LEADERS - not followers

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


For Big Tent Poetry

This week’s prompt
We are going to start this week’s poems with our hands. Really. There is a — forgive me, ahem — “hands-on” portion of the prompt and a writing part. My hope is that if you attend (mindfully, of course) to a manual task it will influence the poem. Maybe it will provide the action. Maybe it will impact the pacing. Maybe it will suggest an image.
So here’s part one: Do something with your hands and really pay attention to the motion of your hands and arms and to the movement of other objects that may be involved. Open something: a dresser drawer, a bottle of wine, the garage door. Fold something: the laundry, a letter, a paper airplane. Scrub something. Touch something. Pack something up: a game, a suitcase, a box. Braid something. Plant something. Chop something up. Make shadow puppets.
Anything will do. As long as it is a manual task. As long as you really, really, really pay attention. It may also be wise not to read ahead to part two; it will make the first draft of the poem more spontaneous if you don’t plan too much or think too hard.
And here’s part two (and it’s brilliant): Write something.
OK. So maybe that wasn’t so brilliant. Unless part one was enough inspiration for you. If it was, get writing. If you need something more, however, hold the task you just completed in mind while you write about one of the following: a kiss, a dance, a swim, a burial, a sacred space or something that’s been injured physically.


At first clumsy, hesitant
Words wouldn’t come easily
Until a single-digit surge
Under pressure, from the Right
Delivered the message LOUD – unclear
Syllables s-s-stuttered across the screen

Middle finger soon joined index
And later thumb....... for spacebar
Later still, five fingers were tapping
Was it the sound of one hand clapping?
Or was it just a classic case
Of the left hand never really knowing
What it was the right hand was doing?

At every opportunity then
I practiced my new-found skill
The only thing I could ever do
With one hand tied behind my back

Day after day
Night after night
Time after time
Time and again

Again and again
Repetition, refrain
Repetition defined
Definition refined

Never relaxing
Often head scratching
Sometimes nail biting
Always typewriting

Left hand going through the motions
Playing an occasional cameo role
But even two decades down the track
The left hand still doesn’t really know
What its partner, the right hand is doing