This prompt is called, “Word Tumble.” Everyone writes down ten words they like; these can be slang or latinate, it doesn’t matter. Once everyone has ten words, I ask them to write five sentences, using two of the words in each sentence. But here’s the trick: the sentences have to be nonsensical. They can’t really make sense.
This is a challenge for most of us, but it really takes us out of our literal, logical mind, and offers us a chance to be zany and playful. Then we read three of them out loud (and laugh, although some of the sentences are eerie or even beautiful).
I wrote down a few phrases that caught my attention:
You pretentious oxymoron.
Grace is gone.
Fresh shit from your consciousness.
What I wrote is below.
“Don’t,” she says. “Just don’t!”
“But I’m almost there!” I plead. “Just one more–”
“Give it up!” she says, pushing me aside, getting up from the bed. “I am so tired of this shit.”
Here she goes.
“I mean, what more do I have to do? Cherry trees are blooming on 26th Street, daffodils are playing their yellow trumpets in the backyard, and men in jockstraps and boots are looking you up and down like they want to eat every inch of you. What more do you want from me?”
I hate it when she gets like this.
“I mean it, Man,” she says, throwing a sweater over her body, pale and Botticelli beautiful. “I’ve done everything I can to help you out.”
“It’s not my fault!” I argue, sliding to the edge of the bed, Harriet Doerr’s novel butterflied open and face down beside me. “I haven’t had time to write, I–”
“Save it,” she says, slipping on my neoprene sandals, walking out.
“Where are you going?” Then I hear her clanking through the bottles in the liquor cabinet.
“You’re drinking?” I ask, trying to hide the accusation in my voice.
“You’ve driven me to it,” she snaps, stomping into the kitchen, grabbing a coffee mug, filling it with brandy. “Maybe when I’m good and drunk you’ll start acting sensibly.”
The early spring sun is filling the kitchen table, and the African violet is reaching toward it. In the yard below, two hummingbirds are chattering in what I’m sure is an argument over the tiny feeder of sugar water.
“You’re my muse!” I holler, grabbing the mug from her, brandy sloshing over the edge onto the jute rug. “You’re supposed to be patient and kind and–”
“What a load of crap!” she says, grabbing the mug, taking a gulp.
“Stop it!” I say, but she takes another swig and downs the rest.
“You stop it,” she says. “Stop reading Facebook, and getting stoned, and watching YouTube videos. Start saying no and reading only on weekends. Submit that fucking poem and open up that file, and finish your novel draft!”
“Wow,” I say.
“Yeah,” she says. “Wow.”
“I have to rest,” I argue. “I need more time to rest.” I think of Sinead O’Conner singing, I need to write it all down/And rest for awhile.
“You can rest when you’re dead,” my muse says. Then she puts the mug in the sink and walks right out my front door without any pants on.
She’s got a beautiful ass, but I like her pretty face so much better.