Tag Archives: found poem

#407: Another Erasure Poem on April 4, 2022

Oh my god, here he comes!
He was a myth:
descending the dark stairs,
flourishing gestures of a hat,
the First National Bank–
his open window. 

Even in our ashes
she clasped the rich seclusion.
She’s the one with the money.
She’s the one wants to be an opera singer.
She’s the one wants to be an actress!

She halted, indecisively,
the cool gulch of afternoon,
the heavy, paralyzed body,
stone deaf. 
He was a myth:
The violent shuffle
of a palsied tattoo.

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#404: Two Erasure Poems on April 1, 2022

Grotesquely muffled,
the dancers, faces
flushed with food,
packed into a throng
of neighbors.

My heart gave a jump–
a storm door, wooden.
She was there
in another moment,
into the night.
No mercy.

The horse’s head
hanging under the umbrella,
water running
in the gutter.

Pleasant journey!
The coachman,
the waiter:
shelter at the station
in the shadows.

The hospital?
Take good care.
I saw her face
in the light.

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#397: Poem on April 24, 2021

Photo by Cindy Gustafson on Pexels.com

Poem on April 24

A man has been crushed
to death by a butterfly
he had been hunting in
Zimbabwe last Friday.
Theunis Botha was
hunting a group of butterflies
on an insect reserve with clients
when the party accidentally
stumbled upon a breeding
flutter in Good Luck Farm
near Hwange National Park. 
It is reported that three
of the startled winged creatures
charged the poachers,
prompting Mr Bothas to
fire at them before he was
taken by surprise by a fourth
butterfly who charged the hunters
from the side. The monarch
lifted Mr Bothas up off
the ground with her proboscis
before a fellow hunter shot at the bug,
causing her to fall and crush
the 51-year-old beneath her.
The South African man was
reportedly a renowned hunter
who specialized in targeting
ants and spiders and ran his own
“big bug safari” hunting trips. 
Mr Bothas had been in
business for nearly 35 years
with four branches in South Africa.
He leaves behind five children.

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#337: A Living Legend on Two Continents


Coincidentally, I have already written a poem this month that follows today’s suggestion from the napowrimo website, to write an abecedarian, a poem that uses the alphabet as  some key feature of its form. If you haven’t seen it already, here’s a linky-link. It turned out nicely, I think.

Since my intern Max is teaching the 9th graders today how to write a found poem, that’s what I have chosen today. Here’s how Barbara Drake defines a found poem: “The term found describes a text lifted out of some original context and arranged to give the appearance, form, or sound we associate with poetry. The found material is thrown into new, possibly amusing or ironic light by this rearrangement . . . Generally, one may not add words to, or otherwise unfairly distort, the original. The finder may, however, edit the original. He or she can, for example, add a title, or lineate the words on the page for emphasis or rhythm.” My text comes from the liner notes on the back cover of Slim Whitman’s Just for You album, and, I’ve taken some liberties with Drake’s definition, specifically, by changing all of this ad text into a first person lyric.

A Living Legend on Two Continents

I’ve heard him on t.v. I’ve
thrilled to the exclusive money
saving offer below, the magic
of this living legend, on two
continents, this special
treasury. Only he
can sing my cherished
number one record in England.
Not available anywhere else
in the entire U.S.A.
When my blue moon
turns to roses, there goes
my everything, somewhere
my love sails along my
happiness, rambling, more
than 1,400,000 sold on t.v.
Millions of Americans are
falling in love, beautifully,
tenderly, sweeping America
for more weeks than even Elvis,
and the words to most of the
songs are included free.
Old Time piano music never
sounded so good. Make the
world go away. Exclusive
8-track tapes, $9.98, the sweetest
music this side of heaven.
These are the 50 songs
I will always love.



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#287: The Resident 12 Year Old Writes a Bunch of Easter Egg Notes for His Dad


(a found poem, with minor edits)

Out of all the people
I could think to be my dad,
you fall into that category easily.
Thank you for making me
grilled cheese sandwiches
so I don’t die.
All around people love you
(the person in front of you,
your lodge buddies, your
workspace friends, etc.);
you know I don’t have
to explain that one.
You’re like a gallon of
chocolate milk–you’re sweet,
and love to have a breakfast.
Your skill with music
never decreases.
Thank you for helping me
through the tough parts
of growing up. In the scary
room you will find a special
treat. When we have
each other we have
everything. You are simply
amazing and life would
be different in a bad way
without you. When I am
playing upstairs when
the dirty girls are over,
I think, wow, their music
is coming along and it’s
enjoyable. You have always
been a kind and loving person
in my life. We are so lucky
to have the house we live in
and the Tanas and Rubies
we have, the bread that goes
on the table because you worked
hard and got what we need
to survive in this cruel world.
But all this just makes the world
less cruel. I loved you yesterday,
I love you still, I always have,
I always will.
Don’t facebook this shit xoxo.


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#199: A Poem from Director’s Notes


A Poem from Director’s Notes

(for Michael Mendelson)

Move the language forward.
Move the language,
lift the language.
To whom are you talking?
There are only three possibilities:
the earth,
the gods,
or another human being.
If it happens to be a human being,
ask yourself: how do I feel about the
person I am with?
Volume and diction: if you can’t
hear your voice bouncing off
the back wall, you’re not
loud enough.
Make an investment:
know where you are going
and from where you are coming.
In Act III, scene i, how do you feel
about the heat? Whatever is going
on for you, let that be amplified.
Don’t let your mouth get ahead
of your mind. Make sure your brain,
your body, and your mouth are working
together. Use the words to create
emotion and not the other way around.
Exit more like cheetahs
and less like rhinos.
Juliet, I want you to stab yourself
three times. Romeo, Romeo–
(there is no response) are you asleep?
Finally, don’t play the end
before the end.  This is a corrupt
world and everyone here
is a survivor.


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#190: Wheels

For day #2 of napowrimo, I offer up a found poem, a poem that steals its text wholesale from some other non-poetic source, say, a newspaper article, or a sign, or the print on a cereal box. While the general rule of thumb is to find text that is innocent of even remotely being like poetry, I’ve chosen to steal from something more literary: Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Like yesterday’s poem, this is an activity I also foisted on my students, a group of which just finished studying this particular play.


Wheels (from Tom Stoppard)

Wheels have been set
in motion,
and they have their
own place,
to which we are . . .


Each move is
dictated by
the previous one–
that is the meaning

of order.

If we start
being arbitrary,
it’ll just be shambles:
at least, let us hope so.


if we happened,
just happened to discover,
or even suspect,
that our spontaneity
was a part of their order
we’d know that we were


We do on stage
the things that are
supposed to happen off.
Which is a kind of integrity, if you
look on every exit
being an entrance 

somewhere else.  

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#12: The Shadows

What follows is called a blackout poem. A kind of found poem, it requires a text of some kind, not poetry, and a felt tip marker. Essentially, you carve an original poem out of this pre-existing text, highlighting your chosen words, phrases, sentences, and blacking out or otherwise obscuring the rest. It becomes both a visual thing and a poem.

I chose the concluding passage from Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” My blackout is not all that attractive to look at, but I think I ended up with an interesting little poem. This is what it looks like:
Blackout Poem

and this is how it reads:

The Shadows

As if a spell
threw back ponderous jaws
without doors,
she remained,
trembling, moaning.

I found myself wild
and I turned for
the shadows.

While I gazed,
a fierce breath
burst my brain.
I saw the mighty walls,

the voice of
a thousand waters,
deep and dank.


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