“Proverbial Reconfiguration,” a Found Poem

The Monkey says YOU should share more poems.
The Monkey says YOU should share more poems.

I was talking to a young writer and friend, Joshua James the other night and I told him that I was thinking of making a Dad Poet post but had no idea what might be blog-worthy. He instantly replied, “One of your own poems?” And this brought to mind the words of my youngest son, the Monkey, when he said, “Shouldn’t you be writing more poems? You know, the Poet part of Dad Poet?”

So, okay maybe I should post a few more, but right now I’m sifting through files to decide what might be worth sending out in my next few batches of poetry submissions to journals, e-zines and contests, and for most of those publications, if they see it here first, it’s considered “already published.” Ah, so nice to be up there with the New Yorker, eh? Ah well, the shape of the publishing world of the near future is still a little cloudy, and who knows what will happen.

So tonight I will share with you one that is not exactly new, but it’s one that I am not sending anywhere at present. I wasn’t sure at first if it was really a poem, but I suppose, along with some of my fortune cookie experiments, it falls under the heading of Found Poems. Here’s a good explanation of the form, and some excellent examples from the helpful folks at the Academy of American Poets.  You’ll recognize, depending on your linguistic origins and experience, most of these proverbs and clichés, I hope, and perhaps you’ll enjoy interchanging their parts as much as I did.

Better yet! Would you be willing to try something like this yourself and share it with us here in the comments? Whether written, recorded or both, I’d be honored and tickled to see what you came up with .


Proverbial Reconfiguration

A penny saved
	is worth two in the bush.

Curiosity killed
	the early bird.  

There's more than one way
	to fight fire with fire.

A watched pot 
	gathers no moss.

Too many cooks
	is the spice of life!

God helps those
	who wait for nobody.

Six of one,
	easy go. 

Every rose has its
	ways to skin a cat.

Home is where
	you keep your enemies closer.

All work and no play
	is a friend indeed.

An apple a day,
	but you can't make him drink!

Better safe than
	flock together.

Beer before liquor, 
	is thicker than water.

And early to bed,
	but for the grace of God go I.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Very good! I agree with you son … you need to do more of the poet stuff … yes, yes, publishing rules and all … but, truly … you’ll probably write more than will get published … (I mean, at least until your famous, and, even then … some poets get maybe 100-200 poems published in their lifetime?? That’s less than one poem per day, for a year. Think of how many years you probably still have left … that’s a lot of poems to get busy writing Mr Guru.)


    1. haha, thanks for that wonderful encouragement, John. You are indeed very good for my self esteem. And Brian has said something similar. I’m just so indecisive. . . And things that get published here first can always go into the books later if they don’t make it into a magazine, right?


  2. He who laughs last didn’t get it ! k


  3. Ben Naga says:

    Both clever and fun.


    If you want a thing done well, get out of the kitchen.


    Love thy neighbour till the fat lady sings.


    You can’t make an omelette from a sow’s ear.


    A miss is a man’s best friend.


    A leopard cannot make lemonade.


    1. Haha, especially enjoyed the love thy neighbor bit. Thanks, Ben!


  4. slpmartin says:

    I must agree with your son…we need more of your poetry…right the poet part of Dad Poet. :-0


    1. 🙂 Glad you like it.


  5. ManicDdaily says:

    This is so so clever, David. I keep wanting to call you Walt! (As in Son of.) But it’s really interesting. I’m not sure if I agree with every finding, but they are all thought-provoking and it works very well as a piece. I give up on publishing too much with third parties – I am not sure it’s that’s much more seen! Well, maybe – but work is much and time is short and don’t know how to reconfigure that. Love, k.


    1. Haha, you may call me Walt. You wouldn’t be the first. I rather like it. I’m not sure if I agree with all of the results either, but I like their juxtaposition, and they seem to get generally more serious as they go. I believe it was a poem-a-day prompt from once upon a time.
      And the publication thing, of course I completely understand that. 🙂


  6. I love it! I’ve written a few found poems; they are always fun, because most of the work has already been done!

    Here’s one written from searches that found my blog:

    girls that dont shave
    a found poem for Bluebee

    irish women don’t shave
    welding women don’t shave
    freak americans don’t shave

    hairy women armpits
    bushy sweaty arm pits
    kerala housewife armpits

    air in armpits, girls


    1. hahaha, I have no idea of your original sources but that’s a hoot. Thanks for sharing that!


    2. I think the less said about those particular origins, the better…


    3. Ha! Mum’s the word then.


  7. Meant to say, love yours!


    1. Thank you, and yours was delightful.


  8. Professions for PEACE says:

    Wow…! Way to successfully exchange their parts. 🙂 These are hilarious, and I especially enjoyed the last two. Thanks for sharing! Also Ben Naga is always so witty too… really enjoyed his first ‘kitchen’ one! Cheers, Gina


    1. Thank you, Gina! And yes, Ben is delightful as ever.


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