This week’s summer rerun comes from Prompt #167. The challenge is for you to write a 10-line poem (not a line less or more) using a prescribed format. For starters, the “rules” are specific, so try to follow them closely for your first draft.
1. Don’t use any terminal punctuation, but begin each line with a capital letter.
2. Throw out all prose impulses (no narrative poems).
3. Resist all formal tendencies (no metrical patterns or rhyme schemes).
4. Don’t plan any part of your poem—just write from line to line.
5. As you write, see what relationships develop; discover what’s going on in the poem.
6. When you finish, look through the poem for a word or phrase that you can use as a title.
7. Let the poem “sit” for a day or two and then look at it again. That will be the time to make changes, to break the rules, tweak, refine, and “color outside the margins.”
8. Make changes in capitalization and punctuation (add periods, question marks, commas etc).
9. Work on alliteration and other sound qualities in your poem.
10. Decide on line breaks.
Line 1: Open the poem with an action.
Line 2: Write a specific image related (even if only superficially) to the last word in line 1.
Line 3: Ask an unconnected question and put it in italics.
Line 4: Write an image related to the question in line 3.
Line 5: Answer the question in line 3 and include a color.
Line 6: Write an image related to the answer in line 5 (direct or suggested).
Line 7: Add a detail in which you modify a noun with an unusual or unlikely adjective.
Line 8: Add an image that echoes or relates to the action in line 1.
Line 9: Free line—add whatever you wish.
Line 10: Close with something seemingly unrelated, strange, or surreal.
Sample Poem (Draft Only)
A Lingering Dream
Line 1: She lifts the potted plant from its place on the windowsill
Line 2: Dusk slips in through parted curtains
Line 3: A lingering dream, and what came after
Line 4: The evening sky deepens into something darker
Line 5: A shade of blue she’s never seen before
Line 6: Ghosts in spaces between the stars
Line 7: The clattering choices were hers to make
Line 8: Gently, her fingertip traces the edge of a tiny bloom
Line 9: Choices, yes, and flowers among the regrets
Line 10: She removes the china doll from her dresser drawer