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Two Poems Created Using The Same Twenty Words

Updated on March 25, 2017

I’ve been intending to start writing poetry again. This has been one of those resolutions which often gets shoved aside, and last night I reached a point where I was willing to try almost anything—aside from, I suppose, joining a religious cult or eating raw eggs—to get me back in the practice of writing poems.

I decided that I should select twenty random words and then write two poems using only these words. While generally I like to encourage writers to embrace all manner of freedom when writing, I also recognize the importance of establishing clear parameters for what I am writing. Moreover, I knew that if I found this writing activity completely worthless, I would never do it again. Thankfully, I think this writing exercise has merit and is worth attempting. Naturally, you can change the variables and write three poems using thirty words or four poems using fifty words and so forth.


I recognize both poems I created using my twenty words are unexceptional. In fact, I don’t particularly like them. Yet I want to share them and the words I used in case this will inspire someone else to try this exercise.

Velvet fabric
Velvet fabric | Source
A Nebraska highway
A Nebraska highway | Source
A child singing
A child singing | Source

The twenty words I used in both poems are:

  1. Nebraska
  2. sanguine
  3. singing
  4. velvet
  5. motorcycle
  6. violet
  7. pancake
  8. highway
  9. undone
  10. between
  11. in
  12. and
  13. besides
  14. fumbling
  15. second
  16. first
  17. for
  18. his
  19. with
  20. maybe

The two poems:

Freedom (Or Close Enough)

Besides Nebraska highway and his

motorcycle between

sanguine fumbling singing

velvet first in for

pancake with second

undone violet maybe

Stalled Journey

With motorcycle in Nebraska

fumbling beside highway

velvet singing between his first

and second

undone maybe violet pancake

for sanguine


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    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

      Thank you for commenting. I agree that anything that stretches us as writers makes us better.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Very creative use of your words. It took a few times through each poem to discover how you were using each word, but I think I got the gist of the poems. I tried something slightly similar with a flash fiction story. Jodah (another hubber) suggested using the words of one full sentence from any book, then use each word to begin each sentence of a story. I think that was a little easier than what you have done here. Anything that stretches us makes us better.