Generative Exercise: “Sasha’s Flight”
LOL – this is not a poem I’m ever going to send out, I don’t think – so I’m sharing it with you. I promised to do a generative exercise along with my poetry students based on an assignment called “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” by Jim Simmerman in The Practice of Poetry. The exercise has 20 random instructions for constructing a poem, such as “9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic” and “14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.” You never know how weirdly letting-go the results will be. So…enjoy the strange! – mj
By Michael Jackman
Our garden is a hamster stuffing
weeds in his cheeks. The tomatoes
dare the chickens in the run,
frightening them by spitting
seeds and tomato juice. Fat chickens
shriek and huddle in the coop.
Sasha, a Barred Rock hen, wishes
she lived in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
The tomatoes didn’t dare the hens,
they were flirting, but dinosaurs
have never understood this gesture.
The huddled chickens lick each other’s
When will the highway grow quiet?
When will the neighbors silence
their polluting porch lights?
At night the light coats the collard greens
like an endotoxin. The highway’s tritones
curdle the corn and they try to cover their ears.
The sound bites their sensitive silk and chews
through a number of kernels.
Breaking dawn makes politicians chew onions,
grinding the teary skins all over God’s green acres,
as onion skins are the diaphanous shawls
of rhetoric. Politicians mend fences with wire cutters.
Sasha, the Barred Rock, discovers
flight one day and beats her beak against
the netted ceiling until she breaks free
to join a flock of wild turkeys running uphill.
Jackman never sees her again, though he will search
the knobs of Floyd County, finding only splats
of her particular green guano, and he will call,
“Sasha! Sasha!” to the scolding of crows and coos
of mourning doves. The situation will be derelectly
novel, as he knows willows are the arbiters of hen
grievances, and the forests call, “Sasha, cherie,
fais comme chez toi!” On cold winter nights,
even the chert will light her fires, with one spark.
The tomatoes spit, corn wails, lights ooze down
the sides of collards.