by Staff

riend and contributor Brendan Constantine challenged his fans with an exercise. Two poets each compose five lines—the first poet a set of five questions, the second a set of five answers—and combine them randomly. The magic results from neither party seeing the other’s lines in advance.

Editors Shannon Morley, Stephen Parrish, and Wendy Russ took part in the exercise; the results are below. We find it remarkable that distinct and contrasting styles meld together so well.

Try it yourself.

Wendy / Shannon

Why does the long sigh of a cello draw lines from my heart to wrap around the earth and back to you?

Because Kate Chopin materialized in the woodsy stacks of Mullins Library the day you said goodbye.

Why does tomorrow feel like a temptress in a silk caftan?

Because some jellyfish are immortal, and I’ll love you forever.

Why are rosy-cheeked optimists so annoying?

Because on Tuesdays, Charlie Chaplin ate stewed tripe.

Why does the sound of a door shutting fill me with sorrow?

Because time stands still in Gustav’s reverence of a kiss.

Why do I feel power when you tremble?

Because I’ll never laugh the way I did alone on the train to Budapest.


Shannon / Steve

Why is blue blue, and red is red, but green is that time we drove through the honeysuckle eve, Pink Floyd in the wind, fresh love in our eyes?

Because neither came first, the sunrise nor the sunset.

Why have Forest Tent caterpillars carried Persian rugs upon their backs even long before a forgotten Sufi poet wrote: Here in this carpet lives an ever-lovely spring?

Because you must travel your path one step at a time.

Why does my heart break through to my knees when I happen upon bygone lovers holding hands on a walk by a still October lake?

Because love is both a noun and a verb.

Why do the best memories include pancakes, peanut butter and diner coffee, and a three-hour nap beside you?

Because lessons learned easily aren’t learned at all.

Why do my grandmother’s velvety five-petaled violets carry the purple sorrow of generations?

Because to the dead, the end of time is only an instant away.


Steve / Wendy

Why do we think owls are wise?

Because starlight is a reflection from God’s eyes.

Why is it so hard to get back up?

Because regret is weighed in pounds not ounces.

Why doesn’t everyone smile back?

Because every word spoken about love lives inside us.

Why did the boys with the cars get the girls?

Because the moon is blind to our sorrows.

Why do we always want more than we have?

Because all that is left is a whisper and a tear.