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An original poem for Poetry Friday

In April, I wrote a Ring/Drum/Blanket poem entitled "Inside the Fairy Ring" based on a challenge issued by Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader. Today's poem came from a similar exercise.

Back in June, I attended the Philadelphia Writer's Conference, and spent time in sessions with Bonnie Neubauer, author of The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing. During one of the sessions, Bonnie passed out a wallet-sized slip of paper containing a bunch of words. She calls it an "emergency generator." While waiting for M in the mall one day, I pulled out my generator and selected three words at random. The words were Alps, broccoli and apology. I jotted a draft of the poem at a table in the food court. Here's the "finished" version after several more passes:

They'd met in Europe on one of those
"see the world" post-college tours.
He was attracted to her hardiness,
her Stoic ability to carry a heavy pack
unassisted up the Swiss Alps.

She was lightheaded in the thin air,
giddy at open horizons, endless opportunities.
They talked of travel plans – tours through Africa,
all the places in Asia they'd see,
plans to partake of more than seven wonders.

Years later, stabbing in silence at Chinese takeout
chicken and broccoli in their windowless dining room,
she wondered how she'd come to this place—
a life without adventure. Each day
an apology, endlessly unfolding on itself.

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( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Well done!
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
*Elvis voice*: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Dec. 5th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Original Poem
Elaine M.

That's a great poem, Kelly. It was interesting to see how people came up with such different poems when writing the ring/drum/blanket poems last spring. It's really fascinating when you think how one's mind works. You take a few words that have, seemingly, no relation and then create a poem that makes sense and has meaning.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Original Poem
I recall sitting thinking "Do they eat broccoli in the Alps?" and a variety of other inane questions, trying to tie those words together. And then, the idea of a story came to me, and it clicked.
Dec. 5th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
Kelli,great poem! I can relate to it, and I'm sure many other women (and men) can tool. Thanks for sharing it. Linda
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Linda. Even though there's nothing biographical here, I can relate to that too.
Dec. 5th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
I love it!

I love the words you selected - hardiness, giddy, partake, stabbing.

You inspire me. :)
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks Lisa - that is high praise, indeed!
Dec. 5th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
Oh my, how very nice!

You really demonstrate how helpful an exercise like that can be.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks - it took a while to sort out how to connect those words in any way that made sense, but I got there.
Dec. 5th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
I love the poem. My first response is at least she gets to order take out. If her husband doesn't nag her that its too expensive, she's ahead of the game. Sigh.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Yes. Well, I think that all of us who have been in relationships can relate, at least in some ways, to the poem, even though it was decidedly not autobiographical.
Dec. 5th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
I love that you crafted something lovely starting with three such simple words.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Bonnie's point was that anyone can do it - and I think it's probably true. She envisioned the "generator" being used to write five-minute flash fiction, but being poetical, I used it for other purposes.
Dec. 5th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
TadMack says: : )
Oh, my GOSH this is completely tragic.
I love poetry that has story within its grasp. Kel, get this one published, seriously.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says: : )
Silly Tanita. You say that as if it were a simple thing, and within my power.

Thanks for your lovely comments, though.
Dec. 5th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done -- great tone, good story.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Thank you very much indeed.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
Wow - high praise, indeed, my friend. When I first had the words, I thought "do they eat broccoli in the Alps?" and other such things. Then I realized that the poem needed to travel - to or from the Alps - and a story formed.
Dec. 5th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
Wow! What a great exercise that turned into such an interesting poem! Three words I bet you thought would never come together so nicely in a poem before this exercise!
Kelly Polark
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't have thought they could go together.
Dec. 5th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's powerful, Kelly. Thank you for sharing it.

Dec. 5th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. Thanks for the kind words, Jules.
Dec. 5th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
Ah that's a heart breaker. Good job pulling it from the word bank in your pocket. I think I'll have to try one of those.
Dec. 5th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words, Andi. The "emergency generator" is decidedly a cool thing.
Dec. 5th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Wow -- Who would ever guess that a poem like this could sprout from those three random "word seeds." Amazing.

Dec. 5th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Janet.
Dec. 5th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
wow and ouch. eating chinese in a windowless dining room... just about sucks the life out of me. thanks!
Dec. 5th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: wow
It would suck the life out of anyone, I think. Thank heavens for the sliding doors in mine . . .
Dec. 5th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Wow. I guess those exercises work!
Dec. 5th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
I really, truly should take more time to do them. Because they've always worked for me, yet I always put off doing them until I've done other things. Only some days, "other things" don't get done at all.
Dec. 5th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. Love this, Kelly. The "stabbing in silence" really stabs at the heart. Tragic, but all too true for many of us.
Dec. 6th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jama. I'm so pleased people have appreciated my little poem.
Dec. 6th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
So sad, but lovely...
Dec. 6th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Thanks. I think we've all felt something like that sometime. Although until the comments today, I didn't realize it was as widespread as it appears to be.
Dec. 6th, 2008 03:52 am (UTC)
I love how "endlessly unfolding" brings to mind takeout box after box being opened into the future. Nice touch. And I'm way impressed that you could use broccoli in such an unforced manner.

It occurs to me that when you take a risk on poetry, it steps up. IT doesn't leave you in a windowless room. It always heads straight up the nearest mountain.
Dec. 6th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'd never thought about all those takeout boxes - it's always interesting to learn what other people's associations and interpretations are to a given poem. Unless, of course, you are Robert Frost, and people start drawing inspiration from your sarcasm (as in "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I/I took the one less travelled by/and that has made all the difference").

I really should start doing more exercises - it's good to limber up the brain a bit.
Dec. 7th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC)
Neat exercise, Kelly - perfect for poetry, where the poet's job, I think, is to make connections between seemingly disconnected things. I'll have to get myself a wallet-sized piece of paper like that (full of random words) and give it a try!

(P.S. Someday you could write a poem called "Do They Eat Broccoli in the Alps?" I love that. Kind of Rene Magritte-ish.)
Dec. 8th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
I really must thank Bonnie (again) for the emergency generator.
Dec. 7th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
That's an awesome poem. Poignantly poetic about life (and love)and how things turn out.
Dec. 8th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
Wow. Thanks, Angela!
Dec. 8th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
That's a great poem, but it's so sad. It could also be the beginning of a story, where she goes off in search of new adventures, with, or without him.
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
I've been thrilled that people are so moved by it. I mean, as a poet working alone, it's nice to put the work out there and see how folks respond.
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that so many people are responding! Maybe a contemporary verse novel is in your future? Possibly a love story (even if it isn't this one)? :)
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )

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