Goofing Around-2

Index Poetry

Annie Dillard warms up for a session of writing by reading the first word of each chapter in a book’s index.  Of course, it’s nonsense, but it does get the mind working–trying, as our minds always do, to make sense where no sense exists.


Here is a list of the first word of all the chapters in Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird.


getting    short   shitty   perfectionism   school   polaroids   set   false   how    looking   broccoli   radio  jealousy   index   calling   writing   someone   letters   finding   giving


Your task, should you choose to accept, is to arrange these words into a short poem.  Feel free to add up to five extra words.

55 responses to “Goofing Around-2

  1. How can looking short
    In shitty school index polaroids
    Set jealousy?

    Can getting broccoli,
    Giving someone a radio,
    Writing letters or
    Finding false perfectionism?

  2. “…to make sense of where no sense exists…” Sounds like my autobiography. I shall return…with dreaded doggerel.

  3. Calling jealousy false,
    Looking broccoli-shitty for someone–
    how giving!
    Like writing radio letters,
    finding short index polaroids,
    getting re-set with school perfectionism

  4. This one is taxing my brain into overload. I can’t get past “Polaroids of perfectionism” and “getting short, shitty letters from editors.”

  5. Gully,

    Your phrase composition “getting short, shitty letters from editors,” is priceless. (It IS hard to get past the blunt form letter responses and to become enthusiastic about writing again, although I’m getting used to being slapped in the face).

    Thank you for making me chuckle outloud.

  6. (I must be nuts to come back for seconds on this challenge!)

    How does radio
    set false jealousy?

    By finding perfectionism
    in broccoli,
    Calling someone’s
    polaroids shitty.
    By giving, getting,
    looking or writing
    Short school index letters.

  7. Shaddy, you are soaring like an eagle. I think you are recalling how much you love to write.

  8. School Polaroids Index

    Calling perfectionism false
    Someone writing short letters
    With broccoli colored jealousy
    Radio set blaring
    Finding how looking shitty hurts

  9. Wow, KathyH!

    You worked magic with this challenge. I especially like “broccoli colored jealousy.”

    Oh, and “Finding how looking shitty hurts” is another gem.

    You added just the right words to give poetic depth to those lines.

    Bravo, my friend!

  10. Thanks Shaddy. I must say this was a challenge. It caused me to say all kinds of bad words, throw tantrums, and go out in the yard and scream. I fretted over this for two days! Last night, I said to …. with it, I can’t do it. It was that word ‘index’ that kept messing me up. I don’t know how in the world you came up with two poems. And both very good. And very clever. And very creative.

  11. Ann–this was certainly a big challenge, especially after reading your poem. “Looking broccoli shitty for someone. How giving!” was my favorite line. What an image. I wanted to put an ! after ‘image’ but I figured I better not. Ha.

  12. Here’s my lame attempt with the five extra words: cards, love, to’s, through, nude

    Giving short shitty broccoli index cards (1)
    Finding someone love(2) letter’s
    Writing false radio how-to’s (3)
    Getting perfectionism through (4) school
    Set Looking nude (5) polaroids
    Jealousy Calling

  13. Hey Walk.

    Come on now. Give yourself credit for accepting the challenge in the first place. I’m not thrilled with my attempts either. This type of writing is absolutely not fun in the same way writing normally is.

    I struggle with feeling confused on a regular basis. I also love a challenge. Looking at all those words and trying to find a connection between them both confused and challenged me, big time!!

    We writers are a strange lot, I reckon. Who in their right mind would spend time doing what we do?

  14. Walk–are you kidding me? I have read your poem a couple of times. Now, from where I’m sitting as I read your last two lines, it appears that you are “looking at nude polaroids” and becoming “jealous”. Maybe you don’t realize how so very funny this image is. Maybe you should go back and read your own writing! Oh, one more thing. Does your wife know you’re sitting around looking at nude pictures?

  15. And another thing Walk–can’t you get in trouble for writing false radio how to’s? The question in my mind though–how to what? And what radio station are you sending these false how to’s to? Ha!

  16. Someone set on writing,
    Confidence index getting short
    Shitty jealousy calling-
    How broccoli green-
    Radios false perfectionism polaroids

    Finding school,
    Looking forward,
    Giving letters life.

  17. Kudos to Shaddy, Ann, Kathy and Walk for creative ingenuity.

    As for me, I hate 19 of those words, especially “broccoli.” My favorite word is “shitty,” which is what I think of “broccoli” being in the mix.

  18. Hey Summergoose,

    How does a Summergoose survive during cold winters?

  19. Yes, yes, yes, Summergoose. I was going to leave a message for you at 920, telling you there was something here that was right up your alley.

  20. Y’all done good. This was a tough one, makes me worry about what “Goofing-around 3” is going to be.

  21. If this is goofing around, I hope Ann doesn’t get serious.

  22. Shaddy, I would LOVE to go south to warmth but it is not in the cards. I did go far enough south to go from 15 feet of snow to 1 foot – that will have to do… that and a hot toddy or two.

  23. Summergoose, how does a cruise to Alaska in mid-May sound? Port Townsend writer’s conference aboard ship.

  24. PS: Check out the Elder Storytelling place for today, Jan. 5.

  25. Hi Summergoose. Fifteen feet of snow? Send a couple feet my way! I want to build a snowman with my granddaughter.

    I loved your poem, especially the first two lines. “Someone set on writing…confidence index getting short”. True words.

  26. I think Ann is sitting on a stool, perhaps enjoying a hot bowl of tomato soup as she searches for just the right Goofing Around 3. And we have been put in a holding pen, milling about, pawing the ground with nervous anticipation and excitement. And she is secretly smiling at our predicament.

  27. I’m hesitating because Goofing Around-3 is a bit daunting. Rather than expressing nervous anticipation, you might consider running, screaming, from the room. A challenge, yes. A lot of self trust will be involved. Stay tuned.

  28. Self trust? Self trust???? If there’s one person I don’t trust its Self.

  29. Ann,

    I ran screaming from the room; my husband took one look at me, shook his head in dismay and shoved me back in here.

    Now I’m babbling to myself:
    “I won’t be daunted.
    I’ll be undaunted.
    Ann may haunt
    and even flaunt me
    but never daunt me
    not even a bit.”

    To challenge number 3
    I say
    “ready or not,
    come and get me.”
    (The door’s unlocked).

  30. Nice to have a supportive spouse, eh, Shaddy?

  31. My goodness, reading this back and forth is like a warm hug

  32. Hang around Summergoose; we’ll keep you warm all winter long, and beyond.

    By the way, your submission is very well done. I like it because you made a lot of sense out of the tangle of words.

  33. darksculptures

    Now I am well aware that I have arrived at the scene long after the ambulance left, but how could I avoid taking a closer look at the crash site!

    This challenge tangled my brain like angel hair pasta left cooling in the sieve.

    Here we go!

    How shitty
    finding radio calling school writing false letters

    Giving perfectionism
    (to) someone writing index letters (while) getting (and) looking (at) polaroids

    (In) set broccoli jealousy!

  34. Welcome, DA. Delightful addition! I see this is your first visit here. Are you an ex-student of my Beginning Writers Workshop class?

    Feel free to roam and post. Lots of good folks here, all interested in consuming pasta of all kinds.

  35. darksculptures

    Hi Ann,

    Yes, I was a student in the March 2009 BWW class. But, I don’t consider myself a former student. I consider myself a continuing student, as I find myself applying your lessons on a daily basis.

    My final 500 was the story about the firefighter and the burning building. (Maybe that will jar some memories.)

    If not, just know that you have been an overwhelming influence on my personal growth! I can’t thank you enough and that is why I am here. I want to repay the debt by offering you my support in all of your endeavors.

    I just completed a descriptive essay based on your lesson, “The Room Where I write”. What an amazing evolution of words on the page. The essay completely took on new meaning since my first meager scratching in class. I would love to share it with you some day if you’re interested.


  36. Writing letters; taking Shitty Polariods of perfectionism
    False jealousy index set high
    Finding; looking for a school giving broccoli getting how short?
    Radio calling someone

  37. Good one, Ducky! Glad to hear from you!

  38. infinitely creative

    Short looking school polaroids
    Perfectionism set
    Finding, jealousy calling
    Writing someone shitty letters
    Giving false index
    I’ld rather eat broccoli

  39. Hmmm… I’ll give it a try…

    Someone looking jealous,
    Finding false perfectionism.
    Set index at polaroids.

    Radio calling out short;
    Writing love letters

    School getting shitty broccoli, then giving out.

  40. Shitty Broccoli,
    Shitty School,
    Shitty Finding Someone Set In Shitty Perfectionism.

    Shitty Short Wave Radio,
    Shitty Getting False Letters,
    Shitty Looking Polaroids.

    Shitty Jealously,
    Shitty Giving,
    Shitty calling Index, Shitty Writing.


  41. calling all broccoli on the radio
    writing school perfectionism
    getting shitty letters
    someone short looking false

  42. Writing school calling
    Broccoli-looking BRAINS
    Set shitty REFRAINS
    Index — perfectionism
    Finding letters
    Someone betters
    Getting short — jealousy
    CREATE false polaroids, how?
    THIS ISN’T perfectionism

    I’m an alum of your current BWW class and glad the fun isn’t over. Thanks for a taxing but fun exercise, Ann.

  43. I’ve never written poetry. I don’t know where to start. It’s one of those things I know nothing about. It’s funny–I used to write poems in Hebrew all the time. Somehow English poems seem complex, sophisticated, and way beyond my reach. If you have a good resource for writing poetry, I’d be happy to learn.

  44. Good question. I don’t know any poetry books that I find helpful. I’m going to ask all the bloggees here if they know of any. Look for a posting on the home page.

  45. Getting someone school polaroids
    Calling the radio set
    Giving up broccoli
    Writing shitty short index letters
    Looking for false jealousy
    Finding false perfectionism

  46. Class Reunion
    How set looking then:
    False perfectionism in polaroids.
    Now someone finding school index
    Calling radio, writing letters, finding, getting ready.
    Can’t go.
    Looking short, shitty. Conferring jealousy smiles with broccoli teeth.

    • Hello Anne!
      I’m glad you stopped by to have some fun with all these writing challenges. Try all the ones that you like!

  47. Thanks, Ann. Have missed your class and the writing freedom you encourage. Could not even complete my last ed2go class as it was too confining. Will write more with this group.

  48. Hi, Ann. I like the idea of starting from some set of random (or not so random) words. Another way to start this process is to use a “word cloud.” I’m sure you’ve seen them. A selection of text is indexed and then presented as a “cloud” of words with size based on frequency in the text. I found an outstanding online site for generating them:

    And just for fun, I made a cloud from a quick scan of part of this website. I think it’s kind of interesting. I would post it, but there seems to be no way to post an image (quite reasonable for a site about writing). I’d be happy to send the image to you, or you could simple play around a bit and make your own.

    I’m still working on my “poem,” and hope to post it soon.

  49. Finding someone short? Calling radio talkshows, writing indignant letters? Giving an index of set perfectionism? Getting false looking broccoli polaroids jealousy?

    How prep school shitty.

    • Good one, Glider Catnap! You’re doing double duty–BWW by day and blogging here by night! Guess you want to write, and so?

  50. To make the site word cloud, I just did a ctl-a and copied all the text from the main page to the text input section of the word cloud generator. The generator allows you to customize many things, including the word list, so I removed 8 or 10 of the common words that didn’t have much meaning. That’s it.

    As for writing, I feel very much like the tin man as you apply oil to my rusty joints. I’m doing an awkward, clanky, happy dance.

  51. how false perfectionism?
    someone short
    giving out school letters,
    finding a shitty radio,
    writing a jealousy index,
    looking for polaroids,
    getting set and calling ‘Broccoli’

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