Week 5 poem prompt (the lazy late one)


The theme this week is animals. I do not want to be more specific although foxes is on my mindses. If I say grizzly bear you might counter teddy bear. If I say sly fox you might say thoughtful fox. Here is The Three Foxes by A.A. Milne. See how the rhyming works and the how the making new endings to words makes this poem skip along.

One of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem for children has a marvellous repertoire of words that work hard.

Ted Hughes’s The Thought Fox is a poem about the writing of a poem, utilizing the symbol of the fox to stand for the idea of the muse: fleeting and quick, it haunts the poet-writer, disturbing his quiet night.

This poem is my favourite. The attention to detail is amazing.

The Fish
Elizabeth Bishop – 1911-1979

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
—the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly—
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
—if you could call it a lip—
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

So you could describe the first bird you see. Or maybe a wasp or a bee.

Week 4 Poem Post

A Holderness Beach

This week it is easy to find a theme. I miss the sea. I miss the predictable and erratic personality of the tides. Of course it can be about fish and chips, sunburn, rip tides and rolling your skirts up into your knickers and paddling. We start with a gentle reminiscence and Ian Parks poem


It must be all of forty years
and still I think I’ve found the exact spot:
the spa the colour of wet sand

and rock-pools strewn with bladder-wrack.
An ice-cream melts into the crevice of my hand.
I pick my way among the rocks,

the giant pebbles bleached and pocked.
This is where my parents stopped to kiss –
a quintet playing thirties jazz,

old men in faded deck-chairs listening
my mother flustered as I turned to look.
The spa is held in place by scaffolding.

I blink at the sun and shade my eyes.
There are no landmarks on this empty beach.
There is no safe way back.

It would be easy to think of the sea’s awesome power but what about the ordinary tides that smooth the sand. Here is very early English sonnet

Edmund Spenser, from Amoretti LXXV.

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
‘Vain man,’ said she, ‘that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.’

And that desire to see the sea that I have is not new. Here is a poem you will be familiar with.

Sea Fever 


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, 

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; 

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, 

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking. 

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide 

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, 

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying. 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life, 

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife; 

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, 

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over. 

Perhaps you see the sea as a dangerous place. How familiar are we with this deceptively humorous poem by Stevie Smith. An interesting way to remind us that all we see may not be so.

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

And finally a lovely poem from the collection Nigh-No-Place. the title of the poem is a Shetlandic word meaning slack of the tide .

Daed-traa by Jen Hadfield

I go to the rockpool at the slack of the tide
to mind me what my poetry’s for.

It has its ventricles, just like us –
pumping brine, like bull’s blood, a syrupy flow.

It has its theatre –
hushed and plush.

It has its Little Shop of Horrors.
It has its crossed and dotted monsters.

It has its cross-eyed beetling Lear.
It has its billowing Monroe.

I go to the rockpool at the slack of the tide
to mind me what my poetry’s for.

For monks, it has barnacles
to sweep the broth as it flows, with fans,
grooming every cubic millimetre.

It has its ebb, the easy heft of wrack from rock,
like plastered, feverish locks of hair.

It has its flodd.
It has its welling god
with puddled, podgy cheeks and jaw.

It has its holy hiccup.

Its minute’s silence


I go to the rockpool at the slack of the tide
to mind me what my poetry’s for.

Week 3 Poem Post

this week’s theme is letters. You could of course pick your favourite letter of the alphabet. You could do an acrostic poem. You could write a poem about a letter you wished you had sent or received. You could write a letter and call it a prose poem because it may well be one.

These are telegrams for January 1957. They were included in the final batch of photographs my parents have given to me for the family history project. I think they look like parts of a game. Getting a letter or card is quite special now when personal communication is often by text or email or a one App or another. Here is a poem by Spike Milligan

I was thinking of letters,
We all have a lot in our life
A few good – a few sad
But mostly run of the mill-
I suppose that’s my fault
For writing to run of the mill people.
I’ve never had a letter
I really wanted
It might come one day
But then, it will be just too late,
And that’s when I don’t want it.

Poems that read as letters are called epistolary. Poems that directly address someone or something.

Here is Elizabeth Bishop’s Letter to N.Y.

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays, and after the plays
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl

When I think of letters I more often think of songs rather than poems.

Of course the note here This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams is perhaps one of the most memorable (to my mind) because it is so ‘reusable’.

Have fun.