– Poetry in Process by Matthew Muñoz & Jeffrey F. Barken, “The Golden Cage” by Anke Riemenschneider  –

The following collaboration was originally inspired by a chance encounter on twitter. Matthew had posted a series of poems derived from biblical passages that methodically dissected and reframed content to create something new. Admiring the work, I wrote to Matthew directly and suggested that we both employed similar processes in our work, honing in on intriguing words found in fabled passages to discover hidden rhythms. The trick, we agreed, was to offer the reader a hint of an allusion, or simply familiar melodies, while pivoting words and phrases, taking liberties to substitute sounds and meanings, and ultimately stripping longer prose down to bare bones poems. We decided to call this method of writing poetry: “Distillation.” Over the course of several months, Matthew and I then hosted a series of zoom calls where we could discuss craft and play at distilling great works. The below series of Distillation Poems captures the remarkable influence that classic passages and verse of old continue to have on modern writers as language evolves.

–  Jeffrey F. Barken   

“Instead of the darkness, she faced a stupendous sky-conflagration, an incredible glacial dream-scene. Cold coruscations of rainbow fire pulsed overhead, shot through by shafts of pure incandescence thrown out by mountains of solid ice towering all round. Closer, the trees round the house, sheathed in ice, dripped and sparkled with weird prismatic jewels, reflecting the vivid changing cascades above. Instead of the familiar night sky, the aurora borealis formed a blazing, vibrating roof of intense cold and colour, beneath which the earth was trapped with all its inhabitants, walled in by those impassable glittering ice-cliffs. The world had become an arctic prison from which no escape was possible, all its creatures trapped as securely as were the trees, already lifeless inside their deadly resplendent armor.” – Ana Kavan, Ice


incandescent coruscation-cascades’
resplendent glacial conflagration,
impassable prismatic pulse:
rainbow-borealis armor

– MM –

sky cold

ice thrown

vivid walled world 

arctic lifeless

– JB –

“The silent cock shall crow at last. The west shall shake the east awake. Walk while ye have the night for morn, lightbreakfast- bringer, morroweth whereon every past shall full fost sleep. Amain.” – James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake


Whetherwhere awake, 
morrowmorn’s amain.
Fullstop cockcrow shakes
breakfasts silent-lain.

– MM –

Silenced crow
status quake quo
East west awakes ye
Amain morrow morsels
Breakfast repast asleep. 

– JB –

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth  


yesterdays’ sibilant
shadowlight dissipates
simplemind pettiness

– MM –

tomorrows creep at petty pace 
syllabic state all yesterdays 
ways dusty brief 
fret candle

walk shadowed stage 
poor players strut
their tales
full fury

– JB –

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind


A witness,
never hungry
(as God is),
I’ll live such lies
as God is.

– MM –

Witness the 
lick I’ve lived  

this all over 
I’ll not be  

no nor our folk 
we’ll thieve kill cheat 

God mustn’t see
what hunger weaves.

– JB –


It will be the past
and we’ll live there together.

Not as it was to live
But as it is remembered. 

It will be the past.
We’ll all go back together. 

Everyone we ever loved,
and lost, and must remember.

It will be the past.
And it will last forever.

– Patrick Phillips, (New York Subway Poem)


Lost together,
we’ll love past;
must will last?

– MM –

fade locked

forever sought
every we’ve loved

and it will be

– JB –



Matthew Muñoz is a poet and computer programmer living in San Diego. He focuses on formal verse in all of its aspects, from ingenuity of assonance and meter to the automatic emergence of unexpected meaning in procedural generation. He’s on various social media as @pseudepigram.





Jeffrey F. Barken is an author, photographer, and the creator of Monologging.org. Follow his “open journal” on Twitter and Instagram for a window into his creative process and to join in collaborative ventures. A list of his recent publications is available here.





Anke Riemenschneider was born in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and is now living in Basel (Switzerland). She studied piano at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and received her Master in performing arts in Basel (Switzerland). She is also a writer of poems and short stories and she studied German literature and musicology at the J. W. Goethe University (Frankfurt/Main). Interested in the “art” of human soul, she also studies psychology and
Graduated with a Master of Science (University of Basel).

Anke has won several prizes in competitions, as a pianist as well as an author (literature prize of the border triangle (D, CH, F) readings, among others on SWR radio. Trained as a classical pianist she first started to combine piano concerts with poems and stories (and named it  “Geschichten – An Tasten“). With the upcoming wide varieties of options as digital painting, new materials, and video artwork Anke  extended her experimenting with visual art, word, and sound. Combining these three arts in different ways, while videoart and digital art play a primary role. The projects Poema con moto (video art combining lyric, music and visual art) and Keywords (Performances with piano and lyrics) are both dealing with these combining of the arts. Anke’s paintings were initially intended just to complement the other two arts, but quickly developed into an independent branch of her art creation. Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ariemensh