Saturday, January 19, 2008

January Poem Prompt 2 - Seeing what isn't there

Susan Wicks's latest collection, De-iced, closes with a wonderful series of poems on 'the fictional painter Graham Mickleworth', each poem written in response to an imagined painting, and what I enjoy so much about these is the illusion that the poet, and by extension the reader, is standing before the paintings and examining the details.

The following poem asks us to consider a painting of a leaf that looks like a bird that looks like a leaf. Perhaps we’ve all had similar experiences, both accidental and deliberate: a sliver of plastic on the floor that looks like a slice of sunlight, or mistaking a folded jacket on a chair for a sleeping cat. Why does this happen? Do we have a need, conscious or unconscious, to make connections between things? Or is just our brain playing meaningless tricks on us?

Write a poem in which you perceive one thing as another (either accidentally or on purpose) and explore the questions this raises, what it makes you think and feel, the journey you take.


Portrait of a Leaf as Bird

How good of this small grey leaf
to pose as bird
so still in the middle of the road!

How kind not to fly away
as the artist approached,
to curb its sharp claws and beak

and let him paint leaf-as-bird
and bird-as-leaf
and put his irrelevant questions about flight

and stillness
seeing and not quite seeing
whether or not life is

feathered and wing-tip singing
and bird-brain lifted
small beating heart

or else this crumpled thing
he painted in careful shades
of grey, and brown.

Susan Wicks
from De-iced (Bloodaxe 2007)

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5 comments:

Sharra said...

Hop Picking

At the edge of my headlights,
lies the body of a pheasant, still
breathing. For a second
I see its tortured face
and slow the car, ready to end
its suffering. The night air clogs
my lungs in sympathy
with its final gasps.

But a change in angle
morphs the heap of broken feathers
bleeding wings and twisted feet
into the muddy folds of an empty sack.
Its rough-grained fabric
is squashed into the ground
and I can smell the buds it spilt.

Yesterday the tractors trundled between the hop fields
and the black corrugated barn.
Like Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail behind them,
their vibrations send cocoons of green
shivering to the ground.
A loose-stitched sack splits,
the Hessian tumbles free
to flap at the side of the road, until flattened
by the tyres of an oncoming car.

Leila said...

oops not quite the layout I wanted I'll try again...Lynne maybe you can delete the one above


Bohemian Gift

So this is my cosmic connection
a fragment from a meteor shower, energy
in the palm of my hand
I hold it to the light
immediately its irregular shape
becomes a face and I’m fascinated
by this mysterious green gem-
a grail stone
a spirit guide
or simply a piece of glass.

Lynne Rees said...

No problem - that's gone. Thanks for posting, Leila.

Abi said...

Consulting Room

She tries not to breathe in his madness,
she might swallow it and not know
if it is his or hers.

Leaning further back, she sees
the disappointment in his eyes
but does not breathe through her mouth -

she had made that mistake before.
Inhaling through the mouth
was just asking for trouble.

Her chair was damp, discoloured,
drenched in lunacy, she would have to remember
not to touch her face until she has washed her hands.

The arms of the chair are worse.
She worries about leaving the room
without using the door knob.

His talking breaks her thoughts -
had she accidentally let his craziness into her mouth?
She gasped wanting to put her hands over her it,

but there was insanity on her fingertips.
There was fear in her face and the doctor
recognised the madness in her eyes.

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