So, I have been a bit slack and it’s been over a month since Rebecca gave me the words YOU, TO, POISON, THAT and MERRY to put into a poem. So, I thought to reward her patience (she hasn’t nagged me once!) I would do something different and see if I could do the whole poem using magnet words. I have lots and lots of magnets, and it’s been a while since I sat down to make a whole poem with them.
Anyway, I got out my magnets and got to work. The only problem was: I didn’t have all five of the words. I have hundreds and hundreds of magnets but not one of them has the word ‘merry’. I almost abandoned the quest but I’m hoping that Rebecca will forgive me if instead of merry I chose two other words very similar in meaning – joy and happy. And, for good measure, I popped merry into the title of this post.
So, here it is, my merry poem about poetry.
Sally’s latest words for me were GO, FREAKY and TREE. I wrote this poem remembering a time when I was 12. I’d been to an after-school music class and waved at my friends as they all got into cars and headed off for dinner. And then I waited — for what seemed like forever (but was probably only 5 minutes) — for my Mum to come and pick me up …
It’s 6 o’clock.
On my own on the bench
I swing my legs,
I hum a bit
and start counting in my head.
When I get to 63
a car pulls into the car park.
I stand —
but it’s not our car.
Behind me, a tree starts to whisper and rustle,
some freaky wind moves its branches.
Down here on the bench it’s as still as still.
I try to look — to the side, without turning my head,
is that something in the tree?
© Rebecca Newman, 2015
It’s been almost a month since Rebecca gave me the words form, age and fervent. I don’t know why it has taken me so long – I do know it was the mix of fervent and form which kept taking me down intriguing paths, then tripping me up.
Anyway, I ran into Rebecca at the Perth Writers Festival yesterday and she was very polite about my slackness, which of course made me feel guilty. Since I’m also doing a challenge this month to write a poem n a Post it Note everyday for February, she suggested I use the words for one of my postitnote poems. And voilà, today I managed to write a poem that meets both Poetry Tag and Postitnote Poetry requirements:
At age 5
I dreamt of the tooth fairy
to replace my tiny offerings
with silver coins.
Now I’m older
(and told such things aren’t real)
but I can’t stop
the fervent wish that forms
when I look round my house:
send me a cleaning fairy!
(© Sally Murphy, 2015)
And, just to prove that it does indeed fit on a postitnote, here it is again:
When Rebecca gave me my latest batch of words – my, virtue and supper – I couldn’t stop thinking about the biblical Last Supper. I tried to write about something different, because I have not ever really written religious poetry and didn’t know where I would go with it. But this was the topic that I kept coming back to. Finally, it was the word ‘my’ which gave me a way in: who was there at the last supper who might want their story told? Finally, I decided it was a woman, and here is what I came up with.
At that last supper
the men ate and drank
and hung on your every word
Little knowing it would be
their last meal together –
even when you, my heart,
told them one would soon betray you,
artists recreated that moment
showing your quiet virtue
their various states of adoration,
What they forgot, those masters of the arts,
(or perhaps it was their priestly chiefs)
was that we women were there,
and children, too
(Sally Murphy, 2015. All rights reserved)
‘Basic’ was a hard word to weave into a poem — did anybody else out there have a go at it? I kept coming back to one memory from when I was 9. That memory still stings, so I wrote about that.
Times Tables Champ
Every Friday afternoon was our Times Tables competition,
we stood in twos up the front,
there was always a pause before the teacher called the sum.
I hoped for a basic one,
tens and elevens were best —
my mouth could shout the answer
before my head had heard the sum.
(Fives were good too, but I never liked eights much.)
One Friday I beat the reigning champ.
When I sat down
someone behind me muttered
“You’re not the true champ,
you’ve only won once.”
Rebecca Newman 2014
Both Rebecca and I took a little time to come up with poems to our last set of words. So I was determined when she set me new words to get straight onto it. Fortunately the idea for this one came quickly. I think the arrangement of the magnets made me immediately think of measuring lives, and the rest just came.
Some people measure their lives
by the achievements they’ve made
the people they’ve met
the money they’ve earned.
Some people worry
how they’ll be remembered
and who they’ll be remembered by.
But stop for a moment
and take note
of the breaths you take
the songs you sing
and the loves you love.
(Sally Murphy, 2014)
I give her
The quickest of waves
Billy and Sam
As I race for the door.
But not quick enough.
Nothing can stop
a mother with a thirst
for embarrassing her offspring.
Wait, she orders.
You forgot something.
She plants a big kiss
on my red cheek.
Billy and Sam snigger
As I wish
somebody would invent
Sally Murphy, 2014
At the ice-cream van
Some grownups like to lick the top
around and around.
My dad likes to bite off big bits.
Flynn likes to watch it melt and run down his arms.
The right way to eat soft serve
is to crunch a hole in the bottom of the cone
and slurp up the ice-cream as it drips through.
copyright Rebecca Newman 2013
The words I’ve been dreading:
No idea what I’m supposed to do.
The pitcher winds his arm;
something white whizzes past my face
Oops. I guess I should have swung.
Come on, Max.
That was a sitter!
Easy for Sam to say,
he’s safe in the crowd.
Big brothers always think they’re better.
Maybe he should come see things from where I stand.
Oh. Didn’t even see that one coming.
Too busy worrying about Sam.
Maybe I should concentrate.
The pitcher winds his arm back.
A white blurr whizzes towards me.
I close my eyes
I hit it. I can’t believe I hit it!
My legs propel me
towards first base.
Throw it to first!
a fielder cries
but I’m there before the ball.
Safe on first!
The sweetest word
I’ve ever heard.
copyright Sally Murphy 2013
At the end of its string
the kite rises, swoops and sails.
I pull at Jack’s sleeve and ask with my hands —
He shakes his head with a loud frown.
Ella cups her hands to her mouth
and yells into the wind,
“Garn! Give him a go!”
I take the string.
Jack points to the nearby trees and then up at the kite
You don’t have to tell me to keep it away
I feel the kite tug and shudder
I watch it dive
and swim through air.
© 2013 Rebecca Newman