December 12, 2012

Ink and Famine is back! Why start again today? Because this is the only 12/12/12 we get. So!: gate, photograph, grave, tongue. & four new words.

"Clap your own damn hands." --Doug Cox

What a year--a veritable saga of love, work, dancing, school, Internet Cat Video Film Festivals and potted meat products (well, not that last one). Was it a big year for you, too?

After recovering from various funk-dancing injuries, we here at Ink and Famine are back and rarin' to go! 12/12/12 seems like an ideal date for a resurrection; given our culture's tendency toward date-specific hysteria, we'd like to offer our own small antidote in the form of this new beginning.

Many thanks to those poets who submitted to us last winter and have been waiting this whole time to see the gate * photograph * grave * tongue post go up!

And now for the poems.

washing on the line
a maze of possibilities                                           (gate)

wood on bonehinge
keeping mother out                      (gate)

arc of cicadas
Janus crown                        (gate)

innocence surprised
as a paper skeleton              (photograph)

I once had
a clean pair of eyes                            (photograph)

graven images of seven caravans
a theft of arrivals
star watchers smiling                                       (photograph)

the porch wind chimes
forever singing "A"                 (photograph)

tree shadows on granite
always on a hill
with a view                                   (grave)

without grit
or bone
fertile inverted island              (grave)

Átropos shielding the sun from her eyes
as she waits with her shears                          (grave)

six small stones
for Abigail                                       (grave)

all we make that makes us
like elephants                              (grave)

"the wallpaper"
"yes" it replied                                       (tongue)

Madagascar fin               (tongue)

full pocket of quarters
at the all-you-can-drink milk stand                 (tongue)

And a couple of lovely poems inspired by all four words:

we await the moon, arms of trees
nothing separates us locked or broken
frames, metal or  limbs lean in and over
turquoise under inking blue me on my feet under you
a wall swings gaily us driving through
sad separation old as hills and onyx piled to still the posts
even they, we are:
foxes, flowers, the oak and gold

her face a gate unlocked
Helen, if I had a photograph
biting her pen cap fumbling in
her grave purse for the
petitioner’s proper tongue 
thank goddess I said yes

 Words for our next round are:

resin   *   hatchet   *   suitcase   *   stalk

Want to participate? Send your poems, inspired by and/or redefining these words, plus any suggestions for words you'd like to add to our growing, collaborative poets' lexicon, to Remember, all submissions are anonymous, and prone to be shared as widely as possible.

Welcome back. Peace in 2012!

Your friends at 
Ink and Famine

December 8, 2011

crown, cup, birth, lapis. & four new words!

Dearest Lexiphiles,

Oooh it's a chilly one! Before we make a fire & sit down for a grilled cheese and a good long read, here's our latest post, laden with the fruits of the prodigious minds that contribute to this wacky project. Enjoy.

head locked in a spotlight
of metal and stone                   (crown)

eyelet in a mansion of grandmother lace    (crown)

whether thorn
or gold
or paper crest
lord shaped words
sit heavy on the subject's tongue      (crown)

I grew accustomed to wrapping myself
in my own arms

now to let someone in
between me and me                                        (cup)

your cheeks in my fingers
crusted salt of brine
on the chalice curve                     (cup)

bark of a tree
and mold
bitter medicine brewed                    (cup)

good Irishwomen drink whiskey
even when it isn't there                         (cup)

stare into the sun to let your eyes bleach out
then fill them with arrival                                       (cup)

death scoops a ball of light from one mouth,
drops it into the next                                              (birth)

who are the buds that don't want to open?
we helped the iris--or so we thought--
turned her petals, tidied her veins; and if she did not smile,
the ground did.                                                                          (birth)

the first air gulp
saline & beach sand                           (birth)

little hiccup
god pearl
seed root at its finite song                          (birth)

my duty as a plagiarist
on this bitch of an earth         (birth)

border land
stink of marrow over the wall
he lowers his bow only
to kiss the queen                            (lapis)

wind rounded
undevoted to either corner of the world             (lapis)

tears of a faraway city
play closed lens with the pharaoh            (lapis)

Echo and the Bunnymen
33rd & Lyndale
December, full, sixteen                       (lapis)

compass thief
& proud                  (lapis)

open is birth is crown
or perhaps a cup of lapis
spilling over                                   (all)

Azure circlet drinking breath
(first stone holding reign)
a lord of water—anew                 (all)

She wears her basement
like a crown, her fist a cup.
A wheat grain at birth,
now on the cusp of life,
a broken lapis petal.                       (all)

Words for the next round are

gate       photograph       grave       tongue

Join us! Or keep on sending your fabulous, freshly created worlds. The quicker you send your poems (seven lines max each to, the quicker we'll post! & please remember to follow this blog, leave comments (including word suggestions) and tell your friends.

With butter on everything,

Ink and Famine

November 9, 2011

thorn spice cloud usurp + next batch of words to cook up

Mmm....we're rounding on the most delicious part of the year, and we're gearing up with some super satisfying sing-song soliloquy from our scrumptious scribblers.  With the smells of cinnamon and piñon (for some of us!) in the air, it's time to get down to the wholesome satisfaction of word spin.  Hit it-

Bay Rum
in your dreadlocks
island storms          (spice)

smell of your grandmother's hands        (spice)

creased, red palms
pepper & bergamot
holy bowls at stone feet
elephant rice dance
mangoes and honey
slither       (spice)

plains speak when seven
caravans call them path    (spice)

my geese were confused
went north and east
in imperfect formation      (cloud)

a wall with four rooms
each madman whispering softly through it    (cloud)

 wooden shutters get lonely
move away                                  (cloud)

your face outside my window
singing rain and spiral vine   (cloud)

 watching one animal as another
disappears                                         (cloud)

swallowing the whole earth
tree stump by
meadow by
mailbox        (cloud)

waterboulder rivermirror lungghost fix       (cloud)

curdled milk
in a blue china bowl-
chipped paint on the front door-
the years settling in                       (usurp)

 a tubercle calls
from the frangipani          (usurp)

my face shading yours from the sun
a yellow leaf over your right eyelid
your left eye remembering                   (usurp)

dancing to dusty love songs
with someone you used
to know                                      (usurp)

That's it for our latest variegated verbiage.  What's next on the grande platter? Please help us out with these words:

crown     cup     birth     lapis

Keep your inspirations under 7 lines, and send them over the wire to  We look forward to meeting your new words.  Until next time.

Bon Voyage!



October 26, 2011

innocence, snake, book, tremor. + words for our next round.

Dear Poets and Lexiphiles,

It's time to do the sugar skull bop, and raise our glasses to the phantoms. What a delicious time of year.

We're so glad we waited a little longer & collected more poems from you for this post. Here is a sample of the work we received in response to our last round:

Chopin's Waltz for Piano in Opus 18    (innocence)

a white petal, bending
on own thorn
before the winters come        (innocence)

I am led through a corn maze
the husks silver tongues with
full throats -
the priests float through the stalks
my flesh crawls
back, away, through the roots            (innocence)

we'll take New York, innocence I mean we'll take innocence
New York

feed it tenements & tear gas                                                           (innocence)

tiny moon of flesh, your flesh, immune to brutality          (innocence)

beloved pulp of soma
between goddess fingers -

the ultimate border of sky and earth -

the longest trail of stars in the achromatic pitch of heaven    (snake)

An old reliable string                (snake)

visitor from the sad phrase
wearing the small dress of your own bare feet           (snake)

conversation between Salieri and the dead
rolled-up newspaper tucked into the broken gate         (snake)

lock in key where the eye once was
page turn, glue & pulp
aggregate universes
each one in need of a name                 (book)

argosy's charred ghost             (book)

my first steps without looking down
sacred bread placed under my tongue
the handmaid & the crone singing in tune
a white desert to bury black tears                          (book)

touch a ruined wall: a tree grows.
everywhere you place your fingers, vines.
color. clematis. raspberry bushes. strange cats come near
each time you do this.                                                              (book)

Always, forever, home of the brave, home of the banned            (book)

my hand on your thigh
between white sheets                (tremor)

the soft hiccup
that released craggy mountains -
Hades missing his mantelpiece             (tremor)

someone there was calling
across the ravine
words falling down the canyon
in competition with the wind                 (tremor)

earth bands bleeding red to white
a quick shudder, shoulder dance of the mesa             (tremor)

A spare parachute of percussion        (tremor)                                        

underlying perceptions are trembling
coiled in the road
awaiting certain death                                (snake, tremor)

Reversal of the Southern Oscillation
tremors in another la Nina year,
snake dry. A page in Mother Nature's
book of innocence, repaid with
human maleficence.                                        (all)

Yee-haw. Wünderbär. More. More, please!

Words for the next round are

thorn       spice       cloud       usurp

So show us another corner of your lovely brain & send poems via email to Please leave comments, jokes, queries, compliments, harangues, prayers & word suggestions for our next round below.

Happy writing, all!

Ink and Famine

September 27, 2011

carapace, mandrake, caravan, apothecary... & the next round of words.

Something about the approach of a darker season, perhaps, made this a particularly juicy group of words for our contributing poets. The air grows thick with woodsmoke and unnameable spice; in some subterranean alchemical laboratory, muttering homunculi wave their gnarled hands over the cauldron of our thoughts: 

I lay up in the canopy of your belly
my pink toes against your soft liver
rabbit eyes be damned
I have made my home in a turtle whale       (carapace)

mildewed shame carried
in my body's every dark
and secret cell.                   (carapace)

tarnished heart turned inside-out      (carapace)

leave the last lines of the play unspoken         (carapace)

no matter my coffee stain on your bone
or the heaviness of my stew in your bowels-
you still won't love me                                   (mandrake)
silver on a lady's finger
crooked at the bone
salting a meal                    (mandrake)

keening of wasted lust
in a white basin                     (mandrake)

gallows root
sends up a shriek for the murdered
for the innocent man                            (mandrake)

a reckless train rams
anger against intellect
into endlessness                  (caravan)

pile of ant legs
and no bulbous middle parts
all rolled away with the pebbles on a white beach       (caravan)

finding the same smile in three generations of women
the wagon wheels pull
woven silks drop

"you will spit sour from the mouth at the birth of your sons -
but one sweet spittle, save for your girl child"                         (caravan)

the cartomancy d'une nuit blanche
tells you it's unlucky
to travel by boat                                  (caravan)

your beat
my beat
where the heart meats mix        (apothecary)

I shave my bone to spell you
to mix with the mandrake,
readying my chains
& toothed key                              (apothecary)

The severed plant will produce another flower.
Mullein, mugwort, mandrake and myrtle,
you are burned as a witch
in some other world. You are Keats,
sniffing out your own medicine.                (apothecary)

Man, do we love it when you use all four words in a single poem, recasting not just each word, but the group as a whole:

Sculpt an apothecary
from the blood of carapaced
immigrants. Hide the mandrake,
laudanum and sea urchin spines
from their caravan of pain.                 (all)

Frisson-o-rama. Many thanks to all who sent poems! Please, keep 'em coming. Tell your friends. This is fun.
Since we find time to post every couple of weeks or so--when it feels just right, & when we have enough time and submissions--we'd do better to call this the next round o' words, rather than next week's words:

innocence         snake         book         tremor
Leave a comment below to offer up your suggestions for words to explore!
Until we meet again--
Ink & Famine

September 14, 2011

matchstick, tower, sacred, volcano + next week's words

It’s been quite the end to summer! Hurricanes, caravaning cross country, getting lost in the deserts and forests that surround us; looks like we set down our hatbox of undefined words and took to the air, feeling the feathers pull from our hide.  A much needed apology for allowing a longer than desired hiatus, but the mind is often in need of the intake of new air before it is allowed to spout out new words.  And with that, here is what we pulled down out of the ether...

Your love, a sacred volcano
towering in this old heart
like matchstick voodoo.    (all inclusive!)

letting go of the statue’s hand
a ring of ash whispered into your palm     (matchstick)

young slave watering the gardens of
Babylon, city of closed arms

when little flame
stilted her house
to keep the waves away            (matchstick)

that single, delicate hair on your hardening nipple         (matchstick)

anyone who really looks you in the eye
is beautiful              

Vanzetti said
                       I am innocent
and sat down in the deathchair

the god
needing something
stands up

the watch point
the base keep
where my hair is all locked up                  (tower)

edifice built of countless scraps of paper
covered in words borrowed from unheard songs      

prism of your plasma
wanting to flow into mine
juices together
pulpy, sweet          (tower)

soul, don't go
one face turns to another so seamlessly
identity drops like a silk dress         

listening to a heartbreak song
with one you plead silent
not to break your heart

a coin taken from a well
your wish in my pocket         (sacred)

everywhere you step
someone's bed
someone's altar      

some stranger's breath stirs my dust      (sacred)

tears from Guadalupe
around my neck
one clear word
strung after another            (sacred)

the composer says goodbye to his earthly body
with two hands
the painter with one           

what flows between the me
in the bed and the me traveling
in pictures of grief           

from branch to brick, this town
is made of women
women's souls hush this place and keep
what water is left
running uphill              

you still drink the explosion       (volcano)

natural bad luck
a peacock feather's eye on the wall        

red birds rise toward home        (volcano)

her ruby lips
blow you down
there’s that “L” word again         (volcano)

long demon tongue
lapping hard at the wet sky       

smear of ash
on a dignitary's tablecloth             

We hope that these words find you well with the earth cooling off, the scent of soil and changing leaves promising the turn of the season.  If you would so please, we would love to hear how you would define-

carapace    mandrake     caravan       apothecary

Please submit your poems to  And if you have any suggestions for words you would like to see redefined, please post them in the comments down below.  See everybody next week!

Yours in sonnets, haiku & even a little bit of iambic pentameter:



August 18, 2011

dance, honey, blood, rule. + next round o' words.

Lexiphiles, we salute you! Missed you last week; there was some traveling going on, both mental & corporeal. We'll be back on schedule with every-Monday postings next week.

We love the response we got to this group of words. Here are some of our picks from a whole juicy two weeks' worth of submissions:

abandon back story
choose body               (dance)

the key in the lock
peach pit
a fire you cannot put out      (dance)

when two trunks
mine & yours
kiss bark
& entangle root    (dance)

honeyed words
and the blood and guts of our lives
thrusts us into past and future
regrets and fears                                 (dance)

practice of being present in the moment    (dance)

the touch of the devil
on the tip of your soul       (dance)

a salacious heel turn
in the beat of traffic
two fold                      (dance)

leather fold in the master's keep
hoof & bit
hot body turning under weight & pull            (dance)

killing a lover
in the midst of a sonata          (dance)

don't       (dance)

brow sweat & tear
licked from chalice lip          (honey)

the earth pot in which
a small child holds his endless swim        (honey)

a ground dance
leading northwest
to the door of the soothsayer           (honey)

the still dance of a toothed butterfly
sharpened, polished
on a wizard's cane                                  (honey)

I love you
I miss you
come find me        (honey)

perfume of a female beast
wetting her palms
staining her bone white teeth       (blood)

a made sacrifice
for one more wing
one more wish                  (blood)

a bridge between calf
& ankle
sisters forever                  (blood)

liquid, solid
binds us all
despite the shame        (blood)

quick to mix with water
and confuse the issue             (blood)

from bowl cap to knee bone
a stagnant fire
that holds up the dance          (blood)

leaving behind the rolling cassocks
small white blossom
in the bosom of a dead man's hand         (blood)

it seemed so simple
red dots
red line
red pool         (blood)

when the caterpillar refuses the light
& the air
& dines in darkness on his feet                  (rule)

blue silk curtain
dividing chanteuse from song           (rule)

not an implicit understanding
you got to carve it into stone
for it to be a rule                         (rule)

bottle cap, rusted
leaning on the sill
where feasts used to cool
in the Kansas heat                  (rule)

you make a box
you live in a box
you cherish the box
the box falls apart             (rule)

my chisel wasn't sharp enough      (rule)

& this time, we got two poems that use or encompass all four words:

Do they still dance to Haydn's Symphony No. 43
in Hungary, like honey never decomposing
but fermenting, or like ephemeral eagle's
blood in the fog of Haydn's Symphony No. 88?
Who rules in the essence of his ether?

you with your hips
me with no boundaries


So, next weeks' words are

matchstick      tower      sacred      volcano

Send your poems of seven lines or less, re-imagining or defining these words, to And please, if you are waving your hand in the virtual air because you've got your heart set on seeing a particular word undergo this collaborative poetic transformation, leave us a comment below!

O happy day, calloo, callay--

Ink and Famine