Chance, Synchronicity & Mind-writing
Write A Short Autobiography



Less begin with the sight of me with collar huddled up close to neck and tied around with a handkerchief to keep it tight and snug, as I go trudging across the bleak, dark warehouse lots of the ever lovin San Pedro waterfront, the oil refineries smelling in the damp foggish night of Christmas 1951 just like burning rubber and the brought-up mysteries of Sea Hag Pacific, where just off to my left as I trudge you can see the oily skeel of old bay waters marching up to hug the scumming post and out on over the flatiron waters are the lights ululating in the moving tide and also lights of ships and bum boats themselves moving and closing in and leaving this last lip of American land. - Jack Kerouac, from Lonesome Traveler (129 words, 11 verbs, 4 commas "Less" both sound and to avoid cliche. Neologisms?: skeel? - a wooden pail, bucket, or tub usually having handles formed by staves extending above the rim. Ululating? - howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion, typically grief. )

Less begin with the sight of me
walking the riverfront of Phnom Penh on Christmas day 2005, world-ubiquitous carols played even here though little other remnant of the holiday save school-children covered in talcum powder emulating snow, as usual my eyes on the river and it was high, hot, post rainy-season, a green mixture of the Tonle and Mekong rivers meeting here in the capital of Cambodia while all manner of people also walked, worked or wandered the river's promenade, vendors selling everything from salted peanuts or iced sugar-cane juice to roasted cockroaches and tarantulas, the latter a delicacy which I tried, prepared myself by sitting down and taking deep breaths, I started with the legs, salty and crisp like potato chips, but the thorax mealy and tough, a taste far from Christmas dinner with turkey and cranberry sauce. Bill Scheffel (139 words, 15 verbs, 12 commas.)


Had beautiful childhood, my father a printer in Lowell, Mass., roamed fields and riverbanks day and night, wrote little novels in my room, first novel written at age 11, also kept extensive diaries and 'newspapers' covering my own invented horseracing and baseball and football worlds (as recorded in novel Doctor Sax). - Had good early education from Jesuit brothers at St Joseph's Parochial School in Lowell making me jump sixth grade in public school later on; as child traveled to Montreal, Quebec, with family; was given a horse by age 11 by mayor of Lawrence (Mass)...

Had own mind. - Am known as 'madman bum and angel' with 'naked endless head' of 'prose'. - Also verse poet, Mexico City Blues - Always considered writing my duty on earth. Also the preachment of universal kindness, which hysterical critics have failed to notice beneath frenetic activity of my true-story novels about the 'beat' generation. - Am actually not 'beat' but strange solitary crazy Catholic mystic. - Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler



by Jamaica Kincaid

Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little cloths right after you take them off when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn't have gum on it, because that way it won’t hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it: is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?; always eat your food in such a way that it won't turn someone else’s stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming: don’t sing benna in Sunday school; you mustn’t speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions; don’t eat fruits on the street—flies will follow you: but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease: this is how you grow okra—far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants; when you are growing dasheen make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won't recognize immediately the slut I hare warned you against becoming: be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers—you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding: this is how to make doukona: this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don't like, and that way something bad won’t fall; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man, and if this doesn't work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don't feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh, but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?


after Jamaica Kincaid

Read John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage when you are old enough to read. Learn May Cardin's phonetic method so that you learn how to read. Pronounce your mom's phonetic flash cards and later on perform the multiplication and division exercises your father prepares for you on 5x7 blue-lined paper before he goes to work. Drink your milk. Memorize your times tables. Wear this red blazer to church. Clean your plate and belong to the clean-plate club. Watch re-runs of As the World Turns on TV. Restrict the time you watch TV so you can embarrass yourself in 6th grade, being the child who watches the fewest hours of TV a week. Learn how to swim. Cut your hair so short your big ears stick out so that you believe you have big ears. Take the dog for a walk. Play outside, play inside, play at Kurt Pastory's house. Wear your tie, tie your shoes, go to church, put the stamps your grandfather sends you into a special book. Read Popular Mechanics and decide to make a solar oven out of cardboard and tinfoil. Eat black ants they taste like pepper. Eat three bowls of Sugar Frosted Flakes after school and watch Star Trek re-runs. Don't read comic books. Don't go to see The Graduate, your mom won't let you. Read this book about sex we won't discuss it but it has little drawings inside. Read Desmond Morris's The Naked Ape, especially the section on human intercourse. Put the Playboy under the mattress as soon as you hear your mother walking down the hall. Masturbate onto your underpants instead of the bedsheet. Improve your handwriting. Bob Rockwell's mother thinks you're a bad influence don't play with him. Register for the draft. Open a savings account. You have a nice smile so smile.

Bill Scheffel




Back to the top.


Jack Kerouac


List of Essentials

1. Scribbled secret notebooks and wild typewritten pages for yr own joy

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

3. Try never to get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life

5. Something that you feel will find its own form

6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

7. Blow as deep as you want to blow

8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

9. The unspeakable visions of the individual

10. No time for poetry but exactly what is

11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest

12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

(Partial list)

Jack Kerouac