Cryptic Poems

Yuki Means Happiness will be published on July 27th, the novel I recently finished is getting feedback, and I'm as yet too busy to start the one I'm planning. So I'm between projects. When that happens, I turn my hand to shorter pieces. I send out short stories to literary magazines and contests, I mess around with audio (see previous post), and I write poems. 

I'm a big cryptic crossword fan, and the other day I noticed a clue that felt poetic to me, so I scribbled it down and took it up to my office. I decided to use it as a writing prompt for a poem, with the challenge of using the clue as the first line, and ending the poem with the answer as the last word. My brain has loved the exercise. Here are the two completed so far. I know I'll do more!

26 Across

Bored, having seen tide turn at sea,

not having felt a thing,

I nosed my kayak to the horizon.

“The tide has turned,” people say ominously,

always giving me a sense of the surge

from ‘i’ to ‘ur’ when they do.

The figurative water moves powerfully, one way

Or the other.

Sitting, literally, in my kayak,

Watching the waves overreach themselves

up the beach,

and then desist,

I felt no gravity in the change.

Human tides are more dramatic at the turning point.

The tide turned.

I paddled away,



12 Across

Old joke about man, saint and fiend

dragged its way around the bar, over months,

a contagious yawn zigzagging

among the drinkers.

Widowers leaned in,

Brilliantine to Brilliantine.

Young men spoke it

into the air under their baseball caps.

It moved more slowly

when women were present;

was forgotten completely,

left to wait for peace to settle,

when Mercedes Rodriguez

proceeded to her table,

flashed her porcelain teeth,

and traced,

with the ends of her tapered fingers,

the knots in the chestnut.

Rant, with haiku

The other day I wrote a rant to a young friend who is studying poetry and is unable to write at the moment. Unable to write, unable to reveal. Just in case you're struggling too, I'll copy it in here. Stop reading now if four-letter words offend you.

"Fuck writer's block. It's a term I don't countenance. Sure, it's hard to write when the brain has been taken over by the little amygdala (so small, so much power), but it's not impossible. Sometimes it's just that the tools don't suit the moment. For me, when I'm struggling, the WORST place to be is at my computer. For the moments when my brain goes quiet, I keep a notebook by my elbow. The current one is a Dr. Who TARDIS notebook. The stupider the notebook the better. Keep it low key. Use a pen or pencil you like. Open the notebook and doodle around. Or if that doesn't work, get a piece of newspaper and a crayon. I once wrote something pretty good on the back of about ten free postcards I picked up at a kiosk by a museum. Try haiku. If writing feels too big, make it small. I wrote one yesterday, 5-7-5:

The wind blows with the

Sound of lovers tussling in

Fine expensive sheets

Little poems get the water flowing in the pipes.

So please fuck writer's block. Get a big piece of paper and a crayon and draw a picture. Draw a woman and a speech bubble and see what words go in the speech bubble. Jump up and down and get angry and when your arm is shaking with fury pick up a pen and write that shit down. There is no writer's block. Only a hand with no crayon in it.

You got this."