Writers enjoy the thrill of petty larceny. Though I don’t recommend grand theft, I encourage people at the start of my creative writing programs to borrow lines, images and plot ideas from each other. At the beginning of one of my 5-day adventures in “Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming” at Mosswood Hollow, we accomplished this through a card game.
    I had everybody write a summary of a dream or a story or just a few good lines on one side of an index card. Then we took turns to pull cards from the deck and make up more of a story or script from whatever was dealt to us, pretending that the card we drew contained our own material. We also agreed that whatever was read in front of the group would be common property.
     This provided great starter dough! Here is a cycle of seven little verses I wrote that morning, riffing on seven of the cards that were shared.


Borrowed Lines

1
Turn Off

Turning, turning. They kept her turning
till she didn’t know which way to turn.
So she turned harder, the other way
and became cyclone. She carried their houses
and banks, their laptops and diamond rings
and every sure thing in the swirl of her rage
until she turned all of them off.
2

Cat People

What you most hate is what you will become
unless you agree that
what you most fear is what you must do.

3
Worker bees

On the porch, a few of us are fanning ourselves.
Most are torpid in sunlight, in a heat stupor.
Until one of us rouses and flies up counter-clockwise
and we rise to follow, filling the air with our hum.

4
Breakfast Time

I love the spring bunny in a shaft of sunlight
on the dew-glistening grass, sweet and soft.
I drop from the sky in vertical descent,
talons exquisitely precise. Breakfast time.

5
All Roads

To tell you I love you is to love myself.
I must breathe this from my gut
and sing it with lungs and belly
until all roads lead to my heart, and you.

6
Key to the Attic

May you never forget the key to granma’s attic
in the place between sleep and awake
where you found another world when you were nine
that calls you now, all these decades gone.

7
The Right Line

Take the U Train
not the Them Train
never the Should Train
not the Might-Have-Been Train
pass by the Wannabe Train
skip the Must Train
Take the U Train, you.


The card game mentioned above is a literary variant of my Coincidence Card Game, whose rules are fully explained in Sidewalk OraclesI am leading “Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming” this year at magical Mosswood Hollow from May 21-26 and at a beautiful country hotel near Česká Skalice in the Czech Republic from September 12-16.

Art: Remedios Varo, “Sympathy” (aka “The Madness of the Cat”), 1955



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