About a third of my readers (lol with me, now) asked about the creative writing class exercise that spawned this poem (with the help of this excellent story by Ann Leckie [I recommend everything from Strange Horizons - I've not ever been disappointed by its stories]), and so here it is in its full glory, along with an exercise from another class (Nature Writing).
This one was word association. My professor (Dr. Anne Bauer with an 'e') listed off the words one at a time, and we wrote down whatever images came to mind. The slashes aren't really necessarily line breaks here, but more just a feature of my shorthand.
rage: red/ shattered glass and drops of blood/ why did you do it?/ the metal's mengled - now rust will form when it rains/ red glass and blood on chip-seal
order: the waitress stands straightly, writing quickly but perfectly/ there's not a stain on her uniform/ she took an hour to do her hair
justice: blindfolded, as always/ blue from the years of storms/ her arm must hurt from holding those scales/ day and night
common: peasantry. linen. dirty streets/ small bird, unassuming; people call it common, but it soars; they're common
mercy: it's what the weak, the downtrodden cried - see their bodies in the streets?/ God have mercy on us and no-one else/ stained glass and sad Jesus/ he bleeds/ Mary cries/ mercy.
pain: the knife enters. it's the hand. please don't hit the bones, the vessels. oh the nerves! in the palm it hurts the worst. i move my fingers. click. click. the warm darkness squishes out. yup. it broke some bones.
hunger: a peanut butter and jelly. no - a meatball sub. steak. ANYTHING.
god: white, right? and bearded, always. why not young? why not green? a crane. I like cranes isn't that more noble than a humanoid, anyway?
After, she had us look at our responses to see if there was something that popped up a lot. Turns out I'm a bit bloody. Freud would have a field day!
This one was a little less serious, and followed this format:
"If your writing was a(n)..., it would be...."
continent - Australia
color - green
Olympic event - 100 meter dash
state - North Dakota
celestial body - Horsehead Nebula
body of water - Lake Baikal
time - late evening, when the moon is up
kitchen utensil - spatula
natural disaster - tsunami
bird - redwing blackbird