Student Work: 20 little poetry projects (II)

Some more fun bits from my students’ encounters with Jim Simmerman’s exercise.


The well-spoken gangster began to descend.
That gangsta-man was stepping onto the soil from flight, as he said.
“Carpe Diem” he said.
Even the wind howled back when he said this line.
The mountains didn’t soar as high as the gangster, the gangster who was I.

Usually these go better when they get off the topic, line by line, but here a disjointed narrative comes together (apart).


For the dead eye stars the struggle is real. Charlie Bradbury was absent from their event in Vancouver during which many a blue was tasted. We smelled what was right and what was wrong and we saw the reds that pretended to be the blues that were tasted.

Lovely parataxis here.


The trees decide to hug back,
Making the note-taking in fourth-grade science
Less of an assassination

Right at the end of the poem, that, a real surprise.


Arguments will be had but no points will be made
under a slimeball ceiling,
built by men who don’t create.
Papier pour moi, stylo pour vous?
Erasers eat lead.
Gummy belly-button on a pompous twenty-something.

One thing we noticed in class todays—abstractions can earn their place in a poem by sitting aslant each other—as in the phrase “the numbest kinds of pain” in Robert Hass’s prose poem “Museum.” Something similar goes on here in the first and third lines … abstract nouns and generic verbs become lively and specific through being at odds with their neighbours.


Some more on that poem by Hass to come. And haven’t forgotten my promise to follow through on disjunction. Just think though—the longer goes by, the more disjunctive the resumption. Word.

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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