This past Saturday, eight fabulous souls brought Bent Tuba Studio to life in the “Found Poems on Found Paper” workshop, creating French-fold books with a variety of paper scraps that hold a secret history. To these handmade books, the group then added “found poetry”—poetic lines borrowed from other poems or discovered among seemingly ordinary texts in regular books.
Today, using the same borrowing-lines-from-other-poets technique, I wrote this poem. Or, you might say, I found it:
This Is Old Song
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
and all that can be said is that
a fraction of flower here placing
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
when you can’t find your house, your street,
without breaking anything.
I do not know which to prefer,
white desire, empty, a single stem
harmony itself, itself.
Some silent laws our hearts will make,
our interpreted world. Perhaps there remains for us
to clap with an open heart
present, as now or never.
What the river says, that is what I say.
Perfect words tease the end of this line.
Many thanks to the writers of these gorgeous lines (which I lifted intact, punctuation and capitalization, as they appeared in print): Wallace Stevens, George Herbert, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Carlos Williams, E. E. Cummings, Judith Kitchen, Frank O’Hara, Lisel Mueller, Lenard Duane Moore, William Wordsworth, Jaki Shelton Green, Denise Levertov, William Stafford, and Michael McFee.
Want to play along? Make your own found poem by printing out these lines and arranging them to your satisfaction. I kept the lines as-is in my poem, but you can make your own rules: change punctuation, break the lines into individual words and rearrange them, whatever suits your fancy. Use as many or as few of the lines as you like. You can even use a borrowed line as a jumping-off place for your own poem: use the borrowed line as the first line of your poem, and see where it leads you in your own words.
Share your found poem in the comments!