A “found” poem is a poem that has been constructed by randomly selecting words or lines from a single source, in the hopes they will come together in an interesting, offbeat way.  You can find some examples here and here and here.  That last one is by Charles Reznikoff, a poet who practiced law briefly and who sourced case studies for some of his poems. 

I actually thought of doing this yesterday, before I knew Reznikoff had done it, and I planned to use McCormick on Evidence or Prosser on Torts.  Initial efforts, however, were not encouraging.  I decided to try something with at least the possibility of some meat on its bones and chose “Bargaining With the Devil,” by Robert Mnookin of the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.  (I had the opportunity to see Mnookin speak around the time the book was released and urge you, if you get the chance, to do the same.) 

So this was my methodology.  For even chapters, I took the first sentence.  For odd chapters, the last.  For the Introduction and the last chapter, I took both the first and last, thinking this might give me a villanelle-kind of feel.  I did selectively edit for aesthetics.   Ha.  Let’s see what happens.  The title is my own.   

Faust’s Counsel

 
 
Should you bargain with the Devil?
But about all those situations in which you will have to decide,
Whether to bargain with the Devil. 
 
 
 
 
You need expert help.  It’s a relief. 
Our protagonist decides to manage in a different way.
A happy ending.   
Can it be heroic to negotiate with evil, and why?
 
 
 
 
 
Is it time to change?
Imagine ordinary relations in Jerusalem. 
The call out of the blue.  I could not call
Her decision wise.
 
 
 
She spoke first.  “Should you bargain with the Devil?”
How to navigate this terrain with wisdom?

 

Paraphrased from Bargaining with the Devil, Robert Mnookin (Simon & Schuster 2010).