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  • Christine Delea

April 14 Poetry Prompt: Repeat After Me

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Below is a wonderful poem by Maggie Smith. The poem is "Good Bones" and it uses repetition in a marvelous way; to me, the poem has the rolling cadence of a villanelle.


Read her poem and then write a poem in which you repeat yourself. However, do it as Smith does--changing both the diction and meaning ever so slightly with each repetition so that the poem builds, rather than just repeats.


This poem was called the "Official Poem of 2016" by the BBC/Public Radio International, so use it as inspiration and a model to work towards, not a comparison!



Good Bones

by Maggie Smith


Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

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