Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Poem Prompt 1

Larson's Holstein Bull

Death waits inside us for a door to open.
Death is patient as a dead cat.
Death is a doorknob made of flesh.
Death is that angelic farm girl
gored by the bull on her way home
from school, crossing the pasture
for a shortcut. In the seventh grade
she couldn't read or write. She wasn't a virgin.
She was "simpleminded," we all said.
It was May, a time of lilacs and shooting stars.
She's lived in my memory for sixty years.
Death steals everything except our stories.

Jim Harrison
from In Search of Small Gods.
© Copper Canyon Press, 2009.

Buy at The Book Depository

The above poem arrived in my inbox courtesy of The Writer’s Almanac. Apart from being astonished at the wonderful metaphors in the first three lines, I was surprised at how ‘real’ the story of the young girl killed by the bull felt to me, even though I didn’t grow up in a rural area and have never known, or heard about, anyone who had a similar accident.

But the phrases ‘on her way home from school’ and ‘she couldn’t read or write’ and ‘she was simpleminded’ resonate with me so strongly that the girl becomes someone I feel I might have known. It’s true that simple language is capable of communicating strong emotion.

The first poem prompt for May is to write a poem modelled on Jim Harrison’s poem, i.e. create three fresh metaphors in the first three lines, BUT use the following opening phrase instead:

Life waits inside us…

Write well.


Keith Wallis said...


Life waits inside us a pearl in the making, the itch of grit.
Life is the breaking open of blossom on an Easter morning.
Life is optimistic as a child with an unopened present.
Life is the giggle of the three year old
infectious as ‘flu
peek-a-boo-ing on a swing .
He has no words beyond the monosyllable,
he walks with difficulty -
balances precariously on unreliable legs
and the only thing that runs is his nose.
He may never tackle advanced mathematics
but he steals the gloom away with the glint in his eye,
life lives in his grin.

Author’s note: Finn is my grandson and has global development delay.

Martin Cordrey said...

Life waits inside us

Life waits inside us like a mother
with too much to do
waiting for the repair man who is late
and never calls to say sorry
who fails to bring the correct part on arrival
three minutes before its time to leave
and collect the children from school
who will moan about having a bad day
who will ignore their father when he returns
with half a pig draped over his shoulder
from a his day at the office
who having walked in the door at seven
will kiss your cheek
at nine twenty five and say hi,
how’s trix?

annie clarkson said...

El Mouradi, Hammamet

Life waits inside us until 9.27 on an August morning,
It falls from the orange tree outside our hotel window,
hides in a newspaper on a tray waiting to be read.
I overhear you practicing the words ‘I’m having an affair’
when you assume I’m swimming backstroke,
but I crept back to bring you sweet breads.
I leave them on a side table, water dripping from my hair
onto the floor, and I lock the door behind me,
swim thirty lengths with my eyes closed.
It is ten days until our flight home,
a time for hibiscus tea and dusty walks.
Life waits inside us, until we break.

Martin Cordrey said...


Life waits inside us like a wagon train
about to be circled by a hundred ranting
Cherokee’s, where the hounds are chanting
ballads, clouds are skipping like children

as the cavalry shoot their horses, safe
in the knowledge they’ll not need them; raw
recruits are crunching their fists as the faith
ful campaigners save up single bullets for

later, an old lady in a shawl reads from Kings
as beautiful Rebecca flips hair from her shoulder
whilst the clatter of pounding hooves brings
this silence to a halt, is growing louder,

approaching at speed, becoming unbearable
and so again yet another day begins.

Brigita said...

Life waits inside us like a big cat
ready to pounce, sink in its claws.
Life is that choking pain
when you hear the words –
It's not you. It's me.
Life is the knee-weakening relief
that the lump is benign.
It’s the double shift when you’re dead beat,
the running nose of your child
and his sloppy kiss, the heart ache
and the flowers your love buys you
when you move in. It’s the new
madly expensive shoes and the free coupon
the grey-haired neighbor gives you.
Life holds you hostage until the end,
but you let it detain you willingly,
refusing to let go, to be released.

Anonymous said...

Life waits inside us

Like a Sunday morning
peeling back light
to find a winter sky
drowned by dull rain
and driftwood stars
gathered at the window
you think perhaps
you should let them in
these damp stars, that once
you wished upon
on another Sunday, summer
huddled in the dunes
moulded skin to skin
to your midnight lover
no, close the curtains
stop and think
how long it takes
for stars to dry out
to cease their drip, drip, drip.

© echulme@hotmail.com

martin cordrey said...

Maddie (waits inside us)

The lost
tie ribbons of silk
around the trunk

of a tree
who slips it over
his eyes

like a blindfold,
as do all
the adjacent trees,

until a Forrest
of yellow
see’s nothing

and the lost
remain missing.

Alyss Dye said...

Life waits inside us

Life waits inside us for a ribbon to be cut.
In May, we walk round the corner
and it’s there –
ice-cream chimes,
warm pavement,
a man resting on a garden wall
with his face turned to the sun.

Life is the lottery ticket.
It is tea and toast in the recovery room.
A mistake corrected.

Life is work and a day off work.
It‘s the funeral tea.
After weeks of sleepless nights
it surprises us,
like a baby’s first smile.

Sharra said...

Life waits inside us for the right moment
to escape on a seagull’s scream.

Life is skin on skin to begin –
and the sting of a razor cut.

Life was when you rushed to me
with each cry, before the cord was stretched

so thin you barely feel its pull, and I know
if I tug even gently it will snap, leaving me

on the pebbles, while you drift forward
on the edge of the outgoing tide.

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sorry about all the deleted comments, I was trying to post another but the formatting just won't work.