Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Poetry Stretch - Photographs

I've been having trouble wrapping my head around a new challenge, as I'm still having fun thinking about last week's stretch, writing the homophoem. (Check out the comments of the post to see all the great poems folks shared.)

Since we've been writing to form the last few weeks, I thought we'd take a topic this week. Did you happen to hear the NPR story last week about the photo historian who found an archive of more than 14,000 photos taken by Charles W. Cushman? Cushman began using Kodachrome soon after it came out and used it to capture the world in ways it had never been seen before. 

You can hear the story at The Found Archive of Charles W. Cushman. Better yet, you can see some of the photos at Lost and Found: Discover a Black-and-White Era in Full Color.

Where is all this leading? I'm thinking about the power of a photograph. Do you have one you treasure? Does it capture a person or a place? What do you love about? Why does it move you?

Let's write about photographs this week. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday. 


  1. Mom

    She’s in the backyard, tilting up her head
    the way she did when she was a teen.
    It’s the golden hour and the light on her face
    is golden. The light in her face is golden,
    with a smile that says everything, the gladness
    of breathing just then in the backyard
    with its stubby grass and a blue swing set.
    It’s a small photo, taken with a bad camera.
    It sits on my bookshelf, smiling at the world.

    —Kate Coombs, 2012
    all rights reserved

  2. Hi Tricia ~ knew just the photo I would use when I saw this taken when my mom was hospitalized for TB.


    It's pinned to wire hanger over
    your desk, along with others
    that depict a younger you,
    probably 3-years-old, curled
    up on chair, framed by leafy
    wallpaper, Mary Janes poking
    their shiny black faces from
    beneath your dress, hands
    perched upon lap, head slightly
    tilted, cheek hugging lacey
    collared shoulder, wispy
    hair held back by wee barrette,
    a shy smile surely egged on by
    eager photographer, so you would
    hardly know the sadness that
    lurks inside that innocent heart.

    © Carol Weis 2012, all rights reserved


    Missing teeth,
    Nappy head,
    Today's the day
    I've come to dread.

    Plastic smile,
    Itchy collar,
    All I want to do
    is holler.

    If classmates see this
    I'm sure they'll laugh
    at my 1st grade photograph.

    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved.

  4. For One Day

    It only happened once
    many many years ago
    before I was alive.
    (My father told me, so I know.)

    All bicycles grew giant wings
    and children pedaled through the sky
    making sounds like birds and planes.
    For one day, everyone could fly.

    My dad made friends with honking geese.
    They taught him how to catch a breeze.
    He still remembers how it felt
    to skim the tops of Grandma’s trees.

    I see it in his eyes sometimes.
    He’ll watch me and “remember when.”
    I ride my own bike every day.
    For one day…
    …bikes will fly again.

    © Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    (The photograph that this comes from is on my blog today -

  5. Round Frame
    My father’s past lies hidden in a round frame.
    The child there has plump cheeks,
    uncolored eyes; a heavy Russian hat
    perches awkwardly on his baby curls.
    He stares out at me, through me, daring me
    to take away his manufactured birth
    in Connecticut. All those years Ekaterinoslav
    was lost to me, when I could have celebrated
    Ukrainian winters, learned words of love,
    fashion, passion, paternity;
    how to season the fish with pepper, not sugar;
    how to cut the farfl from flat sheets of dough.
    All I had was New Haven.
    Would I go there now, when Ekaterinoslav
    no longer exists; go and see
    what Cossacks, Hitler, Chernobyl could not conquer,
    the little shtetl my father alone destroyed
    by never speaking its name?
    No, I shall stay here, at home, instead,
    gazing back at the boy who stares at me,
    whisper to him, through him, dare him,
    “Tell me the story of Ekaterinoslav,”
    till one day the picture itself speaks.

    ©2012 Jane Yolen, from my new collection of poems:EKATERINOSLAV:One Family’s Passage to America, A Memoir in Verse (Holy Cow! Press) All rights reserved

  6. A fine balance

    This is hardly a poem—though it ought to be, because Margaret deserved poetry. More than that, she deserved love. Which she got, in a way—from her sister—but not from the rest of us, who were cut off—cut-out/excluded/abandoned, really—completely unaware of her sad, slow death.

    Why? Well, as near as I can tell, Margaret was a beautiful, silent woman, who confided in no one except her sister. Who spoke to no one, really, except this sister, a sister who didn’t tell anyone—family, friends, neighbors—she was rotting away in a rundown nursing home in northeast Philadelphia, toothless and hairless, breathless almost, except for the thin flow of oxygen delivered through a deteriorating trach.

    A beautiful woman in a bed full of pus and puke, blood and lice, hope and desperation. So… what better tribute can I offer than this belated eulogy to a sad, sweet woman I knew more in death than life? And Margaret was a beauty, trust me. I’ve seen her portrait, the portrait of a satin-skinned young woman in a pale pink dress… with a visage like my father’s and a faraway look in her jade-green eyes.

  7. Thanks so much for this prompt. You know photos are one of my favorite ways to approach poetry. I am catching up with one of your older prompts with trimeric related to one of my photos . Happy Friday!!