Earlier this year, I wrote about reading slush, and set up a list of reasons I’d reject a poem.
1. A dull underutilized title, often one word, like “Love.”
2. An opening that over sets context: I was in the kitchen, it was snowing, on Tuesday I went shopping.
3. A simplistic metaphor carried all the way to the end.
4. An unambiguous emotion—I’m depressed, suicidal, happy I won the lottery.
5. An ending that reiterates context and wraps up already wrapped emotion.
6. No form, structure, or technique except for some predictable rhyme.
7. A self-satisfied, melodramatic, or cutesy tone.
Looking at it later, though, I realized it might actually be a weird kind of writing prompt—a challenge. This idea had already occurred to Devon Miller-Duggan, contributing writer at “Miriam’s Well.” Below is the hilarious outcome.
by Devon Miller-Duggan
There was blood soaking the feathers
In the bottom of the cage of my heart.
The cage followed me everywhere.
It tried to climb into the La-Z-Boy with me
When I tried to settle my soul down with a sandwich and a glass of tepid milk.
All the feelings of this ilk
Wrap around me like silk
Ropes, you know, the ones you saw once in the tattoo parlor book
With pictures of ladies, naked or in flapping kimonos,
Tied way more elaborately than
Trussed fowl and looking pleased about it. Even
More elaborately than that chicken recipe of Julia Child’s
I made once
Back when I had
Energy for that sort of thing,
Anyway, you could just tell those ropes were silk.
I’m so sad all the time now.
I always see the feather in that
Poem about hope,
Which I have none of,
Always see them as black and shiny.
Now I even see them bloody
In the bottom of a dog cage
That follows me around
Getting blood everywhere.
Bad poem! Sit! Stay!
Stop rolling in the bloody feathers of my hope!
No treats for you!