So my current favorite means of warming up when I sit down to write poetry is to pick a word or three and use the letters of it/them as the first letter of each line. For example, if I’m thinking about pastries, I might choose the word “croissants” and end up with a poem like this:
Come down to the riverside Run along the banks Order the reeds to part before you my little Moses I will be waiting here Skipping stones across currents Skipping heartbeats across smiles Always I will be here Next to the river Tussled by a gentle breeze of you Smile, my little Moses, and join me
What’s great about this warmup is that you don’t know where you’re going when you start. You just begin writing whatever the particular letter brings to mind and end at the end of the phrase. For me, it gets me flowing, and sometimes leads to a seed of something for a larger poem, like this:
When I was little I had the power to part things. People walking down the sidewalk traffic on the freeway ice cubes stuck together. I never told anyone but I was sure of it. You don't share a superpower. I'd seen the movies read the comics. With great power... I was a force but stayed mild mannered. I knew I had to remain in control, hidden. So I played freeze tag with abandon, fumbled with comebacks to bullies, stared with awe at pizza days. Until I saw you in that hospital bed so sunken. I couldn't part you from your illness. Believe me, I tried. I'd never felt so powerless. The rattle of your breath, the room sanitized of joy, the pall in the very air itself. I'd never felt so out of control. So I bargained with God. I told him He could take my power if you could live. Stiff upper lip, I was noble as fuck. I held your hand, so frail, and tried to hold down feelings of being overwhelmed. You just smiled and promised to make it to my next birthday. I can't part things anymore An average adult. But you still skip stones down by the lake My little Moses. I regret nothing.