On a plane between somewhere in Germany and Heathrow, I came up with a game to pass the time on the long, long, couple-of-hour flight. It relates to that old game of Consequences. If you have never played this, you have never been a middle class family attempting to have Family Time in the middle of a power cut. Shame on you.

In my version, two or more people take it in turn to write lines of a poem.

1) The first person writes the first line, under no rules.

2) The first person folds the paper over, obscuring their writing. They tell the next player the last word of their line. It will be up to player 2 to write the next line so that it rhymes with the first, without knowing what else is written in it.

3) If there are more than 2 people, the paper is folded over again and passed to the 3rd person, who will come up with an original line. There is no need for player 2 to give them the last word of their line. Then, the next player will write the rhyming line – if there are only 3 players, the 1st player will write the rhyme. This should loop at least until everyone has had a turn at writing an original line and a rhyming one.

If there are only two people in the game, the 2nd player will continue their turn after writing the first rhyming line. They will write the next original line. They will then fold the paper and tell player 1 the rhyming word. They should continue until they have at least 6 lines.

4) After which, the players unravel the paper and read the whole thing as one.


You can play this on your own.

1) Find a poem you don’t know. It should be a serious poem, so you can mess with its dignity for greater hilarity. And it should not be in rhyming couplets, like this:

A man who looked like a pig
Thought of buying a violet wig
He saw it was dirty
And got a bit shirty
But the manager gave not a fig.

(With the last line, that’s actually a Limerick, but we’ll politely ignore that.)

2) Block most of the poem, attempting to make sure you can only see the last word of each line.

3) On your page, leave a line blank, or put in the last word of the first line of the poem so you can keep track. Based on that word, write a line of poetry that rhymes underneath, on the second line space. Then, do the same with the second line of poetry. Repeat until you reach the end, or get bored / exhaust your creative juices.

4) Then add the lines of the original poem back into the spaces on your page and read it back as one.

As an example, here’s one I did with Emily Dickinson’s A Light Exists in Spring.

A Light exists in Spring
It is a vague and wafting thing
Not present on the Year
It plays upon my sunlit ear
At any other period
Like pea green peas within a pod
When March is scarcely here
A goblin waves its blunted spear.
A Color stands abroad
Much tranquility assured
On Solitary Fields
The hedgehog in its spiky shield
That Science cannot overtake
Around a deep and whimsy lake
But Human Nature feels
Around it, gamboling slimy eels.
It waits upon the Lawn
Where crumpled snorkak dare to spawn
It shows the furthest Tree
Did wave its branches merrily
Upon the furthest Slope you know
Within the merest stone’s throw
It almost speaks to you
Quietly, a peacock does a poo.
Then as Horizons step
Up it, an army of tarred ants crept
Or Noons report away
Waiting for a wetter day.
Without the Formula of sound
Spinning madly round and round.
It passes and we stay –
While swallows in a quartet play
A quality of loss
Reminding us of candy floss
Affecting our Content
E’en the goblin doth relent.
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Once every pheasant has been poached
Upon a Sacrament
As with a sack of wet cement.

Filename: solitary.experiments.phenomena.2cd.2013.Zip
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