Symbolic Frolic — ‘Reverie’ #3 Response

23 Jan

Hello. An early posting to respond to Joseph Harker’s ‘Reverie’ exercise/prompt #3: Symbolic Frolic, over on naming constellations.

I am going to write process first, and probably shall for most of the ‘Reverie’ responses. Joseph asks us to explore symbols, to go beyond the trite and create something fresh.

I found my biggest problem, other than coming up with symbols, was figuring out whether I had a symbol, or an extended metaphor. Was I comparing two unlike things, or was what I picked representing something? I’m still not sure, possibly because I chose something that might work as both [and isn’t all that unlike now that I am writing this. Sigh.]

I began with three possible themes [all of which tie together…I’m thinking another poem…], jotting brief associations for each; settled on one theme and wrote more notes. I listed the trite associations, the generalizations I wanted to avoid. I picked the symbol I wanted to work with and went with one rather than two or three [keeping in mind the other poem I am now working on].

The poem itself was not a problem, but I now think I have a simile in disguise.


Something had knocked
the jigsaw to the floor: pieces

Long ago she lost the picture,
learned how the pieces fit, by trial…

She spent a lifetime
putting the pieces together

Now, as she picks up the pieces,
they no longer fit her puzzle, no longer

I hope you all are working on this. I want to see what others have come up with. I only see ViV, so far! Happy writing…



Posted by on 23/01/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , ,

32 responses to “Symbolic Frolic — ‘Reverie’ #3 Response

  1. viv blake

    23/01/2012 at 10:57 am

    I think this is a lot more symbolic than mine, and a lot less clichΓ©-ridden. Bravo.

    • margo roby

      23/01/2012 at 11:08 am

      Thanks, ViV, but I am not convinced. This symbol thing is hard. I realised when I started thinking of symbols, that they cannot be compared to what they represent [not in the way a metaphor or simile can]. I can analyze how the sun is a metaphor for Juliet, but not how the heart is a symbol for love, not comparatively. I understand why the heart represents love. And, to complicate matters, symbols and metaphors are close cousins and sometimes, sometimes, work together. I can remember long discussions in the Common Room on this topic.

      I hope Joseph addresses this some more. I would like another voice.

  2. The Happy Amateur

    23/01/2012 at 11:43 am

    Hi Margo,
    I was there, too πŸ™‚ The reveries are very interesting and of course extremely challenging. I posted short responses to all three, but I feel as if it were a one way communication, though. I keep checking for new comments from Joseph, but there’s none so far. I wonder if he’s planning to tell us how we’re doing?..This is my ‘frolic’:

    Old champagne flutes from
    Before our time together
    Giggle nastily,

    Bubble with poison,
    I can break them to pieces,
    But I can’t stop them.

    Could you tell me, please, if it’s at least remotely what was expected? The topic I chose was jealousy, jealousy of the past to be specific. Champagne flutes became the unlikely symbol for it. The clinking of glasses and the bubbling champagne became voices from the past, haunting jealous thoughts that poison the relationship.


    • margo roby

      23/01/2012 at 12:47 pm

      Sasha — When I say, I hope Joseph addresses this some more, I am not suggesting he doesn’t comment, only that I hope he addresses the specific aspect I am talking about. Joseph has very little spare time, if any. He does comment, but usually once a week only. If he is swamped it might be longer, but he does get to comments when he can.

      What you might start doing is asking the questions you have of the group who post, at the time you post. You can ask for a general response to the piece, or ask people to look at specific aspects. I think this can be a type of workshop if we all work with each other, and that takes some pressure off Joseph [only some, Joseph :-)]

      I did not get jealousy, specifically. Symbols do need a logical connection, even if that logic is not immediately obvious. You say yourself, that the champagne flutes are unlikely. But, if you set a little more context, I think your flutes can become more logical. Does that make sense? I think the poem needs a first stanza that gives a setup for the flutes, without giving away what they symbolize. The present tense gives an image, sets a scene. The introduction of the poison associated with the voices, links the champagne flutes later.

      Glasses clink, champagne
      fizzes, voices
      bubble with poison.

      I did get that something from the past, probably other people the speaker, or the speaker’s partner, knew, affects the speaker…not necessarily the relationship. because people can be poisonous without being jealous, I didn’t get the jealousy aspect.

      Hmmmm. I did not quite plan to give you so much! But I like the discussion possibilities of these reveries.


      • The Happy Amateur

        23/01/2012 at 1:12 pm

        I’ll need some time to digest that, thank you, Margo!
        I didn’t mean to ‘accuse’ Joseph :-), I do understand that he’s very busy, what I don’t understand is how he manages to have a full time job, and write poetry, and come up with all these really unusual, detailed prompts. I’m very grateful for what he does, it’s been very interesting, I just wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be any feedback at all. I thought maybe it’s food for thought sort of, he gives a prompt, and then we do what we can with it. The idea of a workshop you’re suggesting is very appealing! I’ll just fire my questions then πŸ™‚

        • margo roby

          23/01/2012 at 1:29 pm

          I’m grinning at this conversation, Sasha. I didn’t mean to accuse you of accusing…you see what I mean. I went back and looked at my tone. Sorry about that. I’m in Monday Morning mode.

          I do think, with what Joseph gives us, the value, aside from the exercises themselves, is us working with each other. Even before posting I see asking each other questions using Joseph’s blog as a base [Joseph, stop me any time]. Then if we are all stumped, we turn to He Who Names Constellations.

          I’m already excited for the next reverie!

          • The Happy Amateur

            23/01/2012 at 2:31 pm

            I didn’t mean to accuse you of accusing me of accusing Joseph, either! I’m already laughing, not grinning. That’s the hidden danger of written communication, one can read between the lines something that’s not there at all. That’s why I go heavy on ‘smilies’ (that I’m not particularly fond of) in hope that they’ll help show my good intentions πŸ™‚ (there I go again.)

          • Joseph Harker

            23/01/2012 at 7:59 pm

            I’m here! I’m here! I promise! πŸ˜› (No, for real though, I keep meaning to get better at getting more involved in comments and dialogue, and then they throw another project on my desk at work. One of these days someone will invent a time machine to extend the day to 30 hours.)

            • margo roby

              24/01/2012 at 1:19 pm

              Laughing, Joseph. I don’t know how you keep up, as is. I’m thinking that the most important thing is that you don’t come to regard your new creativity as a burden. Visit when you can; comment when you can, as you have done. We’ll live, [while wishing aloud for you to appear].

              Just 45 more years to retirement. I’m sorry, I could not resist. I offered Pamela a pillow throw at me. I’ll make the same offer πŸ™‚


      • The Happy Amateur

        23/01/2012 at 2:57 pm

        I read your comment again, it makes perfect sense. I’ll try to work on that poem to (maybe?..) make it work.. I was trying to convey the jealousy the speaker experiences, he/she is the jealous one.. Oh, well. I’ll try again!
        Thanks again for the feedback!

    • julespaige

      23/01/2012 at 8:19 pm

      I liked this… reminds me of the poisoned apple that Snow White eats. The purity of the apple tainted. Unable to stop the laughter of the glasses reminds me of the witches cackling laughter. But in the end, while one may not have been able to stop Snow White from eating the apple she did get a prince to kiss her… So there is hope. Well I hope I made some sense.

      • The Happy Amateur

        23/01/2012 at 8:37 pm

        Oh, thank you! At least I got the cackling laughter right πŸ™‚

        • julespaige

          23/01/2012 at 10:10 pm

          Though mine is a bit wordy I’ve managed to finish mine tonight …Further down here or over at Josephs you can find ‘Scales’

  3. The Happy Amateur

    23/01/2012 at 11:56 am

    I didn’t say Hi to Viv, sorry. Hello, Viv!

  4. wordsandthoughtspjs

    23/01/2012 at 3:05 pm

    Margo, after all that conversation with Sasha, I got lost and had to go back, and reread your poem. Which is very good, and confuses me more *sigh*. Are we to “use an object” to describe our poem? I am quite fond of metaphor as you know πŸ™‚ I just am not sure I can break myself away from intermingling the two.

    Now, without bothering you too much. Tell me what you think: My idea is “morning” (boring, I know), but I have an association of roosters with morning after living here. If, say I describe the “said” rooster, is that symbolic?


    • The Happy Amateur

      23/01/2012 at 3:23 pm

      You won’t hear another peep from me today, promise. Sorry, Pamela πŸ™‚

  5. margo roby

    23/01/2012 at 3:22 pm

    Short answer, Pamela: Yes, the rooster is symbolic of mornings.

    Symbols are usually objects because the specificity of an object works well. One can say: Love symbolizes their relationship. You can see how that might bog down in generalities.

    The steps to make this more of a stretch are to make the rooster less obvious as a morning symbol. Ask yourself the question: What about morning? What truth about mornings do I want the poem to convey?

    Can you mention the the rooster without mentioning the rooster? [Don’t throw that at me, Pamela — I see you looking around for a pillow] Is there something you associate with mornings that the rooster can be tied to? List everything you associate with roosters and everything you associate with mornings, jotting notes as you go. Then see what you have.

    I do hope you can work your way through that!


    Why Pamela, I never noticed. Metaphor you say? πŸ™‚

  6. wordsandthoughtspjs

    23/01/2012 at 3:44 pm

    Alrighty then, I think I am seeing a clearer picture, Margo. The pillow has hit you squarely in the noggin, :)Thanks.

    Sasha, no harm intended. πŸ˜‰


  7. Joseph Harker

    23/01/2012 at 8:07 pm

    I might be reaching a bit, but this strikes me as having the potential to go two ways. On the one hand, it could be seen as embodying a hopeless cause: the pieces are knocked over, and now she’s back to square one. On the other hand, it could be really liberating: she realizes she’s grown beyond what she spent so long figuring out and building. (They “don’t belong” anymore.) And moreover, it has tight rhythm and sound, which is bonus fun.

    • margo roby

      24/01/2012 at 1:26 pm

      Interesting, Joseph. I was aiming at the out of placeness felt when memories are lost to age, but I can tie either or both your interpretations to the poem I have cocooning, which will focus more on fear and its transformative effects.

      Okay, question. As a writer, I know I am close with the memory/jigsaw puzzle pairing. As a reader, what would have helped you make that connection?

      Remember to breathe– margo

  8. julespaige

    23/01/2012 at 8:13 pm

    I like the puzzle references. I read Viv’s too. Walls are a good symbol anytime – I think. I’ll have to find my way back to her to say so. I usually am not a follow the rules or directions kind of person. But can’t have you two being the only offerings now can I?

  9. julespaige

    23/01/2012 at 10:03 pm

    Mon Jan 23, 2012 Reverie #3

    One warm weather orchard has an orange pearl
    How far would a mermaid have to climb
    Her weight dragging slowly
    Like a writer whose ink produces naught
    To delight in such a natural fruit?

    When ever will the Siren share her loot?
    The moon phases, tides her calendar sought
    By men pretending to be dragons holy
    Ever searching in tomes sublime
    For instructions to make smoke unfurl

    In the cottage by the sea the cat dreams of the might jungle by the fire
    Dust lines the sea glass collected on the mantel shelf
    Having no true anchor, in silence the dead skin flutters
    From the slightest of breezes created by fish tails
    Brought home for dinner in the lined basket on the table, there

    How can he claim the waters less than fair
    When he has enough to eat – justice fails
    When the feather pen sits idle; he mutters
    Listening to her sing from the distance, he hums loudly to himself
    Drowning out her chilling music – quenching his desire


    I was going to post my lists… but did I remember something about letting folks guess at something. I even managed though a bit oddly to rhyme. (OK so I’m still stuck on Mermaids! *giggle*)

    • margo roby

      24/01/2012 at 1:35 pm

      You and your mermaids! But, you have some gorgeous imagery in here. I’m still pulling for a children’s book. You’re artistic, as well…


  10. Julie Catherine

    24/01/2012 at 1:26 am

    Hi Margo, just popping in to let you know that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award – please visit my blog for more information. Enjoy! ~ Julie πŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      24/01/2012 at 1:31 pm

      Julie — thank you so much. I appreciate this, but after receiving it once and going through the process, I made the decision not to have awards as part of my blog. Does that sound dreadful? It’s not meant to and I love when one of the blogs I visit has been nominated.

      Again, thank you. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated.


  11. The Happy Amateur

    24/01/2012 at 9:11 am

    Happy Tuesday, it is I again,

    will this work a little better?..

    Voices in my head,
    They get bolder and louder,
    They are mocking me,

    β€œFirst love never dies,
    You will always be second,
    Will you drink to that?”

    Old champagne flutes from
    Before our time together
    Giggle nastily,

    Bubbling with poison.
    I can break them to pieces,
    But the past goes on.

    • margo roby

      24/01/2012 at 1:33 pm

      Hello you again!

      Yes. The context you give allows me to see that it is the speaker with the emotion and that it is jealousy. Well done.

      Happy Tuesday and New Year.


      • The Happy Amateur

        24/01/2012 at 2:59 pm

        Hooray! I’m glad I made a little more sense.
        Happy Lunar year to you, too!

  12. Annette

    28/01/2012 at 9:01 pm

    I thought this was going to be relatively easy and instead it was relatively hard. Here’s my attempt (using the theme of confidence – can you feel it)

    • margo roby

      29/01/2012 at 11:18 am

      Annette, Which one is the response to this? Winston? Because, if so, then yes. The use of the word ‘swagger’ alone conveys confidence. But I love that you use the Christmas cactus [my mother has an ancient one; absolutely gorgeous.] and its blooming in winter as another example of confidence.

      I found this particular exercise difficult because I am not used to thinking in symbols, but know I need to practice.



Join the discussion and feel free to critique, or suggest an idea for any poem I post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: