2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 4

Are we feeling the burn yet? It’s Day 4 of our 2016 daily write-in! This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. We have a new writing prompt for every day in February.

My favorite part of this annual project is seeing how the poems, written in response to the same prompt, resonate with each other.

For those of you who are new to my blog, please read my introductory post about the February daily write-in. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post.

PLEASE NOTE: This year, a few friendly bloggers have volunteered to host a day or two. Tomorrow’s post, which is DAY 5, will be at Matt Forrest Esenwine’s blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Leave your Day 5 responses here, in the comments, as usual. I will get your writing to Matt.

20160107_115950FOUND: Desk Fan

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that the FOUND OBJECT prompts people contributed fell into certain categories. One of those categories is functional objects.

The desk fan was sent in by poet Charles Waters. I’m curious to read what everyone came up with in response to an everyday object. Interesting challenge, Charles!

I really enjoyed the voice of the character speaking in Jessica Bigi’s poem today.

Not I Sharif
by Jessica Bigi

Fly on the wall
I saw nothing
I heard nothing
Humming of fans
Eggs firing on the floor
Shooting sticky words
Like rattle snakes tongues
Pluming clouds of stall sugars
Fingers shuffle papers
As I write my name
not I Sharif
I saw nothing
I heard nothing
Humming of fans
Not I Sharif -Not I
Fly on the wall

Before the Electric Fan

What a gift to have another one of Diane Mayr’s beautifully designed poem-collages today.

Before the Electric Fan
By Diane Mayr

There was a tool far
more powerful than any
with an on/off switch.
Simple, easy to operate,
the hand fan could
cool the flush on a cheek
hide an ironic smile
emphasize a point
mask a nervous gesture
keep a young girl
grounded when infatuation
threatened to get
the better of her. And,
it was pretty to look at.

Playing around with traditional forms is one of my favorite ways to shape an idea or observation into a poem. If you are not familiar with the tightly knit form triolet, read about it at Poets.org. Margaret Simon uses the repeating and rhymed lines to suggest the patterned whirring of a fan.

Fan Triolet
By Margaret Simon

Rusted lines box you in.
Clouds of dust dance on air.
Blades whistle while you spin.
Rusted lines box you in
Making wind, making wind
buzz with a flashy fan flair.
Rusted lines box you in.
Clouds of dust dance on air.

Instead of playing around with form today, I decided to try a prose poem. I’ve been reading a book of interviews with Ray Bradbury, LISTEN TO THE ECHOES, by Sam Weller. In it, Bradbury describes a writing method he used as a teenager. He’d begin with a series of nouns, then word associate with those nouns, asking, “Why did I put this word down? What does it mean to  me? Why did I instantly put this word down and not some other word.” The result was a 100-200 word descriptive paragraph.

I decided to try this out with the fan. My nouns were “fan,” “meeting,” “table,” and “Chuck Yeager.” (This will make some sense in a second.) What came up was a memory.

by Laura Shovan

The only thing moving was the fan, upright on the end of the heavy wooden table. I was 19, maybe, not old enough to be at the meeting. Not old enough to be sitting across from Chuck Yeager. He was old, his back military straight. I was old enough to know I should keep my fingers still.

The plastic blades spun a slow a circle inside the fan’s square cage. The only thing escaping was air and a whirring sound. Chuck Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier. I thought he was paying attention to the meeting. He had a pilot’s awareness of the periphery, of movement. No one else saw my fingers slide between the spokes of the box. No one else saw me pull them away, without a sound, when I met the edge of the fan blades.


I’m struck by how many of today’s responses create a mood, as if a fan can help change or create a mood, simply by moving the air around us. Molly Hogan’s poem fits this theme well.

Ahhh, A Fan
By Molly Hogan

On certain sticky summer days
when heat slaps me in the face
and my flushed skin drips
and my thoughts grumble
into curdled meanness
and a rash of spiteful words
trembles at my lips,
I would kill
for the simple respite
of a fan
with sweet hum of rotating blades
and soft, stirring air
to dispel the sour chunks
of my humid mood.

Last one in today is Mary Lee Hahn. Don’t you love the voice she creates for the fan?

Lament of the Portable Fan

I’ll never spin a hurricane,
I’ll never turn a weather vane.

I’ll never push a sailboat’s sail
or ruffle feathers on a tail,

power windmills, shape the land,
carry ash or desert sand.

The most that I will ever be
is one small oscillating breeze.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


One more! Sorry, Linda. I missed your poem in the comments. Thank you for joining us today. Linda Baie writes in: I really did work in the stacks during college. No fan, but always wished for one. For some reason that’s what I remembered when I saw the picture. Amazing what the mind will do!

That Timeless Time As A Student

I play the night guard.

Back in the stacks,
the fan whirrs white noise,
shimmers and shakes,
scoots into edges, turning away,
blowing powdery mildew from the shelves,
grit on my tongue.
Not the balmy breeze expected.
Yet, it stirs the still air,
and its machinations keep me alert.

I need to stay awake,
taking notes from dusty books.
Thoughts rise in slow bubbles
and stir in the swirled air.
I mean to survive
this small tomb kept for me
on Fridays and Saturdays.
I’m tasting the future.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Carol Varsalona is writing alongside us at her blog, Beyond LiteracyLink.

Desk Fan of Summer

You whirl, sputter, roar
to cool summer days
as thick as pea soup.
Oh, gadget of necessity,
your task is never done.
You should ask for
overtime pay.

©CVarsalona, 2016

Cathering at Reading to the Core says, “I couldn’t resist writing about this fan. It reminded me of the fan my grandmother kept on her kitchen table throughout the summers of my childhood.”

Cicadas and grasshoppers
thrum and hum
in the sweltering sunshine
of an August afternoon.

Your old silver fan,
oscillating across the kitchen table,

whirrs and purrs,
propelling bursts of coolness
over my face.

Sipping sweet cold tea
from a glass dripping
with sweat,
we weather the heat

By Catherine Flynn


Charles Waters had a lot of fun imagining the effects of the fun in this poem.


Whizzing, whirling,
my skirt is twirling,
my mind is swirling
standing above
the subway grate.

Laughing, complying,
trying to keep
from crying,
inside I’m dying,
dressed from
head to toe like
Marilyn Monroe.

by Charles Waters, all rights reserved.


Donna Smith’s poem brings in a mythological element.

Fan or Foe

Tamed, controlled, constant,
Domesticated lightning
Powers gentle breeze.
Blustery, untamed
Wild, unleashed, flashing lightning
Friend of the four winds.

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved


I love this little bit of history from Jan Godown Annino.

old fan
A fan + a block of ice
would be nice,
thought Dr. John Gorrie.
He set that odd pair up.
And started the air-conditioning
c. 2016 Jan Godown Annino
Tomato Moon


See you at Matt’s blog tomorrow for Day 5 and Poetry Friday.

Reminder: Leave your Day 5 responses in the comments of this post for Matt Forrest Esenwine, who is hosting tomorrow’s FOUND OBJECT poems. His blog is Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

If you’d like to read what we’ve written so far, here are links to this week’s poems:

Monday, February 1
FOUND OBJECT: 100 year-old mailing box
Poems by: Diane Mayr, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Linda Baie, Jessica Bigi, Margaret Simon, Laura Shovan, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Catherine Flynn, Jone Rush MacCulloch.

Tuesday, February 2
FOUND OBJECT: Fancy peppers and produce
Poems by: Mary Lee Hahn, Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Molly Hogan, Laura Shovan, Linda Baie, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Margaret Simon, Jennifer Lewis.

Wednesday, February 3
Poems by: Jessica Bigi, Margaret Simon, Diane Mayr, Mary Lee Hahn, Molly Hogan, Linda Baie, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Laura Shovan.