Poem Tryouts: Meanwhile, Back at the Farm

22 Oct

7:37 a.m.

listening to contemporary Hawaiian music sung by Keali’i Reichel

Hello, all. So. We have all done our homework, yes? You! Yes, you in the second row. Stop trying to hide. If you have done your homework, it just means you can move straight to writing your poem. If not, you’ll need a slight detour.

I asked you to: Find a poem that gives a piece of, or one side of, a story. Your task is to write a poem that gives us another side, or piece of the story. It’s a type of response poem.

e. e. cummings wrote the following as an indictment of the tremendous focus on all things scientific and technological. The speaker’s answer to a world such as that described, is to leave it. There are other worlds.

pity this busy monster, manunkind

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
— electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born — pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go.

Now, look at the other side, or at an added piece of the whole, as presented by James Arlington Wright:

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
the cowbells follow one another
into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,in a field of sunlight between two pines,
the droppings of last year’s horses
blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

In one sense the speaker also wishes to escape life, but he wants to escape to the beauty of the world.

Have fun with this. You might write a tongue in cheek this is what really happened poem; or a yes, this happened, but so did this poem; or a while this was happening, in the background here’s what was going on poem.

This does require that you give us the text of your chosen poem, so that we can enjoy what you responded to, as well as how you responded. I am looking forward to what you come up with, and yes, the response might be as short as a haiku.

I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday, for a roundup of the week’s prompts; and next Tuesday for an image prompt [it’s a little weird, she said happily].

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 22/10/2013 in exercises, poetry


Tags: , , , , , ,

20 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Meanwhile, Back at the Farm


    22/10/2013 at 9:51 am

    The original poem and my response are here:

    • margo roby

      22/10/2013 at 10:02 am

      Good Heavens, ViV. You get the gold star and move to the front of the class.

  2. markwindham

    22/10/2013 at 10:05 am

    I do like this kind of writing, often thinking of a response while reading things. Will try and get to this week with something new, but here is an old (year and half) one that fits the prompt, and you commented on when it was originally posted. See what you think now. It is not the poem I would write now (and I did do a couple of small edits), but it is always interesting to read back. And I do like the source poem.

    • margo roby

      22/10/2013 at 10:14 am

      Funny how different from the voice you have now. I was startled as I read, thinking, He would use a different image here… he would do this, now…

      I love anything Atwood. If you haven’t read ‘Siren Song’ here it is:

      So clever.

      • markwindham

        22/10/2013 at 10:20 am

        🙂 yep, that one is fun. We always hear what we want to hear…

  3. Debi Swim

    22/10/2013 at 11:23 am
    I wrote these awhile back
    This one I wrote today for Margo’s prompt using aRobert Frost poem

  4. Misky

    22/10/2013 at 12:22 pm


    • margo roby

      22/10/2013 at 1:13 pm

      Hello there — how’s the weather? I have my woolies out. We hit the thirties tonight. Early for here.

      • Misky

        30/10/2013 at 6:16 am

        Did see this one. Sorry. We had frost last night. The night before 99mph winds that tore through Sussex.

        • margo roby

          30/10/2013 at 7:32 am

          Never a problem. We had our first frost Monday night. This winds, not yet. Odd. I never think of England in terms of wind, which is silly, but there you are.

  5. barbara_y

    22/10/2013 at 2:32 pm

    I say it’s time for some weather. Past my birthday and no color but green.

    This was fun.

  6. margo roby

    22/10/2013 at 3:01 pm

    Yeh, the colour thing frosts my patoot, too. Our maples which usually put on quite a show look like they’ve given up in disgust and are going straight to brown. I’m not sure why. We have days in the sixties and starting tonight, nights in the thirties. maybe they’re waiting for that. They’re going to be awfully patchy, if so.

  7. Carol Carlisle

    22/10/2013 at 3:03 pm

    Fun! Fun! Fun! I got to use something I put together in writing group. It is so wonderful when I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and just get to polish something up. Thanks.

    • margo roby

      22/10/2013 at 3:05 pm

      And, if it’s fun to boot, yay!

  8. Hannah Gosselin

    22/10/2013 at 9:17 pm

    Hi, Margo!! I don’t know how I missed that part…hmm…well, I found one and I’m not sure it’s what you meant but…

    Maybe a stretch a fun one though!

    • margo roby

      23/10/2013 at 8:04 am

      Stretches allowed here ;-). After all, everyone says stretching is good!

      • Hannah Gosselin

        23/10/2013 at 10:39 am

        :)!! MUST stay limber…poetically speaking! 😉

        • margo roby

          23/10/2013 at 11:43 am


  9. Pingback: Toad Wisdom Tuesday: Whimsical Poetry for All | Light Words
  10. Pingback: Another point of view | georgeplacepoetry by Debi Swim

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