Wednesday, July 07, 2010

It's that time of year... for plums

...and also when the French start to wind down, kick back, and close up : ))

July and August tend to be the months when you don't try and get anything done. And here on the Cote d'Azur your life is definitely more stress free if you can stay off the roads as much as possible.

Last year AppleHouse Poetry closed up for two months too, but my spell in Wales in June ate up so much time that I'd rather keep going for at least part of July. I hope you'll keep going with me.

Recently, I've been reading William Carlos Williams' poem, 'This Is Just to Say'. It's a poem I know well, but each time I've re-read it, it's felt as enigmatic, and as inviting, as the first time.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Maybe I've become re-enchanted by this poem because we have a wild and very old plum tree in our garden here. The fruit is small, but incredibly juicy. You can not bite into them without an explosion!

Let's use the Williams' poem as a model, and let's 'talk back' to it.

1. Keep the same title: This is just to say...
2. Write three stanzas of 4 lines
3. The first two stanzas state something that has happened
4. The third stanza offers a response of some kind.

What do you think? I hope you'll join in. I'm already thinking of something I want to write.

Looking forward to reading your poems.
L x


Erin Lee Ware said...

This is Just to Say

I just put away
your folded clothes,
warm from the dryer,
on the shelves in our closet.

Stacks of t-shirts,
and shorts.

I have to say,
I like touching
the fabrics
that hold your skin.

jem24 said...

(Just to say, I thought yours was really lovely Erin!)

This is Just to Say...

Thank you
for lending me
your shoes
the other night.

We walked. Miles
too big.
Better than the confines
of heels.

And you, reduced to socks,
claim you are no gentleman
when we both know
you are.

Keith Wallis said...

The white dress
has yellowed
the shine gone
from treebark satin.

Forty years
does that to fabric
even hidden
in the attic case.

The shine is trapped
in fading photos
your closeness
is still fresh.

Helen said...

This is Just to Say

I have thrown away
the last possession
you touched
and held.

It was a childish jewel
An attempt to hold onto
playfulness and light.

Forgive me
for letting you go.
You were too sweet to keep,
too cold to hold.

mrtin cordrey said...

This is just to say
(a nonsense poem)

the sun has risen
for another day
I love piano’s, yet
never learnt to play

I love the violins
haunting screech
it’s a melody
just out of reach

the moon is full
another day is done
still my love for you
is a beating piccolo

Stephen Fryer said...

This is just to say

I have put away
the stones
that were left on
the lawn

that we used
as chess pieces
in the days before
you left

Forgive me
I could no longer bear
to see
such metaphors

Lynne Rees said...

This is Just to Say

I still have the two clementines
you drew happy faces on, three years ago
when we were living in the small apartment
with the noisy floors

before we bought the big house
with its big garden, before you hurt your hand,
before we became tired
and felt far so far away from home.

They have shrunken and puckered.
Their smiles are crooked.
We can forgive each other the bad times.
Their scent is bitter but rich.

Lynne Rees said...

I'm sure that like me you could feel the power in the deceptively simple poems people posted in response to this prompt.

@ Erin: this reminded me of a secret. Something that could only be said or admitted within the confines of a poem. Lovely.

@ jem: This is such a kind poem about a kind act. The world needs more kindness, and if there's ever an anthology call for submissions on the theme of Kindness' this one should definitely be in it.

@ Keith: lovely, and painful, contrasts here, Keith. I felt there was a lot being suggested by the image of the dress being 'hidden' and 'trapped'. Very subtle.

@ Helen: this is very poignant. I find the tone of the middle stanza ambiguous, which I like, an attempt to rationalise something profoundly affective. The close of the poem is very sad too - the letting go combined with the request for forgiveness.

@ Martin - nonsense poems are fun to write. I think if you could regularise the rhyme scheme in this one (it gets a bit wonky with the last stanza) it would be lovely.

@ Stephen: you're a poet's poet, Stephen. I love this poem. The pacing is superb and the ending wonderfully surprising and satisfying. I hope you're getting your work out there.

Thank you everyone for sharing your words.

Virginia said...

This is Just to Say

I'm leaving you the house
it comes with bills
but the heating's fixed.

Rooks have stolen the thatch
to build their nests
but the roof is sound.

Forgive me I'm tired,
ran out of time.
Can you change the sheets?

Martin Cordrey said...

This is just to say

our cat has died, of boredom probably,
with all nine lives still in tack, so I’m left
to wonder if she’ll ever meet Oscar
in feline heaven; he who lost lives

as quick as ships flying the Ensign, Swastika –
Bismarck, Cossack, Ark Royal...
Black as an oil soaked sea, foam white fringe,
a titanic story of the unsinkable Moggy,

finally laid to rest in a Belfast sailor’s home.
A cat who I suspect could never speak English
or German, nor understand how man can kill man
whilst serving beneath the banner of God.

Lynne Rees said...

@ Virginia - I love this poem! Its minimalism says so much, and the vivid imagery of the middle stanza is a perfect foil to the more direct opening and closing ones, but which are equally suggestive.

@ Martin - this is clever. I like how it appears to be a light-hearted poem, yet the lightheartedness is masking a profound idea/theme that emerges at the end. Great.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Well, it is too late for a comment,
but I still want to participate in
this gathering of fine poetics:

That Is Just To Say

Fire out beyond the Gulf horizon,
leaving riggers and roustabouts drowned
as the massive steel girders buckled
and the mighty platform toppled,

dropping like a thousand shiploads of anvils,
plunging headlong rapidly down along
those cold oceanic miles to the
wellhead gone totally berserk,

gushing crude like a wild petroleum god,
soon coating the coastline with
a thick tar baby frosting, leaving floating
black death as BP’s summer gift.

Glenn Buttkus

Lu said...


The veggies and
fruits are set
on the table

for a deft
hand to cut
and carve
into a formless

Bear with me
you say
it is more of mind
than knife
in the making of

(Late again)

Lynne Rees said...

Hi there Glen: I like the energy of this and it could work better away from the constraints of the form for the exercise. E.g. let it run across the page in long lines, perhaps?

Hello lu: lateness is a virtue here in France : )

I like this - its pace and its closure. I wasn't quite so keen on 'formless form' as that feels very vague in comparison with the direct language elsewhere. Also I wondered about having 'of it' on the last line, as there's a nice ambiguity, or play on the language, in breaking the line after 'making'/

See you in September.

y said...

this is just to say
in five easy
steps, with

i have
folded the
you made –

so that even when you
cut holes into it
you leave a few
lovely surprises

Glenn Buttkus said...

Great entry Y.
For those of you like myself
who can't get enough of
Yi Ching Lin's poetry,
clink on her link.
She writes a new poem
daily; what a work horse.