Writing Prompt/Challenge

Fill a page.



You have 20 minutes.


The page must have a theme that revolves around 1 word, an adjective (‘fiery’, ‘loud’, ‘colorful’, ‘ambiguous’… whatever you want, you choose the adjective).

OH… and you can’t use your adjective theme on the page, anywhere (meaning, the word itself appears NOWHERE).  The goal with this exercise is to write around it, paint a picture without telling us what you’re painting.


Don’t tell.



Still recovering from this cold or whatever bug-type has finally punched through my defenses that fought it off for a better sliver of a week.  To “work” today, though where I “work” one day a week in the tasting room could hardly be deemed any kind of serious “work”.  Yes, I’m in a mood, writing father not sleeping well last night then pulled from downstairs peace by eager near-4 year old.  Can’t blame him.  Only envy.  That he has not these concerns.  I can return to that, right?  Through these articles.  And, just not caring.  Print, release.  Travel.


Tasty Pedagogy

Stuhlmuller Vineyards – 2014 Estate Chardonnay – Alexander Valley

A jazzy Chardonnay algorithm from a producer a bit hidden but once found you have that oeno-phantasmic revelation.  You sip and see something different in the Chardonnay character and story.  From the first sensory stroke, the fruit is clean, coherent and img_0904convincing; apple and pear, light paradiddles of apricot, nectarine.  And with the acidic current, every flavor phrase and conversation is augmented.  So narrative and wild, a Chardonnay that speak, truly speak, and isn’t concerned with what you experience has been.  And in such urgency you find universality, a branch to the butter crowd as well as the stainless.

Just as artful as the label, equally the naturalist splendor and visual ardor of the ground.  Comforting and arcadian with everything greeting you.  I’ve found that Chardonnay, as you may or may not know from my past columns, has a troubled relationship with me, for which I take full responsibility.  But there wasn’t that invitation, there was only and esoteric appeal of the wine’s immediate and inferred body.  As the bottle acclimated to ambient temp in the kitchen of my Autumn Walk Studio, the fruit exercised volition to morph its mold to something more pair-centered.  Everything else was still there, just a new steering voice delivered the bottled thesis.  I was ever more taken with what I was sipping.  I sat and thought and knew I had to visit, and maybe I will next week, my next day off—  This wine is a separation from reality, from the mundane and the patterned template of any varietal, but especially Chardonnay.  There speaks its instruction, its truest boon; the truth itself, Chardonnay’s truth and identity, and you’ll be coerced that there is amicable Chardonnay.  Not many this well-crafted, you should note.  And I review my notes form last night, right before putting the bottle back its frigid domicile: ‘beatific, centered, peripatetic (with how it travels about your receptors), devoted…” A bottle with life.  That reminds me to live, find my road, my own translations, and be vocal, narrative, tell my story.  My stories with wine this vastly prodigious.



After a second day

in the tasting room, and about to fly into another new week, post-xmas and right before the new year, I realize that I need to start with whatever resolutions I have planned for myself.  And now.  Sooner than soon.  And not write them.  I’m distracted and have felt anxious all day in an odd way, so I open a beer and end this session when the beer’s gone and away.  No more of this bloody jitter.  I keep thinking of a book and all my future books and how I want them to be read, seen or studied and telling stories vs. writing random and so-much-in-the-moment poems, and I’m lost and lost, and so lost—  but the goal is still very much the same, my own winery, especially after today with Andy and Tony tasting the ’12 Cuvée and Tony saying he’s never tasted a “homemade wine” so impressive, and Andy (cellar worker, seasonal TR) saying it motivates him further to make his own wine come vintage next.

Stepped upstairs to check on Jackie, then back down, remembering earlier my daughter with eyes open, taking everything in, her fascination with light and simple objects that we all other wise reject or walk past, the symbols in her blanket, tells me to focus on one form.. prose.  Poetry, will be put on a certain rest, or hiatus, sabbatical.  I want to focus on my paragraphs and storytelling voice.  Yes, I’ll write a poem here and there but I want to continue with my stories; the adjunct, the father, the runner, winemaker, thinker and dreamer.. what Mike Massamen does when he wakes up and he so much wishes he were that person that could wake at some heinously early hour, like 4 or 5, and just start with his pages.. hitting the golden mark of 3, before 7AM.

My old friend Dav in town, from MO.  Not able to meet with him at the Kenwood Gastropub, having to stay here in home and grade the Fall ’15 submissions, submit grade, and prep for next term.  I can already see the ripples from the first day, that 7:30 English 5 section, the students will walk out not knowing what to think, knowing this will surely be the most encompassing and exciting English class they’ve ever taken, and WILL ever take.  Education needs to be about desire, more focus on what the students want, and that’s why I have to refuse lunch with Dav, as I need remain in my teaching vocality…  And you know, I should just write the first lecture.  Tonight.  Or, enough for 15 minutes.. a word for the day, a question, thoughts on Critical Thinking, and why we should just focus on the thinking and transference of those thoughts to paper, not so much in that sterile and medicinal word “critical”.  And, isn’t any thought worth writing of a certain ‘critical’ nature?  And what does the institution mean by CRITICAL?  Like, critical condition?  Being critical of something?  I’ll urge appetite for self-developed thought, seeking your own answers, deciding for Self.. true Personhood.


Break Quick, Or

Just minutes before the last meeting of Summer, I think about what I have to do tomorrow, early to winery for some meeting.. but before that, wake early to run.  No more of this waking after 7 as I did this morning and yesterday, and if I don’t go running then I’ll write.  All papers to hand back, right in front of me.. just wrote an email, and I find it hard to turn this off, this tireless writer.  But.. need to assemble writings to sell, and I’ll bind the pages, copy, with the next sizable check I get, which should be any day now.  Just have to be patient, and hope no bills hit before.  Hate that.

This adjunct office telling me now to get out, go to class early.. have a snack.  I brought the group veggies and dip as I vocally devoted.  Hoping not to stay too long, leave at 7, or 7:30.. want to see my little Beat, and Ms. Alice, and just relax on that front patio of the Autumn Walk base as I rarely have opp’ to so do.  Finishing this water I realize I should have bought two.  The dip always makes me thirsty.  Are there any waters in the fridge, some other instructor’s?  I’ll see.  But I don’t think so and I’d hate to take theirs as I would hate if someone took mine.. so no, not doing that.

Celebrating tonight, the term’s end, with the red blend that one of the Christopher Creek chaps me gifted.  Thinking the red blend– or no, maybe that Merlot from their Napa label.  Yes, decided.. and for dinner, what?  Problems of a wine writer silly I know but I have to log it here otherwise it’s never logged.  And I decided driving home last night that poetry and prose releases will always be separate, never “blended”, if you would, as Hemingway did with ‘3 Stories, 10 Poems’, I think it’s called.  No.  My releases will be one, or other.  Never an overlap.  Single varietal…..  Again.. if you would.


This Day, oh this day, this musical day..

went to Pride winery and was kept and transferred and pushed by everything I saw, heard, IMG_6676spoke about with the Pride pride… And now I’m here in the SRJC library more than prepared for my session– oh you should see me reader fly over these keys with my 4-shot mocha and the Kerouac books and notes and the poem I wrote yesterday with my new 100 crew, one I titled “No Math in That”, in response to one of those National Geographic daily pics I put on screen. And I feel more than alive, this writer, those vineyards on that mountain and the Big Sur-ish quality of the drive, most of which I drove with no music playing. The entire route back to the Autumn Walk castle I had not a single measure or note slipping through the Passat’s speakers. I’m on the fourth floor now, where I’ve written before, staring out at those trees, the campus trees that dominate the quad between this library and the bookstore. And when I’m on the Road, with my Kerouac paper, much of which tackles the notion of a Road, THE Road, or anyone’s Road, and how it can be either paved or ‘un’, but how there’s more reward in the lack of quietude; there’s struggle, and that struggle’s the gift, the Road’s gift to the one writing it! Oh, need to write that….. Just did, one page in the legal pad I used toward the end of last semester.
The trees move a little outside, wind or slight gusts, either way activity. Need a sparkling water, store closes at 5, not much time. Hate to give up my station on this grandiloquent 4th Floor. But then I think about something, and another something, all like varied drum hits on an odd-sounding snare: Why complicate when I’m trying to consolidate? Why take on additional assignments, of any Literary, journalistic or professional shape and scape?
I’m rising and leaving. I need a water, and time in that adjunct office, time to collect and take myself through the lecture I have written, yes very much written, and planned for 6PM. Tomorrow at winery and I don’t know what I’ll be thinking and imaginatively deconstructing in my sight. That drive and that mountain, and that cave system sang something I’ve never tasted and now I’m in a carouseling composition. Hydrate, wait, precipitate…

IMG_6677In office, or office for all of us, which doesn’t much an office make. Sparkling water, lemon, bought two, other in freezer so chilled to my kingly liking for class. Only thing left to do, print poem, plan and lecture.. later post to blog. And I’ll do later as there may be something I want to add– want to try this new approach, incorporate during-class adds when I get home to post, show the students more the process, my process. Like with wine, all the makers have their methodology and precision theologies.. so the wine is its ‘best’. And I want tonight’s lecture to be even more sterling and shining, beaming than last night’s if that’s at all possible. The caffeine from the 4 shots still much in my makeup.
This prose perpetuity, much my preferred poison. And on the drive to Pride I saw what I really want, in this greatest of consolidations.. my pages sold, me traveling with the reads of certain texts, independent lecturer and writer and speaker.. auditoriums assailed and meddled and marauded by those wanting to hear my words and listen to my reads, not that they’re the right way to read a text, just a new one. My socratic practice all over this country’s map, and elsewhere; France like the owner’s brother today, who also happens to be the CEO.. so interesting a man, everything he’s done and what he still does. And on the ride back all this and milieus more, new scenes and settings and senses, stimuli for me, the writer and Beat and skating back and forth for ideas, and the property today, that new songset, finally me one, more, gifted.
Refusing to be a beat adjunct. That stops. On the drive back I just asked myself, “WHY?” Why do I let them do this to me? The students are my reason for being in that classroom, yes, but the other facets and grindings, my core qualm. I’m just ignoring them, the Them, those devils that have it this way; I write about it and blog and expose everything. Why should I be afraid? Language is on my side; the paginated freedom of this Beat, this Beat and beatness of mine. So beatific!

I start to calm now, sipping this water.. I have enough time to print my pages. IMG_6675I’m so very excited to show up to class as my students do with pages, actual pages! Ready to read! I’ve done my homework, this student! And as I told the Pride pride today, in that cinematic room with the long gothic madera surface, “I teach because I love being a student.” And tonight, in a matter of minutes, 41 precisely, I’ll so show… And so pridefully. There’s nothing wrong with pride or being prideful in something you’ve done, as long as it was done with love, and eagerness to share and help and exchange.. I’m proud of what I’ve written, the lecture and offerings for the evening. And this evening, what I’ll take home, think of while I water our front lawn with a Racer in hand, maybe a glass when inside, some of my Merlot, or the Pinot from Arista, something, something for me, for my writing and the session and shift tomorrow.. Wine at the center of it, its analogy and impact and symbolic Jungian value– Here now.

My use of Time today, evidence I defeated it. I’m not accessible in these sentences, in these streamings of peculiar syntax and diffident punctuation, that too I realized on the mountain, walking through the cave with Tim, and into the Room where I saw Sally; the winemaking sorceress who clearly mentored my sister.. creating then the materialize and actualized bottled content, bound for someone to home take. Her Road, my Road, my new prideful Road and traversing.


something I’m working on…..

“…Tiring.. should I get a coffee for the road or drink that new stuff at work, what the chef brought down..?  I don’t KNOW, like Jackie says..

And I want to leave suddenly, too many people around me unable to concentrate and I feel my nerves agitate and I blame the coffee.. 4 shots.. why did I do that?  Feel my rhythm and Beat prompted by old age and baby 2 coming, transparent candor, my pages tussle with each other, novel civil way, or war, if it’s a novel, who knows what it is, an espresso-prompted deluge or avalanche or self-centered cyclone.  Yeah that sounds better, get that, get into my head and obviating in my whim-wheeled riles, syllables conveniently prostituted.. nice….”

artist self-harvest

Back from first day of “internship,” if that’s what you’d call it.  Sampled some Zinfandel barrels, vintage ’10, as well as learn from the oenologist about acid levels, whole cluster pressing, and other phenolic attributes.  Want some coffee, but don’t want to risk waking Jack.  Tomorrow, project R launch.  I’ll copy syllabus later in day, from my own pocket.  Looking at it like a Self-published work, that’s the level of pride I’m taking in this class.  Oh, which reminds me.. there are some notes in my back pocket, in the little pages, that I need for day 1’s lecture.  So excited to be back in the classRoom.  My student blend, what will it render in character, collectively and individually?

Just looked through little notes, and found a dialogue snippet from a coworker.  J said, “It smells like a penny in here.” Not sure how meaningful the line is, just thought it was interesting, random, strangely funny.  I remember I was standing behind the counter in the wine club member room, towards day’s end, when he said this.  Going to be a long day tomorrow, but it’s going to work for me in a number of ways.  Well, one way.. for the writing.  Bought two new Comp Books on way to the winery, this morning.  1, for winemaking notes [Tuesday mornings, and otherwise], and 2, for this Kelly novel I keep dipping in, out of.  Already posted to both blogs today.  Little spoken word to bx, and a photo I shot yesterday [with phone] to 1Stop.  Hoping for 1 more post [at least] per site before day’s end.  Was reading a friend’s blog just a minute ago, how she’s in Vegas on a business trip.  I’m almost there, to the road, to my motioned pages, all in another new Comp Book.  Or, no.. just the one I have upstairs, the older one.  Vegas, an interesting stage.  Is it Literary?  Well, with my perspective, yes.  So many characters, so much temptation, so much motion.  Had a guest in the tasting Room the other day that said he retired early ‘cause he hated all the travel his job demanded.  How could you hate travel, those strange hotel Rooms, dinning out [or in, your Room]?  He’s not a writer; He doesn’t have my sensitive sense of space, place.  And that’s not a fault of his, I just understand why someone like him wouldn’t like being on the road.  Of course, I don’t want to be mobile too frequently.. I have a little boy.  And I hate being away from him, my Little Kerouac.  But, in same, I need travel.  I need difference.  I need unfamiliar.  Excess domesticity will kill Artistry.

Quiet in castle.  I just think of what I would write on the road, from a hotel Room.  Probably about what I’m seeing from that floor.  Or, what’s around me in a restaurant in earshot of slot machines, casino ruckus.  Or what if I was in Miami like my sister was a couple months ago?  Would probably just write to the ocean, explain how this moment’s peace persists unique, holds me without speech.  After running on beach, return to Room, write about sights, what I saw, heard, what white I’ll start with.. Sauv Blanc?  Chard?  Maybe a dry Gerwurtz?  Depends on when my evening pouring is.  I’ll wait till after, have a Pinot.  Would love to pour out-of-state, like my friend, help my wine grow as a “brand.” Ugh, still hate that word.  BRAND, sounds so mechanized, so commercial, so soulless.  Just want to make my wine, travel with it, write in those legs.  How is that unreasonable?  Oh wait, is it?  Dreams, caressing best of me.

10:14pm.  Finding many of my former students support and wish me well on tomorrow’s re-entry.  One of my formers, A.C., stated that she was glad she experienced my whole “Let the monster expose itself for what it is” lecture, as she was recently confronted with a bit of bigotry.  Humbled I’ve positively rippled in certain capsules.  My syllabi, at ready.  Even a full lecture typed, copied.. and a page from Plath’s collection.  This semester, sure to put me on Stanford’s campus.  I don’t even know how to begin2thank my former students.  They still support me, have my back.  I need to be a soldier this semester for them, as well as these new seated sights.

Sipping some ’11 Sauv Blanc.  Still in winemaker mode, after today’s lab visit.  Thieving those Zin barrels had me thinking of authors inspired by other scribes.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as some integrity’s paginated, crystalized.  I know me.. all tomorrow in tasting Room, or on mountain, I’ll be thinking of my first lecture.  What a great sales angle, I realize.  Or maybe I should keep it to mySelf, be “low-key,” as Dad has always urged.  Think that’s what I’ll do, just envision what’s hours ahead, back on the road to Stanford.

Last sips of this SB, reflecting on amplitude of days summed.  I’m 33, and I think finally at Equilibrium’s border.  What would Kelly say?  “You deserve it,” probably.  What would Little London say?  “Good for you, Papa.” If anyone ever thinks I’m Self-centered, egocentric, they surely don’t know degrees to which I value opinions of ones loved.  Taking smaller SB sips, hoping it tells me something different.  Thinking I might do mine in ALL neutral oak.  But I don’t want it TOO neutral, as I learned today the perils of bacteria.  Have to call Kaz tomorrow, find out when my our Blanc’s touching down, as I’m finding more and more are pulling clusters now.  Seeing Self as cluster of Artful, Literary, POETIC activity, ready to be picked from domesticity’s dungeon.  It’s time, for me, my pages, words.  Edgy?  Maybe.  No, definitely.  And I’ll approach the classRoom with the same rattle.  At the end of day’s thousand, I think of travel, lecturing at out-of-state campuses on student empowerment through writing, journaled persistence.  I’m near my pick from normality’s, domesticity’s cordon.  Thinking of her comments on the monster.  They’re out there.  But writers aren’t timid.  Not in the least.  You’ll not only be exposed.. you’ll be thrown from your boastful throne.

(9/4/12, Tuesday)

composition book’s culture

Saturday.  On a Monday.  Meeting with Katie in a little over 3 hours.  But my main focus today, and this is after something Mom said the other night at the dinner table, here at the condo, is writing in a journal separate from the blog.  Somewhere personal.  Maybe to someday be released, or not.  why do I have to give all this writing away on this “blog?” Here I go again.  Either way, need to find the Comp Book.  That’s where I’ll start, re-start.  Cooler today than yester, that before as well I understand.

Just caught mySelf staring at this desktop clutter.  Have to stay focused, but on what?  I know, the journal, the verse…  But I’m distracted by the odd spacing this idiotic word processing program’s angrily implemented into this morning’s sitting.  Another reason why I need pen, paper.  What I really need is coffee.  Feel much better this morning than I did 24 hours past, but still.. Mike needs his mocha.  OR should I brew here in house?  More music, that’ll help me decide.  Beats…

10:12am.  Finally, caffeine.  Jack, down for A.M. siesta.  And the author, typing against wall.  I’ve always said, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block.” Still hold that conviction, but what I’m feeling in this seat I don’t quite like.  Something the screenwriter gentleman yesterday said ripples in this momentary thought puddle, about Mark Twain’s office.  Supposedly, it involved a pool table, bar, small desk.  That’s it.  Has me thinking of what I’d like in my office.. and honestly, I think even less than that.  Well, no, when you consider all the recording equipment I’ll have near my desk [yes, I do want to return to recording spoken word tracks, eventually].  Do I need a “bar,” no.  But, a composed little wine fridge would just finer suit.  On page 207 of this bottledaux doc.  What do I do with these pages when the blog’s done [5/24/13 now, one day before my 34th birth.. disgusting].  Will I just let them rot here in the monster’s memory tanks, as with mikeslognoblog?  Can’t.

Mocha’s not speaking to me with its usual elevated volume.  Oh, almost forgot about my gig at SFW today, some reserved “VIP” tasting on the Syrah patio.  AND, before I forget.. had a dream, last night obviously, about getting in trouble for something I wrote on bx, something about how I don’t like wearing uniforms.  The “manager” in the vision was from a couple jobs ago, actually a pretty nice guy but in real life he sold me out, upon termination, as another clownish “supervisor” was after my job already.  I woke thinking it actually happened, exhaled with celebratory jitters realizing it didn’t.  But even still, it had me thinking about how I put my writing in front of the world.  What would that “supervisor” have me do, not write at all?  Not think for mySelf?  Not writing, not an option.  And, reiterating, this Author’s not afraid of reaction.  From anyone.  Or any “industry.”

Now that that’s off brain, I just wait for winemaker lunch with Katie.  And, excited to eat at café Citti.  Haven’t had a dish from them in a while.  Won’t be having any wine, as I’ll be at the winery soon after–  And I’m bored of what I’m writing.  Thinking of where to go next, and the wall reappears.  Devil.

Should just skip to verses, spoken word.  Coherence, or at least conventional linearity, isn’t required there.  Poetry invites frustrations like this.  And it allows, nearly REQUIRES the tangential.  There’s music on poetry’s block.  Not here with prose.  Paragraphs.  Punctuation.  Formalities.  Writer ruffled.. apologies.

(7/23/12, Monday)

Rationing My Reason

[6/4/12]  Coffee, heated in house this morning.  Light rain, outside, if you’ll believe.  Kelly, still in thought.  Only goal for today, print pages in addition to “posting” to “blog.” Yes, you can tell by the quoted marks I’m not much blog-happy this A.M.  Why?  Because I want to write, not blog.  So, in Kelly’s spirit, that’s what I’m doing.  Or, WILL do.  Wonder what’s going on at AV this morning, how they did yesterday.  Won’t lie, I’ll miss those grounds, the wines, the people on my side of bar as well as opposing.

Kelly sips her coffee, just watches the rain.  She knows she should be painting, but would rather just live instead, for now.  Enjoy her morning.  The coffee, a little hotter than she likes.  But the Miles Davis track bouncing around her Room makes her forget the degrees.  She thinks about the other night, that wine industry Art show in Glen Ellen, just past the Wolf House; How she didn’t sell anything, and how her account  lowers in level, like Tahoe snow in late-Spring throws.  She feels more domesticated than she’d ever want to be, right now.  So she just paints.  Whatever comes to mind.  Shooting for the free.  Noting in tow, no appointments tying, anchored.  Painting her way through this damp delirium.  She thought about her upper division French classes, when she had chances to study abroad.  Not going, to stay where she was, with her going nowhere of nowhere boyfriend, his hope to be a superstar dirt biker.  She thought nothing foul of his sight of riding, if he tok it seriously.  Which he didn’t.  He wanted fame, flash.  Celebrity.  He anesthetized himself in his own dream, capsuled in a custom coma.  She did eventually go, after graduating, seeing all the New she could.  She only sketched while on roads, boats, the hopping plane rides traveling just over borders (some flights lasting just over 25 mins.  But she always wonders what it would have been like to STUDY there, in any of those countries.  In those streets, at those aromatic spots (the cheeses, warmed breads, wines, other baked finds), in those libraries, the museums.  Kelly hated wishing, as she was one easily annoyed hearing people around her, or even passing, voice their longings, focusing more on what they didn’t have; This probably stemming from him, whose name she could barely stomach in thought, much less herself verbally recount.  Should she just book a flight, use what money she does have?  She could see herSelf skipping down that rectangular hall to the plane’s doorstep.  She’d think about, seriously think about it.

The coffee’s starting to wear off.  Need a mocha.  More of that bitter, excessively audacious black French doesn’t appeal.  Where is my morning mocha, for this manuscript?  Just down the street.  I need it, to feed these travel fantasies.  New on the list, Croatia.  Want to see all beaches, villages, try all wines.  I wouldn’t mind simply staring at those century-old walls in Dubrovnik.  This may even take precedence over Austria.  The travel bug legion about my inner rivers multiplies, diversifies.  The roads, flights, waters…  Much closer.  They have to be.  Wouldn’t mind keeping a travel blog, but a pocket journal pairs better with notions and elements adventurous, spontaneous, expeditious.  Technology would only muddle experiences.  And how romantic is that, dragging a laptop with me on my stomps?

Researching Croatia…  Have to go.  Thinking about the pictures Dad showed me the other night, feeling impatient.  Don’t want to leave life without sipping distant unfamiliar sights.