Playing with First Line Poetry

Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast about Pulitzer Award winning author Toni Morrison. One of the speakers in the discussion had concocted a poem from the first lines of her novels. It was a fascinating thing, and it got me to wondering about my own work.

So this morning, I sat down and grabbed the first sentences from each of the stories in my collection Picasso’s Cat and other Stories, and I fiddled around with them, positioning first one sentence, then the others, looking for what they might be saying to each other, then shuffling, and then adjusting some more. Eventually a bit of a story came out to me. Perhaps it’s just me, of course. Perhaps just finding patterns where none really exist. But I liked it.

If nothing else I have to say that the cubist irony of pasting together a poem from a chunk of work titled Picasso’s Cat was entertaining unto itself. Of course, my stuff is no competition for the Morrison piece, but the process was fun and interesting, and it got me to really focus on the value of a first sentence.

So now, without further jaw flapping, here is my cobbled up poem:

A Poem From Picasso’s Cat


Sure, it’s easy to criticize someone like me.

My hair is bronze this week.

The kappo should have been up and moving.

An orange-white umbrella of fire bent from the pod’s surface.

I ran down a corridor that stretched before me as far as I could see.

Dr. Gregory Paul sat frozen with confusion as his assistant reached into the time machine’s cockpit and keyed a new sequence into the control box.

Dear Mr. Gee,

Must be nice to work for someone who lets you sit on your ass all day.

Here’s the facts.

Radio waves rose from the surface of a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, cutting through an atmosphere of oxygen and acid to break into the vacuum of space.

For a moment, Sara McClintock found it easy to forget they were over fifty kilometers from the relative safety of the Ant Farm.

A new child floats in my section today.

“Look,” Muriel said, “isn’t that the longest nose you’ve ever seen?”

Alpha Centauri A was chosen for a few very simple reasons.

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