A poem in process.

NotebookPencil

Kudos to Carol Scott for sharing her writing process! Three versions of her poem, “Honey Crisp” appear below, and I hope you enjoy seeing the poem’s evolution as much as I did. Carol participated in a Writing Visually class I taught earlier this summer at Carver County Libraries that was geared toward their Poetry/Art Collaborative. Here’s my post about the poem we wrote as a class here.

Participants were encouraged to take the rough draft and run with it to create their own work. And Carol did! I hope she’ll enter her poem once she’d finished. The Library is accepting entries until August 3; there’s also a call for artists. Email Angela Hunt for more info — ahunt AT co.carver.mn.us

#1 HONEY CRISP  by A. Carol Scott

Its bee-kissed bloom
fractured;
long since faded
for this very moment
Of lusty, earthy perfection.
Wise men infused  their gifts:
Shapely perfection,
Silken beauty,
Flamboyant tenderness.
Minnesota nativity testifies:
This beauty is not like others,
Those from far away,
Those foreign to this fertile place.
No. Cloaked seductively in a
Shiny green-accented
red envelope modestly
Enfolding velvety succulence,
This enchantress is poised,
Suspended tauntingly
Out of reach like a star
Twinkling a promise,
Eliciting Pavlovian reactions:
Stomach pit pain, yearning,
Igniting textured memories of
Dewy trails tracing down wrist
Leaving a honeyed kiss
On pulse point
Breathing a delicate,
Heavenward, fragrance
Tempting those vulnerable
To pluck stabled treasures
From straw laden manger.
#2   HONEY CRISP by A. Carol Scott
Its bee-kissed bloom
fractured;
long since faded
for this very moment
of lusty, earthy perfection.
Wise men infused their gifts–
silken perfection,
unrelenting fragrance,
flamboyant tenderness.
Minnesota nativity testifies
this beauty is not like others,
those from far away,
those foreign to this fertile place.
No. Cloaked seductively in a
satiny green-accented
red envelope modestly
enfolding firm white succulence,
this enchantress is poised,
suspended tauntingly,
out of reach, like a star,
igniting textured memories–
stomach pit yearning,
dewy trails tracing down wrist
leaving honeyed pulse-point kisses.
Bearing its sweet bouquet
on heavenward breezes,
the vulnerable are beguiled.
Bowing to temptation they visit
the orchard’s straw laden manger,
select bag-swaddled treasures
to offer consuming praise in private
#3 HONEY CRISP by A. Carol ScottIts bee-kissed bloom
fractured;
long since faded
for this very moment
of lusty, earthy perfection.
Wise men infused their gifts–
silken perfection,
unrelenting fragrance,
flamboyant tenderness.
Minnesota nativity testifies
this beauty is not like others,
those from far away,
those foreign to this fertile place.
No. Cloaked seductively in
satiny green-accented red,
this enchantress is poised,
suspended tauntingly, a star,
igniting textured memories–
stomach-pit yearning,
dewy trails tracing down wrist
leaving honeyed pulse-point kisses.
Bearing its sweet bouquet
on heavenward breezes,
the vulnerable are beguiled.
Bowing to temptation they visit
the orchard’s straw laden manger,
select bag-swaddled treasures
to offer consuming praise in private.

My poetry/art collaborative

unnamed

For a recent workshop, I put together an afternoon about writing visually. The workshop was a kick-off to Carver County Library‘s unique Poetry/Art Collaborative, a new event this year that challenges poets to submit poems about Carver County — places, events, people, activities, objects, scenery, etc. — and challenges artists to create work for an exhibition in November.

Doesn’t seem right to ask my students to do something I haven’t attempted, so I wrote a poem about the apple tree in my back yard and challenged my beloved, Dick Osgood, to create a photo that reflected my poem. Dick’s beautiful photo is above. Here’s my poem:

Apple Tree, Spring

This morning
a pink gull passed over
the bluesilver lake.
Under her rosy wings,
ten thousand ancient spurs
newly white.
Eighty years
twenty-nine thousand evenings
past the careful parsing of
youth and the prudent provisioning
of prime, every year a glorious
exuberance. Because any year
might be the last.
Bushels, baskets, climbs, nests, forts, bees,
swings, kisses, robins, jays, picnic blankets.
The annual passerines for two weeks
every May. Bud, flower, fruit and
fruit-fall. Malus domestica.
The star at the white heart
of every apple.

 

Writing Visually, and a collaborative poem

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Writing Visually, and a Collaborative Poem Setting: Saturday afternoon, June 6, at the Chanhassen branch for Carver County Library’s class on Writing for Real People: Writing Visually. Purpose: to have fun with words! And to get ready to write a … Continue reading

List Poems

This is one of the easiest and most popular writing exercises I do with students.

1.  At the top of a blank page, write the name of the person you’re writing about, yourself or another.
2.  Freewrite for 2-3 minutes, jotting down every word, phrase, thought, or image that comes to you about this person. Write as quickly and as much as you can; editing comes later.
3.  End with an object, something this person holds in their hand or pocket. (Because this can give you a clue to writing more about this person later.)
4.  Read through what you’ve written, circling or noting any recurring themes. Cross out anything you don’t want to keep.
5. You have a List Poem, a snapshot or sketch of the essential characteristics (as seen by you!) of a particular person. Now, you can:
A) Use this to write a story.
B) Copy your edited poem in your best handwriting, one ides or phrase per line, and frame it along with a photo of the person.

Variations:
Love Poem — in step 2, list everything you love about the person. Step 3, end with I love you because…

Think about everything that scares this person when you are freewriting in Step 2.

Conversation

Conversation

“It’s not just that it’s Iowa,”
she says
and talks about her son in college
there, and his girlfriend who loves him
who is from a small town in Iowa
who wants to live there always.
“It could be anywhere.”
“Yes,” I say.
“I mean,” she says,
“it’s just that I want his dreams
to be bigger than he is.”
“Yes, ” I say
and realize that once the impossible
was off the table
the possible, the probable
the actual
became smaller
and smaller.

 

Feeling the Farmers’ Market

Feeling the Farmers’ Market

If I could, I’d caress the carrots, flick my fingernail against the soil lodged in their sides, twirl their roots between my fingers, tousle their fluffy heads.

I would pick up the basil bunches, essence traveling to the place in my brain where I can feel the sandy soil of my first garden between my toes, the sun on my arms, my head, warming the wooden handle of my hoe when I bent to gather dinner each evening.

I would touch the child in her stroller, her downy hair, her pearly toes, her cheek – the ripe fruit of new skin – springy with the water which made us all.

Visiting Dickie – a prose poem

Visiting Dickie

Well, Dickie, there you go. I brought the white ones because the yellow aren’t quite ready. Do you remember the yellow daffs on the way to the orchard? Such small yellow cups, but so much waving green! We always liked the yellow best, didn’t we, even though Mary and Mother said you couldn’t tell them from dandelions. Mother kept a vase on the piano for the daffodils, and sometimes there would be lilacs, too. Do you remember? You should have lived longer. Years and years longer. You would have learned to play the piano so we could play duets, you in knickers and sturdy brown shoes and me in black Mary Janes and thin white socks that always fell down. My feet would reach the pedals and your arm would reach the music propped up there on the wire rack so you’d be the one to turn the music at our Christmas concerts with the deep green tree, spicy pine, in the front parlor where your casket had never been because you didn’t die when you were four, and we’d sit at the piano to play “O, Tannenbaum” but really we wouldn’t need the music, we’d be looking through the doors at the tree, glittering and jeweled and waiting for presents and later, no one would scold us when we broke Nana’s favorite ornament, the little glass violin, because our music was so pretty and they were all in a happy mood. We’d play in the summer, too, steamy greenish gray evenings when Mother and Father and the aunts and uncles and sometimes the neighbors sat on the porch with tinkly glasses of lemonade, some of the men had more than lemonade in their glasses you’d tell me, you saw the brown bottle just like the one in the bottom drawer of Uncle Frank’s desk and I’d believe you because brothers know these things, even when they are younger, and on a pearly June night after fried chicken and cold macaroni salad our piano playing would be so good the grown-ups would come into the parlor and exclaim over us and pat our heads and pinch our cheeks, not hard, just a little, a tickle to show they loved us and where is Mary? Mary would be good, as older sisters should be, but not valuable like us, at the piano, so she’d be in the kitchen helping Minerva with the dishes and carrying trays of tall glasses out to the porch and plates of Minerva’s thin cookies with crackly brown sugar on top but Minerva would bring us our own plate of cookies to leave next to the piano so we could eat them between songs and maybe Mary would be sent down to the cellar to chip more ice and come back with bits of sawdust clinging to the hem of her dress and her socks no matter how careful she’d d been to stay on the clean part of the floor and usually you and I, the brother and sister, wouldn’t be asked to get the ice because the grown-ups would rather hear our music but if ever we were sent for ice, we’d go together with two ice picks and one of us would stand guard with the extra ice pick ready in case the candle went out and we had to defend ourselves against whatever might come out of the darkness in case whistling didn’t work. You’d be my best friend and I’d be yours and sometimes but probably not very often we’d ask Mary to play and you’d be able to convince her she couldn’t be in charge because that’s what brothers can do and she’d have to follow us and do what we wanted to do – be a pirate or a world famous circus performer who can tame lions and tigers or the rabbits down by the raspberry patch and when we were hungry we’d send Mary into the brambles to pick black raspberries for us and she would and we’d give her some, too, and we’d spit out the seeds being careful not to drip black purple juice on our clothes that Minerva and Mother had starched and ironed all morning and no one would ever know that we spit out the seeds because Mary wouldn’t tell and you’d be able to make Mary do anything we wanted her to do until maybe she’d become nice like us and we could just be two sisters and a brother, just children who grew up together, together round the farm and the pond and the woods and then Mary wouldn’t have wanted to walk by herself and I wouldn’t have been in charge of you or if I was I would have known, I wouldn’t have let you go off too far by yourself and you wouldn’t have walked on the pond before the ice was ready, it wasn’t ready, no one could skate till after Christmas, at least, and if we couldn’t skate then we couldn’t walk on the ice, we all knew that – why didn’t you? And you might still be here and I wouldn’t be alone, and we would have been children together for a few more years after Mary became too young-ladyish to play and we could have sat on the stairs together, up high, away from the light, to watch Mary and her beau saying goodnight in the front hall and maybe she wouldn’t have married Jack she might have married Stan instead because you would have been the kind of brother to advise her and while we’re at it, you would have helped me decide about Ed and the baby and what is the right thing to do because I never know, not ever, what is the right thing or if you do a wrong thing, how many things do you have to do right to make it come out even? You would have lived long enough to find out from your own mistakes, the kind boys make, which are never as bad nor as heartbreaking as the kind girls make and when you found the answer you’d tell me and you wouldn’t be a four year old saint, forever what you could have been and not what you actually became, warts and all, and waiting your turn, like I am now, when I can hardly hear the music and there are no more tiny yellow daffodils.

2007, rev. 2/2012

What I Think I Know

What I Think I Know

My friend’s daughter spent her first Christmas
away from home, having joined
the Peace Corps.
The photo from Senegal
sits on my frost-rimed windowsill, the African
sun burning its way to the horizon
past a thorny tall tree.
At my advancing age, I’m aware
that my simplified life, which it pleases
me to think is closer to the ground,
would still be considered a life of luxury
by most of the people with whom
I share a planet. Once, I pictured myself
in the Peace Corps, doing good
in an unspecified but conflict-free country
with reliably pleasant weather,
delicious, if simple, food, and a hot shower every day.
Liberals. Sheesh.
I know that whatever Julie is doing
is nothing like that,  oceans
and eons and a universe away from home.
She’s there because
the village requested it, the elders made a plan
to use the help, agreed to follow it. And I think
well, not all that different from the rules I taught
my children. Show up. Pay attention. Participate.
Ask for help when you need it. The entire point,
it seems to me, of being human.

But there is nothing like that tree in my
line of sight. I wonder what those who see it
every day would say about it?