So, I’ve been trying to keep up with a Massive Open Online Course for which I registered: How Writers Write Poetry. I’m behind.

Thousands of people are taking this online course with me, so when I posted a couple of the assigned exercises, I didn’t expect a response. I was wrong. Today I visited and found that two of the poems I’d composed and posted had two responses each!

Someone is paying attention. I guess I’d better catch up with the rest of my assignments.

In the meanwhile, here are the three poems I’ve composed and a description of the assignment for each. They are second drafts, in need of more work.

Exercise #1: Using Robert Hass’s sketching techniques, write a one-, two-, three-, or four- line poem.

Busy here and there, not
noticing each other, and now
the bus that splashes puddles,
And now God’s a screen that’s blinking.

Exercise #2: Collect lines in a notebook as Kate Greenstreet does in her “Epic.” See what interesting juxtapositions you can find. If you want, try taking a walk and recording things that interest you. Or, as Lucy Ives has done, mine older notebooks or poems for lines or fragments and make them new. Create a poem from the lines you have collected and submit it for discussion and workshops.

Swine Flew

We believed the river

a swath of safety


between us and

the pig barn fire

Until the black

smoke thick as death

and suckled
by bales of hay
chased us – 

– to drop

bits of ash
 on all of us.

Exercise #3: Using advice from the video, build a poem including at least one image and one metaphor.

Grandfather Mowing

Always the pull – pull –
pull then the whirring
motor. Cut

grass, Nana’s roses, an oil
change across the street
infect our noses.

He’s mowing the rectory
lawn again — black
clerical shirt and collar
exchanged for a stained
t-shirt with a pocket
sopping sweat.

A swath of brick path
severed the lawn into two
as it shot up to the heavy
oak door and redemption.

The mower never started
on the first try and each
humid afternoon between
the rhododendron and hydrangea
he became
a baptismal font.