The Commuter Challenge

3 March 2010

The March 2010 Challenge

by CC @ 23:25

This month’s Commuter Challenge returns to sonnets. But sonnets as they stand are much too free-form, so for a proper challenge, all the words in your sonnet must begin with the same letter of the alphabet. The choice of which letter to use is up to you.

The Results

Sam Bleckley
To tell the truth: the thing that terrifies?
’Tis the tiny thought that time’s tolling traced
to tactless taciturnity (…); time tries
(…the thing too tender to tremblingly taste…)
ticks, twitching tirelessly, though treacle-slow.
That time’s tied (too trusting!) to the tilted
trireme throstle-twisted twine tautly tows
— tempting trap, that, — thallasics try to tread
those tails. Then they topple. [The tragic tripe.]
Tetralemma: time, twine, toppler, tide.
Though thriftily thou thinkst this type
’tis trashéd through the true thalidomide.
{The trench-bound templar turns the tired trick:
tick tick
tick tick
tick tick
tick tick
tick tick}
Brian Raiter
Silver-saffron springtime sunlight
Scatters: speckling Sue’s settee,
Shining, searing Samuel’s strained sight.
Samuel shudders squeamishly.
Susan’s seated: sleepy, spent.
Samuel sways: some sick sensation —
Sour, sticky, sea-salt scent —
Stomach-squeezing situation.
Sharp serrated stainless steel.
Scarlet splash strikes Susan’s shirt.
Starkly strident speechless squeal.
Sanguine streams stripe Susan’s skirt.
Screaming; sickness; spreading spill:
Sam’s still standing, standing still.
Catherine Olsson
Tremulously, tension tears this throat,
Tir’lessly traversing through this trail.
Treacherousness taints this treas’nous tote;
Terror taints this two-timing travail.
Terrified they’ll topple this toupee,
Terrified to talk too tense, too tight.
Terrified to trip their trap today,
Terrified to traipse their tracks tonight.
True, the targets told the truth that time
that Thomas tricked those tramps to turn their tails.
Today they’ve taken tabs; that trick’s too tried!
Tomorrow’s task throbs thickly through these tales.
Treachery to treason, trap to trick,
Time ticks t’wards termination: tick, tock, tick,


  1. In the choice of an initial letter, A and T both have clear advantages: they both permit the use of articles and several prepositions. S as an initial letter has neither (save one lousy preposition: “since”). However, when it comes to forming rhyme pairs, S is the clear winner, as it is unparalleled in English when it comes to forming consonantal clusters. The word “sip”, for example, rhymes with “scrip”, “ship”, “skip”, “slip”, “snip”, and “strip”. In contrast, picking A as the initial letter would pretty much rule out any one-syllable rhyming pairs. T is a good compromise, since it permits th-, tr-, and a handful of tw- words. But I went with S for maximum latitude in rhyme choice.

    The absence of prepositions naturally led me (or rather pushed me) into describing the scene via a series of disconnected images, leaving the reader to work out for themselves who exactly is doing what.

    I hadn’t initially intended to create such a grim scene, by the way — it just sort of worked out that way.

    by Brian — 1 April 2010 @ 00:02

  2. I was expecting T and A as well; I’m impressed how clearly the imagery comes through from S. Very powerful. It’s the most lucid of the bunch, and the most emotionally impacting.

    I had to resort to horrific vocabulary (‘thallasics’ for sailors?) and downright treachery (‘treacle-slow’!)

    Catherine, you stole my closing couplet-rhyme, or I stole yours :)

    by Sam Bleckley — 3 April 2010 @ 14:55