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Numbers, Countries, and Oddball Phrases: A Writing Exercise

Updated on December 1, 2016

Interested in infusing more whimsicality in my poetry-writing attempts, the idea for this writing exercise came to mind earlier this week. In it I will select from a list of numbers, names of countries, and oddball phrases in order to help write my poems. There are, as always, parameters I must follow: All numbers, names of countries, and oddball phrases must be used at least once; I can repeat a number, name of country, and oddball phrase only once in a poem; I cannot use any of the numbers more than five times; all poems must be less than twenty lines long; the poem titles cannot include any of the numbers, country names, or oddball phrases.


The numbers:





The countries:







The oddball phrases:

A litter of confused philosophers

Furry grapes

A frothy late afternoon

Blemished sunflowers

Without enough money to purchase a time machine

The singing underpants

I am not Batman. Are you?

Denied entrance into La La Land


Superheroes (Or Something Like That)

Jessica and five of her friends were discussing

what young children sometimes do: what superpowers

they’d like to have. Daniel, with his wispy

brown hair and sixteen freckles on his upturned nose, made

this declaration: “I am not Batman. Are you?” As so often

was the case, he looked earnest, almost desperate—almost

as if he were a wanted criminal repeatedly denied refuge in Bali or

Japan. Brushing her blonde curls out of the way, Jessica

surveyed the group and silently concluded that they

resembled a litter of confused philosophers. Oh, well.

They were her tribe, and, from her current vantage

point, she couldn’t imagine deserting them.

What the confused philosophers might be reading...
What the confused philosophers might be reading... | Source

All I Want For Christmas Is…

…752 pairs of the singing underpants from Bali.

Wait a minute. If I am again denied entrance into

La La Land—it doesn’t matter if England has anything

to do with it—I only want five furry grapes to give

to my three canines and single (and unapologetically

grumpy) cat. The blemish sunflowers—why, pray tell,

are these only available in Peru?—I can easily do without.

Maybe this year I will practice being content and

finally desire less. Self-improvement, I’m

tempted to believe,

is right around the corner.

A Traveling Fool

Without enough money to purchase a time machine,

Ted fantasizes about all the places he will

never visit. Bali, with its beaches and tropical

foodstuff sounds lovely—especially to this Canadian

during the midst of another cold, dark, and otherwise

inhospitable winter. Of course, there is always

Mongolia. Apparently there you can buy

eighty furry grapes for less than a dollar. He is, incidentally,

unconvinced these would be delicious. Yet, and

yet they may be exactly that—especially if consumed

one by one on a frothy late afternoon in

a country where no one else knows his name

or speaks his native English.

In case you want to visit Bali...


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    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 15 months ago

      Dear FlourishAnyway,

      Thank you for commenting. My aim was whimsicality; I'm pleased to have succeeded,

      Take care,


    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

      Oddball but it's like talking to some people I know. Whimsical.