Poetry Tow Truck 24: Elevens

Today is June 11, 2011, a very special day. Why is it special, you ask? Well, for one thing, I am officially out of school for the summer. And if that wasn’t enough to make it special, the date has two sets of elevens. So, for today’s prompt, we will use the number eleven as our magic number for creating a new draft or two. Let’s start with possible topics…

Eleven as a topic inspiration:

In the rock mockumentary Spinal Tap, Nigel Tufnel’s amplifiers go to eleven. Write about taking something ordinary and making it “one better.”

Apollo 11 was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon. Write about an accomplishment or a seemingly impossible task.

The remaining Apostles (after Judas Iscariot was disgraced) are sometimes referred to as the Eleven. Write about those left behind or members of a group who go unnoticed  when overshadowed by a single member.

There are 11 players on a football team, a soccer team, and a cricket team. Write about being the twelfth man/woman who never plays.

Hopefully, one of these topics works for you. If you want to get really crazy, throw in the additional challenges of writing a poem of eleven lines…with each line having eleven words.


I am a huge fan of Spinal Tap, so I had some fun with the first topic – it’s a lousy poem, but it was fun to play with sounds inside the constraints of eleven words per line.  Enjoy a cringe-inducing read of this VERY rough draft…


This Goes to Eleven

Nigel Tufnel:. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? 
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven. 
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

                        from the film Spinal Tap (1984)


Smiles pasted insane, never changing, working on the same fake plane,

rearranging your whole day to save face with the people who

make you miserable. Who could blame you? When you are drained

of your dignity, how else can you go on? Undoubtedly, cranking


your workaday song at high decibels helps you cope. Just thank

the numerals. When you lose hope, lose faith in what’s sensible,

do not count to ten like the self-help manuals tell you

to do before you spit words you’ll regret. Go to eleven –


one higher – and you’ll forget for a moment why you ever

let it matter. It’s almost five o’clock.  Go home and let

it rock. See the blue sky outside the window like heaven.



9 thoughts on “Poetry Tow Truck 24: Elevens

  1. Thanks, Donna! I was stuck for an idea for a villanelle to write for Molly Peacock’s workshop, till I saw your prompt this morning. I used “Spinal Tap” (one of my favorite films too) as a jumping-off point. I may post it here later.

  2. Pingback: Movement « poemflow

  3. Coming late to the party, I’ve not yet had a go at this prompt, but just wanted to say that I love the wisdom in your poem, Diana: “before you spit words you’ll regret. Go to eleven.” Good advice

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