1000 Words Wausau, Feb 2012

1000 Words Wausau – Four 250 word prompted writing pieces
written by Dawn Anderson and performed by Amy Altenburgh in February of 2012.

Prompted words/phrases are italicized.


Grad school
means feeling the clock
hanging over your head
like an interrogator’s burning light bulb
louder – faster
tick, tick, tick
you are blown into
a time suck abyss
the size of a Texas cross
with stress squeezed out of your pores
like mechanically separated chicken
in its pink ooze stage
waiting to be pressed and formed
into something trivial –
a chicken nugget
digested from an institution of learning
and thrown out into a floundering world
of the change-adverse rich fighting back
the change-embracing young…

that’s a negative view.
If the negative view
is no more reliable
the positive view,
why not count our worries
and stresses as a trifle,
our instructors and institutions?
Maybe they are our guides to a larger meaning.
Maybe the test of the clock
is a test of coping, of character, of perspective
of meaning building, of priorities, of ego.
As pretensions go, ergo ego,
it is by no means the worst
to think well of yourself.
Who am I?
Who is important to me?
What titles do I give myself?
What are my true talents?
How do I use my talents –
to heal myself,
to heal my family and friends,
to heal the world?

Our trifle struggles,
our “guides” to our due pretensions
may be our discovery,
our journey to dream building,
to designing our life’s path,
and to our destiny.

This is Appreciative Inquiry1.
Looking at the world
and at ourselves
through possibility.

1Coined/developed by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva


Charity with her bedazzled posse
patrolled the mall like predators
marking their turf with plastic money,
setting the unachievable standard for fashion and beauty.

Discovering a curve hugging micro-dress
at which even her unattentive father would cringe,
Charity stuck her aristocratic nose in the air
like a tom cat following a queen in heat,
“I’m buying it just for the glory alone”
she sniffed in her nasaly, bored, valley-girl voice
tossing her eyes back in her head,
ilking out a fake laugh
then waiting impatiently for her peeps
to obey her cue and likewise laugh at her whit.

Feeling like the dress didn’t get her sufficient attention,
Charity changed her tactic and the subject.
“Did you see Jennifer packing on the pounds at the pretzel shop?”
“Maybe she’s trying to grow into that muzzle of a nose,”
one of the Charity followers mimicked.
“Yeah, she sounds like my grandma’s cuckoo clock when she talks,”
added another devotee.
Imagine being such a fat, ugly cuckoo already. Like die on the spot,”
a third paper doll chimed in.

Being critical just didn’t feel satisfying enough for Charity today.
She waved off her flock and turned to leave the store.
“There’s Jimmy C. I’m gonna get a ride home in his new Z,” Charity sassed.
“But Charity, he’s dating that brown-haired girl.”
“Watch and learn,” Charity smiled, “watch and learn.”
Using her only power in life, Charity sweetly called to Jimmy
entangling his arm in hers, pressing his triceps against her perfect breast.


Violet stood, moonstruck, in the middle of River Road. Nothing looked familiar in the fading light. Her tired legs told her she had walked far. The rest home must be near.  The fog was thick tonight. The trees had turned orange. Was it autumn already? “Legs so tired,” she thought.  In a token of surrender, Violet sat down.  “Maybe if I wait the Night Manager will find me” she sighed to herself. “Chuck is such a nice man.”

Red then Green flashes pierced through her closed eye lids. Honk, honk, honk.. Sqeeeech….thud.  Voices, shouts, horns, thumping music.  She heard snippets in the mumbles”…”oh my god”…”is she dead?”.…”the odds are always against”…”move aside”…”needs air”…”two left feet”…the music rose above the din. Trumpet, clarinet, flute, a jazzy beat awoke her legs.

Blinking, she looked up into a soldier’s young eyes.  He was handsome in his Eisenhower Jacket even though she preferred a man in a smart necktie. “Are you okay Violet?” He half laughed. “You tripped on the dance floor; I thought this war had claimed you along with the German carnage.” He chuckled.

Violet sprung to her feet ready to Jitterbug. “Let’s show ‘em how it’s done,” Violet exclaimed wrapping her arms around her winking dance partner. He hugged her slim waist with his warm, strong hands “Violet, I’m gonna take you home tonight,” Chuck whispered in her ear.


Would grammar matter if we were chickens? You’re a Rhode Island Red strutting your barrel-chested auburn breasts around the yard. When bending down to pluck a hapless bug, in zips the bobble-headed Polish hen with her Darryl Hannah hair on end. She snatches up your prize and trots off. “That bug was me” you spout at the Polack pigeon. She cocks her big-haired head and blinks three times before replying. “You don’t look like a bug.”

Frustrated you seek out your Leghorn friend relaxing in the shade with her bustled gown of black and white nestled around her. ”How are you Red?” She asks in her lazy drawl. “I ain’t got no bug,” you inform her, “Polish make dead.” Leghorn ponders a moment when suddenly her eyes widen. “Polish is dead?!” Leghorn exclaims as she jumps up into a clucking frenzy.

The yard explodes like a bag of popcorn on microwave high. The din of squawks reaches the level of a New York traffic jam with a ticker tape parade of feathery down hovering above the fray.

One by one the hens realize that Polish is standing on the coop preening her double-salute hair-do. She’s not dead. Like construction workers at a bikini contest, all heads turn toward you. “You conniving egger.” Cornish hen spits. Polish saves you with a loud lispy “we’re just chickens.”

Yes, we’re just chickens, but if none of them meant business, why are they marching toward you with the farmer and his cleaver in tow?


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