I Only Like the End

“Use the line to create a surprise for the reader, a turn of thought, as in the opening of Sharon Olds’s ‘The Promise.’ We are introduced to a couple sitting together at a restaurant, holding hands, presumably having a romantic evening, and then get these lines:

we are at it again, renewing our promise

to kill each other.

The revelation of the nature of the promise dramatically reverses – or at least complicates – our expectations. Try something similar at the opening of a poem and go on from there.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”

So, I didn’t follow her instructions perfectly. I tried a couple twists throughout the poem but the best comes at the end, instead of the beginning. Enjoy.



 New World Symphony

Let the goosebumps rise on the back of your neck

Terror shiver down your spine

The crash of cymbals, tremolo of strings

Listen to the sound

of fear


Trumpets wailing at the death

of babes caught sleeping in the storm.

Timpani pounds the marching feet

People’s Liberation Army hunting



The whisper of unwanted children to unwanted mothers

Soft melody hiding in their voices

The beat kept by swaying hips

Of prostitutes, strippers

and children


The directors of the symphony?


asleep in beds


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