Exquisite Corpse

This poem is a collaborative effort. It was written in my Poetry Workshop class at Rowan University. Nine people (eight students and the teacher) added lines to the poem ‘blindly.’ Each person added the next line without being able to read the previous one, except for one word. Which meant I only wrote one out of every nine lines shown below (I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones; if you know my writing, it should be obvious). The result was very interesting, and it created a poem that none of us quite expected.

An exercise like this is known as an “Exquisite Corpse.” You can read more about the technique here.


the air near the barn smelled
like wood chips on a playground, flying as the

children run, losing the footsteps in pursuit,
their hearts racing to the brink of the ocean
and back again, swimming in the churning
abyss that reaches beyond intent, it stares
back down the path she had taken as she
fled from the fire, back to the smoldering ruins
of the school
pallid, narrow, waiting for the
blush to rise up against the sun
where the blades of grass meet
the dead concrete heaves as if the Earth is
breathing, slow melodic breaths trying to compose
their thoughts died in the deathly dull
lecture, never ends, drones like waves against
sinking into the streets of New York, the
concrete turned into a river, the waters

nothing ever plummets as fast
as we want it to begin, as always with

a tarnished silver cross hung
dead around her neck weighing
down, beneath our feet, where
the dead walk among us, the lost souls
wandering tendrils of opulent
pearls shattered against her skin, shining and
calling, screaming, crying for help, crying in pain
but then he just stopped crying, and I knelt
there holding
looking down into a chamber
with a gasp a cry a yelp at the
dark and empty as the promises
in parking lots at 4 am where cops lurk and
drug dealers selling only hope, a way out
from pain life
blooms brooms booming bass beside bystanders
bowling down the hillside and crashing into
the shrubs at the bottom. Then, moments
later, exploding


6 thoughts on “Exquisite Corpse”

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