Poetry Experiment: The “Overflowing” River

An assignment from class this week:

Write a short work, and then write its “overflowing,” providing a kind of poetics that circulates around, extends, and amplifies your text, while being part of it (a text that isn’t separate, without which the “central” text would function completely differently).

Dragging the River

Dragging the river of memory—

In search of her younger self

It’s already too late.

Her life was her torture.

She was capable of imagining

a life outside of housework.

That sense of youth and immortality disappeared

in the destruction of the old familiar.

The river hurtled toward the sea


Don’t look back

or lose her forever

Overflowing River

Dragging the river of memory—

 Dragging the bottom for dead bodies. Dragging on a cigarette. Dragging and slow, they crept forward.  He dragged his accomplishments into every conversation.  The parade dragged by endlessly. It’s a drag having to read this. He was often in drag. The committee often dragged their feet.  Dragging the river.  The bottom.  The muck. The mire. The memory. A time within memory. Improve the memory. Search the memory. Increase the memory.  Lose the memory.  The flow of degeneration swallowed memories like lozenges.  No one can steal your memories.  No one except dementia.  The long good-bye.


In search of her younger self

Searching for answers. A searching glance. A searching mind. A searchlight.  A search party searching for the fountain of youth. Freshness. Vigor. Vitality. Her better self. Self-service is payable to self.


It’s already too late.

 Let’s go already.  They had already arrived. Entirely. Previously.  No longer possible.  The late great life of youth.


Her life was her torture.

The life of the family depended on her obedience to the patriarchal systems in place in their subcultural milieu. Chained. Beaten. Surrendered. Defeated.


She was capable of imagining / a life outside of housework.

 The feminist ideal was foreign. But her imagination was strong. Imagining.  Image-ing.  Imagination was a gateway to the outside. Homemaking wore thin.  She didn’t.


That sense of youth and immortality disappeared

A faculty or function of mind relating to the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, and characteristics of one who is young.  Our immortal souls.  The immortal words.  The Immortals vanished into mythology.  Perhaps her life would, too.


in the destruction of the old familiar.

 The wanton demolition of ancient, well-acquainted activities and thoughts.


The river hurtled toward the sea

The current of death.  Flowing lava.  Creeping glacier.  Calving icebergs.  The barren waste of the north.



Certain.  Necessary.  Unalterable.  Unable to escape. Foreshadowed. Foretold. Forewarned is not necessarily forearmed.  The inevitable end of life is death.


Don’t look back

Avoid casting a glance to those things past.  Don’t look it straight in the eye.  Looks can be deceiving.  Even the look of love.  He has the look of an honest man.  Look after your own interests.


Or lose her forever

An existential crisis.  Losing the pillars of her life.  Crumbling beneath the weight of patriarchy.   To die?  Or to be set free?

Poem: Now is a now and this is this

A now is a now is a now

Creating space between self and outside

Inside and out

1st person and 3rd

Disjunctive, disruptive

Find a place, not a position

Not an either/or

But an and and and and and and …

Respect the thing itself

This is this, this is this, this is this—

Rather than this is that


Experiment: Multiple Viewpoint Fable

This was an in-class writing experiment from last night.  We had ten minutes (!) to write a “fable” from multiple viewpoints.  This is what came out of my pen.

The Hero:

  • The end of the road is only the beginning of the journey.  After we stepped into the trees, the adventure began in earnest.

His Wife:

  • “Dear, why are we going into the woods?  Please, I’d like to just turn around and go back home.”

The Henchman:

  • “They’re coming, Sir.  The snares are ready.  We await your signal.”

The Evil Overlord:

  • My eyes see all.  The footsteps of the unwary lead them to my abode where time ceases, dreams commence, and nothing is as it appears.

The Dog:

  • My Master is smiling.  I will get treats tonight!  Maybe even a bone or two.

The Undertaker:

  • In my line of work, you must always carry a tape measure.  Everyone you meet will eventually be your customer.

The Fortune Teller:

  • “The cards are not in your favor this night.  The travelers will escape and your plans will be thwarted.”

The Child:

  • “Mommy, why are you and Daddy home so late?  Did you take the long way through the woods again?”

Experiment: “Extra! Extra! Read All About It!”

This week’s experimental writing assignment consisted of creating several word banks and then using the resulting lists of words/phrases and “creating something fantastical out of reality, hiding fact behind mystery.”

We needed to:

  1. Pick something we have some expertise in and then use its specialized language (I chose Charlotte Mason educational philosophies)
  2. List words and phrases related to a town or city where we live, grew up, or are well acquainted with (I chose Auburn, Washington)
  3. Write a dream in exactly 7 words in only 90 seconds.

I used the 7-word dreams as titles/headings, and then used the word lists as word banks to create something true/false and “fantastical.”



Giant black widow spider in the kitchen—

A giant black widow spider was spotted in the kitchen of a mobile home near the library. This proved to be an opportune circumstance for casual nature study.  The students carefully observed the handicraft of the web.  Appreciated the artistry of the wildlife.

But is the spider an illegal?  Where are its papers?

Others see the black widow in the housing projects.  The country club set in this small town is welcoming to the herons.  But not to the crows. Or to the panhandlers, the homeless, or the black widows.

Crime!  Gambling!  Graffiti!  Mexicans!

This composition is no longer in keeping with the healthy historic hometown habitat of the highbrow Presbyterians and Methodists concentrated on Main Street.  Where are the Baptists when we need them?

Call the police.

Pair of barrels fell on their heads—

While working in the Safeway warehouse on the other side of the tracks, a pair of barrels fell on their heads.  The gangs claimed responsibility which was more than the mayor imagined.

In the English countryside, the gardens don’t grow low-income teenage pregnancies.  But here, the casino, racetrack, and Bingo hall breeds crime and community colleges.

The Dream Center does outreach along the White River and under the rocks where the homeless encamp.

Flooding in the riverbed assists the slaughter of the Japanese farmers who began growing strawberries, hops, horses, parks, pajamas, cottonwood trees, trains, and outlet stores.

City Hall is proud of their community.

Poem: Dragging the river

by Debi

Dragging the river of memory—

In search of her younger self

It’s already too late.

Her life was her torture.

She was capable of imagining

a life outside of housework.

That sense of youth and immortality disappeared

in the destruction of the old familiar.

The river hurtled toward the sea


Don’t look back

or you lose her forever


An email to CA Conrad

Dear CA …

To have friends you can trust with your own creations
would be, could be, will be, is gonna be—

What does it mean to live poetry?

What is the price we pay to be a poet?
We love, we suffer, we die, we cry
This seems a high price to extract
from ourselves
for the privilege of creating
and revealing
all within.

What lessons are we learning in everyday everything?
Have we become so habituated to the habitual
that we are unable to see
the soma in the somatic?


Playing Around with Shakespeare: “But soft!” – Antonyms

Playing around with Shakespeare …

Antonym Substitutions – “But soft!” Monologue

But stonelike! What duskiness through nearby doorway restores?
It is the West, and Juliet is the moon!
Lie down, mediocre moon, and enliven the undesiring star.
Who is not healthy and dark with joy
That thou her gentleman aren’t less ugly than she.

Poem: Innocence Lost

by Debi

Once upon a time there was a girl …

An older friend
A friendly hand
Keep still.   Our secret.

Once upon a time there was a girl …

Let’s play.
Striptease. Doctor.
Sexy Barbies.
The childhood games of victims.

Once upon a time there was a girl …

Scoot closer. Where I can reach.
Always reaching.
Shhhhhh …
Don’t tell. Don’t ever tell.

Once upon a time there was a girl …

A tiny child.
Robbed of
Before she even knew the word.

Experiment: [Soma]tic Experience ala CA Conrad

[Soma]tic Experience (inspired by CA Conrad)

by Debi


I will not brush my hair.  I will not put on make-up.  I will not wear shoes.  I will spend 15 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time sitting on my living room couch while holding—one at a time—five of my pets (3 cats, 2 bunnies).  Each pet will get 15 minutes alone with me, so this will be about an hour and an half of sitting on the couch with animals.

I will alternate cat/bunny/cat/bunny/cat, and will quietly take notes on my laptop while doing nothing else but appreciating/petting/noticing whichever animal is currently in my lap.  Notes will be whatever random thoughts or observations I have while holding the animal.

I will leave the notes for at least 10 hours, then return to the notes, reread them carefully, see if any ideas take shape, and then compose a poem(s) or prose from any resulting inspiration.



“YOU and ME vs. HE and SHE”

US —

Curious loving relaxed trusting tender sensitive soft beautiful


Ferocious cold wild glaring green-eyed impatient jealous demanding dangerous


Painful needy vulnerable desperate blue


Perceptive protective depth security strong fearless alert


No fear of the hunter / no longer the hunted


Hm.  Interesting experiment.  The resulting “poem” is weird but actually quite meaningful to me … although I’m certain it makes little (if any sense) to anyone else outside of my head.  It also has nothing whatsoever to do with cats and bunnies. 😉

Prompt: Imaginary Conversation

Writing Prompt: Imagine a person sitting in a chair across from you and have a conversation (or two).

First Imaginary Meeting with Mom:

Long ago …

You sit in a chair in our old house
then you crawl onto the floor
to sit with me on my level.
We both use the coffee table
as a rest for our elbows.
You are very young now,
the youngest memory I have of you.
Your cat’s eye glasses perch on your nose.
You smile and lean over to tweak my nose.
You mouth words I struggle to hear,

“I love you.
I did the best I could.”

Second Imaginary Meeting with Mom:

Much later …

You sit in a chair across from me
hunched and shriveled.
The effect of two strokes still visible
on your face and body.
I want to hold you, my tiny mother.
To cradle your joints
from the hard plastic chair.
To shield your eyes
from the overhead light.

To see you like this
makes my heart ache, Mommy.