The bustle in a mourning
house on the morning
of a loved one’s death
takes away your breath;

it’s the solemnest of industries
and the sorriest of duties.

You sweep up your heart 
and set your love apart,

petrified with the certainty
you’ll not use them until eternity.

Kim M. Russell, 22nd April 2023

‘Death in the Sickroom’ by Edvard Munch, found on Wikimedia

On Day 22 of NaPoWriMo, the optional prompt is concerned with the work of Emily Dickinson, whose poems’ dash-filled lines ‘baffled her readers so much that the 1924 edition of complete poems replaced some with commas, and did away with others completely’.

Our challenge today is to do something similar in the interests of creativity: find Emily Dickinson poems – preferably ones we have never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks to make them into blocks of prose, and then re-break the lines, add words where we want and even take out some words, to make our own poems.

I chose ‘The Bustle in a House’:

The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted opon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –


5 thoughts on “Bustle

  1. What an exercise – and an industry (yours) to good effect… I found more depth in your enhancement than in the ED original.
    I was moved by yours and thought it had a mark of recent experience in it – I hope not – and I feel there is much of you speaking through.

    Liked by 1 person

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