I Miss a Ten-Minute Snooze

As the small snare drum sounds a tight roll again
Tiny xylophone or glockenspiel accompanying it
My hand reaches out to add a single percussive beat
And do a little better than John Cage
Though I have never been able to do the splits
And my sunglasses are kept in the car

Rarely, if ever, this late…
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There is never enough time to take the time
And I really ought not to interrupt the performance
Making it stop and start again is no good thing for the gigging
It is better for me if I simply leave off spectation
Having other things to do in plenty
And my own practice to which to attend

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Testing Time Is Coming; I Can Help You Get Ready!

The new year signals in many places the approach of standardized exams. Whether required by individual states or demanded by colleges for admission, such tests as the GRE, SAT, ACT, and STAAR, despite being decried by educators at great length and across many years, do much to determine the academic fates of students at many, if not most, levels of instruction. Consequently, doing well on such tests is a matter of some importance for students, parents, and schools. And I can help prepare students to do well on them.

I’ve worked to write tests not only for my own students, but as a contractor generating content for standardized exams and as a private tutor helping students get ready for their own exam experiences. I’ve talked about it before (here, here, here, and here), and it remains true: whether you’re an educator needing new content, a parent concerned for their child’s performance, or a student looking to get some additional practice in, I have materials for you.

The assessment example below comes out to 114 words at a ninth-grade reading level. As with the earlier examples noted above, formatting is adapted to suit the medium.


Read the following passage and use the information in it to identify the most accurate answer to each of the questions below.

1One area in which modern Arthuriana deviates from the traditional is in conflating the important swords of the text. 2That is, modern Arthuriana moves away from its sources in that it merge swords together in the narrative. 3The most prominent example is Excalibur. 4Modern tellings of the Arthurian legend equate it with the Sword in the Stone, the sword that Arthur draws out to confirm his kingship. 5In Malory, however, the Sword in the Stone is placed by Merlin as part of his plot to see Arthur enthroned. 6Excalibur, by contrast, is given Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. 7It is accompanied by a scabbard of greater value—but that is another story.

1.
In sentence 1, “deviates” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

2.
In sentence 1, “deviates” carries what meaning?
A. Moves against.
B. Moves away from.
C. Moves toward.
D. None of the above.

3.
Sentence 2 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “deviates?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

4.
In sentence 1, “conflating” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

5.
In sentence 1, “conflating” carries what meaning?
A. Eating.
B. Gathering.
C. Mixing.
D. None of the above.

6.
Sentence 2 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “conflating?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

7.
In sentence 5, “enthroned” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Verb.

8.
In sentence 5, “enthroned” carries what meaning?
A. Put into a box.
B. Put into clothing.
C. Put into power.
D. None of the above.

9.
Sentence 4 provides what kind of context clue about the meaning of “enthroned?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

10.
How does sentence 2 relate to sentence 1?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

11.
How does sentence 3 relate to sentence 2?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

12.
How does sentence 4 relate to sentence 3?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

13.
How does sentence 5 relate to sentence 4?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

14.
How does sentence 6 relate to sentence 5?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

15.
How does sentence 7 relate to sentence 6?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / Contrast.
C. Illustration / Exemplification.
D. None of the above.

16.
The main idea of the paragraph is in which sentence?
A. 2.
B. 4.
C. 6.
D. None of the above.

17.
There is an error in sentence 2. At which word does it appear?
A. Merge.
B. Narrative.
C. Sources.
D. Swords.

Answers: 1, D; 2, B; 3, C; 4, D; 5, C; 6, C; 7, D; 8, C; 9, C; 10, C; 11, C; 12, A; 13, B; 14, B; 15, A; 16, A; 17, A


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And That’s It

Today is not the day
Of course
There’s another coming
And even if it were the day
So much would be true

Neat.
Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

It isn’t for all
Of course
Because some are at their ends
Today and every day
But there are yet others
Who will
And must
Go on

Retrospection is in season
Of course
Little endings prompting looking back
And thoughts of how to do better moving forward
But most of us will simply
Go on as we have been
Regretting doing so a little
Until we forget that we were doing that
Again

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It Is the Calm and Quiet Mornings

Sitting with cups of coffee ready to hand
While the birds have barely begun their chorus
And other creatures stalk near-silent
Through the lifting darkness
I read
I write
Neither as much as I might like
Both as much smiling as remains in me

Yes.
Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

I am a thief
And prodigal
Taking more such moments for me than is likely my due
Spending them frivolously and to no good end
But I have asked no inheritance
Even if I might have to herd swine
And I am the elder brother, anyway

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Well, That Was Nice

The break was good
With lots of food
And friendly company
But there’s a price
It won’t be nice
To pay, I expect to see

Paperwork is never-ending.
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

The work goes on
When I will don
My holiday attire
And piles rise
Before my eyes
Atop my desk yet higher

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Again, Addressing Writing Prompts

I imagine they thought they were being helpful
Those programmers
Putting in the new features that
Suggest ideas from which to write
Because writer’s block is a thing
And it does beset all of us who
Fix words in order
Sometimes

So I’m sentimental about some things…
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

But
And there is always a but
And there is almost always a butt
And sometimes it is what voices the
Things you hear
I wonder who they think
Those programmers
Their target audience is
Who they think will use this platform
And to what end
Who will be different from them
Because we all know
We
All
Know
That the only worthwhile knowledges are
How to code
And
How to get their money
And
Anyone who does anything else
Really can’t be that smart

All this is to say
Having a spur is useful
But sometimes
You’re not riding a horse

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On the Winter Solstice, 2022

As this post emerges into the world, it is the moment of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, or close enough as matters to very few. Concomitantly, today is the shortest daylight of the year here; it’s uphill for a while, until the summer solstice comes, and then the downhill slide resumes. It is Sisyphean, really, although I am not aware of the myth-makers connecting things in such a way. Perhaps they did. Perhaps I do because I have far more time to think about such things–about things, generally–than is good for me to have.

Cool.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Living when I do and where I do, the seasonal cycle matters less to me than might be thought. Central Texas does not have the “typical” progression. Our plants put on their prettiest in the spring rather than in the fall; the colors that come out for autumn are of football teams and marching bands, and brilliant though they may be, they are as nothing against the wildflower fields that stretch to the sky. No, for the most part, the colors of the fall now gone are brown from where the summer drought remains and green from the touches of rain that have fallen. And the colors of the winter now begun are not as often white as, well, brown and green. We freeze sometimes–the Hill Country, I am told, is in for a sharp snap of it this week, Jack cracking a bullwhip to announce his coming and assert his dominion where Aestas more commonly holds sway–and sometimes see the snow, but more often, it is a chilly rain that marks out winter weather than a soft snowfall.

Perhaps that is why so many decry “snowflakes” here, that they have such limited experience of them as they do. But as someone who has had more of snow than many in the Hill Country, I think I like it less. Shoveling it tends to remove the romance.

Still, the night will roll back, little by little, now, and the light increase its hold. I am sure there is some symbolic statement I could make about it, but I am also sure it would be badly clichéd. I get to deal with that kind of thing enough without having to add to it, and there is still more than enough work for me to do, whatever the season, however the weather may be.

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From the Archives Again: Another Assessment Practice

I still have samples of assessment work I developed for a tutorial client entering public schooling from private some years back, following those I noted here, here, and here. Even though many students are on their winter break and thoughts of school may be far from their minds, such concerns still loom. After all, the spring is when the major standardized tests are administered in my part of the world, and there are college entrance exams at intervals throughout the year.

The example below comes out to 85 words at a ninth-grade reading level. The usual adaptations to suit the medium apply.


Read the following passage and use the information in it to identify the most accurate answer to each of the questions below.

1Illegitimate origin factors heavily into Arthurian legend. 2There are a lot of characters whose parents are not married when they are conceived. 3Arthur himself is of illegitimate origin; his parents, Uther and Igrayne, marry after Igrayne’s first husband is killed in war against Uther. 4Arthur begets two illegitimate children, Mordred and Borre. 5The latter is of little consequence, but the former ends up overthrowing Camelot. 6And the knight who does best of all, Galahad, is the bastard son produced when Elaine drugs and violates Lancelot.

1.
In sentence 1, the word “illegitimate” is what part of speech?
A. Adjective.
B. Adverb.
C. Noun.
D. Pronoun.

2.
In sentence 1, the word “illegitimate” means which of the following?
A. Understudied.
B. Uninspired.
C. Unsuccessful.
D. None of the above.

3.
Sentence 2 provides what kind of context clue for the meaning of “illegitimate?”
A. Antonym.
B. Example.
C. Synonym.
D. None of the above.

4.
The relationship of sentence 2 to sentence 1 is one of which of the following?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / contrast.
C. Illustration / exemplification.
D. None of the above.

5.
The relationship of sentence 3 to sentence 2 is one of which of the following?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / contrast.
C. Illustration / exemplification.
D. None of the above.

6.
The relationship of sentence 4 to sentence 3 is one of which of the following?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / contrast.
C. Illustration / exemplification.
D. None of the above.

7.
The relationship of sentence 5 to sentence 4 is one of which of the following?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / contrast.
C. Illustration / exemplification.
D. None of the above.

8.
The relationship of sentence 6 to sentence 5 is one of which of the following?
A. Addition.
B. Comparison / contrast.
C. Illustration / exemplification.
D. None of the above.

9.
The main idea of the passage appears in which sentence?
A. 2.
B. 4.
C. 6.
D. None of these.

Answers: 1, A; 2, D; 3, A; 4, A; 5, C; 6, A; 7, C; 8, A; 9, D


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Addressing Another Writing Prompt

Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you
They said
As if there are not many things
As if they have not already been said
Many times by
Many mouths in
Many places
And my own mouth is among them

I’m surprised it’s not a cat…
Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

No ioperamide stems that tide
That flows regardless of the moon
From me
And surges out
Drowning rather than uplifting
Swelling too often ungently

But if one piece of flotsam
Buoys up unwanted
It does not do to call it out
It is rude to point out the flaws of others
Where yet others can see
No, you tell your friend in private that
They’ve got something in their teeth
Just there–
It’s not like a badge or anything

No
I don’t think I’ll say anything to answer
Besides
It’s not like there’s any lack of ideas

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No, It’s Not What You Think

Anymore
My wrist is sore
I tried to score
A piece that bores
Into the core–
Whatever for?–
But something tore
And there’s no more

This would be nice…
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Still, I must write
Myself must fight
Despite my plight
As I well might
And seek the height
Where clearer light
And purer night
Restore delight

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