Poem Starting with Something Like Lines from Norman Dubie

The lights of the galaxies are strung out over a stripper of gin
and I’m your bartender for the night, baby. Strap it on,
strap it in, and enjoy the high. That music’s got a dirty backbeat,
goes boom boom boom and you know your way to the pole.
Don’t mind the man with the twenties folded like boats —
his lapel fell into flowers long ago,
and now the rest of his suit has followed suit.
Someone, somewhere is pushing up the black-eyed Susans.
But not this someone, not this somewhere. My nametag
says Daisy and my tears are made of forget-me-nots.
A kiss is like a dress walling off a tall building,
easy enough to rip through if you know where the seams are.
Two soused flies are like fiddles drying
out after a long night of tequila shots and shooting stars.
My favorite pastime has become the imaginary instruction of flowers.
Don’t grow so pretty, I say. The men won’t respect your mind
and the girls will hate your face. Wilt, lay down in the mud.
Roll around and get your petals dirty. You’ll have more fun, anyway.
No sense standing around on your roots. You’ll just attract guys like that one:
In triplicate, he’s sent an application, listing grievances, to the bars.
But really, he’s only shot off one. That far in the sauce,
and everyone sees threes. When you were ten,
you wondered about sin wrinkled by looking at jewels.
Our mother’s face could only be lit up by green paper
and a man’s furred arm across her hips.
She was a dancer too.
Her breasts silled the windows like a mouth,
their frown the sash and curtain of a cigarette kiss.
When we were eight, she wore lipstick the color of
dead roses and saw delusions of grandeur,
which were really a slick mix of hope and heroin. Once:
in the near field, an idle, stylish house raised one leg
and peed at her. That’s how you know it’s a boy, she said.
Here, have another stripper of gin, another pole dance
before you go. Mama’s somewhere waiting, but we don’t want
to go yet. There’s twenties folded like boats and music that
boom-booms and a hand on your ass.
Future worlds are being rolled like beads.
The pearl slaphash of your moon is rising on the water.


About This Poem: So, here’s the original prompt:

For this prompt, take a Dubie line to jumpstart a poem of your own. Your poem should be titled “Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie.”

I offer a menu of possible first lines below:

  1. The lights of the galaxies are strung out over a dipper of gin.
  2. His chapel fell into flowers long ago.
  3. A kiss is like a dress falling off a tall building.
  4. Two houseflies are like two fiddles drying.
  5. My favorite pastime has become the imaginary destruction of flowers.
  6. In triplicate, he’s sent an application, listing grievances, to the stars.
  7. You wondered about skin wrinkled by looking at jewels.
  8. Her breasts filled the windows like a mouth.
  9. In the near field an idle, stylish horse raised one leg.
  10. Worlds are being told like beads.
  11. The pearl slapdash of the moon is on the water.

I picked the first line and started writing, and then realized I’d put in a typo — stripper instead of dipper. So I thought, “Aha! I’ll start each stanza with a slightly changed line, all in the order they were written above.” I wouldn’t let myself look at the next stanza starter until I was at least two lines into the last one. So, obviously, the poem has this oddly disjointed feel as I tried to string things together, and at the end, you can probably tell I was running out of time on my fifteen minute clock. Still, despite all that, there is something oddly cohesive about the whole thing, and it was a fun experiment.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.