Totally Disconnected

Start with a simple declarative paragraph;
minimum two lines. Best if it’s
first or third person and highly specific.

Journalistic styling is acceptable.

“Mary” is a good female name.
There are no good male names.

Proceed quickly to a scene from nature,
go light on adjectives and alliterations,
no similes. No birds either.

There are now two choices: human society is
losing touch with wild nature; or, we live in
an unavoidably connected wild natural world.

Mary had a little lamb.


Start over, this time naming the main
character “Sheila.”

Bring in a contrasting natural setting:
mountains, rivers, trees, Winter.
Avoid the color “purple,”  the nouns “wine”
and “rainbow,” and the adjective “fetid.”

Next, wow them with a shocking segue
to an existential emergency – birth, aging,
death, sex, whatever. Choose Sheila’s
three-year battle with stomach cancer.

The words “fog” and “mist” come to mind.

Give a call back to the opening. However,
“Hey Sheila!” is a sure loser, believe me.

Consider ways of using Sheila’s cancer and
death as a metaphor. Avoid clichés. Pause to
marvel that death could be a cliché.

Conclude with a magnificently profound
platitude. Use Google to make sure
it’s original. Read some Basho and try again.


Await the inevitable raves and
accolades: oh, thank you! Thank you!

Recall the phrase bloody ignorant apes,
that Winter on the mountain tastes like
fetid wine, rivers tumbling over Sheila’s
forgotten shadow, a foggy rainbow, a tree
lost in the purple mist, a falling bird.

Tell them they are so very wrong.


© 2017, Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.

Image Credits: Brad Hagan

Eliot Jacobson

Eliot Jacobson is a retired professor of mathematics living in Santa Barbara, CA. He spends his time hiking with his dog Rosie, docenting elephants at the Zoo, playing Irish music, performing in theater and opera, and reading and writing poetry. Eliot has published three books on gambling.

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