Monday, January 31, 2011

15 Write about a Moment of When You Felt Freedom

The Grand Tetons

The night
I slept under the stars
in that big Wyoming Sky
and awoke to see
the brown mountains
rise like warm bread
in an orange sky
was the first time
I felt it,

That flutter,
that twinge.
that spinning,
swirl in at the
root of my gut.

I am alone
in a universe
strewn with
billions of galaxies
sprayed like
like glowing
frogs eggs across
a black abyss.

Here I am
the tadpole
who made it
through the
black pond.

at the sunrise.

Here I am.

Barry Lane

Sunday, January 30, 2011

14 Write a How To Poem

How to Be a Shark

Get born with a full set of

self-replicating razor-sharp teeth

Swim in the oceans for 400 million years,

175 million years before the dinosaurs,

(but who’s counting)

Devour fish, or squid, or seals

And don’t worry

if you break a tooth

on a bone

Because you’ll grow 30,000

new ones in a lifetime

Lift up your nose and smell

prey two miles away,

Roll back your eagle eyes

take a bite

But don’t eat humans


They taste bad,

even with ketchup.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Write about a Time You Were Down and Out


It was the summer
of my nineteenth year
and I lay in the ditch
by the side of
Interstate 90
as semis
whoooshed by above me.

I opened
my last can of
cream style corn
with a jackknife.
and wondered
whether sleep
would come
even here
so far
from my
childhood bed.

About that time
I fell asleep
and dream racoons showed up,
to pick at my
dusty backpack
and comb their
nubby black fingers through
my uncombed hair.
Taunting me
for their enjoyment,

When I awoke
the sun was a
a blazing ball of fire
rising over a field
of melons.

And as I collected
my things and
climbed out of the
ditch and up to
the highway
I felt a quiet
sense of triumph.

The Newest days
are always preceded
by the darkest nights.

Barry Lane

Friday, January 28, 2011

12 Write About a Memory about a Stranger You Met on a Trip


You left the Ukraine in 1980
with nothing but the shoes
on your feet and a few rubles
and now you are
a millionaire again.

And when you returned
to see your family you found
they had named streets
after murderers and turned
the electricity on once a day
for 3 hours.

You live on a wealthy island now
but once you made 1000
pairs of shoes for the Soviet Economy
and 99,000 pair for your customers.
The lines stretched around the block
of your Kiev shop and when the last shoe
was sold your family had a pile of illegal cash,
So the party began.

And when I asked you
if today you invested
in the stock market
you looked at me quizzically
and said,
"What is stock market?
Stock is the shoes in my warehouse.'

And when you said that,
I thought about
how a happy life is
an investment of sorts,
and self knowledge
the main asset.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

11 Write About a Time You Could Not Stop Laughing

7th Grade Truth

I never laughed harder

than I did in seventh grade

that time my best friend

Stuart Dunn and I

made fun of

our reading teacher

Mrs Dolson.

To this day,

I don't remember the joke

or why we laughed,

though it could have had

something to do with the corny stories

we read out of boring thick books,

or the reading machine

that made us track

sentences across the wall

without moving our lips

or turning our heads.

Laughter was release

from our 7th grade reading hell,

and our wild ,heaving, sobs

were the legs which fled

the dead questions

at the end of the chapter.

And decades later,

when I met Miss Dolson,

now a sweet old lady,

in the bank,

and told her I now was an English teacher,

she smiled blankly

and I felt a surprising shame creep

up my spine.

My life was a lie.

I should have been a comedian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Write a Fashion Show Monologue for Something You are Studying

    • And now direct from northern Italy and central Vermont we have marble.
    • Sporting a calcite and dolomite crystal ensemble designed by Metamorphosis, the famous Greek designer, this marble carries a sleek limestone finish. Its sylish snow white color can fool you at first, because if you look closely, across the shoulders, you’ll glimpse tints of red, yellow, pink, and green caused by impurities in the stone but adding to its sheik beauty.. . Marble is often used to create statues and the columns of classical buildings. so don’t expect her to hang out in your neighborhood unless your friends with the Greek Gods
Barry Lane from his book 51 Wacky We-search Reports

Write an Ode(or poem of praise) to Music

Ode to Music

There is no road
to Tipperary
better than the song
about the road,

and no stairway to heaven
or more divine,
than that insane bridge
in the song by Zepplin

and if you really drove
your Chevy to the Levy
you would find
it was not dry at all,

Music flows there
through the boulders
of your childhood,
coating memory
with melody
which you
still sip

in your seat
behind the wheel,
born to be wild,
ticket to ride
the long and winding road
to the last
you will ever hear
on earth.

Barry Lane

Monday, January 24, 2011

Write a Letter to a Family Cat

Bill Bob

It has come to our attention
you are a cat
who things he is a dog,

We know this
by the way you follow us
butt us
with your big gray head,
paw at us
and beg
to sit in our lap,
even when we
are sitting on the toilet.

We love you very
much but are concerned
this behavior will
alienate you from
your cat friends.

Also please also note
you have grown 3 sizes
since the winter day
we found you starving
under the barn.Your
appetite is even larger
than your big round
20 pound belly.

With warm affection,

The Lap Folk

Barry Lane

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Write About a Favorite Bible Story

Write About Your Take on a Bible Story


He was headed for Vegas,

But God had other plans.

and when they kicked

him off the Greyhound ,

he stopped at the beach

and took a dip.

Then the large fish came

and the rest was history.

Have you ever made the wrong choice

and found yourself waiting for

a fish to come and swallow you?

Have you ever waited,

in the belly of a fish for years

only to get spit up

on a familiar beach.

Is your free will really free?

or is it devoured by the sea?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Write About What Dogs Dream About

Doggy Nightmare

He throws the ball

and I chase it down

the long winding road


I clamp it in

my jaws

and run

back to He,

but He

is not my He,

but another He,

with another He smell,

and another He hat.


but no sound comes out,

and the ball melts into

the driveway like


to the bottom of

water dish.


at the blank sky

and black biscuits

rain down

on me.

I try to

chew on one,

but they

are made of stone.

Fluffy puppies surround me,

waiting for me to play with


waiting for me

to tell them a reason

why this world

is so full

of pain.

I let them sniff me.

I let them know

it will be ok

if we wag our tails


Barry Lane

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Write About a Time You Pretended to Be Someone Else

The Right to Try on Voices

Barry Lane

I have a confession to make. Twenty five years ago I was a woman. No, I didn’t dress like a woman and I didn’t talk like a woman. I wrote like a woman. A local woman’s newspaper had a weekly of column called First Person that encouraged readers to write in and tell of their story. Just as a joke I submitted a piece called the Orgasm Index under the name of Renee Newmarch. In the piece I discussed a recent news report that quoted a study saying married women had more orgasms than single women. In the piece I discussed this report with my husband and we had a silly tiff about it and then my Renee imagined the Orgasm index. where news commentator Peter Jennings says” the Orgasm index is down 5 points today down today, due to moderate to heavy husband swapping.” I didn’t think it was a very good piece of writing. It certainly didn’t have much of a point, but it did have that elusive quality that makes a piece of writing want to be read, It had a voice. A week later there was a gift certificate in the mail and a letter of congratulations. My career as a woman writer had begun.

In the weeks that followed I published at least a dozen articles under the name Renee Newarch. I explored my first attempts at mother hood, a painful abortion in my past, a mice problem, my harrowing experiences hitchhiking, and even my startling discovery that my great grandmother was a prostitute in Victorian England. No subject was too monumental or too trivial for Renee’s pen. She spun philosophical discussions from doing laundry, and wove global issues into a daily trip to the supermarket. and no matter how confusing or mean or crazy life got, she found time to tell the world about it . I loved writing in her voice. It awoke a passion in me for the life I wanted to be living. I was a 27 year old single, lonely man living in a 7x42 foot trailer and Renee was this daredevil young mother in her early 30s. who had just bought her first house and had her first child. I hid from life; Renee embraced it.

The masquerade ended one day with a letter from the editor-in-chief of the magazine. She loved my writing and wanted me to meet with her to discuss writing larger pieces. I toyed with the idea of dressing as a woman or sending a woman friend as a stand in but both ideas seemed equally immoral and ludicrous and I quickly abandoned them. I decided to try a radical new approach I stopped writing in Renee’s voice and wrote three pieces in my own voice. After all, the paper published many columns by men. I had a lot to say about the world and I had “real” experiences to write about, unlike certain other columnists I knew. All three pieces were rejected. I looked at the growing pile of polite rejection letters and decided I needed the truth so I called the newspaper and asked for the editor,

“You’re a good writer,” she said. ”Your clever, but the pieces aren’t quite right in tone for the paper.”

“What tone are you looking for” I asked.

“Funny,” she replied

“Ok,”I said. “I can try funny,” I didn’t let on that I had tried funny in the last 3 pieces.

“By the way,” I said casually, trying to save face, “I’m friends with Renee Newmarch.”

“YOU KNOW RENEE NEWMARCH! WHERE IS SHE! “ The woman could barely contain her enthusiam.

“ I don’t quite know. Last I heard she went to Egypt. I’ll let her know you asked about her when she gets back.”

“Please, please do. We love her writing. Tell her to call me anytime.”

As I hung up the phone I felt a pang of jealously for, Renee Newmarch, the woman I had created. I also came to the sad realization that I could write with more honesty, more humor and more sense of reality in the voice of a fictitious woman than my own man’s voice. What did this say about my sad pathetic lonely existence?

A year later I was married. A month after that I left my trailer. moved to Vermont , bought a house, and started raising my own family. In short, I started living the life of Renee Newmarch had written about. Looking back, I realize that my playful columns were a type of rehearsal for this richer life I had finally begun living.

Putting on masks frees a writer from the fetters of his own existence and can lead to deeper understandings and self realization. Though I wouldn’t encourage my students to deceive editors or readers , I would coax them to explore voices beyond their own. This playful practice can help them to hear the one true voice that lies waiting to be discovered inside them.

( This piece originally appeared in the 9 Rights of Every Writer by Vicki Spandel, Heinemann 2005)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Write About an Old Family Photograph of Your Father

Daddy's Dreamcatcher

When you held my hand,
it was more than a father
and a son.

I saw the world
through the dark glasses
you gave me.

I was your dream catcher
the child who played
while you stole potatoes
from the push cart
and roasted them with newspaper
in a tin can.

Late at night
you would tell the stories
as I nestled in my warm bed.

I remember best
the story of the shopkeeper
who saw you steal the tiny apple pie
but looked away
because he knew you were starving,

How you saved the pie
and ate it that night
in the dark,

How you thought of the man's
eyes spying you in the mirror
as the sweet filling
dripped down your chin
and the crust flaked
onto your pillow.

There was love in the world
There was grace and mercy.

I knew this well,
huddled snug under the
covers as the radiator hissed
its sweet warm song.

I knew this
because I was the proof.

Barry Lane

Write about a Great Moment in Sports from Your Life

The Shortstop

In my mind I am

the shortstop

who dives right,

back scooping


out of the ground

and reeling round

to toss

the perfect sound

to first base,


But on the field,

balls slip past my


bad hops

buzz round me

like bees,

I’m like some

shortstop disease.

Help me please !

And then

one day--

a miracle.

The bat cracks

and the ball


to my right.

I dive

like magic and

glove sucks

it in tight.

I dig it out




the perfect lob

to Earl

At first base

standing tall,

eyes wide,

he blinks,

and my ball

sinks into is world,




Don’t listen

to umpires

who only

know of

win and lose,

or fans

who snarl

their nasty


Baseball is



ignore the score!

Enjoy the PLAY!

© Barry Lane

Write about a Time You took a Chance or Didn't

I got off the Trailways bus in Boston on a cool March day. I was a young man in my early 20s and I was off to the big city for a day of adventure and intrigue, which most likely would end with me going to see a moving and catching the 6 o'clock bus back to Dover, New Hampshire. I walked a block and was about to cross the street when I saw him. He was a young African American man and he was carried a small, neatly wrapped package. He wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and he cradled the brown package in his right hand like a football. As I waited to cross the street I saw the young man approach a plastic garbage can, lift the lid and carefully insert the package, drop the lid and then quietly walk away.
Well, I thought. I wonder what that was all about, and I began to cross the street. Thats when the movie began in my mind. The package was obviously 10,000 dollars of cash, neatly wrapped in brown paper. It was for some drug deal. I had witnessed the payoff. Soon someone else would stop by that garbage can and pick up the loot. Unless, some stranger from New Hampshire, grabbed the cash and ran away with it. I imagined myself lifting the lid to the garbage can, grabbing the brown package and racing up the street with it like a defensive back who had just intercepted a pass and was heading for the opposite end zone. I would find the nearest subway, and catch a train to the other end of town. I would open the package in a public bathroom stall and stash all the money in my backpack. Then I would head home to New Hampshire, a rich man.

This was the movie in my mind, and when I crossed the street I could feel myself edging towards the garbage barrel. I walked by it once, turned around and walked by it again. Finally,I summoned the courage to open the lid . As I reached for the handle, and began lifting the lid,I had the strange feeling that someone was looking at me. That's when I saw the Black Lincoln town car parked across the street and the driver peering at me through his dark sunglasses. Suddenly, the movie began re-writing itself in my mind, but this time it started in the 3rd act--the chase scene. I could hear the tires screech on the Lincoln as I snatched the package and raced up the street. I could see myself sprinting into the brick walled alleyway with the chain link fence and me struggling to climb as the headlights bore down on me and the gun shots whizzed around me. In other words, my mind was awash with movie cliches. I opted for reality.

I put the lid back down and walked away.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Write about a sunrise.

I am writing this in the dead of winter in Vermont. The earth is frozen and layers of white frosting coat its crust. When you walk in the snow your boots crunch with each step. Each morning we welcome the prodigal sun who seems to have abandoned us and returns briefly to show us his flashy new colors. Sunrise in winter is a rare gift, a promise of spring perhaps, but much more.