Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Poetry Stretch - Breakfast of the Birds

Last Monday I spent part of the day at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It was pretty amazing to see the range of works by women. One of my favorite pieces was an accordion pop-up book on landscapes that included poems on every page. Sadly, it was in a glass case and hard to photograph.

One of my favorite paintings was by German artist Gabrielle Münter. It is called Breakfast of the Birds.

I've been thinking a lot about spring, birds, and this painting, so it seems fitting that we should let this work of art inspire our poems this week. I hope you'll join me this week in writing an ekphrastic poem or two for this piece. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. For the upcoming (March 22) tenth anniversary of my beloved husband's death. Your prompt and the picture
    pushed me into this poem. Thanks. Jane

    Window, Wall

    Indoors, birds’ muffled chorus,
    plaints and passage dimmed,
    shadow play through window,
    small hint of what’s been hymned.

    I watch across my breakfast.
    Before me morning yawns.
    Window, wall between us,
    diminishing the dawns.

    My husband would be out there,
    dressed in all their carols;
    head wreathed with songs, recording
    allurements and harsh quarrels.

    Alone, I’m caught in amber,
    that casement of old grief,
    the window, wall between us,
    Faint record of bereave.

    ©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Hi Jane. Beautiful. As I may have told you, my mom hates March—my dad also died on the 22nd, twelve years ago now.


    Birds sit on branches outside,
    decorating the cold desert morning.

    Inside, I am warm, though my coffee
    is lukewarm now and the bread

    is beginning its delicate dryness.
    Beyond the birds, a mountain

    stares at the sky, hoping
    the clouds will spill rain

    on its dry, brown shoulders,
    dry like my bread

    is beginning to be. And I
    am dry with too long

    thinking about the world
    in ways to write about.

    If I had wings, I wouldn’t sit
    on a branch. I would fly

    to the mountain, praying
    for clouds and rain.

    —Kate Coombs, 2016
    all rights reserved

    1. Love the beat of the word "dry" and he apostolic nature of the poem.


  3. For some reason, the woman alone at a table reminded me of a single person - for whatever reason - battling winter blues or a deeper depression, and striving bravely to look up and out.

    Year Two of the Solitude

    At the crossroads in this journey
    And walking alone.

    the meter of my steps is over-familiar
    a steady two-four cadence on the path of righteousness
    muffled and solemn, like a funeral drum

    I shall not want,
    I shall not want,
    I shall not want...

    at the birth of the year, while others revisit green pastures
    my soul remains an unrestored expanse of ice

    Prepared, at my table, the presence of old enemies:
    Endless cold, yawning hunger, grim solitude. Sorrow.

    the shadow sings its siren seduction
    Finding lesser evils, I open drapes
    let muted luminescence thaw my frozen waste

    Then, from a frozen branch, unctuous song,
    Splash of red and gold. Light kindles in a still white world,
    Remnant of goodness. A mercy of crumbs, scattered, remind me

    no darkness lasts forever
    a crossroad is where roads meet
    alone might not be lonely forever

    Today, the toast has a crisp, buttery crunch.
    There's just the right balance of bergamot orange in the tea
    Surely, there is no better this
    Right now.

  4. Bless you both. We travel today to bury my dear mother-in-law who died Sunday. I wish us all a brilliant April. j


    Do you feel askew from other robins you once knew, perched amid these cheery strangers of a different hue who hop and chirp as birds will do in a familiar tree?

    If, like these drapes, some day a wretched knife should spread
    your tender breast,
    what would that view expose to you
    as this one does to me?

    Time will come when you, like me, will see true things for true. You will know then that you're not them but that you are you.

    © 2016 Judith Robinson all rights reserved

    1. I simply could not resist.

      Spring Break

      Thank God, they've gone.

      A bit of peace and quiet with my tea.
      They might have left a spoon of marmalade,
      but no!
      Licked the bottle clean.

      I don't know why I tolerate their presence. They are rude,
      eat my food,
      drink the beer
      with nothing more than "goodbye dear".

      Now, you look here, you little stray,
      go back the way you came
      it's time for chickadees not robins.

      "Shoo! Shoo!"
      I'll see you when
      things are green,
      and I've had rest,
      and found a better disposition.

      ©2016Judith Robinson all rights reserved

  5. Oh, you guys are good! Wonderful stuff today. Take care, Judith. :)

  6. Ooh, I really like all of these. Thanks for sharing this painting, Tricia.

  7. Such lovely poems you all have shared. Thank you for doing that here.

    When I saw this poem I was flooded with happy memories of my mother, sitting at our kitchen table, drinking Sanka (yuck!), and watching the birds in the crab apple tree.

    1. I've been trying to write "real" blank verse - no particular meter, etc. It's harder than expected, since I am an iambic pentameter addict. :)

    2. I too am an iambic pentameter addict! I don't think that's a bad thing.

    Eating alone again, by choice,
    at least that’s what I keep
    convincing myself of,
    gazing out the window,
    as a smattering of birds,
    resting on snow caked branches,
    chirp endlessly about their day.
    Living vicariously through their bond,
    Wishing I had someone to share
    my day with, too.

    (c) Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.

  9. Thank you for sharing this painting, Tricia. The poems everyone shared are wonderful. I'm always amazed at the variety of responses one image can evoke. Here is my poem:

  10. What a great poetry stretch -- Breakfast of the Birds inspired so many lovely poems. Thanks for posting.