Today’s writing prompt is deceptively simple. Deceptive because it can result in a more weighty poem than you’d think. The rules are: take a song, preferably from your youth, and weave a few pivotal lyrics into a poem that doesn’t have to reflect the song’s theme or intent. In the best cases, the lyrics you choose will dialogue with and fuel the engine of your own lines. I gleaned this prompt from one of my own poems, first published in BlazeVOX. I use bits of the Simple Minds song Don’t You Forget About Me but you’ll see, if you know the song, that I invest the lyrics with my own meaning for the poem, one not intended in the original song. If you want an additional challenge, you can take a song that is also the theme of a movie and work with both the song and the movie. I did this in my poem, but wasn’t consciously working with that challenge at the time. Let’s call it double ekphrasis, sounds really learned and difficult.
Send your resulting poems along and I’ll include a few in the next post.
Don’t you forget about me
I was sixteen, a hot July night at the drive-in, watching The Breakfast Club
with my mother and her boyfriend. He was fun, he was young,
he would become obsessed and want to kill us
but torched our car while we slept, instead. This night was before the burning.
The three of us in the unlit car, eating popcorn. If I had to choose,
I’d say he was the line don’t you forget about me in the Simple Minds song
while I took will you stand above me and worked it into nightmares:
a dark figure at the door, a dark figure in an idling car.
I was murdered in myriad ways: knife, fire, gunshot to the head. Maybe
he didn’t realize that a daughter is housed inside her mother
like the smallest Matryoshka doll, the pea-sized one; the way she looks out
from the same eyes, how a threat to one is a threat to the other.
He was young, closer to my age than my mother’s. He was fun, when he wasn’t
harming us. I kept the memory of that night long past its usefulness:
summer’s short heat and the three of us singing don’t don’t don’t don’t.