Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Poetry Stretch - Marking Time

I recently celebrated an anniversary. It happens to mark the number of years I've been at the university. That got me thinking about time -- and all the ways we mark it. I follow the academic year (one for college and one for elementary school, both of which are on decidedly different calendars), the New Year, and the church year (which begins with advent). Now I add to this the number of years without my father. Every time I look at a calendar I see some new way to mark the time that is slipping away.

How do you mark the passage of time? Let's write about that. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results later this week.


  1. Really interesting to see the different ways people look at time. Thanks for the thoughts. I wrote a poem about time back in the lovely poetry month of April. Here is the link:

  2. Wrote this right before leaving for Scotland:

    The Longest Day
    This is my year’s longest day,
    not June 21st, where the rest of the world
    celebrates the solstice and the light.
    On this day, whatever actual day it is,
    I travel through winter into summer,
    from the New World to the Old,
    backpedaling the centuries
    to a land of castles, gaols, lochs,
    and a brogue thick and strong enough
    to strop you best knife upon.
    Twenty-four hours, more or less,
    of straight travel without a nap,
    for who will hold up the plane
    over the dark waters of the Atlantic,
    if not watchful I in my navigator chair?

    @2011 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  3. Tally

    I have measured out my life
    with yogurt spoons, with lost eyelashes,
    lost keys, lost locks, lost loves.

    I stopped counting years
    when the wind blew
    my memories away
    like newspapers from the house
    of an old woman who hoards
    many things, including cats.

    When I was young
    I saved seashells and pictures of unicorns,
    then books that slowly turned yellow,
    later shoes I forgot buying
    and left forlorn, sunken
    in the deeps of the closet.

    Most of all, I saved papers,
    useless ones by the pound, and a few
    worth more than a forest of trees.

    I saved poems. Sometimes
    I wondered why I'd written them.
    Till one of them hurtled
    into my gut like a boxing glove
    full of fist.

    I would have liked to save
    a thousand skies, and the faces
    of innumerable roses,
    not the kind you get
    in stores, but ragged,
    fragile petals that opened
    softly in spite of aphids.

    And do these things
    make up a life? Not without
    the words that were said,
    the explosions of laughter
    like confetti and the whispers
    I tipped my head to hear.
    They came with smiles,
    or frowns and sighs.

    But the eyes,
    I think eyes most of all.
    All the eyes I've met with mine—
    those were worth counting.

    --Kate Coombs, 2011, all rights reserved

  4. Shivers, Kate, thanks.


  5. Wow Kate. Great poem! I loved - when the wind blew my memory away like newspapers.

    Marking Time?

    Mark Time?
    Who is Time
    that I should mark him,
    his coming and going,
    his endless ticking
    and tocking and taking?

    Let him mark me.
    Let him mark
    how I used him up,
    squeezed him dry,
    took all he was or would be,
    and left him
    a shriveled empty husk,
    how I made him mine,
    and lived as his master
    instead of his slave.

    Mark Time?
    Let him mark me.

    ~~Barbara J. Turner

  6. Awesome poem, Barb!

    Here's mine:


    It is such a short sweet time that stone
    fruit ripen on a gnarly backyard tree.
    A simple passage from green to yellow to
    peach yet fraught with instability the whole way--
    cold, frost, wind, hail, moths, mites, borers,

    squirrels, or juvenile delinquents. Yet a few
    manage to soften to sweeten to run sticky
    with juice. Promise me one week each
    summer. Gift me with ripe peaches so I
    can survive the rest of my year in New England.

    © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

  7. What a wondrous place this is! Miss Rumphius is a beloved book on my shelf and lupines are my favorite flower.

    Lately I've been enraptured with the meter of shadormas and wrote this, relating to time, on my site this week:

    Sharona's Shadorma

    Blazing sun

    summer afternoon

    basement room.

    Song drone of

    sweltering radiator.

    Institution files.

    Dusty sneeze,

    lives crammed into files.

    Life sentence–

    birth defects.

    Forgotten files whisper names.

    Sharona’s file pleads.

    Thirty years

    shoved in manila.

    Gasp escapes

    in swelter.

    Kodak of small, sobbing girl.

    My tears fall on hers.

    Years ago

    my own babe lived brief,

    deaf-blind weak.

    Pain-filled life,

    our agony, Heaven’s gain.

    And now Sharona.

    Whispered plea

    ~such a time as this~

    Image freed

    from captors.

    Sharona’s picture is hers.

    Gift framed in walnut.

    ©Connie Mace 2011

    (I wrote a happier one yesterday as a sneak preview of my children's book :)

    Thank you for such a wonderful site!

    All for GOD,
    Connie@raise your eyes

  8. I cheated and did a two-for-one. On Write After Reading this week, we're doing poetic forms, so I wrote this acrostic about time:

    My Nonlinear Memory

    Let the water spread
    In a soft rush across the page,
    Followed by washes of color, one for
    Each day, each year, each decade.
    Time becomes background,
    Etched into it with India ink.

    --Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

    Most people see time as linear, but my memory is so poor. I often can't remember what happened, let alone when it happened. So I compared my life to a watercolor painting with layers of color building up, mixing together, becoming indiscernable from each other. It all creates a whole, but I can only remember a limited number of specific events. That didn't all come through in the poem, I know--just sharing what the initial thought was. :>)

  9. The prologue to my science fiction novella in blank verse, The Feather of Memory:

    By Steven Withrow

    Something about the way a Time Ship moves—
    No rounded clock or pointed arrow’s arc
    Describes it fair enough, how it grooves
    Quantum breakers, like a storm-tossed bark,
    How it plumes up in a subsea swell
    Through universal ocean, chronosphere,
    And breaks the surface as a diving bell
    Pierces Neptune’s armor like a spear.
    Light, scattered through a prism, looking glass,
    Reflected in a pool, cannot keep pace.
    No matter, plasma, energy, or mass
    Better worms its holes in hyperspace.
    Shortest gap between two points—a line?
    You have your secrets, Time, and I have mine.

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  10. NATURE

    Every time nature shifts
    I receive another gift
    Of memories long ago
    Playing with Mom in the snow
    Kissing my infant sister
    Pulling out my first blister
    Making a fruit pie with Dad
    Failing science, I was mad!
    When seasons change bear in mind
    That to look back, just rewind.

    (c) Charles Waters 2011