Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year

... to everyone who follows this blog, or has just come across it accidentally. I hope you enjoy what AppleHouse will deliver during 2010.

It's too early in the year to apply too much pressure to ourselves, so let's take it easy as far as writing a poem is concerned, and just play with lists (a little like the 2010 Wishlist, but with a different focus). Anything we write feeds into our writing practice... except emails! They just make us feel as if we're writing : )

Write a list of 10 things you have never done. Be playful, bizarre, honest, emotional, intellectual... don't try and control your writing.

Then close the list with something you have done during the course of your life, beginning with the phrase 'But once I...'. Describe this thing in detail, what happened, how you felt.

Here's my own spontaneous attempt. I look forward to reading yours.

I have never travelled across a desert.
I have never been lost.
I have never learned to tango
or how to fly a plane
or how to tell when a man is lying.
I have never left the house and kept on walking for days.
I have never lied about my age.
I have never tried to tightrope walk
or hang upside down from an acrobat’s bar.
I have never slept on sand.
But once, in a dream, I flew,
my feet lifting from the ground the way
a balloon rises in the air
and in those moments before I woke
I was incredible.

Write well.


Fran Hill said...

I have never worn a ball-gown which sparkled under chandeliers
Or eaten grilled sardines while watching a Mediterranean sunset.
Nor have I dived.
I have never climbed a snowy slope while attached to a rope and friend
Or danced the quick-step, the tango, the waltz or the rumba.
Nor have I read ‘Gigi’.
I have never climbed into the basket of an air balloon
Or thrown blue-patterned, cracked china at a wall just for the hell of it.
Nor have I sipped oysters from shells.
Nor have I drunk tequila with my head thrown back.

But once,
At least once,
I said I would do all of these things
Some day.

Lynne Rees said...

Fran - thank you for posting. Sometimes the simplest of exercises produce the most powerful writing.

Fran Hill said...

Lynne - the exercise has certainly provided me with a list of New Year's Resolutions to rival any other! Thanks for posting the idea.

Lora said...

Definitely new to this site but intrigued by the idea of it. Here is my amateur attempt.

I have never made love in an airport.
I have never camped on the beach.
I have never carried a child inside
Or climbed Mount Everest.
I have never learned the proper way to use my camera
Or seen Paris in the Spring.
I have never enjoyed a math class.
I have never gone swimming in a lake
Nor have I ever felt good in a bathing suit.
I have never written a book.
But once I sat alone on a deserted beach
And made peace with myself and the world around me
Just before the sun dipped into the water.
In those moments I felt like nothing could be wrong.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Lora, and welcome.

There's nothing amateur about your attempt at all - it's precise and evocative. What I love about this kind of exact, personal writing is how it fires up a reader, evokes their own memories. And that kind of communication is so rewarding.

Thanks so much for posting.

Keith Wallis said...

I haven't made a citizens arrest,
nor caught the lout
that flytipped on the drive.
I have never worn purple with intent
bar the occasional patch of bruise.
I take too long to make friends.
I haven't read 'The Silmarrilion' so I can't complain that Tolkein never read me.
I keep secrets, where the knowlege would hurt then suffer that hurt, alone.
I drove a car, twice, before wisdom
suggested that lead feet were a problem and travelling a chore.
I haven't eaten passion fruit
though the fruit of passion
still draws upon my purse.
But I am ME
and no-one else can make that claim.

martin cordrey said...

Cactus flower

I’ve never experienced an earthquake
I have never cooked a wedding cake
I have never swam with a grey dolphin
I’ve never conducted a Christian sermon
I have never, or will, carry a fetus inside
I’ve never worked out why you lied

I have never heard a soldier die
I have never seen the space shuttle
launch into the sky
I have never watched a cactus flower
but once I walked the red carpet
close to Princess Diana

dazzled by her aura, and her fame,
glad I’ll never be touched by that flame

Erin Lee Ware said...

I have never been to the Grand Canyon.
or to Niagara Falls.
I have never seen Mount Rushmore
or painted a face before.
I have never gotten away with a lie;
though I’ve never regretted telling the truth either.
I’ve never thought too much of myself,
or believed I deserve a lot.
Hence why I’ve never flown in a hot-air balloon.

I have never even dreamt about flying.

But once I dreamt about swinging from the rafters of an old house,
its half-peeled roof revealing the black night sky,
and I swung so high, my toes felt the heat of the stars.

Fran Hill said...

I'm really enjoying these as they pop up in my email. I especially love Keith's Tolkein line and the beautiful ending of Erin's. I'm going to use this exercise at school if that's okay with Lynne ...

Lynne Rees said...

Keith, Martin and Erin - thank you for your posts. Like Fran I have found the poems posted to this particular prompt moving, entertaining, thoughtful, and above all sincere.

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their thoughts, feelings and memories.

And of course, Fran, feel free to use this exercise in your classroom. If you wanted to post any responses that you really enjoy, please do so, as long as their authors are happy for you to do so.

Stephen Fryer said...

I have never held my greatgrandson
without wonder.
I have never held my greatgranddaughter
without holding my breath.
I have never dropped a greatgrandchild

But I have prayed, and
I never thought I would.

Lynne Rees said...

Stephen! Happy New Year, and thanks for posting. I live in fear of dropping babies in that hand-over stage from one set of arms to another. Why does that always seem so difficult : )

Mary Rose said...

I’ve never walked on hands and knees, slept in a dog’s kennel.
I’ve never climbed on a rooftop and jumped off
I’ve never played a piano concerto.
I’ve never tamed a lion.
I’ve never run from here to there and come in first.
I’ve never smoked two cigs at once.
I’ve never saved a life.
I’ve never used a false passport
I’ve never filled my garden truck with the contents of my wardrobe and burnt them.
I’ve never ridden a camel into Maidstone
But once, dared by a crazy friend
I entertained a queue on the pavement outside the Old Vic
and felt I’d conquered the world.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Mary Rose. Lovely to see you here again. And I am dying to know WHAT you did to entertain the queue outside the Old Vic??!! Maybe you could change the end of the poem so it shows that more precisely? Can't wait to hear!

jem said...

I found this blog at the end of last year, but was saving it to kick start my creativity throughout 2010. Here goes…

I’ve never crossed an ocean
or felled a tree
I’ve never blown glass
or seen Nirvana
never had chicken pox or measles
never fallen from grace
I’ve never touched elephant hide
or held a dying bird
I’ve never seen the sun rise and remembered it
and I’ve never forgotten where I was when I heard
But I have entered an ill lit room, in a public place, and felt like I’d come home

Billie Dee said...

Hi Lynne!

I'm glad I stumbled across your blog -- found the link on TRG :D Here goes:

I never saw the green flash at sunset.

I never rode an appaloosa bareback.

I never finished that hand-laced leather wallet
at Girl Scout camp or recovered from my first crush
on the 18-year-old counselor named Thumper.

I never painted an orgasm.

I never faked an apology I didn’t come to regret.

I never wanted that white tulle veil
or the pile of useless wedding gifts
I never had the nerve to exchange
at Macy’s like my sister did.

I never fostered an orphan, though I often fell in love
with the wild-eyed strays in the alley.

I never tasted my own menses, and now that I’m a crone,
never will.

But once, at the age of fifteen, I lied to my granny
on her death bed, promising to care
for my parents when they were old and infirm,
while what I was planning was an escape from home
into the pale mango-scented arms
of a reckless muse, a life of pleasure and lust.

And that lie bound me without mercy to my mother
in her last feeble decade after the stroke, to the grind
and filial resentments of the faithful oldest daughter.

I have grown old.

I’ll never ask such a thing of my child.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello jem: the vivid details of the 'never done' things contrast really well with the enigmatic last two lines. I wonder what the news was in the penultimate line? And where the 'ill-lit room' was? But there's an undoubted relief in the last phrase, in the coming home, and, for some reason, maybe because of the absence of light and the contrast of the activities that have gone before, I hear 'silence'. An intriguing poem.

Hello, Billie! Thanks so much for posting here. It's such a sensuous poem: I adore the 'pale mango-scented arms of a reckless muse'. I think it works equally well as a metaphor for writing as for a physical relationship.

I also like how you've expanded some of the events too - the leather wallet, the wedding gifts, the death-bed scene. And how the poem projects into the future at the end, into another person's life. It makes the poems feel so encompassing, expansive.

Thank you, both.

Mary Rose said...

Hi Lynne Many thanks for your response to my last entry. As far as I can remember (over 60 years ago now) I just danced madly up and down the queue, singing 2nd w.w. songs, Run, Rabbit Run run run, We’re going to hang out the washing on the Seigfreid Line,
You’re in the Army Mr. Brown and the like! I was lucky not to have been moved on! Good-natured response, clapping and joining in! Lots of laughter.

Jayne said...

What a lovely idea. I came here via Fran Hill's blog, and couldn't resist having a go:

I have never lived by myself all alone
I have never yet had my own home
I haven’t mastered speaking a second language with ease
I couldn’t possibly ever eat and enjoy mushy peas
I have never lived in plaster from breaking a bone
I haven’t yet ever signed up for a bank loan
I don’t have a credit card with which to rack up fees
I have never owned anything that needed a lease
I don’t understand all the apps on my phone
No one has ever sat me on a golden magical throne

But I have invented worlds in paper just for me
Perfect places where my characters run free
I can sculpt their landscapes; I can make them speak
I can make them alive for your eyes to read
I am happy with all the things that I have never
For the chance to create words that may last forever


Lynne Rees said...

Hi Mary Rose. How about the following to end your poem then?

"But once, dared by a crazy friend, I danced madly up and down outside the Old Vic singing Run, Rabbit Run and felt I’d conquered the world."

I like the contrast of a rabbit running away and you conquering the world : ) But the other WW2 songs work too.

Hello, Jayne - welcome to AppleHouse and thank you for posting your poem. All good wishes for your writing landscapes in 2010.

rnga said...

Not quite as spontaneous as the prompt, but....


I've never tickled the chin or tummy
of a jaguar, or driven a brand-new red tractor.
Never sniffed a submarine's cabin;
nor swam with one tamed, or better still, one wild
but cheeky dolphin. I have not skydived,
unless you count leaping off rocks
five mitres high, into a river, a scared boy.
And don't talk of exploring the entrails
of earth's caves - haven't done, won't do!
Never have I gone without food
and drink, for longer than half a day - I think -
even less time than that for amour.....
only kidding. And though I've never, I doubt I will
ever, float up and down,
researching, the sunnier sides of our moon,
never mind walking on water in serenity.

But just once, I sat right upfront
of a Boeing, my birds-eye viewing
way below, a malachite island
lapped by seas of turquoise-blue;
somehow the tonnages of machine
and flesh, thrust-through in jaunty air,
absurdly. Another routine day
for the captain and crew, as I
quietly savoured and marveled.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello again, Ramon. This is wonderful:

'...the tonnages of machine
and flesh, thrust-through...'

Maybe there's a short poem here just about that experience, the plane, the flight, the view? It's such a powerful image.

rnga said...

Thank you Lynne; and I'll explore a poem on the experience.

Deborah said...

I haven't learned to fly
Never travelled to New Zealand
I didn't do what I could have done
Raising my children
I never told her I was sorry
While she could still hear me
I haven't learned to be content
Exactly where I am
Nor learned enough to get the letters
That I’d like to have behind my name
I haven't had a drawing class
Although I'd love to paint his face
I never played the Revolutionary Etude
Or Fantasie Impromptu
I didn't ever understand
Pure Math
Nor why I am so restless
But once I knew what love really was, it never left me.

Fran Hill @ Being Miss said...

I really liked this, Deborah. It's moving.

maggie said...

I have never ridden a camel to see the pyramids.
I have never owned a new vehicle by choice.
I have never would have believed I would like Rving.
I have never been to Kauai,
or Greece
or Venice, yet.
I have never felt comfortable swimming the front crawl & the side breathing,
or riding a motorcycle.
I have never thought it would be so challenging to acknowledge God in my life.
I have never in my wildest dreams thought inner silence could be so beautiful.
But once I experienced nirvana I knew there is so much more than meets the eye.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Deborah - yes, I agree with Fran, the last line of the poem wraps the reader with relief and gratitude. All the not done things are put into perspective with the entrance of love.

Thanks so much for posting.

Hello maggie - I really like the way your 'nevers' transform into 'gains' in the last few lines. Thank you for adding your poem to this prompt.