[ Crystal Palace Blues ]

Prompt: Split a poem and finish whichever half you want.


Crystal Palace Blues

unexpectedly an iguanodon

take in its botched anatomy

how it sadly sheds its concrete skin

nothing that ever lived looked like this

truly it is a terrible lizard

The original poem before it was split:

A car with one headlight,

the near side,

fitful, flickering at best.

Unexpectedly butterfingered when it came to love,

dyspraxic even,

he dropped hearts.

Women remained an irrelevance to him,

men fared no better,

a human solvent

he sundered ties expediently,

so the path of his life was strewn with debris,

disgruntled ex-lovers,

metaphorical corpses with too real knives in their backs.

But how he can talk,

silver haired, silver tongued


An iguana basking in the flash light glare.

The splitting of the poem:

A car with                               one headlight,

the near                                     near side,

fitful, flickering                                 at best.

Unexpectedly butterfingered    when it came to love,

dyspraxic                                                      even,

he dropped                                 dropped  hearts.

Women remained an               irrelevance to him,

men fared                                             no better,

a human                                                 solvent

he sundered                              ties expediently,

so the path of his              life was strewn with debris,

disgruntled                                        ex-lovers,

metaphorical corpses with too     real knives in their backs.

But how he                                            he  can talk,

silver haired,                                      silver tongued

dangerous.                                       Dangerous.

An iguana basking in                the flash light glare.

Split poem part 1:

A car with

the near

fitful flickering

unexpectedly butterfingered


he dropped

women remained an

men fared

a human

he sundered

so the path of his


metaphorical corpses with too

but how he

silver haired


an iguana basking in

an unexpectedly metaphorical iguana

butterfingered from all the marijuana

Split poem Part 2:

one headlight

near side

at best

when it came to love


dropped hearts

irrelevance to him

no better


ties expediently

life was strewn with debris


real knives in their back

he can talk

silver tongued


flash light glare


This has been a challenging prompt. I decided to chose a poem I did not really like, one that had not worked that well. I then sliced it down the middle and that was when the problems started. Should I really just complete the lines? Would I not just remake a poem I was unhappy with? How precisely should I follow the prompt?

This is my literal response:

A car with the doors open

the nearside indicator’s

fitful flickering winds down the battery

unexpectedly butterfingered, self conscious,

he dropped his act.

Women remained a mystery,

men fared worse.

A human cold fish

he sundered all ties

and the trajectory of his life

came down to a big car

nowhere to go and no one to go with.

I liked the iguana possibly because it rhymed with marijuana and wrote doggerel.

I thought of something like I am The Walrus, a stream of consciousness but, honestly, did not think I was up to it.

Then the idea of an iguanodon, that led me to think about the crumbling dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, that led to something I’d read about the artist hosting a meal inside the dinosaur.

My daughter telling me she’d seen the sculptures recently also was floating around as was the news I’d recently read that they are in need of repair.

All of the above led to:

unexpectedly an iguanodon

all concrete and jumbled anatomy

the toad skin is cracking

this terrible lizard is well past its sell by date

This is a post about the meal: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-victorian-dinner-inside-a-dinosaur/

I think I have stumble on something here that will repay exploring.

31st December 1853

Robert Owen sits in the head

of the half built iguanodon

manages seven courses

toasts their Majesties and knows

nothing before was as good

as powerful or as wise or

capable of remaking this world in their image

I also turned the other half of the poem into this:


When it came to love

his life was all dropped hearts,

bitter ex-lovers,

each with a real knife in the back.

He was at his best, silver tongued,

appearing to care until he didn’t any more.

I think this sticks to the spirit of the original poem well. If there is a criticism it is that it is all tell and no show.

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