Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December Poem Prompt 2 - Frost

Choosing a resonant word and free-writing around it to see where it leads us can often result in the early draft of a poem. Try doing that with frost. Think about the physical aspects (e.g. a winter landscape, icing on a cake, the artificial spray we add to windows and indoor trees at this time of year), the emotional suggestions (e.g. distance, rejection, grief) and the phonetic quality of the word too (the light-heartedness of the f, the sibilance of s that can have the attraction of a whisper or the hostility of a snake, and the 'tink' of the final consonant). Words live in our mouths not just in our minds.

Here's a poem by the wonderful Raymond Carver from his essential Collected Poems:

Yesterday, Snow

Yesterday, snow was falling and all was chaos.
I don’t dream, but in the night I dreamed
a man offered me some of his whiskey.
I wiped the mouth of the bottle
and raised it to my lips.
It was like one of those dreams of falling
where, they say, if you don’t wake up
before you hit the ground,
you’ll die. I woke up! Sweating.
Outside, the snow had quit.
But my God, it looked cold. Fearsome.
The windows were ice to the touch
when I touched them. I got back
in bed and lay there the rest of the night,
afraid I’d sleep again. And find
myself back in that dream…
The bottle rising to my lips.
The indifferent man
waiting for me to drink and pass it on again.
A skewed moon hangs on until morning,
and a brilliant sun.
Before now, I never knew what it meant
to “spring out of bed”.
..........All day snow flopping off roofs.
The crunch of tires and footsteps.
Next door, there's an old fellow shoveling.
Every so often he stops and leans
on his shovel, and rests, letting
his thoughts go where they may.
Staying his heart.
Then he nods and grips his shovel.
Goes on, yes. Goes on.

Raymond Carver
All of Us, The Collected Poems
Knopf 1998

I hope to read your poems later in the month.


Stephen said...

Puppy flies out the door and heads for the grass
expecting the usual soft green carpet, but …
crunch! Puppy brakes hard, looks back at me
over a puppy shoulder, stops. Sniffs. Licks.

How could I do this to her? she asks me.
The temperature is wrong, the taste,
the texture most of all. Crunch? How can
the nice green stuff go white and hard?

Puppy steps back, one black foot retreats
and then another, another, another, with
a fearful delicacy. A small puppy bottom
lowers itself onto the familiar carpet

she wees.

Just to make u smile
Stephen Fryer

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Stephen - nice to hear from you. And thanks for posting this - funny! I've seen it with cats, who stand there shaking a paw in turn, but with a plump puppy it would be even funnier! Hope to see you here again.

Sharra said...

That made me smile Stephen - a good start to a dull frostless day :)

margaret said...

Trying very hard to join this discussion forum ... this is a trial ... merry Xmas one and all!

margaret beston said...

Hey! it worked ...! So, would like to share a seasonal Haiku with you all:

Life is too precious
To pass through without leaving
Footprints in the snow

Margaret Beston

Lynne Rees said...

Glad you made it, Margaret. Thanks for posting and hope to see you here again.