too much typing—since 2003

2.13.2005

poets' coroner

I found someone else's poetry assignment handout on the floor of one of the classrooms I teach in. Because I'm not in the "creative writing" world (by the way: I hate that phrase, "creative writing"...), for all I know this is the most boring dead-common thing in the universe, but...I found it pretty intriguing. It's adapted from an exercise by Rita Dove in The Practice of Poetry (ed. Robin Behn and Chase Twichell - what a great name: "Chase Twichell"):

Write a ten-line poem that includes a common phrase (between the devil and the deep blue sea, someday my prince will come, etc.) that you've changed in some way, as well as five or more of the following words:

cliff, needle, voice, whir, blackberry, cloud, mother, lick

You have ten minutes.


What's cool about this is there are at least three key factors: the altered proverb, the list of words (not, most likely, related to the proverb), and the rather brief time limit, which forces the writer not to belabor the point and go with looser, draftier verbal associations.

Anyway, I'm curious what folks can come up with, if you're willing to toss the results in the comments area. After a while, I'll post what I came up with (while rigorously resisting the strong urge to edit it...).

(Yes, that is a completely unmotivated bad pun in the title line.)

10 comments:

Alan said...

Drinking the Flavor-aid
Heading off the cliff
Wish I was a cat whose Mother would lick
The dirt and pain of this world away
The Blackberry whir
Brings me back to this harsh world
Where my lone voice is lost
In the stuck needle rhetoric of the self-righteous
Hope is what we have
That and each other

Hmmmpf, I'm not nearly as bleakly depressed as that would suggest, but I'd thought I'd tie in a few themes from familiar blogs.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to buy the world a smoke
And then stand at the edge of an unseen cliff
Right before the voice calls me down
Right before the massive choking sound
I'd whir the cloud away
A hero to my mother
A bastard to my father
I delight in the new clear day
Yet forget to damn the sun
For getting in my way

--Flasshe

Anonymous said...

those magnificent men --
their frying machines
[ whir ]
needle thread through cloud
blackberry lick cloud hunger
thunder hunger hungry cliff
and this is the voice
this is the voice
this is the voice of you know
[mother!...]

Anonymous said...

I sang through my dessert
On a cake in the rain
With a voice that came
from Don McLean

Singing bye bye
Mother blackberry pie
Rode my camel to the needle
But the cliff was too high

And by and by, like a cloud in the sky
It was just a needle in my camel's eye




--SMH

velvet lane said...

Mothercloud, you hover kindly
but I hear your voice in every squall
and feel mercy in your parting

Blackberry stains on parched lips,
I lick the tears away before they
reach the cliff of my chin

Mothercloud, I looked for a sliver lining
and found a whir of white,
a blur of needles
and you were gone.

2fs said...

Hey! Blogger's changed the way the commenting works. Anyway: there used to be another poem up there, but its author - a fussy writer-type, it would seem - demanded it be removed on account of due to the reason is because of an omitted paragraph break or sumpin. She claims she'll repost it. We'll see.

The drag is, we actually had this great idea about what Blogger used to leave - some bit about "comment deleted" - and homeland security, naked public figures, and the like. This isn't as entertaining. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Have some faith, FF. A poet's as good as her word(s).

NOT MORE THAN FIVE
for Chase Twitchell"The only good swift poem,"
my mother murmured, peering over
and down, her voice a shiny sound
masking the lethal, as a penny
dropped from the cliff, a
whisper, a murmur, as a seduction,
a twitch, my earlobe,
your needle tonguepoint,
lick, pierce, gasp, a freefall,
"is a ten-line poem."

-Janet

Anonymous said...

Okay, this software is screwing with my mind. When I preview my entry, I see a title, line break, dedication, paragraph break, and then the poem, fine. So I click on "post", and it comes out the same damn messed-up way as before. I guess I'm just not cut out for literature. I'm going back to accounting. Hm, wait, bet it's the italics. Or the quotation marks. Let's see:

NOT MORE THAN FIVE
(TIMES WILL I POST THIS BLASTED DOGGEREL)
for Chase Twitchell

"The only good swift poem,"
my mother murmured, peering over
and down, her voice a shiny sound
masking the lethal, as a penny
dropped from the cliff, a
whisper, a murmur, as a seduction,
a twitch, my earlobe,
your needle tonguepoint,
lick, pierce, gasp, a freefall,
"is a ten-line poem."

Anonymous said...

Ha! Success! Man, do I need a drink.

2fs said...

I don't know why they allow italics tags but not paragraph tags (even though linebreaks work - in theory). I dunno...