Ouliposter-Badge-Plum-300x300Aka “line stretching.” From your newspaper text, pick two sentences. Add a new sentence between the first two; then two sentences in the new intervals that have become available; and continue to add sentences until the passage has attained the length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.


This constraint was more of a challenge than it seemed at first, since the number of blank spaces to be filled can grow quickly, and each addition changes the narrative, requiring a reassessment of which space should be filled next. I had already decided on a last line, so rather than having two consecutive lines for my starting text, I chose from two quite different subjects.


I would have found it less challenging if I had not spotted so many lines I wanted to use in the source text. So, my process was too long to show here.  And once again, I have a fairly long poem.






A hospital is the breeding ground for slang doctors use
to describe patients, situations, how many patients “boxed” that night,
medicine’s dark enduring secrets, the slang and coded words.

Dark, unexpected forces delve into the root causes of the turmoil:
the ability to distinguish between a person walking past and one who
wants to stop and chat, negotiate obstacles interpret postures,
a noise complaint from the neighbours, an erotic subtext whose film record
is a charmingly clunky precursor to the found-footage craze,
a soundscape of static and feedback, sudden bangs by champagne corks
popping or a bed collapsing under sexual activity rating 2½ stars out of 5.
Frequent flyers and cockroaches patients return to the ER
again and again investigating the clinical madness of the occult.


The kid-size robot acknowledges a raised hand, tracks three
conversations at once, sophisticated reactions, robotic legs,
five to 20 seconds to take each step, climbing, then buckling
falling over, kicking a leg to counterbalance like a primary school kid
helping his father pick up a newspaper in the morning.


A snitch for Israeli intelligence close to the inner circle of terrorism
found in the grass near Rome’s main airport, a famous terrorist — or freedom fighter
trapped in a house by the local community of rock-throwers. It’s a dangerous game.


There are several jolts: The so-called “sacred chin” of St. Anthony,
the saint’s jawbone and several teeth, St. Gennaro’s dried blood,
eight microphones, 14 power sensors and two stereo cameras that can
sweep 120 degrees, the fragment of bone, blood-stained cloth. The martyr’s blood
liquefies, all assembled into a kind of Frankenstein’s monster that never comes to life.


It evokes the hopeless complications from the other side of the security fence,
a more subtle kind of treachery. Obese patients are “whales” or “beemers,”
a play on body mass index. Old people, known as FTDs, failure to die, become
a symbol of impenetrable tragedy.


Cracking the code of hospital slang isn’t pretty. Some friggin’ Exorcist s—t
combined with a mad scientist theme. Add some flickering lights, flashbacks,
and a last-minute drive to the library miles from any notions of narrative coherence.
The Canadian Medical Association’s code of ethics: Doctors practice medicine
“in a manner that treats the patient with dignity and as a person worthy of respect”.
A tangle of loyalties as complex as the Middle East, reminiscent of Chinatown.
The enmities run deep.
Everyone is guilty of something.


CAS, April 25, 2014



Kirkey, Sharon, Are you a whale, “FTD” or a “cockroach”? Ottawa Citizen print edition , Postmedia News April 25, 2014 (A4)

Hagiwara, Yuki and Jie Ma, Asimo aids quest for robotic cars, Ottawa Citizen print edition, April 25, 2014

D’Emilio, Frances, Relics through the ages 6 things, Ottawa Citizen print edition April 25, 2014 (A12)
Stone, Jay, a few jolts, but no shocks, Ottawa Citizen, print edition, April 25, 2014 (E4)

Stone, Jay, An informant’s story told in hints and feints, Ottawa Citizen print edition April 25, 2014 (E2)











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  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Carol. It feels seamless and I was surprised to see the number of sources, and the varied titles, at the end. (Just to add a hint of human interest, in the misty long ago, I dated a doctor and he and his friends talked this way all the time. It’s the only way to stay sane in what could be a heartbreaking situation.)

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