Altering a Book of Prose into Found Poetry

altered book Over the weekend, I came across a discarded library copy of one of Tess Gerritsen’s books. Her book Gravity (a story of engineered pathogen that makes its way aboard the ISS and proceeds to wreak havoc in spaaaace) is one of my all-time favorite books. So I had this copy of The Sinner. The title had me worried to begin with. I love crime, fictional or not, but I swear this book was either written in the 80s or this woman needs to get the hell away from crime dramas forever. It was the most cliché thing I’d ever read, and I used to read more fan fiction than you can shake a stick at. Every crime drama cliché you can image makes an appearance in the first 10 pages of this book: from the emo medical examiner than prefers the company of the dead (because they “can’t hurt you”–not making this up) to the feminist detective with a heart of gold and a hot temper. I swear she was a shoddy, thin version of Benson. I didn’t want to just stop reading this book; I wanted to destroy it. SO! I decided to make an altered book of found poetry out of the thing. I already like where this going way more than I liked where this dumb book was going.altered book: Sin altered book: part i found poetry: part i

part i.
Andrah refused
the chemical.
The pavement complained
under recent rains
Objections knew
the reason.
Choice would speak,
caught in dark eyes,
wait here


death of a lady

“just one more drink,” she said
and I couldn’t resist that smile
her teeth hidden behind a twisted crimson curtain,
they were sharp like her stare,
like the black fingernails raking up fishnet
and slowly
she swept her bloody tongue
over those pointy little teeth

she smiled as I looked for answers
in the sky
Orion had already turned away
in his own uncertainty
and the seven sisters
in their own fervent debate
merely questioned back

“this one,” she said
I tore my gaze from the stars
in time to see her murmuring
into his ear
her hands all over his
mortal flesh

I trailed behind them
as they dipped into the alley
those sharp little teeth
clamped onto his neck
over and over
she tore
and drank him dry

pale and still in awe, he fell
a corpse to the wet pavement
and she smeared red
down her face,
her chest
and smiled

but her green eyes flew open
wide, darting
she inhaled

“what is this pain?” she asked
and her voice and her hands were
as the blood bubbled back up
now black

she had not cried in centuries
but she wept the only liquid she had:
his diseased blood, blacker than ink
thicker than cold tar
it came in waves
pouring from her eyes
her mouth

and I watched her die
crumpled in a sticky puddle,
she writhed
for an eternity


Such gorgeous eyes for someone so cruel—
Tossed aside like an old rag,
I lay in this nest of razor and wires
as I wrote lines through my heart.

A shadow melting behind those scornful laughs,
I knew you roamed close:
you were always in the fog,
in the confusion.

“Let me see your face,”
and the voice that dripped bleach slithered inside my ears;
somewhere, I’d lost myself in the foam.

I was lead along
by wolves whose fast pushed them through my brain:
to wander the wastes, they found the nerves—
wound like deltas, these rivers sprayed electric.

The fibers fell through hollowed caverns;
between bones and blood, they shifted.

Another cardboard box lay in the trash,
and as silver glinted, the gaping grins sent shivers
down my spine.
I watched red stretch over the tile,
across that purple bracelet.

Don’t whisper to me of things passed
as those scars feed white to the dusk.
Nothing is what I had imagined:
I’ve found these waves
evolving as they let my
lungs rot.

© 2006-2014 Bari Adams. All rights reserved.

This piece originally began as about ten or so different poems that I wrote between the ages of 16 and 18. Most of them were utter shit, so I stitched them together, salvaging about two or so of the best lines from each shitty poem. These particular poems were all about the same general thing, so reworking them into cohesion was fairly easy. This piece is incredibly personal  and deeply meaningful to me, which explains my drive to save its shards. Finally, after creating this frakenpoetry, I was able to let go and delete the old shitty poems.


a willowy, pearlescent doll
whose fiery hair betrays this winter morn
doe-eyed and wrapped in chiffon,
white lace, mist
and billowing down into sheets of ice

she sighs inside the crystal case,
and her dress flows into the frozen lake,
caught inside the thick glaze
against the wind

caught by the pressure,
the silence
in the misty sheen she scribbles
I can’t feel my fingers

outside of her coffin, the trees too are encased
as freezing rain slithers down their limbs
to coalesce, weighing down the trees
who in turn creak wearily
under the pressure

Copyright © 2014 Bari Adams. All rights reserved.

I always feel so damn constricted, locked in my mind’s fabricated network of bullshit. I once thought I could reason my way into happiness, but over-analyzation has destroyed me in some ways, and I’ve become trapped in this system of anguish and uncertainty.

and the lyrics pour forth

I’ve never been much of a songwriter, but in my composing of instrumental tracks, I was struck with inspiration: a song about the infinite possibilities represented by the multiverse. With some cleaning up, it could be made into a track to go on my concept album “candiebox”.

Rough lines:

In another universe, I told you I loved you a moment too soon

And I tied my heartstrings around your wrists

You ripped my ribcage open when you ran

In an alternate life, you picked up our pieces one too many times

Your resentment uncurled into a snake

And you left me to mend the broken glass