I'm pretty certain that this poem was written as an exercise from Pat Schneider's Writing Alone and with Others.  Hence the punny title  ...

And now, having checked my writing journal, indeed it was.  The exercise consisted of writing two lists, on the right and left.  One a list of nouns and the other of verbs and adjectives.  The task was to pair nouns with verbs that they would not ordinarily associate with and then write a poem from those word associations.


The slumbering pen awakens, startled.

Shaking off his nightmare

of a battered feather quill 

dipping itself endlessly

into a dried-out, empty ink-well,

he looks around and notices the woman

staring starkly into slowly dying embers.

They had once filled the grate

with fire and with power.

He remembers.

She shifts in her chair,

as a dog would casually twitch 

in its dream of hunting down prey.

The clock keeps a silent, judgmental watch

knowing the corrupting influence of time

as it passes from minute, to hour, to night

in this unkempt chamber of creative horror.

Fiona Mackintosh (© August 6, 2011; 2018)

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