Tag Archives: Elizabeth Bishop

NaPoWriMo 2021, Day 6

The last couple days’ drafts have been, well, a bit too drafty to post.
But here is a derangement of Elizabeth Bishop’s “I Am in Need of Music,” inspired by a prompt at Adele Kenny’s poetry blog: Music.

Harmonic intervention

(after E. Bishop)

Sleep; the moon floats
forever still in the sea,
fading, sinking; deep
through the heart
of cool, quiet rest
breathes a spell
made of melody.

Limbs flush, glow
and quiver in dreams
of water, falling
dead-tired to rest
in the sway of some old
song, low and liquid.

Oh, for the healing!
Clear lips, trembling
melody, bitter fingers
feel the frets
of tainted music:

I am in need.


Poetry exercise: Tracing

The assignment last week in poetry class was to trace a poem someone else had written: swap the author’s words with my own, adhering as closely as possible to the original elements (parts of speech and inflection, sentence/line/stanza structure, punctuation, etc.) I immediately dubbed this exercise MadLib poetry, and I had enormous fun with it. I slavishly traced Elizabeth Bishop’s “Little Exercise” (click here for her poem) with the following result.

Trace imagery

Think of the dog pacing the yard methodically
like a home inspector checking for radon,
feel it calculating.

Think how they must sound now, the piano keys
waiting there untouched by fingers
in the sun-soaked parlor,

where every Sunday a woman brings fresh flowers,
arranges them, clucks under her breath
when the petals drop.

Think of the hallway and the cabbage roses
arrayed on the wallpaper, slowly fading
into the neutral background.

It is empty there. The hallway
and its long Oriental rug with the fringe on each end
are waiting to be walked, the doors to be opened.

Now the dog comes in after a final sweep
of the irregular, fenced perimeter,
each section marked with urine.

Think of nobody coming to the house
abandoned at the end of the sidewalk or the lane;
think of no one as invited, widely welcomed.