Tag Archives: acrostic

Here is a drawing I’ve been working on and off on for several days. It started as a study of chicken bones, and then the wishbones seemed to want to talk to each other and the Universe, so element by element the drawing came to stochastic life. It told me to have implied stories here and there, and I did my best to oblige. The last thing it told me was to sign it and stop, and think of it kindly as a possible future painting. It feels unfinished-yet-not, as if “in medias res” is essential to its being. If I do make a painting of it the strategy will be alla prima in bluish violet–maybe.

This post is titled “faux tableaux” because the implied stories are not part of a play nor historical description; also, with Faux being four letters and Tableaux being eight, the title lends itself to the Acrostic poetic form I have been specializing in for more than a decade. Usually I include the poem on the image, but the image is busy enough as it is, so I’m going hyperdimensional and letting it stand separately below.

faux tableaux

far-flinging tenancy undue
adds more to addled syn&tax – a
unit’s cubic aperçu
x-rays the law and says relax

Now, what does that all mean? Well, “far-flinging” might be referring to the implied Disc Golf game in progress in the image; but Far-Flung colloquially means a deviation from reality. Tenancy is an official melding of being and location. Undue implies both unexpected and unwanted. Put them all together and they feed the next line’s “adds more to addled syn&tax” with the made-up wordmash “syn&tax” having a first syllable connoting both Synthetic and Sin, the last syllable connoting both a surcharge and a burden, and the ampersand gluing them together. Meter and rhyme are preserved by the appended dash and indefinite article; read aloud, the third line would begin with “A.” “A unit’s cubic aperçu” shows both the glory and the shame of my quasi-acrostic construction. “Unit” was chosen because it starts with a U and yet must phonetically start with a consonant; otherwise “A” would have to be “An.” And “aperçu” was chosen to rhyme with Undue (though it doesn’t, quite, English speakers unfamiliar with French will impart the Ooh sound to the last syllable, and not the French U sound, which is “ooh” with a hint of “ee”) and also because I flat-out love the word, with its magic cedilla and its densely-packed meaning of “a comment or brief reference that makes an illuminating or entertaining point” into only six letters. As a composer of acrostic poetry I have leaned on “aperçu” often as a line-ending word. I don’t apologize. I’m grateful to have it to use.

The third line feeds into the fourth. “A unit’s [someone’s] cubic [adding a third dimension] aperçu [spoken perceptive observation] x-rays the law {analyzes codified custom] and says relax [things ARE chaotic but are not as gruesome as they seem].”

A classmate of mine recently disparaged me as a “third-rate poet” who does “weird drawings.” To my knowledge he does not write poetry at all, and by his admission he can’t draw his way out of a wet paper bag. (To his credit, he publicly apologized later, saying he was retaliating for some unkind remarks I made about his selfies.) The truth is I’ll take Third-Rate over Nonexistent, and Weird over Nonexistent as well, any day. No one else on Earth is doing what I am doing, the way I am doing it, and it keeps me sane and out of trouble to boot. Bonus! 🙂

2022 0514 wake time rest

Wake (TIME) Rest

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow…” Roethke

What a restless Night!!! Oh, dear
Ah, well–we will persevere
Keep the fate and make the mess
Ever hoping ever blest

Afterword: What does it mean to keep the Fate and not the Faith? Adam Clayton Powell, long ago, said “Keep the faith, Baby…and spread it gently.” My late, great Outlaw Uncle, Paul, sent me a condolence note in 1983 after my father died, and he hand-wrote “Keep the faith Gary” in it. Keeping the Fate is as close as I can get: keeping vertical, plugging away for betterment, trying to enjoy and engage and become to create the best Fate I can. Here’s hoping you also do joyful Fate-Keeping, Friends.

2022 0322 snap shot stage 40001
I hope it’s evident by now that “snap shot” as an acrostic has many different solutions. This one’s Snap is a Ginger Snap, and its Shot is the Ball Shot used in antique weaponry. Conjoin them and you get a Snapshot.

snap shot

slung projectiles do impress
nailing bone and hapless flesh
all too soon we both must go
piorrette et piorrot

Once again the French language comes to my rescue to rhyme a word that ends in o and a word that ends in t. I’m especially grateful for the David Bowie quotation “I am Piorrot. I am Everyman.” So the “we” the poem refers to is Everyman and Everywoman, and Everyone else. You and I, Friend. Though we must go all too soon, we are here in the eternal Now. May we use Now to the kindest advantage.

2022 0320 snap shot stage 3
Here’s another and different yield from the “snap shot” acrosticon. This partakes of certain establishments that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Here in the Southwestern United States of America we call them “bars.” Sometimes they are themed. A place with a lot of television screens channeled to sporting events is called a Sports Bar.  A place where patrons who wish to sing are given a microphone and the lyrics to the song they requested is called a Karaoke Bar. A place where silicone-enhanced young women do a pole-enhanced dance and progressively take off their clothing is called by many a Titty Bar, though I, who am no stranger to such places, prefer the term Strip Joint.

Such places exist to spice up people’s lives, so that they can be more rowdy or outlawish or looking-for-love or otherwise fantasy-indulgent than their everyday activities allow.

The “snap” of this acrostic is the snap of a finger. People snap their fingers at poetry events when the poet has said something eloquent or otherwise noteworthy. Jazz lovers may snap their fingers in sync with a beat. Sometimes a finger-snap accompanies a “Eureka!” moment when a person figures out something that had eluded them. And, recently and cinematically, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Snap” performed by whoever was wearing the gauntlet ensconcing the Infinity Stones enabled the snapper to reshape the Universe Itself.

In short, the Finger Snap has a rich and various connotation.

The Shot is also numinous. Almost all bars have shotglasses, into which spiritous liquors are poured. A Shot is the contents of a shotglass.

Well, enough exposition. If I want to have a Shot at holding your attention, I’d better make it Snappy. 🙂

snap shot

staccato finger-poppy sounds
napkin-resting thing o’ hooch
at th’ bar will shakespeare’s zounds — o
please knock it off or get the boot

2022 0319 snap shot stage two

Here is one way “snap shot” might go. Were this image taken to its conclusion, the background would be made to evoke “bombs bursting in air” explosions, illustrating “war’s desolation,” backstopping these words:

snap shot

silhouettes and aftershocks
now reveal the cost of wrath
are we safe inside our box? o
potentates won’t stand for that

It seems to fit the acrostic, with immediacy in the Snap, and destructive chaos in the Shot.

Suppose, though, we’d had enough of war, and rumors of war. We might take the same acrostic and evoke something more sweet and innocent:

2022 0319 snap shot stage 2a

snap shot

sage & salt & sassafras
nature spices up our hash
applesauce & ice cream too
pastries make a passe-partout

And the background would be pastoral, and perhaps there’d be a spot illustration of an Ice Cream Social. The acrostic works with a little stretching, since Ginger Snaps are cookies, and Jello Shots are “desserts.”

Does the artist want to Work, at getting a point across and influencing away from violence, or Play, doing some feel-good ain’t-it-great-to-be-alive uplift? Is she or he or they more or less an artist for going against the grain of natural inclination for the sake of a soapbox, or taking the easy way out and producing a more free-flowing expression?

Friends, THIS artist wants to do it all. If you look over my nearly two thousand blog posts, you’ll see my spectrum ranges from Goofissimo to Muy Serioso. Slapdash and meticulous; flighty and pondersome; looking into the Abyss and daydreaming about the Stars. As Walt Whitman pointed out, he contradicts himself because he is Large and contains Multitudes.

And so it is with you, Friends. Hope you have plenty of Love and Enjoyment in and among your Multitudes! 🙂

2022 0318 snap shot stage one

This morning I unblanked a page to the extent that you see above. There is a temptation to make two dozen or so artworks based on this image, and challenge myself to make them different enough so that each piece offered something none of the others did, and yet the whole of them would make a worthwhile exhibit in a reputable art gallery or museum. Ambition fuels achievement, and even if the goal went unachieved, or otherwise a failure, I have some confidence that the six months or so effort I see going into the endeavor described would be time well spent.

On the other side of my psyche, there are these wild horses stuck in their gates at the start of the race, and they want OUT and they want  to RUN and STRAIN and FINISH THE RACE will all due speed, and some undue speed that risks injury.

In the middle and reasonable region of my mind, there is a person who looks a little like Groucho Marx and a little like Morgan Freeman and a little like Eleanor Roosevelt, and that amalgamated chorus of reason says to explore some, but don’t get carried away. I think this imagined trifold of humanity makes the most sense.

Why do artists makes artwork? There is no one reason, but there are a few main reasons. One is the simple urge to bring something into being. One is to advocate a point of view, be it “Isn’t this bowl of fruit lovely?” or “The End of the World is Nigh.” One is to have something to trade for groceries or adventures. One is to try to make sense out of a tiny square footage of the Universe.

What drives me may be nothing more than addiction to expression. I’ve been drawing since I was two and a half years old, and I wrote the first of my thousands of poems and other creative writing when I was seven. I like making myself, and then my friends, and then the world, something to look at and something to think about. So today, to kick things off, I started drawing tiny circles on the page, one by one, asking and answering “Where should the next one go, and how big should it be?” Soon there was dialog, with circles saying “Concentrisize me” or “give me a sister” or “Geez it’s crowded in here.” A few said “Convey a gravity well.” And then they all said “Make us the background of a double-acrostic poem.” Instantly “SNAP SHOT” came to mind. It feels like it pushed itsd way up from my subconscious.

End of stage one. Stage two follows, sooner or later…

2021 1019 niceness

A few days ago I went to a multi-year high school reunion of my fellow Glendale High School alumni. We were almost all in our late 60s and early 70s. Compared to our high school selves, we were almost to a person saggy and baggy and crepey and creaky and greyish and bulky, but not sulky, rather cheerful, glad to be vertical, glad to see friends. I came away with a good feeling, a nice feeling, and somehow the lens of that evening obscurely guided my pencil and my wordstacker.


now we hoist a cup or stein
in a toast to life divine
cherishing our kin and friends
effervescence never ends

2020 0128 jess

Two days ago on Facebook I posted a Bad Pun Brain Teaser. I asked my audience which John Denver song was the favorite of Belfast resident Leland Finn. I added that the first person with the correct answer would be the subject of a custom-crafted, illustrated acrostic poem. The acrostic would be a pun on some form of the winner’s name.

Quite soon after I posted, Jessica answered correctly with “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Friends, please take a moment to try to deduce why Belfast resident Leland Finn would regard “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as his favorite song.

Got it? No? Well, Jess DID get it–that the (nonexistent) Leland Finn, also known as Lee Finn, might love airplane travel so much that “Lee Finn on a Jet Plane” might tickle his fancy.

Anybody groan with displeasure? I did, again, and I wrote the damned thing. It is not just a Bad Pun–it is a WRETCHED Pun. But it made a good Brain Teaser for the agile brain of Jessica “Hot Jess” Ballantyne.

So a deal’s a deal, and Jess, Congratulations, and I hope you like it!

Won’t You Be My Ballantyne?

What a Pleasure ’tis to B
On a Role with scones and tea
Ne’er a Worry e’er a Thrill
‘Tis a maid with looks to Kill
Yesterday in Slam’s arena
Awesome Tactics meat and Vegan
Bittersweetness to a T
Esoteric artistry
May this Worthy Lass long reign
Young and gleefully Insane


2019 1216 aunt diane

Here is a true and recent story about my Aunt, Diane Householder Norrbom.

A couple of weeks ago Diane’s sister, my Mother, Jane Stoneman, had half her power go out in her house when lightning struck quite nearby. Supposedly all fuses and breakers were checked. Two major electrical firms, George Brazil and Parker Brothers, were called for diagnosis and help. The George Brazil estimate came in at $14,000. Parker Brothers wanted $11K. Diane drives over from California. Finds a fuse box no one checked, including the two prestigious firms listed above. Finds replacement fuses in a drawer. Hey, presto–full power.

But it gets worse, then better. Some signs all is not right. Home security batteries need to be replaced, plus at least one surge protector. Diane goes to Home Depot. “Picked up a guy there who said he was an electrician,” says Diane. She took him to Mom’s and he finds that the intermittent-outage problems that are still occurring are due to APS (Arizona Public Service Company, Mom’s power supplier) not doing a good job when they switched Mom to a “smart meter.” They call APS. APS checks, ACKNOWLEDGES FAULT, and makes things right. Mom’s house’s wiring fully restored. Diane spent a LOT less than a grand–maybe between $250 and $500–to completely fix the problem, and update the maintenance on the alarm system’s backup power to boot.

At the same time, she got Mom a new, dependable yard guy, who worked tirelessly to clear tree-debris and get Mom’s yard back on track. She did a boatload of other things too. All in one long weekend.

So this is my salute to her. It’s awfully clumsy. Diane is Beautiful, but my portrait of her is off the mark, because, as always with those I care deeply about, I tried too hard and clenched up. But the respect and love is there.

In the poem, I call her an “Uber-Mama.” That’s not saying she drives an Uber. It’s saying she’s the Mama of all Mamas. Heck, she’s even playing Mama to MY Mama at this point. She has a power of attorney, and thank Heaven she does–enough said about that!

I also compare her to Top Ramen, that favorite of college students, because Dirt Cheap Yet Gets The Job Done. It is extraordinarily difficult to get Diane to agree to be reimbursed for the many things she’s done on Mom’s behalf.

The poem refers to a “passe-partout.” A Passe-Partout is a key that will get you through any door. I have barely scratched the surface of all the doors Diane has opened along her journey. She is an incredible survivor, and beloved by many.

My Amazing and Heroic Aunt Diane

Matriarch and Uber-Mama
Youngster (in your 60s)–you
Are like noodles of Top Ramen
Much like Heaven/passe-partout
And your Deeds are truly Legend
Zapping Evil Right and Left. I
Illustrate your fine Agenda
Nipping-budding Waste & Theft. In
Grace nigh-Wiccan Pitch & Blende


2019 1006 husky

The HUSKY is a noble beast, said Jack London in Call of the Wild.  There is a scene in the novel where a single husky followed commands of “Gee!” (Wrench to unstick the ice!”) “Haw!” (Now wrench THE OTHER WAY to unstick the ice!) “Now MUSH!!” (“Pull like the dickens!!”) and the dog pulled an unbelievable amount of weight a certain distance to win a bet for his Mushmaster. When offered a huge sum for the dog, Mushmaster told Moneybags to go to hell.

There was a husky on our block when I was growing up, and all that fur in hothothot Glendale, Arizona must have made him uncomfortable. But he was sweet-natured and never whined.

Husky Doggy

Have FUR, will MUSH, indeed
Unceasingly as is the way of Dogface Creed. O
Such Sacrifices! this dog is O. G
Knapsackers of the North, and Golly G
You watch as they move Mountains willingly.