Posts Tagged ‘cross-out poem’

Another cross-out poem, this one found in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. This one had a bit of an e.e.cummings feel to it, so I tried treating it accordingly.

an ailing     Greenhouse
wearing an elegant bathrobe     attached to oxygen, was
wheeled in the living room of his Cape Cod home
festooned with paper cutouts of

a beloved teacher.
Greenhouse indulged in a
martini and a plate of oysters. Thus fortified,

though a bit wobbly,

he laid down
and praised

his lifelong companion and the darling of his
the Countess.

Greenhouse asked his nurses to lay
next to him in bed
that day on Cape Cod.

On a cold day last winter

Some pages of print, when you see them, they just scream to be played with. It helps when there is already some level of poetry in the prose to begin with, but even when the text is cold or harsh there are sometimes surprises to be found. Here’s what the altered source looks like.

Bonus Time!

On the back page of the same magazine I saw an ad and, don’t ask me what was going on inside my head, but I looked at this ad and the word “eating” just stuck out.

Okay, yeah, so I think about eating hearts and immediately jump to a chupacabra. Doesn’t everyone?  Anyway, there you go, two for the price of one (and, uh, free!) this Poetry Friday. Head on over to Wild Rose Reader where Elaine has the complete roundup this week.

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Somehow I started getting a subscription to Harper’s Magazine. Not that I mind, it was just so out of the blue. As usual, I start from the back of any magazine and read toward the front. I don’t remember when I started doing that, but maybe it’s because many magazines have a “back page” that is usually some sort of high note to leave the steady reader with. Not quite the magazine equivalent of a happy ending, but not far off either.

This month the back page consisted of a collection of findings from various scientific studies, some credited, some merely random statements. “The nose smells what it expects” stood out, as did some statements that kept referring simply to “the poor.” I thought there might be a found poem in all of this, a cross-out poem. I circled, I crossed out, doubled back and looked for new connections. Where I might have been able to manipulate what was on the page into something with more political weight or social commentary I am, at heart, a purist when it comes to cross-out poems – I believe the words should be used in the order they appeared on the page.

And so here it is, the great query in the differences between The People and Science.

how great?

reduce their carbon footprints, and
wear appropriate shoes.

easily embarrassed,
the fatalistic are less likely to
spread selfishness through human history.
times of crisis the poor suffer
rumor-mongering, collegial sabotage,
and employ the past tense

ambiguous janitors are more likely to be seen
the nose smells what it smells

psychologists suggest that the poor
are overrated; the
broken will give their lives
when upset

avoid inbreeding
and the
existence of rainbows

Robyn is handling the hosting duties of Poetry Friday this week over at Read, Write, Howl. That totally sounds like a manual for daily life. Go, read a little, write a little, howl a lot!


I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner, but I realized that perhaps people might want to see the original page I worked over to achieve the stunning masterpiece above. Consider this a “show your work” or a source attribution if you will. I’m pretty sure if you click on the image it will grow to a more legible size.

In all it's green Sharpie glory

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