How to Write a Poem

While we’re on a creativity jag…check out this awesome poetry exercise! I love it and I’m not a poet (I do like to engage the right side of my brain whenever possible, however)!


-Honor Moore, O Magazine

  1. Make a list of five things you did today, in the order of doing them.
  2. Quickly write down three colors.
  3. Write down a dream. If you can’t remember one, make it up.
  4. Take 15 minutes to write an early childhood memory, using language a child would use.
  5. Write a forbidden thought, to someone who would understand.
  6. Write a forbidden thought, to someone who would not.
  7. Make a list of five of your favorite “transitional objects.” Choose one and describe it in detail.
  8. Write down three questions you’d ask as if they were the last questions you could ever ask.
  9. Write down an aphorism (e.g., A stitch in time saves nine).
  10. Write down three slant rhymes, pairs of words that share one or two consonants rather than vowels (moon/mine and long/thing are slant rhymes).
  11. Write three things people have said to you in the past 48 hours. Quote them as closely as you can.
  12. Write the last extreme pain you had, emotional or physical. If the pain were an animal, what animal would it be? Describe the animal.

This generates a lot of poem material. Moore suggests using one of the questions as the first line, each of the colors more than once, the slant rhymes, and the aphorism with a word or two changed, as Sexton did in “a thousand doors ago”. Just use the material however you want. Between 20 and 30 lines is good to start, with each line 10 or more syllables long. It’s your own little fun invention, not to be forced.

Since nothing could be worse than The Summer of the Cold Socks, here’s what I came up with the first time I did this exercise, years ago. (Actually, now that I re-read it, this might be far worse.) Laugh all you want! Laughter is good for the soul.


Can I rest for a while now?


Three levels to the house and a spiral staircase towards the center

with large stone arches on either side

and wide open walkways on all three levels

An open circle in the lower level with brick pathways

A massive, color indoor garden

Twenty-one shades of green, goldenrod, cerulean blue, stark fuchsia red


Naked, I sit on the cold metal stairs of the staircase


She who laughs last, laughs least, in the bedroom, in the kitchen

in the gold moon glow of soft summer nights,

inside the poignant aching blue of the house

On top the warm, soft, sleek, wonderful smelling warmth of the horse

Lean forward, fingers entwined in coarse mane hairs,

Pushing bare hard heels into her sides, grip tightly with thighs


Tingle and rush in stomach’s pit, golden heart expands

Song on the hazy breeze, flaxen harp strings stretch


Laughing erratically, you blew it, Blue


Shall we choose to curdle and have pure, peppery mold?

or lay forth a platter of cheese, blue, feta, provolone and

the vice like grip of a pipe wrench around a pipe, wrenching and tightening?


I choose the feta, crumbled, plump and muscular

Sitting on the green-flecked futon, in meditation, with canned potato soup


I had so much fun writing that silly poem. Feel free to share yours if you decide to give it a whirl!

Authentically Yours, Laura