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Poem: "Family Ways" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Family Ways"

This is the linkback perk poem from the April 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl with prompts from fayanora and moonwolf1988, along with further ideas from various "House Rules" lists.  All verses are now posted.  You can reveal further verses by linking to the unsold poetry list or a specific poem you like.  This poem belongs to the Monster House series; you can find out more about that on the Serial Poetry page.

Family Ways

I scooped the Saturday newspaper
off the kitchen floor where it had fallen,
folded it neatly, and set it on the table.

     If you drop it ... pick it up.

My daughter made her way to the sink
and began to do the dishes, her deft hands
carefully sorting out the plates and glasses,
leaving the knives for me to do later.

     If you eat out of it ... wash it.

The bogeyman
finished off
the last of the orange juice,
rinsed out the pitcher,
then pulled a fresh can
out of the freezer to make more.

     If you empty it ... fill it up.

The monster-under-the-bed
took the clean linens,
still warm from the dryer,
and went about the house
making all the beds, his six arms
making short work of the sheets.

     If you sleep on it ... make it up.

The monster-in-the-closet
put away the fresh towels,
laid down the clean mats, and
hung up the bathrobes in the bathroom.

     If you wear it ... hang it up.

The lurking shadow
checked to make sure
all the unused appliances were off,
put new batteries in the smoke alarm,
changed a burned-out lightbulb
and tested the replacement
by flicking the switch up and down.

     If you turn it on ... turn it off.

The telephone rang,
and my wife picked it up.
As I passed her with another load
of laundry for the monsters
under-the-bed and in-the-closet,
I heard her assure her mother
that we'd be there for Sunday dinner.

     If it rings ... answer it.

The radiator dragon presented me 
with the back half of a rat,
then whined hopefully at me
and blinked his big gas-blue eyes.
I fed him the leftover bacon from breakfast
and scratched under his chin with the metal tongs,
then disposed of the rodent.

     If it whines ... feed it.

The baby began to whimper,
but by the time I got there,
he had already stopped.
The little old lady ghost
smiled at me as she rocked
the carved wooden cradle.

     If it cries ... love it.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

16 comments or Leave a comment
fayanora From: fayanora Date: April 5th, 2012 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Monster House poems are always a treat! :-D

Heh. That last bit reminds me... my parents really drove home the point of turning off things when you're not using them. So much so that if I still have a habit of turning off lights as I leave the room, except where there's no switch. (The main light in my living room is a standing lamp that is difficult to get to, and the switch controlling its power is on the other side of the room from the bedroom door.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like the poem.
siege From: siege Date: April 5th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
My parents got a bit annoyed with me because of that. When money was tight, they insisted on everything we could do as a family to save energy. When I was older, finances weren't as much a problem -- but I'd keep turning off the TV after my dad left it on and went to work on something for a couple of hours.

Personally, I think that if he wanted to work and listen to the TV, he should have brought one into the space with the other... but it occurs to me now that what he may have wanted was the white noise that kept him comforted while he focused on important things. And there are devices that do that while spending much less energy than a television!

They just don't spew neo-conservative talk all day on most channels.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


I think a lot of people use television as background noise; it has been described as the modern hearth fire. I rarely use it that way, unless to cover up some more aggravating noise, and even then the content has to be something I know so well that I can ignore it. Nature programs work sometimes. But usually television is too distracting for me. I'd rather turn it off and have natural background noise.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

*nod* I can do it with music, or recorded background sounds. I sometimes use those as scene setting while writing (though for that, it has to be either instrumental or a language I don't speak but have heard plenty). I can't write poetry if there's anything rhythmic in earshot; it overwhelms what I'm trying to write. Fiction or nonfiction, no problem.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: April 5th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must be looking the wrong places -- I want to let you know about two links but I'm not seeing a page for that, or shall I just put them here?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)


Just put the two links here. The separate page is for the fishbowl proper, when someone else runs the linkback perk so I can write poetry.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: April 6th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Okay...

the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: April 5th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Linkbacks posted on both my LJ and DW accounts. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have posted your two new verses.
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: April 5th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I linked "Salt From A Dead Woman's Table" here
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: April 5th, 2012 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually in both DW and LJ, now I think about it. DW link is here
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 5th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have posted your two verses. There are only two left, then this poem will be complete.
cat_sanctuary From: cat_sanctuary Date: April 5th, 2012 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved and linked!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 6th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

Your verse is up, and the poem is complete.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 6th, 2012 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I am dubious -- there is no such thing as leftover bacon.

16 comments or Leave a comment