The list-with-a-twist structure includes a list that turns–or twists–significantly toward the end.
Lots of poems use the list-with-a-twist structure. Many of the poems listed on this blog under other structures also are lists with twists. The poems here exemplify this structure.
“Orchids are Sprouting from the Floorboards,” by Kaveh Akbar
“Notes on Rejection,” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
“Birds Appearing in a Dream,” by Michael Collier
“Marginalia,” by Billy Collins
“Questions about Angels,” by Billy Collins
“Silence,” by Billy Collins
Billy Collins makes great use of the turn in his poems, and the list-with-a-twist structure can be found throughout his oeuvre.
“The Heart asks Pleasure – first,” by Emily Dickinson
“‘Twas just this time, last year, I died,” by Emily Dickinson
“If Hitler also Spelled Hiedler,” by Joe Dolce
“Counting Sheep,” by Russell Edson
“I Am Waiting,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude,” by Ross Gay
“Guide to the Other Gallery,” by Dana Gioia
“Majority,” by Dana Gioia Also, a poem that makes use of the retrospective-prospective structure.
“Ten Men,” by Sam Gordon
“Serious Moonlight,” by Camille Guthrie
from “Delphi,” by H. D.
“07/16,” by Lauren Haldeman
“Some Waynes,” by Wayne Holloway-Smith
“what you’d find buried in the dirt under charles f. kettering sr. high school (detroit, michigan),” by Francine J. Harris
“Prayer,” by George Herbert
“Are You Doing the New Amerikan Thing?,” by Juan Felipe Herrera
“Dream Notebook,” by Jane Hirshfield
“Once: An Assay,” by Jane Hirshfield (see p. 5)
“For the man with the erection lasting more than four hours,” by John Hodgen
“Baghdad Exceeds Its Object,” by Kent Johnson
Please note that the lineation of this version of the poem is off. For an accurate printing of the poem, read it in Kent Johnson’s Lyric Poetry after Auschwitz: Eleven Submissions to the War (Austin, TX: Effing Press, 2005), pp. 28-29, or Homage to the Last Avant-Garde (Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2008), pp. 118-19.
“Brother, I’ve seen some…,” by Kabir
“Chewing slowly…,” by Kabir
“How do you…,” by Kabir
“More Foolish Things Remind Me of You,” by X. J. Kennedy
“We Are Afraid,” by Jennifer L. Knox (from A Gringo like Me: Poems (Soft Skull, 2005), pp. 45-46).
“One Train May Hide Another,” by Kenneth Koch
“Not an Outright Dick, Per Se,” by Eric Lawson
“Capitalist Poem #5,” by Campbell McGrath
“The War Works Hard,” by Dunya Mikhail
“Pity me not because the light of day…,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
“One Boy Told Me,” by Naomi Shahib Nye
“I Could Have Loved You–Probably,” by Monica Piotrowski
“Views,” by Alissa Quart
“Subway Seethe,” by J. Allyn Rosser
“England in 1819,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
from Amoretti (Sonnet LXXI: “Fair is my love…”), by Edmund Spenser
“alternate names for black boys,” by Danez Smith
“Reciprocity,” by Wislawa Szymborska
“Some People,” by Wislawa Szymborska
“Under One Small Star,” by Wislawa Szymborska
Notice in Szymborska’s poem the final twist toward speech and the making of poems. This self-referential turn is a feature common of a lot of poems. (Check out the Baudelaire and Kinnell poems here.)
“Gloss of the Past,” by David Trinidad