Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer. Our current guest editor is Sandy Bot-Miller, a poet and artist.

I first met Amy Rea during an online poetry class over six years ago through The Loft. Since then,  I have had the privilege of being on a (private group) poetry blog with Amy and several other aspiring female poets for over six years. Her rich in wordplay poem, On Using Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler for the First Time, entertains the reader with some much needed humor, as well as offering a fun read-out-loud mouthful!

Sandy Bot-Miller

On Using Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler for the First Time
Amy Rea

it wasn’t until 1962
that we grasped the need
for antianxiety (would
it have been hyphenated then?)
or identified the diaphanous
box jellyfish—an oddly blunt
name for an oceanic ghost—
or described opening
a can of worms
or thought about
care packages or
fish fingers—how those fingers
tortured me in the 
grade school cafeteria,
the principal towering over me,
hands on hips, glowering,
“Clean your plate!”
as the bad fish taste
gagged me.

Born in the year of
tumble dry,
ticky-tacky, trendy,
soft-core, superstud,
I have reached the age of
a cockamamie state and
who knows
what it will be called
50 years from now?

Writing Prompt based on “On Using Merriam-Webster’s Time Travel for the First Time” by Amy Rea

We offer writing prompts based on featured poems for people who want to write something, who need a little help getting started. We don’t imply that you ought to write something. Many people enjoy reading or listening to poems without feeling compelled to write one. You might simply read this prompt as an exploration into what the featured poem is doing, and how its language works. This can deepen your acquaintance with poetry and lead to great pleasure in being a reader of poems.

Want to write your own poem using Merriam-Webster’s online Time Traveler Tool?

This poem was inspired from a “Language of the Times” Poets and Writers magazine prompt:

Alt-rock, barista, codependent, designated driver, e-mail, frisee, G-spot, home theater, multitasker, spoiler alert, wordie. What do all these terms have in common? They are all listed with a “first known use” year of 1982, according to Merriam-Webster’s online Time Traveler tool (www.merriam-webster.com/time-traveler), which allows users to see what words first appeared in written or printed use in each year from the Old English period to 2020.

Choose a year that has particular resonance to you, perhaps one that marks a turning point or significant event in your life, and browse through the words that are listed as first recorded that year. Write a poem about a memorable event and incorporate some of these words. How does the language transform the tone or thematic direction of your poem?


Amy C. Rea was born and grew up in northern Minnesota before decamping to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. She’s worked in a bank, as a travel agent, a retail store manager, and–for a very short time–as the host at a restaurant. She finally found her true calling (and a use for that non-teaching English degree) as a freelance writer. Her books (so far) fall into two categories: travel guides to Minnesota and educational books for the K12 market. But she also writes and publishes fiction and poetry, and was the recipient of a 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. She lives in the suburbs with her husband and elderly, neurotic border collie, and loves it when her adult sons come to visit. Words are her favorite things to play with.