The Fruits of the Poetry Workshop

February 20, 2009

Thanks to everybody who came to the poetry workshop. As far as I’m concerned, and this is no bull, it was you guys who made it a hit, and I can’t ever thank you enough.

For those who were not in attendance, the workshop was basically two-fold. The first being two identify and list those certain cliche words that tend to be overused in poetry. Words such as:

The Heavens

The list was actually quite long and restrictive. After we finished adding items to it, I asked the class to write a poem about REGRET, in 15 minutes, that did not use any of the words on the list. Had you seen the size of the list, you would understand what a difficult task that was, especially in such a short time. We had an argument over whether “regurgitate” should be on the list, but it was shot down. Hence, four people put “regurgitate” in their poems to spite me, (punks).

Below are some of the poems we received, starting with the award winning entry by Paul R. Delancey, who, in a bold act of defiance used three of the prohibited words in one sentence to spite me. (Punk.)

If you do not see your poem here, it was because I didn’t receive it, or couldn’t read your handwriting (That means YOU Julie Shapiro).

by Paul R. Delancey

My alter ego loves your alter ego
and I love you

Shall we double date?


Said the Mother penguin to the chick
“Bring your furry ass over here!

I need to regurgitate
and make room for more beer.”

“No mom, no
I want pizza, a pizza-eater I shall be.”

“No son, no
You’re a penguin
a fish-eater you’ll be”

“You’ll be neither,”
said the fisherman
as he harpooned them both.

I’ll mince you and can you
for Penguins of the Sea.”

said the expiring penguin.
by Nicolle

Two heads bowed at the table with pregnant thoughts of the past.
She was eighteen when she met him at the bus stop and nineteen when they had their first stillborn. Five years later they had a son who had a tendency to drink and stand behind bars. They, too, were behind bars with pregnant thoughts of the past.

By Marilyn Friedman
(a.k.a. Misscotti)

Today my brain feels fried
sunny side up

I regret the tete a tete
we had last night
in the paradise room
til 1 a.m.

Now, it is my words
I’ve lost, spilt like biscotti
chunks on this hideous carpet
I don’t’ want to regurgitate [punk]
those taboo words
in this poem, like a cat
staring at its own thrown up
tuna flavored bits

I warn you, I’m going
to punt anyone that pokes
this poem. Don’t make me
feel small because I use
a phrase like pungent puke [pungent? puke? double punk!]

Let’s start a betting pool about how many bad words we can
forget, like fuck, shit,
damn those don’t belong in a proper poem

I throw them like wet balloons
from the top
of the “quiet zone”

of this hotel, watch them
explode on hoity-toities
who don’t laugh
but get mad, like I am
right now

I regret my machete mouth.
I can’t let
it get between this poem
and your nose because
I am as saccharin
as Black Forest gummy
bears, ready for you
to squish my jelly, fruity
goodness in between
your molars

By B.D.

A lifetime born anew in
the silence that echoes between heartbeats [heartbeats is a form of “heart”, punk!)
and a shadow
seeded in fear
nurtured with hate
invisible, except in the mirror

by Mike Merica

License withheld
to speak a word,
for many ages spoken thus,
must now, alas, defrocked of that first mantle,
be uttered with a different thrust.

By Eleanor Roberts

Dear Josh,

why did we let you in so quickly?

your talk of bugs dazzled us

your enthusiasm caught us up

when drinking

why did we give you our cell phone numbers?

and invite you to our parties?

How did you convince us your friendship application needed little scrutiny?

once more we regret the decisions we made when drinking?

it wasn’t just the 17 texts asking all of us for directions across the road

it wasn’t just the drunken insistence on picking us all up in your arms at the bar

it wasn’t just the slipped jock comments regarding ugly versus fat

it was the whole, needy, frenetic, overbearing, instant buddying, annoyingly closeness of your personality that led us to regret every going beyond the confines of the back room of the bar that one Friday night.

by Juliette Engel

Tap, tap, tap
My mother’s heels click

Tap, tapping away from me

Up the stairs
through the front door
while I pretend not to notice.

The car door slams, T-bird engine roars to life
fades down the road
while I draw paper dolls
in make-believe stories
and pretend not to care.

And there you have it, the fruits of the poetry workshop. Hope you enjoyed. Thanks all who attended. If I left anyone out, feel free to drop your poem in the comments section, and anyone else who has a poem they’d like to share with the group. Poetry can be fun people, like the way flesh-eating toenail fungii is fun.


Edwin Decker



  1. Decker,
    These are great. By chance…can you email/scan my illegible poem I’d like to see it i.e. translate it..i.e. do something with it.


  2. ED,
    One more poem, because you all (well okay, not you of the movie reviews in haiku) made fun of haiku. And, I have now gone back and removed the word HEART from all of my poetry. Even the onion
    one I sent you a few days ago. I am thinking of substituting in a different yet standard body part. I do not necessarily like the image a
    weak relationship hinging on the severed armpit. Or, maybe I do.

    Snap Shot: Landlord Haiku
    By MKatz

    Your crazy landlord
    Needs to take a bath; he reeks.
    Death crawls on his skin.

  3. Michelle – great haiku! I like the image :-).

    Ed, I wanna see you def slammin’ your way to poetry fame. Watch out HBO.

    My small contribution:

    Solve the jumble
    The TREE has many branches
    To ERR is human
    Set the TEE
    And see no REGRET

  4. Ed, so much fun! This is the first poem I’ve written since the 7th grade I would even consider letting other people read.

    I recommend the exercise to everyone who thought they’d left those silly beret beat days behind.

    My fave words from the list were flesh, pools, desire and muse. As in my muse’s fleshy pools of desire…which led me to write this….

    by Melanie Young

    “How much room is there in the back?”
    she asked.
    he said.
    Over the half-torn leather seats,
    A snagged twinset cardigan, a scuffed loafer caught
    on the headrest.
    On the floorboard, the peach lace bra
    her husband had never noticed.

  5. I just want to make something clear – the back room at The Alibi is a very public place, the ‘Decker Interpretation’ that the abberent befriending of Josh involved any kind of sex is completely and entirely wrong. Signed – The Wrekin’ Crew.

  6. Whatever Eleanor, if that’s the story you want to run with.

  7. One of the great difficulties of such a daunting list of banished words is, of course, context. For instance, heartbeats. There is a considerable amount of modern poetry that, in its attempt to avoid cliché, becomes pretentious. Somehow, “the sonic vacuum between mundane cardiological events” seemed a complicated deviation from a simplistic rhythm.

    Of course, I could be wrong about all of that.

  8. BD, yes, exactly right. In fact, I tried to make that point at the workshop, but failed to put as succinctly and eloquently as that.

    Context is everything, which is why, the few poems which broke the rule, and used some of those words anyway, worked.

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