The Unwritten

Inside this pencil

crouch words that have never been written

never been spoken

never been taught

 

they’re hiding

 

they’re awake in there

dark in the dark

hearing us

but they won’t come out

not for love for time for fire

 

even when the dark has worn away

they’ll still be there

hiding in the air

multitudes in days to come may walk through them

breathe them

be none the wiser

 

what script can it be

that they won’t unroll

in what language

would I recognize it

would I be able to follow it

to make out the real names

of everything

 

maybe there aren’t

many

it could be that there’s only one word

and it’s all we need

it’s here in this pencil

every pencil in the world is like this

 -S. Merwin

 

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

  1. Get a pencil. Let it roam around a piece of paper and tell some of the words it knows.
  2. Write for 5 minutes with a pencil about pencil memories and pencil thoughts. Then do the same with a pen. Notice and write about any difference.
  3. Write an ode to a pencil. Write it in pencil.
Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

Halley’s Comet

Miss Murphy in first grade

wrote its name in chalk

across the board and told us

it was roaring down the stormtracks

of the Milky Way at frightful speed

and if it wandered off its course

and smashed into the earth

there’d be no school tomorrow.

A red-bearded preacher from the hills

with a wild look in his eyes

stood in the public square

at the playground’s edge

proclaiming he was sent by God

to save every one of us,

even the little children.

“Repent, ye sinners!” he shouted,

waving his hand-lettered sign.

At supper I felt sad to think

that it was probably

the last meal I’d share

with my mother and my sisters;

but I felt excited too

and scarcely touched my plate.

So mother scolded me

and sent me early to my room.

The whole family’s asleep

except for me. They never heard me steal

into the stairwell hall and climb

the ladder to the fresh night air.

 

Look for me, Father, on the roof

of the red brick building

at the foot of Green Street—

that’s where we live, you know, on the top floor.

I’m the boy in the white flannel gown

sprawled on this coarse gravel bed

searching the starry sky,

waiting for the world to end.

 

by Stanley Kunitz

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Camp Bay Breeze, 1957

 I remember shark’s teeth

only remains of prehistoric predators

glossy black points still sharp

serrated, hooked, or

smooth and lethal as stilettos.

We vied to see who found

the most, the biggest, best. I

still keep five in a small glass jar

in Oregon dry and far from their wet

grave on a sandy Chesapeake Bay beach.

 

I remember Girl Scout camp where

gray jelly fish stung us in the warm

brown water despite the nets.  Stranded

on the sand the soft blobs

looked almost innocent. We poked

them with brave toes, knowing

the tentacles still held poison,

though not as much as the prettier

and far more deadly Portuguese

Men of War iridescent blue and purple

ruffled sails aloft and ten foot

tentacles that raised red welts

the camp nurse worked to soothe.

 

I remember overnight canoe trips down

the bay paddling endlessly into

the salty wind, wooden paddles clunking

dented dull aluminum sides, knees

and shoulders aching as the counselors

urged us on.  We slept in a meadow,

visited at night by three silent

black dogs, woke to find

ourselves polka-dotted with flea bites

red spots everywhere, the itch intense

on sunburned backs and arms.

 

I remember the itch of poison

ivy, too, and the girl whose rash raised

blisters big as soft balls on her

arm, I feared would pop.

My own more modest case

was painted pink with Calamine

which washed off  in the wooden shower

stalls, dark moldy cubicles where tubes

of green Prell foamed in our hair.

 

I remember mail call, all

the letters sent by Mom and Dad

made the other campers jealous.  I

hid them in my bed, read by flashlight,

listened to the night, scary owls,

mosquitos on the prowl, relentless

despite slatherings of smelly repellent

“6-12″ or Off.

 

I remember how I felt alone, those

rural Maryland woods an hour’s

drive away home, alone except for

Elsie from my same city school, Elsie,

who rarely spoke even before

she had been set upon

by an older boy in the bushes

of the playground one early June afternoon

as I rode my bike in silent fear around

the swings and wondered what to

do.  She never told. In those days no one did.

Camp was supposed to be a haven.  I guess

for her it was.

 

Sara Jameson

 

WRITING PROMPT:

Write a memory of camp, or of any special summer activity you can recall from your childhood.

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward

signs painted Peaches.

 

From laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

 

O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into

the round jubilance of peach.

 

There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

 

Li-Young Lee

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

  1. The peaches are here! Write an ode to a peach (or any other seasonal fruit or vegetable you adore — or several!).
  2. Write a poem beginning with the phrase, “I take what I love inside,”

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized