Sunshine appeared, darkness fled.
Will-o’-the-wisp? No. Light came
And the stars were sent to bed.
Bayou’s verdant carpet frames
Our feasting on today’s bread.
Content with these gifts to claim.

I wrote that poem today on Margaret Simon’s post, “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” I wrote it after my National Writing Project prompt for today: “The Story of a Poem” with H.K. Hummel because I had light and will-o’-the-wisps on my mind.

I enjoyed hearing Heather’s multiple readings of the prose poem called “The Fable of the Sailor and the Kraken.” It is amazing how much more you can learn by hearing it again and again.

I like a quote she shared by Jane Anne Phillips about the difference between traditional poetry shapes and short prose. I’ve written a longer quote here:

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I taught myself to write by writing one-page fictions. I found in the form the density I needed, the attention to the line, the syllable. I began writing as a poet. In the one-page form, I found the freedom of the paragraph. I learned to understand the paragraph as secretive and subversive. The poem in broken lines announces itself as a poem, but the paragraph seems innocent, workaday, invisible.”

~Field Guide by Jane Anne Phillips

Heather challenged us to use assonance in our prose poem about an encounter with a mythological beast representing the unknown and see if it “might unearth a new mystery about what it means to be human.” I’m glad she also added: “Don’t feel the need to explain. Let the mystery stay a mystery.”

To research which mythological creature I might write about, I went to this list on Wikipedia, looking for something that struck me about an unknown battling my humanity. I chose Will-o’-the-Wisp for my poem.

The Traveler and the Will-o’-the-Wisp

The byway through the bog darkened with each step, cracked with the crust of rotting creatures. When she first saw the flutter above the fen in the distance she remembered once reading the advice to not follow the lights but to use her own candles. Maybe it’s just fool’s fire, she thought; she wanted desperately to avoid the company of the dead. She had read Milton, so she hesitated, wondering if it was really leading or was this “hovering and blazing with delusive light”?

The Will-o’-the-Wisp had always wandered the earth, relentlessly beckoning travelers, leading them away from their true  destinations. The Wisp radiated a glowing beam when she turned and walked toward it.


Imagination on Poetry Friday

Bridget Magee‘s sweet story about Mimi on “Career Day” brought back lots of memories for me, memories of challenging students that I didn’t fully appreciate. Educators often find it easier to reward the compliant above the renegade,
the pliant above the protestor,
the submissive above the stand-aloner,
the docile above the defector,
the faithful above the fighter,
the agreeable above the agitator,
the answerer above the questioner.

What would our world be like without that second group of believers? I’ve been thinking about the Mimi’s in my life today, often ones whose gifts and talents aren’t fully appreciated in school as we know it. I wrote a small poem about Mimi today.

Big Imagination

Sometimes students are smarter
than their teachers,
Captivating and creative,
Free and flashy.
Students like pre-SNL
Amy, Tina, Aidy and Kate before her,
Mimi knows something
most others in the room
have yet to learn:
She can make a mark
Create a splash
Fling a spark
She knows how to
plant a seed
and reap a harvest,
To charm and quiet the powerful

Thank you, Bridget, for the inspiration today.

Yesterday I wrote another poem about imagination for the feature that Margaret Simon writes at her Reflections on the Teche blog: “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” (Click that last link to see the photo we wrote about). I wrote a limerick about this sweet girl intent on her imaginative play.

There once was a girl full of dreams
Creating play magic, she beams
Colors everywhere
Her actions declare
The joy of keen-eyed extremes

However, I can’t seem to get a last line that I’m happy with. I started to retool it to:
“New joy in the journey redeemed” – maybe in a nod to easing Covid restrictions, but that isn’t clear in that line. Or “Her life: a crucial course in STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, art, math). Other last lines are eluding me, though there are a few good possibilities: team, stream, scheme, theme, seem, supreme, esteem, sunbeam.

But then I went back to the original post and saw that Janet, the photographer and grandmother of the subject, wrote a positive comment about her granddaughter’s extremes:

So I kept the original so far, but I’m not satisfied. I am rarely convinced to call something a final draft. I’m always tinkering on revisions, so to all the poets who may be reading today:

Do you have a suggestion for that last line?