Today’s prompt comes from poet Sage Cohen.
Make a Mad Lib
Following are two poems that employ imagery and music in ways that are not confined to telling a clear, linear narrative. Notice how these poets use language. What does the skin of an orange have to do with being unmarried? How does scenery sharpen like a pencil? After fully breathing in the experience of each poem, fill in the blanks to create your own Mad Libs version. (You can do one or both; or riff on this in some other way that speaks to you.)
Feel free to be experimental with language, and to use words that feel right but don’t necessarily make “sense.” The trick is to find a way to get loose, without thinking too much as you write.
This is one of my very favorite exercises, as it has yielded some of the wildest and most interesting results…Have fun!
By Jason Shinder
Because I am not married, I have the skin of an orange
that has spent its life in the dark. Inside the orange
I am blind. I cannot tell when a hand reaches in
and breaks the atoms of the blood. Sometimes
a blackbird will bring the wind into my hair.
Or the yellow clouds falling on the cold floor are animals
beginning to fight each other out of their drifting misery.
All the women I have known have been ruined by fog
and the deer crossing the field at night.
_________, __________ [City, State]
Because I am not ____________, I have the skin of an _________
that has spent its life _______ _______ _______. Inside the ________
I am ________. I cannot tell when a __________ reaches in
and ___________ the atoms of the ___________. Sometimes
a __________ will bring the _________ into my _________.
Or the yellow _____________ falling on the __________ floor are __________
beginning to _________ each other out of their drifting ____________.
All the ____________ I have known have been ____________ by fog
and the _____________ crossing the ____________ at night.
From Inside Great Distances
By Walid Bitar
From inside great distances (don’t call them dreams)
midnight is smaller than usual,
as are the ponies. Inside great distances,
unlike airplanes, are not seats
and the people far away enough
to shout to (at least the talk isn’t small)
have no laps or throats when they sit beside
their donkeys and don Quixotes, pretending
to be mirages in a cold climate. The scenery
sharpens like a pencil in my ear.
It sketches itself, and I hear of this
a bird you can color with the whites
and marbles of villas back home, bird otherwise
invisible as the price of land.
An hour, too, is invisible; why are
you feeding it at your breast, growing
it into days, months, years?
Leave it alone; visit me a little to
the North; people shave their heads
into mirrors here; I
remain (on the outside) myself.
From Inside Great _______________
From inside great ______________ (don’t call them _____________)
________________ is smaller than usual,
as are the ______________. Inside great ______________,
unlike ______________, are not ______________
and the people ______________enough
to ______________ to (at least the ______________ isn’t small)
have no ______________ or ______________ when they sit beside
their ______________ and don ______________, pretending
to be ______________ in a cold climate. The scenery
sharpens like a ______________ in my ear.
It ______________ itself, and I hear of this
a ______________you can color with the whites
and marbles of ______________ back home, ______________ otherwise
invisible as the price of ______________.
An ______________, too, is invisible; why are
you feeding it at your ______________, growing
it into ______________?
Leave it alone; ______________ me a little to
the ______________; people shave their heads
into ______________ here; I
remain (on the outside) ______________.
* * * * *
Reminders for Participants: You can post your poem below in the comments, offer a link back to your site where the poem is posted, or comment about the experience of writing the poem (without actually posting the poem). If you’re going to comment on other participant’s poems, please remember that this is not a critique space — comments should be kept thoughtful and supportive. Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the prompt to write your poem — they’re here for your inspiration but they’re certainly not a requirement.
Let the Wild Poeming Being!