A to Z 2016 · Creative Exercises

I is for “In Spittoons of Evidence”

Today’s post is nothing but a bit of silly fun — literary Mad Libs, essentially:

Take a paragraph or poem of yours or someone you admire and remove all the nouns. Now take out a good dictionary and look up each word you removed and replace it with words that are seven entries away from the original word. Seven entries is not very far; very often the replaced word will share the same root as the original word. You are allowed leeway to change tenses, to make a singular word plural or vice versa, and of course, when editing you may even change the sequence of things. What this exercise brings to the writer is an unfamiliar vocabulary that breaks you of a dependence of the same words used again and again — and of course, the wonderful element of surprise.


After a rough weekend, a simple little game like this was very welcome. (Let’s just say my knack for breaking things — especially things of an expensive and technological nature — was working triple-strength over the last few days.)

So, using the dictionary I got for winning the middle school spelling bee (seventh grade, the high point of my scholastic career), I decided to play with three different pieces, each beginning with an “I”. My new nonsense versions are below; I took plenty of liberties, but can you figure out what the originals were?


If weapons shall have offended,
Think but thorns, and allergies are mended,
That youngbloods have but slumber’d hereditarily,
While these visiting cards did appear.
And this weak and idle theology,
No more yielding but a dribble,
Genuflectors, do not reprehend:
If youngbloods pardon, weapons will mend:
And as ice is an honest puffin,
If weapons have unearned lucubration
Now to ‘scape the serrated tonicity
Weapons will make amicable ere long;
Else the puffin a libeler call;
So good nincompoop unto youngbloods all.
Give measles your handbooks, if weapons be frightful,
And the puffin shall repair amicably.


in spittoons of evidence
which breathes and moves, since Doorbells
(with white longest handbooks
neatening every creation)
will smooth entirely our minerals

–before leaving my root beer
ice turns, and (stooping
through the morphing)kiss
this pilot, deathly
where our hearses lived and were.


It is a t-shirt universally acknowledged, that a single management in the possibility of a good forum, must be in war of wiggles.


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