NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu #29




The prompt for the 29th day of National Poetry Month comes from Beth Ayer, senior editor at Found Poetry Review, and what an interesting challenge it is! Here’s what she asks:

The Prompt

In the spirit of heading into darkness after all things unseeable and obscure, write a poem using a text that is inexplicable to you. Could be quantum physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, aeronautical engineering – or something else altogether that to you speaks in incomprehensible language. Choose a text or texts and begin selecting words and phrases as they spark associations. Write a poem using the collected words and phrases. Let your imagination fire, and don’t worry about what these terms mean in their original context.  You can read the entire post and find links to other poet’s poems here:

So, seems straightforward, but I couldn’t think of a topic and I’m already a day behind. I grabbed my Dictionary of Science, only to at last see the subtitle: “Scientific Terms Explained in Everyday Language”.  I thought it might still work, so I opened it randomly. “Heart Attack.”– well, no!  I think that’s not quite in the spirit of this challenge.  Then I spotted Entropy.  Knowing how my brain shuts down at the mere whisper of “Physics” I thought it might work but once into a first draft, I realized neither Entropy nor choice 2, Plate Tectonics, were working by using this dictionary or the first poem.  But here it is because it comes in again later:

English: Colors indicate age of oceanic lithos...

Colors indicate age of oceanic lithosphere, lines represent tectonic plates, world map. (Wikipedia)

The Entropy of Plate Tectonics

Everyday language, untranslatable.
Suppose a water drop, falling
from the spinning arm of dishwasher
reaches entropy.
In its dying moments it
oscillates, unstable, jealous of the big bang.

Precipitates sympathetic movement
in not-quite-dry dishes. Proximity
takes over,  and the plates succumb,
but the friction dissipates the drop.
In the cupboard, the china shifts,
a clatter as dinner plates slide from the shelves
to shatter on the floor in a vibration of electrons.
while the drop dries up, whimpering.

Is this plate tectonics at maximum entropy?

Carol A. Stephen, April 30, 2016

So, I chose two short pieces from Wikipedia, one on entropy, one on plate tectonics. I wanted to use a tool to remix the source text, but is not available right now, but fortunately Amanda Earl had used one which reminded me about The Lazarus Corporation Cut-up/Mixing Tool.

The first poem from that source

Remixing the Entropy of Plates

Non-isolated by a motion
the new seafloor transfer of heat
can be used by its own kind of crust,
convergent, reversible or irreversible,
Is reversible or irreversible.

The third law underlying asthenosphere:

  • density variations of a pure plate of entropy
    the globe remains crust, broken
    topped by its τεκτονικός “

The seafloor, spreading a relative conveyor belt
of force and drag by tidal forces of the Sun, lies.

Measure molecular disorder, the amount of lithosphere,
of the globe. Thick tectonic plates are spreading
the change that information changes:

  • the  joules per kelvin, given its T,
    is the absolute temperature of need
    the physical dimension of energy
    is the shell of a Moon.

Where plates meet,
convergent, divergent, or transform.
Converge, diverge, or transform,
the lithosphere is rigid zero to 100.
The final condition.

Carol A. Stephen, April 30, 2016

Ok, so yeah, just ok.  But I wanted something else, the off-the-wall moving away from original meaning kind of poem.  So I took both poems and ran them together through the remix tool.  I did some editing to carve out the final poem here:


The Molecular Whimper Oscillates


Crust, topped by its broken shell of a Moon.
Of a Moon.  Where plates crust,
converge from shelves to shatter on the floor
in a vibration, jealous of the big bang.
The big bang,  precipitates its dying moments.
It oscillates, unstable.
Oscillates. Whimper.
The entropy of plate seafloor
transfer of heat can be relative.
Convey force. Change that information changes:
the joules Tectonics language, untranslatable.
Everyday language, untranslatable.

Suppose thick tectonic plates are spreading the arm.
Dishwasher reaches entropy in water drop, falling
from the spinning clatter as dinner plates slide τεκτονικός ”
The seafloor is In the cupboard,
the china shifts, used by its own kind, takes over,
and the plates succumb, non-isolated by a motion.
The new whimpering. The new whimpering.
Is this plate tectonics, density variations of
a pure plate of entropy diverge, transform,
the absolute temperature of need., the sympathetic
movement in not-quite-dry dishes.
In proximity.

While the drop dries up, rigid zero to 100. Zero to 100.
The final friction dissipates the lithosphere.  The globe.
Reversible or irreversible. Reversible or irreversible.
The tidal forces of the Sun lie. The Sun, lies.
Measure molecular disorder, the.
Molecular disorder, the.

Carol A. Stephen
April 30, 2016

English: Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamo...

Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois). (Wikipedia)

NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR #28 Bridge after Bridge





Today’s Found Poetry Review prompt, #28, comes from Jenni B. Baker, and is quite different and challenging. I am posting only the beginning here to get started on the poem first, but then it is developed into a piece of music. Here’s what Jenni says:

“What are the different ways we can translate poetry into music? What would music look like as a poem? Let’s find out. 

Step One: Find a Source Text

Start by choosing a source text. I recommend working with an e-text from a site like Project Gutenberg, but you can go old school if you’re willing to put in the time. Choose a selection of this text to work with. A few chapters or 8-10,000 words should suffice.

Step Two: Excerpt All of the Words Starting with the letters A, B, C, D, E, F and G.

There are a number of tools available online that can help you with this task. Hop on over to Applied Poetics, then copy and paste your source text into the editor. Under the Oulipian menu, pick “Tautogram,” choose the letter “A” from the dropdown, and click “run” to condense your text to all of the words that start with A. Repeat for letters B, C, D, E, F and G to build your word bank.

Step Three: Craft a Poem

Using only the words from your word bank (those starting with the letters A, B, C, D, E, F and G), craft your poem.

Step Four: Translate the Words of Your Poem Into Notes

To follow this process step by step, go here to the FPR Impromptu #28

Title: The Waste Land

Author: T. S. Eliot, May, 1998  [Etext #1321],      ast Updated: April 23, 2013


  by T. S. ELIOT  New York Alfred A. Knopf 1920



My poem: followed by my composition. Since I am totally unfamiliar with the tool, the notes and the poem lines do not quite match. Understandable, perhaps, why the poem is a short one!

Bridge after Bridge, comes from Project Gutenberg, two of T.S. Eliot’s books:  The Waste Land and Poems.

Bridge After Bridge 





Above Athens and at Alexandria
death arrives, burning bridge after bridge.

Fire flames bones, children crying, dogs bloody,
gashed deep from cruel and broken glass

bodies falling from above crowd gutters
blackened by fire. Fog filled eyes,

fixed expression,
exquisite fear clasped closer.


Carol A. Stephen
April 28, 2016




NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu 27 The Nature of Hills & Niagara




Today’s prompt on the Found Poetry Review blog offers a choice of constraints from Montrealer Greg Santos.  Here’s what he’s suggested, every one of them are worth trying:

  1. Dialogue with Ghost:  Find an audio recording of a dead poet or musician. Play the recording. Start writing words that jump in your head, lines of your own. Write a 10-14 line poem using the words you jotted down, either in response to the original poem/song or a completely new piece.
  1. Reverse Poem:  Find a draft of a poem you’ve already written. Rewrite your new poem backwards, writing the last stanza first and so on. The new order might reveal something new and exciting.
  1. Table of Contents Poem: Use the table of contents of any book to find each line for your found poem.
  1. Online Erasure Poem: Go to Wave Books’ Erasures website to find online source texts, with excerpts ranging from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to The Voyage Out by Virginia Wolf. The cool website lets you click on any word or punctuation mark to make it disappear. You can save, print, or email the newly sculpted text when you’re done.

Today I tried first the Reverse poem.  Two shorter poems did not seem to change much nor for the better, but a longer poem was a little more interesting. I chose a found poem I had done last summer from a prose piece of Walt Whitman’s, On Seeing Niagara to Advantage. That poem is here, followed by the reverse version, with some further carving done to it.

The blog post and other poems for this challenge are found here: at Found Poetry Review

On Seeing Niagara to Advantage
found in Walt Whitman 

English: Walt Whitman. Library of Congress des...

Walt Whitman. (Wikipedia)

     June 4, ’80.

Seizing the common sunshine,
the mystery of identity, there comes
some lucky five minutes of  fortuitous concurrence,
circumstance bringing a brief flash of thought about two o’clock.

This afternoon gave me Niagara, superb severity of action, color,
majestic indescribable show. Slowly crossing the Suspension bridge,
not a full stop anywhere, and I out on the platform, the falls in plain view,
a mile distinct, and no roar, a murmur-river tumbling green and white,
the plentiful umbrage, many bronze cedars, shadow tempering
immense materiality. Clear sky, a few white clouds silent.

Brief quiet, a remembrance always afterwards.
I lay away rare and blessed bits of hours,
—the wild sea-storm one winter,
—night-views on the field, after battles
—the peculiar sentiment of moonlight
—stars over Kansas
—a stiff breeze off Navesink.

That afternoon five minutes’ perfect absorption.
Niagara— the great majestic gem complete
in indispensable surround.

Carol A. Stephen
excerpt from Whitman, Walt, Specimen Days, 1882

And this is the poem I carved out today from the one above:

On Revisiting Niagara April 27, 2016

I lay away rare and blessed bits of hours
brief quiet, a remembrance.

Always afterwards, immense materiality,
clear sky, a few white clouds silent.

The plentiful umbrage, many bronze cedars,
shadow tempering a mile.

No roar, a murmur-river tumbling green and white,
not a full stop anywhere.

Crossing the bridge gave me Niagara,
A brief flash of thought about two o’clock.

Five minutes of identity
seizing the common sunshine.

Carol A. Stephen

But I wasn’t convinced it was “my” poem for today.  The Ghosts prompt is tempting but no idea where to start so I went with the Erasure generator from Wave Books. I was disappointed that I could only print it in tiny print, and the site would not, for some reason, allow me to sign up so I could email or save.  But I did manage to get an image of it.  I found it a challenge as both times I tried the erasures I ended up putting back words that I thought I had erased, and erasing words I wanted to keep, so the image text is a bit different from my transcribed version, which is the “final” one.  The text was taken from The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin.


The nature of                                         hills,

High desert

High desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

blunt, burned, squeezed                out of chaos       chrome and vermilion


                plains full of intolerable sun               narrow

valleys drowned in    blue                                              streaked with

ash drift and                                 lava.          After rains

in the hollows,

dry lakes.                                                           the

rains                                                               dark and bitter,

with efflorescence.                                   A thin

crust                       along the marsh

has neither beauty nor freshness.                       broad wastes open to the

wind           sand drifts in hummocks                           and

between them                                                       The sculpture of

water work,                      the quick storms

scar them                                  In             the

desert               there are essays in miniature



      the hot stink of Death

the air has                     a tang of frost.                         long heavy

winds and                                                                dust devils

whirling up into          wide, pale sky            no rain

when         the earth cries for it

A land of lost rivers,

so                                little told of it.

Nature of Hills_0007


NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu #24 For the Ones at Shady Valley Residence




Today’s FPR prompt Day 24 comes from Craig Dworki, quoted here:

I am most often interested in seeing what language can do that it didn’t know it could do — in finding the imaginary solutions to questions we never thought to ask. Rather than seek le mot juste — the right word to convey some meaning — I am usually more inclined to see what meanings might arise from materially structured language (“where once one sought a vocabulary for ideas, now one seeks ideas for vocabularies,” as Lyn Hejinian put it). What, I try to ask, does language itself want to convey when given the chance? The hardest part of the task is being quiet enough to listening closely.

Take an erasure poem (FPR is full of them) and then add words to fill in the empty spaces in order to create a new text that flows naturally and coherently. Words should fit exactly — to the letter — so that the result appears to be perfectly justified prose. Don’t cheat by kerning.

You can see the full post and other poems here:

For my source document I chose an erasure poem that I created during PoMoSco, last April’s FPR challenge (well, while not strictly erased, it was cut out, which to me is effectively the same. It was done last April, and I did not go back to the original source document to make sure I was not simply filling in what was there before. It actually reads like a poem still, so I decided to leave in the line breaks rather than create a “perfectly justified prose” text as specified.  The added text is in bold italics. Below today’s piece is the poem I used for this prompt.

Heliotrope flowers

Heliotrope flowers (Wikipedia)


For the ones at Shady Valley Residence


Look first at the lonely people who line the corridors every morning
silent    through choice or the effects of illness

the frail ones whose cares are internal and entrap them
in lives that are small and gray
they just bide their time in the slow slide downhill

Methuselahs the nurses wash
and dress, no longer able to care for themselves
this one has drunk her medicine derived from  the poppy
She      drowses in the common room. Her clothing    
carries the scent of Heliotrope, an old woman smell.  

On a table vases hold masses of flowers – wrap
the urine-and-antiseptic air in a mask of roses and carnations.

The clock proves        it is morning;
in the garden   the bees dance.
but inside not one old woman is listening
from her shell of silence.

The last hour has been filled with rounds, doctors
and nurses, pills and therapy for stiff limbs
and rusty voices.

Visitors sit with family outside, one man blows ash
from his trousers, then coughs           through a haze of smoke.
Not all the residents have guests today. You can tell who,
because they sit surrounded in
So much silence.

Carol A. Stephen
April 24, 2016


My original cut-up poem shown below is titled Time Methuselahs