#4 is a likely keeper, and #2 interests me a lot. And I want to put blouse/striped blouse somewhere.
That’s plenty to get me started. Will this turn out well? Who knows. Will it be fun? Probably. I don’t need to think for myself when I have poets thinking for me, using language in a nostalgic and pedestrian way (#4) and/or making it punch me in the gut (#2).
Let’s say I’m drawn to #2. I know I’ll stick to short, staccato sentences probably in the form of commands. If I want to get anywhere with #1 I’ll look up Bazille and discover that he’s a painter (not so interesting) but is also a restaurant! So is the blouse on a waitress in a restaurant named Bazille? And is she serving something hot to the guest who complained about his dinner being cold, something so hot he’s on fire from head-to-toe?
What’s interesting is this – I rarely finish these exercises. Wound up by them, I’ll go right to the thing I’m working on. But lots of time the language in the poems’ first lines will either appear in the work-in-progress or at least, like iodine in water, color a whole page in a way I could never have predicted.
Ron Koertge is the author of more than a dozen books, most of them novels for young adults. These include Margaux With An X, Stoner & Spaz, and The Brimstone Journals as well as Shakespeare Bats Clean-Up and the sequel Shakespeare Makes the Play-Offs.