Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Firsts

Today is the first day of the spring semester. As I wonder what this term will bring, I've started thinking a lot about firsts--first day of school, first kiss, first time on a plane, first time jumping out of one, etc. I've had a lot of firsts in my life, so this seems like a fine time to write about them. What first do you remember fondly? Or with great horror? Let's write about firsts. 

 Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday.


  1. First Men on the Moon

    "The Eagle has landed!"
    Apollo 11 Commander Neil A. Armstrong
    "A magnificent desolation!"
    Air Force Colonel Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr.
    July 20, 1969

    That afternoon in mid-July,
    Two pilgrims watched from distant space
    The Moon ballooning in the sky.
    They rose to meet it face to face.

    Their spidery spaceship Eagle dropped
    Down gently on the lunar sand.
    And when the module's engines stopped,
    Cold silence fell across the land.

    The first man down the ladder, Neil,
    Spoke words that we remember now--
    "Small step for man. . . ." It made us feel
    As if we too were there somehow.

    When Neil planted the flag and Buzz
    Collected lunar rocks and dust,
    They hopped like kangaroos because
    Of gravity. Or wanderlust.

    A quarter million miles away,
    One small blue planet watched in awe.
    And no one who was there that day
    Will soon forget the Moon they saw.

    [Note: This poem appeared in my A BURST OF FIRSTS: Poems of Celebration, Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers, 2000. It was also published in in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ Great Lives poetry anthology (HarperCollins, 1999), and in Cricket Magazine.

  2. Antiphonally:


    Last night the moon was so large
    I could read the footprints on its face.
    Remembering a dinner with Aldrin,
    his ego so large around our small table,
    and we so in awe, we could only think
    over and over and over again,
    “He stepped foot on the moon.”
    Well, there they are, those footprints,
    not spoiling the view, but waving the flag.
    I was glad to hear the buzz, the talk,
    the ego flap, the big I. He’d earned it.

    ©2012 Jane Yolen, published Spring 2012 Conclave Literary Magazine

  3. Somewhere

    Somewhere under the snow
    the first seed is dreaming
    about sending out the first
    small green flag of spring.

    —Kate Coombs, 2013
    all rights reserved

    1. the flag image for a seedling conjures up one of those things there really isn't a word for (as far as i know): the opposite of a surrender flag.

  4. And by the way, Patrick and Jane, really wonderful poems, and in such different ways. I especially like "wanderlust" and "Will soon forget the Moon they saw" in Patrick's poem and the last line of Jane's. The technology was so limited at that time that it's utterly astonishing they made it there--and back. It would have been astonishing anyway, but all the more so because of what they were working with. I've heard their computer was less sophisticated than one of our cellphones today.

    1. I'm with Kate, Patrick and Jane. And boggles the mind to think of 'their computer was less sophisticated than one of our cellphones today.' Whew. Thank goodness for spring, Kate--love your metaphor! Julie

    2. I'm with Kate, Patrick and Jane. And boggles the mind to think of 'their computer was less sophisticated than one of our cellphones today.' Whew. Thank goodness for spring, Kate--love your metaphor! Julie

  5. twice-betrayed first

    the first time
    the one I called first
    I got lost

    my tissue paper heart
    fluttering against
    papier mache ribs

    my cashmere fingertips
    fumbling across
    a blind terrain of hair

    my withered lungs
    flapping empty balloons
    detached and forgotten

    my tongue a salmon
    swimming pointlessly
    toward never-before seen
    spawning grounds

    but it was not
    my real first

    my real first
    got me in trouble

    hastily planned
    clumsily executed

    I stood poised
    outside the bathroom door
    ready to pounce
    when she emerged

    a quick peck
    a light buss
    an impulse
    without a hint
    of emotion

    then came the crying
    the separation
    the taunting and teasing
    playground sequestering
    parental conferences

    “why did you do it?”

    at a loss for words
    I shrugged it off
    for ten years
    until I found
    a suitable replacement

    I carried that first
    that secret shame

    never forgotten

    (I hadn't realized it until I went to save this in my files, but this is also the first poem I've written in 2013!)

    1. Love this, David—so honest & sincere. Great images throughout. Julie

  6. from Cityscapes


    The first time
    I saw Paris,
    the stars—
    her spine a row
    of streetlamps,
    head a clutch
    of sky,
    sheathed in
    breath in wisps
    of wine—
    I tread her
    cobbles lightly,
    stroked her
    chiseled lime.
    Loved this
    ancient city,
    less human
    than divine.

    (c) jgk, 2012

  7. David, you tell that story in such a fresh way--very poignant! And Julie, I really like "a clutch of sky" and the last several lines.

  8. Ovulator or Ovulated?
    (or Which Came First?)

    If first ever was, or ever will be,
    the Lord may know but, Lord, not me.
    The illimitable past and the coming mist
    seem more Escher stairs than ordered list.

    by Terrell Shaw


    I gently brush my fingertips against
    This tiny lump of flesh, tracing his
    Spiderweb like handprint with my own.
    "Hello dear one, I'm your big sister."

    (C) Charles Waters 2013 all rights reserved