2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 6

It’s Day 6 of our month-long daily writing project.

This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. For those of you who are new to the project, please read my introductory post. You’ll find more information and all of the Week 1 FOUND OBJECTS at this post.

2013-07-16 09.33.36 (1)FOUND: Antique Dolls

I found today’s object in my home town, Ellicott City, Maryland. Just down the road from where I live is the center and oldest part of town. Old Ellicott City was the first terminus of the B&O Railroad, a pre-Revolutionary mill town. Today, it is a quaint stretch of old buildings and townhouses with antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

I’ve always loved this photograph. Something about the reflection in the cracked window glass makes these dolls feel like more than old toys for sale. Let’s see what everyone came up with.

I wonder whether Jennifer Lewis, who used to live near me, guessed that I took this picture in Old Ellicott City, where trains still rumble through town today.

They’ve Seen Much

By Jennifer Lewis

They saw the train tip in sky,

Offering one last lullaby,


They saw the child make a face,

Breath’s condensation, fingers trace,


Rock and grass picnic tables,

Twig and stick equine stables,


Tea party attire, sipping air,

Guest list inviting Ted E. Bear,


Crackling glass, cracking skin,

Wondering if the story ends,


Universal melancholy,

When we see, one’s lost dolly,


They’ve seen better days this is true,

But homemade memories imbue,


The storybooks, the belly’s laughter,

A child’s love for ever after.


I wanted to get away from humanizing the dolls and recognize that they are, especially without their usual trappings of clothing and packaging, objects. But one of these ladies had something else in mind. (Heidi — this is a sort of “No” poem.)


Window: Antique Shop

by Laura Shovan


Without their dresses,

rompers, ribbons,

lace, without

their boxes, gift wrap,

tissue, pink bows,

the dolls stand

disjointed, quiet.

They face the street,

hear no birds,

people, rumbling train,

see no cars pass.

They do not

watch the growing crack

in the glass pane,

nor the one

who seems to raise her

plastic fist to

strike again.


In contrast to my poem, Linda Baie added fabrics into her response. Since we are working on sensory details this year, I love this addition to the dolls.


Dolly Cry


I need a friend:
Pick me, pick me

for garden walks,
dressed up for tea.

I’ll need the softest
organza dress
I’d love a hat,
best to impress.

You’ll play with me
be all I want
a loving child,
a confidante.

We’ll stroll and sniff
those blooms en masse
I spy outside
my window glass.

Pick me, pick me.
Let us conspire.
I’m lonely here,
you’re my desire.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Do you find Linda’s final line creepy or inviting?

The last line of Jessica Bigi’s doll poem feels very wistful to  me. I love the wordplay here.

Store Window Dolls
By Jessica Bigi

Umbrella bonnets
Locks looping curlers
Blinking eyelash eyes
Walking talking crying
Umbrella dresses
Store Window Dolls
Hoping for hugs

Diane Mayr uses the last few lines of her poem to reveal the setting.

Parking Lot in New Hampshire on a Sunny February Day
By Diane Mayr

Unbuckle your seatbelt
incline your seat backwards
close your eyes, relax.

Feel the deeply penetrating
radiant heat of the sun.

Relish the seclusion. No
sand in your underwear when
your beach is glass and steel.

From the first lines of Molly Hogan’s poem, you’ll know whether she’s in the “creepy” or “nostalgic” camp when it comes to these dolls.

Breaking News
By Molly Hogan

Mass Escape from
St. Claud’s Center
for Delinquent Dolls
Just this morning
a passing photographer
captured this pivotal scene
of the notorious Brown-Haired Doll
with her famous fringed blue eyes,
gang leader, miscreant,
dimpled arm raised,
baby-blue-shoed foot
kicking out,
targeting the glass barrier,
already fractured,
and demure-looking accomplices
lurking in assumed postures
with their flat and soulless
marble gazes intent.
All poised on the verge of escape.

I’m impressed with how each poet today uses language to set the tone of his or her poem, communicating different ways of feeling about our found object. This one is from Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core.

Haunted by ghosts
of little girls
who loved them once,
dolls, long forgotten
stare, eyes blank,
through cracked
plate glass.

“Have you seen Emma or Ida or Grace?”
their soulless eyes plead
with people rushing by.

They long for the warmth
of tender hugs
that would break this spell
and mend their broken hearts.

By Catherine Flynn

I’m so pleased to see my friend (and fellow Pisces) Heidi Mordhorst joining us today! You’ll see the image at the left that shows Heidi’s playfulness with form. It’s amazing what spacing can do in a poem. When you compare the two version of “A Doll Trap” side by side, the one on the left is full of movement.


heidiA Doll Trap


secured behind glass


or less

doubly exposed


they gaze out

lean reaching toward


one does more than yearn

raises her

chubby arm

to crack that glass again


dolly hai-ya

she will be


will walk among

walls and rock

follow plastic paths

to new clothes

new scenes


Heidi Mordhorst 2016, all rights reserved


Speaking of form, I’m glad to see I’m not the only person trying out prose poetry this month. Margaret Simon sent in this response.


The Doll Collection

by Margaret Simon


A collection of dolls makes me nostalgic for those days when my girls were young, each one with a favorite baby doll with a name like Danielle or Harriet, carried everywhere, to the grocery store, pushed around in the rolling cart shopping like Mommy, or to the church nursery equipped with a bulging diaper bag, and I cry at the thought that today these well-loved, adorned dolls are alone in a plastic bin inside the upstairs closet waiting for a new child to love her, hug her until the stuffing breaks.  Maybe I hear them crying, too.


Another new face — though she has been a regular in past years — is poet Patricia VanAmburg. Great use of a title working against the poem here, which creates so much tension.



By Patricia VanAmburg


Dolly told Baby she wanted to scream
Baby said, Dolly, don ’t taunt—
You know that we are held in a dream—
and all we can do is haunt.


Dolly said, Baby, you’re kind of creepy
Sometimes you make my skin crawl—
I hope that you will soon feel sleepy—
But Baby started to bawl.


Last in today is Mary Lee Hahn.


As a child,
my dolls were my closest friends.

When I left for college,
I tried to pack them in a trunk,
but had to release them before they suffocated.

They’ve lived my entire adult life
(up until now)
on the closet shelf
in my childhood bedroom.

they will be auctioned away
to strangers.
I will hear them calling to me
for the rest of my life.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016


Mary Lee’s poem reminds me of my mother’s dolls from the 1940s and 50s. Several of them are wrapped up, sitting in the bottom of a bureau, waiting for a trip to the doll hospital for some TLC.

Late arrivals! There are two more poems to share. Clearly, the dolls drew our attention. Matt Forrest Esenwine is playing around with inner and outer spaces in this poem.

“Day of the Dolls”

Soulless eyes
see through your lies;
hollow hearts ne’er beat.
Prison walls
shatter, fall –
they’re loose upon the street!

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine

I encourage everyone to visit Carol Varsalona’s blog Beyond Literacy Link, where she breaks down her writing process for her Day 6 response poem. Her post has some great insights into how we go from inspiration or prompt, through initial draft, to developing poem.

Remembering When
Sweet friends and confidantes,
your friendly faces
remind me of doll days
when my mother and I
lovingly designed
your tea time clothes.
Now, you sit on dusty shelves
stripped of your dignity,
mere remembrances of
another era, a time gone by
when little girls adored you.
Who will call you their own?
©Carol Varsalona, 2016 


Mashing hands into their faded reflection,
straining to stand before plopping down
on their bottoms, toddlers shriek in sadness
as older kids swing, leap, and spin on jungle
gyms in the school yard.

(c) Charles Waters 2016


I like the way that asking “What if” in a poem can take us in a new direction. Donna Smith does that with her poem today.

Dolls Left Behind

Do you ever wonder
where they went –
those dolls left behind
the day you left childhood?
You closed that door one day
and went on
to Trixie Belden,
to The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree,
to horses,
and boys.
The dolls stayed behind
for a while, waiting –
not reading books,
not riding horses,
not growing up
and one day they disappeared.
Where is
Kathy, the walking doll,
who couldn’t really walk;
Thumbelina, who moved like a real baby –
that is,
if a baby had a big pink knob on its back;
Miss Ballerina, no longer a dancer
due to an ankle injury playing football?
– thank you, dear brother –
Where did they go
when I wasn’t looking
in their direction
any more?
As nomads, did they
move on to other little girls
who would remember
to feed them
and love them
and later
forget them?
Do you ever wonder
where they live now?

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved


Jone Rush MacCulloch sent a poem, but be sure to check out the post on her blog as well.


in the window
of the crone’s house
blank eyes
into my soul
silent cries
for help

I photograph
about their stories
who played with them
why abandoned
will they find
new homes.

© 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved



See you tomorrow for Day 7 and the Week 2 prompts.

Interested in 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, Brenda Harsham.

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, Catherine Flynn.

Thursday, February 4
Poems by: Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Margaret Simon, Laura Shovan, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Linda Baie, Carol Varsalona, Catherine Flynn.

Friday, February 5 at Guest Blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
Poems by: Matt Forrest Esenwine, Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Molly Hogan, Margaret Simon, Carol Varsalona, Laura Shovan, Mary Lee Hahn.