from a book of poetry

I was reading this poem
about a girl who sat
on the same bench
near some blue hydrangeas
every Tuesday
eating her lunch

which she had made herself
and brought from home
and I remember not much caring
about where the lunch came from
or why that bench or Tuesday
or even about who the girl was

when there was a sudden silence
of the crowd of people around me
in the courtyard where I sat

I set down my book of poetry
but I had missed what
had silenced the crowd

as I reached for the sandwich
I’d made at home that morning
I noticed the blue hydrangeas
in the planter behind the bench
and how the petals looked like butterflies
around a small world
and I looked up at the mid-day sky
so blue, and I wondered what we
looked like from the outside
and if anyone bothered to much care

/ / /

I wrote this poem a couple of weeks ago. It was written in response to a prompt from Not Without Poetry.

Grab a book of poetry. Try not to be too picky. From the last line of the first poem, take a word or phrase and write it down. Now, from the first line of the last poem, take a word or phrase and write it down. Now, from a random line from a random poem somewhere in between the first and the last poems, take a word or phrase and write it down. With those three words or phrases, and this picture, write.

I used The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins. I used the following three lines from his poems as my inspiration:

near some blue hydrangeas, reading this

I remember not caring much

there is a sudden silence of the crowd


45 thoughts on “from a book of poetry

  1. I love the natural feel of this poem and how you put us there with narrator. I like the way you mirror the old poem with the events of the new.

    I think this is my new favourite poem of yours.

  2. Pingback: Thursday Poets Rally Week 45 (June 2-8, 2011) | Promising Poets' Poetry Cafe

  3. I like the twist at the end πŸ™‚ and I like the prompt. I think my Creative Writing teacher has used some from Not Without Poetry, but I think I’ll try this one myself. Thanks!

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. Glad you liked it. I didn’t use a lot of the Not Without Poetry prompts in April, but I’m thinking about using some of them now.


    • Mike, thanks for stopping by and commenting. There are some great prompts out there; it’s just a matter of finding the right one. (You made me go look up “strophe”; it’s been a while since my college poetry days.) Thanks again.


    • Jingle, thanks. First there was the pingback from Promising Poets Poetry Cafe; and then I decided to try my hand at the Thursday Poets Rally. Now that I’m off for the summer, I can actually manage reading and commenting on others’ poems, which I’m enjoying. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for the visit and the comment. Yeah, it’s kind of “meta”, isn’t it? A poem inspired by another poet’s lines, in which the speaker is reading poetry. Glad it was an enjoyable read.


  4. I think this is a question many of us ponder but as people who write I think it is natural for us to observe and hopefully care …but perception is often different than reality …I think your style is very real and cuts through false perception i really like the real feel to this. Thank you .

  5. I like how initially seeming not to think much about what he was reading, the narrator is suddenly in a moment where he realizes or wonders about something outside of himself.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. I think good reading should make us think about ourselves and outside of ourselves. Sometimes it doesn’t work. And sometimes real life intrudes – and maybe that’s a good thing.


    • Thanks for visiting and commenting. I was curious to try this prompt out – and am pleased with the result; you never know how they’re going to turn out.


  6. What a god idea! I have enough poetry laying around, I should totally try this! And a wonderful poem, too. I enjoyed it very much and liked the way you twisted it just so. ^_^

  7. I love this. It’s like I’m a passerby who’s watching you set your poetry book down the minute the silence hits you. A few days ago I made myself stop and watch people walking past me, never done it before … this is what your poem made me think of. And Hydrangeas … such an apt description, like butterflies round a small world. Just lovely. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for visiting – and thank you for the thoughtful comments. I like your description of you being the passerby. Glad you liked the description of the hydrangeas; they have such lovely petals.


  8. I too enjoyed the juxtaposition in your poem. As I watch people, and I constantly watch people, I mentally fill in stories about them. A man wearing worn jeans, heavy boots and having a small bandage on his hand, becomes a worker at a window factory. By is actions or physical description, I assign him a zodiac sign. Depending on how much time I have, I will describe his wife, his family and his home. People with a strange appearance or odd behavior can generate volumes.

    • Mike, I constantly watch people too, but I don’t think I fill out their life stories quite as fully as you do. It’s an intriguing idea. I’ll have to give it a try. Oh, glad you liked the juxtaposition.


  9. Very well done with the assignment! I’m pleased to learn that you’re also a teacher. I was born and raised in America but now live in Sweden, where I teach English as a Second Language. For my sins, it seems sometimes…

    • Miss Kitten, thank you. It’s always pleasant to meet another teacher online. There are a lot of teachers and former teachers who write poetry. Thanks for visiting.


  10. I like the change in perspective from inside to outside. It can so often be hard to find inspiration for poetry and this strikes me as a good way to avoid that and feed off the words of other poets.

    • Andy, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with what you said. Prompts work well for me, because if I waited for inspiration to strike, I’d maybe write one poem a month. And reading always inspires me, especially good poetry. Thanks again.


  11. I can imagine it all happening very peacefully yet inquisitively at the same time. I like how you have no punctuation, it flows with a childish freedom (I mean that in a good way)

    • Leonargo, thank you for your thoughtful comments. It does happen in a peaceful and inquisitive way – which does have a childlike quality to it, as well, so I guess the form fits the content.


  12. What a fabulous poem about the beauty of discovery of treasures in our thoughts of mundane existence! Your rhymes are very apt and creative, much color in the verse! I really enjoyed reading this! Cindy

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