Found Haiku – Hey, when the prompt is “found”…

So, I was moved by the prompt today on the NaHaiWriMo site to try some more found haiku. The prompt was, of course “found.”

So, from today’s New York Times:

smiling through the rest
this prim, prudish part of me
a blade at the heart

(The New York Times Magazine, 06/01/14, pp. 34-39. Jesse Lichtenstein, “The Smutty Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas.”)

Two haiku on marriage:

at difficult times
the life cycle of being
she sings her way through

nothing prepares you
unexpectedly thrilling
(he dreams of leaving)

(The New York Times, 06/01/14, p. ST13. Linda Marx, “After the Guests Have Left.)

a bittersweet mood
at the sudden reunion
the years slipped away

(The New York Times, 06/01/14, p. TR10. Liesl Schillinger, “A Return to Nievre and to Childhood Memories.)


Oulipost #27: Irrational Sonnet

Today’s challenge: “Create a 14-line sonnet sourced from lines from your newspaper that is divided according to the first five digits of the irrational number pi – that is, into stanzas of 3, 1, 4, 1 and 5 lines.”

Knowing that I had relatively little time to meet this challenge today, I decided to see if I could create a sonnet using only the headlines from 04/27/14 edition of The New York Times.  Given the size of the Sunday paper, I had many headlines to choose from and began my work by writing down any that caught my attention, occasionally writing only a selected phrase, but usually the entire headline.  When I reviewed what I had written and broke the headlines into syllables, I had 15 that were 10 syllables in length, which is as close to iambic pentameter as I could get today.  Without further ado:

Irrational Headlines: A Raw Nerve

Conversation began and never stopped.
Ice climbing in a glacial paradise,
but her friends may have been more dangerous.

Architect of witty designs is dead.

Scots ponder, should they stay or should they go?
From outside or inside, the deck looks stacked.
Negatives seem to outweigh positives.
Time of soul-searching, not cynicism.

An audience stands up for a stand-in.

Unrelenting will toward victory.
The search for our inner lie detectors.
A portrait and the history it holds
giving voice to troubled relationships.
Returning to an “impossible” role.

Oulipost #25: Larding

Today’s challenge: “Larding: 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.”

To complete this challenge, I selected a variety of sentences from the articles referenced below.  I took the liberty of using selected phrases on occasion, and also omitted one or more words in a given phrase.  For this challenge, I’ve decided to show my work, so the reader can see the process.

Typical American Themes

He has long been an orphan.
There are a lot of big-picture questions.

He has long been an orphan.
An open birdcage inscribed “DIOS.”
There are a lot of big-picture questions.

He has long been an orphan.
It was the scene of a smashup in progress.
An open birdcage inscribed “DIOS.”
In the anxious smiles of others,
there are a lot of big-picture questions.

He has long been an orphan.
An era of lost illusions had begun.
It was the scene of a smashup in progress.
The sinister was subliminal at first.
An open birdcage inscribed “DIOS,”
much that seems cold and cynical
in the anxious smiles of others.
We’re in hell almost as soon as we arrive.
There are a lot of big-picture questions.

He has long been an orphan.
The clues are there from the start.
An era of lost illusions had begun.
It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for him.
It was the scene of a smashup in progress.
The numbered stickers were everywhere.
The sinister was subliminal at first.
There’s something unnerving about the exhibition of a corpse.
An open birdcage inscribed “DIOS.”
It does put a damper on the festivities,
much that seems cold and cynical.
They’re clean and pale, as aristocrats once were.
In the anxious smiles of others,
we occasionally forget that we’re heading into the abyss.
We’re in hell almost as soon as we arrive.
Relax – loosen up- be yourself!
There are a lot of big-picture questions.

Sources from the 04/25/14 New York Times. Barry, Dan. “Going, Going…” pp B10 and B19. Brantley, Ben. “Old Chums Return, Where The Club is Home,” pp. C1 and C15. Cotter, Holland. “Most Wanted, Most Haunted,” pp. C21 and C25. Dargis, Manohla. “Mom, That Fugitive Nazi is Making Faces at Me,” p. C10. Garner, Dwight. “The Office Space We Love to Hate,” pp. C21 and C29. Repold, Nicholas. “Searching For The Life That Belonged to a Body,” P. C10. Rosenberg, Karen. “That Little Lost Boy in Red, Back With His Family,” p.C26. Smith, Roberta. “James Franco,” p. C28. Stevenson, Alexandra & de la Merced, Michael. “Bare Knuckles at an Auction House,” pp. B1 and B6.

Oulipost #24: Homosyntaxism

Today’s challenge: ”

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.

Since many of the Ouliposters found themselves mystified by the parameters of this challege, I decided to interpret it in my own way by trying to create each of the four types of sentence (declarative, imperative, exclamatory and interrogatory) following the syntactic order of my source sentence.  My source text and all other words used in this challenge are from the 04/24/14 edition of The New York Times p. B1.  Grossman, John.  “Risqué Names Reap Rewards for Some Companies.”

Source text: “Everyone likes a little tongue in cheek.”


Risque´ Business

Anyone concoct a sassy creature of spam?

Somebody, export a salacious cupcake to Toronto!

Everyone enjoys a kickass wine in church.

They used a cheeky priest as attention-grabber!

Oulipost #23: Inventory

Today’s Challenge: “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.”

My source text for today is from p. C1 of The New York Times, 04/23/14. Brantley, Ben. “This is No Doctor. And No Lothario, Either.”

After making an inventory of the parts of speech in a selected passage from this article, I decided to rewrite the text omitting various parts of speech to create pieces of found poetry.  The truth is that the only found poem that seemed to work is the one that omitted the nouns and pronouns, so here it is:

No. And No, Either.

Do not be alarmed by recent that an irresistibly wholesome television has fallen deeply and helplessly into the that separates from, from and from.  Is no to fear for his, much less his. Quite the.

Playing an “internationally ignored song of undefinable,” in “And the Angry,” is in full of is and, most excitingly, has become with this.  Is a bona fide Broadway, the can rule with the of a sequined.

…And while may let see sweat as struts, slithers and leaps through shamelessly enjoyable, rousingly directed by (“Spring,” “American”) never makes feel like heavy.

The Inventory

Nouns: reports, Neil Patrick Harris, presence, gap, men women, East, West, celebrity, notoriety, need, safety, identity, contrary, stylist, gender, Hedwig, inch, Mr. Harris, command, performance, star, kind, audience, blink, eyelid, Mr. Harris, show, Michael Mayer, Awakening, Idiot, lifting

Verbs: do, be, has fallen, separates, is, to fear, playing, is, has become, is, can rule, may let, see, sweat, struts, slithers, leaps, directed, makes, feel

Adjectives: alarmed, recent, wholesome, television, no, his, his, ignored, song, undefinable, angry, full, this, bona fide, Broadway, sequined, enjoyable, heavy

Adverbs: not, irresistibly, deeply, helplessly, much less, quite, internationally, most, excitingly, shamelessly, rousingly, never

Pronouns: there, who, he, what, he, that, who, you, him

Conjunctions: and (5), with, as

Prepositions: by, into, from, from, from, for, of, in, in, through, by, that, that, like

Oulipost #22: Antonymy

Today’s challenge: “In Oulipian usage, antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite. Each word is replaced by its opposite, when one exists (black/white) or by an alternative suggesting antonymy (a/the, and/or, glass/wood).

Original: To be or not to be, that is the question.
Antonymy: To not be and to be: this was an answer.

Select a passage from your newspaper source text to complete this exercise.”

Saying the Opposite

That don’t I misname a nobody who
harvests facts, curtails assurance,
hinders thought that protects animal disease,
implants microscopic obscurity to failing to do so
and now mimes the opposite of, “That one? You?”

You’re oblivious to a particular unnatural verb
from the first-rate non-participator of that jumble.
But here was the inappropriate verb:
Jenny McCarthy!

Source: The New York Times 04/22/14. Bruni, Frank. ” Autism and the Agitator.”

Oulipost #21 Confabulation

Today’s challenge: Craft a conversation poem using “he said/she said” quotes that you find in newspaper articles.

I couldn’t resist two very contrasting articles from the front page of The New York Times 04/21/14 as my source texts for this challenge. Gabriel, Trip. “50 Years Later, Hardship Hits Back” and Kennedy, Randy. “MoMa’s Expansion and Director Draw Critics.”

Front Page Dialogue

She: “Mama couldn’t write, so, you know, there ain’t no names in it.”
He: “Something fundamental has been missed.”

She: “They want life to be better, but they just don’t know how.”
He: “It’s almost balletic the way they move and work together.”

She: “It’s like he’s in a hole with no way out.”
He: “I’m the kind of person who leads from behind, not in front.”

She: “ We’re isolated.”
He: “I’m deeply empathetic to the feelings that that has elicited from a community we care about.”

She: “I want to be one of the ones who get out of here.”
He: “If we were being criticized for being timid, that would upset me.”

She: “I really believe it’s my mission to do this.”
He: “We’re being criticized for engaging popular culture in interesting ways.”

She: “He’s going to be the next to die.”
He: “I’m a hyper-anxious person, so I’m always restless and anxious, and I try to compensate for that by breathing in and breathing out as calmly as I can.”

She: “It breaks my heart.”

Oulipost #19: Sestina

Today’s challenge: “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.”

This. Challenge. Kicked. My. Butt.


The bug was introduced this way.
The invisible backbone did not show.
Making the free software run
did not expose the critical damage.
A computer system needed a patch,
an encrypted network hacked this time.

The programmers ran out of time.
It took an entire year this way
to solicit donations for the patch
and for the updated fixes to show
responsibility for the damage,
the widespread panic of the run.

The debit cards some banks have run
expose stashes of data over time,
still vulnerable to damage.
Online security is on the way –
a small embedded chip will show
a full and integrated patch.

The volunteers will work to patch
open-source software set to run.
The bugs are shallow and they will show,
given enough eyeballs over time.
Programmers can be helped this way,
no longer vulnerable to damage.

A contradiction to the damage,
a major corporation assessing the patch,
seeing evidence of harm along the way.
Hackers use Heartbleed on the run,
using vulnerability to attack over time
as the flaws in software security show.

The confirmed cases of hacking will show
the widespread evidence of damage.
Infiltrations originated over time.
For code problems, we’ll create a patch.
Working together to make this run,
encouraging others on the way.

A ubiquitous Heartbleed of damage to patch –
A minimal option of time to run –
Unproved technology to show the way.

This bizarre effort comes to you courtesy of the following sources from The New York Times 04/19/14 Business Day section, pp. B1 and B2.  Perlroth, Nicole. “A Contradiction at the Heart of the Web.”  Perlroth, Nicole. “Hackers use Heartbleed to Hit ‘Major Corporation’.” Harris, Elizabeth A. “Michaels Stores’ Breach Involved 3 Million Customers>”

Oulipost #17: Haikuisation

Today’s challenge: “The haiku is a Japanese poetic form whose most obvious feature is the division of its 17 syllables into lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Haikuisation has sometimes been used by Oulipians to indicate the reduction of verses of normal length to lines of haiku-like brevity. Select three sentences from a single newspaper article and “haiku” them.”

warmed up, made tactile
marble can flow like fabric
a saffron city

(Source: 04/17/14 The New York Times. Lasky, Julie. “Putting a Pretty Face on It,” pp. D1 and D7.)

crouched at that campfire
some crackle of resistance
something that is us

(Source: 04/17/14 The New York Times. Brantley, Ben. “Hey, George, We Made It Back to Broadway,” pp. C1 and C5.)

Oulipost #16: Chimera

Today’s challenge: “The chimera of Homeric legend – lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail – has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.”  

This proved to be my most frustrating challenge by far in that I accidentally erased my completed poem and ended up spending twice the time on this and posting it late.  I am not at all sure that my second effort is as good as my first, but this challenge is now complete.

Potluck on the Page opens April 24 after sizable odds of panic inside and out on the modest, nearly cut-rate crowd attracted by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould.

The mousse has its herbal character, but is now an uninteresting clash, not a well-known dish. A narrow little recipe that suggests a brighter prognosis tweaks the mash-up, especially in the Luminous Chocolate, with its powerful lore, sense of honor, intriguing recovery and entry-level cult poem. The critic’s fatiguing theme is the Opulent Crockpot Cookbook, celebrating the Mercurial Kitchen and its knotty sensibility. Slightly fresher, with a syrupy example of cheese colonizing the treatment of cool rice and an adventure of the chef, it is offered with plush refreshing inducement and has a fresh, partly time-tested, prognosis along its rosy star. The exuberant Meaty Creation, refreshing, wet with unusual cultures and earthy potatoes, pops up beyond it.

All articles were taken from the Dining section of The New York Times, 04/16/14

(Base Text: Fabricant, Florence. “A Central Park Jewel Sparkles Again,” p. D5)

Tavern on the Green reopens April 24 after two years of work inside and out on the historic, nearly 150-year-old structure designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould.

The interior has its own grandeur, but is now a polished jewel, not an Oscar-night tiara. A dignified baronial setting that suggests a hunt club supplants the glitter, especially in the Bar Room, with its scarlet upholstery, sweep of mahogany, imposing fireplace and half-timbered cathedral ceiling. The tavern’s new centerpiece is the Central Park Room, replacing the Crystal Room and its showy excess. Slightly smaller, with a simple wall of glass facing the expanse of repaved terrace and a view of the park, it is outfitted with gracious pale upholstery and has a partly open 21st-century kitchen along its back wall. The elegant South Wing, pale green with leafy mirrors and traditional woodwork, extends beyond it.

(Noun Text: Willoughby, John. “In the Kitchen With Clementine and Ruth,” p. D5)

(Adjective Text: Asimov, Eric. “Making the Best of Bad Weather,” p. D4)

(Verb Text: Wells, Pete. “Where He Cooks, They Will Follow,” pp. D1 and D6)