By Colin James, Cecilia de Vos Belgraver, and A. A. Rubin

Happy #NationalPoetryMonth!

The following piece was composed by the authors as a surrealist cadavre exquis. The cadavre exquis is an exercise practiced by surrealist artists where an artist began by drawing something at the top of a folded piece of paper, and then refolded the paper so that only the bottom lines of their drawing were visible. They would then mail the paper to the next artists, and the process would repeat again, over and over, until the piece was complete. We have attempted to adapt the exercise for writers. The first writer composed a stanza and then sent their final line to the next writer, who continued the piece using that line as their first line. The process continued until each writer had composed their stanza. Each writer wrote with no knowledge of the content or style of the previous verse, save for the last line.

For more information about the Cadavre Exquis exercise, click here:

For the previous entry in this series, click here.


Pursuing the narcissists,
I found them behind a bush
flayed with blackened curly hair
voices gone, throats cut
replaced by gravitas
and spicy margaritas

for any impassive thespians.

You wouldn’t think it, guess it, their dramatic trade
You wouldn’t feel it, see it, their ability to fade
away into the shadows after performing acts under lights
to recede, become themself, go from being someone
an adopted persona, another entity, an author’s creation
to merely, superficially, an apparent no one,
in charcoal jeans, hoodie, coat, scarf and trainers

rushing on by towards the Underground station.

And descend like Dante
Through the gates of Dis into the darkness
Where dreams are quelled in silver streaks
As the grey minions of conformity
Hustle back and forth through the bowels
Of the great Capitalist beast

The verses were composed in the order indicated in the byline.

Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published. Dreams Of The Really Annoying from Writing Knights Press and A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity from Piski’s Porch Press and a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press. Formally from the UK, he now lives in Massachusetts.

Cecilia de Vos Belgraver is exploring fiction writing in its various formats after many years of writing professionally for corporate publishers of newsletters and magazines in South Africa. She can write short- and long-form nonfiction copy and particularly enjoys doing magazine-style features. She is a highly experienced copy editor and proofreader. Cecilia holds a Bachelor of Journalism Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University in South Africa. For her Bachelor Degree she majored in Journalism and English Literature. She lives in Bishop’s Stortford in England.

A. A. Rubin surfs the cosmos on winds of dark energy. He writes in many style, ranging from literary fiction to comics, formal poetry to science fiction and fantasy, and (almost) everything in between. His work has appeared recently in Love Letters to Poe, Ahoy! Comics, and The Deronda Review. He can be reached on social media as @TheSurrealAri, or right here on the website which you are now reading.

2 thoughts on “A Surrealist Poetry Cadavre Exquis

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