Exquisite Corpse – Two Solo Sonnets

I’ve been writing quite a lot of poetry lately, moving more deeply into traditional surrealist techniques for composition, as well as finishing a piece of fiction. I wanted to hold back on posting most of those pieces, because I might publish them somewhere.

In the meantime, here are the results of playing a surrealist game, but solo, offered for your amusement.

Exquisite Corpse – Two Solo Sonnets

By Mary Jacob, November 2012

Normally, the Surrealist game of exquisite corpse is played by a group of people, who collaboratively create a drawing, poem or story without seeing each other’s full contributions. In this case, the games was played solo.

These two poems were composed by mapping out a sentence pattern and then quickly jotting down a list of eight words for each place in the pattern. Then sentences were created by reading the words across the lists and filling in anything that was missing. Thinking associatively, sometimes the lists generate opposites or related words, so the sentences feel naturally into antithetical couplets. Sometimes they generated sound similarities. In a few cases, the sentence had to be rearranged slightly to fit the words so it doesn’t perfectly match the pattern – no problem.

The patterns were:

  • Places: The [thing] of [adjective] [thing] was [verb] in/on [place].
  • Rocky Horror: [thing] [thing] [adverb/adjective] [verb] [time].


The hat of hot cabbage was hit inside a box;
the top of cold turnip was boxed on the plain.
A menu of green turn-key was tried on the road;
a carving of the wet plot was hung from the sky.
Pieces of dry soil were patched together in the depths of the sea;
plots of flat residue were played in the car.
Tiles of crushed bergamot were stripped in a hand;
while a shoe of fried idyll was categorised at the bandstand.

Rocky Horror

The trip beauty peacefully flew at noon;
a ghost frisson squeaked inherently at midnight.
The scrape of a tomtom squeezed, flaming, from the Middle Ages;
A rubbish mess frighteningly pleased during the Zhou Dynasty.
Foil time, slinky, reminded us all a minute ago
that the bird of purpose potently confined us in a breath.
A plankton cockatiel floated torpidly for eons,
but a ball motion, horrid, freed October for everyone.



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