Friday, August 25, 2023

Poetry Friday: Exquisite Corpse (Clunker Edition)

Dead or not?
Mystery photo taken
 November, 2016

August's challenge was a fun one. As a group, we played a version of the "Exquisite Corpse" game, where one poet passes a set of two lines to the next poet, who adds her own two, and then sends only the new ones on to the next person, and so on, until everyone has added (in secret) two lines to the whole poem. The big reveal of ALL the lines was during our Sunday ZOOM session. And there was a twist: each of us added one original line and one "clunker" taken from Linda Mitchell's clunker exchange and comments here. 

Wow. At first sight, our draft poem actually held together (see it below my poem.) We couldn't believe it! Still, the challenge for the year was transformation (conversion, alteration, metamorphosis, mutation, growth, evolution, revision, modulation, change) so we couldn't stop there.  Each of us took the raw material and created something new. Here's how my transformation ended up:


I’m no longer winsome to the world—
I’m a yesterday shadow of the sun’s rise, 
the one that got away, a nub of flower,

plucked, no snap, no sass to sweeten September
when trees turn so orange the road looks blue;
when words tangle, colors muddy the palette

and thoughts of you sprout. I bury
them, and yet in they creep, weedy-thick,
until the prickly buds of odd logic bloom:

I don't cry anymore, so why do I sing all the words—
each line in a different language as the light shifts,
every scattered petal saying “but you loved me”—

and then I remember
love was exactly what you wrote
about the green beans.

                      ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

Here's the raw material we all had to work with:

They say the mind is garden-like, with thoughts as sprouting seeds
but I'm left holding cuttings I'm not sure where to plant
Weedy-thick, the prickly buds of odd logic bloom: 
You don't cry anymore, but you sing all the words.
Each line in a different language as the light shifts,
trees turned so orange the road looked blue.
Words tangle, colors muddy in the palette.
I am no longer winsome to the sun.
a whole sun’s rise to share
there goes the one that got away
found a bit of sunflower
and plucked every petal (by the way, he loves me)
and then I remembered
that’s what you wrote about the green beans
Stockpile, then, that snap and sass to sweeten your September.

See what beauties my poetry sisters created here:

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Linda at TeacherDance.



  1. What sorrow you captured from our lines! Flipping the "snap and sass" into negatives was a really powerful shift. What a quintessential autumn-mood poem, but with that sweet green bean ending.

  2. The last stanza makes me ache. You've turned our phrases and indeed the meaning of our exquisite corpse on its head. Bravo!

  3. Oooooh. You made something wholly new, yet it's literally hewn from what was already there. I love that you flipped the mood, beginning with snap and sweetness... lost. An enigma of green beans will follow me today!

    1. Also - is that snap from a UK trip? The twig dame somehow says Scotland.

  4. "Love was exactly what you wrote about the green beans." Wow! And that picture is absolutely fascinating. I want to know much more!

  5. I don't know whether to smile or cry at the final line, Sara. I've written for other posts how intrigued I am about the green bean line and now you've placed it in a love poem perfectly! This is wonderful!

  6. Oh, Sara... there is SO MUCH wistfulness in this poem, so much grief, really. And then that ending, so focused and bright. I love reading all these versions -- this is really a treat this month!

  7. So much loss permeates this, Sara. It leaves me feeling fairly bereft. Wow. Talk about transformation.

  8. Sara, nice transforming of the raw material you and your poetry sisters wrote. I liked the pause and thinking here: "...and yet in they creep, weedy-thick..."

  9. Sara, I am in awe of how you designed your poem in such a unique way from the original. "I don't cry anymore, so why do I sing all the words—". (sigh)

  10. Such a sad poem, beginning with a very sad line, and the sadness builds, felt quite dramatic until the green beans brought me back with some humor. It's been fun reading these.

  11. I love your transformed poem - would love to hear more about that process and how the poem came to be. "I don't cry anymore so why do I sing all the words" hit me in a whole new way in your new poem.

  12. Wow. The title is so apt. That third stanza and that last stanza!


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