If a poem isn’t coming along very well during my daily writing practice, I look to my writing mentors. I have dozens of poets I read every week–living and no longer living– and I consult with them. Sometimes I will imitate the form of a poem. Sometimes I will take a line and go on from there. Sometimes the rhythm of the poem will get me going, so that’s what I run with. And at other times, I’ll take the whole concept, but change a metaphor.
Here is a short poem I love by Elizabeth Steinglass titled “Chalk Moon.” She, in turn, was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Tonight.”
Chalk Moon, by Elizabeth Steinglass
Who made the moon?
Who scribbled it with chalk
on the blackboard sky?
Who blew the dust away
and filled the dark with stars?
So, for an exercise today, I’ve taken “Chalk Moon” and asked myself, what else makes “dust?”
Who took the moon?
Who nibbled the wafer-thin moon
and scattered its crumbs
across the tablecloth sky?
When stuck, it is always good practice to imitate and emulate the masters. This snippet will need substantial additions and revisions to become its own poem, but the exercise got me unstuck, which is all one can ask for.