Poem in Response to We Write Poems

28 Sep

We Write Poems, and Yousei Hime, asked us to write a poem about scent, or that uses scent. Choose an abstraction and write a poem (of whatever form pleases you), Yousei says, that builds scent into your chosen concept.


laid out on a plate lemon slices of self
emotions stripped leaving a still life of lemons
a bite from a lemon meringue pie
a lemon sour acid bath



Notes: This is one of those times that many of you have experienced, when the poem came unbidden [and pretty quickly on the heels of reading the prompt].

I was tossing concepts around in my head and loss stuck. Once it stuck, lemons came immediately, as did the lines of the poem. My contribution was the order of the lines. Not using punctuation wasn’t even my choice. You all know I am the punctuation queen, so you know that decision wasn’t mine. But the part of the brain from which many poems appear, said, No punctuation…and maybe, no title.

The interesting thing about lemons is that I wrote with the scent in mind and realised only later that so much of the imagery will evoke the taste of lemons. I like that, having the scent be subtle and this taste being more on the surface.

I will see you over at We Write Poems, reading others poems.


Posted by on 28/09/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

27 responses to “Poem in Response to We Write Poems

  1. vivinfrance

    28/09/2011 at 11:06 am

    I love the scent and flavour of lemons. Your little poem is bittersweet.

    • margo roby

      28/09/2011 at 11:30 am

      Ah! Thank you, ViV. I was trying to come up with why my brain said lemons and I knew it was right, but I couldn’t come up with precisely why. Bittersweet. That would be it.


  2. pamelasayers

    28/09/2011 at 1:21 pm

    I can smell the lemons, Margo. Nice.


  3. Annette

    28/09/2011 at 2:03 pm

    This is really nice. Its funny the way some poems come so quick and some take so much work. This has lovely flow, imagery and scent. And the last word is the perfect finishing punch.

    • margo roby

      28/09/2011 at 4:47 pm

      It is, isn’t it, Annette? And I never know which it will be for any given poem. Thank you for your kind words. My decision to put ‘loss’ last came after many revisions. Originally I had it first. I’m pleased with my decision 🙂


  4. mareymercy

    28/09/2011 at 6:29 pm

    I like the use of lemons, made me think of the ‘life giving you lemons’ saying. Very apt.

    • margo roby

      29/09/2011 at 7:34 am

      That went through my mind, at some point, mm, and seemed to fit although maybe sidewise.


  5. Yousei Hime

    28/09/2011 at 10:07 pm

    Unique and tangy. The use of lemons made me rethink every image and concept in each line. I really love poems that make me think. Thank you so much for participating in this prompt.

    • margo roby

      29/09/2011 at 7:35 am

      Thank you, Yousei. I think my best decision was to move ‘loss’ from the first line to the last. Your reaction is exactly what I was hoping for. And, thank you for the exercise!


  6. Irene

    29/09/2011 at 3:55 am

    That singular word carries the weight of lemons. 🙂

  7. neil reid

    29/09/2011 at 1:42 pm

    I like what you did with this Margo. Short and (not) sweet! (pardon… ) And remembering myself, the scent and taste of lemon is more complex than first obvious, so an excellent choice… or just good that you received what you got. And the ending, yes yes, the perfect place to nest that offset word, “loss”, that defines the particular of the poem. Yes yes. This poem breathes on being subtle and that would be lost turned the other way around.

    (and see, no fuss about punctuation either way from me!) 🙂


    • margo roby

      29/09/2011 at 5:31 pm

      You are a good man, Neil. Tell me it crossed your mind in one tiny triumphant sparkle to rag me on the non-use of punctuation…or to congratulate me. Not even a sparkle of those thoughts?

      And thank you for putting in words why I, too, like this poem.


  8. julespaige

    29/09/2011 at 4:37 pm

    With thanks to We Write Poems’ Yousei Hime and Wordgatherings’ Margo Roby…



    White as fresh snow
    Fine ground stone
    On the clean baby body
    Of our own fresh washed son…

    Son of Son visits
    Stuffs is little fists and face with
    Squirrel cheeks –
    Passing through him rather quickly…

    Not so fresh
    Quite a bit of a mess
    I sing to him as a distraction
    And fasten the clean diaper on

    “Shaving cream, be nice and clean
    Shave everyday and you’ll always be clean”
    A new generation
    Clean boy-chick body…


  9. margo roby

    29/09/2011 at 5:32 pm

    Lovely, Jules. The mood is like a lullaby.


  10. nan

    30/09/2011 at 10:00 am

    the last word, loss, stays on the fingertips like lemon balm rubbed between one’s hands. this is a beautiful poem!

    • margo roby

      30/09/2011 at 5:21 pm

      I like that, Nan, “like lemon balm”. And, thank you.


  11. tmhHoover

    30/09/2011 at 12:02 pm


    I like this poem because it fills that part of me that likes to see something good come out of bitterness.

    This past year I have wandered and sometimes struggled through learning about words and writing. The experience has continued to illuminate my blessings and the losses. It is easy to write about the blessings and beauty. It has been easy also to write about deep losses- it is not easy however to claim that writing. Somedays I literally write/post and run away- that way I don’t delete it.

    I want to thank you for being supportive and a providing a safe place for writing. xo teri

    • margo roby

      30/09/2011 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Teri — no it is not easy to claim it. One way that helps is to think of the poem’s speaker as a separate entity from you. Even if it is your difficulty, if you think of the speaker as speaking for you the writer, it helps you maintain an objective distance. At some point you will find that you are changing something about what happened because it makes a better poem. That’s when you know you are able to write both as a way to work through something and as a way to craft a poem. When I was first writing that helped me tremendously. It makes the difficult poems less volatile.

      • vivinfrance

        04/10/2011 at 3:55 am

        Thank you for those wise words, Margo: during the workshop I attended here recently, I started to write a poem that went way too deep, and ended up in tears, having to stop. Next time I try something like this I will try to use your technique.

        A better poem would be good, even if not entirely true to history.

  12. margo roby

    04/10/2011 at 12:08 pm

    My great pleasure, ViV, if it will help. I have found this method gets me through the darkest moments when I want to write about them.

    And, if a better poem is always your goal, then truth works only so far as it serves that goal. It also helps in how you approach the writing of a poem on a deeply personal topic. If you go into it knowing you are looking for a good poem, the topic becomes something less personal, especially if you have created a speaker. The topic becomes the speaker’s rather than yours.

    Hope you are staying out of trouble. Oh, okay, a little trouble is allowed.


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