Beat the Heat with a List Poem!

The following article, with a few minor edits, is from my handbook, Poet’s Workshop – and Beyond! Since summer is still in full-swing, and the days are hot-hot-hot-HOT, what better way to cool off than a scavenger hunt? 

Then again, there’s always AC or fans if you’re so inclined – so enjoy!

A Poetry Scavenger Hunt – Turn those clues and discovered treasures into list poems!

I loved scavenger hunts as a child, and since I believe so much of what we enjoyed as children remains a part of us as adults, I still love to dig about for bits of text, intriguing sounds, colorful people, scintillating scents, and all those other priceless treasures.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a poetry scavenger hunt right now?

Here’s your first clue: There’s something on the kitchen counter. . .

My kitchen counters are pilled high at the moment.  Here’s a partial list:

  • Good Luck bamboo plant in a blue ceramic bowl filled with shells, stones and marbles
  • Spider Plant in purple ceramic pot
  •  A box I need to mail to a friend in Korea
  • My beading supplies
  • Four paper mache tombstones in-process for Halloween and Dias de los Muertos

While I could probably create several poems inspired by the above list, I want to keep looking for the treasure. . .Maybe there’s an even bigger chest of it somewhere else?

Here’s your second clue:  Look behind you!

I try not to do this often, as my cottage is in need of more than a good fairy with a magic wand.  Seriously, though, I take a deep breath, swivel my chair around, and here are just a few things that I discover:

  • A wooden beading loom
  • A cascading stack of student papers
  • A Roget’s Thesaurus
  • Wrapping paper and ribbons
  • Two little green men and their gray flying saucer atop a slab of purple agate
  • Origami koalas on a bamboo tree
  •  My voter handbook

I could start writing a poem now (in fact, my process of selection could be seen as the poet’s-mind-in-process), but I need another clue.

The third clue:  What is that smell?

While I’ve been writing, I noticed several distinct smells.  I wonder which (if not all) of these will end up being in my poem:

  • Espresso
  • Fried potatoes with garlic
  • Vanilla musk candle
  • A bit of dust
  • Bergamot and ginger hand lotion
  • Clove cigarette smoke

Hmmm. . .I think there might be a few more clues. . .

The fourth, fifth and sixth clues:  What are you feeling/sensing/thinking?

  • It’s a bit chilly in here.
  • I really should turn that kitchen fan off.
  • Drat—I forgot to call the gas company; I think my thermostat is broken.
  • Where are those bedroom slippers?  My feet are cold. . .
  • I really like that guy. . .wonder when he’ll call again.
  • I need to practice my kung fu tonight.
  • Maybe I’ll just curl up with a book and forget grading papers.

Look!  Here’s a seventh and final clue:  If you had two or more months of consecutive vacation time, where money and other responsibilities weren’t an issue, etc., what would you do?

Wow!  Now there’s a list! Here’s my short version:

  • Finish my novels:  The Waters of Nyr, el café de la noche, and Xenodate.™
  • Finish my screenplay, Unmasked.
  • Finish all of my sewing projects.
  • Bead.
  • Go through ALL of my daughter’s and my stuff, organize, donate, etc.
  • Find a new place to live—and move.
  • Go to all my kung fu sessions.
  • Organize my photographs into books and make collages.

Ok, I love to fantasize. I’d probably need more than three months to do all this. . .I may as well ask what you’d do if you won millions in the lotto—but hey, it could happen.

Now gather all of your treasures together in a pile.  Sort through them.  Luxuriate in them.  Smell and taste and touch them.  Add in pieces of this and that.  Then, write a poem—or series of poems!

Here’s mine (still-in-process):

I should really go to Kung Fu

but I sit here instead, writing.

Good Luck Bamboo whines: “what’s that smell?”

so I turn down the ceiling fan

open a window

light another clove, the vanilla candle.

She’s been quiet for awhile

but now, the spider plant feels like talking

(she’s ignored me for days)

says, “who was that guy you had over last night?

He was better than a tin of that expensive plant food!”

and I say, “shush,  you’ll wake up Jade Plant.”

But Spider goes on and on, her leaves trembling

(or maybe I turned the ceiling fan on high instead of low)

until I pick up one of the gravestones,

begin to paint it blue-gray,

sponge on a bit of darker blue,


“That better not be for me,”

(she says, readjusting her fronds)

then adds, “you haven’t watered me in days.”

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1 Comment

  1. On List Poems. . . | Terrie Leigh Relf, Author & Workshop Facilitator

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