The 7-Up Experiment

My creative juices didn’t want to flow today, but I wanted to keep the daily posting habit for the month. Since finding my own words wouldn’t happen, I used a prompt that relied on the well-written words of another (“Hold Fast to Dreams” by Langston Hughes) and a dictionary. The prompt was found on Charles Bernstein’s Experiments. “Substitution (2): ‘7 up or down.’  Take a poem or other, possibly well‑known, text and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement.” Below is my substitution, along with the original text. My sincerest apologies to Mr. Hughes.

Hog farther to drawl

For if drawl dictates

Lick isolates a broad-wind biosphere

That canons flush.

Hog farther to drawl

For when drawl gnashes

Lick isolates a Baroque fifth

Frosted with soap.

~Langston Hughes~

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.


2 thoughts on “The 7-Up Experiment

  1. I’m so appreciating the effort, the sheer play with words — and yet I miss the context that Hughes brings to his deceptively simple challenge. Maybe today, just after the bombs at the Boston Marathon, I’m hoping for healing words.

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