30 Poems in 30 Days

Today’s exercise, again, comes from Chris Jarmick:

Find four random words and use them in your poem.

Pick up the book you are currently reading, (or the magazine/book near you) and turn to page 101 (or the first page after 101 that has several paragraphs of text). Write down the 20th and 27th word from the top of the page. Then, count back from the last word on the page and write down the 10th and 18th word from the end of the page. (Note: if any of these words are an article like the or and, use the next word.)

These four words MUST be used in the poem you create.

Your poem should have a minimum of 4 lines. It can be much longer than 4 lines if you want.

It took me a few tries to find a book that worked. I kept coming up with words like the and were and isn’t. I would go to the next word (as Chris suggests) and find idea, additionally, in some ways…Finally, in Steward O’Nan’s The Odds, I came up with MAYBE, NUMB, FIREWORKS, and SPUN.

A Spiritual Journey

Maybe it wasn’t my best idea,
leaving the retreat to hike alone,
then missing the labyrinth entirely
and going up the mountain,
into the forest.

A damp day
though the rain had finally stopped.
The big firs wore green gloves
of moss. The forest stream
was skin-numbing cold.

My fall from grace came later,
on the lawn just above the lodge,
almost back for lunch,
almost time to pack the car
and go home.

Wet grass, a slip,
a sound like a twig being snapped
and snapped again. I’ve walked off
twisted ankles before,
no big deal, I would walk off this one, too.

Fireworks at each step.

I never found the labyrinth.
Late that evening, leg propped on pillows,
ice balanced on top,
an exquisite pain. How else
to describe it? Language spiraling

away from me, spinning, spun.

By the way, if you want your prompts earlier, Chris posts each on the evening before. I usually read it, make a few notes, and have time for things to compost before I write. He also links to other sites that you can explore.

And as a bonus, click HERE to watch Billy Collins reading “Aimless Love,” the title poem of his new book, and a thing of beauty. Thanks for reading!


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