Today, I’ve finished compiling a printed collection of every poem I’ve ever written. I do this every few years, just to have a nice paper copy in case all my digital copies go haywire. With 237 poems, printed double-sided, I now have a stack of paper about an inch thick. I bought a thesis binder for a good price online, so that I can quickly and easily turn the stack of paper into a durable bound volume.

While compiling this collection for myself, I learned a new trick. It’s surprisingly easy to create an index of first lines. I saw an example of such an index in the back of my shiny new copy of Sampson Starkweather’s book The First Books of Sampson Starkweather, which I bought from the author a couple months ago. I wondered: how much work is it to create an index of first lines?

There are two ways to do it. If each of your poems is a separate text file, then a handy command line trick will produce an index of first lines. If you have all your poems in a single Microsoft Word document, you can use the index feature to mark each first line as an index term, and then create an index. An index of first lines is an interesting way to review the collection of poems, and I see that some of the first lines are better than others.

Index of First Lines from Poems by Dylan Kinnett

  • 7, 8, 9, 10
  • A haunted past begins
  • A rendering of a reflection of a s
  • A syringe in room 212
  • A thousand
  • A tough step two
  • Ain't no rain, gonna wash this body
  • All I have is bread
  • Always and For
  • And so I danced
  • And then, and then
  • Angels done broke the bugle
  • Angie, Angie
  • As I watch the dust fall
  • As in church, pray for once
  • At last, people will com
  • Baby boys on their birthdays
  • I'll stand here
  • Be, for a brief moment
  • Blistering haze, wandering days,
  • Burn me brightly
  • but and but or;
  • By the river barefoot in the muck
  • Children can remember
  • Clear eyes, full of light.
  • Cloud patterns shift and kick
  • Cold steel begs my eyes to burn through you
  • Come in close. Pass and go
  • Come one, come all
  • Dad says, "It's time you know.
  • Dance like children on her back did she
  • Devils fall from the sky
  • Did I know your name
  • dim moon rolled along the horizon
  • Dim moon rolled from below the horizon
  • Do I radiate that beauty,
  • Do you know m
  • Dream life in front of a dead thing
  • Ears for to hear
  • Erosion
  • Every few days, a new turn presents itself
  • Every time we took a picture
  • Everything I've not forgotten
  • Farther than the light goes
  • Feels like I'm the static in the air
  • Fluid, Stoic, and Gas like,
  • For every up I find
  • Full moon light snowfall
  • Give me your hand
  • Glowing in the cold
  • Have you, with yo
  • He speaks again of shadow
  • Here you go, eat some life, it's a blue thing
  • Here, and nowhere els
  • Here's one, warts and all.
  • He's downing two of them
  • hoping to be noticed
  • How did I choose the wine?
  • How many hands must fall upon the Earth
  • I am left to count the breaths
  • I am locked in the case of my opinion.
  • I am standing,
  • I awoke this morning to the startling realization
  • I came to get
  • I cannot purge these thoughts
  • I could swear I saw a tear in the mirror.
  • I hear your voice
  • I just wanna roll into a ball
  • I keep a little boat by the doc
  • I know the rule
  • I looked through large bound books
  • I remember being small
  • I remember when I'd call for you
  • I saw Jesus in the Detox
  • I see a splash of light
  • I started a journey long ago
  • I still have a Christmas poinsettia
  • I thought I saw you crying
  • I wait, but it doesn't come.
  • I want to dance across the minds of others
  • I want you
  • I wanted something, once
  • I'd make a list, take nails and pound it on the door
  • If I pound the air
  • If only I had a place with a creek
  • IIIIII
  • I'm here with a candle,
  • I'm not who I am
  • I'm scared because the street
  • In the beginning there was an artist of gravity
  • In winter,
  • Ink pens fit the fist nicely
  • Is your body cold
  • It should have been me
  • It should have been me out there
  • It sleeps, but turns too much to dream
  • It sounds empty, over spoken
  • it was almost as if the voice on paper
  • It's a specific bend.
  • Its raining
  • It's raining in Mecklenburg again
  • I've got a trash bag
  • Kick a ball against the wall.
  • like children we laughed around
  • Live without "I"s
  • Live without eyes,
  • Look up, Woman and Man
  • Look, we'd hear the unheard,
  • Metropolis, won't you wrap your arms around me.
  • Midnight greyhound dreaming
  • Morning exploded
  • Mother and I gaze at the sky
  • Musical comedy, you make us laugh
  • No florescent, linoleum, walkways and row
  • No more words please.
  • Nothing burns from the stone candle
  • O Holy heart
  • Obvious worthlessness is unusual
  • Of all the words in the English language
  • oh hell, here we go again,
  • Oh-boo-dee-Q-la dee-Q-la on-ta-Ko-in-da-wa
  • On a scraggly pat
  • One hand holds, and one hand breaks off
  • Open your eyes
  • Open your eyes and tell me what you see
  • Out with the old
  • Put your face on tonight
  • Rocket ships and escalators,
  • Rows and Racks with spools of yarn
  • Sailing on the wrong side of the sea
  • Say doom, and look at what they do
  • Seems to me, there's usually some thing we're all chasing after:
  • Sewage seeps like a slow blood flow
  • Sewage seeps like a slow blood flow, beneath the street,
  • Shadows grow long
  • She cries
  • She had strong legs, long legs
  • She sees herself in the sea and she fears it
  • Shooting the kitty in a rocket to mars
  • Should have,
  • Should have, could have
  • Shuffled up, tossed and furious
  • Slop seeps down the street
  • So this is the way green summer ends
  • Something important to me
  • sometimes
  • Sometimes I could swear we are moving
  • Somewhere, barely beneath the city, she lies in wait for me.
  • Sound without meaning
  • Sticks and stone
  • Still forest sounds snap
  • Study how the present begins.
  • Stunned
  • Swelling
  • That song is just a sweet silly poem
  • That song is just a sweet silly poem my dear.
  • that's my reflection on the slick stone floor
  • The boy sees snakes of soldier
  • The candy silo unloads
  • the fires nightly
  • The flies have all fattened
  • The hangman. Thinks he
  • The painted faces stay outside,
  • The peephole in the center of the door
  • The perfect waste of a day
  • The rainstorm caught me
  • The roses at night
  • The same hands hold red
  • The sign sez: "farm use
  • The song changes
  • The sun does set on the sunset street
  • The sun was dead
  • The total conversion of matter into energy
  • The train came calling by,
  • The world around me
  • There are certain things
  • There are dead fish in the run
  • There are places where the roads don't go
  • There is fury in this room
  • There is no Jesus as the miles go over by
  • There's a midnight train by my house,
  • There's a moon over you
  • There's a place in the shade for me.
  • there's a song in my head and my head keeps playing i
  • They do. not. eat. who mention, silver and sweet
  • They have their bonds and deals
  • They stand on points
  • They taught us to argue
  • They're all out there dying, baby.
  • They're on a crash-course collision run
  • things arranged, now splayed
  • think of any thing
  • This city is a bird
  • This is how it i
  • This is the nowhere story
  • This is where whole nations lost their prayers
  • This world, my misery
  • Too many christs
  • Too many sets of these crying eyes
  • Too many times
  • Towers of slabs
  • Toys in the hands of God, we are,
  • Train came calling b
  • Two paths, one line that parted:
  • Under a head of human hair
  • walking in the rain., 224
  • We built highways out of the darkness
  • We can't have unflattering, art;
  • We draw a dream in the sand.
  • We have fingerbone trees
  • We live in the bizarre
  • We were waiting for silence to die,
  • We would sing
  • we've got/ are clockwork
  • Whatever words, whatever nouns, whatever verbs
  • What's the bother
  • When love blossoms, it isn't a flower
  • When you're too busy being happy
  • Who's that in that picture
  • Wilt away
  • working forever
  • Would I lie to you
  • You can't just lie here
  • You can't see the angels
  • you sang a song; I found my hell again.
  • You say someday you'll be gone
  • you thoughts on the walls
  • Your arms held sway over whole language,
  • Your garden finally decided to grow