Why do bees hum?


from https://www.pinterest.com/source/facebook.com/

because they don’t know the words.


  • Turn today’s writing over to the universe. Visit: http://random-ize.com/ This site offers:
    • a list randomizer (which might be good for making a poem)
    • a list picker (in case you can’t name your baby or pick a number)
    • random English words (such as finespun, sveltest, sternly and untanned)
    • and as many random jokes as you can stand


Making Up Words


There are many reasons for me to continue taking formal Spanish classes beyond my abysmal verbs and my teacher’s thoughtful writing prompts.

The reason I am focused on this afternoon is how the prompts stimulate memories.

When I was in tenth grade, in high school chemistry class, I was awarded extra credit points despite the fact that I was a mediocre chemistry student. These points arrived as I, singeing my thumb and index finger on a crucible, threw the graphite container into the sink and exclaimed: “Eenie!” My instructor was impressed by my creativity under duress.

I owed the points to my mother who insisted that my sister and I avoid profanity. She educated us in specific anatomical terms should we need to refer to ourselves or others. And, knowing we might have instances to yelp out in pain or delight, we were encouraged to make up nonsense words.

I flash to this as my Spanish teacher offers me a list of six words–that are completely foreign to me but are clearly pejorative terms. I know this because of words I see within them, such as mal.

She has me guess what the terms mean, using them, before investigating their formal definition. And, for the most part, my sentences, about the pedophile priest, the misogynist, and the thief (I make her a woman to spread the contempt around) are practically accurate.

Then, she offers me a series of syllables and has me combine them to make words that are praising and positive, antonyms to the previous list.

Of course, my mother’s and my Spanish teacher’s approaches to invention inspire me to think of “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll: http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html.

  • Invent words; use roots, context, and repetition to help readers make sense of them, to help us crack the code.

My Ever-Expanding List of Only in Oaxaca Moments

cleaning the fountain

How to “drain” the fountain in Llano Park.


What to do if you lack time to take the dogs out for a walk.


What do do when you don’t have a stroller. (It is hard to see, but this is a hand truck/dolly).


–John Updike

Tell me, how do the manufacturers of tools
turn a profit? I have used the same clawed hammer
for forty years. The screwdriver misted with rust
once slipped into my young hand, a new householder’s.
Obliviously, tools wait to be used: the pliers,
notched mouth agape like a cartoon shark’s; the wrench
with its jaws on a screw; the plane still sharp enough
to take its fragrant, curling bite; the brace and bit
still fit to chew a hole in pine like a patient thought;
the tape rule, its inches unaltered though I have shrunk;
the carpenter’s angle, still absolutely right though I
have strayed; the wooden bubble level from my father’s
meagre horde. Their stubborn shapes pervade the cellar,
enduring with a thrift that shames our wastrel lives.

Selected Poems
Alfred A. Knopf


*What can our tools, innovations, inventions tell us about our lives. Consider using a volta (a sharp turn) as Updike has done in the end of his poem.



Photo: CHOICES Poets

Last spring semester, I had the chance to work with a group of poets through CHOICES, a transitional program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Going into the project, I knew I would provide the same poetry lessons I was using in my community college classroom. I want to be clear, this curriculum choice is neither a comment on the level of my community college students nor on the students I had yet to meet. Instead, it is a testament to the power of poetry and creativity and invention. I am pleased to report that trusting the process consistently yields tremendous rewards. Just when my instinct to step in and be too proscriptive was on the verge of flooding out of me, I would witness magic. In fact, in the second before I went to suggest that one student approach her found poem without cutting and pasting entire paragraphs from magazines, she pulled a pink highlighter, like a wand, out of her backpack and showed us the single words she’d fished from the now pages of passages she’d glued into place. And, abracadabra, a poem landed before us. It was as if she assembled a mirror carp; each of the words were polished scales.

Video: Two of the Choices Poets perform on local television: http://gooddaysacramento.cbslocal.com/2015/08/28/crash-test-dummy-poets/