Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - What Isn't There

I've been reading seasonal poems as of late and was so struck by this poem that it gave me the idea for today's stretch.
by Thomas Hood

     No sun—no moon!
     No morn—no noon!
No dawn—no dusk—no proper time of day—
     No sky—no earthly view—
     No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no "t'other side this way"—
     No end to any Row—
     No indications where the Crescents go—
     No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
     No courtesies for showing 'em—
     No knowing 'em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion—
No inkling of the way—no notion—
     "No go" by land or ocean—
     No mail—no post—
     No news from any foreign coast—
No Park, no Ring, no afternoon gentility—
     No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
  No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
  No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds—
Since my poems often try to capture what I see and hear, smell and touch, I thought it might be interesting to write a poem about something that describes it by virtue of what isn't there.

So, there's your challenge for the week. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Tricia,

    Here's an animal mask poem about earthworms that I wrote some time ago. I posted it previously at Wild Rose Reader. In the first half of the poems, the earthworms tell what physical features they lack.

    We have…

    No bones
    No shells
    No teeth, as well—
    No lips, no beaks
    No chins, no cheeks
    No horns, no claws
    No talons, jaws
    No legs, no wings…
    No fancy things
    Like fins or scales
    Or fluffy tails,
    No blubber like the big blue whales.

    We’re soft. We’re small…
    Not much at all.
    We’re nondescript—
    But we’re equipped
    To eat your dirt.
    It doesn’t hurt
    Us--not a bit.
    In fact,
    We like the taste of it.
    We toil in soil.
    We’ve got true grit!

  2. Thank you, Elaine! This is just what I was thinking of. I'm so glad you shared this.

  3. This stretch made me think of the brief interlude in our home between Eli and Cali....sigh.

    Dogless House

    No one waiting by my door.
    No lickingwigglingwags galore.
    No one barking anymore.
    I’m going home.
    What for?

  4. I am decidedly not a poet, but I love reading your Poetry Stretches, so I decided to give one a try. I had planned to write something about everything my family misses while my husband is deployed. Instead, I ended up writing this fairy tale-inspired poem about being a custodial stepmother:

    No poisoned apples or magic mirrors
    No waiting for night in a woodcutter’s cottage clutching the edge of the forest
    No spells, no curses, no magic wands
    No potions that twist brothers into birds; no arms growing feathered in the morning sun
    No lentils to sort, no floors to scrub, no hunting for strawberries in the snow
    No ugly, one-eyed daughter sleeping, selfish, in your upstairs room
    No royal huntsmen serving your heart for my dinner

    No, I’m not your real mother, flying through the window to shower you with gowns like the sun.
    But that doesn’t make me the witch.

  5. Tricia,

    It was one of those gray autumn days without any sun here. It inspired me to write another poem for your stretch this week. It's a quickie "what isn't there" triolet.


    No sun today.
    No blue sky bright.
    The clouds are gray.
    No sun today.
    No dazzling rays.
    No yellow light.
    No sun today.
    No blue sky bright.

  6. Going Back to Bed After Getting Up on the Wrong Side of It

    Done un-.
    Plus non-.
    Difference in-.
    Citement ex-.
    Mood nix.

    [If I have time, I'll shoot for something a little more upbeat!]

  7. Hi Tricia--lovely to meet you at last!

    My Late Husband

    The door creaks open.
    It’s only air.
    I hear your laugh.
    You are not there.
    I know you’re ashes
    Without a body,
    Heart, or sound.
    I know you’re gone.
    I watched you die.
    Yet still you’re here.
    I wonder why.
    I do not scream
    Or shed a tear
    Because I want you
    and here.

  8. Wow. What a mix of poignant poems and clever ones. Jane, I'm speechless. Owlinthelibrary--hate to break it to you, but you are a poet.

    I hope to give this a try later this morning.

  9. Here's mine-- I took a slightly different approach. Full Moon and Fog

  10. Hi Tricia ~ Had to post this one (tee-hee) about selling my daughter's trampoline and what wasn't there.


    It’s gone, that vestige of my
    daughter’s youth, strapped to the
    back of a pickup and ripped away, now
    sprawling recklessly in a neighbor’s back
    yard. Little did they know, late last night
    I seized one final frolic, climbed aboard the
    rusty relic that lazed for years on my front lawn
    and before I knew what happened my nighty took
    flight. I whipped that baby off my menopausal bod
    and bounced, naked as a newborn, on that tarnished
    trampoline, soaring like the titmouse that nests ‘neath
    my porch, while a lecherous moon leered through limbs
    of lanky oaks, surely amused by this midnight trollop.

    I watched my neighbors grapple with it the next day
    cart it across the grass, reckoning how in the heck
    they’d get it home, while I sat and smirked
    knowing full well, how I had romped
    with this ol’ codger, the night before.

    © Carol Weis, all rights reserved

  11. I got a little carried away, and, due to the formatting I can't add my poem to the comments. It's posted at RandomNoodling.

  12. No Tree

    No tree, no branch,
    no children swinging
    into space and back.

    No clean cotton socks,
    no grumpy cactus prickle,
    no slime of stately snails.

    No runner's rhythmic breath,
    no ragged shout of wind,
    no tinkling unseen bells.

    No warm embrace of bread scent,
    no ripeness of spring earth,
    no sour murk of skunk.

    No ageless taste of sea salt,
    no apple's autumn crunch,
    no sweet melt of ice cream.

    No one.

    Yet, painted
    in stolen sunlight
    and its own wealth
    of shadows, none
    has more fair a face
    than Moon.

    --Kate Coombs (Book Aunt)

  13. What a range again this week!

    Owlinthelibrary - What a lovely phrase: "No potions that twist brothers into birds..." Wow - you might not think of yourself as a poet yet, but you've got good instincts for poetry! Hope your husband is not in harm's way and that if he's currently deployed, that he'll be coming home soon, safe & sound.

  14. Such a wonderful selection of poems this week. Mine isn't the best of poems but it does come from the heart. How odd that this would be the stretch this week when I am, in real life, grappling with what isn't there.

    The Father Who Never Was

    No large hand
    to wipe my tears
    protecting me
    from all my fears

    No shoulders
    to ride so high
    to watch parades
    as they goes by

    No trike training
    or driver's ed
    No late night talks
    while mom's in bed.

    No homework help
    with science class
    No begging me
    to cut the grass

    No boyfriend inspection
    No first car selection

    No father daughter wedding dance
    Not even just a single chance
    to see my father smile and say
    yes, you're mine, in every way.

    - Susan Taylor Brown

  15. These are wonderful. I need to remember to post early, so I'm not embarrassed by my own contribution. Although it's interesting when themes turn up surreptitiously -- I see another "no tree" above.

    Tyler Elm

    No Tree, there is.
    Only tree space,
    The absence of branch and leaf
    A swing-sized hole,
    The memory of standing on a wooden seat
    And the photo to prove it;
    The snowmen built in a storm,
    Under its sheltering limbs,
    And the storm that made No Tree
    No Tree.

    No Tree, there is
    Only shadow,
    A hundred years solid
    And now a ghost
    An apparition in an old film
    With the movie star beneath
    On the old familiar swing.
    Even now, it creaks
    But there is no swing,
    No shadow.
    Only the opposite of what once stood
    And sheltered
    And held up.
    Only No Tree.

  16. I don't know why my post doubled. Can you delete it and I can re-post? Sorry for your trouble.