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Day 11 Highlights

Categories: Poetry Challenge 2008, Poets.

Paper clips! There were a lot of paper clip poems written on Day 11–when I asked you to write a poem describing a thing. Actually, I found that your focus on description led to some really, really great poems. One of my favorites, in fact, is a poem about–you guessed it–the paper clip “Bent into a ‘u’, then bent again,/another ‘u’ into itself, this bit of wire/we entrust to keep our documents secure.” Check out all of today’s highlights below.

*****

 

Calendar Above My Desk

 

Every month a new world

bubbling brooks

scarlet sunsets

sailboats idling in the harbor

words like

Winnipesaukee

Ammonsoosuc

Mt. Monadnock

days morph into months

months yearning for vacation

a glance up from my monitor

is a journey away from here

 

 

Teri Coyne |tmc329AT NOSPAMaol dot com

 

*****

 

Everything Must Go

 

In the parking lot, behind the dollar general, at 2

in the afternoon, a young man thrust hands

into pockets of an old three-button suit fit

for someone half his size—as if he might

have fished it from a thrift-store or a pile

of clothes at a yard-sale, estate sale, auction

for the peeling home behind the elementary

school where people pick and peck at tables

on the outgrown lawn, silent as hungry

blackbirds after grubs. Nobody looks

into windows, knocks on doors. Nothing

to see here. Nothing they haven’t seen before

on every street in town. Another sign goes

up. Another. And someone gets a tax break

when they buy the place on Market for half

of what its worth. And damn, if they’d a let us

pay that price to start, we could a kept

the bastard. Or if the Ford plant didn’t move or if

And the walls ache empty as the stomachs

of strays who wade sunsplashed in river water

with a girl off route 222. Everything idles,

engines low on gas, turn, sputter out a grinding

song. Everything’s for sale. For rent. Fore

closed. Everything must go. And the young man

hums a melody that could be a spiritual, though

he doesn’t look like a boy to sing spirituals. Too

mod, too hip, too fashionably poor. And no-one

sings those old songs anymore, having lost the feel,

the touch that looks you up and down and says, “I know”

because we do. Or should. After all, it’s nothing

we haven’t heard before: the way we mutter

to ourselves, taking as we do what falls

to us with hands open as any supplicant’s. How

many doors swing idly in and out? And tell me who

wore the jackets we are wearing now?

 

 

Joel Peckham |joel_peckhamAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

The Nose

 

Well, as the old saying goes.

The thing you overlook’s your nose

A nose is such an odd looking thing

A bump, two holes, graced with wings

It blesses you with fragrant smells

Like cookies, lilacs, caramels

Or it curses you with things malodorous

Skunks, dirty diapers, a diesel bus

But above all, its kindest grace

Is to keep your glasses on your face

 

 

Connie |CoFun77AT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

WINDSHIELD WIPERS

 

Back and forth

back and forth

We wipe the tears of the sky

off the glass shield

to give you safer travels

while on slick roads

back and forth

back and forth

We remove debris and dirt

that has piled up in your neglect to clean

as often as you should

back and forth

back and forth

We grow weary from the frequent use

but keep going at whatever speed you choose

back and forth

back and forth

You get frustrated with us because

we aren’t as sharp as we once were

Smears and smudges leave a trail

because YOU refuse to keep us up

The next time you are squinting from the

glare of oncoming lights

because there is no more fluid

and we can’t wipe the glass clean dry

maybe you’ll decide to stop going

back and forth

back and forth

without giving

CHANGING THE WIPER BLADES

a try!

 

 

Christa R. Shelton |c_writesAT NOSPAMhotmail dot com

 

*****

 

In Consideration of My Left Eye

 

Today will I consider my left eye.

Not my metaphorical eye,

nor the third eye my sister’s friend

the astrologer says is wide open

even when I sleep. No, today

I will look directly into my own left eye,

taking into account everything I see.

 

First, my upper lid obscures the iris

unless I pretend to be surprised. The fine

window cracks of blood vessels in the whites

flow like mapped roads, driving beneath

the skin where I cannot follow.

 

On the inner wall of my pupil, beneath

the green ring which precedes the blue

for which I have received so much praise,

something geometric grows, straight, angled,

and a complete mystery. It catches the light,

making the study of whatever it is

quite impossible.

 

Approaching the mirror, I can see in the black,

the reflection of me, looking at myself. I am

small, as if I have captured myself, imprisoned

more than my reflection, more than myself.

 

When I turn and look straight at my eye,

I notice how part of my eyeball is darker,

almost jaundice. I pause to consider the line

between bright and dull, wonder if it cuts me

in half in other ways, intersects my life,

determines for me who I really am.

 

With nothing more to observe worth mention

inside my left eye, I think it best to avoid

the symmetry of my right eye, or perhaps

the disappointment of learning

they are in fact not the same as each other.

 

My final consolation is this:

At least I was, after all has been seen and said,

wise enough to avoid observing my nose.

 

 

Justin Evans |evjustinAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

Moss

 

When we say “moss” in the South,

we specifically mean Spanish moss,

 

that kinky, grey wig that drips

from the old oak branches,

 

that red bug-infested parasite

that (with the smell of wet

cow pastures) reminds me of home.

 

 

JL Smither |jlsmitherAT NOSPAMgmail dot com

 

*****

 

Manure

 

Every time you

spoil the lilt of my potpourri,

every time you stick to my feet or

my thoughts along

that path I want pristine,

I need to remember

that you are the Limburger cheese

behind all things verdant.

 

 

Maria Jacketti |medusashairdresserAT NOSPAMmsn dot com

 

*****

 

The Tree

 

stood in the front yard, next to its

brother on the other side of the

walkway. Small maples, beautiful

lush leaves. One of the reasons we

bought the little fixer-upper in the

first place, the nice visual at the

 

front door. One tree continued to

grow and thrive. The other seemed to

shrink into itself. As the seasons flew

by, the brother grew tall and strong,

while the sibling’s branches stopped

growing and curled up toward the

center. Then the bark started to peel

 

off, and we knew the end had come.

It was time to cut our losses and let

it go. I watched the saw cut into one

of the reasons we bought this small

fixer-upper and felt a sense of loss.

 

 

Susan M. Bell |maylandwritersAT NOSPAMgmail dot com

 

*****

 

The Treadmill

 

Symbol of my hope, my will,

rubber walk on frame of steel,

How I wonder how you feel,

my poor neglected treadmill.

 

She who walks you nowhere goes,

yet we keep you, I suppose,

not for walking, heaven knows.

I need a place to hang my clothes.

 

 

Nancy |nposeyAT NOSPAMembarqmail dot com

 

*****

 

Paper Clip

 

Bent into a “u”, then bent again,

another “u” into itself, this bit of wire

we entrust to keep our documents secure,

has been attached to unexpected lore.

The story goes that some Norwegian

was the first to patent this invention,

and much later, in the Nazi occupation,

his countrymen wore paper clips

on their lapels, a secret solidarity

against the Reich and for their king.

Eventually this morphed into a symbol

of the Holocaust, and recently some kids

from Tennessee collected paper clips,

six million plus, to represent

the Jewish victims of that hellish time.

A humble turn of wire for a soul,

something we must fasten,

never to forget.

 

 

Bruce Niedt |jackbugsAT NOSPAMcomcast dot net

 

*****

 

Baby Fingers

 

Impossibly small

Perfectly formed

Lilliputian mimics

Of my ten digits

So tender and soft

Pink and clean

Translucent

Like a sea anenome

Exploring, reaching

Waving at the breeze

Giving my Gulliver sized

Finger a squeeze

 

 

SaraV |slvinasAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

his ear

 

shiny skin pulled tight over stiff cartilage

soft down covers boneless earlobe

the swirl and whirl of light and shadow follows

the sinuous curve which doesn’t seem to end,

like a nautilus circling ever more tightly

around the auditory canal, which waits to

hear the words, “I love you…”

 

 

A.C. Leming |fackorfAT NOSPAMhotmail dot com

 

*****

 

Spoon

 

It’s a big and made of plain metal

with a wood handle worn by use,

by washing. It stirs the pasta

or the onions, the peppers in olive oil,

it serves wherever it is needed.

 

How bright the sun poured

as we walked out our new door,

under the thick leaves of old trees,

past the jail, circles of razor wire catching the light,

and onto the broad boulevard,

or that’s what it was called.

 

Our first night in our first apartment

together, our first morning

and a trip to the diner for breakfast.

We lingered by the tables

of the church ladies’ sidewalk sale,

and we bought this practical spoon–

our first utensil in our new life.

 

After two decades,

I’m on the other side of the country

and the husband has passed,

but the second-hand spoon keeps

its place in the drawer, more

treasured than the meat fork it came with

or the glass bowl I bought

when I was twenty, even

the colander handed down

from my grandmother

that has a dent and is missing

both handles and that I can almost

let go of. The spoon stays.

 

 

Joannie Stangeland |joannieksAT NOSPAMmsn dot com

 

*****

 

My father’s shirt

 

My father’s shirt,

Soft brown cloth

The color of his cigars

When he smoked them

 

With the stitched deer head

On the pocket

That I’d snuggle

My cheek against

 

I snuck it from

The garage sale box

And wore it

For a few years

 

Now it’s folded

In my drawer

Sometimes

I take it out

 

To trace the stitches

On the pocket

And hold the worn cloth

Against my cheek again

 

 

Mike Barzacchini |mjbarzAT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

My Parents’ Marriage

 

It will be 52 years this summer

And it is a hand played with finesse.

I watch them and soak them up,

Their fealty, concern for other.

How tenderly and diligently she

Cushions his world as the Parkinsons advances,

How dignified he is as his body cripples.

No trumping each other, though there were the years of that too,

Now transcended.

 

And when they were describing the accident

To me

(20 years ago, now?)

Each of them said, separately,

How when the car started to spin out of control

That they instinctively just

Reached

For the hand of the other, and held on.

No panic, like that, together.

 

 

Corinne |c dot dixonAT NOSPAMtelus dot net

 

*****

 

Canvas

 

What colors cast their spells

against this void of fabric

and gloss, blended from brushes

 

and thinners into magic potions

or portraits of the serene. Bleeding

fingertips of horses’ hair splash,

 

sling, and dapple, creating the shadows

and highlights, and highlights

inside the shadows of faces, of hands,

 

of trees. Reality is captured

or captured and bent through a diffuse

set of eyes and a prismatic lens

 

to give the world a taste and a glimpse

of something as pure and intangible

as a snowflake on the tongue.

 

It’s a hymen, a gateway, to all secrets untold,

but before that, it’s blank,

like this empty page, I filled with words.

 

 

Jay Sizemore |vader655321AT NOSPAMhotmail dot com

 

*****

 

Sleek brown fox

peers over his shoulder

at his identical mate.

Ears sharply alert,

eyes deep and penetrating.

He poses with one paw

held in mid-air.

A sentry on my mantel;

Carved by great grandpa,

now guards our family.

 

 

Sue Bench |hd_ultra_96AT NOSPAMyahoo dot com

 

*****

 

and i will make you a mixtape

 

music holds

a history: i laugh

at my age

when a girl

asks me

about cassettes

and how

we used them

in the wayback

and bygone

era

 

i still

listen to tapes

and their hiss

and watch

as the toothy

gears spin

inside

the deck

 

the sound-

track of three

years

together and three

apart, the friendship

spanning

an ocean, a first

boyfriend, the saddest

songs known: all

recorded

magnetically

for me

and frozen

in time

 

i have sat

for hours

pushing record

and pause

to give someone

a rectangular, musical

reminder of who

we were

if only

for a little

while

 

sometimes

a love letter

finds its way

into the case

or a collage

from old

magazines

and sometimes

just the handwriting

from a friend: every

song inside

a little gift

 

 

k weber |ilovehateyouAT NOSPAMhotmail dot com

 

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

16 Responses to Day 11 Highlights

  1. peggy verdi says:

    GONE

    He sits me down, takes my hand
    ‘I’m moving to New York’
    hastily adds, ‘I’ll come back,
    you know, stay with you’
    His eyes dart about
    finally look at me
    There is no connection.
    I pull my hand away,
    ‘Fine, we’ll get a divorce’
    ‘no, no, it’s just a separation.’
    I stare at him.
    There is no connection,
    no memory of first sex,
    dancing to ‘Love is blue’
    working on the MG.
    I should have known,
    the trip to Europe when
    we barely spoke,
    sleeping together, just sleeping.
    I feel nothing, it’s all gone.
    There is no connection.

    Peggy Verdi PAD #18 there is no connection

  2. jane says:

    K Weber! K Weber! Amazing!! Thank you! :)

  3. Carol Brian says:

    Corrine,
    Your "My Parents’ Marriage" poem gave me the right-leg goosebumps.
    Always a good sign (although not very scientific).

    Great poems, everyone!

  4. Rodney C. Walmer says:

    Thank you for your kind words Sheryl, I also like your poems. In my case, I have been writing for many years, and usually do not share what I write, so, when I saw highlights, for whatever reason, I kind thought at least one of my poems would be among them. But, you are right of course, everyone has different tastes in poetry, as with music. I am not holding any hurt or anger at not being chosen. And, by no means, am I suggesting that I am any more deserving than anyone else. I know that my writing style and the styles of today are vastly different. The fact that I have been writing for so many years kind of put me into a style that has not changed very much over the years. The truth of the matter is, that I have been writing all these years as an escape, nothing more, never did I ever expect to share anything I write with anyone. For many years, I actually closeted my writing, out of fear of what others would think of me.

    In truth, I am very aware there are many many great writers on this medium, and IMHO, many more deserve to be a part of the highlights. As an educator, I am also aware of how difficult it can be to choose the best from many excellent pieces of work. I was not going to say anything, but, my wife pushed me to ask, as she sees me checking the highlights daily. So, I did.

    Rod.

  5. Sheryl Kay Oder says:

    It was fun reading the paper clip poem.

    I understand how you feel Rod. My guess is each person likes different kinds of poetry and Robert is looking for certain qualities in a poem. Thee are just too many poems to pick out one from each of us.

    I know many of mine are written quickly and have neither the detail nor the emotional quality that others do. I like your poems, Rodney, and so do others. Send them to your friends. I have my own audience in the Journal Club I belong to, so I get my appreciation there. Also, my hubby liked the poem I wrote for him. It made him laugh.

    Just keep encouraging others as you have been doing.

    I am considering this a challenge indeed, considering I did not pick out the topics myself. Thank you, Robert, for the chance to "Make myself write" each day.

  6. k weber says:

    lorraine – thank you so much for your comments regarding my poem :] mixtapes are a poem all their own! take care everyone… lots of striking pieces delving into objects on day 11. best wishes to all writers in trucking along on this writing journey!

  7. Robert Brewer says:

    I’m sure your time will come, Rodney. We’re only on Day 11 of the highlights, after all. I’ve been avoiding paying attention to names–trying to just focus on which poems jump out at me. So far, I’ve highlighted 93 different poets (with some happening to catch my attention more than others). So I think I’m doing a pretty fair and balanced job of it so far.

    For sure, though, Rodney–you are the most prolific writer of the group. :)

    Best,

    Robert

  8. Rodney C. Walmer says:

    Thank you Tanya. :-)

  9. Bruce Niedt says:

    Robert, thanks for your kind comments on my "Paper Clip". This is great batch of poems today, all right – every one was very strong, and the nose and treadmill poems made me laugh out loud. Excellent work, everybody!

  10. Tonya Root says:

    "Everything Must Go" and "Baby Fingers" both really spoke to me in this one. These are all so fantastic! Once again, thanks to all of you talented artists who are helping me to stretch and improve so much!

    Rod – I think you really SHINED on the love poem prompt. Here is my favorite Rodney C. Walmer poem:

    A Little About Me

    Lord knows how the woman puts up with me
    a more messed up man
    you will never see
    yet, she understands
    don’t ask me how
    she asked for a little time
    my usual response is “Not Now”
    acting as if, it’s a crime
    to want a hug
    Let’s not talk about messy
    thank god, we haven’t got bugs
    it would seem
    I have no idea of the term dressy
    as I usually dress like a bum on the street
    I oughta be hit upside the head
    with a wooden beam
    but, a nicer woman you will never meet

    Lord how does she tolerate
    everything’s a debate
    when she has an appointment
    I usually make her late
    though, she shows no disappointment
    she just accepts that I’m that way
    I know that one day
    my luck will run out
    she will wake up
    then figure what I’m really about
    a self – absorbed selfish lout
    but, luckily not this day
    so I’m safe
    at least for now, to remain this way. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 4/20/08

    :-)Tonya

  11. Lorraine Hart says:

    k weber…I really relate to your poem about mixed tapes, having made soooooo many over the years, they really do become a form of letter-writing…nicely done!

  12. Rodney C. Walmer says:

    Great choices, I have to confess though, I am somewhat concerned that with all I have contributed, I have not made the highlights not even once in ten days. While I understand that there are sooo many to choose from, I would have thought that at least one of my poems would have made the highlights.

    Rod.

  13. Linda says:

    Superb! Mike, the image of the shirt really got me in the gut. Peace, Linda

  14. Corinne says:

    these are spectacular. It was great to revisit them to start my day.

    Corinne

  15. Cheryl Wray says:

    Great choices today, Robert. I continue to be blown away by what’s being created. Can’t wait for today’s prompt!

  16. Wow Robert, this is really good. It ya’ll ever get a contest for amatures can you please email me the webpage:)Thanks

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