Friday, 30 April 2010
Today's prompt: A free day
You have the power to pull me close,
My undivided attention focused only on you,
In a moment that seems to last forever,
In the smallest space between us.
You are my singularity,
Your gravity well holding me fast to you.
The closer we get
The more of myself I lose, in you,
Until there is no more you or I,
Today's prompt: In a nice private place, pick out a stanza, or a few lines, that you like from a poem that you don’t otherwise feel was very successful. Say them over to yourself.
Now hum them. See if you can find the tune.
And now sing them aloud. (Who cares if you can sing? You’re in private. And this is poetry!)
Throwing away the rest of the poem, write two more stanzas (stand-alone or connected) that go to the same tune.
Solstice – night creeps in slow,
Holding back in honor of the sun,
Burning hot and large directly above us,
As we head for high ground
Bathing ourselves in the midsummer.
The light fades gently
Into orange, purple, red.
We breath in the evening air,
Breath out poetry
On this most magical of nights,
Releasing our words into the world.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Today's prompt: Write a poem in which you combine a speaker and an event that normally don’t go together (such as sports broadcasters and poetry writing)
August 28th 1963
I like this fellow,
He is very forceful,
Has the crowd dancing to his tune.
I too have a dream;
I too could stand in front of my followers,
Have them cheering me onwards.
He talks now of destiny, and freedom,
Of equality and colour.
I know of only one colour,
Of one side,
But I too know of destiny.
I have worked hard for my powers,
Have kept fighting all these years,
Much as King has,
Rising up against my teachers and leaders,
Showing them the truth in what we can do.
He talks of children,
And I think of my own,
Hidden from me at an early age.
All that I would show them,
Share my empire with them.
One day his dream may come true,
And one day I know mine shall,
The empire will know no equal,
The Death Star is nearly complete.
Today's prompt: choose your favourite newspaper or online news provider. Jot down five to ten headlines that jump out at you and without reading the articles, select elements from each headline to create a new event about which your poem reports.
It is who you know,
Not what you know,
When television fans win court cases,
And murder charges are bought
In a case regarding a Playstation.
Take some time out,
Get some fresh air,
Watch for space rocks, stars,
Or even play some football,
Rather than be purely
A life spectator.
Some have money to burn,
Spending £100,000 on a dead man's words,
While other live in poverty and homelessness,
As house prices soar and technology prices fall.
But the sky and the sea
Are free to all.
Watch the best entertainment,
As the tide roars and the sun shines;
Dare not to be just a life spectator.
Today's prompt: Travel a while on The Phrase Finder website until you find the phrase or phrase origin that most interests you. Take some notes, do a free-write or three, and see where a little word exploration takes you.
They say he has mercury in his mind,
Affecting his judgement,
Changing him every day.
The hats started some time ago,
At first they were a welcome distraction
From his rambling ideas,
Something to focus on.
A black trilby, a grey fedora,
A brown bowler soon followed.
Smart, classic choices
But then they changed.
A blue velvet top hat appeared,
Next, a red fez with a feather on top,
Worn at a jaunty angle.
Their distractions were no longer welcome.
The pretty pink straw boater
Was the last straw, they say,
And now his hats are said,
To be mad as his mind.
Today's quote: "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." ~Leonard Cohen
Today's prompt: Write and capture humorous incidents related to love in a 5-line love poem called a tanka. (You may even decide to create your own tanka journal for love poems!)
Here’s how to write one:
Describe in concrete terms one or two simple images (two or three lines) from your humorous love encounter, not just what you saw but also what you tasted, touched, smelled or heard.
What were you were thinking at the time this love encounter happened? Write that down, too, as two or three lines, so you have five lines in total for the poem.
Think about making the third line of your poem into a pivot line, so that it links to both the previous two lines and to the final two lines.
Test the tanka by dividing it into two parts so the third line acts both as the last line of the first part and as the first line of the second part. Does each section make sense separately, and then together?
Think about reducing — and even avoiding — capitalization and punctuation because a tanka needn’t be like a sentence or merely a flat statement.
In a London pub, we got to know each other -
Drinking, eating, singing along to the juke-box,
Deciding to play a joke, I knew we were meant to be,
Realising we shared a sense of humour, a geeky edge,
Thinking alike as we shared a laugh.
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Today's prompt: Take a moment to remember a breakthrough moment in your life or a “freeze-frame” moment from long, long ago. An “a-ha” or an “epiphany” moment or a moment that has a story yet to tell.
Let’s prepare to write a poem using our intuition intentionally today. Write this prompt on your page: “When I remember my “a-ha moment” from my past, I understand the place I am meant to go with my words and poetry today is … ”
Restate the prompt as you free-write and don’t write a poem yet. Instead, go about your business of the day purposefully not writing a poem.
Notice surprising turns of phrases you hear. Listen to people who say things to you that seem especially surprising, lyrics to songs. Eavesdrop intentionally. Wait for at least 2 hours and then write your poem from the words your intuition and your free-writing gave you.
It's hard to just live your life;
I sit on the bus
In the middle of unmoving traffic,
As my mind wanders,
Travelling faster than I am.
A wedding on a frozen lake,
And an invite to an artist's house:
The fragments of a life,
Reflected through the beige slants
Of the office blinds.
“The food van is here”,
A voice announces,
A break in the morning routine,
As we scramble for sustenance.
I strive for inspiration,
Opening myself to feeling,
Intuition, observation, poetry
In the everyday, waiting to be found.
Notes: This feels very much like a 'found poem' to me. I don't know if that is the most effective response to the prompt, but that is where the prompt took me, in the same way that the prompt itself to be open and intuitive, so was my initial response on how to go about this. I enjoyed being more observant and playing around with and incorporating things I had heard and seen throughout the day. It is fascinating what words, phrases, concepts and images are just laying around waiting to be used in this way.
Today's prompt: Return to a started, but unfinished, poem. Highlight the words or phrases that please you. Don't cross anything out, yet. Now either finish the poem, or take the parts you like a create a new piece.
Leaving the house in tears
I notice the irony,
Of arriving at a well-being day
Not feeling mentally well at all.
It is a Friday,
Favourite day of the week.
But I am unhappy to look forward,
When the weekend holds your absence.
Notes: It was interesting to attempt to bring this piece to some sort of conclusion. I had written in a few months ago, and had never really known where it was going. The result is short, but with a sense of completion it had been lacking.
Today's prompt: Explore the lightbulb or shock moment
Cartoon characters show their ideas
With a ping of a lightbulb
Floating magically above their head,
And all their problems are solved,
With a happy ever after.
In contrast, I think of the other
Lightbulb moment, when the light goes out.
Plunged into darkness, you see only
What's right in front of you.
As you adjust and focus,
And suddenly it's clear.
Not happily ever after
But happily moving forward.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Today's prompt: Take a word that says something about you and write a poem with each line beginning with the letters of that word.
Words floating through the mind,
Ready to dance at the slightest command,
I reach out towards them,
Telling my stories, painting worlds and images,
Each one a polished gem,
Rich with life.
Today's prompt: Keep an ear out for the first sentence (or even word) that is said to you after you read this prompt. (Poetic license: If the first few words are exceptionally boring, wait for the first uncommon or peculiar one.) Take that word/sentence — it could be “mango” or “exemplar” or “have you ever been to this Ethiopian restaurant?” — and build a poem around it.
Danger is my middle name.
It used to be Fred,
But I changed it,
After swimming with sharks,
And climbing Everest.
I've tried ameater boxing,
And skydiving through the clouds.
Bunge-jumping was a blast,
And jet-sking rather slow.
I need the thrill, the rush, the edge,
Throwing myself into, onto and through,
Whatever danger exists.
Some may say I'm crazy,
Some say I know no fear.
But once you've meet me,
You too will know danger.
Today's prompt: Heroism
Truly the first to go beyond -
His journey the work of many,
But he is in the spotlight,
Eyes of millions watching his every move.
Years of training,
Simulations and checks,
To produce this one moment.
Words running through his head,
Thinking of the perfect line,
An announcement to the world
That will transcend space
Heart racing, striving
To remember his training,
Crew-mate at his back,
But he at the front,
Leading the way
With just one small step -
One giant leap forward.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
"It's impossible to write poetry in front of the TV
Almost impossible not to write in the sun
In the woods, every breath is a poem
The words form in the sunbeams,
to those who look for them."
Today's prompt: Flaws and perfection
We search for the perfect,
And find the impossible,
Even knowing that flaws make us human.
Always needing, wanting and waiting,
That one perfect person,
Moment, place and time.
The right word to say,
The ideal outfit,
The flawless picture.
We lose ourselves
In this quest,
Unable to see the flawed around us,
How precious because of their imperfection.
That makes us human -
Ignoring the perfection we have
Already found, in a flower, a tree,
The sky and the sea,
As tides polish pebbles to a perfect shine
And petals are the ideal shape and shade.
Friday, 23 April 2010
The pull of tomorrow
Reverberates through us,
Dragging us into its dizzy, fierce thrall,
As a crow circles overhead,
Squalling and screetching,
Wings wide, gliding down and down,
Before riding up once more,
Pulled as much as we are,
Unable to fight
It's own wind of change,
Blowing the colour of red dust
Along a deserted highway,
Open road stretching as far
As the eye can see.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Today's prompt: Write something elemental!
Today, despite the threat of ash,
The sky is clear,
The air is fresh.
Tomorrow will bring back planes,
Cutting vapor trails through the blue,
Polluting the air once more,
With noise and smoke.
Today is quiet,
Birds singing the only disruption,
Gentle sea breeze the only
Other thing to float,
Through the air.
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
'Somewhere near where you are sitting is something with a specific smell that will conjure a memory rich with images. Take a moment to find any such object and breathe the scent of it, deeply. It may be as simple as a strand of your hair, a ketchup bottle from the refrigerator, a potholder or a bottle of lotion.
Add to your breath the simple phrase, “I remember” and breathe the scent in again. “I remember.” Free write from “I remember” for at least five minutes, repeating the prompt “I remember” if your writing slows.
Use the seeds from your free writing to write today’s poem.'
The cups of coffee sit between us,
Smell sharp and bitter,
Tangible in the air
Like the moment hanging here,
In this gap linking you and I.
This is our first date,
Getting to know each other,
Smiling tentatively over coffee
In this generic coffee shop,
In this city of thousands,
Narrowed to this one place,
This one moment,
And two people,
Later, I remember the smell,
Coffee - dark, bitter and strong.
How our eyes met over raised cup rims,
A smile and a lingering gaze.
And in our kitchen,
The smell of coffee takes me back,
While the smile never changes.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Today's prompt: Cat(s)!
Le Chat Noir
Bean is pure black,
Green eyes gleaming,
Her calcuated gaze can strip you bear.
What secrets is she hiding?
Witches familiar? Demon in disguise?
Or is she just
A simple, loving, house-cat?
Today's prompt: Write a cleave (2 parts, that can be read as two poems or one poem across the horizonal) poem
A cut through Two halves
The heart of it all Meeting in the middle
A thin line Leaving a tiny space
Into the centre of me Raw and exposed
You can reach in Open to your touch
Change me New to mould to your will
Here I am, waiting Create your vision
Cleaved apart Breath life with your love
With you in my heart Make a whole
Remade to someone new Alive in the morning sun
Today's prompt: Write about an object that you didn't choose.
You are the one not chosen,
Ready and waiting to be on show,
Then cast aside, back in the box,
A sigh and a pout, then quiet again.
Family heirloom, often admired,
Too special for everyday use,
I thought my wedding would be the day -
Something old and something borrowed.
Crystal, elegant, perfectly constructed,
A string bridging past and future.
But you were not to be chosen,
Too unique, you just didn't fit.
I wish that day would be mine,
To feel you around my neck,
Drapped across my throat,
Transformed into someone else,
Glamorous and special.
You are the one not chosen,
Still awaiting your time to shine,
Soon it will, and you'll make
Another shine and smile all day.
Today's prompt: Write about a family celebration
We gather every April,
Family not seen one year to the next,
To honour tradition, culture and religion,
In our own small way.
You - mother, sister, wife, aunt,
Preside over the proceedings like clockwork,
Everything and everyone set just so,
Juggling invisible balls in perfect arcs.
So comes the time for prayer and blessings,
Over wine and food, for peace and salvation.
We read, we drink, we eat and remember.
The stories are our own, yet belong to all.
Good food and wine takes its toll,
We sit up until early hours,
Each year learning something new,
About the others and ourselves.
I think of other families sitting in the same way,
Each with their own traditions,
But each praying, reading, drinking and eating.
Sharing stories, history, laughing and talking,
Remembering it all.
Today's prompt: Unusual love connections
An unusual love
It must be love, I think,
I even love your hair,
So different from my usual type,
Long, dark and wavy,
Instead of short, neat and conventional.
Tied back in a pony-tail,
Black elastic stopping it escaping,
Your hair has a life of it own,
Matching my own wild curls.
Softer than it looks,
I stroke your hair as you fall sleep,
Falling loosely around your face,
Transforming you into someone else,
Younger and more relaxed.
I am unable to imagine your hair
Any other way, or want to change it,
Not even to match my usual taste,
And so, it must be love, I think.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Begin a poem with a line from a poem by Norman Dubie
Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie
Worlds are being told like beads,
Tiny drops of story,
Polished to a shine,
And fashioned to perfection.
Fiction and non-fiction,
Images and moments.
Whole worlds for our exploration -
From a few lines
To thousands of words.
They are launched to sail,
Through time and space,
A bridge from us to the future,
To other times and people.
Today's prompt: Nonsense line(s)
The Sea is Singing
The sea is singing,
More alive in the spring sunshine
Than it has been for months,
Spreading wings, rolling
It's weary tides out and in,
Stretching out the kinks
From its long, winter rest,
To bask in the spring sunlight,
Sing to the beach,
And shine brightly -
Welcoming the tourists
For another summer season.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Today's prompt (yes, I'm a couple of days behind!):
Winter spreads like an octopus' arms,
Creeping in through nooks and crannies.
The air is sharp and brittle,
Like undercooked brussel sprouts.
Inside, we light torches and lamps,
Stow ourselves under the protection
Of blankets and cushions.
You strum guitar chords
To the tune of Christmas carols -
A marionette dancing to winter's weary waltz.
Folding my hands in my lap,
I'm grateful for our modern luxuries,
No need for pails of water, open fires,
Chimneys and jugs.
I pull the blankets around me
As I lean on your shoulder,
Massage your neck
And sing along.
You finish your song,
Smile up at me,
And swipe a cold finger
Across my fringe, down my nose
And along to my mouth
For a chilly, Christmas kiss.
A more general and open prompt this time, but it's still a useful challenge to attempt to work certain words, images or phrases into a poem, taking it somewhere new. It was also interesting to write this in front of a window with spring sunshine streaming in!
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Today's prompt: Respond to an image or a piece of art.
Endlessly, it seems,
Wild but no longer free.
They have tamed the deer
Which sniffs at her heels,
But not yet tamed her.
It may only be a matter of time.
The wide blue water is theirs,
Their machines and strange clothing.
The wind stroking her hair
Is cold, sharp,
And full of change.
(Using 'Pocahontas' by Annie Leibovitz as my prompt)
"The poem... is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see - it is, rather, a light by which we may see - and what we see is life." ~Robert Penn Warren, Saturday Review, 22 March 1958
Today's prompt: Make your poetry personal.
Bob lives in the shadows,
Hidden deep away,
Not even sure of his own name anymore.
He exists on the edge of society,
Watches people from the sidelines,
Observing wide-eyed and eager.
Bob has soft edges, blurry lines,
But the sharpest teeth underneath,
Cutting deep to the truth.
He likes unusual images,
Commenting on the world around him.
Bob is quiet, but determined,
Has a razor-like wit,
Is quick and sarcastic,
And occasionally romantic.
But tell a soul and he'll laugh it off,
With a tiny shrug.
You need to approach him softly,
Gently with caution,
To get him on your side.
He likes his own company,
To sit and think things through.
Bob can be sutble, clever and sweet,
Funny and cool, angst-ridden or light,
Taking mental images,
Of his journey through life,
Hoping to one day
Make a very small difference.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
"Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted." ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821
Write a poem that illustrates your idea of what is inside-out.
They say a poet must bleed,
Expose themselves freely
For the attentions of their craft,
Turn themselves inside out
For the reader's inspection.
They pour out their heart and guts,
The good and bad of them
Hidden deep inside,
Dug up, polished
In vibrant, brilliant colours.
History brought to life
Once more, both poets
And readers can re-live
The ups and downs
Of past events,
Laid raw and bleeding
For our entertainment.
A poet's darkest thoughts,
History and future dreams,
Examined and digested
By readers, critics
And worst of all,
Other poets, still hiding
Their own inner selves.
"The true poet is all the time a visionary and whether with friends or not, as much alone as a man on his death bed." ~W.B. Yeats
Today's prompt: Write about something that scares you.
She sits in the middle of a crowd,
Lets the talk drift over her
As she nods and 'hmm's,
Smiles and laughs.
She wants to be taken seriously,
To lead the way
And take the floor,
But she can only blush,
Unable to breach the gap
Between her and everybody else.
She doesn't show
How the loneliness creeps
Slowly round the edges,
Her biggest fear
And her greatest talent:
To stand alone in a crowd.
Friday, 2 April 2010
Today's prompt (from www.readwritepoem.org):
Type the letters RWP into the abbreviation search field at Acronym Attic and write a poem inspired in any way by one or more of the resulting phrases. You don’t have to use the words from the phrase in your poem, but you can if they fit.
Regular White Paper
It sits on my desk,
clean, fresh, empty,
asking me to make it real,
make it something more
than just regular white paper.
Lines, shapes, marking,
diagrams, tables and words,
eaten up like food
for its tiny white paper soul.
Until it's full,
every space covered in
meaning and language.
And then the words and shapes,
numbers and diagrams
can be set free on the wind,
or in water,
held against the elements
by the thin sheet of paper,
so much more than just paper -
taking its message far from here.
It's final destiny fulfilled.
Again, an interesting and inspirational prompt. There were 37 meanings for RWP, including Really Weird Person, and Right Wing Porn, but Regular White Paper stuck with me. Such a simple, everyday thing, but such an important thing to the writer, especially the poet, bringing him or her closer to the words themselves, as in today's quote.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
Today's prompt (from www.readwritepoem.org):
1. Put your iPod or iTunes (or other mp3 player) on shuffle. (If you don’t have a music player that shuffles, you can choose CD or album titles at random from your collection by writing several titles down on little slips of paper … works the same way.)
2. Write down the first five titles that come up. No cheating allowed!
3.. Use all five titles to draft a new poem. They have to be used intact — you can interrupt them with punctuation, but you may not remove or change words.
“That's the place”, you say softly,
Gazing across a busy street
Seeing people long gone
And you, as a child,
Chasing your brothers down corridors
As the old apartment protected your youth.
It's a fast-food place now,
Neon lights, plastic chairs
And disposable lifestyles.
We venture inside,
You screw up your eyes
Until plastic tables become a battered wooden one,
The toilets, part of a bedroom.
We exit swiftly, without a sound,
And I steer you back
To the warmth of the car,
Placing silent kisses on your shoulders
As you regain your strength.
“Make it all okay”, you murmur
And I nod, driving away
As we continue road tripping down memory lane.
Song titles used:
“The Old Apartment”
Make It All Okay”
So, day 1, and off to a running start. I really liked this idea for a prompt, although I was lucky to be given very usable titles. It shows that inspiration can come from anywhere, and often from the last place you would usually think to look. The challenge to use what may be unusual words or phrases in your poem also allows for something different and fresh to be produced. A good start for what should now be spring, and I'm writing this with sunlight streaming in from the window next to me! I also thought the musical quote was rather apt!