Friday, May 01, 2015

Poetry Seven Share Pantoums

During the month of April the Poetry Seven spent their time working on the pantoum. Here is a description of the form.
The pantoum is a poem made up of stanzas of four lines where lines 2 and 4 of each stanza are repeated as lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza. The final stanza of a pantoum has an interesting twist. Lines 2 and 4 are the same as the 3rd and 1st of the first stanza, thereby using every line in the poem twice. 
Keep in mind that this form of poetry is of an indefinite length. It could be 3 stanzas, 4 stanzas or 20! 
(Adapted from The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms.)
There was no theme this time around, just two words--certainty and flight.

My very first thought was the phrase "certainties of flight." This made me think of birds and later, baby birds. I ended up writing many, many versions of a wood duck poem. In the first draft I shared with my sisters, the 2nd line of the 2nd stanza was "in trees that stretch so tall." I disliked "so tall" and wanted something like towering trees, but couldn't find a way to say it. Then it hit me that I was describing one nest and needed only one tree. So, I changed it to "in a tree that stretches tall." I still wasn't happy with the description, but wanted to keep the end rhyme because I liked where it took the poem. In the most recent version I picked a specific tree and chose the word sky for my end rhyme. This one change, of course, meant changes elsewhere. Without further ado, here are both poems, the first shared draft and my most recent revision.

Untitled Pantoum Draft V.1

Do wood duck ducklings dream of flight
when huddled in the nest together?
Picture the world from a dizzying height
while from the ground untethered?

Huddled in the nest together
in a tree that stretches tall
from the ground untethered
soon they’ll leap and fall

In a tree that stretches tall
high above the forest floor
brave young ducklings leap and fall
uncertain drop before they soar

High above the forest floor
looking down from a dizzying height
uncertain drop before they soar
wood duck ducklings dream of flight

Untitled Pantoum (Semi-Final Draft)

Do wood duck ducklings dream of flight
while huddled sleeping in their nest
the world below a glorious sight
the urge to jump for now suppressed

Huddled sleeping in their nest
red oak stretching toward the sky
the urge to jump can’t be suppressed
soon they’ll fall before they fly

Red oak stretching toward the sky
high above the forest floor
ducklings fall before they fly
uncertain drop before they soar

High above the forest floor
the world below a glorious sight
uncertain drop before they soar
wood duck ducklings dream of flight

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

My writing of the above poem was inspired by something I saw several years ago while watching the BBC series Planet Earth. Of course, these are Mandarin ducks, but wood ducks have the exact same experience, and this jumping/falling from a great height stuck with me.

While working on the wood duck poem, the phrase "flight risk" kept popping into my head. When it took root and wouldn't leave, I started thinking about escaping small town life and began working on a second piece. Here is an early draft of this poem, also still a work in progress.

Flight Risk

She was a flight risk from the start
with dreams too big to be restrained
small town girl, big city heart
she sought an honest life unchained

With dreams too big to be restrained
by certainties of rural life
she sought an honest life unchained
wouldn’t be some farmer’s wife

Forget the certainties of life
she was reaching for the moon
refused to be some farmer’s wife
and disappeared one afternoon

She was reaching for the moon
small town girl, big city heart
she disappeared one afternoon
fled to chase a brand new start

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Ellen at Elementary Dear Reader. Happy poetry Friday friends! 


  1. Oh Tricia. Both of these poems took my breath away. Two such different poems using the same form and starting from the same prompt. Wow.

  2. Trisha, your two poems complement each other so well! I love the last two stanzas of the Wood Duck poem, and how you drew that all from a video seen long before. Isn't is wonderful how those images and ideas stay with us, and come out as poems? "Flight Risk" is just so touching. That urge to jump into a wild, confusing world - it's what got us here, right?

  3. I love how you name your poem a "semi-final draft"---it's hard to know when a poem is well and truly finished, isn't it? As for me, I'm enjoying this poem just as it is--- I love the playfulness and its soaring and longing, too. It's lovely. I can't wait to see where you take Flight Risk---will you forgive me if I think this one could be a whole novel? :)

  4. Wow, the ducks. Just... plummeting. And then going on, after a little bounce. Sheesh.

    I think the phrase "flight risk" is one of the greatest to work into a poem. LOVE that. And, Go You Dr. Non-Farm Wife.

    1. PS: Thank you for the joy of Richard Attenborough in the morning. Good times. Also, I do love how our poems go together. It's fall or flight for everyone!

  5. Yours and Tanita's flight poems dovetail really well (pun intended), and Laura talks of tundra swans, and Andi of sons who fly . . . Really interesting how even without an actual theme, there was sort of an actual theme for so many of you!

    Really love both of your poems, and especially that "getting out of Dodge" one.

  6. This makes me think of how brave birds are. I know it's instinct, but surely that first step must be terrifying. Love "uncertain drop before they soar/ wood duck ducklings dream of flight"

    Your second one is gorgeous. This one totally sounds like song lyrics!

  7. Tricia, these are both just beautiful. Hooray for those wood duck ducklings and that video! I love "Flight Risk" too, and am cheering for her as she chases her "brand new start." (Totally agree with Sara about the novel idea!)

  8. Thank you for the line "ducklings fall before they fly," for the red oak, and for the poem about me (Flight Risk). :-)

  9. Tricia, that was a great poem. :-)