Archive for the ‘Collaborative Poetry’ Category

The good folks at The Poetry Collaborative invited me to participate in a poetry prompt. The exercise uses American Sentences written by people in the collaborative. An American Sentence is a poetic form created by Allen Ginsberg. Basically, American Sentences are limited to seventeen syllables.

Our exercise was to take the American Sentences and arrange them in a cento. Again, I’m being basic, but a cento is a poem which is composed entirely of lines used from another author (or authors) and arranged in a specific pattern.

My poem is not a cento at all. I was inspired by the beautiful sentences I saw over at the collaborative, and I just stole words.

That’s the beauty of The Poetry Collaborative. There are no rigid rules. It is meant to be a catalyst for creativity. I would like to do a cento with these sentences eventually, but for now, I have a working draft of a new poem. Please check them out. And play along!   

If you go to their home page, you can see the American Sentences which were written for the prompt.  Go to this link to see the original idea: 


I’ve been having a lot of fun looking at what they have done at the collaborative. There is excellent work going on over there. Be sure to tell them just how awesome they are. 

Here’s my draft. It’s a love poem for my Mr. Gator. Come to think of it, a gator is a good metaphor for me. A female gator ferociously protects her young. Has a thick hide. Loves the swamp. Might attack if hungry. Otherwise, she’ll just stare at you and wonder why you’re in her woods. Has a big mouth. Yep. That’s me.


Alligators have them.
Silent, surfacing slow
searching for dens
in winter, forgetting
water, food, breath.

I have them, too.
Salt-blue, suspended,
closing the lenses,
waiting for winter
to take me down
low, shifting
black water trails,

between sweet
cypress knees,
creaking pine, sky
split open, red,
where you and I
will dig deep

then sink soft
into a muddy bed
of bubbled swamp,
past sleeping snakes,
through dark roots,
one half-moment
of slow beats,
so warm, gone.

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Once I had to participate in a psychological test to determine my “creative work style.” After all the forms and verbal interviews were completed, the brilliant doctor gave me my assessment: I am a loner. I don’t like authority. I don’t work well as part of a team. Oh yeah, and I’m arrogant, stubborn, egocentric and weird.

Whoopity doo. What a big revelation.

Well, my family is going to faint when they read this one. I can work as part of a team and not start any fights at all. I have just had the privilege of working with two very fine poets on a collaborative piece, Nathan from Exhaust Fumes and French Fries, and Holly from Honkycackle.

Actually, it was the first time I have ever written a poem as part of a team, and it was a fantastic experience. We each took turns writing a line, then decided on stanza breaks, etc. Holly came up the first line through a phrase from an Easystreet prompt. Nathan came up with the last two lines, which are excellent. What amazed me with the final product is how different we are, but how well the piece flowed together. And I think they wrote the best lines.

Please hop over to their sites to take a look at their other work, too. They are not only fine poets, they are genuinely good people who are a joy to work with. They are also going to start a site for collaborative writing where you can submit your work. I will help them as time permits, but they are definitely the brains behind the venture.

A tip of the hat to my fellow poets.

The Art That Remains

Love can have a dumpster aesthetic, scrap feelings flying
past the flap. I’m tasting as I search, trying jaundiced liquor in a jar
under the rumble of bridges, next to smiling billboards where
mini-van drivers become mesmerized by sexy ads and the vibration of it all.

That sanitized art they watch sinks my passion so I’m left to look
at broken glass, factories closed, graffiti of lives left in heaps, unspoken.
The head of a baby doll, marked all over with a pen, my jealous face
both carry the same scrawling message: we’ve been replaced

by shimmers of heat, by the sparkles of lies whispered in back alleys
by a clean-faced doll. But there is still some gum (with bits of dirt and hair in it)
a shared token, a worry stone, a fossil from the lost world pressed in
my palm.

I cannot escape this loss, this puddled sun, this dumpster of time tossed
like a rotten orange, leaving me with nothing but the death-smell of the empty bin.

Those others can afford their sins. I’ll walk their streets, watch them look away.
I’ll beg for rusty pennies, rustle through their dumpsters for bits of uneaten life.
And when the moon rises, I will see the shine in the broken bits of glass.
Nothing will pass me by. I’ll memorize every piercing odor, each vivid stain.
The grease of evening, the skitter of rats, the smiling doll, the bottle half full.

My sins don’t go anywhere…they just stick to the bottom of the bin and
wait to pull me in. I twist and trim, bend each part together. Find us in the
thing I’ve made. This is my art.

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