Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Writing Prompts

I had a friend who used to send me writing-prompts. They took me out of my comfort zone- and I was usually pleased with the result. One time she suggested Shostakovitch. What do I know about Shostakovitch? I don't even like his work. But I mustered what little I did I know and the result is this- something I'd never have written off my own bat. 


Things you cannot say or write

You can ask a string quartet to play,

Or, if the theme is catchy enough,

Get even government spies to hum

Unwittingly. There isn’t a face

In the gallery of the great composers

More like a stone. I think of him

Walking the shingle beach at Snape,

As the cagey guest of Ben and Peter,

Looking east, and I sense his enemy

Staring back- as though they were heads

In roundels of laurel, facing each other

Across the folds of one of those street-wide

Banners the People march beneath.

Another prompt brought this. We were both cat lovers, but I'd never have written about cats if she hadn't challenged me to.




The cat stretches out on the wall in the sunshine,

Taking this lifetime easy.

He says to the butterflies, “Listen  my pretties

I’ll tear you apart- but later.


My last three lives were pretty exhausting;

I’ve earned this bit of a rest now.

I left piles of skulls on the plains of Ukraine,

I massacred peasants in Jerez


And drove in a Panzer through Alsace Lorraine

Till someone I wasn’t aware of

Dropped a lit bottle of flammable stuff

Through the hatch, What a bummer, but next time,


I’m gonna make sure I’ve got stars on my collar

And weapons-grade uranium.

I’ll sit in a bunker and feel the world tremble,

But just for this lifetime I’m resting.”

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