Sunday 26 November 2017

Grant Me Atonement for Mesostics by Sheila Ash

A mesostic is a poem arranged so that a vertical phrase intersects lines of horizontal text. It is similar to an acrostic, but with the vertical phrase intersecting the middle of the line, as opposed to the beginning of each line. (

Jackson Mac Low developed a type of non-intentional composition using index words to select pieces from an already existing text. This he called “diastics” or “reading through” the source. This was further developed and used extensively by the experimental composer John Cage

When Cage began to write mesostics, he adopted Mac Low's acrostic procedures, but with an important difference. Whereas Mac Low lets chance operations generate the entire text, Cage uses these operations to generate the word pool to be used and the rules to be followed, but he then fills in lines with "wing words," generated, as he repeatedly put it, "according to taste." (see

There are two types of mesostic:

· In a 50% mesostic, the given letter capitalized can occur between it and the following capitalized letter

  • In a 100% mesostic it cannot

Luckily, there is a mesostic generator to help in this process which takes as its input the source text to be “read” and the word or phrase to be used as the “spine” of the resultant mesostic.

The theme of this week’s Writing Class homework was “penance” so I took as my source text the text of the “Song of Penance” , using as my spine phrase “Grant me atonement” and applying the 50% mesostic rule.

Song of Penance

Against You alone have I sinned,
and have often done evil before You.
You see the guilt that deserves Your curse;
see also, God, my suffering.

From You I do not hide my prayers and sighs,
and my tears are before You.
Ah, God, my God, how long should I suffer?
How long will You leave me?

Lord, treat me not according to my sins,
Treat me not according to my guilt.
I seek for You; let me find Your face,
God of forbearance and patience.

May you fill me early with Your grace,
God, Father of Mercy.
Help me for Your name's sake,
You are my God, who gladly helps.

Let me once again happily walk your path
and teach me Your sacred law
so that I can mold myself daily to Your will;
You are my God, I am Your servant.

Lord, hurry to my aid, my Protector,
and lead me on the right path.
He hears my cries, the Lord hears my prayer
and takes my soul in charge.


With minimal changes this reads -


© Sheila Ash, 26th November 2017

Monday 20 November 2017

Forgetfulness by Sheila Ash

A missing button left undone
My half drunk cup of coffee
now cold. Where is my scarf?

Buster paces round unsettled
“Mum, I still need my dinner money”
Where is my purse? I must be daft

to leave it in the bathroom sink
Now why’s the snake atop the cooker
when its meant to stop the front door draft?

© Sheila Ash, 20th November 2017

Sunday 19 November 2017

The world according to - by Sheila Ash

Lets go to Ben Brown in Harare, a momentous morning.

Yeah. When you think about it….

Lucy, tidy those toys up. I won’t tell you again.

- for almost 4 decades….whom she forced out – gotta find a way to constitutionally remove him – - that’s if he doesn’t go voluntarily -

Rocky. Basket. Now.

Always under my fuckin’ feet

- everyone pretty much would like to see - he’s being pretty stubborn about it as he has been for years -

Jake, what you want with your bacon?

- the dawn of a new era, he can go farming -

sausage? you got sausage?

- the decision has been taken - - has come 180 degrees since last week –

Josh, get dressed, out of those PJs now, move

- how much more humiliation he’s prepared to accept –

Where’s your brother, he up yet?

no make that fried eggs, luv.

- what his demands are? What potential fate –

Tim, get up or you won’t get to the game on time

- we will go back on the streets and we will sort this out ourselves – - was running out by the minute –

Watch the timer Rosie, when it’s emptied, you shout me, OK?

- veneer of legality –

Rocky! Not again

- trying to find the right words –

Luce, get hold of that pup.

- legal process still has to catch up with that – he simply becomes irrelevant -

You wanted a dog now learn how to control it

- a key part of negotiations -

else it will have to go

- his own sense of his own dignity -

- he refuses to accept reality ….his world has vanished -

Mum I can’t find my football shorts

- we’ll fix this -

On the ironing pile

- most people do not know another leader. The fact that he’s being turfed out…

- respect for elder, elders should be treated with dignity

Rosie, go get your dad. Breakfast is ready

- it was extraordinary, he dressed up in academic robes - - for him it looked like business as usual

Ding Dong

- what follows?

Mum, Rocky’s messed the floor! Yuck.

- people power, things have changed –

Jake, can you get the door, it’ll be Amazon

- ruled by autocracy -- to move on, whoever –

Mrs Johnson?

Yes, sign here.

Can you lift that in for me.

Thank you.

- transitional government leading to elections next year - - fractured opposition… - the path ahead uncertain -

OK. Luce, Rice Crispies.

Rosie, Boiled egg.

Josh, bacon sannie.

Jake, bacon, sausage, fried eggs.

Tim! Porridge is getting cold!

- at the moment people are just celebrating –

Where’s the coffee?

- Ben Brown in Harare, thanks very much

© Sheila Ash 19th November 2017

Monday 13 November 2017

List poem – messages in a bottle by Sheila Ash

A bottles of bargains bought and sold
A vial of vintage vitriolic venom
A flask of famous faces frozen
A keg of kept ‘kerchiefs scorned
A jar of Jessie’s Jams and Jellies
A can of couldn’t careless confessions
A pan of pleasant people’s pooches
A bag of breakups from bastard lovers
A cup of curious cameos carried
A tube of turbulent arguments traded
A sack of sacrilegious sacraments
A dungeon of dangerous daggers drawn
A pot of portents passed over
A cylinder of silly songs and sayings
A glass of glories past and present
A drain of dying dreams

© Sheila Ash 13th November 2017

Thursday 9 November 2017

White noise by Sheila Ash

Sex scandals scream incessantly
Fumbling breathless depravity
Stirring popular empathy
Media’s trivial recipe.

News and truth lie abolished
Is our BBC still honest?
Languishing in luscious lethargy
Mortgages paid but integrity
lost to an afterthought
Today’s commentariat comments not.

Musing at ministerial meanderings
Bar-room badgering and bantering
Concealing governmental incompetence
Whispering in gossipy confidence
Resulting in little but resignation
A mild muttering of indignation.
Acquiescing window dressing
Hidden agendas constant progressing.

Moghuls masquerade in many guises
Manipulating their enterprises
Shifting slight of hands accounting
Millions mounting, thousands drowning.
Distance denying food bank lifes
Children deprived of basic rights
Housed in unwanted offices
Siding stranded odysseys
Residences on roads to nowhere
Pushed away by warfare
Armed by welfare that doesn’t care
Charge ‘em for water, charge ‘em for air.

Dreams decay in desperation
Delusions despair in domination
Life imbalanced souls lie calloused
Quietly seething spite and malice
Against the empty mansions
Funded by offshore factions
Sunlight glints in benefaction
Incurable illusionary putrefaction.

Paradise papers light the nights
Scratching the itch of parasites
Lesions lacerating our nation’s health service
Dropping through austerity’s deepening crevice
Disenfranchised, lied to, left to fend and Brexit-less
Festering wounds map the side of social justice.

© Sheila Ash, 9th November 2017

Thursday 2 November 2017

Breaking bends by Sheila Ash

imageStep on a line, break your
Jump the tracks
The road to nowhere
Less travelled
Is fraught with dangers
Approach with caution
Best foot
Forward into the breech
Enemies at the gate
Closed behind
No way back
The point

© Sheila Ash, 2nd November 2017

Creative Writing Ink Prompt November 2nd 

Yanking my chain by Sheila Ash

20 minutes -
don’t prevaricate
dash to shop
all in hand
- bugger it!
doesn’t work
where’d I go wrong?
- make tea

© Sheila Ash 2nd November 2017