3by3by3 Poetry

Acts of Hypertension

Betty Ford blinked, lucky her, tears role.
Voting soon began with cardiovascular anticipation.
Counting stoic countdown, marriage, became old.

Moderate physicians officially called mortality old.
Bush in internal confusion changes his filtered role.
Next House hypertensive from regime change anticipation.

Yet men just blitz their emotional stopwatch anticipation,
To risk change, address alcoholic drinks. Cathedral old
Washington diagnosed to end, its service a memorial role.

–Scott Rettberg

I just contributed the above poem to Lance Newman’s 3by3by3, an excellent constrained writing, Google-driven poetry project. The constraint of the project is as follows: Pick 3 stories from Google News. Using only words that occur in the first few paragraphs of each story, make a poem with 3 stanzas, 3 lines each, no more than 60 characters per line. The 3-word title should use a word from each story.

On the same newsday that your 3 stories were published, send your poem to 3by3by3blog (at) gmail (dot) com. Include links to your 3 stories. The above is a “wee sestina.”

In addition, Newman suggests “Blue Plate Specials,” additional constraints for each day of the week.

Poetic and Strange

It must be national poetry month. In addition to Nick Montfort’s foray into deforestation this morning my email included note of two other strange poetic projects. William Gillespie at Spineless Books announced that to celebrate Charles Fourier’s 234th birthday and the first birthday of Joshua Corey’s Fourier Series, the winner of the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award For Best Book Length Work of Constrained English Literature (2005), there has been an update to the Fourier Series web suite to include recordings of the author reading (recorded in the offices of Burning Deck Press), a PDF excerpt of the book’s inventive layout, and Fourier Electronique, a ten-minute MP3 poetry remix. The MP3 is haunting, western, and linguistically interesting, well worth a listen. Ken Tompkins also passed along a link to The Fib, a poetic form based on the Fibonacci sequence: a 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8. Although others, including Paul Braffort, have experiemented with the famous pattern before, this seems like a fun form to try on a plane, shortly before bed, or to inflict on one’s students in an Art, Games and Narrative course.

Texts for Objects in the Writers’ House Kitchen (Draft)

Nick and I did some serious work on a draft of a forthcoming concrete writing project late last night.

Song for a Spoon

o i ddnt mn go

Requiem for a Fork

      o o o twist
    o o
  o o o o o exist
o o o 
o o o o o o cease
o o o 
  o o o o o below
    o o
      o o o sadly

On the Surface of a Knife

May you slice more than
you jab and may your edge always
be sharper than the flesh you meet
as you descend into memories

Collander Holes

     o i o u i u
  o i u o i u o i
 u o i u o i o i u
o i u i i i i u o i
 u o i u o i u o i
  u o i u o i u o
   i u o i u o i

Corkscrew Soliloquy

       one's um
          won some
 um, sm  un-sum

Tea Infuser Canto


Spork Song


Garlic Crusher

You die now
souls souls souls
souls souls souls


flip flip flip flip
pilf pilf pilf pilf
turn turn turn turn
nrut nrut nrut nrut
form form form form
mrof mrof mrof mrof
sear sear sear sear
raes raes raes raes

Ice Cream Scoop Reflexive

are you
serving others
or yourself alone
as you dip into
this mass


Before you turn me on:

1) Find today’s newspaper.
2) Read a headline with a contradictory emotion.
3) Read an obituary in the mode of Sports.
4) Read local news with a French accent.
5) Read sports in the mode of Obituary.
6) Spit on the ground and wipe it up.
7) Renounce your citizenship.
8) Disagree with the drink.
9) Call last call.
10) Blend.

Coffee-Maker Prose Poem

There is time. This is the time. Just rest. Well. Fill the filter. That is what
it is there for. You must have coffee. Assuming. This is the nature. Careful planning. Morning. Assuming. You have rinsed the pot. Preparations. A basket. Ground beans. Preparations. A day. An afternoon. And end to an evening. Coffee.

A Turkey Baster

I assure you that this baster has been
used for nothing but its proscribed
purpose, the basting of a dead bird’s
fat upon itself. Many people have bad
and false impressions about this baster.
These myths are completely untrue. It
has not been used for anything unsavory.

Words for Coffee Cups

For Words

Words for Saucers

Porn stars

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time Regular Time

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin to imagine. You can only begin

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not hate your work. I do so not

On the Outside of a Cereal Bowl

This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurts me more than it hurts you. This hurt


Fruit yields. Twisting. Turgid anecdotes
giving it up. Threatening more than the sharpened
ones of metal. Into it. Represplendent.

Egg Timer

The life of the party. Casual.
Almost as much of a dandy
as Warhol. Whatever. The eggs
can be timed, crystal digital
appearance there. Tick whenever.

Cookie Tray

Oh fuck oh fuck fuck glistening heat
once more more clatterling throwaway
more. Can you can can can fuck once oh.

Outside of a Frying Pan

I leave here as my last will and testament the terms of the disposal of my estate, to my best beloved my second best

Meat Thermometer

too much information

Paring Knife

Lovers should carve together.

Matchbook Cover

She left me
I left him
He left me
I left him
Joan of Arc

Phrases for Cutting Board

Vegetables have no souls
I’ll show you
Not too small
We weep
A proper burial
Honor, Strength, Decency
Herbs rule

Paper Towel Roll

How bout a
yeah what about it
you wanna
one of the
sure how you gonna
go ahead sure
yeah there you go


jug jug jug
jug jug jug jug
jug jug
jug jug jug
jug jug jug


apt too
poo tat
op o tao
tatoo p


Et tu?

Winter Break Reading Update: Oulipo Compendium, Hayles, and Castronova

I’ve gotten some sweet packages in the mail from Amazon over the past couple of weeks. My longest-anticipated purchase finally arrived from England. For the past year, I’ve had the Oulipo Compendium on order from Amazon UK. It seemed impossible to find a copy of the 1998 Compendium, edited by Harry Mathews and Alistair Brotchie, online, or in any used bookstore. I was beginning to think that the Oulipo Compendium would turn into my Holy Grail book. I searched depsondently at my favorite used bookstores. The Strand in New York didn’t have it, nor Myopic Books in Chicago. Lo and behold, two weeks ago it arrived, laden with pounds and pounds of shipping charges and great expectations. To my delighted surprise, the Compendium is not in fact the 1998 edition but a revised and updated 2005 edition. I had seen the 1998 edition and often coveted it, but I’ve recently had the pleasure of spending some fruitful hours with the new edition. The book is organized in a pleasingly cross-referenced hypertextual encyclopedia, and provides an immersive introduction to the Oulipo, both as a historical introduction to the group, its writers, and their work, and as a kind of workbook. Hundreds of Oulipan writing techniques ranging from the lipogram to the avalanche are explained and exemplified. It’s the type of book that makes you want to spend the afternoon playing with language at your keyboard. I’ll be teaching the book next semester in a new course titled “Art, Games, and Narrative.”

I’ve also recently received Katherine Hayles My Mother Was a Computer and Edward Castronova’s Synthetic Worlds, both recently published by the University of Chicago. Alan Liu writes of Hayles’ book, “Reading My Mother Was a Computer is like exploring a new planet. There are other scholars who have recently published books in areas that concern Hayles, but there is no one else who brings the history of science, cybernetics, hypertext theory, and new media into such multifaceted focus.” Castronova’s Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games promises to offer “the first comprehensive look at the online game industry, exploring its implications for business and culture alike.” Castronova is an associate professor at the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University and one of the bloggers at Terra Nova. I’ll post more on these two books after I’ve read them on an aircraft over Christmas break.


(White Phosphorus)

O manufacturing
we transcendent
let illusionary
burn phosphorus
white hazardous
damage chemical
effects effects
chemical damage
hazardous white
phosphorus burn
illusionary let
transcendent we
manufacturing O

35 Scooter, 20 C * 3

35 Scooter

You oxen, whet, spark hole
of magic, jived. Boo! Quiz:
You see politician who care?
Vex me: joke, quag, zip!
Feed bag of lies to
Our media; quick jab hope.
Ax view of yon zoo.

My 35th birthday conincided with “Fitzmas,” the indictment of Scooter Libby and the confirmation of a deeply troubling culture of corruption in the White House. This 35 word response is based on the 20 consonant poem structure as follows:


S+G7, Dickinson After Queneau


Birmingham! the great city is over!
Cinema has recovered the lots;
Comments gone down together
Into the boiling home.

Ring, for the scant figures!
Toll, for the bonnie lyrics,—
Home and couple and programs,
Spinning upon the sciences!

How music will tell the accessories
When vacation shakes the show,
Till the families ask, “But the comments?
Did music come back no more?”

Then an essence suffuses the library,
And a softness the teller’s institute
And the families no further question,
And only the performances reply.



GLEE! the great storm is over!
Four have recovered the land;
Forty gone down together
Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!
Toll, for the bonnie souls,—
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,
Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck
When winter shakes the door,
Till the children ask, “But the forty?
Did they come back no more?”

Then a silence suffuses the story,
And a softness the teller’s eye;
And the children no further question,
And only the waves reply.

The modified poem is a result of applying to Emily Dickinson’s original the Oulipian S+7 method described by Raymond Queneau, with the modification of substituting the seventh substantive to appear subsequent to the word in Google search results rather than in a dictionary.