The Mind’s Palm Tree
In his poem “Of Mere Being,” Wallace Stevens imagines a palm tree that stands at the end of the mind, “beyond the last thought.” This tree symbolizes Steven’s idea of heaven. What is the “beyond” that you imagine?
Using short, declarative sentences like Stevens’s, write a poem that describes your own beyond, your own heaven.
My eyes close to quiet the light
and I concentrate on the music.
The notes make their own lights on the lids.
I see neither hands nor instruments
But I recognize the work.
The composer is playing his own symphony.
I long for instruments of my own
So I can layer in a harmony.
I am content to hum along.
The music stops. A strong hand grabs my own.
I am led onstage, and together
We create a beautiful song.
The first of the prose lessons is to write a story about a substitute teacher from a first person perspective.
Maybe I was still asleep and dreaming and the reality of the ringing phone was bleeding into my brain. I answered it instinctually, without thought. If I had full control over my actions, I never would have answered it without checking the caller ID. As a sub, all our job calls come through the automated messaging service, calling in an esoteric order the catalogue of subs until someone replies with the Star-1-PIN to accept the job. The service is always the same number on the caller ID and is usually the only number that ever calls me so early in the morning. I never would have answered it if I had seen the number on the caller ID, and the simple name “Frayser School.” I expected the sweet recorded voice of the automated system, but the voice on the other end was all too human.
At Barnes and Noble today, I picked up two books from Sparknotes: Poetry warm-up activities and Writing warm-up activities. They each have 180 activities intended for students (one for each day of school). I thought they would be good to use to get me writing.
So, here’s the first one for Poetry.
What Is A Poem?
What’s your definition of a poem?…
A poem is
The image of the sunset
Burned into your eye
The smell of the ocean
The shape of the sky
It is the hope for the future
The memory of the past
The magic of a first
The sorrow of a last
The grammar of laughter
The spelling of sighs
The texts of breasts
And the language of thighs.
It is Anger released
From a cast iron cage
With the flick of a pen
Recaptured on page
Love and life and loss and light
Flowers and showers, cinders and spite
All things make the words their home
A poem is a poem is a poem is a poem.
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