May 5th, 2009


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is travel and exploration, selected by the audience in an earlier poll. I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

EDIT: The fishbowl is now closed.

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Fly Free

Poem: "The Sights Reserved"

This is the freebie poem from today's Poetry Fishbowl, inspired by a photo prompt from moosl. I have not climbed such high mountains, but I have seen the sun rise from the top of Harney Peak and yes, Nature does sometimes save a special palette for a special perspective.

The Sights Reserved

Some sights the Earth reserves,
like a woman waiting for her favorite lover.
Some discoveries are only given
to those who have proven themselves worthy.
Some things you will never see
from safe ground or a plane’s window,
but go
on your own two feet, climb
the knife-bright back of the mountain
and you will find
colors that never touched artist’s canvas –
the gold-dusted peach of alpine sunrise
the studded bronze of the stones
and the lapis shadows softly filling your footprints
all the way home.

Poem: "The World's Widows"

This poem was inspired by prompts from minor_architect and ellenmillion. It was sponsored by minor_architect. It deals with the issue of environmental migrants.

The World’s Widows

How do you say farewell
to the land where you lived,
the land that you loved?

How do you say farewell
to a land that has died and
left you alone in a mob of millions
all desperate to escape the desolation?

There is no word for widows such as we.
Can you kiss the dried lips of the Earth?
Can the empty arms of the river embrace you?
There is no beloved body to bury here.
There is not even a coffin,
for the trees, too, are gone.

All that is left is the packing.
Pick up the pieces of your life
and stuff them into a suitcase
or a wheelbarrow or a backpack.
Take what little food remains
and the dust-gray rags of your garments.
Take, perhaps, one pebble
to remind you of the homeland
that died and left you bereft.

Then take the stick-thin hands of your children
and walk away from it all.
Walk away from everything you have ever known,
walk until your feet hurt as much as your heart,
and walk until you are so tired that not even
nightmares can keep you from sleep
when you all fall down.
Walk and hope that when you get to the city
someone will take you in,
not turn you back into the barrens to die.
Pray that you find someone who will see you,
footsore, heartsore,
and see that there but for the grace of Nature go they.

The weather has run mad.
The wind screams like a woman scorned,
slapping cheeks and pulling hair.
The rain beats the dirt like a drunken man
and then disappears for months.
The hail comes like the hard heels of bad children
who run through the fields mashing the little plants.

Everything is changing and nobody knows
how to stop it. Everyone is moving
in search of someplace safe, but
noplace is really safe anymore. Run from
one to another, catch your breath then
run again. Spit truth in the
faces of the hardhearted:

“Today it is me. Tomorrow it could be you.”

There are enough tomorrows
to turn us all into the world’s widows.

Poem: "Learning to Belong"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from jenny_evergreen and sponsored by minor_architect.

Learning to Belong

How do you learn to belong?
How do you give yourself to a place and a people
so that you become
from there, of them?

You give yourself to the land
by walking it,
until its stones enter your shoes
and your sweat falls upon its soil,
until you breathe its flowers
and wear its rain.
You will know that you belong to the land
when you begin to protect it from those who come against it.

You give yourself to the language
by swallowing it,
the sweetness of honey
and the bitterness of woody herbs.
You speak to the people in their own words
until they begin to love you.

You give yourself to the people
by living with them,
playing their games, eating their food,
hearing their history
with ears as open as the wind.
You listen to them until their story
becomes a part of your story,
until the “I” and “they” of it
melt into “we.”

Say that you are a traveler,
an explorer.
Say that you have seen a hundred lands,
spoken a dozen tongues.
Still you will know the one that is yours,
the one to which you belong,
when you meet it,
as surely as a key knows a lock,
even though they were made in separate places.