Archives: Poems about Antiques

2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 27

It’s Day 27 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 4 FOUND OBJECTS at this post.

Now that we are down to the final three days, I’d like to see how pleased and amazed I am by everyone’s enthusiasm this year. I haven’t put together the numbers yet, but I know many more people participated and contributed poems this year. It’s been wonderful to share our early drafts in a supportive community.

I have family visiting today, so I’m only adding Day 27’s poems. If you’ve left a poem for another day, I’ll post it later.

IMG_7328FOUND: ARCHITECTURAL RUINS

While I didn’t make a separate category for antiques, we did have several prompts that one might find in an antique shop. Buffy Silverman’s contribution for today takes “functional object,” “antique,” and “art” and blends them together in an intriguing landscape.

Will we see some characters taking the poetic stage before this backdrop?

Here is a lovely metaphor poem from Jessica Bigi.

Poetry
By Jessica Bigi

Ivory sentences framing
Walls of pages
Rich mossy words
Turning under fingertips
Bookmark memories
Sipping tea we sit reading
In life’s library

***

Carol Varsalona has another digital composition at her blog. These have been really fun, so I hope you’ll visit Carol to take a look: http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2016/02/celebrating-writing.html.

Moss-covered ruins,
aching with age,
tumble through time.
Architects wonder.
Designers plan,
Writers clear paths
with their words.

©Carol Varsalona, 2016

***

Today’s found object reminded me of my visit to Italy last June. I took some notes on my phone while we were visiting the ruins at Paestum and “found” an incident I’d forgotten about.

Ruins: Paestum

By Laura Shovan

A dry dirt road spooled
between the ruins
and the tourist shops,
restaurant, museum.
“Did you hear that?”
I asked the friends
I’d traveled with by train.
They shook their heads.
I took it as a sign.
No one else heard
the peacock’s scream.
It called to me only.
The bird is sacred
to Hera, a symbol
of her beautiful, large eyes.
Near the columns
of Paestum’s great temple —
dedicated to Hera as wife —
I said a prayer, imagined
coming home to you,
dressed in blue feathers.

***

Diane Mayr is thinking about the timelessness of ancient architecture.

Granite Speaks of Eternity
By Diane Mayr

We thought we were given our
own eternity by quarrymen who
released us from mountains
that held us prisoner.

Builders hauled and lifted
and fit us into works
of architectural magnificence
decorated by masters of art.

Surely, we would honor man and
ourselves by lasting forever.
Then along came the Bryophytes
reducing our dreams to dust.

***

I found Mary Lee Hahn’s haiku for today to be heartbreaking — and in such a small space.

every life
(hopefully softened by moss)
becomes rubble

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

***

Today’s object has many of us thinking about time. Molly Hogan’s contribution is a short poem on this theme.

Ruins
By Molly Hogan

Within an eternity of arches
Moss masses
on tumbled marble
and time marches on
***

So many poets today are highlighting the moss growing on the ruins. One symbolic of life, the other symbolic of …? I like the way Linda Baie’s poem draws our attention to the dual meaning of “ruin.”

the word ‘ruin’
softened by moss –
spring deceit

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved
***

Donna Smith says, “Couldn’t resist a bit of London Bridges falling at stanzas’ ends…”

Marble Arches

What once was lofty white and pure
That all thought would so long endure
Became eroded and unsure
This ostentatious entryway
Became just ruins in the way;
In days gone by they stood above
Each block fitting like a glove
To house many a city dove
City dove
City dove
House many a city dove
Marble arches

In paths they lie upon the ground
As if in hunt they had been downed
Becoming stilled, no echoed sound
Wearing hides of green and brown
Those marble arches fallen down
Would that we could just recrown
Just recrown
Just recrown
Would that we could just recrown
Marble arches.

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved
***

Buffy Silverman reveals a little bit more about the photograph in her poem. Thanks, Buffy!

In Antigua

Earthy scents rise
from crumbled ruins,
roots reclaim the glories
of civilization,
brought from an old world
imposed on a new world.
Moss cares not about conqueror
or conquered,
religion or culture,
order or plan.
It spills over columns
and stones,
churches and temples,
liberating all.

©Buffy Silverman

***

It’s good to see Margaret Simon back. She says, “Today I am happy to be back with a poem of hope.”

In the graveyard of buildings
stone becomes mulch
for grass and weeds.

Nature does what it does best–
continues to grow
renew relive.

I walk among the fallen stone
peek behind the bolder
see a hidden nest.

Yes, there is new life
everywhere.
Just look!

by Margaret Simon

***

Charles Waters’ poem has me thinking about what this building might have been.

Morning’s Promise
By Charles Waters

Sunlight shimmies
into cathedrals.
Beams of luminescent
blessings slide through
stained glass into
the consciousness
of each remarkable,
flawed parishioner
on this holy day
of rest.

***

IMG_2204

DAY 28 FOUND OBJECT PROMPT (February 28 at BOOKSEED STUDIO)

Reminder: Tomorrow we will be back at Jan Godown Annino’s blog, BOOKSEED STUDIO, for Day 28.

We’ll return here for Leap Day and the final prompt.

Interested in what we’ve written so far? Here are links to this week’s poems (I will update this list soon — apologies to those I missed):

Sunday, February 21
FOUND OBJECT: Antique Sewing Machine
Poems by: Diane Mayr, Linda Baie, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Jessica Bigi, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona, Charles Waters.

Note: You will find links to all of  the Week 1, 2, and 3 poems at this post.

Monday, February 22
FOUND OBJECT: Stick Insect
Poems by: Mary Lee Hahn, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona, Jessica Bigi, Charles Watesr, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Linda Baie, Diane Mayr.

Tuesday, February 23 at BOOKSEED STUDIO
FOUND OBJECT: Library of Congress Cart
Poems by: Jan Godown Annino, Jessica Bigi, Donna Smith, Linda Baie, Laura Shovan, Carol Varsalona, Diane Mayr, Mary Lee Hahn, Charles Waters, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Heidi Mordhorst.

Wednesday, February 24
FOUND OBJECT: Phoebe Nest
Poems by: Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Heidi Mordhorst, Mary Lee Hahn, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Linda Baie, Laura Shovan, Charles Waters, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona.

Thursday, February 25
FOUND OBJECT: Pearl Harbor Keys

Friday, February 26 at Michael Ratcliffe’s Poetry
FOUND OBJECT: Sun Sign

2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 7 and Week 2 Prompts

Congratulations! We made it through Week 1 of this year’s daily writing project.

It’s Day 7 of our 2016 daily write-in. As you know, this year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. We have a new writing prompt for every day in February.

The object of this project is to turn off our inner critics, play with a daily writing practice, and share the results in a community setting.

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. At the end of the month, I’ll have prizes for the most frequent contributors. However, there’s no obligation to write every day. Drop in as often as you like.

20140416_120403FOUND: Blood Letting Knife

Today’s prompt from Jone MacCulloch falls into the functional object category. The object, which Jone photographed at a Lewis and Clark presentation, was used for blood letting.

I can’t wait to see what kinds of words streamed out of everyone’s poem-veins today.

The blade prompted Jessica Bigi to set her poem at a barber shop.

How Rumors Start
By Jessica Bigi

Santa Fe Golden Tooth
Barbershop chatter
Silver spurred boots
Spring a ghostly tall
Of gold up there
In those hills
Not to wise Billy barber
Strangely Disappeared
Chatter- chatter-
Chatter Santa Fe
Golden Tooth
Barbershop chatter

Diane Mayr’s poem makes a good bridge between the barbershop gossip and the historical significance of today’s found object.

A Close Shave
By Diane Mayr

The head is tilted
so that the neck is
exposed to the hands
of an expert who with
the flick of a wrist
can deftly de-whisker,
or, as was the case
hundreds of years ago,
restore balance to
the humors in a body
by the letting of blood.

Instead of focusing on the knife in the image, my attention was caught by the brass bowl. I seem to be rhyming a lot this month!

Letting Go
By Laura Shovan

I am a bowl
to catch the blood
as it flows from your arm
in a hot, red flood.
A circle of brass
ringed with rust —
rest me under the cut
where the blade was thrust.
The blade is sharp.
The cut is deep.
Watch the blood drip dripping
until you’re asleep.

Maybe I should change the title to “Bad Medicine.”

I like the way Molly Hogan repurposes the blade in this poem. Molly is also blogging alongside our project. Check out her post.

Before the Photo
by Molly Hogan

A simple blade in capable hands
transforms stick
to whittled whistle,
kisses apple’s russet skin
twirling off
one
long
swirling spiral,
and sculpts a blushing peach
into glistening golden slices,
hitching a bit as it nicks
into the deeply crevassed pit.

Wiped clean on cotton cloth
discarded with a careless toss into
the shallow metal bowl
burnished vibrations echo
and fade
as the simple blade
rocks
back and forth
slowly
to
rest.

Linda Baie writes in, “I did some research, didn’t exactly find the instrument, but close, and then imagination took over. Interesting picture!”

Growing Up at Louie’s General Store

We let him have the back table,
that old man from down the way,
leaning close with old eyes.
He cut tobacco’s leaves for need,
and earned his own pinch for the day’s end.
Men dropped in to fill their pipes
not those who could afford to keep a stash at home,
but those scrapping a few pennies
for the evening’s smoke,
and the evening’s talk.
Low voices ask how things are going;
other’s answer, “fine, could be warmer,”
and take another puff.
Others who enter stay away,
eyes watering, nose crinkling at the reek.
Smoke eddies around that table,
a curtain that keeps others out,
just those old men passing the evening,
cronies all, smoking their pipes.
At last, they leave, empty their pipes in the bowl.
It’s my job to clean it out back,
then I can go home.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Catherine Flynn describes a common problem that happens when we DO know what an object is. In contrast to our Day 3 mystery object (which turned out to be moth eggs), “Maybe my problem was that I had an idea about what this object is and couldn’t see any other possibilities,” Catherine writes. What do you think, poets? Do you prefer the mystery or the knowing when you sit down to write?

When curing chronic fevers
was a mystery,
doctors thought blood-letting
was the remedy.

Like one afflicted,
a story burns inside me.
I won’t be healed
until words flow unrestricted
from pen to page.

Just as blood once poured
from an incision made with a surgeon’s
keen-edged scalpel
and pooled in a battered, rusty bowl,
my words coalesce into
the shape of something new
and I am cured (for now).

By Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core.

And thanks to Carol Varsalona for turning the question itself — What is this object? — into a poem.

Embedded image permalink

Late arrivals:

Sorry I didn’t get to post these responses last night. I’m so glad to see everyone experimenting with form. Kudos to Mary Lee Hahn for using an acrostics today. She writes, “I went with tobacco knife, too, and wrote this acrostic after interviewing a (former) pipe smoker”:

A pipe gives a wise man time to think
and a fool something to stick in his mouth.
– C.S. Lewis.

Packing the tobacco correctly is as
Important as the
Proper breaking in of the pipe.
Each pipe
Smokes differently, and a good smoker can
Make one last up to 45 minutes.
One must tap the dottle from the bowl,
Know how to ream the pipe, and
Embrace the subtleties of the experience —
Rather like shooting or fly fishing or drinking
Scotch.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

And here is a haiku from Matt Forrest Esenwine. In a small space, this poem appeals to many of my senses.

scarlet rivulets
spill into steel; blood, spirit
slip into slumber

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

***

I like hearing the voice of the blade in Charles Waters’ poem.

BLADE & CREAM: THE DREAM TEAM

I’m a Silvery Sharp Blade
who, along with my assistant
Shaving Cream, will shear your
forest of follicles leaving that
visage of yours so smooth that
rose petals on a spring afternoon
will snap at you out of jealously.

(c) Charles Waters 2016

***

Donna uses the blade as an entry point to talking about writing, also.

Transfusion

When I write
The veins open
And the vanes wildly
Turn
And I twist
Each word until they
Bleed wildly and
Churn
Spilling onto
The white of paper
Where they stain and
Burn;
Then I sit
Anticipating the silent
Transfusion, as you
Learn
The meaning
In the words light
Or dark, flighty or
Bold, wondering, what did you
Discern?

©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

***

Jone Rush MacCulloch shares a very interesting connection with this object. You’ll want to read the full story at her blog.

Family Myth

“It was believed that bloodletting was a very important part of healing. ~Marcia Leiter

This tale
told to me
as a child.

Benjamin Rush
my fifth great grandfather,
swift in grabbing
the steel blade
and the brass cup

traps the infirm’s arm
slice the vein
lets the red ribbons
of stagnated blood
flow free

In 1799,
George Washington
requested a bloodetting
his physician,
obliged.
my fifth great-grandfather.

Washington died

© 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved

***

I know that you are all chomping at the bit for the Week 2 FOUND OBJECTS. We will have one guest host this week. Thank you to Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche (Day 10).

mayr

DAY 8 PROMPT contributed by Diane Mayr (February 8)

hahn

DAY 9 PROMPT contributed by Mary Lee Hahn (February 9)

Simon

DAY 10 PROMPT contributed by Margaret Simon (February 10 at REFLECTIONS ON THE TECHE)

baie doll

DAY 11 PROMPT contributed by Linda Baie (February 11)

buffy

DAY 12 PROMPT contributed by Buffy Silverman (February 12)

baie

DAY 13 PROMPT contributed by Linda Baie (February 13 —  Happy Birthday, Robbie!)

diane

DAY 14 PROMPT contributed by Diane Mayr (February 14 — Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Leave your writing in the blog comments (feel free to post a poem or response in the comments of any project-related post). Be sure to note which day/prompt your poem or prose short goes with so I can post it on the correct day. Send in your writing ANY TIME — early, late. As long as I receive it by February 29, it will be posted along with the object of the day.

Perfect attendance is not a requirement of this project. Write and share your work as often as you like, even if it’s only once. The goal is to practice and share, not to polish, and certainly not to aim for perfection.

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, Charles Waters, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona.

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, Charles Waters, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona.

Wednesday, February 3
FOUND OBJECT: Moth eggs
Poems by: Jessica Bigi, Margaret Simon, Diane Mayr, Mary Lee Hahn, Molly Hogan, Linda Baie, Jone Rush MacCulloch, Laura Shovan, Charles Waters, Donna Smith, Carol Varsalona.

Thursday, February 4
FOUND OBJECT: Table fan
Poems by: Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Margaret Simon, Laura Shovan, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Linda Baie, Carol Varsalona, Catherine Flynn, Charles Waters, Donna Smith.

Friday, February 5 at Guest Blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
FOUND OBJECT: Tomato Moon
Poems by: Matt Forrest Esenwine, Jessica Bigi, Diane Mayr, Molly Hogan, Margaret Simon, Carol Varsalona, Laura Shovan, Mary Lee Hahn, Linda Baie, Charles Waters, Donna Smith.

Saturday, February 6
FOUND OBJECT: Antique Dolls
Poems by: Jennifer Lewis, Diane Mayr, Linda Baie,  Molly Hogan, Catherine Flynn, Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Shovan, Carol Varsalona, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Mary Lee Hahn, Jessica Bigi, Margaret Simon, Patricia VanAmburg, Charles Waters, Donna Smith.

2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 1

Welcome to Day 1 of our 2016 daily write-in! This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. We have a new writing prompt for every day in February.

The object of this project is to turn off our inner critics, play with a daily writing practice, and share the results in a community setting.

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. At the end of the month, I’ll have prizes for the most frequent contributors. However, there’s no obligation to write every day. Drop in as often as you like.

Ready? Let’s get started!

100 year old wooden mailing box RHBFound: One hundred year-old mailing box.

I purposely left out information about the objects when I posted the prompts. Think of it as a Freedom from Information Act, a way of giving us more space to think, imagine, and play.

Now that our poems are in, let’s find out more about today’s FOUND OBJECT. It was contributed by Robyn Hood Black, who says, “Here is something I found (& bought) in an antique store a while back, and I keep in my studio – just because I love it.  It’s a little wooden box that was used to mail something!  Over 100 years old.”

Diane Mayr, who blogs at Random Noodling, sent in this poem. I’m a big fan of portrait poems and I love the way Diane creates a character, and hints at her back-story, in this poem.

The Truth of the Matter

I was afraid to open
that wooden box
addressed to me in
an unknown hand.
It came by morning post
on a Tuesday in April.
Its contents shifting
and rustling. Telling
me of a fallen soldier’s
effects? Or of the
sweet-bitter savor
of lemon cream taffy
sent to quicken my
blood in anticipation
of his homecoming kiss?

© Diane Mayr

I tried the whole box/fox/socks angle, but something else wanted to escape from the wooden box and my imagination took over.

Postmark: Valley of the Kings
by Laura Shovan

What’s in the box?
An ancient breath
captured, saved
at Pharaoh’s death.

What’s in the box?
A long-lost curse
in hieroglyphic
picto-verse.

What’s in the box?
I hear creaking.
Are those mummy
fingers sneaking?

What’s in the box?
I’m curious, but
perhaps I’d better
leave it shut.

Jessica Bigi took the call for sensory images to heart. Check out all of the tactile, visual, and scent images in this poem.

Box Of Memories
By Jessica Bigi

Simply a box
Stained from tea
Ginger, nutmeg
Scented cherry wood
A splintered craft
of Grandfather’s hands
Who we’ve never met
Momma’s tearful voice
Saying take only this box
Some jam and bread
Letters I’ve written you
Small carved horses that
Grandfather made
Mint tea, some salted broth
Pictures of Momma and me
My tearful voice saying
Momma please go too
Take this box dear girl
Only one can go so I must stay
I’m too young to understand
Sailed that rain soaked ship
Which smelled of salty grime
My box of precious memories
I brought to share with
An aunt I’ve never meant
her land, my new home, my new life
eating bread with jam
we opened my box
and wiped tears from our eyes
Oh, child how I miss your mother
You have her beautiful eyes
I smiled and hugged my aunt
You have Momma’s hugs and
Beautiful heart, I told her

Here is another box poem that tells a story. I like the way Mary Lee Hahn uses the contents of the box to represent a moment between the past and the future. The object inside takes on an extra layer of meaning.

The Box I Keep at the Back of My Dresser Drawer

I remember
when he sent the new watch
I’d had my eye on.
He was thoughtful that way.

The postman handed me this wooden box
with the address written
in his confident handwriting.

Written before the accident,
when a whole different future lay before us.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

When I’m working with writers, one of my favorite exercises is to look at an object or work of art and write down all the details of what we can see first. Then, using facts as a diving board, we splash around in our imaginations. Molly Hogan pays careful attention to the details of our found object in this poem.

Wooden Box
By Molly Hogan

Capable hands
held the potential of
raw, green wood,
inspired,
rejecting spoon, platter,
a plethora of options,
crafted a secret-holder,
a box for treasures,
dovetailing corners
fitting the lid precisely
sanding smooth the slivers
and splinters,
adhering paper
with written words
whispering on wood
a destination
that has faded into memory
with the accumulating
patina of time.

Inside the box
echoes of those hands
and unknown treasures,
past and present,
breathe,
stirring dusty molecules
and memories.

You can also check out Molly’s blog post with her poem here.

One of people who has participated in this project every year is Linda Baie of Teacher Dance. Her poem is tied to a specific time in history.

In My Attic Graveyard

Not so romantic anymore.
this dusty box on the attic floor
where mice have had a meal or three.
Something’s gnawed on the corner – See!
Mildew’s set in, the smell has set;
perhaps some days in the sun will get
the box back to its sweet wood smell,
the better ready to show it well.
Mister E.N. Chisholm of Lycoming County
received and paid dear for this precious bounty:
the final effects of his fallen friend,
perished among trees of far Ardennes.

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

Some of you may have noticed the corners of the wooden box, which reveal that — rather than nails — the maker used a dovetail joint to fit the sides together. Margaret Simon (Reflections on the Teche) opens her poem with that detail.

Box
By Margaret Simon

Tongue in groove he tells me
is how they used to do it,
before nails
before cardboard and glue.

This old box
traveled over miles
snow-covered hills,
through the mountains, perhaps.

I slide the wood
across grooves
breathe pine, spicy pipe tobacco,
remember my grandfather’s

stories of the railroad,
how steam would rise above
houses and whistle
his way home.

One more poetry box to open, friends. Here is Matt Forrest Esenwine’s contribution. I like the way he incorporated writing from the mailing label into the poem.

Dear Mr. Chisolm

Your package awaits; look,
this brown wooden box
worn from years of hard weather
and thick, heavy hands still
exhibits your name as it lay
here in Leolyn,
down by the creek
deep in Lycoming’s lands.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine

LATE ARRIVALS

I’m so pleased that Poetry Friday blogger Catherine Flynn is writing alongside us and also writing about the process at her blog, Reading to the Core.

Nested within
the musty confines of
this worn pine box,
rubbed smooth
from years of use,
a cache of pencils
wait in silence.

Inside their graphite
filaments,
a cacophony of words,
some sweet, some sour,
are poised,
eager to escape.

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

Jone MacCulloch is also blogging about the project at her blog Deowriter. The box reminded Jone of a true and very sad story about her aunt.

Her frail hands
handed me the box.
Take it, she said,
don’t look inside.
Burn it.

Fingers crossed,
I promised
to spark a match
and watch the flames
when
the new moon
tipped like a bowl
hung low in the sky.

She crossed over
pulled
by the tide of life.

The box
rests on the mantel.
Its secrets
tug until I must
open it like
Pandora.

And when I do?
It’s a letter from
the war.
She’d have to return
her wedding dress.
He was not returning.

© 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved

Brenda Harsham at FriendlyFairyTales.Com was as intrigued by the box as the rest of us were.

Don’t Look
By Brenda David Harsham

Dad said don’t look in the box.
He stared me down.
My eye dropped to his boots
as if weighted by sinkers.
“Okay,” I mumbled.
“Promise me.”
My eye flickered up, and
his brown eyes held me fast.
“Promise,” he repeated.
“I promise.”
I kicked a rock clear up
the blue-back mountain.
I listened hard for turkeys.
I wound around dusty paths.
I hunted ginseng,
but I found nothing but weeds.
Every step I took,
I remembered that plain-looking box.
That box looked as boring as boots.
That infernal box, that magical,
crazy-making box!
I got to remembering the box
and not the promise.
I ate my chicken and dumplings,
swimming and dunking in gravy.
I scooped up my peas
and held my nose closed.
I could still taste them.
I gobbled them quick as cake,
my face making the death grimace.
I washed away the pea flavor with
my last biscuit, saved up
for just that moment.
My mama eyed my plate
and gave a nod, remembering
the other times.
Peas hidden in my napkin.
Peas dropped for the dog.
Peas smuggled to Henry.
These peas are tiny lumps
of poison in my belly
but the biscuit covers them.
I lay down alongside Henry, but
as far away as I can manage.
He stank of coal dust from
his new job in the mines.
Mama was so proud of her eldest.
Is that where I’m headed?
I remember the box
and wonder. And wish.
I sneak downstairs, easing along the wall,
where the boards don’t squeak,
until I’m standing over it.
My hand’s ready to lift.
I hold my breath, as if without breathing,
it’s not really me doing the lifting.
I close my eyes.
I lift the cover.
Is it jewels? Grandpappy’s watch?
Turkish Delight? Cocoa beans?
I open my eyes.
It’s dark and I can’t be sure.
I light a candle, hoping papa
doesn’t hear the scratch.
It’s empty. Not even a speck of dust.
Empty.
“That’s right, Andie.”
I drop the lid down and spin around.
Now I remember my promise.
My dad’s bare feet poke from under
his flannel robe.
“I’m sorry, Daddy.”
“Andie, it’s as empty as broken promises.
Only when you keep your word
do you find treasure.”
Daddy turned his back on me.
I was left with a guttering candle.
And a feeling in my belly like
the taste of peas.

***

Charles Waters of the blog Poetry Time has been a project regular over the last few years. I’m glad to see him back with us!

WOODEN BOX
Dad’s chipped, faded, stained wooden box
contained love letters written to Mom when they first
met at summer camp. Each piece of paper smelled
like mothballs and cologne. In his slanted cursive
he called Mom, dewdrop, best friend, partner for life,
the same words he still uses to describe her today.
These treasures show how our family came to be,
these stacks of paper represent how I became me.

(c) Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.

***

I’ve been corresponding with my friend Joanne Polner, a photographer and mother of one of my best high school friends. Joanne read all of our poems about the antique box on Day 1 and wrote this response poem for us! I’m sharing it here, with her permission.

The Box Poems

I’ve got the chills
From the secrets
let out to breathe

I turn from poem
to poem and feel
the feather of
inspiration—

the kind that makes
you hold your
breath.

Is it life
or death?
or the spirit
of so many souls
released into
our world?

My rapid heart makes
my face blush;

The tips
of my fingers
are cold
as I slide the
pages

back under
the cover
of
the box.

— Joanne R. Polner

Joanne also sent us a note about the poem. “You see that I have transformed the concept of the individual poems of your contributors into a collection kept hidden ‘lo these many years.’  Truly, I felt those varying emotions that I wrote about. Praises for your contributors!”

Reading Joanne’s poetic response to our work filled me with joy. This is what doing a community writing project is all about, expanding our community and inviting people to join us as readers and writers.

***

Donna Smith’s poem incorporates the mailing label on the box into the poem.

Dear Mr. Chisholm,
I am sending you this gift
Before you leave, of inks and pens,
So you will write as well as sift
Please consider as you go
Journaling your travel story.
Although in the present
You may not feel the glory,
You know full well
It can’t be denied
This is a bold move
For you have defied
All the well-intentioned friends,
As you set your mind to cross this land
To seek the golden shores
And sift the rivers’ sand.
So tell the tale of leaving home,
Write in days that come tomorrow
For the young who later want to follow
And from your strength may they borrow;
Record the ways and all the deeds
Let them know your undaunted spirit;
Write it now, while you remember,
Write it all, so they will hear it.

Your friend,
who wishes he were Alaska-bound, too

By Donna Smith of Mainely Write

***

I like the way that Carol Varsalona’s poem imagines a very specific object inside the box.

delicate lacy treasures
graced my lining decades ago
when ladies’ gloves were in vogue-
some partner boxes carved
with etchings were showpieces-
mine was rough-hewn,
dovetailed, and sturdy
suitable for travel-
a proud bearer
of a treasure
in time
©CVarsalona, 2016
***
Jan Godown Annino sent us a couplet note that reads:
Wood box
After reading these responses,
I feel wooden in mine.
***
IMG_2405

DAY 2 FOUND OBJECT PROMPT

I’ll continue to post responses to FOUND OBJECT 1 as they come in.

See you tomorrow for Day 2.