That Day in July

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell
Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
This month, we Poetry Princesses played with the exquisite corpse form. Through a series of direct messages, we created a “poem” of original lines alternated with some of Linda Mitchell’s wonderful clunkers. The idea was we’d each take what we wanted from it as a jumping off point for a new poem.
Tanita: They say the mind is garden-like, with thoughts as sprouting seeds
CLUNKER: but I’m left holding cuttings I’m not sure where to plant
Sara: Weedy-thick, the prickly buds of odd logic bloom:
CLUNKER: You don’t cry anymore, but you sing all the words.
Liz: Each line in a different language as the light shifts,
CLUNKER: trees turned so orange the road looked blue.
Mary Lee: Words tangle, colors muddy in the palette.
CLUNKER: I am no longer winsome to the sun.
CLUNKER: a whole sun’s rise to share
Tricia: there goes the one that got away
CLUNKER: found a bit of sunflower
Laura: and plucked every petal (by the way, he loves me)
Kelly: and then I remembered
CLUNKER: that’s what you wrote about the green beans
Tanita: Stockpile, then, that snap and sass to sweeten your September.
I missed our live write last weekend as I completely flaked out! As I sat down on Monday to write something, I wondered, How do you bring order to a bunch of unrelated lines, plants, thoughts? I started out picking a few images I liked:
The odd logic of language.
The blue trees of dawn.
The sunflower picked bare.
And then I quickly discarded that because I had no idea where to go. So my next first draft is below. It doesn’t feel fresh enough…I wish I could’ve come up with a more imaginative idea, but this was one of those days when I was just happy to call it done!
Make sure to check out what others came up with! And if you wrote along with us, please share yours too!

Mary Lee
Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 
  • Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten is on sale this month for the Kindle edition for $2.49, and the hardcover is only $7.99. Check it out!
  • Here’s what I read for the Sealey Challenge this week. Yikes. Getting harder to keep up, but I’m scraping by! If you want to see the poems/bits I shared, you can find my posts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I decided a couple of days ago that for this final week, I’m just going to pick a few favorite picture books off my shelves. That feels like what I can manage right now. I’m going to think about poets who influenced me as I started writing poetry and poets who are still teaching me today in some way. Many of those I’ve already shared in the Sealey this month, but there are plenty more to choose from!
    • Patrick Lewis is so skilled. He writes every kind of poem: light verse, free verse, serious, historical…he writes it all, brilliantly. I reread EVERYTHING IS A POEM today for #theSealeyChallenge. Favorite sections: Mother Nature & Reading, of course.
    • THE LOST WORDS, by Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris, is a lush wildness of poetry to get lost in. I rarely spend $50 on a #picturebook–never regretted this one. Takes #acrostics to a new sophisticated level, & each word gets 3 gorgeous spreads.
    • My reading this morning was the Robert Hass section in POETS LAUREATE ANTHOLOGY. I like some of what he has to say about poetry–don’t actually enjoy his poems that much, though. Oh well, there’s poetry for everyone!
    • I revisited FLICKER FLASH, by Joan Bransfield Graham and Nancy Davis. These concrete poems remind me why I love short poems and how much can be said in so few words. These are beautiful and by turns scientific, clever, and funny too. #theSealeyChallenge
    • Rita Dove in the POETS LAUREATE ANTHOLOGY was up to bat today for #theSealeyChallenge. These small moments of images and emotions were my favorite bits.
    • I sailed through PIRATES, by David L. Harrison & Dan Burr, for #theSealeyChallenge. How I adored this book when it came out (& still). David’s use of both refrains and character voices is masterful.
    • Final week of #theSealeyChallenge, I’m rereading favorites by poets w/particular gifts I learn from. Today, WITH MY HANDS: POEMS ABOUT MAKING THINGS, by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Amy has many gifts, but infusing heart & empowerment into every kids’ poem is the one that inspires me.
Wonderful Linda Baie at Teacher Dance has the Poetry Friday Roundup today! Save Save Save

16 Responses

  1. It may have been one of those days where you’re happy to call it done, but I enjoyed this poem immensely, especially the imagery in stanzas 2 and 3.
    I suppose that sometimes, something we find ‘bleagh’ wakes up an emotion in someone else and makes them say, ‘Yeah!’

  2. Laura, it sounds like you are busy. I just ordered Clover Kitty. Thanks for letting us know it’s on sale. I love winter turning to gold in that jar of canned deliciousness. I appreciated reading all the new lines, as well as the clunkers, that you went through to get your poem. I’m enjoying reading about the process of these Exquisite Corpse poems.

  3. You win the prize for most transformation of the original lines, but how you did that while managing to hold onto the FEELINGS in those lines is masterful. Plus, I love saying “shelve in the cellar.”

  4. Ah, the bottling of summer to sweeten winter.…always a good idea—and this poem is definitely a mind-picture that would do exactly that! Oh, and I even like your “mini poem” of three lines that you rejected. 🙂

  5. I love that middle verse, Laura, don’t even understand how you aren’t pleased. It reminds me of Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine when he writes that he “holds summer in his hand”. Your “shelve in the cellar” is a line I will remember as we enter September!

  6. “I plucked the picture from the field” made me stop and take notice. In fact, that whole second stanza is one to remember! Thank you.

  7. Exquisite Corpse and Clunkers! What a fun combo! I love what you created.

  8. I really love what you’ve done here. I can imagine the day and capturing that mental image to savor later in the year. Your rearranging of the words and lines we generated made me feel something entirely knew. Well done.

  9. Bottling the gold of summer until another day is hardly stale! You put it so beautifully. Even with far fewer lines you vibe with the theme!

  10. This is way more than “done” — that golden ending! Tears sprang to my eyes! You really beautifully made this your own and I love it!

  11. Not sure what you mean by “it doesn’t feel fresh enough” — I was struck by the last stanza, light turning winter to gold. That feels original, if not fresh.

  12. Laura, there is magic in your word choice, especially at the ending. I can picture the whole scene that shares only a few words. There is a definite transformation happening in the end. Thanks for the terse verse that made me recall my Nonnie’s cellar.

  13. 💙 your poem all the turns it has in it, sun to sunflower, winter to gold and that 2nd stanza so vivid an image that you “plucked” and saved for us to lighten that dark time–thanks Laura for “That (special) Day in July!”

  14. Oh, Laura, it’s gorgeous. You’re so hard on yourself as a poet but you create such beauty.

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