilly. She flew home in the belly of the plane.

Jeanine looked to her left and stepped into the street. Ugh, did you see that?

This week I wanted to write a Haibun of sorts. Matsuo Basho wrote Haibun as travel accounts, documenting his journeys. So I took my cue from that early history.

It is traditionally a mixture of short prose and haiku. I chose American Sentence as my poetic form for this piece. American Sentences are a Ginsberg invention attempting to make a haiku more American.  He took the seventeen syllables of haiku, going from top to bottom, and rearranged them so that there were seventeen syllables going across.

I know, I know… it flies in the face of tradition and there is really no reason to change it, but maybe that’s why I like it.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. I have extra suction cups
  2. a long black car
  3. ugh, did you see that

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.


OLWG #37 – Friday Night

 Written for OLWG #37

It was a bright and clear Friday afternoon when Alfredo stopped into the cantina on his way home, as was his custom.

“Oye, cantinero,” he greeted Miguel, behind the bar.

“Buenos tardes, Fredo. Good afternoon. ¿Cerveza?”

“Not today, thank you,” he replied as he reached into his front pocket to pull out a few pesos, “just a paper please.”

He put the money on the bar and took the proffered copy of the day’s news. Tipping his hat, he spun on his heel as he left the bar – headed for home with a spring in his step. Once there, he pulled on his fragile wire spectacles and sat at the table to read the paper. Alfredo had decided that the world was a large and busy place. He didn’t know enough about it. He needed to read more. Thirty minutes later he folded the paper and set it aside. The world is a mess, he thought and he shook his head. At least he would be able to discuss some current events tonight though. That was good.

His small house was quiet as he pushed back his chair. He needed to wash up, but he had plenty of time.

He shaved, he dressed, and he looked at the clock on the bedside table. It was still early yet. He sat on the edge of his bed. He wondered if Sra. Delgado’s children would be there. He determined that they probably would. That would be proper, after all.

Alfredo had waited an entire year after Ricardo Delgado had passed. An entire year before he asked Sra. Delgado if she would allow him to call on her. It had been the longest year of his life, and he had been pleased when she agreed.

If things went well tonight, perhaps in a few months she would invite him to call her Carla and he could ask her to call him Alfredo. He looked over at the clock again – time was moving so slowly tonight. He lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. Just a quick nap, he thought, just a quick nap to keep him sharp.

There were three prompts this week – I got two of them:

  1. not today, thank you
  2. don’t know enough about it
  3. hush

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.

OLWG #36 – Fear of Flying

 A drabble written for OLWG #36

I looked up from my reading when I heard, “Now boarding flight 1583 to Milwaukee through Gate 27A. All ticketed passengers on flight 1583 to Milwaukee should proceed immediately to Gate 27A.” I closed my book on my index finger, shouldered my backpack and moved to the back of the line for boarding

This is the third time I have tried to go to Milwaukee. I never made it the first two times but my therapist tells me I have to confront my fears. She says that I need to charge right at them. Face ‘em like a man.

My hands shaking, I shuffle forward with the rest of them.

There were three prompts this week – I got two of them:

  1. Milwaukee
  2. right at them
  3. the high cost of loving

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.

OLWG #35 – Data

 Written for OLWG #35

Warren pushed his glasses back up on his nose and blinked twice, “Hmm,” he sang under his breath as he hunkered back down to study the pile of fan folded computer paper that lay on the table in front of him.

“What is it?” Rosemary asked from across the lab.

“It’s these data,” Warren replied. “There’s nothing surprising here.”

“That’s not right,” Rosemary replied.

“I know it’s not right,” Warren answered. “I think we all were anticipating that these would turn the scientific world upside down, but they don’t. Everything is quite ordinary. There are no revelations or unexpected events. Everything is exactly as one would expect it to be.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Rosemary shot back at him with just a trace of impatience in her voice.

He folded his hands atop the reams of paper and glared at his colleague across the room, he knew what was coming, “Then, what exactly did you mean, Rosemary?”

“You know exactly what I meant, Warren. I meant that you should have said that it was THIS data and that there was nothing surprising there.”

“Let me remind you Rose, that ‘data’ has a singular form, ‘datum’. This is not unlike ‘media’ and it’s singular; which is ‘medium’. Educated people preserve this distinction and use plural conjugations with data. You’re the one who’s wrong.” He picked up the stacks of printouts and moved over next to her; dropping the paper on her table with a loud bang. He stared at her with a challenging glare.

“No, Warren; only pompous, self-important, overbearing, pseudo academics, like yourself would say such a thing. Reasonable people would argue that the distinction is lost in spoken language. In the information that you were trying to convey; the word ‘data’ is a singular mass noun, like money or research. Face it you’re wrong.”

Warren’s face was turning red and he was beginning to sputter.

“Can you hand me that book please?” Rosemary asked.

“Which?” Warren sprayed, clearly flustered by her challenge.

“Next to your elbow, on my book shelf is a New York Times Styleguide. Would you hand it to me please?” She held out her hand to receive the book and when she had it; immediately began flipping pages. “Here… here it is, and I quote, ‘data is acceptable as a singular term for information: The data was persuasive.’ See, I told you!”

“Read on a bit Rosie.” Warren said as he looked over her shoulder, “it goes on to say, ‘in its traditional sense, meaning a collection of facts and figures, the noun can still be plural: They tabulate the data, which arrive from bookstores nationwide.’ I would counter, therefore, that I’m right. Perhaps you may be right as well but I am clearly more right than you.”

“Not so fast Warren, look at the next page. It clearly states,In this sense, the singular is datum, a word both stilted and deservedly obscure.

“HA, I’m obviously more right than you as datum seems to have been declared stilted and obscure! You hate to be wrong, don’t you?”

“OK, OK Rosie; I’ll concede that in this case you might be slightly more correct than I, but I would point out that we both appear to be correct, technically. I would also point out that they’re serving egg salad in the cafeteria today. I love egg salad almost as much as I love you. Would you like to join me for lunch?”

“It would be my pleasure sir. May I take your arm?”

This week’s prompts were three:

  1. The epic properties of ordinary
  2. Can you hand me that please
  3. fraught

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.

OLWG #34 – Spirits

 Written for OLWG #34


Shhh, listen
do you hear those sounds?
High pitched and
tortured wails,
the hollow sounds of dying.
Now, only poppies.


American Sentence

Sometimes on nights like this I can hear the songs of ghosts in the cotton.

This week’s prompts are only one:

  1. ghosts in the fields

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.

Reading at Night


Kenny sat his bucket down beside the back door and peeked in through the screen. He couldn’t see anyone, but he heard his mom knocking around in the kitchen. He wasn’t really worried about her and he wanted to go the other direction anyway. He was, however, worried about any chance encounter he might have with Dad.

Dad would be royally pissed off if he knew what Kenny was up to today, but Kenny didn’t care. He was pissed off himself. “Dad could just bite it for all I care,” he thought.

Last night Kenny had been up reading late in his room. He knew his parents wouldn’t approve; he knew the risks, but he’d been reading the new Tarzan book by Edgar Rice Burroughs and, it was exciting. Kenny got pulled in to the narrative and had tented the blanket up over his head and lit the pages with his flashlight. When Dad came in and ripped Kenny back to suburban Ohio from the jungles of Africa, he had made his displeasure very clear to his son.

“Damnit Kenny, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” he had yelled. “You should have been asleep hours ago!” Dad had confiscated both the torch and the novel. “If you’re going to read, do it before bedtime and read something worthwhile! Don’t read tawdry trash like this, this… cheap crap!”

When Dad confiscated things he always hid them. Sometimes he’d give things back but most often, not. His favourite hiding place was the hall closet. There was a high top shelf where he could put things and forget about them.

Kenny listened and sure enough he heard the closet door open and shut. If he was lucky, both the book and the torch had been secreted there. Not so lucky: maybe only one or the other. He lay awake seething with anger until an hour after he heard his parents go to their bedroom. When he was certain that they were asleep he crept from his bed, retrieved the step ladder from the mud room, and climbed up to see what was on the top shelf of the hall closet. He found his Tarzan book. Beneath that he found another novel he did not recognize, but figured it was his sister’s. The ‘mystery’ book had Harlequin printed across the top and the title seemed to be, “The Starlight and His Servant”. He folded it and stuffed it in the back pocket of his trousers so he could give it back to Monica. His Tarzan book, he clutched in his hand. The torch wasn’t there.

Back in his room he slid his book between the mattress and the box spring. He would have to look for his torch in the morning.

The next morning the flashlight was nowhere to be found. Kenny realized that he would have to find an alternative light source to read in bed tonight. The first thing he did was get Mom’s mop bucket and a roll of aluminum foil from the pantry. He rinsed the bucket with the hose in the backyard and scrubbed it with a brush till it was clean. A little before noon, when the sun was bright, Kenny took the bucket to the school and carefully placed it where the light reflected off the bright white side of the building. He sat down next to it and waited. Three and a half hours, he sat in the school yard, waiting. When he thought the time was right he unrolled two equal lengths of aluminum foil and folded the edges together to make a single piece that was wide enough to cover the top of the bucket.

Quickly, he slapped the foil atop the pail and carefully sealed it around the rim. He headed home with his bucket filled with more than three hours of sunshine. He thought that would be enough for him to finish Tarzan of the Apes, tonight. The bucket was too big to take beneath the covers, though. He thought that would not be a problem. He figured he would read in the closet.

Kenny sat his bucket down beside the back door and peeked in through the screen. He couldn’t see anyone, but he heard his mom knocking around the kitchen. He wasn’t really worried about her and he wanted to go the other direction anyway. He was, however, worried about any chance encounter he might have with Dad. When it seemed that the coast was clear he eased the screen open and snuck inside the house. Hurrying down the hall, he made it safely to his room, crossed the floor and hid the pail in the back of the closet.

Mission accomplished! Dad had not been spotted and, therefore had no inkling of Kenny’s scheme.

In a conscious effort to look innocent and inconspicuous he strolled down the hallway, whistling under his breath. He paused in front of Monica’s door and knocked.

He heard, “WHAT?” from behind the closed door.

“Mon, it’s me Kenny.”

“Go away, runt!”

“Monica, it’s important.”

The door swung open and his sister stood staring scathingly at him. He fished the book he assumed to be hers from his hip pocket and held it out to her.

“Oh my God! Kenny? Where? Never mind where. Thanks!” she grabbed his shoulders and kissed him on the lips, snatched the book and slammed the door in his face.

He immediately started wiping his mouth with the tail of his tee shirt as he walked toward the kitchen, and was still wiping his mouth when he ran into Mom.

“Kenny, there’s milk and cookies on the kitchen counter. Why don’t you go have some? Have you seen your sister?”

Last week, I had the crazy idea of putting light into a bucket and thought it was an idea that warranted some consideration here. I wrote a couple of things incorporating it. This is one of them.

OLWG #33 – Boom

 Written for OLWG #33

Mike and I looked across at one another. He grinned and I shrugged my shoulders as if saying, “What could possibly go wrong?”

I reached out with the wire cutters and studied the device. The numbers on the timer were counting down slowly.

“The red one,” Mike whispered, “red.”

I nodded my head and moved the tool toward the red wire.

“No, no, no… no,” Mike almost shouted this time, “blue do the blue.”

I looked over at him, raised my eyebrows, “You sure?” I asked.

“It’s either that or the green one,” he whispered like he was talking to himself. “Blue is one of my favourites and, the green is not very likely.”

I nodded and positioned the cutters to clip the blue wire. My hands were steady, my mouth was dry and something the size of a cat was doing somersaults in my stomach. Mike put his head down and covered it with his hands to instill confidence.

I snipped the blue wire.

Under my breath I shouted very softly, “boom.” I exhaled as if I had only just then remembered I needed to breathe. There was no explosion.

I looked at Mike to smile and noticed the alarm in his eyes. He pointed at the timer and when I looked I saw that the numbers were counting backwards twice as fast as they had been.

“Red or green?” I asked urgently, “red or green?”

Michael stumbled over his words, “I think red, man. I think red.” He put his head back down on the deck like he had before.

I clipped the green wire and the counter stopped, went black. I watched for awhile; then I stood up and held the wire cutters at about shoulder height. I dropped ‘em, “boom.” I said.


This week’s prompts are:

  1. One of my favourites
  2. What could go wrong
  3. bandleader

Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.