Recipe for Cooking a Poem (ii)

She who dares, wins

and yet there are rivulets of fever in my tights

a sigh like crescendo, spiralling like sunset into the dusk.

Wooing like cavaliers on horseback into some horizon

while a warm rainstorm stills a beaconlit summer dream.

I wake you with the heady scent of violets

place a tiny bouquet under your nose.

I imagine you taste like psychotropic desert earth.

Rumi wandered the Egyptian sands once like in my just-dream.

But real cavaliers don’t come on horseback, they steal in

unannounced through the back door and carry you away.

There’s no use pretending taffeta is for ball gowns

but check it, fam, this one’s silk and I got it down the market.

Should you discover you were not invited to the ball after all

you must gatecrash it like there’s no tomorrow 

for it’s true, there may be no tomorrow.

Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit.

The aching abyss of the underworld trembles without you knowing

still the sky lifts you into its arms tonight.

Make no sudden clasp of thunder, instead

be still like the moon on the dark side of winter.

Sunra was no god, just a wing-ed metamorphed animagus

who will one day call upon Isis to salt the earth again.

The oblivious sphinx is none the wiser, never has been, is not all-knowing.

Whoever thought summers this hot could turn coffee into wine?

Fuego y metales calientes de mil canciones.

My book half-plundered flew away into the dawn

for the river ran northward after last night’s crescendo 

and the wooing cavalier lay spent like a trail-blazed star.

© N Nazir 2021

Shared for dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Mish (I’m a bit late to the party).

* * *

Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit. – the fellow is either mad or he is composing verses (Latin).

Fuego y metales calientes de mil canciones – fire and hot metals of a thousand songs (Spanish – a lyric from an Ojos de Brujo song).

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

*I created this poem using a random list of instructions taken from an old NaPoWriMo prompt from 2020. I found it to be quite a freeing stream of writing experiment. I highly recommend it; it’s quite unexpected what you manage to pluck from your subconscious given such a concise list. This was my second attempt (my first one was odd even for me).

I have included the list of instructions below in case you wanted to try it.

1) Begin the poem with a metaphor.

2) Say something specific but utterly preposterous.

3) Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.

4) Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).

5) Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.

6) Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.

7) Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.

8) Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.

9) Use an example of false cause-effect logic.

10) Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).

11) Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”

12) Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.

13) Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”

14) Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.

15) Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.

16) Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.

17) Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.

18) Use a phrase from a language other than English.

19) Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).

20) Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

33 thoughts on “Recipe for Cooking a Poem (ii)

  1. Ahh, fascinating! I really liked the whole bit around the animagus (what a word!), and turning coffee into wine. Also, I thought all my life until a few years ago that Rumi was a woman. Imagine.
    I didn’t recognise this prompt in your poem but I remember it well. However, I didn’t remember my response to it back then so I searched it out. Here:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Manja! 😊 Hilarious! Rumi is quite an ambiguous name. Yes I couldn’t find the link so I copied and pasted the instructions from before (I wrote this in the summer).
      What I liked about it is that you can come out with something completely different on different days if you write automatically. Funny what the brain stores!
      I will surely check out your version! 💛☀️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. fireblossom32

    First of all, keeping to all those instructions is amazing, but you have not merely followed directions, you have transcended them. I adore the foreign language phrases you used, the Egyptian motifs and “fam”. Just delicious.

    Hey…if you like this sort of thing, come by my blog on Monday for a word list taken from Sylvia Plath’s writings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sunra,
    Wow, I really enjoyed this one and the poetic heights you achieved while engaging with the prompt. Among the gorgeous lines, this one stood out for me: “I imagine you taste like psychotropic desert earth.” Ah! Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sanaarizvi

    You took my breath away with this one, Sunra! Wowww! 💝💝 So much to love here especially; “Whoever thought summers this hot could turn coffee into wine?” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sunra,
    This captured my attention,
    “Whoever thought summers this hot could turn coffee into wine?”
    and “Should you discover you were not invited to the ball after all
    you must gatecrash it like there’s no tomorrow”
    Wonderful fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ain Starlingsson, forestbathing hermit

    Stunned… it’s poems like this that make poetry such a delight. I wrote on one or two other poems I saw in this prompt they were so good that they gave room for the reader to be an artist, too, in the reading of the poem. Here I would say yes, your poem gives that wonderful opportunity, but so more! The clever, exotic referencing, is just so delicious, and mystical, sometimes enigmas, other times hitting just below the plexus. And..what a powerful first me it applies to the poem itself… there is no “hiding behind (easy) words here…each line stretches the emotions, this way, then that. Sometimes I felt the stream of consciousness, and at others it was alike a shock at what is just round the corner. The lovely aromas in the poem…mmm…but there are parts that do hit…your book half plundered…still echoes, worries…anyway, will stop…just a poem like this…leaves a strong impression…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry to be so late getting here, especially after I read this, since it’s a treasure house of everything that makes poetry both a sensual pleasure and important to our psyches. I love so many things, so many phrases here–not only the stellar “I imagine you taste like psychotropic desert earth.” quoted back a few times above, but also “ still like the moon on the dark side of winter…” and the plundered book, the feverish tights(!) all are lines that just nailed me to the screen.Your description of Sun ra and Isis, modern and ancient myths on the synthesizer of this poem, was masterly, and that you wrote it from that crazy template just leaves me in awe. I do love those kinds of prompts, hard to find these days, because they open us up and the most amazing poems pour out. Anyway, thanks for the very generous comment you left at my place, and for posting this, which made my morning.

    Liked by 1 person

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