Dumpster Dive

Sometimes our poems fall flat (sometimes, flat on their faces). Lately I’ve been combing through a decade of duds.

I want you to consider doing this yourself. If you have your work in any way consolidated, a rough yes/no/maybe sort is almost mindless, and is a good accompaniment for a TV movie you’ve already seen a hundred times or the sport equivalent.

Some (hidden treasure!) only need tightening, a little wax, better title. Some have enough of that indefinable to be worth later study–is it a good idea for this poem, for a new poem, is it a good idea at all, etc. Some–let’s face it–are trash. Writing to prompts produces reams of poems and, well, quantity ain’t all quality.

However: even the trash may have salvageable lines. I’m noticing that my own fall, roughly, into two camps: nifty sounds and interesting ideas.They’ll probably re-use in different ways, don’t you think?

So here’s your challenge (bet you thought I’d never get to it):
Worry at some of your false starts and et cets, and find 10 lines or line fragments that stand alone (grammar, concept, image, you’ll know it when you see it). Offer them to the world at large, or hoard them like classy chocolates. Makes no nevermind.


DO write a poem for which your line could have been the title, or first line (or last). Maybe a synopsis. Write about your line. Write all around it.
BUT DON’T USE THE LINE ITSELF. (Quickly will know if you cheat, and there will be coal, or flaming turd sacks.)

If someone else generously allows others to comb through their garbage, and if you find something that fires your neurons, thank that soul, but don’t specify the castoff.

Just to get the fur ball rolling, (and because some people have actual lives, and might not get around to the first part of this assignment/idea) I’m offering ten of my culls. Some of them, not even I know what they mean. Use (if you do) with impunity.

Sometimes she loses. That’s not hard

She listens to the dead men sing

Make me a slingshot of justice

Three people, separate as books

You know that the world’s gone to hell

We spill our paints on creation

Time slept curled in a hollow tree

Her hand on his arm is wicker

She cradles his feet in her lap

Day ends with a single pillow





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