Ram – Ramekin – Rambler


Wack a car, a raw arm

arc a mark,

crack a craw, a warm maw,

am a ram.


Wack a carageen, a raw Armenian

arc a market town,

crack a crazy quilt, a warm May

am a ramekin.


I wack a frond of carrageen with my stick, and place the red seaweed in my basket. Arsen my Armenian friend will sell it on his stall to the Japanese. His name will arc over the market town as a supplier of exotic foods, but people will be wary. Arsen’s cracked, like a crazy quilt, made out of irregular tastes and opinions and off colour jokes about his customers. I deliver the goods to him, and sit down on his terrace for dinner. I don’t need the hot cheese dish his wife has made, or any of their pot. The sea beckons and I walk along the beach, picking up the flotsam from another boat split by the tsunami. I throw a stick into the waves and sail away.

© Mark Carew 2014


Notes on the compositions

Ram was written by applying a beautiful in-law (beau present) constraint and a lipogram to the letters of the author’s name.

The beautiful in-law constraint uses only the letters from a name.  A lipogram is a piece of writing where certain letters are excluded.  Starting with the letters in my name (m a r k c e w) I used an online anagram solver to generate a list of 100 words!  Many of these were annoying ‘Scrabble’ words, so I ditched those, but there are still too many. So I needed another constraint to get the creative juices going.  I decided to use a lipogram and keep only the words from my list that lacked the letter “e” (the most commonly used letter in English).

My constrained word list was now whittled down to: a, am, mar, maw, ram, raw, car, arm, ark, arc, warm, cram, craw, mack, marc, mark, rack, wack, warm, wrack, crack.

Not much to work with, and thank goodness for the letter ‘a’, but after ten minutes of playing, I composed Ram.

To widen the vocabulary, I used the N+7 method, which replaced each noun with the seventh noun following it in the dictionary.  The result was Ramekin.  Then my imagination took over to solve the puzzle and I wrote Rambler, a scene that might inspire a longer story, such is the potential of the methods of the Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle).


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