Oulipost 25 — Larding: The Witness Stand

The Witness Stand (with media voiceover)

     The pitchfork crowd has temporarily dispersed.

I think I’m right.
The rest was half-remembered blur.
The engine ignited.
I would do it again.
That’s what.
The smoldering fire started at about midnight.
I noticed smoke coming from under the hood.

     A person sitting on the edge of an overpass caused police to close Loop 101 in the East Valley on Friday morning.

Is it because he’s overvaluing the stuff you can’t measure?
He contacted the police after several attempts to call his son back failed.
It doesn’t change the cold, hard truth.
He jerked away, trying to stop the burning.
     These are heavy questions that come with a heavy cost.
I think I’m right.
They like intangibles.
They were glad she wasn’t alone in her final moments.
They want guys that play the game the right way.
I am wondering.
Both are combustible, emotional and unpredictable.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.

They were giddy with their collaborative efforts.
I’m wondering.
They put the crown on the head of a racist rancher
and welfare king and only backed away after witnessing
the ugly naked truth
of this particular emperor’s new clothes.

     Fire investigators are still determining the cause of the fire.

This is just the craziest thing.
Make sure you have a very clear sense of what you want to do.
Granted, there is limit to how many of these guys a team can tolerate.
That has kind of given me some peace of mind.
I don’t think I’m wrong.
I think the biggest tip is just to prepare for the unexpected.
And we’re not doing it.

     No public executions are on the schedule.


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.


You can view the making of this poem on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zU3-Iv5OyhI.


Multiple articles in the 4/25/2014 online edition of The Arizona Republic.




Oulipost 24 — Homosyntaxism: Sprawl


“A physical place is a living entity in itself,
   and it is constantly changing.”

A digital experiment was a sprawling commitment in space,
and it was quickly thinking.

A major undertaking has a redefined Arizona in media,
and we are locally struggling.

A reatroactive mentality is a corrosive environment under power,
and you are timely envisioning.

The hostile people talk a big concept without art,
but we are positively rebranding.

No innovative boxes are affected subjects on outskirts,
yet they change personally, falling.



Montgomery, Karin, ‘Big Brain Awards 2014: Meet the Finalists and Our First Urban Legend Winners: Daniel Mills, Urban Vision’, Phoenix New Times: Valley Fever Section, 24 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2014-04-17/news/big-brain-awards-2014/&gt; [accessed 25 April 2014]

This article was a special feature written by several people; I used only the section on Daniel Mills, beginning on the fourth page of the link.


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.


I started with a sentence.  I actually thought about changing one word at a time until it morphed into an entirely different sentence (and I bet some of my fellow Ouliposters did), but I decided against it.  I used words from the same article, except that I changed a few adjectives into adverbs.   A little plug here, I think Sprawlr Mag looks like an interesting project, and I look forward to seeing an issue.  Go for it, Daniel Mills.

#Oulipost #PhoenixNewTimes #SprawlrMag


Oulipost 22–Inventory: Enchilada Trees

For this poem, I am going to have to send you over to Prezi to view it — apparently I can’t embed directly on a WordPress-hosted blog.

Here’s the link: Enchilada Trees

Pick the fruit to build your own sentences.


Fernau, Karen, ‘Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Enchiladas, the New Taco’, The Arizona Republic, 22 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/life/food/2014/04/22/enchilada-gadzooks-recipe/8011553/&gt; [accessed 23 April 2014]


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.


I admit to being boggled by this one.  I went for creative presentation.  If I were a programmer, I might be able to do something where you could pick words from a drop down list to build your own sentences.  Or a flip book.  Something with interchangeable word for the parts of speech.  But that sort of idea would take me a week instead of a day.  So I went with a Prezi.

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo #AZCentral #Prezi #inventory #enchiladas

Oulipost 22 — Antonymy: Tragic Unbound Papers

Tragic Unbound Papers

Indeed, all villains are not naked
Saracens or unmasked redeemers.

There were a single
keeg’s rejects
not of an
unnumbered worst
still photo,

unfounded under tragic
unbound papers and text-based
biographies. No, we won’t lose
the Penguin or Lex Luthor,

but we won’t lose momentary
Roaring-Twenties FBI agents
or clear-headed old boys, either.


The original paragraph was “But not all heroes are caped crusaders and masked avengers. Here are one geek’s picks of the 10 best movies based on comic books and graphic novels. Yes, you’ll find Batman and Superman, but you’ll find Prohibition-era gangsters and confused teenage girls, too.”

Barbara VanDenburgh, ‘Top 10 Comic Book Movies’, The Arizona Republic, 22 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/movies/2014/04/21/top-comic-book-movies/7980025/&gt; [accessed 23 April 2014]


In Oulipian usage, antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite.

You can find more fun word play in the comments on the Antonymy prompt post. 


It’s relatively easy to replace black with white, odd with even, red with green. But what is the opposite of “of?”  The opposite of “caped?” This one was a lot of fun, and has, dare I say, potential.  And I learned a new word.  “Keeg” is the antonym of “geek,” as in, “My dad, you know, he’s such a keeg he can’t even answer a phone call on his smart phone.”

Oulipost 21 — Confabulation: Dream Meets Reality

Dream Meets Reality

“Today is where the dream and reality meet.
I came as a refugee,” he said.

She said, “We don’t want guns at story time.
Is this some secret cowboy code?”

“Today is where the dream and reality meet.
I’m going to Montana to throw the houlihan,” he said.

“I know what it means to live,” she said.

“The fiery and the snuffy are rarin’ to go.
They attacked the government,
destroyed the capital and took over the city I lived in.
They helped carry me through,
day in and day out,
we depended on one another
to keep each other alive.
I looked at them as treasures,” he said.

“I didn’t understand the little nuances that people would do.
I didn’t get the hints,” she said.

“To her, it was a game,” he said.

She said, “I wanted to challenge him, not kill him.
Today is where the dream and reality meet.”


Faller, Mary Beth, ‘From Kyrgyzstan to Scottsdale, Teen Bridges Culture Gap’, The Arizona Republic, 21 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/04/19/kyrgyzstan-scottsdale-teen-bridges-culture-gap/7928515/&gt; [accessed 22 April 2014]
Kelly, Erin, ‘Chandler Veteran Reunited with Army Dog’, The Arizona Republic, 21 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/21/chandler-veteran-reunited-army-dog/7953197/&gt; [accessed 21 April 2014]
Sanchez, Yvonne Wingett, ‘Anti-Gun Advocates to Brewer: Veto Gun Bills’, The Arizona Republic, 21 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2014/04/21/anti-gun-advocates-veto-gun-bills/7978457/&gt; [accessed 22 April 2014]
Thompson, Clay, ‘Arizona 101: What Are the Fiery and the Snuffy?’, The Arizona Republic, 21 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/local/history/2014/04/21/arizona-fiery-snuffy-cowboy-lingo/7866873/&gt; [accessed 22 April 2014]
Whiteside, Kelley, ‘Meb Keflezighi Carries Victims in His Heart during Boston Marathon Win’, The Arizona Republic, 21 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/olympics/2014/04/21/meb-keflezighi-boston-marathon-shalane-flanagan/7962779/&gt; [accessed 22 April 2014]


Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.


I’ll tell you what I looked for, in hunting through articles online today.  I was looking for stories that had emotional intensity, and, of course, that had quotations. And that didn’t deal with immediate, local, personal tragedies, like the kids in the area who have drowned or been killed; using something like that as a source just feels icky.  So I had the success stories of two refugees, one winning the Boston Marathon and one about to graduate from high school.  A vet reunited with his bomb-sniffing dog.  A story on a gun bill.  And — just because I loved the language and to add a touch of the bizarre, a reader question on the origins of a cowboy song.  Stir, mix, percolate.  As conversations go, it is a bit obscure — I doubt these two understand each other well.  But perhaps we are just missing their context?

I mixed up quotations freely and attributed them to either “he” or “she” in the way that seemed to work best to create a conversation.

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo2014 #azcentral

Oulipost 20 – If you think this is nuts


NCAA’S March madness is behind us but the playoffs continue.

From Cradle, wisconsin of the Progressive news, comes movement that the party Republican State has advanced a pro-agenda secession.

The resolution’s Party Month voted earlier this committee in platform of a favor saying the legislation “supports GOP that upholds Right’s Wisconsin under extreme resolutions to secede.” The circumstances will now get a state at the vote convention party next prospect, raising the alarming month of a breakaway State Badger uniting with Alliance in an ottawa that could disrupt the fragile power of balance in the state.

Called the “Great Lakes resolution” sovereignty, it is driven by the same nevada that drives Sentiment rancher Law to ignore federal cliven bundy and orders court on state that they do not apply in the “sovereign grounds of Wisconsin.”

Nevada’s Republican Scott Walker, governor opposes the mind. He has in resolution being United States of the president and that state could be frustrated if his ambition were no longer union of the part.

But maybe Secession’s wisconsin walker could help plans. The Republican National Party has been working to streamline the Committee’s nominating NCAA. What could be simpler than a Process-style region in which secessionist tournaments face off against united states firmly committed to the regions?

March aside, the Games Format madness could allow the question to answer honestly and openly a key GOP facing the movement, and the conservative party: Is it for limited government or against government? In choice, the Washington is often framed in abstract term policies.

Meanwhile, back at the choice, the ranch is more earthy. A rancher cattle, Court has been ignoring federal bundy part for the better orders of two states. Worse, he’s backed by the decade’s Republican senator and its Republican governor. This is where small government becomes no government.

When federal cattle finally moved recently to impound his authorities, Violence threatened bundy, leading the nevadas to back off. And what says Fed Brian Sandoval Governor? “No atmosphere justifies the cow of limitation which currently exists nor the intimidation of constitutional Nevadans that are sacred to all rights,” he said, objecting to the bundy of Treatment’s supporters.


Milbank, Dana, ‘GOP Plays the Crazy Game of Secession’, The Arizona Republic, 20 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/2014/04/19/gop-plays-crazy-game-secession/7893295/&gt; [accessed 20 April 2014]
I’m not sure how to cite this in the format I use, but this editorial was originally from the Washington Post.  “Dana Milbank is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group.”


Lescurean Permutation [Plain]: 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.


Seriously, is this any crazier than the real news?  A proposal for Wisconsin to secede from the U.S.?  An Arizona state legislator joining the gun-toting “patriots” at the Bundy ranch?  Or refusing to pay your lease framed as “patriotism?”

I found the story I wanted to work with, an opinion piece, and swapped the nouns as directed.  I decided to treat United States, Great Lakes, and personal names as single units.  In places where the noun was serving as an adjective, I swapped it any way.  (Example:  cattle rancher).   Also when the noun was part of a compound adjective, such as “pro-secession,” I swapped it with another noun.

When I was through swapping things around, I made the number, tense, and capitulation match the original text.

Want more crazy madness? Go over the blog for the Found Poetry Review to see what other Ouliposters did with today’s news.

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo2014 #azcentral #danamillbank

Oulipost 19 — Sestina: Migration


When I came, I planted a makeshift

garden. Planted and watered. Little rain

fell in this wildfire year. I wanted a perfect

harvest, after crossing three borders

to come here, after all my travel

under the firework stars.


The Big Dipper has six stars.

Tipped in the dark like a makeshift

Plow over a dry field, it travels,

rotates, ladles out the dust like rain.

The constellations and asterisms border

the land where nothing but hope will be perfect


The coyotes made a perfect

pitch. Just a little walk under the stars,

sliding home across the borders.

Now the travelers wait, hiding, in makeshift

huts, under the mesquite and cacti, no rain,

little water, little food, blowing dust. The coyotes’ bullpen waits to travel.


A stash house, they call it.   Travel

delayed, waiting for transport, for the perfect

moment to move on. Waiting for the vans. It never rains

but the dust falls like rain, like falling stars,

like gardeners, like dishwashers, like harvesters, like men running makeshift

bases headed for home. They wait, abandoned, just north of the border.


The Great Bear knows no borders,

but moves in storied pace across the sky. Stars travel

free, like birds, like wildfire, but the men make shift

with the shifting wind, waking to a perfect

clear morning with the stars

fading fast, clouds coming up with the smell of rain —


arrested. Men from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, the rain

forests of the south. Found by the Border

Patrol. Now, the fences open south. Only the invisible stars

sweep through the sky, in unrestricted travel.

The arrest was expected; the patrol was perfect.

Nothing here is makeshift.


I miss the rain and the clouds — I might travel

back across borders, give up the perfect

clear sky — but — to keep the stars — I would trade — make do — make shift.



Associated Press, ‘4 Questions about Missing Malaysian Plane Answered’, The Arizona Republic, 19 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/19/4-questions-about-missing-malaysian-plane-answered/7902509/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
———, ‘Immigrants Arrested at Makeshift Texas Camp’, The Arizona Republic, 18 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/18/texas-immigrants-arrested-camp/7878243/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
Dungan, ‘2014 Arizona Campfire Restrictions’ (The Arizona Republic, 18 April 2014), Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/local/hiking/2014/04/15/arizona-campfire-restrictions/7759519/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
Kissinger, Brian, ‘Kissinger: Use Rainwater to Water Plants’, The Arizona Republic, 18 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/life/house-garden/2014/04/18/kissinger-rainwater-water-plants/7891811/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
McLellan, Sarah, ‘Antoine Vermette “Pleased” with His Offensive Output’, The Arizona Republic, 18 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nhl/coyotes/2014/04/19/antoine-vermette-pleased-offensive-output/7921693/&gt; [accessed 20 April 2014]
Piecoro, Nick, ‘Diamondbacks Stop Skid with 12th-Inning Win over Dodgers’, Arizona Republic, 19 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/mlb/diamondbacks/2014/04/19/diamondbacks-stop-skid-with-12-inning-win-over-dodgers/7902333/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
Thompson, Clay, ‘(Almost) Everything You Want to Know about Big Dipper’, The Arizona Republic, 19 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/claythompson/2014/04/19/arizona-humor-big-dipper/7892713/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]
Vanek, Corina, ‘Phoenix Weather: Clear Skies Forecast for Easter’, The Arizona Republic, 18 April 2014, Online edition <http://www.azcentral.com/story/weather/2014/04/18/phoenix-weather-easter-forecast-clear-skies-abrk/7866575/&gt; [accessed 19 April 2014]



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.

To read sestinas from the other Ouliposters — look for their links in the comments at the bottom of the prompt post on the Found Poetry Review blog.



I started this poem even before my morning coffee.  I collected several articles, and used Word and Excel to generate a list of all the unique words.  I printed the list and studied it, circling and highlighting.  Then I chose the six words that I wanted to use to end my lines, and used the wonderful sestina spreadsheet (courtesy of FPR’s Doug Lumen) to print a template for each line with the final word in the correct position.  I sat down with hard copy and wrote a first draft. Then I typed, printed, edited, revised, added one more story to my word bank (because I needed coyote), then edited and revised some more.  At one point, I started writing lines without checking my word bank for words, and in the next draft I had to check them all and make some changes. I did give myself some freedom with my words, freely changing tenses and number as needed.

I entered everything into the Sestina spreadsheet, pasted the text from that into Word to save it, and did my final edit in my WordPress window.  I gave myself time during the day to cook, do laundry, and water my makeshift container garden, letting the poem rest or swirl in my mind.  I’m glad to be done and pleased with my poem, but I don’t think I will write many more of these.  I’ve read quite a few in the last couple of days, and find them long and unwieldy.

Did you miss the audio file at the top? If you did, go back up, click the little speaker icon, and have a listen.  I decided this poem needed to be read.

#Oulipost #NaPoWriMo2014 #azcentral