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26 February 2015


Body collapsing in on itself
A bowed head
Shoulders curling over chest
Angling torso away from others
Uncontrollable shuddering or shivering
Hair hanging in face, hiding the eyes
A downward gaze
A flushed face
Hitching chest
Eyes dull, lifeless
Pulling down a shirt hem
Hands clutching at stomach
Covering face with hands
Bottom lip or chin trembling
Throat bobbing
Arms falling to sides, lifeless
Uncontrolled tears
Flinching from noise or from being touched
Huddling, crouching
Neck bending forward
Movement is slow, jerky
Knees locked tight together
Cold sweat
Stumbling, staggering
Backing up against a wall
Sliding into a corner
Hands gripping elbows
Pigeon toes
Sobs trapped in throat
Drawing knees up to the body's core
Wrapping arms around self
Runny nose

From The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (2012), page 90. Submitted by J.R. Solonche.

24 February 2015

Theme IV

A false alarm,
caught in the act:
A joke on me,
my peculiar mistake.
The stalled car,
my experience
in a strange Sunday school.
The experiment I never repeated,
nearly on the rocks.

Essay writing prompts from English Composition Book One by Stratton D. Brooks (American Book Company, 1911). Submitted by Alex Albright.

12 February 2015

Hello I am also bored

I'm at home all by my lonesome,
reading and waiting a little while
before I brush my teeth
and go to bed.

I could go for some conversation
if you're interested.
Don't much have
a particular topic in mind.

I worked ten hours today
and ate Taco Bell for dinner.

Do you like stuff?
Do you hate stuff?

Things? Place, people, ideas?
For/against any topic?

Want to discuss
the weather?

I'm all eyes for what you have to say.
Hope to hear from you.

From Craigslist Strictly Platonic, 23 December 2014. Submitted by Erica Tucker.

10 February 2015

Jamdani Weavers

A bead of sweat rolls down my face;
I am struck by the silence. The air
is hushed and filled with concentration.

On the banks of the Lakshya
master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking
sweat at their bamboo looms.
The men are shirtless. The women rest
their arms on cheap white cotton,
protecting the delicate muslin.

Hands interlace silky gold thread
into sheer cloth the colour of oxblood.

Around us turquoise, yellow and white billows
in the breeze that – like a cool blessing –
comes off the river through latticed bamboo walls.

Motifs – jasmine, marigolds, peacock feathers –
neither embroidered nor printed,
are painstakingly sewn by hand.

Children of the loom, taught by their fathers:
strong backs and magic fingers. Dedication.

From The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand by Caroline Eden, BBC News Magazine, 14 December 2014. Submitted by Angi Holden.

06 February 2015


Just when we thought some
of the old annoyances
of the 20th century
had died out, they come
roaring back
and intensified like the government

dug up their corpses
and stuffed them with hydraulics
and, like, RAM sticks
and shit, and turned
them into deadly cybernetic warriors.
They didn't die.
They were waiting.
They were adapting.
They. Were. Evolving.

They've returned,
fortified by modern technology,
designed to annoy us anywhere,
and at the convenience of
the person who wants to annoy us.

From 4 Obnoxious Behaviors The Modern World Made Worse by Luis Prada, Cracked, 11 December 2014. Submitted by Kenn Merchant.

To integrate into society

To integrate into society
The difficulties of adapting
A kind deed
To exploit
To take advantage of
To belong to
To be a part of
A war
An opposing argument
A profit
A benefit
To educate

English translations from a French class vocabulary list. Submitted by Mim Beech.

04 February 2015

Trinity Tanka

I am become Death
We made a terrible thing
Destroyer of Worlds
What are you moping about?
We’re all sons of bitches now.

A collection of quotations from Manhattan Project physicists on the occasion of the first ever atomic explosion, the Trinity Test in Los Alamos in 1945. Lines attributed to Richard Feynman, Bob Wilson and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

28 January 2015

Beijing Brush

Brushes the wool smoothly sift,
full is not tightly easy
to fall off wool,
bright, rich, the touch is gentle
may with ease brush the cosmetics
evenly frivolous
naturally has just right.

The color nature easy to stick
to the silt, but sweeps the powder
evenly, lasting durable,
with the flesh close-fitting,
makeup effects on a more refined
and delicate, presents the perfect
tidal current cosmetics.

Blurb on the cardboard wrapping of a retractable makeup brush from China. Submitted by Cathy Bryant.

22 January 2015

Wholesome Nation

Too few countries
in the world
have chosen
a vegetable
to be their national symbol

but Wales chose the leek

From something that came from The Sacred Kitchen by Robin Robertson and Jon Robertson (New World Library, 1999). Submitted by Melanie Barbato.

20 January 2015

In the Shadow of Selene

There’s a thing about being alone
there’s a thing about being lonely
they’re two different things.

I was alone
I was not lonely.
I was very used to being by myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Far from feeling lonely
or abandoned
I feel very much a part of what is taking place
(I don’t mean to deny
a feeling of solitude.)

It is there,

reinforced by the fact ... I am alone now
and absolutely isolated
from any (known) life.

If a count were taken,
the score would be:
three billion (plus two)
over on the other side
One (plus
God knows what else...)
on this side.

That was the best part of the flight.

From Al Worden: 'The loneliest human being', BBC, 2 April 2013, and Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009). Submitted by Daniel Galef.

16 January 2015

Like Robert Frost

We have agreed to let the electric company trim some trees.
If they come when you are there

let them
Ensure they leave the wood behind.

Get them to put the small bits
behind the hazel bush

where the rest of the prunings are.
Try and get a card

from the wood cutter,
we have other trees

we’d like him to look at.
Don’t use the pump in the spring

for more than twenty minutes,
and meanwhile remember

to water everything if God
is not doing his fair share.

A note left for new guests by the owners of a holiday cottage in Brittany, 16 September 2014. Submitted by Nigel Lawrence.

14 January 2015


January. The days
are short but dramatic scenes
await the hardy.

From the Great British Year poster, Open University. Submitted by Uschi Gatward.