Famous Starts with Humble Endings

Famous Starts is a creativity game wherein I choose the first line of famous poems, but fill in the next line with my own humble attempts. You play along! The trick is to not read the original’s next lines until after you’ve written your own.

Ah, it’s been too long since we’ve mucked about inside someone else’s lovely poetry. Shall we make a mess together? I bought The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje this month. The words in BOLD font are the poet’s. The rest are mine.

From All Along the Mazinaw

Later the osprey

falling towards
only what he sees

his constant companion
the bluest eye
never blinks.

(Hmm, not terrible, I guess. It doesn’t have the personal tale of the original, of course. Mine is more focused on the osprey’s personal life. How’d you do? Did you change the form at all? I like how Ondaatje’s original flows with the white space of the page.)

Ready to go again? Here are the first lines from HERON REX, same poet.

Mad kings
blood lines introverted, strained pure
so the brain runs in the wrong direction

crowns holding royal thoughts
purple porphyria, fingers numb
until nothing remains of the golden touch.

(Okay, that’s awful. Ha! I wanted to find an adjacent rhyme for ‘direction’ but nothing would come, and the rules don’t specify, but it’s all meant to be quick fun – not something to spent a lot of time on. Did you do better than mine? I hope so.

Ondaatje does an amazing thing in the middle of this poem. The pace goes barreling forward in a breathless, Howl-like rant and things get dark. If you get a chance, you should check it out.)


Okay. Poetry news in my life? My Patreon is chugging along toward two years of monthly poetry postcards! Whoo! When I reach 30 patrons, I’m sending everyone a personalized poem on a theme of their choice, no matter their tier. Now’s a great time if you’ve been thinking about joining or giving the postcards as a gift. Who doesn’t love fun mail?

I’m working on a second chapbook, this time of ekphrastic poetry. I’d like to learn the art of handbound books. I’m considering coptic binding for a future poetry project, but it’s still all just dream stuff, although I did bookmark a site with beautiful waxed thread in the colors of autumn. I’m reading, reading, reading. The American Poetry Review is a gift I gave myself this past year, and I love it. There’s also the Poetry Magazine podcast, which I highly recommend for before-bed listening. Just drift off to sleep to the rhythms of gorgeous and vital poetry…

That’s all. See you next time!

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