Friday SPAM poetry prompt #1012





SPAM prompt line: I do cutthroat


Do you “do” cutthroat? I thought I could answer that question about myself until I looked at all the definitions for this term: a “ruthless pirate”; a way of playing the card game Sheepshead (of course, then I had to look up what Sheepshead even is); a murderer who kills by slitting throats; a game in pool for three players; being “ruthless in competition” (obviously, a key word here is “ruthless); a type of eel or trout.


When the SPAM line first attracted my attention, my initial mental image was of business people playing hardball in their dealings and trying to undercut one another. Then I thought of pirates. Then I had a vague notion of sports and competition.


In passive competitions, i.e. entering a poetry contest or trying for a blue ribbon with my needlework, I’ve always been very dedicated to making my entry the absolute best it can be; but I’ve never tried to spill coffee on someone’s crocheted tablecloth or cozy up to a poetry judge. My only experience with competition on a physical level was when I used to compete (as an adult) in clogging contests and, only a couple of times, in Irish dancing. Toward the end of my brief stint as a clogging competitor, I was in contests where dancers would rush the front of the stage to jockey for prime visibility in front of the judges. I’d stay on my line, awestruck at the mass of clicking, clacking, gyrating humans, and hope maybe I’d stand out because I was the only one NOT hot dogging at the edge of the stage. (Right, like that worked.)


I don’t think I do cutthroat. I’ve never been a pirate or even tried to talk like one. I’ve never tried to slit anyone’s throat (despite some murderous fantasies over the years). I don’t play pool, I’ve never played Sheepshead. I’ve never eaten eel or trout with “cutthroat” in its name, as far as I know. And I’ve never been deliberately ruthless. (Bitchy, angst-ridden, demanding–sure; but not ruthless.)


What about you? Do you do cutthroat? Were you ever ruthless in something? Are you a little ashamed to remember it, or did you cultivate it as an art? Were you cutthroat in the classroom, in a business dealing, playing soccer, playing hoops, playing Monopoly, helping your kids sell cookies, bidding on eBay? Seriously, have you ever been a pirate? (Halloween doesn’t count.)


Maybe you do cutthroat, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re a reformed cutthroat. Maybe you’d like to explore being cutthroat as a new direction in your life. Maybe you’re feeling confessional about some past incidence of cutthroat-ism.


Maybe if you’re cutthroat about this prompt, you’ll come up with enough material for several poems. Good luck!


–Nancy


For more poetry prompts, go here.


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