Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poetry Prompt: Treasures

Not the pirate and island kind we usually associate with the word. But the things you would grab from your 'hypothetically' burning home before you ran out of the door. They can only be what you can carry in two hands, or in your pockets; things that won't slow you down or hinder your escape. Things that will comfort you when you realise you have lost everything else.

Let's not include people or pets; let's take it as a given that everyone you love is safe.

So, you have less that two minutes before you have to be out of that door. What calls to you?

They can be real things, or they can be invented or imaginary. They can be concrete or abstract. What matters is not factual accuracy but emotional truth. We must make our readers FEEL that it IS true.

Write well.
L x

15 comments:

gautami tripathy said...

I was calm
amidst the hissing sound
"pardon me," said Tom T. Urkee
my nearest neighbor,
"I could only save this journal."
"thanks, that is all I need,"
I said.

redjim99 said...

Amidst the fire, the smoke, the smell of
the crackling, snapping, smouldering.
The noise and the breaking glass
as breaking life, waking me.
I grabbed the single thing I needed
more than anything else.
I grabbed my life by the tail
and dragged it out the door
screaming for what was left behind.

Keith Wallis said...

As fire in cackled laughter mocks
I race in underwear and socks
to scavenge yesterdays farewells
from ash and fresh smoked tainted smells
For the thing that draws heroic dash
from this most calamatous crash
is the disc of images of friends
and good time memories it sends.

Anonymous said...

From my burning home

I would carry out the day
my father’s arm was slung
around my mother’s shoulder,
each of their two hands touching,
faces smiling in a moment
of tenderness

I would gather
those I have captured
in other life-times

and bundle up the moments
over years we’ve spent together
with our children growing
lap long to shoulder high
and beyond

Glenn Buttkus said...

Fire Dream

I could see it as I soared over the neighborhood,
arms outstretched, flying skytio and planeless;
the whole block was on fire, hundred foot flames
holding hands in ten different colors, greeting
three battalions of firefighters converging
from all sides.

The smoke was acrid, awakening me
black and gray, tasting the fireplace ash
thick in the back of my throat, my lungs
aching with nuclear sauna heat--

lurching low out of bed, finding
house slippers as I hit the floor,
grabbing the leg of my levis hanging
there on the footboard, hearing the
thunk of my car keys in a front pocket,
squirming fast on my belly
like a soldier in boot camp
with machine guns spitting fire tracers
over his head, elbows pumping frantically,
nightshirt pulled up over my nose,
eyes burning and watering,
no longer guides--

quickly into the hallway, precious yards
from the back door, pushing, crawling,
coughing, seconds more until
the unsnapping of the lock,
the joyous click of the handle turning--

escape to my deck, sitting up and pulling
on my pants, hearing glass break
and cans exploding, ecstatic that my wife
was at her mother’s for the weekend,
and our tomcat was outside on his
nightly adventure, feeling the intense heat
on my back as I stood up, turned
and faced the magma behemoth
that was tearing the juggler out of our home--

lighting up our family room window
like a New Year’s party, flame demons
rushing to every corner, devouring
furniture, curtains, albums, books, and the
knick-knacks of thirty years accumulation,
carrying out the terrible sentencing of random
trauma, the complete destruction of things material--

as the night became alive with colored rotating
lights and sirens, diesel engines throbbing,
air horns blasting, and moving off the deck
to a corner of the yard I began to shiver
with the weight of beginning again.

Glenn Buttkus

November 2010

Martin Cordrey said...

Phone Number

You smile at the matchbox size card
in my bedside draw,
an art deco lady drinking a cocktail through a straw.

On our first date you ridiculed Roy O
singing his heart out, ‘he’s so depressing’ you said,
‘his family died in a house fire’ I said.

You were a dancing Queen back then,
so I switched to club-land
on the radio, desperately keen not to offend.

The note still has your scribbled writing, the number
of your lodgings phone
before the introduction of the digit one,

your maiden name
that makes our kids giggle slightly embarrassed
that life before ‘us’ ever existed.

Emit 4 people it says on the pass,
two sad gooseberries
who talked all night long of future memories.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello everyone - Thanks for all the 'treasure' poems... I'm having a few travel problems because of snow at Gatwick Airport right now but as soon as I get back home to France (hopefully tomorrow) I'll post some responses. Hope you're all cosy if you're in the siberian parts of the UK!

catwoman said...

What I'll rescue

If it comes to it,
what I'll rescue

is evening light through
the dining room window

catching on the swinging gold
arm of the metronome

the moment I realised
I love you.




(Hmm: I had 'spindly' instead of 'swinging' at first, but wasn't sure if this would make it clear the metronome was in action rather than stationary.)

bandit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bandit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bandit said...

Hey! You cleaned up the joint. Looks nice...

We had some computer virus issues here, perhaps thus all the false starts.

I'll cheat, and offer a final polish, just as long as no one's offended. It's kinda quiet around here anyway, down at the end of the line.



*********

Oddly, laughing at myself and this hacking cough, stinging smoke welling in my nostrils, I remember, inappropriately, 'cough' as a poetic symbol for winter.

I've done my duty, a mad dash through the apartment after having been awakened in a blurry haze by the one working smoke alarm's insistent buzzing, finally assured that no one is home. A feeling of foreboding has welled in my stomach - just for a moment, I want to lose control of my bowels. Replacing this fear of death, I'm overcome by a sense of sardonic irony...

'In front of the television as a little boy, I watch a news report from Vietnam. The film is shocking, but I can't tear my eyes away from the screen.
A Buddhist monk sits totally still as he slowly becomes immolated in greasy smoke. Demonic tongues of fire lap at the air above him while his body, seemingly at peace, exorably tips over with macabre finality, a hollow, charred husk, as though his soul, if there were such a thing, wafted airily away from his body. Without seeing, I could only imagine the expression on his face.'

The acrid smoke from century old wood fills the room, billowing and falling unnaturally toward the floor. As the fiberglass ceiling tiles catch fire I realize the effect on my lungs has knocked me to my knees. Suddenly weak, I lower myself down on my belly.

Beneath the couch I can just catch a glimpse of the dog's lost toy. A cartoon animal figure with a goofy face smiles back at me. "So, that's where you went," talking to myself with a strange satisfaction.

The heat is almost unbearable. Now I hear the roaring destruction, imagining the meager extent of my life represented by the familiar belongings left going up in flames:

Some hand me down furniture, a handful of antique pieces that once belonged to grandmother, blown glass ornaments collected over decades on an artificial tree, three volumes of Japanese poetry, the only ones I own, gifts from authors from countries across the globe, books with beautiful renderings of
"ukiyo-e prints, the old family photographs on the wall...'

A small aperture of escape remains above the worn carpeting. I can see the winter light from the window lying in a pool, a beacon of safety somehow gone askew. Sighing, I lay my head down on the rough texture of the floor, and with eery calm resign myself to rest.

Loud voices, colored lights flashing, brilliant cold beneath me - looking up, I see a fireman's ruddy face.

"You're gonna be fine, buddy." An odd sensation of breathing oxygen through a rubber mask. "We're taking you down to Regions for awhile, get you checked out." Out of some compelling sense of courtesy, I offer an affirmative blink.

Looking down at my smoke-smudged form on this crisp sheet of snow, I notice the dog's toy clutched loosely in my palm. The stars are startlingly bright over the city.

Lynne Rees said...

I'm here! At last! After being knobbled by snow and stuck in Wales, I've been knobbled by flu, and just stuck.

@ gautami: I'm not sure this is working as a poem for me... there's nothing for me to ponder over...

@ redjim: I like the repetition of 'ing' sounds at the beginning. I think they add an urgency, of things continuing to happen... The end falls a little flat. Perhaps it closes the poem down too much?

@ Keith: I find the tone of this at odds with what the poem is saying. There's a jokey feel to the rhyme scheme and rhythm but the message at the end is quite serious. Perhaps if it remained funny?

@ Anonymous: I feel as if the first stanza isn't being explored enough. I love the image of the father's arm around the mother, and wanting to preserve that, but then the poem moves away from that to a more general feel. I think that moment deserves celebrating. Perhaps that's the heart of the poem and needs to be really 'shown' to the reader?

@ Glen: Really vivid and energetic description. For me, there's a problem of balance with the poem. Most of the poem is given over to the escape, with only the last line offering any dramatic release, or insight. So I don't really 'feel' the emotion of 'beginning again' as I think the reader should.

@ Martin: There's a lot working well here - the unusual rhyme scheme that unifies the poem, the precise details of the date that pulls me into the poem. The expression 'lodgings phone' sounds awkward to me. Maybe 'landline'? And I think there's a stronger last stanza. I'm sure you understand the gooseberry reference but it doesn't mean anything to me. And the last line is a bit weak in comparison to the lovely detail elsewhere.

@ catwoman: I really like this. And prefer 'swinging'. It captures a moment perfectly and the imagery feels perfect for the emotions of the poem. The only thing I'd suggest would be to avoid the repetition of the title, and make it a 'run-in title', and lineate perhaps in a block, like this:

What I'll rescue

If it comes to it,
is evening light through
the dining room window
catching on the swinging gold
arm of the metronome
the moment I realised
I love you.

I like the visual weight it gives to this small but weighty poem.

@ bandit: Yeah... you did get a bit post happy for a while : ) I think you have enough material for about 3 or 4 poems here. Maybe it could be a series, that shifts from present to past, even to future.

Thanks for all your poems. I'll be back shortly : )

bandit said...

Wasn't post happy dear - some glitches with your blog. Most of the attempted postings kicked me off the site to a where a page would note that google would not run. Odd that this didn't apply to other blogs. it wasn't my intention to post repeatedly. You might have noticed they occured over the period of a few minutes. Oh, well, we'll see what happens now.

I wouldn't call it a poem at all, nor would I intend it to be. It evolved into a free writing exercise that had to be completed, one that I attempted to hone after all the frustration of fighting the server's malfunction. I'm sorry that came at your expense!

I hope you're feeling better. I can only imagine your frustration and suffering with flight delays and illness! Terrible!

bandit said...

There we go again - "web page expired"

Oh, I know, rejecting my non-poetry!

bandit said...

What to Take


Oddly, laughing at myself and this hacking cough, stinging smoke welling in my nostrils, inappropriately, I recall 'cough' is a symbol for winter.

I've done my duty, a mad dash through the apartment after having been jolted awake by the one working smoke alarm's buzzing, assured now that no one is home. A feeling of foreboding wells in the stomach - just for a moment, I want to lose control of my bowels. A sardonic sense of irony replaces a fear of death...

'In front of the television as a little boy, I watch a news report from Vietnam. The film is shocking, but I can't tear my eyes away from the screen.
A Buddhist monk sitting totally still as slowly, exorably, he becomes immolated in greasy smoke. Demonic tongues of fire lap at the air above him while his body, seemingly at peace, tips over with macabre finality, a hollow, charred husk, as though his soul, if there were such a thing, is wafting airily away from his body. Without seeing, I can only imagine the expression on his face.'

The acrid smoke from century old wood fills the room, billowing and falling unnaturally toward the floor. As the ceiling catches fire, the smoke knocks me to my knees. Suddenly weak, I lower myself down on my belly.

Beneath the couch I can just catch a glimpse of the dog's lost toy. A cartoon animal figure with a goofy face smiles back at me. "So, that's where you went." A strange satisfaction, my voice sounds odd.

The heat is almost unbearable. Above the roaring destruction, I see the extent of my life represented by familiar belongings going up in flames:

...hand me down furniture, some antique pieces that belonged to grandmother, blown glass ornaments collected over decades on an artificial tree, a few volumes of Japanese poetry, gifts from their authors, books of ukiyo-e prints, beautiful renderings, the old family photographs on the wall...

Beneath the smoke, a small aperture of escape remains above the worn carpeting. I can see light from the window lying in a pool, a beacon of safety gone askew. Sighing, with sudden, eery calm, I lay my head down on the rough texture of the floor, resigning myself to rest...

Bright light, indistinct voices, brilliant cold beneath me - looking up, I see a fireman's ruddy face.

"You're gonna be fine, buddy." The foreign sensation of breathing oxygen through a rubber mask. "We're taking you down to Regions for awhile, get you checked out." Out of some compelling sense of courtesy, I offer an affirmative blink.

Looking down at my smoke-smudged form on a crisp sheet of snow, I notice the dog's toy clutched loosely in my palm. The stars are startlingly bright over the city.


moon viewing
she's the only one
who makes me laugh


(gave it the college try)