Caterpillar Days for We Write Poems

16 May

We Write Poems asks us to delve back into our memories, to retreat back to the earliest and then to bring them out and write about them.

I not only have a poem ready in time for this prompt, I have two versions of it. The first I like but I have been writing so many poems that look like that recently, so I went back to the poem and rebroke the lines. I like the second one too. A different mood and feel to it. Then I reread the first one and I like it 🙂

Caterpillar Days

Recess: We ran, short-
legged, over the grass
towards the bushes,
laughing as we hurried,
anticipating what we hoped
to find, large, black, furry
caterpillars blanketing
the fuzzy surfaces of wide
heart-shaped leaves.

We squealed and dared
each other to touch them.
My best friend hopped
from foot to foot as I
coated my hand with
caterpillars each as long
as my fingers. I brushed
my fingers over the bristles
glinting black in the sun.

Caterpillar Days

We ran,
over the grass
towards the bushes

We hurried,
what we hoped to find,
large, black, furry
the fuzzy surfaces
of wide heart-shaped leaves.

We squealed
and dared each other
to touch them.
My best friend
from foot to foot
as I coated my hand
with caterpillars
each as long
as my fingers.

I brushed
fingertips over
the bristles
glinting black
in the sun.

Well, if that isn’t an indulgence, asking you to read two drafts! Thank you. Now off to read others.


Posted by on 16/05/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , ,

35 responses to “Caterpillar Days for We Write Poems

  1. Mr. Walker

    16/05/2012 at 9:29 am

    Margo, I like them both too. The breaks of the second version highlight the action more. First, there’s the place: “recess” then “we hurried” and “we squealed” – and then it ends, more personally with “I brushed”. That structure alone leans me toward the second version. Lovely poem, by the way, those childhood dares.


    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 9:33 am

      Richard, The lines you quote are the reason I like the second one’s structure. I thought it was my favourite. Then I reread the first one… something grabs me.

      I didn’t grow out of those dares until I was in my thirties, maybe forties. I can be a slow learner. I did love those caterpillars 🙂


  2. vivinfrance

    16/05/2012 at 9:31 am

    I never find ultra short lines easy to read smoothly, so my vote is draft number one. The whole concept is charming.

    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 9:34 am

      ViV, I think that’s why I like the first one. It feels right.

  3. K. McGee

    16/05/2012 at 9:46 am

    I think the first one is more “in the moment” pulling the reader back into the poem with you like a daydream. The second is a bit more broken with the structure of the breaks and almost staccato, which reflects more how memories appear (to me): as active bits of information. So I think both forms serve themselves well. .

    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 9:51 am

      Thank you, K [if I may shorten your name so]. After your comment I went back up to read and I see what you mean. I am enjoying people’s thoughts on this.

  4. Misky

    16/05/2012 at 9:49 am

    My fav is the first one, hands down, no doubt. And it’s wonderful!!

    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 9:52 am

      Misk, I know, right? It was fun to structure the second and to play with the breaks, but the first one holds me.

  5. whimsygizmo

    16/05/2012 at 11:27 am

    I like the first one, Margo, and I think it holds truer to the “voice” of a child’s memory, rather than that of an adult “structuring” that memory for a poem. Both have poetic value, though, for sure. I loved the first one, and lived there for a little while, as our playground in Ohio had those fuzzy guys, too, and I can remember letting them crawl all over me. I wish we had more “callerpitters” (as my daughter used to call them) here in Nevada.

    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 11:29 am

      de, interesting point re the structuring.

      The fuzzies must like more humid areas. They are all through Asia. I still feel their pull. Funny.

  6. julespaige

    16/05/2012 at 11:58 am

    The first has a story quality while the second reminds me of a string of haiku. Both have their place. And now they have an etched place for your delightful memory. 🙂

  7. Annette Mickelson

    16/05/2012 at 12:47 pm

    I vote for version 1. For me, the flow was easier and I was caught up in the narrative. In the second, the short line structure distracted me a bit. Just my two cents!

    • margo roby

      16/05/2012 at 1:11 pm

      Annette, Those two cents add up 🙂 I tend to agree with you, although I am finding it depends on what is happening at the moment I reread!

  8. wordsandthoughtspjs

    16/05/2012 at 6:39 pm

    Margo, I saw these early this morning, but didn’t have time to comment. I like both, but truly love the first best. It is the smoother structure in which it reads (for me)


    • margo roby

      17/05/2012 at 7:39 am

      Your response describes how I feel about them too, Pamela!

  9. Irene

    16/05/2012 at 8:41 pm

    I thought, eww..those bristles, no wonder you remember. I prefer the first too.

    • margo roby

      17/05/2012 at 7:40 am

      Irene, the bristles were soft and furry, but I couldn’t think of a better word.

  10. sonofwalt

    16/05/2012 at 9:20 pm

    I like the first one because of where the lines break, what words they concentrate on. I, rather than hand, etc. And I like the momentary hanging in the air between with/ and caterpillars. It fits with that excited squeamish feeling your friend had. Plus the slightly longer lines have a little more weight to them without being at all heavy, or heavier than the mood. I really love this poem, by the way.

    • margo roby

      17/05/2012 at 7:46 am

      Welcome, sonofwalt. Thank you. I love your analysis and hope you continue to offer your thinking when you spot stuff [highly poetic term].

      I visited your site and thoroughly enjoyed reading several posts.

      • sonofwalt

        17/05/2012 at 12:23 pm

        Thank you so much. I enjoyed the poem and I love the whole tone and feel of your blog. Will be back to read much more as soon as I can.

  11. Hannah Gosselin

    16/05/2012 at 9:27 pm

    Ohhhh… woolly bears!!! You’ve captured so well a memory that holds a different but similar story for us all, Margo. Your story is bursting with the excitement of youth and the richness of nature…love those heart-shaped leaves.

    I can’t decide which version I like better but I KNOW I enjoyed reading them both. So much fun! Smiles!

    • margo roby

      17/05/2012 at 7:41 am

      Thank you, Hannah. As always, I am smiling as I read your comments. Odd the things our brains hang onto as important. Who’d have thought caterpillars!

      • Hannah Gosselin

        17/05/2012 at 2:23 pm

        Your smile is reciprocated!! Some memories could be fodder forever I think… 🙂 Especially those woolly caterpillars and even the green, bungi-cording inch- worm ones are pretty durn cool!! :)!!

  12. purplepeninportland

    17/05/2012 at 4:59 pm

    Margo, Version 1 gets my vote. It flowed and felt like childhood.

  13. sorrygnat

    17/05/2012 at 8:09 pm

    I liked the second best!

    • margo roby

      18/05/2012 at 7:40 am

      Thank you, sorrygnat. Welcome. You have an intriguing handle.

      • sorrygnat

        18/05/2012 at 2:10 pm

        In the Baha’i Writings, there’s a phrase where one (spiritually) can be a sorrygnat and become a giant eagle; i laughed out loud when i read this a long time ago, and I thought, yup that’s me, I’m a sorry gnat,-but it’s not a denigrating condition, it’s just shows the process of one in life from my point of view

        • margo roby

          18/05/2012 at 2:13 pm

          I love it. Sounds like some of the Navajo beliefs. I didn’t read the name as denigrating, either. Somehow you managed to infuse it with a positive feel and maybe a thread of humour.

          • sorrygnat

            18/05/2012 at 2:41 pm

            thanks – nice to connect; yes Native american beliefs, I don’t know what you know about the Baha’i Faith – i’ve been one for 46 years, incredible! hugs and love, e

  14. Kelly E.

    17/05/2012 at 11:09 pm

    First, love the imagery in this – the sense of excitement and wonder you’ve captured. Second, I definitely prefer the first version. Super short lines tend to speed up the reader and create a sense of urgency, which I don’t think you need for this piece. There is action, so you don’t want them too long either. The first one feels like the right length to me. Good to experiment though!

    • margo roby

      18/05/2012 at 7:34 am

      Kelly, thank you. I take your point and should have noted that myself re the speed. I do enjoy discussing poems!

  15. neil reid

    18/05/2012 at 1:57 pm

    My god, is someone slower than me? But then look what “all” you do! And how lovely to see you at WWP too.

    I’m gonna (mostly) not read other comments first this time, so you just my own (odd) bias running here. First, nice memory. Each version has something to say for itself, yet I appreciate your desire to step outside the usual (trying to lean that way myself as I can).

    While trying/wanting not to make your poem like the way I hear & write – still, some comment upon the second version here. Maybe you’d like it more if you really really made the change in phrasing reflect the changed physical form. If you’re going to change the “form”, then also change the pace. That might even make the poem breath like an excited child breaths, quick and shallow; then the form would reveal even more of the child physically? By example,

    We ran,
    over the grass
    towards the bushes

    might become instead…

    we ran.
    short legs.
    over grass,
    towards the bushes.

    Of course I’m running rough shod over proper punctuation, but… do you feel the difference? Read it aloud, feel your breath. Does that work for you? (short legs, you see!) 🙂

    And children don’t necessarily speak in whole sentences anyway, do they? (us too?)

    Not meaning to choose either of your versions, one over the other, but just a difference in how pace can be delivered in the word phrases directly themselves. Changes the energy too. Also your mind (mine anyway) might give up trying to “make whole sentences” of what isn’t meant to be by context here. So so interesting what phrasing does!

    So were you a tom-boy? So brave about caterpillars! Delightful.

    Thanks. This was fun reading Margo.


    • margo roby

      18/05/2012 at 2:09 pm

      You don’t remember, Neil? I am slower than molasses!

      I love your suggestions. I do feel the difference and as soon as I finish writing you, I am heading to the poem to play. You are the writer who influenced me to relax as regards punctuation. I have submitted poems with no periods, even at the end! I play much more now. Odd, as I have always encouraged play.

      Yes and no. I didn’t particularly play with dolls, but I didn’t play with boys’ toys, either. I didn’t climb trees or ride a bicycle. But, I have always liked caterpillars, which later became a liking for snakes!

      I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear from you. You have been missed in this little corner.



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