Leftover Lines For We Write Poems

19 Sep

This was such fun, as well as being useful. I went through all my notebooks collecting lines, and making notes of poems I wanted to work on but had forgotten. I indulged myself, picking favourite lines that I had not been able to make work anywhere but am attached to, the sorts of lines about which Stephen King would say: ‘Kill them now’. No title yet.

When the night ghosts whisper in her head,
she chases shadows that fall between cloud-raking
pines, raises her star-like face to the night, runs

until her feet reach the shore. She stops to watch
the bottleglass water wash the sand, flies paper
dreams like kites, and memorises clouds, holds

them in her eyes until they flatten into the edges
of shadows. She searches for angels in the clouds
and, in the eyes of needles and storms, slips

through tiny cracks in the teeth of night, while
death with overtaking wings beats hard against
her ears. Her soul is a black beetle too tired to fly.

Thoroughly indulgent, she said, with a big smile of satisfaction. My process amounted to taking lines I loved and copying them exactly and then finding an order that works. Thank you to We Write Poems for the prompt. If you haven’t seen the prompt, go on over; while you are there, read some of the results.



Posted by on 19/09/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

28 responses to “Leftover Lines For We Write Poems

  1. rosross

    19/09/2012 at 7:46 am

    Beautifully clever and cleverly beautiful!

  2. barbara_

    19/09/2012 at 8:11 am

    Goodness, Margo, but this does work! I say it’s a keeper, and screw Stephen King. (you can edit that bit out if you like) I love the black beetle part so much I’d have put it at the beginning, and missed the impact it gives like this. That’s why when I revise it usually turns into a new poem. sigh

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 9:39 am

      Edit, Barbara? Good heavens, no.

      I have carried black beetle around for years. I think I have finally found its home. I am beginning to realise as I reread the poem, that the individual lines don’t sound quite so indulgent as originally. I wonder if they have been waiting for each other [now there’s a flight of fancy].

      • barbara_

        19/09/2012 at 10:02 am

        Fancy, maybe. Sometimes the lines do seem to resist the place you want them. I guess you could analyze the vowel/consonant combinations or the patterns of cognition and find why one pairing is harmony and the other dissonance, but I like your idea of waiting.

  3. Veronica Roth

    19/09/2012 at 9:41 am

    Nice! It’s great to keep little bits and go back and use them, isn’t it? I love this one. I love dark and brooding. Sending this link to Chloe for a read. šŸ™‚

  4. Donna Vorreyer

    19/09/2012 at 11:50 am

    I love the idea of journal-diving – finding those orphan lines that you really like that never quite worked in their original context and creating something new.

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:25 pm

      Donna, It was an exercise in the original class I took where I came out writing poetry. The added benefit is finding poems you forgot you had and are ready to revise.

  5. val dering rojas

    19/09/2012 at 12:00 pm

    Amazing this poem came about the way it did. I love it. …and yes the black beetle line rocks. I like it where it is, and I actually believe that these lines were just waiting for one another as well!

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:26 pm

      Val, it’s one of the things I like best about fate, serendipity, accidental whatever…

  6. Annette

    19/09/2012 at 12:17 pm

    This is just lovely, all the images — so vivid, so perfect – flying paper dreams like kites is my favorite. It flows so well, you would never know that you were stringing found lines together.

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, Annette. The paper dreams image has long been a favourite of mine.

  7. 1sojournal

    19/09/2012 at 12:19 pm

    I’m with Barb, screw Stephen King. This works, the tone and voice are truly consistent throughout. I know I went in an entirely different direction with the prompt, but after reading this am seriously thinking its time to pull out all of those hand written journals and begin diving. Excellent write, Margo and very inspiring,


    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you. I’m with you and Barb, at this point, Elizabeth. I go back through my notebooks quarterly. It helps me to remember the poems I want to keep working and gives my brain a jolt.


  8. ravenswingpoetry

    19/09/2012 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t believe in killing anything wordly, and certainly not old fragments, which you’ve joined together in such a vivid poem. My favorite line was: “slips/through tiny cracks in the teeth of night,”, which reminds me of what I used to do in college — out walking at night, in places that were scary around campus only because of the shadows, near trees that would stand aside to let the open fields and stars take center stage.



    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:31 pm

      I love the image of you walking out and standing to look up, Nicole.

  9. Joseph Harker

    19/09/2012 at 6:57 pm

    Well-dived, says I. If this is what you have lying around waiting to be used, then I demand more frequent full poems! šŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:35 pm

      I’m trying, Joseph. You are my inspiration on that. I have been so trained towards publishing the old-fashioned way that I resist posting my poetry and marvel at the many poems you post. My compromise is to post and pull after a couple of weeks! But, this poem is a rarity for me. Poems with this much imagery don’t come along often. I tend to literalness. I’m working on it :-).

  10. JulesPaige

    19/09/2012 at 7:35 pm

    You have given me an idea for the next time ‘bits’ are called for and that is to use ‘titles’ of previous pieces…since I don’t really have other ‘bits’ floating around. I enjoyed your images.

    I’m here with this one…

    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:36 pm

      I like your idea, Jules. Could be fun!

  11. PJF Sayers

    19/09/2012 at 7:53 pm

    Margo, this is gorgeous, the last stanza is so full of life. Nicely done and I agree with Joseph.


    • margo roby

      19/09/2012 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you, Pamela. I loved finding all the lines and bringing them together.

  12. vivinfrance

    20/09/2012 at 4:38 am

    I can fully understand why these lines clamoured to be kept and used: they make a fabulous and coherent whole.

  13. purplepeninportland

    20/09/2012 at 6:08 pm

    Love this, Margo. I love the idea of memorizing clouds and they edge flatten into the edge of shadows. I’m so glad you kept “leftover lines.”


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