National Poetry Writing Month 2018, Day 19

The prompt for Day 19 is to write a paragraph about something, then either ‘[erase] words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.’ I opted for the latter. The resulting poem feels incomplete, but I didn’t want to turn it into an exercise in name-dropping. Plus I have an unusual day ahead of me, and thus not enough time to try something else.

First, the original paragraphs:

It feels strange to outlive famous people. Now I don’t mean famous people who die at the age of, say, 84 while I’m still 55. No, I’m talking about famous people who die(d) at ages younger than mine. For example, Frank Zappa was almost 53 when he died of cancer in 1993. I was 30 at the time, so, even though I knew 53 was premature, it still sounded relatively old. Well, now I’m 55; although it’s 25 years later, I have still outlived Frank Zappa. Thirty-seven years and change later, I have outlived John Lennon.

Even stranger are those lives that fit inside your own. Take George Michael. He was born three months after I was, so when he died he was basically my age. Then there’s Kurt Cobain, who was four years younger than me. Neither one of them knew me, of course, but neither of them ever lived in a world in which I did not exist.

And the poem:

A couple of random thoughts about famous people who have died

It feels strange
to outlive famous people

Frank Zappa was almost 53
when he died

I was 30 at the time
so I knew 53 was premature
but, for me, it was relatively old

Now I’m 55
I have outlived Frank Zappa

It feels stranger
when their lives
fit inside your own

George Michael was born
three months after I was
so he was my age when he died

Of course he never knew me
but he never knew a world
in which I didn’t exist

(18 April 2018—posted April 19th)


  1. Great stuff, man. This perfectly responds to the prompt.
    No one will ever outlive Lennon, though.

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