Love of words, love of language is one of the main reasons I write. For me, it’s so much fun to create imagery that is fresh and new.

Because beautiful imagery is a thing that inspires me, when I find my writing energy lacking, I’ve learned to go back to my first love – words. So, I read poetry. And I reread a book that has inspired me for over a decade: “Poemcrazy” by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. She loves words, too.

Several months ago, I ran across this fun writing exercise: making a to-do list. This was inspired by Joe Wenderoth’s poem: Things to Do Today. 

Making a to-do list is a way to search for strong verbs and combine them with objects that we might not normally combine them with. It’s a creative exercise for the poetic mind. This exercise helps us write fresh imagery.

Create a list of strong verbs. Then find unexpected objects to go with them. It’s just fun to play with words.

Here are two to-do poems I’ve written using this exercise:


Decide: church or state

Be in the wrong place

Hoard optimism

Act like a very tall city

Have regrets

Speak to the clouds

Hold the silence

Have exact change

Remove nitrates from bacon.


TO-DO LIST, Saturday

Release hostages

Bust ghosts

Vote for Pedro

Pacify the baby

Renegotiate climate change

Sink to a new low

Acquire disdain

Confess sins

Climb every mountain

Ford every stream

Conjure angels

Stop the wind

~ Cheryl Unruh