Writing Exercise #3: Shuffled Lyrics Poetry

In high school I wrote a poem that eventually got published in the school’s literary folio. I wrote the poem for a class exercise, and the result wasn’t particularly brilliant or anything — a classmate even made fun of it for being “too dirty” — but it was my first attempt at poetry that actually looked and read like a poem.

Anyway, the exercise was pretty basic: my classmates and I were tasked to write “random” words on pieces of paper, the teacher shuffled the words in a mug, then we all had to take some x-number of words from that mug. The challenge was to write a poem using the words that we drew — we could only add connecting words like prepositions and articles, but we couldn’t include new verbs or nouns or adjectives.

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Exercise #1: Opening Lines

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. He caught a whiff as he was walking along 4 Avenue, right by the decades-old bakeshop that prides itself for being the only vegan bakery in town. Vegans, he thought. Stupid vegans.

But she was vegan, that girl. It was two years ago when they parted. He used to blame it on her decision to stop eating meat and on his adamant refusal to drink the “cruelty-free” milk that she made by soaking almonds overnight and calling the slimy muck her “dairy alternative.” Some days she used the word “substitute” — to replace, to switch, to change.

Ah, vegans. Stupid, crazy vegans.

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