1. Something you love.
2. A couple.
3. Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, cruelty — but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.
4. A pair of eyeglasses.
5. Something historical.
7. A pet who is loved.
8. Something personal.
9. A love poem!
10. Something you hate.
11. An adventure!
12. A favorite memory…
13. “Remember that time when…”
15. A happy ending.
16. A goodbye.
17. Write about your early memories of faith, religion, or spirituality; yours or someone else’s.
18. Describe a “first” (first apartment, first kiss, first time driving a car, first lie, first big success, first roller coaster ride, first time in this setting).
19. Write about one (or both) of your parents. Start with “I was born…”
20. A short fanfic.
21. Something erotic.
22. Something irritating.
23. An argument.
24. An important conversation, in the style of a movie script.
25. Describe a significant place, allowing the details to reveal why the place matters. Describe it from a tree or rooftop or from a hawk’s point of view. Describe it from the height of a dog or a turtle.
27. Write about your first name—why you were given it, what associations or stories are attached to it, what you think or know it means. Do the same for your last name. Given the chance, what name would you give yourself?
28. A suicide note.
29. An idea.
30. Choose a photograph from a published collection of black-and-whites, of humans in uncertain conditions. Write the story of one of the individuals or one of the groupings.
Something you love:
My fingers barely hold the pencil,
And my lines are thin and light,
But nonetheless it is poetry;
So I’m ignoring the world tonight.
I’ll shut myself up in my bedroom,
Turn a lamp on and crawl in bed;
I’ll take out a beaten notebook,
Let words free-fall from my head.
I’ll turn off all of my senses,
I’ll put a padlock on my door;
No one can ever disturb me,
Every distraction will be ignored.
For tonight I write the Iliad,
To this page, a Bible leaps;
If the Muses deem me worthy,
I’ll see it before I sleep.
Yeah, ok… but you might not like it.
“If Not Paris, Then Where?”
I met her in Paris. If I had met her in any other city, I probably would have ignored her glances without much of a thought. Girls are always looking at the guy behind me. But this was Paris, and I thought if there was anyplace in the world that I might find romance, it was here. In fact, looking back, I think perhaps that was a big part of my reason for going in the first place.
It turned out she WAS looking at me.
That guy on the boat was looking at me, and after a while I matched him stare for stare, trying to get him to stop. But then he walked over to me, hesitantly, like a puppy that’s been beaten too many times. I immediately knew what he must have thought I meant by my glances, and I felt sorry for him. I didn’t really want to say no to him and become the latest in a string of rejections.
So I agreed to coffee.
The date was a disaster. It was dark and I got lost, so I was ten minutes late. When I did finally get there, I bumped the table sitting down and spilled her coffee. She waved off my apology, but I think she minded more than she let on. What’s more, when I butchered my vowels trying to order for the both of us, she just hid a smile and didn’t say anything.
I think I talk too much.
The guy is cute, I’ll give him that. Dark hair, lovely eyes, dresses well. He’s a little klutzy, but that’s not so bad; God knows I’ve spilled my share of coffee. I’d planned on leaving after thirty minutes or so, but we talked for almost two hours. He’s just so incredibly passionate about things. And he speaks a bit of French! This stranger from Chicago is more impressive than he seems.
I invited him into my apartment.
I suspect it may have been pity sex. It was almost definitely pity sex.
Oh, it was so GOOD!
I left that morning and went back to my hotel. I suppose Paris isn’t the place to find romance, after all.
I couldn’t find him in the morning, so I just assumed he’d call eventually.
The plane was delayed for twenty minutes, so I finished more of my book on the way home than I thought I would. I tried not to think about her too much.
I waited a week, but he never called. I can’t help but wonder why. I gave him all the signals I could. Am I simply that unappealing? God, I can’t stop thinking about him.
Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, cruelty — but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.
Hmmm… fear, I guess.
Fear is a pretty nasty thing. It makes us reluctant to go outside, it makes us hesitant to try new things, and it makes us resistant to change. Fear cripples people. Fear is the reason that there aren’t more skydivers and pole vaulters and swimmers. People fear pain, they fear death, they fear heights, they fear spiders, they fear the dark, and they fear being alone almost as much as they fear people.
We live in a culture where it’s ok to be afraid. People understand when I decline boating trips and surfing and pool days, because all I have to do is say, “I almost drowned as a kid,” and they leave me alone.
But screw that. I actually think fear is pretty cool, too. Because when we get past it, when we finally say, “Sure, I’ll take swimming lessons. I’ll crush that spider. I’ll go skydiving,” it feels all the better. It’s like when you get confused, and you just don’t understand something, and you think, and you don’t get it, and then all of a sudden: epiphany. That sudden moment of clarity is incredibly satisfying. Nothing matches the joy of epiphany, and nothing compares to the feeling of overcoming a fear. Humans have a natural drive to conquer things, and in this plastic-wrapped world of lawsuits and disinfectant, there isn’t much to conquer except fear.
Fear is the body’s natural reaction to change and distress. But we are literally biologically optimized for constant change, and we were designed to withstand a lot more stress than you might think. So sleep with the lights off. Ask her out. Go surfing. You don’t have much to lose.
And who knows? You might become a badass in the process.
A pair of eyeglasses.
Yeah, ok… frickin’ depressing, though.
My Grandfather’s Eyes
They sit on the table, refracting light
From the window in the kitchen.
They’ve been sitting there for days,
Forgotten in the rush to the door.
Even if someone had remembered,
By the time they got to the hospital,
He wouldn’t have needed them anyway.
My grandfather’s eyes were warm,
And he never seemed far from laughter.
But now he and his eyes are cold,
And I’ll never see them or him again.
They closed his eyes at the ceremony,
But I snuck in with his eyeglasses,
And put them on his sleeping face.
My Dearest Sarah,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know it has been long weeks since last you heard of me, and it may yet come to pass that you see me before this letter, for these these letters undoubtedly come late, and I ache to see you again.
This war is taking longer than most of us had anticipated; I am plagued by constant noise, vermin, and fatigue; and indeed, the ever-present hope that I might yet see you before the year is out remains the only bright spot in these dark days. Many of my compatriots have perished, and in the heart of battle, I admit that fear takes hold of my heart and sinks in its teeth. Even so, I am able to fend off my foes, both physical and spiritual, by the constant thought of you.
Don’t be foolish. Daydreaming in the midst of battle is apt to make mincemeat of you. I urge you to keep your head, and save the florid prose for when you return home in one piece and propose to me.
Eesh. Ok, so this’ll be non-autobiographical.
My mother was the kind of mother that never used food from a can, and never forgot any recipe, even if it was only told to her once and quickly. Someone would tell her in July about a new way to prepare turkey, and when Thanksgiving came and she got the chance to try it for the first time, you’d think she’d been cooking turkey that way since the dawn of time.
My father was the kind of father you sometimes see on television. He would come home from work and sit in the hollow of the couch and watch sports. For days on end, all he would say to anyone was “Beer,” with a little wave of his finger. I don’t know how my mother put up with him. Some nights he would go out with his friends, and my mother and all of us siblings would rent a movie. But that was not as often as I liked.
My sisters were the kind of sisters that beat people up for me when I was small. They were sometimes like three mothers, making sure I wasn’t getting into trouble, but usually they were like three sisters, getting me out of it. I remember that one day, after I heard my friends talking about their siblings, I asked one of them why they had always been so nice to me. ”Don’t be stupid,” she said, and punched my arm. ”It’s because we are family.”
I am the kind of person that never knows what to do. I am not good at making decisions, and I will hesitate for several minutes trying to choose between a Milky Way and a Snickers. In school, tests are always very hard. Especially multiple-choice questions; I leave a lot of those blank. My teacher says that is no way to get into college, so I suppose I won’t. I don’t think I could pick one anyway. Someday I will have to tell my mother this, but for now I don’t think I’ll risk it, just in case she says I can’t eat her cooking anymore.
A pet who is loved.
Ok, please note that this is written at 2 in the morning, because I’m going up to Berkeley today and won’t have any way to post this until tomorrow unless I do it now.
Also note that I have NO idea where I was going with this. You’ll notice that the first six lines rhyme, and theres a bit of random meter and rhymes, but on the whole I completely failed to adhere to any sort of consistent structure.
Also note that animals DO love me, squirrels have eaten out of my hand, and once, a glorious once, a bird deemed my shoulder a worthy perch. *shrug*
Man, this doesn’t even fit the prompt. Eesh.
Animals love me, but I’m not sure why.
I can stick my hand out at a strange canine
(If they can smell fear, they can smell mine)
And they’ll lick it like crazy, every time.
Cats come when I call them, most of the time
Even when their owners say don’t even try,
They’ll look over casually and then stroll over
And they’ll demand a petting, but they’ll come
Birds will perch on my finger, even wild ones.
I saw a bluejay once. It wasn’t afraid of me,
And stayed to humor my human idiocy,
And only flew away when I turned around.
Squirrels eat out of my hand, for some reason.
I gave one an Altoid once, but it spit it out,
And looked at me like I was a complete moron,
So I scratched behind its ear until it forgave me.
Children love me too, but not in the same way.
They like me because I remember how to play,
And when I draw, I doodle things they like,
And I agree when they say their parents are evil.
But I always say afterward, “Little kids, you gotta realize,
Just because they’re evil doesn’t mean they don’t love you.”
And they look at me closely, watching my eyes for lies,
And they shrug a little bit and they say, “We know.”
I’m going to cheat and repost something. I’m tired today and I don’t want to be bothered.
You are walking along, a few short blocks from your house,
Going no place in particular, just walking, and up ahead,
Some Mexican kids, fourteen maybe, not much older than you,
In big white shirts and baggy black pants, swaggering,
Are ten seconds from nearing you on the sidewalk.
“Gringo,” one sneers. Paleface is a curse word on this block,
And your white-kid attitude shows forth just a little bit,
And you mutter a tired “shut up” as you pass. You say it low,
But with just enough volume to make sure he heard.
A feeling turns you around, and in a second, he’s on you.
His fists split your lip, and your nose is bleeding, too much.
His buddies join in and soon you can’t see past your blood.
You are on your knees, hands upraised like a sinner.
You have just enough breath to beg for mercy, for forgiveness,
But they just laugh and kick your stomach until you vomit,
Slowly rocking in the fetal position as they work you ribs
With steel-toed field-worker boots that never wear out:
One two three One two three One two three One two three…
For the rest of your life, you feel the rhythm in your belly.
Sixty years old, remembering that rhythm and that insult,
You glare hatefully at Dr. Valdez, your new heart surgeon.
A love poem.
I heard somewhere that two pieces of a heart,
When joined, would beat together.
If this is true, then let’s dance to the hospital.
Let’s cut our hearts in half and put the halves together,
So our hearts will keep time with each other,
Even if you are on the other side of the world.
Something you hate.
I really frickin’ hate when shitty songs come up on iTunes shuffle. That is all. I’ve got homework today, and I’m tired, and I’m a little ticked off at some other things, and I’ve bloody written a scene already today, and I don’t think, right now, that this is necessary. Have a comic instead.
This comes straight from the world of “Gunslinger,” which is the working title for a current project. This is prose, but the final thing will most likely be a graphic novel. You can see the preliminary little things I’ve been doing with all this at http://www.salsideproject.tumblr.com/
John closed his eyes and fondly thought of cigarettes. Goddamn, he thought, what I wouldn’t give for just one. He opened one eye, to check on the buzzard. The bird stared back. He’d been sitting in the shadow of this rock, not so healthy but completely whole, for almost three hours now, and that dang bird still thought he was getting a piece of John Rigby.
He closed his eyes again. Weren’t you supposed to want water in the desert? The thirst was killing him, and the heat too, but right now the only thing he could think of wanting was a smoke, aside from not dying.
It was only a few hours to noon, and then the shadow would be gone. He’d already been forced to curl his legs to prevent his feet from being scorched. What’s more, even if he didn’t faint of sunstroke, it would only get hotter here on out, and it was damned hot already.
He struggled to get his eyes open again, and saw that the buzzard had hopped a few inches closer. John managed to open his lips, but couldn’t produce much more than a croak, so he flailed one arm. The bird hopped back, but kept eyeing him. Damn. He was going to have to do something soon, or that blasted vulture would get his dinner after all. Maybe even lunch.
He searched his mind for something to use as motivation. He was dead tired, and the thought of death wasn’t quite enough to get him on his feet. Cigarettes. God, he wanted a cigarette. There are cigarettes in town, he told himself. You can have a smoke in town.
He got to his feet, and was blinded by the light and heat, kneeling down involuntarily. He forced himself back up, eyes nearly closed to the glare, skin already burning from the sun. But he knew which way was west, and he knew that the town was somewhere back there. He started toward the buzzard, which awkwardly flapped into the sky, casting back a disappointed look. John smiled as best he could with cracked lips. Not this time, bird. I gotta get me a cigarette.