The Special Category

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An optional explanation about the anagram in green, the subject is in black, the anagram is in red.

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by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
watching the champs
of the Dante Billiard Parlor
and the French pinball addicts.
I am leading a quiet life
on lower East Broadway.
I am an American.
I was an American boy.
I read the American Boy Magazine
and became a boy scout
in the suburbs.
I thought I was Tom Sawyer
catching crayfish in the Bronx River
and imagining the Mississippi.
I had a baseball mit
and an American Flyer bike.
I delivered the Woman's Home Companion
at five in the afternoon
or the Herald Trib
at five in the morning.
I still can hear the paper thump
on lost porches,
I had an unhappy childhood.
I saw Lindberg land,
I looked homeward
and saw no angel.
I got caught stealing pencils
from the Five and Ten Cent Store
the same month I made Eagle Scout.
I chopped trees for the CCC
and sat on them.
I landed in Normandy
in a rowboat that turned over.
I have seen the educated armies
on the beach at Dover.
I have seen Egyptian pilots in purple clouds
shopkeepers rolling up their blinds
at midday
potato salad and dandelions
at anarchist picnics.

I am reading 'Lorna Doone'
and a life of John Most
terror of the industrialist
a bomb on his desk at all times.
I have seen the garbagemen parade
in the Columbus Day Parade
behind the glib
farting trumpeters.
I have not been out to the Cloisters
in a long time
nor to the Tuileries
but I still keep thinking
of going.
I have seen the garbagemen parade
when it was snowing.
I have eaten hotdogs in ballparks.
I have heard the Gettysburg Address
and the Ginsberg Address.
I like it here
and I won't go back
where I came from.
I too have ridden boxcars boxcars boxcars.
I have travelled among unknown men.
I have been in Asia
with Noah in the Ark.
I was in India
when Rome was built.
I have been in the Manger
with an Ass.
I have seen the Eternal Distributor
from a White Hill
in South San Francisco
and the Laughing Woman at Loona Park
outside the Fun House
in a great rainstorm
still laughing.
I have heard the sound of revelry
by night.
I have wandered lonely
as a crowd.
I am leading a quiet life
outside of Mike's Place every day
watching the world walk by
in its curious shoes.

I once started out
to walk around the world
but ended up in Brooklyn.
That Bridge was too much for me.
I have engaged in silence
exile and cunning.
I flew too near the sun
and my wax wings fell off.
I am looking for my Old Man
whom I never knew.
I am looking for the Lost Leader
with whom I flew.
Young men should be explorers.
Home is where one starts from.
But Mother never told me
there'd be scenes like this.
Womb -weary
I rest
I have travelled.
I have seen goof city.
I have seen the mass mess.
I have heard Kid Ory cry.
I have heard a trombone preach.
I have heard Debussy
strained thru a sheet.
I have slept in a hundred islands
where books were trees.
I have heard the birds
that sound like bells.
I have worn grey flannel trousers
and walked upon the beach of hell.
I have dwelt in a hundred cities
where trees were books.
What subways what taxis what cares!
What women with blind breasts
limbs lost among skyscrapers
I have seen the statues of heroes
at carrefours.
Danton weeping at a metro entrance
Columbus in Barcelona
pointing Westward up the Ramblas
toward the American Express
Lincoln in his stony chair
And a great Stone Face
in North Dakota.
I know that Columbus
did not invent America.
I have heard a hundred housebroken Ezra Pounds.
They should all be freed.
It is long since I was a herdsman.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
reading the Classified columns.
I have read the Reader's Digest
from cover to cover
and noted the close identification
of the United States and the Promised Land
where every coin is marked
In God We Trust
but the dollar bills do not have it
being gods unto themselves.
I read the Want Ads daily
looking for a stone a leaf
an unfound door.
I hear America singing
in the Yellow Pages.
One could never tell
the soul has its rages.
I read the papers every day
and hear humanity amiss
in the sad plethora of print.
I see where Walden Pond has been
drained to make an amusement park.
I see they're making Melville
eat his whale.
I see another war is coming
but I won't be there to fight it.
I have read the writing
on the outhouse wall.
I helped Kilroy write it.
I marched up Fifth Avenue
blowing on a bugle in a tight platoon
but hurried back to the Casbah
looking for my dog.
I see a similarity between dogs and me.
Dogs are the true observers
walking up and down the world
thru the Molloy country.
I have walked down alleys
too narrow for Chryslers.
I have seen a hundred horseless milkwagons
in a vacant lot in Astoria.
Ben Shahn never painted them
but they' re there
askew in Astoria.
I have heard the junkman's obbligato.
I have ridden superhighways
and believed the billboard's promises
Crossed the Jersey Flats
and seen the Cities of the Plain
And wallowed in the wilds of Westchester
with its roving bands of natives
in stationwagons.
I have seen them.
I am the man.
I was there.
I suffered somewhat.
I am an American.
I have a passport.
I did not suffer in public.
And I'm too young to die.
I am a selfmade man.
And I have plans for the future.
I am in line
for a top job.
I may be moving on
to Detroit.
I am only temporarily
a tie salesman.
I am a good Joe.
I am an open book
to my boss.
I am a complete mystery
to my closest friends.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
contemplating my navel.
I am a part
of the body's long madness.
I have wandered in various nightwoods.
I have leaned in drunken doorways.
I have written wild stories
without punctuation.
I am the man.
I was there.
I suffered
I have sat in an uneasy chair.
I am a tear of the sun.
I am a hill
where poets run.
I invented the alphabet
after watching the flight of cranes
who made letters with their legs.
I am a lake upon a plain.
I am a word
in a tree.
I am a hill of poetry.
I am a raid
on the inarticulate.
I have dreamt
that all my teeth fell out
but my tongue lived
to tell the tale.
For I am a still
of poetry.
I am a bank of song.
I am a playerpiano
in an abandoned casino
on a seaside esplanade
in a dense fog
still playing.
I see a similarity
between the Laughing Woman
and myself.
I have heard the sound of summer
in the rain.
I have seen girls on boardwalks
have complicated sensations.
I understand their hesitations.
I am a gatherer of fruit.
I have seen how kisses
cause euphoria.
I have risked enchantment.

I have seen the Virgin
in an appletree at Chartres
And Saint Joan burn
at the Bella Union.
I have seen giraffes
in junglejims
their necks like love
wound around the iron circumstances
of the world.
I have seen the Venus Aphrodite
armless in her drafty corridor.
I have heard a siren sing
at One Fifth Avenue.
I have seen the White Goddess dancing
in the Rue des Beaux Arts
on the Fourteenth of July
and the Beautiful Dame Without Mercy
picking her nose in Chumley's.
She did not speak English.
She had yellow hair
and a hoarse voice
and no bird sang.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
watching the pocket pool players
making the minestrone scene
wolfing the macaronis
and I have read somewhere
the Meaning of Existence
yet have forgotten
just exactly where.
But I am the man
And I'll be there.
And I may cause the lips
of those who are asleep
to speak.
And I may make my notebooks
into sheaves of grass.
And I may write my own
eponymous epitaph
instructing the horsemen
to pass

An 'Odourbiography'
by Anthony David Crafter

When Auntie Cissie kissed us,
It always smelled
Of eucalyptus.

It's strange how that phrase suddenly popped into my head, especially as Auntie Cissie has been dead for thirty-nine years. But there I was, sprinkling eucalyptus oil onto a hankie in an endeavour to soothe my influenza-ravaged sinuses when, voila...! long-lost memories of Auntie Cissie came wafting back through the decades.

A wrinkled hankie hides
A million germs and
Memories inside

Indeed, I have always found aromas to be very evocative. Unlike T.S. Eliot, I've not measured my life in coffee spoons: more in nasal experiences. But I grew up in a household of five sons and, as one can imagine, it was a veritable aroma-minefield. Indeed, if I wrote my life story it would probably be called 'An Odourbiography'!

Whoosh! There goes another wave of Auntie Cissie wafting past. Aha! Here she is again; nearly had you then Auntie! But you were too quick for me, flitting in and out of my memories like an elusive will o' the wisp. Not that Auntie did much flitting when alive. I have vivid memories of her visiting us and waddling in through the front door on those elephantine, perennially-bandaged legs, the aroma of eucalyptus hanging in the air behind her like an invisible vapour trail.

Aha! and here comes her pipe-smoking husband, Percy! Much loved, much travelled, Uncle Percy - a debonair ex-naval engineer, awash with exciting tales of exotic places:

Uncle Percy's smoky hugs
Smelled of pipes
And Persian rugs.

Alas, Percy also died - in his eighties - many years ago but here he is again, vivid as ever, alive and revived, a videotape in my head! Hi, Uncle; just passing through are you? I wonder to which fantastic world you are returning now!

I remember that brother Kevin (known to all as Windbreaker Kev) was Percy's favourite, but he only ever saw Kevin's well-behaved side. He didn't know that this fiendish devil-brother liked to lock me in the cellar in the dark, or sit on my head and make smells. Now, in white-haired old age, Kevin has not changed much, except that he doesn't lock me in the cellar any more...

Whene'er I smell a rotten egg,
I think of Kev
With lifted leg.

Being the youngest sibling, I always had pole position for piggy-backs from dad, and I remember a particular evening when we had all been to see a Bud Abbott and Lou Costello movie. I was draped, warm and sleepy, on his back, arms around his neck, enjoying the tangy-sweet fragrance of Brilliantine emanating from his hair as he trudged up the hill to our house.

Suddenly, he halted to draw everyone's attention to a shooting-star, but I was too tired and comfortable to raise my head. I never did see that shooting-star, neither have I ever seen one to this day, and I have grown up rueing the fact that my brothers had seen this incredible sight and I had not. Now, when I smell Brilliantine, I feel a sense of sleepy contentment tinged with the sad regret of missed opportunities.

Piggy-backs and Brilliantine,
A shooting-star
I haven't seen.

It was always a great source of intrigue and amusement to my brothers that I identified people as aromas, and I in turn was delighted to provide them with entertainment. I remember sitting cross-legged on the kitchen table while they fired aroma-related questions at me, and awaited my imaginative pronouncements with eagerness:

"What smell is Alistair Reeves, then?"
"Baked beans."
"What is Mrs Hanrahan at number nineteen?"
"What is Keith Hankin?"
"Gorgonzola cheese."
"What is Annie Andersen?"
"A banana-milkshake."
"What is Kevin?"
"Bad eggs."
"Ha ha! What is Dad?"
"What is Mum?"

This was the question I had been dreading. Was there a universal fragrance that epitomised a mother's love? And if so, what was it? Ah, not a fair question to ask a seven-year-old kid. I thought hard. Then it hit me! They all leaned forward in expectation.
"Aha! She is... she is..." I said.
"Yeah...? What?" They gathered in closer.
"Clean washing!" I announced. "She's clean washing!"

"Huh...?" Their faces dropped and they walked away in disdain, now bored with the game. I was broken-hearted; I was only telling it as I smelled it, but I had disappointed them. From that day, I learned to embellish my pronouncements to ensure maximum audience appreciation.

Mum's the one I loved the most,
And warm as toast.

Of course, no childhood memories are complete without those of our schooldays. I hated school with a passion. The corridors invariably reeked of Johnson's Wax and vomit and, although neither of these odours in isolation reminds me of school, just mix them together and I am right back there with the kids.

I can even feel Mr Waterman the music master rapping my head with a wooden blackboard duster when I didn't know how many beats there were in a semibreve.

When my addled brain then failed to distinguish a crotchet from a quaver, he used the analogy of a chocolate bar to accompany the highly effective rapping of the blackboard duster. "Each (rap!) square (rap!) of chocolate (rap!) denotes a musical (rap!) beat, and together they make up the whole bar (rap!). Have we got that Crafter? Bonehead!" To this day the smell of chocolate gives me a throbbing headache, and rap music gives me even more of one.

Chocolate bars and blackboard chalk
Are things of which
It hurts to talk.

Then, one memorable, teenage day, I discovered girls! Having been raised in a family of brothers, the household was dominated by indeterminate male aromas, but when I started going out with girls I stepped from a world of aromas into one of fragrances. Ah, heaven! And what wonderful perfumes there were to remember and idealise them by! Valerie was 'Evening In Paris', Nadine was 'Rive Gauche', Hannah was 'Miss Dior'. I have never forgotten the heady smell of those perfumes and as a result I have never forgotten the girls either.

Nadine, Hannah, Val as well;
A pot pourri
Of heavenly smells.

Now a sexagenarian, with more years behind me than ahead of me, I have added a host of new smells to the list. Talcum powder represents babies and I am instantly reminded of our two beautiful daughters at baby-age.

In contrast, there is the depressing and all- pervasive stale-urine aroma I encountered when I visited a nonagenarian relative in a nursing home (and, no, it did not come from me!).

Then there is the intangible smell of sheer fear I experienced when an armed robber raided a bank where I was an assistant manager. Adrenaline does indeed have an aroma.

In April, the viburnum juddii here in our garden bursts into flower and releases a divine fragrance, but it lasts a mere three weeks then it's gone. While it is there, the aroma is an announcement that Spring is here again. Alas, like life, it is all too brief.

Babies, Spring and urine stale,
Each aroma
Speaks a tale.

One day I am going to amass a load of those individual Shippams paste pots and in each one I shall put an aromatic reminder of various times in my life. Ok, I don't think I'll be having a Kevin-jar but, apart from that, I shall have eucalyptus in one, pipe tobacco in another, have a hint of Brilliantine in another, a bit of floor wax in another (I think I'll leave out the vomit) and so on until I have built up a comprehensive potted history. Then, when I am feeling nostalgic, I can pick a jar at random and embark on my own 'scentimental' journey. I wonder what aroma I would be?

When they have tolled my final bell,
Will I come back
As just a smell?

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I am so coarse, the things the poets see
Are obstinately invisible to me.
For twenty years I've stared my level best
To see if evening-any evening-would suggest
A patient etherized upon a table;
In vain. I simply wasn't able.
To me each evening looked far more
Like the departure from a silent, yet a crowded, shore
Of a ship whose freight was everything, leaving behind
Gracefully, finally, without farewells, marooned mankind.

Red dawn behind a hedgerow in the east
Never, for me, resembled in the least
A chilblain on a cocktail-shaker's nose;
Waterfalls don't remind me of torn underclothes,
Nor glaciers of tin-cans. I've never known
The moon look like a hump-backed crone-
Rather, a prodigy, even now
Not naturalized, a riddle glaring from the Cyclops' brow
Of the cold world, reminding me on what a place
I crawl and cling, a planet with no bulwarks, out in space.

Never the white sun of the wintriest day
Struck me as un crachat d'estaminet.
I'm like that odd man Wordsworth knew, to whom
A primrose was a yellow primrose, one whose doom
Keeps him forever in the list of dunces,
Compelled to live on stock responses,
Making the poor best that I can
Of dull things…peacocks, honey, the Great Wall, Aldebaran
Silver weirs, new-cut grass, wave on the beach, hard gem,
The shapes of horse and woman, Athens, Troy, Jerusalem.

Although I write often and pass among
Poets, perhaps they do not know I'm young.
I'm nineteen (my birthday will be in June).
If we were both to contemplate the moon,
I'd be unlikely to see anything more
Than craters which we could have seen before
We looked afar through ornate telescopes.
I'll take a place alongside other dopes.

Lambs look like lambs to me. They have no higher
Meaning. The sun: a mere warm orb, like fire.
And dawn: colored stripes, clouded over or hazy.
Perhaps my imagination's lazy.
I don't know whether I'd like to see
Whatever came to others, learnedly.
Whether you believe Christ was really God or doubt him
Not all glum writing's really about him.

Heavenward glances don't ever represent
God's call to an antagonist ("Repent!")
Wardrobes never were Narnian gates,
Few weaving women arcane female Fates.
To unpack an old writer's reference
Or allusion's not my real preference.
I'm baffled, didn't get stuff, have conceded
All I narrate's chaff, not needed.

Leaves which float down rivers have never been
Viking vessels. No one has shown me when
A wolf was a devil. And I don't speak
French, so my poetic street cred's weak.
So though it could spark modernist complaints
I think that I will stick with old constraints.
Limericks, sonnets, other things with iambs,
Acrostics, forms I've made up, anagrams.

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[A Magic Square, formed from the four words is hidden in the text]

"Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame.
In keen iambics, but mild anagram...
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
Some peaceful province in Acrostic Land
Where thou mayest wings display and altars raise
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways." - Dryden.

There's no acrostic but a plan,
A magic rectan-
gle: why, if FOUR WORDs can be found,
Each reads the same DOWN
And 'CROSS. A letters potpourri:
Nineteen minus three.
Anyone who tries to play,
Unravel today,
May impress with an added skill,
Command envy still,
Is a god ... a champion guy!

[the solution]
  1 2 3 4
1 H I R E
2 I C E S
3 R E A P
4 E S P Y

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[Earth Song, for Earth Day, is anagrammed into a song for the recent Pacific earthquake and tsunami.]


What about sunrise?
What about rain?
What about all the things
That you said we were to gain?

What about killing fields?
Is there a time...
What about all the things
That you said was yours and mine...

Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we've shed before?
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?

Aaaah Ooooh
Aaaah Ooooh

What have we done to the world?
Look what we've done...
What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son?

What about flowering fields
Is there a time...
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine...

Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war?
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?


I used to dream
I used to glance beyond the stars...
Now I don't know where we are
Although I know we've drifted far!

[Chorus - 2X]

Hey, what about yesterday!
What about the seas!
The heavens are falling down!
I can't even breathe!

What about the bleeding Earth!
Can't we feel its wounds!
What about nature's worth!
It's our planet's womb...

What about animals!
We've turned kingdoms to dust!
What about elephants!
Have we lost their trust!

What about crying whales!
We're ravaging the seas!
What about forest trails!
Burnt despite our pleas!

What about the holy land!
Torn apart by creed!
What about the common man!
Can't we set him free!

What about children dying!
Can't you hear them cry!
Where did we go wrong!
Someone tell me why!

What about babies!
What about the days!
What about all their joy!
What about the man!

What about the crying man!
What about Abraham!
What about death again!
Do we give a damn!

[Chorus - fade out]


What about valued things?
What about the prayer?
What about total worth
That will let us better air?

What about sunshine?
Together we can...
What about all the things
That will let us build up Man...

What a wayward view I measure,
One we handle so severe,
Maybe we should band together
So tomorrow will be clear!

Aaaah Ooooh
Aaaah Ooooh

What about comfort?
What about strength?
What about basic flow
To a rapid length?

What about worry?
Together we can...
What about everyday struggles?
Everybody loan a hand...

What a wayward view I measure,
One we handle so severe,
Maybe we should band together
So tomorrow will be clear!


Now you have aches
You see an endless plight this date...
I think: abandon our fate
Let the mean words evaporate!

[Chorus - 2X]

Whew, what about thoughts!
What about the truth!
What about hearty joy!
What about real youth!

What about donations!
What about new delight!
What about a buddy!
We should read one tonight!

What about dependent ability!
Let's go out to attend!
What about activity!
It's not the end!

What about paradise!
And God's heavy weight!
What about nice action!
Make it a real trait!

Whew, go yield some money!
Do deepen your hearts!
Hold an aiding essence!
Be some fiery parts!

Come on! Detach the hated wretch!
Let dumb grief finish!
It's so pathetic!
Let torment diminish!

Worthy rescue is endless!
Offer cheer until death!
I don't want a hardship!
I'm holding my breath!

Suffer is unfunny!
Polish our state!
Enjoy relieving there!
Do what was innate!

Whatever you do, cheer on!
Go and take a stand!
We make the dream positive!
Together we can!

[Chorus - fade out]

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by Carl Sandburg

The snow piles in dark places are gone.
Pools by the railroad tracks shine clear.
The gravel of all shallow places shines.
A white pigeon reels and somersaults.

Frogs plutter and squdge - and frogs beat the air with a recurring thin steel sliver of melody.
Crows go in fives and tens; they march their black feathers past a blue pool; they celebrate an old festival.
A spider is trying his webs, a pink bug sits on my hand washing his forelegs.
I might ask: Who are these people?

by Emily Dickinson

Absent Place -- an April Day --
Daffodils a-blow
Homesick curiosity
To the Souls that snow --

Drift may block within it
Deeper than without --
Daffodil delight but
Him it duplicate --


When green leaves, fresh flowers,
Hedgehogs, gophers reappear
Spring'll gasp a man's first breath, too
As she converts earthen life,
Arranges branches
In log jams.
A shallow creek
Gargles, rolls, reverberates,
Harboring the ceaselessness
We ourselves seek.

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There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Where the night ne'er unfolds, the quiet legends be told
By them such that thank the vein;
The sagas covert, got of glacial dirt
Where the gutless nightmares reign.
Strange memorial shore at the reservoir,
Methought quite obscene;
Set wretchedly mad, I kindled my comrade
'Neath the borealis aurorean.

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Ode in May
William Watson

What is so sweet and dear
As a prosperous morn in May,
The confident prime of the day,
And the dauntless youth of the year,
When nothing that asks for bliss,
Asking aright, is denied,
And half of the world a bridegroom is,
And half of the world a bride?

William and Kate offer a date,
Of when they will marry--
It's April twenty-nine.
Now second in dad's line
To a kingdom, ahead of Harry.

Thousands of friends shall attend,
But not this happy groom's mother--
Famous Diana is dead,
As her head son is to wed
Before his waggish brother.

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Here are a few of the best text message abbreviations that have been used by seniors in social networking:

AAK: Alive And Kicking

ATD: At The Doctor's

BFF: Best Friend's Funeral

BTW: Bring The Wheelchair

CBM: Covered By Medicaid

CRS: Can't Remember Stuff

CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center

DWI: Driving While Incontinent

FWIW: Forgot Where I Was

FYI: For Your Indigestion

GGMLKI: Gotta Go, My Laxative's Kicking In

GGMPBL: Gotta Go, My Pacemaker Battery's Low

GHA: Got Heartburn Again


LOL: Living On Lipitor

LOL: Laying On Linoleum

LOLS: Living On Life Support

MGAD: My Grandson's A Doctor

MILF: Meal I Like To Forget

OMG: Oy, My Grandchildren!

OMG: Ouch, My Groin!

PIMP: Pooped In My Pants

RULKM: Are You Leaving Kids Money?

WTF: Wet The Furniture

AAK: Asleep At Keyboard

BBA: Born Bingo Aficionado

BVV: *Bleeping* Varicose Veins!

CTC: Change The Channel

EFM: Eligible For Medicaid

ENR: Eccentric, Not Rich

GOML: Get Off My Lawn

GTG: Got To Grumble

HTTV: Hurry, Take The Viagra!

IICR: If I Can't Remember...

IDK: I Don't Knit

IFMP: I Forgot My Pillbox

IHSK: I Have Stiff Knees

IL: Independent Living

IMHO: Is My Hearing-aid On?

INAGBM: I Need A Good Bowel Movement

LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out

LMGA: Lost My Glasses Again

NW: New Wrinkle

OMR: Off My Recliner

OMSG: Oh, My! Sorry...Gas

ROTF...CGU: Rolling On The Floor... Can't Get Up!

SUS: Speak Up, Sonny!

TGIF: Thank God It's Four (It's time for an 'Early Bird Special'?)

TMTR: Too Much To Remember

TNE: Tired, Not Expired

TTYL: Talk To You Louder

WIWYA: When I Was Your Age

WWIS: What Was I Saying?