Former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser designs with writing exercises on metaphor. Here is one of his favorites. Following these steps will build bridges between dissimilar things.
1: Brainstorm a list of totally dissimilar things (This can be objects or concepts)
2: Pick the TWO things from your list that are the most dissimilar and try to figure out if there are ANY relationships between them at all. Make a list of similarities.
3: Draft a short poem that shows the relationship between your two disparate subjects. Make sure each detail works logically on both sides of the metaphor.
When I did this exercise the first time I happened to be sitting in a library where I saw a book entitled How to Remodel a Man, and here is the poem I created:
How to Remodel a Man
I find a library book
called How to Remodel a Man,
an instruction model for love, as if a man is constructed
of hollow rooms, rooms only we can fill
with our desires and dusty knick knacks,
as if he is a prefabricated bookcase made of flimsy wood,
filled with used paperback novels, as if a man
is a weekend cabin, and we are the new addition,
as if he is a mobile home and we are the newly laid foundation,
and he is a stinky old refrigerator in the garage full of Budweiser,
or the one car garage and we are the crimson red Porsche;
he is stained concrete and messy metal shelves and we are the mop and bucket, as if his cabinets are missing the hardware and we are the brass,
and he is a sink full of dishes caked in dried food, as if a man
is a stove with a broken timer or a water heater on the fritz,
the lumpy futon with mismatched pillows and cat piss stains,
as if he is a bathroom with leaky pipes and moldy fittings,
a washing machine that catches fire and you are the extinguisher,
as if a man is a set of rickety steps that lead to a spider filed attic,
and he is the doorknob that keeps falling off when you enter his rooms,
as if he is a bedroom window painted shut and you are here to scrape
the edges of his frame, as if his frame is nailed shut and you are the only one who can extract those nails with the claw end of a hammer, and he is the door that dangles on its hinges, screeches in protest each time you
open it another inch.
Laura Moe ©2009