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Monday, 8 February 2016

It’s Day 8 of our 2016 daily write-in. This year’s theme is FOUND OBJECTS. Thanks to all of the poets and writers who contributed objects for our daily prompts.

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 2 FOUND OBJECTS at this post.

Before we get to today’s prompt, I have an AMAZING treat for all of you.

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.

***

mayrAs I was going through potential prompts, I noticed a few themes developing among the objects we found. One category of FOUND OBJECTS is pieces of art.

Poetry written in response to art is often called “ekphrastic poetry.” You can read more about this form at the Poetry Foundation.

I wonder whether our poems will focus on the art itself, or on the person or process of making it.

FOUND: SCULPTURE IN THE WOODS

The only note Diane Mayr included with this contribution is “Southern New Hampshire University.” Maybe she’ll enlighten us a bit more in today’s comments.

The sculpture reminds me of the famous poem, “Ozymandias.”

UPDATE from Diane: “The location of the art in the woods is the Southern NH University campus on the Manchester/Hooksett line. I was pleasantly surprised to find it as I walked along the campus road going from the parking lot to a conference location. Of course, I took a picture! I didn’t see a marker with the name of the work, or the sculptor, but it could have been hidden, or I could have been unseeing that day.”

My process today was to personify the sculpture. Also, I wanted to work on twinning this sculpture with the Moon, but didn’t want to weigh the poem down. I decided to put the Moon in the title, and something very surprising happened.

When the Moon Fell to Earth
By Laura Shovan

One day
I will lay
my body down
in the forest,
face tipped
to the canopy
of branches,
and wait.
Falling light
will pass this way
warm
my stony face,
move on.
And I will learn
the stillness
of a stone.

***

Linda Baie’s poem also uses the verb “wait.” And, of course, if you’re waiting, perhaps you are waiting for someone.

Lost Love

It may take longer than you can wait,
but my eyes are open.
The spell has broken,
and my mouth allows a whisper:
“I’m on my way.”

Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

***

Jessica Bigi sent me a note about her poem for today. She focused on sounds and what we can learn from them.

Where Have the Forests Gone?
By Jessica Bigi

Lesson
Not a feather falling
Hums of angry toothed chains
Rolling claws of monsters
Man says it is quiet when a tree falls

Lesson
I can hear them crying
Screams of this world being torn and broken
Dreams of my forest children fading
I’m as old as Bulent light

Lesson
I know which direction they fall
Grandfather rock of mountains and sky
Block foundations of ancient cities

Lesson
windy songs of a billion leave

Lesson
Silences
My voice skips across life’s streams
I too face uncertainties of seasons’ change

***

Heidi Mordhorst of the blog My Juicy Little Universe has a series of questions to ask our forest face.

lost not found

bold white bruin man
where your boulder feet?
where your legs,
your stone torso,
your swinging arms?

they crash on
through the forest:

white columns of motion
can’t think what they’ve lost,
lost on the way
bare gash of narrow eye
bare slash of missing mouth

–Heidi Mordhorst 2016
all rights reserved

***

I hope you’ll head over to Carol Varsalona’s blog, Beyond LiteracyLink, where she is celebrating a huge milestone. Carol’s 500th blog post is about a daily writing practice and includes her contribution for today. Congratulations, Carol!

I lie among the shadows of mid-day sun
professing nothing, just residing
with body buried deep within a barren land.
You question what lies beyond my half-smirk,
my reckless abandonment of wholeness.
Half-truths, broken thoughts buried alongside me
within the shadowed forest search no more
for the stillness awakens wonder.
I ask nothing more than you open my eyes,
freeing my soul to continue pondering
the fullness of life in the vast expanse of universe.

©Carol Varsalona, 2016

***

We all need to lighten up a bit after staring at our serious forest face. Donna Smith of Mainely Write came to our rescue.

Herman, the Hermit
By Donna Smith

The hermit crab,
Delightedly, had gone
So far afield,
Returning with
A brand new home,
Though cumbersome
To wield.

With face on back
Who knows which way
He’s headed? To or fro?
And who would mess
With this fierce home
With room enough
to grow.

His girlfriend should be
So impressed
To see his smiling face;
But hoped she wouldn’t
Nag him that
He’d slowed to a
snail’s pace.

***

I’m intrigued by Margaret Simon’s note about process: “I am learning that I have to write before reading anyone else’s responses. So today I wrote a fractured limerick. It doesn’t follow the rules and rather than force rhyme which I am never very good at, I decided to just butcher the form.” What do you do, poets, read responses first, or wait until after you have drafted your poem?

Stone Head
By Margaret Simon

Stone head slips a wink and sly smile
in the forest, long and deep.
His angle is awkward.
His skin snow white.
How does he ever get a wink of sleep?

***

I get really excited when a prompt sends an author off on an unexpected tangent. Here, Diane Mayr found that the prompt she contributed today did  just that. “I wanted to find out the difference between a wood and the woods.  I came across an old use of the word that put everything in place for me.”

What Say You, Brothers Grimm?
By Diane Mayr

Wood, noun
Madness, Obs.

Someone set the bars
of madness so far
apart a Colossus can
slip through, yet I,
the grandmother to
a girl in a cloak and
hood, can neither go
in nor out, fearful that
the wolf of my soul will
eat me alive, here,
in my own wood.

***

Late arrivals:

Everyone, please welcome newcomer Kay McGriff, who is a Poetry Friday blogger at A Journey Through the Pages.

I lost my head
when I strolled
through the woods
late yesterday.
I set it down
just to rest
a moment in the shadows
that stretched toward dusk.
Then I rose
and ambled onward,
never missing it at first.

by Kay McGriff

***

Mary Lee Hahn is blogging alongside us at her site. You can read her post about today’s poem here. I love the simplicity of this poem. With snow falling on the East Coast today, I think Mary Lee’s poem will speak to many of us.

there was nothing
left
for me
to
do
but rest my head
on a pillow
of fallen
oak leaves,
close my eyes,
and dream
of
spring

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

***

Catherine Flynn also pointed out that many of us used words in common today. That would be an interesting thing to explore. Maybe next year, our prompt will be a short list of random words that must be included in our poems. Hmm…

I’m a still, silent witness
to sun circling,
moon wheeling,
stars spinning.

I lie in this forest
evergreen trees towering above me,
shadows and sunlight
dancing across my face.

I’ve felt raindrops, cold and fat,
pelting me,
eroding my gray granite surface.
Snowflakes fluttering from low clouds
have shrouded me.

I’ve heard the wind
whistling and whispering,
birds’ wings whirling
raccoons and squirrels
scampering across this bed of pine needles
that cradle me.

Overhead, stars are spinning
moon is wheeling,
sun is circling,
I’m a still, silent witness.

by Catherine Flynn

***

Another Poetry Friday regular who’s blogging our project is Jone MacCulloch. You can read her full post about this poem at DeoWriter.

The Face

In the park
listens.

The elderly man
crying. His boyhood friend
just died.

Star crossed lovers
plotting
their next rendezvous.

A child
singing
about spiders.

It’s this way
each day.

The face
never
revealing secrets.

© 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved

***

My favorite image in Charles Waters’ poem today is “rainbows of hands.”

The Statue
By Charles Waters

My body, carved out of marble,
stared at in reverence, caressed by rainbows
of hands that satisfy my yearning to be loved.
I may live in immortality, although I wish
they could see the beating heart inside
my alabaster soul.

***

I’m very happy to see a prose entry today. Short prose pieces also lend themselves to a daily writing practice. Thanks for sharing this creation story, Molly Hogan.

Molly says, “For some reason this picture spoke to me of clouds and legend, and my response is in prose, rather than poetry. ”

The Origin of the White Boulder
By Molly Hogan

Long ago, not at the beginning, but soon thereafter, when the earth was young and the green of the land blazed against a brilliant blue sky, the clouds lived at peace with the sky and the land. Though the world was new, they understood that they were irrevocably joined and that each one enhanced the other. And for many, many years, all was peaceful and the clouds and skies drifted over the land and the people were happy.

Then one day a small cloud formed. It drifted through the sky, forming, reforming, shape-shifting as small clouds do. It rode the air currents and came and went as the sky the land and the elder clouds bid it.

But as time passed, this small cloud grew and as he grew, he began to change. Instead of drifting with the other clouds above the land, dancing over lakes and mountaintops, he sought to make mischief. Day after day he drew close to the land to form great, dense banks of fog. He laughed as he hid the fleecy white sheep from the farmers and the ports from weary sailors seeking safe harbor.

And at last Land grew tired of his pranks and spoke to him coldly, saying, “Go back to your place, Young Cloud. Leave the people be.”

In his pride the cloud thought, “Who is Land to order me about? For I am far more powerful than she. I can cover the tops of the mountains, hide the sea, and block the very rays of the sun.”

And in his anger he covered the land, blocking her from the sky and from the sun’s light. Day after day he refused to leave and each day he spread further and higher. Land grew ever more angry and rumbled her warnings and laughter no longer drifted on the breeze from the homes of the people.

Weeks passed and the plants began to sag and rot in the earth and the people wept. Still Young Cloud would not leave and in his pride and arrogance, he ignored the final warnings of Sky, Land, and Clouds. At last, the Clouds gathered, dark with fury, and thundered their displeasure at him. The earth trembled below him and the sky lit with flashes of lightning.

And in that instant, banished, Young Cloud tumbled from the sky to the earth, transformed from lightest vapor to heaviest boulder. And there he remains, forever immobile, earthbound. And once again Cloud, Land and Sky lived in harmony and the people were happy.

hahn

DAY 9 FOUND OBJECT PROMPT

See you tomorrow for Day 9.

Interested in what we’ve written so far? Here are links to this week’s poems:

Sunday, February 7
FOUND OBJECT: Blood Letting Knife
Poems by: Diane Mayr, Jessica Bigi, Laura Shovan, Catherine Flynn, Linda Baie, Molly Hogan, Carol Varsalona, Mary Lee Hahn, Matt Forrest Esenwine.

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

33 responses to “2016 Found Object Poem Project: Day 8”

  1. Molly Hogan says:

    For some reason this picture spoke to me of clouds and legend, and my response is in prose, rather than poetry. I apologize in advance for its length. (Laura if you need to cut it or link to my blog, feel free!) Once I’ve posted I’m going to go back and enjoy all of your entries. (If I look before I post, it’s way too intimidating!)
    The Origin of the White Boulder

    Long ago, not at the beginning, but soon thereafter, when the earth was young and the green of the land blazed against a brilliant blue sky, the clouds lived at peace with the sky and the land. Though the world was new, they understood that they were irrevocably joined and that each one enhanced the other. And for many, many years, all was peaceful and the clouds and skies drifted over the land and the people were happy.

    Then one day a small cloud formed. It drifted through the sky, forming, reforming, shape-shifting as small clouds do. It rode the air currents and came and went as the sky the land and the elder clouds bid it.

    But as time passed, this small cloud grew and as he grew, he began to change. Instead of drifting with the other clouds above the land, dancing over lakes and mountaintops, he sought to make mischief. Day after day he drew close to the land to form great, dense banks of fog. He laughed as he hid the fleecy white sheep from the farmers and the ports from weary sailors seeking safe harbor.

    And at last Land grew tired of his pranks and spoke to him coldly, saying, “Go back to your place, Young Cloud. Leave the people be.”

    In his pride the cloud thought, “Who is Land to order me about? For I am far more powerful than she. I can cover the tops of the mountains, hide the sea, and block the very rays of the sun.”

    And in his anger he covered the land, blocking her from the sky and from the sun’s light. Day after day he refused to leave and each day he spread further and higher. Land grew ever more angry and rumbled her warnings and laughter no longer drifted on the breeze from the homes of the people.

    Weeks passed and the plants began to sag and rot in the earth and the people wept. Still Young Cloud would not leave and in his pride and arrogance, he ignored the final warnings of Sky, Land, and Clouds. At last, the Clouds gathered, dark with fury, and thundered their displeasure at him. The earth trembled below him and the sky lit with flashes of lightning.

    And in that instant, banished, Young Cloud tumbled from the sky to the earth, transformed from lightest vapor to heaviest boulder. And there he remains, forever immobile, earthbound. And once again Cloud, Land and Sky lived in harmony and the people were happy.

  2. Molly Hogan says:

    Wow! What a wonderful collection of diverse responses. Laura, I loved your “When the Moon Fell to Earth”. Clearly I also related this stone head to a celestial object of sorts. Margaret, I agree with you–I always write and post before reading any responses. To everyone else, thank you for ending my day with your wonderful poems!

  3. Molly Hogan says:

    Here’s tomorrow’s entry:
    Winter Sorrow

    Looking at the treadmarks
    crisscrossing
    a mere tracery of snow
    I sigh,
    resigned,
    No snow day.

  4. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    Day 8

    there was nothing
    left
    for me
    to
    do
    but rest my head
    on a pillow
    of fallen
    oak leaves,
    close my eyes,
    and dream
    of
    spring

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

    http://www.maryleehahn.com/2016/02/found-object-poem-project-dreamer.html

  5. Jessica Bigi says:

    Day 9
    Poem by Jessica Bigi

    Walking On the Moon

    Photographic-memories
    Focalizes-snowflakes
    Zagging-pathways
    Artic-blizzards
    Africa zebras
    Snow-white Sand
    Rover tracks
    Moon dust
    Dreams of
    Walking on
    The Moon
    History remembered
    Roger- Roger
    okay for liftoff

  6. Diane Mayr says:

    Wow! Just wow! Laura, I never even thought of the moon, yet now that I’ve read your poem, I think, “Duh! Of course, it’s the moon!”

    I too, don’t read anyone’s work prior to writing. What I’ve done these past two weeks, and last year, too, is look at all the photos and prompts. A few grab me immediately and I start in on those. The ones that don’t grab me, I’ll go back to later. Usually, after the second look, something is sparked. This week, I fear, I’ll be one poem short. One of the photos has been drawing a complete blank. It’s okay to skip. Maybe I’ll write about skipping…

    The location of the art in the woods is the Southern NH University campus on the Manchester/Hooksett line. I was pleasantly surprised to find it as I walked along the campus road going from the parking lot to a conference location. Of course, I took a picture! I didn’t see a marker with the name of the work, or the sculptor, but it could have been hidden, or I could have been unseeing that day.

  7. Linda Baie says:

    I love the uniqueness showing up each day. Wow, so many wonderful images to “see”. It is terrific that your friend wrote the poem for us, Laura. And it is wonderful too.

    Day Nine

    snowy night vrooming
    motorcycle scrapbook page –
    tracks at sunrise
    Linda Baie ©All Rights Reserved

  8. Day 8

    I don’t read the other poems before writing either. My brain is muddled enough! Again, it took me a while to find my way into this poem today, and it seems other people were on the same wavelength. We used many of the same words, Laura, but I love the concision of your poem. (Good thing I didn’t read it first; I would have given up!)

    I’m a still, silent witness
    to sun circling,
    moon wheeling,
    stars spinning.

    I lie in this forest
    evergreen trees towering above me,
    shadows and sunlight
    dancing across my face.

    I’ve felt raindrops, cold and fat,
    pelting me,
    eroding my gray granite surface.
    Snowflakes fluttering from low clouds
    have shrouded me.

    I’ve heard the wind
    whistling and whispering,
    birds’ wings whirling
    raccoons and squirrels
    scampering across this bed of pine needles
    that cradle me.

    Overhead, stars are spinning
    moon is wheeling,
    sun is circling,
    I’m a still, silent witness.

    Catherine Flynn

  9. Violet N. says:

    Hi Laura,

    What fun it’s been reading through many of the poems on here so far. I love how the photos take everyone in different directions.

    Here’s something in response to Prompt 9

    Reading the Prints

    The animals that passed by here
    were very focused and in gear
    their noses sharp, following prey
    perhaps a mate, or the day’s pay.
    And the exhaust-filled, oily scent
    suggests excessive speed their bent.
    The younger of this species, though
    lie lazy angels in the snow
    their tracks characterized by curve
    of laughing play and show-off verve.

    Violet Nesdoly

  10. I love being part of this writing community with my colleagues’ willingness to spin bright tales from scraps of photos. There is such variety, different tones to the poems, and beautiful language floating in space. Thanks for the experience, Laura.

  11. Laura, my Day 9 post is being offered to both your project and Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life as part of a series of thoughts on moving into new directions. http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2016/02/moving-out-from-maze.html

    Shortcut to the poem:

    A webbed maze of stripes
    flash before me,
    boldly jutting into infinite space.
    Laser-like rays shoot forth
    in powerful strokes
    like high-rise steel
    reaching unknown heights.
    They catch the sparkles
    glistening in the sun
    with a hint of iridescent fabric
    shining light upon the path.

    And as if a force is guiding me,
    I move out from the maze
    with a tribe of dreamers
    ready to face another day
    of clearing old, worn paths
    to make way for the new.
    With vigor and verve,
    I move into the light.

    ©Carol Varsalona, 2016

    • Jone says:

      The Face
      In the park
      listens.

      The elderly man
      crying. His boyhood friend
      just died.

      Star crossed lovers
      plotting
      their next rendezvous.

      A child
      singing
      about spiders.

      It’s this way
      each day.

      The face
      never
      revealing secrets.
      © 2016 Jone Rush MacCulloch all rights reserved

  12. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    Day 9

    Tracks

    Under each of his
    uncut fingernails is a
    half-moon of black.

    No fewer than twelve
    jangling keychains
    hang from his backpack.

    He returns from the library
    joy on his face
    hugging his new stack.

    After twenty-two weeks
    his brave facade
    is cracked.

    Hugs:
    unsolicited
    payback.

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015

    http://www.maryleehahn.com/2016/02/found-object-poem-project-tracks.html

  13. Donna Smith says:

    Day 9

    What Lines?

    Tire track,
    Don’t look back,
    Keep the forward roll!
    East or west,
    There’s no best;
    Parking takes its toll.
    Northward track,
    Southern tack,
    Snow rules are so droll.
    Covered line?
    That’s just fine;
    Drive where’er you will!
    Winter fools
    Discard rules;
    Driving takes no skill.

    ©2016, Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

    This just reminded me of Maine in winter…parking lots are often littered with cars because no one can see the lines. It isn’t that they can’t figure out where or how to park – it’s more like “Yea, I can park wherever I want to!”

    Loved the diversity of poems yesterday!
    Now to scoot above and take a peek at what’s been done for today. I don’t ever read them first either. I guess if I couldn’t come up with anything, I might see if there is an inspirational line or thought in another poem that would trigger something. But, no, not really. I like a fresh piece of paper staring at me!

  14. Day 9

    Inside My Sketchbook

    lines
    squiggles
    curly-ques
    zentangle
    wooshes
    splots and dots
    intersections of highways
    microscopic leaves
    the tiniest speck
    my tears

  15. […] image was submitted by Mary Lee Hahn for Laura Shovan’s Found Objects Poetry Challenge.   And Michelle’s DMC is to write a “ditty’, suggested by David L. […]

  16. Jone says:

    Wheelbarrow tracks
    crisscross
    the soft, garden mud.

    Having rained
    three nights ago
    the dirt
    is like modeling clay.

    Straight, simple
    lines
    obtuse, acute, right angles

    father would be
    proud
    geometry in the soil

    Wheelbarrow tracks
    parallel lines
    in which I compose a ditty.

  17. Molly Hogan says:

    Day 10 –My first attempt at haiku.

    Autumn maracas
    Invite you to merengue
    Shake a leg, baby!

  18. […] I put aside the computer earlier than usual yesterday, so I added several poems to our Day 8 collection this afternoon. I hope you’ll have a chance to go back and read them all. […]

  19. THE STATUE
    My body, carved out of marble,
    stared at in reverence, caressed by rainbows
    of hands that satisfy my yearning to be loved.
    I may live in immortality, although I wish
    they could see the beating heart inside
    my alabaster soul.

    (c) Charles Waters 2016

  20. […] Monday, February 8 FOUND OBJECT: SCULPTURE IN THE WOODS Poems by: Laura Shovan, Jessica Bigi, Heidi Mordhorst, Carol Varsalona, Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, Donna Smith, Diane Mayr, Joanne R. Polner, Kay McGriff, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Jone Rush MacCulloch. […]

  21. […] Monday, February 8 FOUND OBJECT: SCULPTURE IN THE WOODS Poems by: Laura Shovan, Jessica Bigi, Heidi Mordhorst, Carol Varsalona, Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, Donna Smith, Diane Mayr, Joanne R. Polner, Kay McGriff, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Jone Rush MacCulloch. […]

  22. […] Monday, February 8 FOUND OBJECT: SCULPTURE IN THE WOODS Poems by: Laura Shovan, Jessica Bigi, Heidi Mordhorst, Carol Varsalona, Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, Donna Smith, Diane Mayr, Joanne R. Polner, Kay McGriff, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Jone Rush MacCulloch. […]

  23. […] Monday, February 8 FOUND OBJECT: SCULPTURE IN THE WOODS Poems by: Laura Shovan, Jessica Bigi, Heidi Mordhorst, Carol Varsalona, Linda Baie, Margaret Simon, Donna Smith, Diane Mayr, Joanne R. Polner, Kay McGriff, Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, Catherine Flynn, Jone Rush MacCulloch. […]

  24. […] the return of Herman the Hermit Crab! We were first introduced to Donna Smith’s invention on Day 8. Donna says, “I didn’t have a clue what to write, but then I heard Herman talking from […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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