name that meaning!

I like nonsenseThis week we decided to mix it up a bit during our writing group inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. I mean, it’s great to have a reliable structure for a weekly meeting, to know what to expect; that’s both comforting and safe. At the same time, shaking it up from time to time guarantees that we don’t fall into any kind of rut. So instead of the ‘usual’ prompt – something soulful or even straightforward – we played with words. “A birthday party for the mouth,” as our opening poem, “Saying Things” by Marilyn Krysl says (see “Prompt of the Week” for full text.)

Some women just spilled words across the page as they occurred to them, based on sound, rhyme, or syllables. Others generated nonsense words. That would be me. It suddenly came to me while sitting there that it would be a hoot to try a “Says You” type process, asking each woman to come up with her own definition of a nonsense word. Best part? There is no ‘right’ answer. So we ended up with a wonderful list of words with a wonderful list of definitions. Which do YOU think should be the ‘real’ meaning?!!!


1.  the place you find co-defendants (LS)
2.  a core belief that insults your big toe (TD)
3.  when people make a plan, then join hands to go ask for it (AA)
4.  a place where you will look and find all your defendants and co-defendants (KH)
5.  a fact-checking website (SB)
6.  a songbird whose feathers have rusted or corroded (SB)


1.  a single sound, one noise, one sound, one band; makes me think of my drumming class, In Line Harmony (KH)
2.  singular sounds machine (LS)
3.  what you feel like when you’re on a Monday morning shift (AA)
4.  to think outside the box, or of social norms (LS)
5.  a soliloquy of mismangled syllables haphazardly strewn together by someone awakening from anesthesia. As in ooooo aaa uh foooee ooo. (JP)
6.  the endless repetition of a single sound (SB)
7.  the building in which one sound is spoken (SB)


1.  the part of your brain that is most active after a breakup, or a best friend’s troubles (LS)
2.  to retaliate on those who choose to be retaliated on in a jail like CRCF (KH)
3.  a professional that needs always to get even when they are gone against (AA)
4.  an object that gravitates to the word ‘no’’ (TD)
5.  a robot designed to get back at an annoying younger sibling (SB)


1.  a state of mind where people with absolutely no common sense decide they themselves can no longer be trusted to make any decisions or have any opinions of their own (JP)
2.  to adjust one’s brain under extreme pressure after a heart-break (TD)
3.  when common sense debilitates you like it often seems to in this place (AA)
4.  to be sensible; to make no common sense, just like jail at CRCF (KH)
5.  what your parents try to do to you (LS)
6.  the process of rehabilitating someone’s sensory faculties, as by feeding a diet of pure dark Belgian chocolate (SB)


1.  those things that you find at the mall that you hope your friends don’t have, you need. they help you impress. (LS)
2.  pushing together words of shit from all mouths of any and all that speak in walls at places like jail in here (KH)
3.  to shrink or confine impressionism (AA)
4.  leaving a shadow in dense fog (TD)
5.  the art of being confident enough to pile shovels and shovels of verbal manure into a conversation you know nothing about and convince everyone else you are an expert in said given field (JP)
6.  the toolbox of completely over-the-top phrases or pick-up lines collected by an insecure young man desperate to get a girl or a job (SB)


1.  high school detention for girls who all dress alike, walk alike, and talk alike (JP)
2.  sitting on a purple snake in a polka-dotted dress that is too short (TD)
3.  the home of a person who lives a life of individuality (AA)
4.  to divide yourself from others or teams, alone by yourself (KH)
5.  a place of wonder; who, how, why am I? (LS)
6.  the hole (segregation) inside prison  (SB)
7.  a personal retreat (SB)
8.  the course of one’s life where the span of years is visualized as a container for the person’s process of becoming a unique individual (SB)

. . . and you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s