Paint Chip Poetry: Playing with Poetry #playingwithpoetryNPM 29/30

This month, I’m tagging along with ChristieMargaretJoneMary Lee, and other writers to play with poetry for National Poetry Writing Month. I’ll be creating poems using haikubes, metaphor dice, magnet poetry, paint chips and anything else that catches my fancy.

Today I decided to do a backwards paint chip poem. I don’t think that’s really a thing, but I knew I wanted to write a paint chip poem and I didn’t have any paint chips with me. I had already discarded a dozen ideas for poems before seven a.m. and ultimately decided to wait for inspiration until I took an afternoon hike in Wind Cave National Park. We’ve got snow in the forecast again for tomorrow and I thought today might be my last chance for a dry hike for maybe a week.

Instead of letting the paint chip colors guide me as I have all month, I decided to let the objects I saw in nature guide the paint chip selection. I wrote down what I saw in my field journal, then came home and searched online for paint chip colors to match. I was prepared to have to make poetic concessions: “fairy angel grass” for “lichen,” say. But the folks who name paint chips can be almost disconcertingly literal. William Carlos Williams (“no ideas but in things”) could have really gotten into paint chip poetry I think. So here is a list poem for my afternoon hike. Every line in the poem is a paint chip color.

dakota trail
dark storm clouds
black hills shadow
pondesora pine
prairie grass
pale lichen
silver moss
sticks and stones
pebble path
tender sage
weathered wood
winter grass
ancient stone
tree bark
falcon’s wing
creek bend
rippling water
pine needle
rose quartz
prairie dog
bison brown
shortgrass prairie

Wind Cave is surely one of the only places in the world where you can hike with a very good chance of coming across bison on the trail. I crested a hill only to find three bison grazing. I watched them for a few minutes, and then turned back.

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