Tag Archives: poetry exercises

A derangement of Celtic wisdom

Derangement of a quote from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom posted yesterday at Latitudes of a Day


Blessing for the road
after John O’Donohue

In your journey
a kindness of rhythm
will teach you
but more important
where you need to go
it will take you
if you do.

indirect, oblique
you can trust this
your future, therefore
has the map
your soul alone.

Your destiny
knows the geography of
your soul.


may chives

chives, curiously untouched by the freeze


Day 14, LexPoMo 2018

lexpomo2018I’ve not been posting nearly as much as I’ve been writing, and not writing nearly as much as I would like. Bronchitis and its attendant medications sometimes have that effect. Today I did nothing but nap, poetry, and Dr. Who, so I’m sure I’ve advanced my recovery exponentially.


I don’t know what moves
a poem, makes language in space
unfathomed–simple, open, powerful–
toward which I gravitate

common concern manifests
whatever feels honest and specific
to the thousands that receive
more than we publish

occasions resonate in particular
when the story seems surprised
it can love itself–
whatever that may be

This is an erasure poem derived from an interview at Frontier Poetry with Hannah Aizenman, poetry coordinator for The New Yorker. I recommend reading the entire interview, which may be found here:

(Reposted from the Lexington Poetry Month web site: https://lexpomo.com/poem/acceptance/)


Back to poetry

leaf 10oct17I did it! I successfully completed the writing challenge I posed myself during the month of September, writing and posting a poem each day. Thank you for reading!

Knowing that I was registered for a poetry class to begin October 10, I took some time off to catch up on things (such as housework and bookkeeping) I had neglected during the challenge. It’s a good thing, because I wrote four poems during the first class meeting yesterday and have so many ideas for more that I don’t want to cook or clean or leave the house again, ever.

This is the best of yesterday’s drafting, after a poem by Jan Beatty (“My Father Teaches Me to Dream“) and prompted by a painting by Samantha Gee (“Portrait of a Kitchen“). I photographed the leaf while walking the dog.

My Mother Teaches Me to Sing

You want to know what blue is?
Blue is an empty vase on the shelf.
It’s a ribbon tied to a basket.
It’s a glass you put in the dishwasher,
then in the cupboard, then on the table,
then in the dishwasher again.
It’s a towel hanging from the door.
It’s a fire that traces the kitchen windows,
billowing in from the deep
blue night.

30 in 30, day twenty-five

sept 2017 30-30This exercise I’m calling linear derangement, in which I reverse line order rather than word order. The source is “A Procession at Candlemas,” by Amy Clampitt. (You can view the source poem at https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Clampitt_ProcessionAtCandlemas.pdf.)


In the rest-in-peace of the placental coracle,
not merely of the ego, you rediscover, almost,

sometimes wrapped like a papoose into a grief
beyond the torn integument of childbirth,

a stillness at the heart of so much whirling:
amok among the magnolias’ pregnant wands,

remorseless corpuscles, street gangs
in falling snow, a whirl of tenderness

for one straggling up Pennsylvania Avenue.
Intoning, a drum becomes the metronome:

the monk in sheepskin over tucked-up saffron
can assign a trade-in value to that sorrow

like caribou, perhaps camped here. Whose
names they went by, stumbling past

in losing everything they had, is lost even
in transhumance, once a people

of Indian Meadows. The westward-trekking
nowhere oasis wears the place name

absently, without inhabitants, this
the pristine seductiveness of money

niched into the washroom wall case.
Lip rouge, mirrors, and emollients embody

perfect, like miracles. Comb, nail clippers
in parcel gilt, plop from their housing

gumball globes, life savers cincture
cream-capped in the cafeteria showcase.

What’s fabricated? The jellies glitter
beside them, drinking what is real except

fuel pumps, the bison hulk slantwise
of freezing dark, through a Stonehenge

or clamber down, numb-footed, half in a drowse
about the self’s imponderable substance.

The sleepers groan, stir, wrap themselves
something precious, ripped: Where are we

within layers, at the core a dream of
lapped, wheelborne integument, each layer

necessary and intractable as dreaming,
fragile as ego, frightening as parturition?

30 in 30, day twenty-one

sept 2017 30-30This is a very straight-forward derangement (if such a thing is possible) of Amy Clampitt’s “The Edge of the Hurricane.” The source poem seems particularly apt given this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. (You can view the source poem here.)

Hurricane of the edge

Mangle and wring, drench — trample also —
can levity again yet notice? Serving
laundry as white-bleached moon, single; up hangs
nightfall, away. Packed wardrobe, cloud-bright, ends day: the debris of fouettés,
twirling in, upstands gales. Sibling fading and brightening, shade leaf lacewing
flying, footprints’ liquid fripperies — vaporous gusts point young
by crossed clearness of windowpanes. Mediterranean overhead opens
to begin transparencies, rinsed all afternoon by passing. Keep cumulus
Caribbean flounces of dark mud pieces, torn rain of tambourines, and lariats
with winds careening the wheeling.

30 in 30, day twenty

sept 2017 30-30Here is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek trace poem of D.H. Lawrence’s “Moon Memory.” (You can read the original here.)

Fog Forgetfulness

When the fog rises in a student’s mind
grey and clammy, as in the green shadow of a copse
pooling together, and sticking to his skull –

then the tranquil, ordered thought-world
exists no more, nor ever truly existed;
but instead
this thick grey dullness
oozes, and drips seeping, drifting sideways, muggily against his skull,
on his thoughts that are verdant forest within him.

And through the sticking of the grey sponge of the fog
furry creatures enveloped plunge inward and grow dim
in muddy gloom of torpor, leaf-enveloped torpor
in the sleepy, sludge-ridden blockage of ordered thought
that has left the woods in pea soup, even in daylight.

30 in 30, day seventeen

sept 2017 30-30For today’s poem, I picked up the nearest book, turned to page 17, and wrote down the first word, every seventeenth word after that, and the last word. That gave me twenty-two words, which I divided into pairs, each of which provided the first and last word of a line. Poetry by number?


remark on the way we hold
the line, with only perhaps
a faint idea what happened before

but maps were never
for us: they weren’t
something we turned to

I have no answers—I
can only stand here,
doorway agape, while she

prays to every foreign god
I’m the one to make it so

30 in 30, day fourteen

sept 2017 30-30This is a derangement (an exercise from Wingbeats II) of a fragment from Edna St. Vincent Millay.

In memory

No more the broken bird beats
golden; the once-ivory box is
spoken: all your words are lovely.

Restore the secret of earth:
chemistry shall never talk
but of your music.

– from Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Memorial to D.C.: Elegy”


Trace poetry: D.H. Lawrence

July imageToday’s post is traced from D.H. Lawrence’s “Peace.” (Click here to see the source poem.)


Purpose is waiting around the block
in coffee.

Purpose, creamy purpose dissolved.
My life will only find purpose
when the cafe opens.

Secret, penetrating coffee,
secret as rush hour traffic,
swimming like a lovelorn mallard up the river against the tide.

Buildings, parks, cars,
always in the soft haze of coffee.
Buses inches from the corner,
and the corner just yards away from the coffee shop.

Purpose dissolved in creamy coffee around the block.
Within, deep brown coffee, always with purpose
till it opens subtly, inviting the day;
to race always through veins,
warm creamy veins.

Call it Purpose?

Deranged poetry: Langston Hughes

July imageOne of the things I (re)discovered during Lexington Poetry Month this year is how much I enjoy playing around with poems. To capitalize on the momentum and habits I’ve built up in the last few weeks, I plan to continue writing and posting daily.

In support of those intentions, I found a lovely new graphic for the month of July. I didn’t have time to paint anything since yesterday, but my daughter gave me permission to use a coloring page she made this summer.

Today’s poem is a derangement of Langston Hughes’ “Blue Monday.” (Click here to read the source poem.)

Back to the grind

Down you get, surely. Monday,
blue and old, that down-you-get Monday
will deny you anything of use.

But Sunday and Saturday sport
that-a-way. Make it late, I’ve done ate,
and working to go

downtown now.