Tag Archives: Poem

Poems: Power corrupts and absolute Power Rangers are very cool (Exquisite Corpses, 1 of 2))

Here are some lines I took from the Exquisite Corpse poems we, my students and I, made this semester. Minor changes (punctuation, appropriate word endings) were made to improve readability. I know this is a long list, but there were many creations that amused me. I love how poems created somewhat randomly, unintentionally, end up being so wonderfully surprising.

Power corrupts and absolute Power Rangers are very cool.

Rain, rain go away, come to the octagon today and get clobbered, bro.

We have to write me a love poem and get arrested at K-Mart.

Fear is sneaky, lurking around folks who are weird things happening on Thursday.

Ouch, say the little boy and girl kissing Romantic poems.

Become one with silence, like a wet sponge was wet from water.

A black hole in one is hard to punch in the face.

In my shoes, I have nothing more to say.

At home, I can be yourself, no matter what.

You dream like an ice cream cone for my grandma because they are actually aliens we’re living in.

We died peacefully in their sleep.

Skinny things blind me sometimes because I am graciously throwing a brick at Barbie.

Who can tell me how the fish jumped over the hill and under the influence of love?

Kindness is an awesome quality furniture and many antiques like grandpa! Oh, snap of tea that moves like Jagger on the floor shook like a cat is on me.

America is the place where the flowers are smashed.

Men were looking at her body, which is not a zebra.

Big ears help you hear the bear play trombone, and the orchestra exploded.

You can be whatever you can’t know.

You should go canoeing like a one-armed bandit who snatches the pigs dance near the starlight.

Hell is very hot like my twin sister who has eleven toes painted pink and green.

I am ready for sleep so deeply that you— yes, you; no, you— have no exciting features.

The best man fell down the street on the spiraling seas of mystery like a missing sofa.

Poor people like me get rich or die trying to sleep.

Weaponized baloney smells like ten men in a sandbox.

Yes, said the woman: are not men and women making up the yellow brick roads everywhere today?

We can’t all have a giraffe fighting penguins.

Shirtless, the penguins swam swiftly.

Dominate the pomegranate distribution trade.

Come fly with magic birds eat birds because cannibalism.

Cool beans, said someone who is not you.

The girls head south, bear left, and a monkey leapt out about on the streets.

Death is not the end of my little finger.

Poems: Exquisite Corpse method

In my high school creative writing class, we write poems in the exquisite corpse fashion, this way:

In class: Each student gets a piece of ruled paper and a piece of scratch paper (for covering up the writing on the ruled sheet).  On the ruled sheet, they write some random 4-word phrase, putting the 4th word on the following line, as such:

all the best


And then they cover up the first line, revealing only “luck,” as they pass the sheets to the person next to them (while students are in a circle).  The next student sees ONLY the last word – in this example,  “luck” — and adds to it:



and then covers up everything on the sheet except the word on the new line, “WHO,” and so on, around the room, for about 20 minutes.  At the end, students remove the cover sheet and read the entire thing like a continuous poem, or maybe they just pull out some unique lines.   It can lead to some interesting lines of potential poems.

We then use these Exquisite Corpse sheets to write additional poems: 

Poems #1 & #2: Take words and phrases from your Exquisite Corpse sheet and combine these into a poem freewrite. Minimum 25 words.  Do this twice.

Poem #3: Write down the words from a column of words on that sheet.  Write 20 words as a poem.

Poem #4: Take the words from #3 and replace each word with a word that sounds like it.  Write as a poem.

In this post, there are some samples taken from Exquisite Corpse poems created in my classes this semester.

Link: Rhythmic novelty and repetition in Brubeck jazz, poetry

An article at Salon.com discusses how the unique rhythms in some of jazz musician Dave Brubeck’s work engage listeners:

“[Professor of music at Carleton College in Minnesota Justin]London says that Brubeck’s rhythms can play with the listener’s innate toe-tapping ability—the technical term is entrainment. “Whenever you start doing anything in rhythm the whole motor center of the brain starts lighting up.” He notes that musicians and nonmusicians do equally well on tests of this ability. It appears to be an innate skill, part of the way we interact socially. Asymmetrical meters may be appealing because they test people’s native entrainment ability and keep the brain more active while listening and performing. “The asymmetrical meters do make you work a little harder to make you stay along with them, and that’s part of their appeal, attraction and charm,” London says.

And this:

David Huron, a music professor at The Ohio State University, researches a variety of topics in music cognition, including the emotional effects of music and what makes tunes memorable. He says that musicologists tend to focus on novelty when discussing musical appeal, but in reality, “people prefer things that are familiar.” He says that in order to make songs such as “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” compelling, Brubeck had to balance the novelty of the rhythm with familiarity, particularly through repetition. “If you want to make things accessible to listeners, repetition is key. If he had just done a more Stravinsky-esque thing, playing around with these rhythms and not repeating them, then what we know from the research is that would be much less appealing to the listeners.”

Reading this article, I thought about how this rhythm interpretation could also apply to poetry: how the rhythm activates our brain (including the “motor center,” as it says above — we feel rhythm in our bodies, with poetry as well as music, I’d assert) and how much we like repetition — why else would there be so much rhyme (defined as repetition of word sounds) in poems?

And I’ve been wondering lately if the writing of poems — from a sound-sense — is mainly about repetitions. Regular repetitions of meter, of rhyme patterns — of course, free verse subverts this, but as the second quote above says, we like patterns. Patterns stick with us, they are often picked out by our brains even without us consciously noticing these patterns, and these patterns are often what stays in our memory. Yet as an artist, I’m skeptical of this hegemony of patterns. I’d like to question this, consider it a little, even if I’m not sure what I’d replace it with.

Poem: Split My Thumb

The stainless-steel paring knife
splits my thumb where it
a tough tomato skin.
Blood comes to the air.
A paper towel
the blood drop
as a red dot.

Poem: The Whistle of Heat

Work divides.
The nuclear generating station on the horizon
prompts symbolic meanings to the conscious mind
but the unconscious mind makes associations:
minerals make heat, spin turbines;
the heat, once used, becomes waste.
Waste not, want knots,
which darn the holey socks.
We tease meaning from poems
(like teasing volume from ‘80s hair) –
teasing my cousins in the back of the room
behind the stovepipe screaming
with the whistle of heat –
now I’m finding sounds and steam in both, and steam and water,
and I contain multitudes of waters and I drink in liquid and exhale vapor –
I too am a steam engine and even my sweat comes out
but it oozes, it gathers, like puddles without rainwater,
and there is boiling all around and life is boiling,
life near undersea volcanic vents
– but I’ve never seen those.

I don’t know where I come from. I
was given life, I took life, life took me,
overtakes me,
life grew me. I didn’t have much to do with it, consciously.

I’m likely to let go of consciousness,
believing there’s meaning subconsciously or unconsciously,
but our conscious minds are pretty good at getting us around.

Poem: and a troop truck

and a troop truck. Where

FBI said the suspects are

gone the second I hit


Now fly directly

into such important

doors in the

camp opening July 27,

exactly like a

left eye half closed


Juliet feared the

sometimes desolate city


Letters should be sent.


quarter profit

a problem. world

named CEO

turns to me.


you’re saying that they’ll

know your sleep?

benefits that everyone

behind him,    naked man


patients in the right

because it’s not funny


Don’t turn on any

thighs and guidance

— Mh, 1 Oct. 2007   (this poem is a collage from shredded print scraps)

Poem: Thinking is a Pane

Thinking is a pane

always to normal sense.

Intent is moot;  you

should leave rocks.

“Guitar Hero” is my

band’s aide.

Kick sharp rocks

in which the milk

went bad.

Now I have to love.

Choosing does not hand

an out to funny smells.

Drinking is a game

always for narwhal cents.

— Mh, Sept. 2011

Poem: We Orbit in Time

We orbit in time

to the feverish scene

at the edge of poetry.

Our counterpart’s satirical mooning

of the viceroy straps the bread-burden

to our current tarry despair.

Now her immense love

is in shards,

impaled on a pale blue bottle

of false names.

— Mh, Sept. 2011

Poem: An Insect Blueprint

An insect blueprint –

a fact of wind

on strange sand.

Nearsighted concepts

wind devouring eyes.

Everyone rescues

cloned stories from

the bed of existence.

Somewhere, prepared readers

tumble to risks of

discrete smiles.

— Mh, Sept. 2011

Poem: Pig Morning Pink

Pig morning pink:

Spring stars know wings

whisper wildly.

Snow laughs.

You, white nose,

march through gardens still smarting

from candy-blue pumpkins.

Where no together was there,

a funny peace.

Windows turn –

Try baby us.

— MH, March 2006