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Some people collect things - stamps or baseball caps or mugs or figurines, etc. I collect themes and life lessons, ideas and thoughts, words, phrases, and lines. I do this with the intention of including in my current and future work, be that poetry, stories, or books. I thought I would share some of my favorites from my mental ‘chest of drawers’.

Chest of Drawers: Favorite Words


Absentee = A person who is missing

Abstinence = Do without

Acolyte = Attendant, assistant, follower

Adversary = An opponent

Advocate = Person who speaks on behalf of another

Afterthought = Thing that is thought of or added later

Alien = Foreign

Anecdote = Short story about incident or person, perhaps unreliable or hearsay

Anguish = Severe mental or physical pain or suffering

Anomaly = Something irregular or inconsistent

Antidote = Counteract or cancel

Arbiter = Person who settles a dispute, influence over trends in social behavior

Artifact = Finding, souvenir, an item of cultural or historical interest

Asylum = Shelter for a refugee

Aurora borealis = Magnetic lights

Bag Lady = Loner and loser

Bewitch = Cast a spell and gain control over someone by magic

Bigamist = Married to more than one wife, two-timer

Biological clock = Innate mechanism that controls physiological activities of organism, cycle

Bittersweet = Pleasure accompanied by suffering or regret

Bivouac = A temporary camp

Black hole = Nothing can escape

Blasphemy = Speak sacrilegiously about God, profane talk

Bluster = Indignant talk with little effect

Bogeyman = An imaginary evil spirit

Bon vivant = A person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle

Booby trap = Trap set as a practical joke

Broken glass = Shattered dreams or expectations

Cameo = Minor part, short sketch

Castaway = A person who is stranded

Casualty = A person badly affected by an event or situation

Caricature = Exaggerated picture or description, comic, grotesque

Cathartic = Something that provides psychological relief

Chaperone = A person who accompanies or looks after others

Charisma = Compelling attractiveness or charm

Cliché = Overused phrase or idea

Clone = A copy, an organism produced asexually but as identical

Cocoon = Envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way

Confiscate = Take or seize someone’s property

Con man = Someone who cheats to tricks by means of a confidence game

Constituent = A part of the whole

Contraband = Illegal goods

Conundrum = A confusing and difficult problem or question

Country music = Caricature of sadness

Crusade = Organized campaign

Cuckold = Make man a cuckold by having sex with his wife

Debutante = An upper-class young woman making her first appearance in society

Decoy = Lure or entice away from an intended course, trap

Deficit = A deficiency or failing

Degenerate = Immoral or corrupt person, lost qualities considered normal and desirable

Déjà vu = Feeling of having experienced a present situation before

Demon = Evil spirit or devil, tormentor

Desperado = A desperate or reckless person, especially a criminal

Destiny = Hidden power that controls what happens in the future, fate

Détente = Easing of hostility or strained relations

Devotee = A strong believer in something

Dilettante = A person with amateur interest, lacking real commitment or knowledge

Diplomat = A person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way

Disciple = A follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher

Doppelganger = An apparition or double of a living person

Double-edged sword = A situation or event that has both positive and negative consequences

Double entendre = Double meaning, one obvious, one requires more thought

Dust motes = Something tiny, a speck or bit or speckle

Echo = Sound reflections, repetition of an idea

Emigrant = Person who leaves one country to settle in another

Enchant = Fill with great delight or charm, put under spell

Enemy = Person actively opposed or hostile to something or someone

Enigma = Person that is mysterious, puzzling, difficult to understand

Ennui = Feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, need for action where there is none, boredom

Epilogue = A short concluding section

Epitaph = Words in memory of

Eunuch = A man who has been castrated, an ineffectual person

Expatriate = A person who lives outside their native country

False front = Façade, appearance or manner intended to deceive

False positive = Test indicates condition that is not present

Faux pas = An embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation

Fernweh (N) = A longing for far off places

Food chain = Hierarchical series each dependent on the next as food source

Fool’s gold = No real value

Forbidden fruit = A thing that is desired all the more because it is not allowed

Forlorn = Pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely

Frisson = Contemplating act, but resisting it

Gauntlet = Run through severe challenges, severe ordeal, obstacle course

Guard dog = Aggressive defense

Gym rat = Someone who spends a lot of time playing a sport

Hedonist = Pleasure-seeker

Highwayman = A man who holds up travelers at gunpoint in order to rob them

Hologram = A 3-dimensional image, false identify

Holy grail = A thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after

Hype = Extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion

Infidel = Person who disbelieves religion or adheres to religion other than one’s own

Innocent = A responsible or guilty yet suffering the consequences

Innuendo = Allusive or oblique remark or hint, disparaging

Instant replay = Replay of past event

Internal alarm = Intuition, sense of awareness

Internal clock = A person’s innate sense of time

Karma = Hinduism/Buddhism – destiny or fate, following as effect from cause

Labyrinth = A maze, a complicated irregular network of paths that is difficult to find

Laissez-faire = Government with minimal regulation, people do without interference

Lap dance = Erotic striptease for paying customer

L’appel du vide = The call of the void, compulsive urge to do something self-destructive

Laser-sharp = Locked in, razor

Laughing stock = Person subjected to general mockery or ridicule

Legend = A famous or notorious person

Lip sync = Move lips silently, fake, pretend

Losing streak = Uninterrupted string of contests lost

Lotto = False hope

Machismo = Strong or aggressive masculine pride

Mail order bride = Bride without the courting

Mantra = Statement or slogan repeated frequently

Maverick = An unorthodox or independent-minded person

Metanoia (N) = Journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life

Metronome = Device that produces regular, metrical beats

Middleman = A person who arranges business or political deals between other people

Mutant = Monster, deviant, bizarre

Mutineer = A person who rebels or refuses to obey the orders of the authority

Mystical = A sense of spiritual mystery

Nemophilist = A haunter of the woods, lover of forest, beauty and solitude

Neon – Bright and garish

Numbers game = Manipulate statistics in support of argument, illegal lottery

Olympic Gold = Best of the best

One-liners = A very short joke or funny remark

Organized chaos = Complex situation appears chaotic but with enough order to achieve goals

Ouija board = Spirit or talking board, answers to questions from people at séance

Outcast = Person rejected by social group

Oxymoron = Contradictory terms

Palindrome = Word, phrase, sequence same backward as forward

Paradigm = A typical example or pattern of something, a model

Paradox = An absurd or self-contradictory proposition

Pariah = An outcast

Poignant = Evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret

Prisoner = Trapped or confined, in jail or by situation or circumstances

Psychic income = Nonmonetary satisfactions in payment of

Pilgrim = Person who journeys to a sacred place

Poison fruit = Legal metaphor for evidence obtained illegally

Prophet = An inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God

Protégé = Person who is guided and supported by influential person

Quid pro quo = A Favor or advantage expected in return for something

Raconteur = A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way

Random pattern = Oxymoron, random has no pattern

Ransom = Sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for release of prisoner

Rebel = A person in opposition or resistance against establishment

Redamancy (N) = Loving someone who loves you, a love returned in full

Refugee = Displaced person

Renegade = A person who deserts and betrays

Ricochet = Rebound

Riposte = A quick, clever reply to an insult or criticism

Saboteur = A person who engages in sabotage

Savoir faire = Ability to act appropriately in social situations

Scintilla (N) = A tiny brilliant flash or spark, a trace

Second chance = Try something again, after failing

Sehnsucht (N) = An intense yearning for something far-off and indefinable

Segue = Uninterrupted transition

Self-portrait = Portrait created by oneself

Shadow = Dark area or shape due to light, ominous oppressiveness

Shooting star = Meteor burning bright as it enters earth’s atmosphere

Silent whistle = Terms that seem innocuous, but convey hidden, controversial message

Sillage (N) = Scent that lingers in air, trail left in water, impression after someone been/gone

Sinister = Evil appearance, likely to cause something bad

Slippery slope = An idea or course of action that will lead to something wrong or disastrous

Sobriquet = Nickname

Solitaire = Alone

Solitude = The state of situation of being alone

Status quo = Existing state of affairs

Stereotype = Oversimplified image or idea

Straight jacket = Restrained physically

Subliminal = Below the threshold of sensation or consciousness

Tacenda (N) = Things better left unsaid, matters to be passed over in silence

Talisman = An object supposed to bring good luck

Tarot cards = Fortune telling

Therapeutic = Something that relates to the healing of disease

Touché = Acknowledgment of a hit by one’s opponent

Treppenwitz (N) = Things you should have said, a witty comeback thought of too late

True north = Moral compass

Unintended consequences = Outcomes not foreseen or intended by purposeful action

Vagrant = A person without a settled home or regular work, wanders and begs

Victim = Person harmed or injured as result of crime or accident

Vigilant = Careful watch for possible danger or difficulties

Void = Completely empty, not valid or binding

Volunteer = A person who freely offers to take part or undertake a task

Voyeur = A person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others

Wet work = Bloody

Chest of Drawers: Phrases

Adrenalin is a drug

Alone in a crowded bar

Answer unasked questions

Back of the bus

Believe own press

Better dead than dependent

Black jack justice

Born naked

Bottle blond

British reserve

Cause and effect

Cheap motel

Color me

Counting on the lotto

Crash and burn

Deep as death

Detroit rules

Emotional trauma, Dali Lama

Empty echoes

Everything is relative

Faceless, nameless

Face smiles, without the eyes

Fall out of love

False calm (violence beneath the surface)

Fatigue, in league, agreed

Felt electric

Fine dining at 7Eleven

Fingerprints and dental records

Fire and ice

Forgiveness, not permission

Game called life

God’s a bully

Grotesque, picturesque

Half smile

Hedge bets

Hold onto smoke

Hungry child

Hypnotic trance or daze

Idle threats

Immoral minister

It depends

Leader that no one will follow

Lies that compromise

Loser’s lament

Neurotic, erotic

Never enough

Never stop moving

No pain, no gain

No secrets from God

Not fearless, resigned

No there there

Outlived my usefulness

Poor breeding

Priest and prey, pray

Punch lines, clever rhymes

Random plan

Reading my palm

Sacred trust betrayed

Same old dance, why take a chance?

Scars on my soul

Sensitive as a serial killer

Shadows shifting

Shattered dreams

Sirens and flashing lights

Soul black as coal

Sun tired, a bloodshot red

Take advantage of myself

Testicular thinking, hard drinking

The devil we know

This is real, not movie blood

Tongue-tied orator

Tragic magic

Unpublished poet

Utter trust of a pet or a child

Virgin sex fiend

Weary worn

Wisdom of wine

Chest of Drawers: Lines

A good day is when nothing bad happens

Always trying to right some wrongs

Annulment, just pretend it didn’t happen

Any way you pay

A simple statement, short and true, let me be a friend to you

At the altar of human greed, want so much more than what we need

Bad hair day, tough day at the office

Behavior vs belief, doctrine vs deed

Be naked for me

Best ideas when drunk, but never remember

Better starter than finisher, now hard to even start

Bingo is a Catholic religious service

Born and die alone, no matter who else is there

Can’t stand dumb – can’t stand smart either

Coming or going, it doesn’t matter much

Crave recognition for what I’ve done, but attention unwelcome

Demons and dragons, the beast within

Don’t do me any favors

Don’t want to remember, can’t afford to forget

Double negative does not necessarily make a positive

Do what you have to do

Each time is the first time

Earlier I made the vow, but I really mean it now

Electric shocks, ideas like flashbulbs popping, never stopping

Embarrassed now, but at the time it seemed to work somehow

Enjoy the moment

Everybody needs somebody, but no one needs me?

Everyone is naked under their clothes

Everything is a game, and I play the game to win

Fall out of love

Fantasy trumps reality, no pun intended

Find what I’m not looking for

Gave up my sex life, with a few notable exceptions

Going through the motions, hiding my emotions

Guardian Angel is my shadow, invisible but always there

Had I lived I had tales to tell

Hard to prove innocence

Haven’t given up, just a long time-out

Have to do, want to do – Wait, too late, that’s fate

He’s lived life best who’s lost the least, he’s passed life’s test who’s tamed the beast

Hiding in a toilet stall

Home is where you are

Homicide, at greater scale is genocide

Hope hurts, can’t afford to care

Hundreds of stories, some of them true

Hypocritical of me to advise others

I am a trophy hunter, in everything I do

I am my only me, as you are you, we each need to be, endure

I believe in God; the price is too great if I’m wrong

Idea of sex is better than the real thing?

I don’t need you to tell me what I already know

I’d rather die than fail

If a pro, need more quo for my quid

If you don’t ask for more, you settle for less

If you don’t ask, you can’t get turned down, but you’ll never get anything either

I ignore the slights and hints, and run my marathon of daily sprints

I have a deal with God

I heard someone screaming, it was me

I heard words come out of my mouth, thought it must be someone else

I like my girls stirred, not shaken

I’ll figure it out, or I won’t

I look at you, you turn away, I have no say

I make, I don’t follow rules, or only the rules I choose

I’m very proud of what I’ve done, but not of how I did it

Indian summer, spring snow, easy come and easy go

In the end, my enemy’s enemy is my friend

I prefer murder over suicide

Is life totally random, just the luck of the draw?

Isn’t it strange, how much we change?  Isn’t it strange, how little we change?

It is what it is, we are what we are

I thought that time would kill me, when only time would help

It’s easy to know what, but never why

It’s not about me

It was several long moments before I realized I was dead

I wanted girls, I wanted you, did you ever want me too? – Did you feel it too?

I was born naked

I would die for you, but would I live for you?

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not trying to get you

Kids and pets and empty threats

Kids wouldn’t remember me if I died tomorrow

Kill what you eat, eat what you kill

Knew me then, know me now

Left out, not make team – No date – Sing out of key – Flunk test

Life has thrown a wicked curve, but it’s nothing that I don’t deserve

Life is a test, at which we all fail

Like a brilliant falling star, that burns so bright and falls so fast, leaving memories of its past

Listen but do not hear

Look but do not touch, touch but do not look

Loner, with 10,000 friends

Lose dignity, preserve pride?  Lose pride, preserve dignity?

Lost the battle but won the war, won the battle but lost the war

Made a bit of money, had a way with words

Make new memories

Memories appear as uninvited guests, unwelcome intruders, taunting teasing, times long past

Might as well have been a priest, could have used the extra credit

Minor hero – town tough

Miss Vietnam, while at same time glad I didn’t go

Moment sooner, or later, would have changed it all

My body is wracked with constant pain, but I have no one else to blame

My dog committed suicide

My faux façade, a guide without a guest, explorer without a quest, a sinner not yet blessed

My mother died before I was born

Natural leader with no one to lead, natural warrior with no blood to bleed

Need a crisis to shine

Never doing what I should, only dreaming what I would

Never shared, never cared

No big deal, people die every day, but each a story

Nobody’s role model

No good deed goes unpunished

No matter how hard we strive, no one gets out of life alive

No matter what you choose, you lose

No matter where you go, there you are

No rules in war or love or marriage

Not afraid of death, but no hurry to leave this life

Not guilty doesn’t make you innocent

Nothing now, before, or after, can match the music of a child’s laughter

Not worthy of help, others so much worse off

Old age doesn’t last

Only so many hours, so many wasted on TV, sports, reading

On the diamond or the court, on any field of sport, I always played to win, other would be sin

Open window, open door

Or what good am I?

Out in the streets, looking for whatever I may find

Overcome your fear, with bravado and beer

Over, under, upside down, inside outside, all around

Pain is the price of admission

People who build things

Places and faces

Played your con, and now you’re gone, I was just a pawn

Play hurt

Read the Bible for awhile

Remembering people I’ve never met, remembering places I’ve never been

Running a tab, pay your bill

Running on empty, no gas in the tank

Same old stuff, calling my bluff

Shadow stalker

Shy extrovert, or outgoing introvert?

Silence lies between us

Silence, thick and palpable, crescendo, waves, deafening

Sins of commission (do bad) vs sins of omission (not do good)

Solutions to problems I don’t have

Stranger among friends

Strangers are friends at the bar, where they are, gone too far

Stripped naked and broke, just one of the common folk

Surrounded by many, alone in the crowd

The battle of sexes, is very well named, never a winner

The days are long but the years are short

The more I learn, the less I know, the more I plant, the less I sow

Things I said but didn’t mean

You are where you’ve been

You can’t finish what you don’t start

Your presence, melts my manhood, like a summer popsicle

Virginity is a curable disease

Walk in the rain, unopened umbrellas

War games

Waste of space

Wash away the stench, but not the evil

We have free will and the power to choose, which often becomes the power to lose

What goes around comes around, what comes around goes, everybody knows

What if I had a wake and nobody came?

What would you do, if I walked away, what would you say?

When coke was a drink, and columbine was a flower

When I was but a little boy

When you ask for nothing, you shouldn’t expect anything more

Where does crime end and punishment begin?

Where find God – children, nature, poetry and music

Why some no life at all?

With friends like you

Worth more, dead or alive?

Written in pencil, not in ink

Chest of Drawers: Thoughts

This is it, both heaven and hell. Live many lives (reincarnation or karma). What you come back as depends on who you were and what you did and didn’t do last time. Merit system?

Perhaps it is better to be always seeking and striving for goals without ever reaching them? You would probably be disappointed at what you find (i.e. not worth the effort, not meet expectations). If reach goals, nothing to live for, life is done.

The sensitive suffer. It is the human predicament that there are no answers or cures for life’s problems. So being aware and caring is a curse since you can do so little to help. It’s better to be ignorant or unfeeling.

What have I done to deserve this? What have I done to cause this?

A person who sees no reason to live is contemplating suicide. But he knows that his death will hurt his family and friends, and how they will be sorry and resentful. Then he realizes that he would actually be the final loser.

One must be careful. Today’s friends may be tomorrow’s enemies, and today’s enemies may be tomorrow’s friends.

The burden of proof works both ways. A person should be innocent until proven guilty. But sometimes a person is guilty until proven innocent. It is very hard to prove innocence. If someone says you did something, how can you prove that you did not?

No one is expressly against you. Everyone is for himself.

Argue with an atheist. He says there is no God and no life after death. I say, if you’re right, we both have nothing to worry about. If I’m right, you are in deep trouble.

People are painfully conscious of their level of formal education. Those who have little will always stress common sense, even if they lack it.

Most people have the answers to most of their own problems. All they need is a sounding board and as they talk the answers become clear. Be a good conversationalist by saying little.

Everything is funny, even the really tragic and painful. Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.

You can be very, very good, or very, very bad, take the average?

Deaths - The political insider - 100 billion have died in human history 153 thousand people die every day.

The bristlecone pine, vigilant for many, many years, watches, sleeps, then weeps. They discussed playing baseball and boxing and chasing girls, father and son, a generation apart, trying to outdo each other.

They were teammates, tied for high point honors in the final game.

They were like half-brothers who fight over their fathers.

They were a group, only one couldn’t make it and the rest  had gone anyway.

They were lovers, only she had gotten drunk and he had made love to her.

They walked along, hand in hand, the forgotten anniversary between them.

They were in love, but he had gone out with another girl and she found out.

They sat together, father and daughter, unable to resolve her pregnancy.

They were a quiet Sunday afternoon disrupted by the football game on TV.

He stood quietly, his every sense alert, like a man being hunted.

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