Prompt: “Today’s prompt (optional as always), is inspired by our interview with Peter Davis. As he indicates there, his latest book is rooted in endlessly writing ideas for band names. Today, we challenge you to try this out yourself by writing a list poem in which all the items are made-up names. If band names don’t inspire, how about a list of titles for romantic novels? Or new television cop dramas? They can be as over-the-top as you like, because that’s (at least) half the fun. Happy writing!”
A river runs past us with its talking fish,
their mouths spewing question marks,
silver hooks in our lips. It’s cold up here—
and lonely. Those who love us wonder why
we waste time stringing syllables together
into something as vague as language.
The echo is a frozen wind on this
mountain of words, its peak hidden
in the clouds. Our work is cut out for us.
A wordless sickness threatens to settle in,
a thousand-year winter, so we shout out loud
words that end with letter Z, words that
encompass a life, like birth, death, and all
that shit in-between, words that eat, burp,
leak, and make us sneeze. Even those
we could care less about, like tax, duct tape,
and crotch, they, too, get their due. Some
we’d like to wipe off the face of the earth
and some we can’t do without. Blue words,
for example. (Wait, what? you ask, and I
give you the sky.) Also, words that hide
in the grass and may bite, words with
polka dots. Words I dream about sometimes
but would only admit it to you. Words
that make you go ‘hey!’ Words we place
on top of other words, slip under, tuck
behind other words. Words we grow tired
of listing. Draining words, the kind that
turn our muscles to jelly, juggling words
that should belong in a circus but don’t.
Now you ask for my ice crampons and furred
gloves. I, for your rappelling rope and non-
skid boots. You plan to ascend. I’m going down
to the valley. Peak, valley, chasm. The snow
melts inside vowels, the toothy rocks
of consonants glisten in river beds.
Words upon words crackle like plexiglass
into the hazy cauldron of morning.