Sally gave me these words: TOGETHER SEA TONGUE TO
In the end I decided not to fight the sea setting, so here’s what I have.
Together they rise to the surface of the sea.
With salt on their tongues, their lips,
Deep down there
in the dark and cold, where barnacles hold
to shipwrecks —
glass and shells
and pirate gold.
© Rebecca Newman, 2017
Read some of our earlier poems featuring the sea:
Sing by Sally Murphy
Summer Swim by Sally Murphy
Cottesloe Beach Skipping rhyme by Rebecca Newman
A spooky poem for 31 October. (Sally gave me the prompts GHOST, ALMOST and USE.)
GHOST TRAIN ON PLATFORM 2
the ghost train pulls in to platform 2
but there’s no getting on
and there’s no getting off.
Maryanne scans the station
until she finds the woman with the pram.
Though she knows it’s no use, Maryanne knocks at the window —
The baby looks up, alert.
He kicks his legs.
As the train pulls away Maryanne stares;
she’s almost sure …
© Rebecca Newman, 2016
It’s been so long since Sally left words for me that you will have forgotten what the words were.
Here they are: HOPE SCULPTURE EDGY CONTEMPORARY.
And here’s the resulting poem, called ‘Hope.’ (I found this word combo the hardest Sally has given me. But I’m sure she would say that I deserved it after the Shakespearean tag I gave her earlier … )
Where the shadow of the house meets the lavender pots
is a contemporary sculpture made from boots.
Out in the street someone calls, come on!
but the boys are edgy —
they’ve done this before.
They pull boots from the pile
and shake them
and hope the cobwebs are old.
© Rebecca Newman, 2016
Can I tell you a secret? Today is Sally’s birthday. So, herewith — a poem written for Sally’s birthday using the prompts she left for me: TAKE, FELINE and CLOUD. (Happy Birthday, Sally!)
FOR SALLY (ON HER BIRTHDAY)
As Winter slinks out with feline disdain,
Spring elbows past her.
In her wake:
She takes a step into September
and breathes into the day.
© Rebecca Newman, 2015
Sally gave me the words birth and together.
I read an article once called something like: Writing tips from the Great Writers. One of the tips was ‘don’t write about trying to write’. Here’s a poem where I blithely ignore advice from the Greats. (Sorry, Greats.)
THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA
What should you do at the birth of an idea?
Swaddle it in muslin,
sit together in the dark
whisper in its ear
with joy in your heart
and a spark in your eye;
then set it down
on its legs
and let it go.
© Rebecca Newman, 2015
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)
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)
When Sally gave me my latest word prompts, I wrote a very silly poem about ‘ox’ rhyming with ‘fox’ and ‘box’ but how you can’t rhyme ‘oxen’ with ‘foxen’ or ‘boxen’ — but then I put that poem aside. Because the one I’m posting below was brewing, and I liked the idea of it more (even though it wasn’t written yet!). ‘Ox’ had reminded me about Judith Wright’s poem ‘Bullocky’. I’d first read that years ago, at highschool, and really loved it. So then I decided to write something from a bullock’s point of view.
This team of oxen,
under relentless Australian sun
we pull —
leaders at the front, polers at the back, near the wagon.
Two by two we move
by dry creek beds,
two by two
along dusty tracks
and the bullockies crack their whips.
The bullockies shout curses
because of the flies, or the ridged track
worn too far one way or the other —
mustn’t tip the wagon-load of wool and wheat,
At night the bullockies
squat by flickering firelight, under starred skies
and leave us to find feed,
leave us to drift, to dream.
What are a bullock’s dreams?
I dream of green grasses,
and freedom —
walking without another shoulder yoked to mine.
(Rebecca Newman, 2014. All rights reserved.)
I walked around with Sally’s challenge words in my head for quite a few days. They seemed to be words that go with exclamation marks and I originally thought I’d write a loud sort of poem … but my imagination had different ideas. I had a particular scene in mind by the time I wrote my first draft.
Now if you shut your eyes
you will not hear the shouts and calls from the picnic ground.
The cars, the dogs, the children with their balls and skipping ropes
By the billabong, a shadow stirs and stills
a soft light spills
as the moon rises full and true.
The shadow slips to the water’s edge
and sniffs at the air
Copyright Rebecca Newman 2014
Finally, I have the pool to myself.
and the first star winks in ink-blue sky.
My brother yells
and when I stand and glare at him
and runs into the house.
It’s the last day of December
… and I have the pool to myself.
copyright Rebecca Newman 2014