Two Simple Poetry Prompts

Recently I read Holly Lyn Walrath’s post on Medium about her favorite poetry writing prompt.

“Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”

As she said, that is so simple. I tried it below with a line from a book I’ve been reading, Holy Curiosity by Winn Collier. The line I chose was: “Fear is a second self”

Fear
My first self was born of joy and gladness
Then I sat with brokenness around me
My second self became fear and sadness
What and when will my third self be?

Walrath also tells of another prompt she learned from Jericho Brown. This is where you choose an existing poem and replace every word with an opposite word. Then you go back and polish it up.

For my first attempt I wanted to check out the process, and see if it was worthwhile to come back to. What better mentor than “Twinkle, Twinkle” I thought.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

‘Tis your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the trav’ller in the dark,
Tho’ I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Darkness

Darken my voluminous insignificance,
I have no interest in your dissonance.
Down under the heavens so deep,
Unlike any catastrophe on cliffs steep.

When the inauspicious draws to closeness,
When she bathes everything in darkness,
Then I conceal my magnanimous gray,
Darken, darken throughout the day.

It was my depressed and massive night,
Shading the resident in pure sunlight,
For that, you know not my coincidence,
Darken my voluminous insignificance.

After note: I decided I will try it again later with a text more meaningful to me. The process was puzzling and engaging.

Feet

Snapshots in Time is a poetry prompt that Susan Ahlbrand gave us in April. At the time, I wasn’t able to find the photo of my mom looking content and appearing to have it all in 1950–vogue style, trim waist, rugged husband, and four precocious kids in an L.A. suburb. A comment I left on the prompt was: “I wanted to write a poem called Feet, and how her feet didn’t handle those high heels for the long haul.” When I ran across the photo recently, I decided to write that poem today.

My Mom’s Feet

Feet
Showcased
My mom’s style
She loved high heels
And rocked them for years
Pointed or open-toed,
Spectators, ankle straps.
Looking into fate’s eyes,
My sweet mama, whose fashion
Was foremost, saw her feet
Begin to fail her flair
Surgeries and treatments
Nailed hammer toes
Podiatry
Helped relieve
Her worn
Feet

Poetry Friday for Marvelous Mary Lee

Mary Lee Hahn, whose sweet Twitter profile says, “5th grade teacher, reader, blogger, poet-in-training,” is retiring. Congratulations, Mary Lee! Thank you for all the beautiful poetry “training” you share publicly. Children and teachers alike have been blessed with  your learning, writing, and teaching through poetry.

Recently Mary Lee wrote an onomatopoeia poem called “Sleigh Ride.” Here is the first stanza:

shhh
say the runners
sliding through the snow

It is a great form for using as a mentor to write about the sounds in a setting, so I share this poem in honor of Mary Lee; I wrote it today while my husband tinkered and made noise in the kitchen.

Keith Makes Healthy Pudding

Whoosh, pop
Says the refrigerator door
Opening for ingredients sweet

Burble, splish, splash
Says the water
Cascading over coming treats

Rattle, clash, grind, hum
Says the blender
Pulverizing nuts and berries

Rap, tap, clackety clack
Says the stainless steel dish
Filling with the dessert it carries

Slurp, yum, delicious
Says watching-and-listening me,
Fortuitous beneficiary

All the best to you, Mary Lee, in your retirement. Of course, I know you will continue your poetry training, writing and sharing, as the lifelong learner, creator and contributor that you are. Here are Mary Lee’s blogs: A Year of Reading and Poetrepository.

Thank you to Christie Wyman for hosting Poetry Friday today, a party honoring Mary Lee Hahn, at her Wondering and Wandering blog. And happy birthday to you today, Christie!

Happy Anniversary, Katie and Thomas!

A Blessed Day in May,
A Pantoum

Kat and Tom Get Married
Sweet news for the ages
A blessed day in May
Filled with love and spirit

Sweet news for the ages
Come to Joshua Tree
Filled with love and spirit
Overflowing into a lifetime

Come to Joshua Tree
Engagement with the bees
Overflowing into a lifetime
Of nectar fun and flowers

Engagement with the bees
Memories to bear the night
Of nectar fun and flowers
So many chapters unwritten

Memories to bear the night
Will sustain a life of laughter
So many chapters unwritten
For this Howlett Home

Will sustain a life of laughter
Of faith, hope, joy and love
For this Howlett Home
Then and now and into the future

Of faith, hope, joy and love
Kat and Tom Get Married
Then and now and into the future
A blessed day in May

Here is a tool to help create your own pantoum.

This Photo Wants to Be Poem

Lately I’m enjoying writing #PoemsofPresence with Margaret Simon and others on her Wednesday posts called “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” I anxiously wait for Wednesday morning, Eastern time in the U.S., which is afternoon for me. Today’s post has this picture of a dragonfly taken by teacher Lory Landry. You are invited to go and add your own poem!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lory Frioux Landry (@loryla63)

In my Blackjack poem with 7-7-7 syllables, or also called a septercet, I imagine the dragonfly is on a hunt for its next meal.

Caution-tape tail gives warning
Skeletal wings bowed in wait
Eyes focused on its supper

Flamboyant Tree

Slice of Life on TwoWritingTeachers.org 18 May 2021

Yesterday was my husband’s fourth day off from work in a row. It was Eid Al-Fitr over the long weekend, and now he is back at work.  Normally he works six days a week, so we don’t usually have such an extended time to revivify. It’s been a great week.

Yesterday’s pleasant and relaxed day included:

    • a long walk at the mall because it’s already too hot to walk outside
    • sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee (for him) and tea (for me)
    • shopping for a few needed items at the grocery store
    • time in the kitchen making applesauce and roasting broccoli, carrots, green beans, zucchini, and butternut squash (I love having Tupperwares full of healthy food in the fridge ready to dish up and warm throughout the week)
    • napping and reading
    • book study discussion with our kids (Holy Curiosity by Winn Collier)
    • Tweeting out a request for help to identify the tree below that I noticed at the mall
    • and finally going out to a neighborhood store to get a 5-gallon water refill

On the way up the elevator, after our walk to the store, my husband asked me if I was really happy not working fulltime this year. (After the first quarter this year, I began volunteering at my school.) Without hesitation I said, yes. It is the first year I’ve felt that I am living first and teaching second. For years in the past, I explained, I chose teaching over living. Teaching always held a disproportionate amount of my heart and time. That is a sad truth.

This is the tree I saw at the mall. It reminded me of the jacaranda tree, which I grew up with in California, except for these vibrant flowers.

I tried to figure out what this tree was, but I’m out of practice using a dichotomous key and I couldn’t identify it. I sent a tweet and Brenda kindly answered within five minutes, (reminding me of when I used to like Twitter.)

Today’s poem was inspired by this Flamboyant tree, also called Royal Poinciana tree (Delonix regia) and Flame of the Forest tree in India, as Prarthana later pointed out on Twitter. Our tree here in Bahrain is young or perhaps the climate is not quite right for all those gorgeous and showy blooms. I’ll be keeping my eye on it and see if it adds more color this summer.

Flamboyant Tanka

Flamboyance subdued
Young royalty in waiting
Trustingly hopes for
A brilliant crown of crimson
Meanwhile, playfully dances

My Daughter Katie, a Lai Poem

I heard of a poetry form new to me called a Lai. It’s a French form, nine lines long with the rhyme pattern aabaabaab. The “a” lines have five syllables each, and the “b” lines have two syllables in each. It was on Donnetta Norris’s Slice of Life last week. She wrote a poem to teachers called “You Shine.”  I used the Lai form to write about my youngest daughter.

Katie
Honest and forthright
Visionary sight
Bent true
Ideas so bright
Ready, winged for flight
Hope true
Dauntless facing night
With hope reunite
Trust true

And here is my first attempt when I made a mistake and didn’t really write a Lai, though I liked how this aabccbddb rhyme pattern about Katie turned out:

My Daughter Katie
Confident and strong
Ensures all belong
Laugh full
Future trust in plans
Safely in God’s hands
Life full
Advocate with nerve
Promise never swerves
Love full

My Daughter Maria, A Kind of Clerihew

Clerihew is a poetry form that I have heard of, but I had never written one. So today, thanks to inspiration by Janice Scully, I’ll give it a go.

Janice wrote two beautiful Clerihews for Kamala and Joe. She ended her post with this challenge: “Perhaps there is someone you would like to celebrate with a clerihew. If you do sometime, please share them.”

Yes, there is, so this is my sometime. I know clerihews are usually about someone famous. So here is my oldest daughter–famous to me! I couldn’t stop at four lines, so I guess I still haven’t written a clerihew.

To My Daughter Maria
Knitter, sewist, vaccine chauffeur
Plant and pup mom, entrepreneur
Decorator, baker, contributor, cook
Friend and quilter, connoisseur of books
Skills abounding, not just a few
Your super power is being you