Monday, February 14, 2011

Consider this... a very un-Valentine writing prompt

Barbara Ann Kipfer
Random House 2007
I bought this book while on holiday in the US a couple of years ago. It's not the kind of book you read from cover to cover. You pick it up and glance through the 8 or 10 questions it has on each double page spread, and the occasional large print single pager, and see if one catches your eye. I've noticed that sometimes one does arrest me but I move on because I feel it's asking too much of me at that moment. Cowardly? Lazy? Probably a little of both. But I don't find it easy to think deeply spontaneously. It's is if I have to be shoe-horned into it, and for that reason dinner with good friends often has the right elements - comfortable companionship, good food and wine - to ease me slowly into a stage of, I hope, intelligent reflection. Of course a discussion of beliefs and opinions can become very energetic, even over-heated, particularly when there's a decent quantity of wine around, but if there are enough of you one person is generally able to lower the temperature and pull everyone back to a level of consideration. That's not always possible with family though... at least in my experience. Maybe yours is different?

My poetry prompt for today, and a very un-Valentine one it is too but I'm going on the assumption that there's plenty of Valentine stuff already out there, is to write a poem in response to the following question:

(p. 63) What will happen to the world when you die?

Here's my spontaneous response, raw and unedited but something to work on:

What happens to the world when I die

In the movie
of my life
there’s a moment
of stillness:
a street empty
of traffic;
a cashier’s hand
hovers over
the buttons on a till;
someone looks up
through the bare branches
of a Plane tree,

and then it’s over,
a car-horn blares,
a customer asks
if avocados
are on special,
a sudden gust
forces someone
to clap their hands
against the cold
then fast-dial home
to say they won’t
be long.

How carefully
I read the credits
for myself.

Lynne Rees

I look forward to reading your poems.

Write well.


Keith Wallis said...

what happens to the world when I die ?

There's a day when blackness falls between lovers
when laughter closes the blinds for a while,
a commercial break in a life or two.
There's ambush remembrance
in mundane unsought moments.
There will still be love in abundance,
still be shopping -
over the counter meetings
with memories
by the Granny Smiths.
There will be beds to make
but fewer pillows to wash.
Rain reflections in streams
and sunshine touches between clouds.
I will remember these too
as those remember
pieces of my irrelevance
and touch tomorrows
that have no meaning to me.
There will still be life in relay,
children's children playing tag.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Without Me

Time is but a ghost dance
in the minds of those who have been
touched by me, and when I make
that grand transition, crossing over
thresholds unseen but often visualized,
my dream of this life will end,
and I will awaken to a rainbow suit
draped on a grand bed post,
with loving light radiating
from my translucent fingertips,
in a room without mirrors,
without walls,

as those dark smudged trails of mascara
running down fluttering cheeks are soon
powdered dry, following the brilliant nano-second
of my passing all the traffic lights belch green
and the tiny wailing of the grieved becomes
a choral inhalation of breath, new life
for a litter of kittens, for a hundred thousand
old-souls emerging as infants, for hatching eggs
and blossoms bursting their pods
as the circus train moves on.

Glenn Buttkus

February 2011

Martin Cordrey said...

What happens to the world when I die?

On our wall is a picture of a colourful sailing boat
in a harbour, listing thirty degrees as the tide recedes.

It reminds me of being driven coast bound, perpendicular
to the ocean as kids. Parking beneath the sea defences

we’d race up the grass bank, shouting our guesses.
The seas in! No it’s out! If the tide was in

we’d sit on the wall eating ice-creams, listening to various tones
of water lapping concrete, of pebbles thrown violently together,

slowly making sand. By magic the shinny shingle below
would expose itself, wet mud-coloured beach,

sea weed, razor shells, whelks, the whirls of sand-worms.
Sitting here at my desk forty miles away,

I can hear salt water brushing those defensive walls,
being toyed with by the moon.

Anonymous said...

A different point of view

Their Late Father

Too late when he rasped amends
from the oxygen mask.
Their sympathy went up in smoke
with his forty a day habit,
out with the trash
and the whiskey bottles.

Too late as they swigged
the funeral sherry, scoffed
sandwiches and sausage rolls, wished
it were champagne
and a sit -down feast.

Too late, when a red-faced lawyer
stumbled over the words in his will.
The deceased had left
them little but anger
that stuck like tar for a lifetime.

Too late to alert the obituary writers,
famous though he might be;
to leave unwritten,
‘He was mourned by his children.’
His friends had shed him years before.

Anonymous said...

What happens to the world when I die-

Someone decides to let
the wind-chime hang
at my office window
on a dull February day
when rain bruises pavements
and the street is
still a sudden breeze
ghosts the window-sill

In Marmalade boutique
a younger slimmer me
steps in and out of
the latest Spring clothes
sixties fashions
back in style
restless hangers snare
unfamiliar fingers

On Findhorn beach
lovers add words
to sand as the evening
moon glimpses
the stars
and all that was said
and done
repeats itself.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello - thanks so much for the poems.

@ Keith - I like how this shifts between absence and presence. And 'fewer pillows [pillowcases?] to wash' is a lovely image to suggest an absence, or a leaving.

@ Glenn - this really took off for me in the 2nd stanza. I wonder if the poem could start much sooner, trimming away a lot of the 1st?

@ Martin - what a beautiful closing stanza you have here. 'toyed' is absolutely the right verb given the trip into childhood that's gone before. The link between the poem's title and the content is quite tenuous, for me, and I wonder if the main body of the poem could be tighter?

@ catherine - a hard-hitting poem and the refrain of 'too late' drives the poem forward, increasing the tension each time it's repeated.

@ eileen - I think the opening and closing stanzas work really well and could even form a poem on their own. I like the idea in the 2nd stanza but it might be too compressed... I find it hard to get my mind around the younger you suddenly appearing after your death... why wouldn't she have been there while you were alive if it's a case of parallel universes? Maybe I'm missing something though?

Another prompt in a day or two.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne
thanks as ever for your comments, perhaps I need to look at that middle verse. I was trying to imply another person (not me) a reminder of a younger slimmer me...
as life repeats itself. Will have a think on that.
Thank again, hope you are well.
All best Eileen

Lu said...

What happens to the world when I die

My ashes are
scattered over
the hills and rivers
and hang in the air.

Through cracks
in the clouds, I hear
my children
talking to their
children with my words,
words once ignored
like a lump of mud
sliding into the sea
or a ball bouncing
back from the wall.

How happy they are
to have found
an idiom
perfectly suitable
in a context,
that they were
dragged to learn
by a tiger mom
at a weekend school
when other kids
were still in bed.

Now I’m free of
all hustles and worries,
and hang in the air
my children grow.