At some point during the one week program, I had a chance to sit down with one of the two instructors and talk about my writing. A one-on-one discussion. I walked away from that meeting with encouragement from him that I had real potential in pursuing poetry. Certainly some areas could use improvement, but he reinforced that my gut instincts were good.
The memorable part, along with more concrete feedback, came from discussing the poems I submitted when I applied. I don’t remember every one that I submitted, but I definitely sent in “Fallen”, a poem I wrote as a senior, because he referenced it specifically. He liked the parallel structure of the poem; it offered rhythm. But more importantly, he liked that I didn’t feel compelled to maintain it throughout. I changed it up some. I kept the pattern of “I did this and you reacted in this way” but the wording was different.
He probably thought I did that deliberately. It just happened to be how the words came out for me and how I wrote it down.
In our group sessions we did exercises of sitting in a spot for a certain amount of time and writing down the sights, sounds, smells and so on of what we experienced. I’m pretty sure this first poem is an example of me trying to imitate that exercise on my own.
I sat on the porch of Terrell Hall, as seen below, and recorded what I saw. I found the picture on the school’s website. It should help set the scene as you read, especially the light fixture reference. My favorite part of this poem is the last three lines.
Observations at Terrell Hall
The front porch of Terrell
Is marked by bulky Corinthian columns,
Ants follow the leader through the maze
Created by red square tiles
Obeying the rules.
Peeling white paint on
Crackling air conditioners spitting out choking heat,
Lights extending out of the walls by the elbow,
Greet the cellphone-busy bystander.
Cars rumble in the nearby street.
Sirens compete against old, squeaky brakes.
Wilting daisies and leaves, scattered
For a scavenger hunt, rest around the Dogwood.
Its shadow is whole
Except the cookie-cutter squares and circles of light
Randomly placed along the stiff, bushy grass.
Cell phone talker!
What will winter wipe away?
Will the grass fade from green
To dark brown,
A hint of salt on the blades?
Will the ants burrow in their hills
Or take up shelter in the columns?
Will the heater drool cold air
On a person’s leather jacket?
What about the chairs?
Will they get frostbite and bleed
There was a guided assignment in this next poem. I remember it being set up as an if-then type approach, but we were allowed to interpret it in our own way.
If you are my sister
Whisper for advice.
Call out my name at 3:24
Before the birds
Because a spider claimed your pillow.
When arguments turn black and blue,
Curl up on my bed
And share jokes.
If a lazy Saturday arrives,
Don’t just drive
Old country roads
Watching dust flip up
Through the rearview mirror
Maybe a new movie is playing.
When you’re complaining
About no one to talk to
Maybe you’re not alone.
Records show I initially wrote this in June, a month before the Write Moves program. But I guess I took it out and decided to make some adjustments since there was a revision date that coincided with the program.
It’s a celebration of many little moments and experiences that are often taken for granted or that you later miss as you advance through different stages in life. And I tried to be “cute” by changing up that phrase for the title.
I used to view a poem like this feeling like it’s not really a poem but a list. But it does require phrasing things a certain way, choosing images to focus on and so forth. So there is an element of craft involved. It’s a text-based collection of images and experiences which I now find pretty cool.
Although the tornado reference might be a bit jolting when paired with an activity that, for me, is the epitome of innocence and being carefree. But when you’re young, you do often make up pretend scenarios that are meant for fun yet seem dangerous.
Note: This was written with all the lines together, but I decided to break it out a bit. I added paragraph breaks so that the individual thoughts were easier to read and recognize. I like it this way. It offers more of a chance to pause and reflect on each item before moving on to the next one.
For Granted Taken
Life springing from dead winter grass.
An unexpected hug.
Giggles in the middle of the night,
Bouncing questions back and forth
A two-month-old’s tiny breath,
Single heart beat.
A shaky step.
Twisted grins on a rainy day,
Empty, rusted trunks full of useful items.
Freedom to choose
Seeing thunder jump between clouds,
Stunning the ground beneath.
Pinpricks of water dotting feet.
Cooling breezes in sticky summer droughts.
Listening to rain thumping on the roof
Acting out individual plays.
Youthful arms imitating the wings of a plane
Spinning in an open field
As if stuck in a tornado.
Blowing on sudsy water
While taking a bath,
Surrounded by toy boats,
Army men drowning.
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