Writing Prompt Wednesday: Verb-Noun Pairing Generator

Poet Devin Koch provided the inspiration behind this week’s writing prompt, and fiction writer Kelsey Schurer wrote the following poem “Aphrodite Takes a Wheel-Throwing Class” for this week’s writing prompt response.


Writing Prompt: Write a poem using five random verb-noun pairings given to you by anyone! You may match up the verbs and nouns in the way of your choosing and disperse them throughout the poem.

Verbs given: Lactate, Vibrate, Simmer, Quake, Molt

Nouns given: Sea-foam, Zebra, Bolo-Tie, Periwinkle, Book

My Own Word Pairings:

Lactate — Sea-foam

Simmer — Periwinkle

Quake — Bolo Tie

Molt — Zebra

Vibrate — Book


Aphrodite Takes a Wheel-Throwing Class


Outside, the snow simmered periwinkle

against the blue ridge mountains

crisp and vile as dry clay. I’d begun

at the wheel again, throwing pots

that have no shape: envy at the girls

who could do better, hands cupped against

the molding clay like breasts, vats vibrating

books and coats off the storage shelves.

Once, in the summer of two-thousand and three,

I saw a molting zebra-striped miniskirt

on the racks of the Goodwill and imagined

my body wrapped inside, legs thin

as a Twiggy-inspired model, pale as snow,

tongue wagging outside my mouth at the boys

wearing suits and quaking bolo-ties round

their thick necks. I was never in love

as a young girl, never had that red-beet

pulse of a first kiss, nor the sneaky

bus-ride gropes thereafter. Instead, I asked

my father to take me to an art class

in the basement of a Presbyterian church

where the instructor gave me a heron-white

canvas and a paper-plate full of color.

As if out of a clam shell, lactating sea-foam

towards the shore, I suddenly knew

my own brilliance.

Therefore, it came as

a surprise, that at the wheel, there is no sea

to dance with, no music hidden in shells.

Only madness spinning tightly

into my hands, which fumbled and hit

and failed again to make shape out of nothing.

Is this what love is really like? I wondered.

All the whistles of ship captains,

all the gifts of mermaids and mermen,

those lonely stars at the spray of the cliffs,

never taught me how to fault and fawn

the bits of my own body

the way that Botticelli did.


Kelsey Schurer is a second year fiction writer at Virginia Tech. She is a fiction reader for the minnesota review.

Devin Koch is a second year poet at Virginia Tech. He is the managing editor of the minnesota review.


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