Category Archives: Writing Prompt

Ten-Minute Spill

Normally on Mondays on my home blog at The Lunatic, The Lover, & The Poet, I post something inspired by my Muse. Usually that means poetry. I won’t always post poems here but I thought it’d be fun to do one this time around.

If you follow me over at my home blog, you’ll become aware that I am going through some poetry exercises from this book (The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn & Chase Twichell) I bought at a local Half Price Bookstore. It has a lot of exercises by different poets/writers to help get the creative juices flowing, and I’m actually learning some new techniques that are very helpful. I’m not rushing my way through the book. I do one exercise and then put it away for a week or two. And I’m finding that I enjoy the exercises more than if I charge my way through.

So, I thought I’d share the most recent exercise here because I thought it would be really fun to use as a writing prompt as well. The exercise is called Ten-Minute Spill by Rita Dove. What I was supposed to do was write a ten-line poem. It was supposed to contain a proverb, adage, or familiar phrase (ex: one foot in the grave, a stitch in time saves nine, the whole nine yards, etc.) and change it in some way, as well as use five of the following words:

cliff          blackberry          needle          cloud

voice       mother                 whir               lick

You have ten minutes.

I did not come up with a ten-line poem. What I wrote was much longer. (They shouldn’t give me ten minutes.) But I liked the result and was somewhat surprised by what came out. I ended up using two phrases though one I changed and the other I did not. The five words I chose were: blackberry, mother, voice, needle, and lick. Here is my result:

Femme Fatale by Jesi Scott

She’s one mean mother of a brick house

     in her slinky crimson dress and black shoes,

     the ones with the needle-sharp heels,

lips done up in that wet blackberry shade-

makes your palms sweat just looking at her.

     She smiles that smile just for you

and your mouth goes dry, your heartbeat

trip-hammers a staccato tune

-Chopsticks on a piano.

That waterfall hair cascading down her back

     like brown waves into a blood-red ocean,

your fingers itch to tangle in it and drown.

Then, she sighs and says,

     “I can be yours if the price is right,”

and she presses her body against yours,

promises bright in her voice.

You lick your lips, your mouth dry,

and you know somewhere in the back of your mind,

somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea

…she’s going to make you pay.

So that’s what I came up with after ten minutes. I did only minor editing like spelling and punctuation. What do you think?

Try it yourself. You don’t have to write poetry. Give yourself maybe twenty minutes. Think of a proverb, adage, or familiar phrase and write a quick story and use five of the words from above. Make sure you change the phrase you use in some way. If you have a blog why not post your attempt and share the link with us in the comments? I’d love to read what you come up with!

Have a Twisted Monday!


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