© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

out of the office

the Grandpa will be out of the office for the most part this coming week. I will try to check in occasionally. And I'll catch up after the first of the year. In the meantime I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year celebration and holiday.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Son

I should be glad of another death.

Come away. Forgive my father. His mind.
I used to think we’d learn from him, but look:
he broods; relives those half remembered, half dreamed
journeys through Rome’s aging empire.

A fine sight
they must have made those three — bowing
before peasants. He believes in myths
that come from bending over books too long
and gazing at fires while his own embers grow cold.
Now he looks for meaning from that other’s life
crossed with his.

I often find him silent,
under stars or nodding before closed books,
tamed by too much peace. His time has gone.

Let him shiver — seek out death in this cold
and wait, the way others wait for the returning sun.

Originally published in Ball State University Forum, Autumn 1988 (1989)
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I didn't have anything to give you, so I stole this

This is Enya. The language is Irish. I found the video at Sukipoet's site. I could not not share it with you. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope you find joy this holiday season and that next year brings you and everyone with whom you share your life peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New definitions

Here are the results of the Washington Post's neologism competition. Enjoy. (You'll probably need to click the button in the upper right hand corner of the screen below in order to read it.)

Washington Post Neologism Contest

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Advent Dance

Yesterday with the tree planted in its stand,
the tinsel being all that was left to do,
and the Celtic music filling the room
with the richness of its Irish brogue,
we danced, father and daughter, a jig.

And as I reached up to drape the branches
in their silver shimmer and felt the pain
make its way across my arm and chest,
I knew the last thing I would say would be
I’m glad we danced.

Originally published in Pivot, No. 54. Summer 2002
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday fun day

This blog is about a life with words. So enjoy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Miracle

It’s as if the statue moved — just a hair
But moved. With my own eyes I saw it turn,
The gold glitter of the crown dance then spurn
All sense to leave its place in the sun. The air
Was charged with stained light and I knelt down there,
Half in fear — yes — but I felt my soul yearn
To touch a marble hem and thereby learn
A secret of God that would be mine alone to share.
There should be, I thought, music, but there was none.
Only the wind through the choir loft — and my breath.
All was as it had been, and I, the only one
To see it, stood alone as at my own death.
With dread I stepped forth, and yet I did so believing
That no loving god could ever be so deceiving.

Originally published in Wisconsin Review, January 1976
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Proof that there is no past or future. There is only now.

And the people I send my money too are guardians of it.

This was in the letter that accompanied our Home Owners Association assessment bill:

The Board of Directors is very pleased to announce that there will be no increase in association dues assessment for 2009.

Vinings Estates, The Registry, and the Ridge residents' assessment will remain unchanged at $550 and is due in total by January 15, 2009.

The Cove and East Gate residents' assessment will remain unchanged at $365 and is due in total by January 15, 1009.

At least the people who live in The Cove are hoping there is only now, because the penalty on that could be pretty steep.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Too good not to share

I got the link for this from The Itsy Bitsy Monkey. It's just too good to not share.

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On Taking First Communion in the Hospital After He Was Struck by a Car

(March 5)
When he heard the angels sing, they sounded more
Like sirens. Strapped to a board, riding through
The red-lighted city, he called out for
His mother to make them stop. He’d lost a shoe.
His stomach hurt, and their song, he knew, was death.

He couldn’t see her, but he heard her speak
To men up front then say to him, It’s best
To let them be. It’s not that far. Just keep
Holding my hand
. He asked her was he dying.
Of course you’re not. God’s not done with you.

When they arrived, they made her let go her hold.
I can’t come, she said, I have to do what I’m told,
And left him by himself in a room, lying
On a table, afraid to think what God might do.

(March 19)
White walls and sheets, white pillow. Pale white light
From fluorescent tubes. Even his gown is white.
The priest wears a black cassock and white surplice,

Takes out a gold case he lays on the white surface
Of the bedside table, and holds up a wafer
Whiter than the prayer book his father placed there.

What did they say he was to say? My Lord,
I am not worthy. But only say the word
And my soul will be as white as this room I’m in.

The body tastes sweet, but not as sweet as the wine
That follows. And when he hears his mother’s voice
It seems an angel speaks and says the choice

To take communion is an early sign
He surely has a place in God’s design.

(April 20)
Days pass, then a month. It seems forever.
Then a nun arranges them two by two.
They march across the street together.
They wait their turn in a wooden pew.

Then a nun arranges them two by two
To go inside the confessional box.
They wait their turn in a wooden pew.
They listen while the sister talks.

To go inside the confessional box,
She says, they’ll need to remember their sins.
They listen while the sister talks.
She tells them how confession begins.

She says they’ll need to remember their sins
To ask the priest to be forgiven.
She tells them how confession begins
With an act of genuine contrition.

To ask the priest to be forgiven
They march across the street together.
With an act of genuine contrition
Days pass, then a month, it seems forever.

(May 19)
Once in the church they stand against the wall
As sister shows them how their hands must point
To heaven and their eyes always look down
As if they were little lambs. Then she calls
Them to the altar railing. When they join
Her there, she makes them kneel. Don’t look around.

First wait, then cross your arms over your chest.
Look up, put out your tongue, and close your eyes.
Remember, remember this. Whatever you do,
Never open your mouth and never chew.
Just bow your head. You’ve the living God inside.
Let the host dissolve and know that for the rest
Of your life God will always be a part
Of you, both in your mind and in your heart

(May 24)
On Sunday children gather at the school
And walk across the street, like little lambs.

They enter the church where sunlight filters through
The blues and reds of sainted glass. Their hands
Pointing to heaven, they walk down the aisle.

Sister said no first communion a second time,
And so from a place apart he watches while
Each takes the bread and sees none gets the wine.

In the vestibule he stands off to one side.
His father shakes their hands. The nuns delight
In patting heads of carefully combed hair
And call each a vessel where God abides.

He suffocates in all the filtered light
But once outside dissolves in the sun’s white glare.

Originally published in The Edge City Review Number 19. Volume 6 No. 3 (March 2004).
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I didn't say that

The first article that I actually got paid for (winning essay contests when you're in elementary school doesn't count as getting paid) was an article about an education program run by the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. I wrote it for the press office of United Way, and I dropped it off to the editor in person. She told me to have a seat and then took the article out of the envelope and proceeded to read it with a red pen in her hand in front of me. When she finished, she looked up at me, smiled, and said, "Not bad. We just need to add a couple of quotes. We'll put one here, one here, and another one here. . . ." As she said that, she took the red pen and put quotation marks on either side of several sentences.

Writing feature articles -- especially "writing for hire" -- is not the same thing as writing news articles where accurate quotations are absolutely essential. Quotes in an article about treating allergies or building model airplanes generally aren't there to become part of the public record. They are there to add authority, offer a particular perspective, make the writing interesting, and accomplish other similar goals. The rules are different than the rules for putting quotes in newspapers or in an article about foreign policy in The Nation.

So what are the rules?
  • The first one is you don't make things up out of thin air. If you are going to quote someone, what's said in the quote needs to actually have come from the person who said it.
  • The second rule is that while you can selectively use what a person says and actually rearrange the order in which it was said, you provide enough information so you don't take what was said out of context. It's wrong to use it in a way the person would never have intended.
  • The third rule is you maintain as much as possible the actual voice of the person you are quoting without making that person sound like an idiot.

So these rules aren't really that hard to understand, are they? So why do I get copy from "professional" writers writing for an educational Web site like this:

"Stress is certainly a factor in individuals with any common disease," Jones says. "Reducing stress with yoga, breathing exercises or diet are all benefits. I would never say don't take your medication for acute disease management, but it's not just about medication or allergy shots. It's about treating the stress and immune systems and we're learning that every day."

Now if I were Dr. Jones, I'd certainly call the Web site publisher and say, "I never said anything like that at all." The truth is he probably did because, for the most part, we don't talk the way we write. And I'm guessing all the writer did was simply copy the quote directly from her notes or the transcript of her interview tape. But even so, if the writer isn't going to take the time to see if the quote actually makes sense, it would have been a simple courtesy to have reviewed the quotation with Dr. Jones and given the good doctor a chance to show that he actually is literate.

But obviously, neither one of those things happened. So the editor's job is to sort out the language that's there, decide what the actual message is, and what part needs the weight of authority, what's not important, and what needs to get the emphasis. Obviously, there's more than one way to handle the information. Here's what I did:

“I would never say don't take your medication,” Jones says. “But it's not just about medication or allergy shots.” Jones tells HealthyNewsSite.com that stress is a common problem for anyone with a health condition. And, he says, using techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, and diet to reduce stress can be very beneficial.

Moving the quote about taking medication to the start of the passage gives the whole passage an air of traditional authority: the doc says take your medicine. But then, the second quote emphasizes there is more to it than just that. The reader has been alerted -- by the doctor -- to the fact that what follows is the important part of the message. Now there's no longer any reason to put the rest of the message in quotes. The good doctor sounds intelligent. The garbled message has been sorted out, and the reader knows it's important to do something about reducing stress.

[NOTE: Dr. Jones and HealthyNewsSite.com are fictitious names. Why? I need to be able to keep working for this client.]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Words in air

There was a great piece on All Things Considered last night about the relationship between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop based on the letters published in Words in Air edited by Thomas Travisano. It is definitely worth listening to, which you can do here.

At one point in the broadcast, talking about Bishop's approach to writing, Jacki Lyden points out, "It wasn't unusual for her poems to take decades to write." I can relate to that.

The poem "Getting On" took close to 20 years to write. I started it before my divorce from my first wife. It was a way for me to explore what was happening between us. I guess I just kept exploring until the poem made sense to me.

Over those 20 years, the poem did not go through any major changes. The metaphor of a migratory journey and the disconnect between the two migrants was obvious from the beginning, as was the general direction of the move from east to west. The images in the poem had sort of all come together over a period of a couple of days that were more or less spent journaling about the history of a failed relationship.

So why did it take 20 years? For one thing I never really had an end to the poem. I thought I did multiple times, but I would let it sit and then go back to it and pick it up and find the ending flat. So I'd rework the images and the lines in the entire poem. I'd take out what I thought was deadwood. I'd rethink this word and then that word. I'd change the cadence, the line breaks. I'd rethink the allusions. And it was all an effort to understand where the poem was going.

During those 20 odd years, my enthusiasm for writing, my energy for making it work, my success, and even my desire to write fluctuated wildly. The one thing that stayed constant was the poem. Then, shortly after I completed the manuscript for my book, I sat down and wrote the end of the poem. It was effortless. It was as if the words were in the air all the time.

the Grandpa's note: I don't really know how to tell the story of my writing career, other than to talk about the things I write. To be honest it helps me when I think about what I do. So thank you, Lilly. And thank you, Braja. I know this probably isn't what you were asking for, but it helps me to put it down. I have one poem (I consider it my best poem) that actually took forty years to write. But I also have some other poems that people have said are pretty good that I basically wrote in an afternoon, or less. I'll talk about them, too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday fun day

* Once again, I've been stealing (as always I'll give it back if she asks me to) from Gran, who by the way is having a lot of fun with her new camera. Check out her pictures of Seattle and the snow they have there. Anyway she had this link for checking the color of your rainbow, and I just had to share it here because I liked what it said about me.

Your rainbow is slightly shaded violet.

What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

(For some reason, the HTML isn't working to show the colors of the rainbow. But if you try it, you'll get to see the colors of your own rainbow as well as the nice things it says about you.)

* Post Script to yesterday's American Deli sign post: On the wall behind the counter, they had another sign. Unfortunately I didn't see it before I ordered, or else I would have rethought my sense that this was going to be a fast food experience:
We won't give money back once you order and pay and we start to fix your food. So thank you for not asking.
No. I didn't ask. The cook looked mean.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The last line says it all

I saw this sign in a fast food joint ironically called The American Deli.
Dear my customer
The fish suppliers has increased their cost incredibly high, we regret to inform you that we have no choice to raise our fish price for continuous service.

Thank you for understanding.

I'm sorry, what? I don't understand. Could you repeat that?

Friday, December 12, 2008

This was supposed to be in my Spotlight over there in the sidebar==>.

But Google blogger is causing me all kinds of problems tonight. It keeps kicking me out of the URL I want and says it wasn't found on this server. BUT! It was there before you kicked me off to the error page. SO SOMETHING FOUND IT.

Okay. It was a long day. I edited a particularly hard article that the writer could have made a lot easier. So I'll calm down. Beacuse I do want you to see Braja's post. This is where it is. (Click through for the comments on your own.) If you have trouble keeping it on your screen when you get there, let me know. It means we have to tell Braja somehow. Did anybody copy down her phone number?

As far as the spotlight goes, being a starving artist myself (Thank God S has a job!) Book Boost deserves to stay there a few more days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Matter of Mind

[Grandpa's note: Lilly from Lilly's Life left me a comment saying she wouldn't mind reading more about my writing career. I would love to oblige, but somehow on a very basic level, I don't know how to do the telling. Writing is just something I've always done. This poem, which is the title poem from my book that was published a few years ago wasn't originally about my writing (the one that follows it was). But it's a way to begin the telling.]

I had no way to tell you because words
made it a matter of mind. But that morning
two hawks in circle dance cried above me
as I longed for their wings, wished to grow wings.

Pictures, perhaps, but I was no painter
who could catch the crow flapping above mowed fields.
Nor was I a musician to make music
like the music of gulls rocked by the wind.

The mind would not do. That night I heard owls
& felt bones of mice under foot while I let
my cigarette burn itself out, wishing
only to extinguish the mind that raced
through thought after thought like a mockingbird
caught in a web of meaningless melody.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

[The following poem, which I wrote sometime before 1978 (when it was included in my master's thesis--I went back to finish my bachelor's when I was 29) was meant to be about my relationship with writing, particularly writing poetry.]


Her child-combed hair that smells of hay,
Thighs dusted with plowed earth,
She sheds her patterned dress and climbs
The attic stairs to me.

And we collide among the cries
Of angry springs, sterile
Thrusts, and pain of ruined farmers'
Sons. A shotgun across

His chest, her father sleeps. Look. Smell
The sweat of honest work.
This girl works as hard as any
Man. Now she's mine, until

Dawn, when he and I see her work
The fields, saddle shoes filled
with air next to school books along
The road that melts in light.

Originally published in Poet Lore, Winter, 1985.
© copyright 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Just a little post script -- For the past six years, my office has been in the attic.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Veils

I’ve won my uncle’s heart and bring you proof
Of your revenge. This platter, Mother, is
My gift to you, who taught me how to put
The hunger in men’s souls. Today I learned
How deep their twisting streams of passions run.

As you had said, my uncle’s cowardice
Could not exceed his beastly lust for me,
And your accuser’s paid the price you set
To satisfy an old man’s lechery.
So here’s your prize. But now I want it back.

If I had known this man whose head I bring
He might have tempted me with righteousness
And certainty. I know this from his eyes.
The soldiers could not close them. Even now
Your hate can’t make them shut. See how they burn.

They threw my uncle’s body into fits
And made him lose his appetite for me.
He lost his dinner too. He’s such a fool.
But here’s no fool. These eyes that will not close
Undress our souls. They see our nakedness.

You’ve had revenge. My uncle’s had his fun.
I’ve one request before we put these things
To rest. Give me the head. Let me preserve
It here beneath these veils. In time, its eyes
Might drive us mad, or teach us how to see.

Originally published in The Formalist, Volume 14, Issue 2. 2003.
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Monday, December 8, 2008

A regifting that works

Sarah at Sarah Laurence Blog is hosting a book boost at her site (see the spotlight post). and lots of bloggers are posting their recommendations for books that make good gifts this holiday. For instance, Bee at Bee Drunken posted her list this morning, and Just a plane Ride Away posted her list on Sunday. If you're stumped about what gift to get someone this holiday season, you'll have plenty of ideas if all you do is check those three sites. (You may even find some additions for your own wish list.)

We have thousands of books. I call them our wealth. But because S buys and I buy, and we both came into the relationship with our own library, we have lots of books that one or the other of us hasn't read.

A few years ago (I know, this isn't exactly within the guidelines for Book Boost, but it is another gift idea), S and I wanted to scale back how much we were spending at Christmas. The whole gifting thing had gotten out of hand and Christmas had become too commercial for our liking. (Actually we were watching our pennies because of some weird things happening in our employment arenas.) So we each went through our books and chose 15 to 20 books we wanted to "give" to one another. We included notes that we tucked into each book before we wrapped it that explained why we thought it made a good gift for the other. Then we wrapped them and put them under the tree and had a grand Christmas morning filled with surprise.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday fun day

I'm the Grandpa, which means I'm at that age where I'm supposed to do things to keep my mind active. Problem is S works the crossword puzzle before I can get to it, and I'm not a big fan of soduku. (Of course it wouldn't matter if I was, because she works that too. However, there is a puzzle I do like. In fact, if you're good at drawing mental maps (S isn't) it's downright addictive. It's called Hidato, and you can find the puzzle daily here.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

When it's good, it's good

I have been known to criticize sports writing. But I found this lead this morning in an article about today's ACC championship game between Boston College and Virginia Tech, and when a sports writer does it right. . .

Only the baldest of Eagles remember the last time Boston College's football team played in Miami in January. The Orange Bowl was a consolation prize for a perfect 1942 season that was wrecked by Holy Cross, dashing hopes of a second national championship in three years. This time, getting there would be validation for a program that hasn't played in a major postseason contest since Doug Flutie hailed Mary 24 years ago and BC was full of grace.

Now that's a good lead.

The article was by John Powers of the Boston Globe. If you want to read the rest of the article (though the lead was the best part, unless you're a BC fan) you can find it here.

Also, check out the spotlight post. It's one of Braja's. And when you get there, be sure you click on the link for the photos.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Perdix Tells the Tale

[Grandpa's note: I was going to post about how I write a poem and share a poem in progres with you. But S and I are going to dinner and then the symphony tonight with our niece to see and hear "Gospel Christmas" with the Atlanta Symphony Orhestra & Gospel Choir. I ran out of time to get the post ready, so I'll try to post it sometime next week. ]

I’ll tell you how it all began. This man,
Named Daedalaus, could build you anything
You asked. One day, the king calls up and says
His wife has slept with a bull. He doesn’t mean
A stud who’s hung just like a bull. He means
A bull. And then this lady has a kid,
A monster kid who looks a little like
A man but looks a lot more like a bull.

The king tells Daedulus he wants the kid
To be put away. The people talk, he says,
And it’s embarrassing. So Daedulus,
Who’s got some time, says sure, he’ll take the job
And comes and builds a super maze. I mean
This puzzle’s worthy of the New York Times,
And even if you made it all the way
Inside, you’d never find your way back out.

Right in the middle of this maze, the king
Sticks his wife’s bastard kid. Now why he kept
The freak alive and simply didn’t drown
It I can’t say. But kings do what they want.
And you and I can only shake our heads
And pay the taxman what he says we owe.
And what a debt this king collected. He
Demanded neighbor’s kids to feed his beast.

But bless the Lord for heroes. Theseus,
Who’s tired of all this crap, decides that he
Can get a reputation if he finds
Some way to make the tributes stop. He says
He’ll kill the kid and get away before
The king gets wise. But first, he needs some help
To figure out the maze, and so he woos
The king’s daughter who tells him what to do.

They pull it off. They get away. The king
Gets pissed. He snatches Daeadulus and grabs
His kid, whose name was Icarus, and locks
Them up in jail and throws away the key.
This isn’t good, ‘cause Daedalus lives by
His reputation and he knows how quick
The crowd forgets a man who’s out of sight.
So Daedalus has got to make some plans.

The trouble is the only way he sees
To leave this place is going through the sky.
No problem for our man. He builds a set
Of wings from wax and feathers. Then he makes
A junior set and teaches Icarus
To fly. You should have seen them leave. They rose
Like hawks. They soared up through the clouds. They hummed
Like a squad of Blue Angels overhead.

But kids. They’re always running off. They get
Ideas. Won’t listen to a single thing
A parent says. They have to test and see
How far the limits go. And Icarus
Was just thirteen, and his old man had no
Control. The boy took off and wouldn’t stop.
Now what are parents always telling kids?
Don’t go so near the water or you’ll drown.

Don’t stay so long out in the sun, you’ll burn.
Just take the middle road. You’ve got a name.
So make your father proud. But Icarus,
He had to break the rules. They fished him from
The bay. And Daedalus, poor guy, no man
Should ever have to bury his own son.
You ask me how I know these things. My name
Is Perdix and my cousin’s Icarus.

I worked my uncle’s shop before these things
Took place. I studied well. I learned the trade,
But maybe learned too much. My uncle tried
To kill me. Now I watch just like a bird
Who hides beneath a bush. I see some things.
I write them down, I pass them on. I trade
My stories for a place to sleep, a tried
And worthwhile job for a nearly flightless bird.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, Kanona, NY © 2004.
© copyright 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic BlogAll rights reserved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In a New York Gallery

“I take it then there’s nothing here for you
That suits your present tastes. Again I can
Tell you this man does bronze as fine as Rodin
At his best. And his stone, you’ll note the true
Lines of the Manhattan David, would do
For Michaelangelo. But I understand.
You want to see him make some piece of a man’s
Soul not yet encountered. The perfect statue.”

I would like to see Eve, ten months before
She eats the apple, and Adam embraced
In one glorious coming of the human race
On love’s unloathsome bed at Eden’s core.

Tremoring lips and limbs where perfection lay.
The immortal climax of innocent play.

Originally published in Pivot, No. 54. Summer 2002
© copyright 2004, 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Wow! I didn't know this until last night.

I learned this from my post I stole from You Tube last night. There is an episode of Magnum PI that combined Sharon Stone, Bladerunner, and the second Borne movie. See for yourself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Got a moment?

If you haven't done so already, you really ought to treat yourself and and take the time to read Bee's post (of Bee Drunken) on the Chronophage.

And while we're talking about time, I often wonder where people need to be so urgently after a movie ends. If the movie's been good, I like hearing the finale while I read the credits. It makes the experience last. Here's the credits for Bladerunner.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


We saw the comet Halle-Bopp stand still
Above the ocean at Ka’anapali Beach,
Not unlike the crow we saw rise one morning
In Boston, a black knight errant holding still
Against the wind, its wings flapping to stay
In place. Others watched, then rode the wind up
Through the sky — one, then three, the ground falling
While the first held still, dipped, then rose to meet them.

We saw Halle-Bopp again in Atlanta
At Stone Mountain, its tail arcing in the night
As stony as the frieze on the mountain’s face,
The infamous past held lifeless until
Lasers called it back and thundering hooves
Like in a page from Faulkner roared inside
The head of a thousand Hightowers then quickly
Died when floodlights shone on the granite wall.

At Ogonquit, I saw black sea birds skate
Across the water’s surface with their wings
Outstretched and necks pushed forward like horses
Gaining speed to rise above the water,
A white spray trailing behind them beneath
The granite cliffs and the slate New England sky.

Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, Kanona, NY © 2004.
© copyright 2008 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog
All rights reserved

Monday, December 1, 2008


Did you know that if you google "dust bunnies" you will get -- in about 0.23 seconds -- close to two and a half million hits? If you google "dustbunnies" you still get 486,000 hits in 0.10 seconds. But it seems there are only 646 Websites that include the word "wordbunnies." Of course, I didn't go to all of them, but the ones I looked at were very vague about what a wordbunny is.

Well let's end the confusion. A wordbunny is one of those clumps of words that you see scattered about the surface of text that do little more than simply hold together as a clump of words. They don't really do anything else. It's like some form of static electricity pulls them together, and they lie there making it clear that the text owner doesn't like to text clean very much.

Here is a list of some of the wordbunnies I see most often:

  • at the very least (as opposed to the penultimate least?)
  • at the very most (ditto)
  • not to mention (oops, it's going to be mentioned)
  • that being said (we've already talked about this one)
  • suffice it to say (then what is the rest of the text doing here?)
  • in the final analysis (?)
  • when all is said and done (will we still even be here?)
  • as everyone knows (then please don't tell me again)
  • that's not to say (yes it is, you just said it)
  • every now and then (that means always, right?)
  • with no disrespect (hmm, I'll be the judge of that)

Of course the list goes on. And to be fair (see what I mean?), these pesky little creatures have a way of showing up in even the most meticulous text owner's text, and often times right before company. There's nothing technically wrong with them. They just don't add anything to the text.

What wordbunnies would you like to see added to the list?