Friday, May 28, 2021

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

This month's Poetry Sisters challenge was to write a poem in response to an image. We had a few to choose from, but I decided to write to a photo Sara shared of Spider Dress and Serpent. This dress was designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1946 for Martha Graham dance productions. It was worn by Graham for the performance Cave of the Heart, in which she portrayed Medea who, after being abandoned for another woman by her husband Jason, killed his wife and their children. 

Photo by Sara Lewis Holmes. Exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

When we met on Zoom almost two weeks ago, I was still thinking about the 4×4 form that I'd seen in an earlier Poetry Friday post. Denise Krebs at Dare to Care invented this form. Here are the rules.
  • 4 syllables in each line
  • 4 lines in each stanza
  • 4 stanzas
  • 4 times repeating a refrain line–line 1 in the first stanza, line 2 in the second stanza, line 3 in the third stanza, and line 4 in the fourth stanza.
  • Bonus: 4 syllables in the title
  • No restrictions on subject, rhyme, or meter.
This felt like a good form to constrain my writing. Given the dress, a restrictive form seemed like the way to go. I wrote several different poems, but this one is my favorite.

Corsetted Heart

inside a cage
I'm tightly bound
can barely move
no breath, no sound

my heart is locked
inside a cage
the pain it feels
time can't assuage

these wounds don't heal
when locked away
inside a cage
a taut ballet

most tender souls
will disengage
when living life
inside a cage

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2021. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 
Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month we are writing zentangle poems. If you are unfamiliar with this form, check out this post by Kat Apel. Share your poem on June  in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!

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


  1. Tricia, the structured format fits so well with your thoughts and the title is so appropriate. Each stanza is carefully crafted to bring the reader to a sense of deep reflection about life.

  2. I am in awe of your adding rhyme to the form.

  3. Ooooh, a "taut ballet"...I feel like I should've seen that line coming, but it surprised me and the rhyme made it even more effective. (Btw, what shall we call this new rhymed 4 x 4? A More by Four? Heh.)

  4. Oh, I am in awe too of this 4x4 with the added benefit of rhyme, and so natural. The form is tight and just what this artwork needed! What a beauty, Tricia. I like this rhymed More by Four, as Sara called it. Wow!

    That repetition of "cage" for your Corseted Heart poem is perfect. And then the reference to "tender souls" disengaging. Just beautiful!

  5. A very good fit for this image, and good title. Brava!

  6. Ooh, this one moves really well - tightly woven and yet unrestricted through the imagination, anyway. The rhyme really sharpened it even further - love it.

  7. So amazing! The "taut ballet" line is my favorite. I remember as a kid reading about how Medea helped Jason get the golden fleece and thinking it was such a lovely love story. Little did I know how horrible things became in that relationship...

  8. Your poem is dark, evocative and brilliant. The words bound, caged, locked create such a sense of dread. Not a place for tender souls. Nice work!

  9. "a taut ballet" — perfect. Such an impressive combination of prompt, form, and the addition of rhyme. Wow!