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handy tips for the apocalypse

Digging back through some old Zelda's Inferno exercises, I stumbled on this bit of doggerel. With December 21, 2012 coming up it seemed like a good time to share it. :-)

handy tips for the apocalypse:

if thoughts of destruction are dumbfounding
heed this advice to keep from floundering:

when the earth is hit by the asteroid
it won't matter if you're man or android

'cause when it hits it'll crush the planet
like a rotten pomegranate

Zelda's Inferno exercise: paper and chalk; climbing a chain link fence

Zelda's Inferno exercise: one (or more!) of the following, from

- Write a poem using the prompt: "chain-link fence"
- Write a poem about a very small object.
- Write a three part poem using "metronome".
- Write a poem based on the concept or idea of a "Mobeus strip".
- Write a poem using, "paper and chalk".

I remember middle school art class
drawing on paper with chalk
rubbing the pigment into the paper
the texture of the thick manila paper, the powdery chalk
sent a nauseous chill down my nervous system
gut-deep and inexplicable response


Zelda's Inferno exercise: Cooking

Zelda's Inferno exercise:

pick one: from

- Write a poem that starts at the end, moving backwards.
- Write a poem about things that are transparent.
- Write a poem using the following start: "What good is a day..."
- Write a poem about seasonings. For example, "Salt and Saffron".
- Write a poem that starts with a one word title, two words in the first line, three in the next, and continues by adding one word per line.


Pepper. And?
Turmeric. What else?
Let's see. Coriander? Ok.
Shake the bottles, a benediction
over vegetables waiting in the pan.

I don't really know what I'm doing
whether the result will prove to be edible.
I learned to cook like I learned to love:
with no teacher, making it up as I go along,
each attempt a fresh experiment and many of them flaming disasters.
When it works, I'm as confused as anyone as to what happened.


Zelda's Inferno exercise: the local roads twist and turn; guaranteed room

Zelda's Inferno exercise: use one or more of the following phrases (randomly selected from a newspaper) as a base, and write from it:

meandering local roads twist and turn
the ability to be by themselves
guaranteed room upgrade
the only detail that stands out
people drew lots to find out

the local roads twist and turn and you can't see where you're going, what's
      around the corner, a hill or a valley or a big truck coming
      the other way or a deer standing in the middle of the pavement or...

the local roads twist and turn like the small intestine, like their job was to
      absorb you rather than to get you from one place to another,
      so that by the time you get to the end all the nutrients would be drained from you...


Zelda's Inferno exercise: spirals

Zelda's Inferno exercise: (from

Write a poem about something that "spirals".


Write a poem using images of things that are connected, such as "paperclip(s)", or "trains".


Write a poem about a very small object.

qi --
that energy in martial arts and acupuncture and the like --
moves in spirals
or so I have been told
like water in the drain
or the stars of the galaxy slowly falling into the center
or the spiral dance


Zelda's Inferno exercise: "this moment appears, then compose a poem"

Dochong: So, what you are saying is that only just this moment, whatever appears is usually your subject for a poem.

Zen Master Seung Sahn: Exactly, this moment appears, then compose a poem.

-- "Zen and Poetry: a Brief Conversation",

this moment appears, then compose a poem
this moment August 5 2012
this moment of late summer melancholy already descending
of unsettled heart mourning the loss of love


Zelda's Inferno exercise: "beautiful and terrible"

Zelda's Inferno exercise (first in several weeks, due to being on the road): poem from the following list of words, generated from the theme "invisible stuff":

ego, wind, ghosts, fear, misconceptions, thread, some faeries, breath, cycle, gravity, lust, disease, joy, magnetism, oxygen, routines

this beautiful planet will
kill you dead
without a backwards glance

beautiful and terrible
ancient people personified it with faeries
some kind, some deadly
all to be respected
like gravity
or the winds of a storm


Zelda's Inferno exercise: gathering rubbish in the corner of the harbor

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem using at least half of the following words (from

contrary rubbish leading twisting count disco gathering double inject name two straight rural west inefficient

gathering rubbish in the corner of the harbor
twisting current leading together
empty potato chip bags and styrofoam cups and sticks and leaves
double down with a dead fish
floating on its side
one eye staring straight up at the sky

sometime I want a team with skimmer nets to walk the edge of the harbor --
I don't care if its inefficient --
just to pick out the garbage others throw in or let be washed in

it's sort of like
inside my head
bit of garbage injected in advertisers, salesmen, bankers, priests,
every so often I must walk the perimeter of the mind
remove that which does not belong
clean the trash dumped by others
the dead fish of expired ideas, rotting


Zelda's Inferno exercise: "streaks across my mind"

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write a poem from the following wordlist, around the theme "bugs hitting the windshield":

smattering, *sad, *smear, *wiper, *streaks, *ending, goo, spray, salutations, *fear, *blood, wing, *extinguish, crescent, oogie, squish

streaks across my mind that
I don't see every day
like streaks on the bathroom mirror that you only see when it fogs up
thought you'd wiped them away but
there they are again
manifesting when conditions are sufficient


Zelda's Inferno exercise: softly spoken syllables

Zelda's Inferno exercise: writing from the opening line, "softly spoken syllables"

softly spoken syllables
whispered words
quiet conversations
between lovers
between parent and child
between the wind and the trees


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