Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Three Words

In the book I Am Writing a Poem About . . . A Game of Poetry, Myra Cohn Livingston wrote about three of the assignments she gave to students in her master class in poetry at UCLA. In 2008, Elaine at Wild Rose Reader and Janet Wong, one of the students in Livingston's master class, challenged folks to complete one of these assignments. That's the same challenge I'd like to propose this week. Write a poem in any form that includes the words ring, drum, and blanket. If you need a little inspiration, check out the ring/drum/blanket poems written in response to the original challenge.

Here's the poem I wrote the first time I was challenged to use these words.
rings out,
after day.
Long settled in,
War's heavy blanket
the drumbeat of
I can't wait to see what comes out this time. Leave me a note about your poem and I will post the results here later this week.


  1. Ring drum blanket
    In memory of MCL

    on a blanket,
    under the canopy
    of an alder tree
    we marry one another.
    You place a ring
    of bark shaving
    on my finger
    and kiss me solemnly.
    My heart drums as madly
    as a fusion klezmer band.
    There is no glass handy
    for you to stomp on
    so you crush a beer can
    between your fingers.
    I no longer remember your name.

    --copyright 2009 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved

  2. Rather eerie...I just happen to have a Civil War poem that uses these three words.

    Letter from Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, En Route
    By Steven Withrow

    I hear the cannons' distant concussions,
    dismount and march among my men,
    all men of Maine on a trek to hold a hill.
    We march with muskets high like Trojan spears,
    Union coats more gray with dust than blue.
    How precisely does a Bowdoin professor fight
    the rage of man after man from Alabama or Tennessee?
    We are seven miles from Buford's army,
    blasting and blasted
    near a Pennsylvania town this hot, hazy morning
    in a field our couriers say is beautiful.
    They say we have the high ground and must keep it
    or be crushed. As drums ring out,
    I range like Whitman with walking stick,
    like Napoleon with officer's pistol, scold my brother
    for calling me Lawrence in front of my men.
    We are a scant third of those thousand
    who came from Bangor, Augusta, Portland,
    to wage and win this war.
    With us we have a regiment,
    a full six-score band of mutineers.
    I should lend them banjos and blankets,
    for there are left no bullets or muskets or bayonets.
    Their boots shuffling, their low breathing,
    is better song on this narrow road
    than could ever be the expectant echo of shells
    connecting, lead cutting through thin blue cloth.
    It is best to stroll and listen to their mad,
    scared, northern New England whispers.
    For out there far ahead is the forest
    on the stony slope of Little Round Top.

  3. New Year

    Ring the new bell
    and drum the table
    with open palms,
    with elbows,
    and with sticks of bread and salt.

    Stomp your feet
    and rock your chair –
    until your mother
    gives you that look –
    then kick the empty air.

    A new year is too late,
    for you, anyway.
    but it’s yours to have
    unfolded before you
    like a blanket on a new bed,

    a few creases yet
    for you to smooth
    or chase with your fingers
    until their ends crinkle
    off the edge of the horizon.

    But now is the time for noise
    And now is the time for light
    And now is the time
    for laughing in the night
    in a tight circle armed against the cold.

    The old one fades,
    your head nods,
    to drum anew on the table to wake them.
    A silent ring, they lift you with a kiss,
    and, wrapped in a new blanket
    Carry you into the next.

  4. A Ring and a Drum

    The baby was wrapped
    in a blanket, sausage-shaped,
    and tucked in a basket.
    That's usual. But we found
    two things besides. That's not.
    A ring—real gold,
    with leaves etched
    like a small treasure forest.
    And a drum, a toy one
    with red and blue bands.

    Do they think the children
    here at St. Finbar's play?
    Do they think we'll save
    the ring till he's grown,
    and it will lead him
    to a dukedom? We had
    a good laugh over that.

    Evie tapped out a rhythm
    on the drum while I pretended
    to march, a sturdy soldier
    flapping my white apron
    up and down the stone steps.

    I let her take the drum
    home to her grandson. I sold
    the ring. Had to give her half.
    I wish she hadn't been there,
    peering over my shoulder,
    cooing at the drum and the ring.

    But I told her I got fifteen,
    and it was more.

    --Kate Coombs (Book Aunt), 2009

  5. Kate--a poem, yes. BUT the start of a novel, too.


  6. Jane--Ha. I once submitted a collection of fantasy-themed poems and was told by the editor that most of them should be middle grade novels.

    Merry Merry!


  7. Tricia,

    Here's the poem I wrote last year when Janet Wong and I challenged people to write poems that included the words ring, drum, and blanket at Wild Rose Reader:

    The Early Sixties: A Summer Day
    By Elaine Magliaro

    On an old army blanket,
    a rough, khaki-colored island
    floating on a sea of sand
    at Devereaux Beach,
    we sit in a circle…
    a ring of friends
    playing kitty whist,
    drinking cola,
    talking about boys, and
    listening to rock and roll music…
    to the sexy sound of the sax
    wafting over us
    moaning about love,
    to a drum beating
    like a young heart in overdrive.

  8. a ring of warm cat
    replaces my lap blanket
    --the drum of cold rain

    Happy holidays everyone!

  9. Tricia,
    Here's the poem I wrote last year for the ring/drum,blanket challenge.
    Happy Holidays!

    ring of white-tailed deer
    circle our crabapple tree
    hooves drum frozen ground
    pulling back blankets of snow
    in search of a midnight snack

  10. Hi Tricia -- I, too, write about war, which seems to be a common thread in a number of recent poems.

    Love last line in yours, Jane!


    lays blanket
    over graves
    of fallen
    as drum
    the air,
    the toll
    this war
    has taken.

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved