Wednesday, December 05, 2007

December Poem Prompt 1 - The End

My first challenge, as we're coming up towards the end of the year, is to write a poem about endings, or one particular ending.

Once you've decided on your subject matter, allow yourself to free-write around the material before trying to shape it into a poem. Don't edit and select during this process; try to be as honest as you can with the page. Once you've done enough free writing, try and identify the dominant emotional tone and be aware of that as you shape the poem on the page? Is there a tension to the material? Do you need short lines that cut the reader's breath to reflect that? Is there a burst of energy? Will longer exuberant lines support that? Do you need the 'containment' and control of a traditional form, e.g. a sonnet? Whatever you decide, try and work consciously with the form and let it reciprocate with the subject matter.

Post your poems via the 'comments' facility below and I look forward to reading them over the next few weeks.

In the meantime here's a poem of mine about one particular type of ending.

Late

My mother said Girl
you’ll be late for your own funeral
.
She was right
but who could blame me for wanting
a last look at the waves
the smell of salt.

And you know the timelessness
of the sea and what was meant to be
a glimpse became three hours.

I picked up the sensible court shoes
and ran along the quay
through the town’s busy streets
regretting the choice
of Friday afternoon, the flesh coloured tights
fraying on my feet
but what struck me most
was the effortlessness of that run –
the silence of my heart
not a single squeeze of lung.

As I cornered the crematorium gates
and saw them hunched together
in the porch I thought of running
straight past their stricken faces
and across the memorial lawns
as if this was what I was made for

as if this was how I’d always
planned to spend the day.

From Learning How to Fall (Parthian 2005)

16 comments:

jacqueline said...

Wow, the first line pulled me right in, then I ran all the way with you to the crematorium gates, surprised and with a great sense of freedom. Maybe this is how death feels, our own, I mean.
Thank you.
Jacqueline

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Jacqueline - thanks so much for letting me know this. 'ran all the way with you' - I can't think of a better response I'd like to have to a poem I've written. You've made my day!

leila said...

Lynne a very fine poem...here is a not so fine one written from the prompt...well someone has to be first!

Without A Trace

On a midnight road
the moon frets
spins its love-breath
to wrap around them
protect them from the stare
of car beams and cat’s eyes

And hands that
built walls, gathered
shells and strummed guitar,
now juggle words to slice
through silence, blur
the air, as two
ghosts walk alone.

gillian moyes said...

I really like the voice of the mother in this poem - it makes me smile the way she begins 'Girl..' with such authority. I also wonder whether she was playing on the word 'late' or if she didn't consider its implication. I guess we could write hundreds of poems from the things our mothers said. I have one of my own to post in response but I'm having difficulty typing it in this little box! It keeps breaking the lines in the wrong place. Help.

Lynne Rees said...

Thanks for posting your poem, Leila.

Hi Gillian

try cutting and pasting
your poem into the box
rather than typing it in…
… like this.

Abi said...

Dear Lynne, thanks for sending me the information about this site - it's great.
Here's my offering for a windswept December afternoon.
Best wishes, Abi

i. Low Season

Arcades and burger bars –
a shanty town in the winter wind
lies empty in expectation
of the summer sun.

Wall’s ice-cream flags
thrash on poles
promising a sun-baked future.

Coffee on the dashboard steams
up the window, you draw a
smiley face which she rubs out
reaching for a biscuit.

ii. Camber Sands

Sunday, posed
snapshot, last shot,
hand out of focus
as if she knew she was leaving.

She asked me to give you
this grain of sand.
She will not be coming back.

gillian moyes said...

Hi Lynne

Here's my poem in response to Late



No rose bed, no gardener

Light as a child in her bones,
we’re lifting her in linked arms
from bed to commode.

The blue nightie furled to her spine
exposing the red buds of bed sores,
she tenses at the glimpse of a face

in the patio window. It’s OK Mum
just reflections, says my sister. Well
she replies, now dignity’s intact

it’s a bloody good job we never
had a gardener

and gives us the old look – that flicker
of laughter in her eyes, her dry
throat rattling with chuckles.

My shoulders shaking, I dare
to glance at my sister
like that morning in school assembly

and she’s tickled pink with keeping it in
which doesn’t help me or our mother
who might slip like a soapy baby.

Stop it Mum or we’ll drop you,
I say, don’t make us laugh.
It hurts.


Gillian Moyes

Lynne Rees said...

Thanks so much for posting your poems, Abi and Gill. There'll be a couple more prompts/ideas posted before the end of the month too.

Sharra said...

Here's my response to the prompt. I don't think its really finished yet, but if I don't post it, I'll keep tweaking rather than moving on to the next one.

End Titles

My pulse still thumps
to the beat of fast-paced car chases
and explosions.

His arm lays heavily over my shoulders,
the bone on bone of bodies
that don’t quite fit yet.

The silence between us stretches and twists
blotting out the rustling murmur
of the exiting audience.

His stare of expectation and
hesitation keeps me in my seat,
and I smile.

His kiss tastes of popcorn,
and I can feel his pulse thumping
in time with mine.

Lynne Rees said...

I love reading how different people interpret the same theme. I'm going to enjoy coming back to all of these at the end of the month.

margaret said...

Have been trying to post an 'endings' poem with no success - either writing direct in the box or cutting and pasting - neither works? Any hints on what I might be doing wrong? Sorry about this!

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Margaret - I'm typing this straight into the comments box...

and

this
is ‘cut’ from Word
and pasted
in here

Are you typing in the word verification as requested? You have to do that before your comment is accepted.

Let me know how you get on. If all fails, send it to me by email and I'll post it for you.
Best
Lynne

margaret said...

The day he left

We rattled down to Tilbury Docks
in John’s old Morris Minor, as though
heading to the Mecca ballroom
or some distant pub that someone knew
somewhere north of Luton,
but this time with a suitcase in the boot.

Like children round a maypole,
we clutched the coloured streamers
from the ship until they snapped
and his face was just a dot upon the deck,
last words lost beneath the siren’s blast
and relentless screeching of the gulls.

Our feet clattered through the customs hall
empty now of jostling emigrants gripping
£10 tickets to a promised land. Tannoy music
still blared out, mocking our stifled tears
as we faced the chilling silence of the car
and the long drive home.

Margaret Beston

margaret said...

Thanks Lynne !

Mary Rose said...

Elegy for my Brother

I’ve seen him for the last time,
his brilliant mind still steeped
in the classics he loved.
I’m only waiting now for the telephone call
to tell me he’s gone, bring me the ending.

There’ll be a space in my life
like a cupboard or drawer I shall go to
finding it empty,
a voice that’s no longer there at
the end of the phone, so eager and funny,
enthusing, explaining, confident that I’ll understand.

His war-time letters from India,
are bundled away in the roof.
Later, I’ll re-read the faded ink scrawl
from a soldier, nineteen years old.

Will there be another day?
a night? Am I wishing him to go, now
that there’s nothing left,
wanting the ending?

It comes with the steady ring
of the telephone bell.

Sarah Venart said...

I've just now had a wonderful 15 minutes reading your blog, Lynne. God I miss you. And this is such a beautiful poem. My mother died this past summer, Lynne. Your poem! It was so much how I felt and still feel.

Love you.