PROMPT #354 – EDWARD HOPPER

It seems the paintings and works of artist Edward Hopper are great fodder to inspire other artists in their endeavors. We as poets have come across this from time to time. Many an Ekphrastic poem has sprung from these offerings. Some show the desolation of the human condition, or the interaction of the same.

Today I offer three such works for your poetic interpretation:

“Room in New York”
by Edward Hopper
“Hotel By a Railroad”
by Edward Hopper
“Sunday”
by Edward Hopper

Each painting expresses something and it’s your job to relate what it says to you. Choose one and tell us what you see!

MARIE’S VISION:

Room in New York (An American Sentence)

Here she has a house, but longs to be there, even if in one small room. 

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

#seventeensyllables

WALT’S VIEW:

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
The man had many hang ups,
and this one will have him hung over
all day. Another Sunday with nary 
a prayer on his lips, but plenty of
Jack Daniel’s on his breath.
He curses God for his lack of strength
in battling his demons, for they’ve
cost him his job and his family.
Responsibility was never his, 
and he wasn’t laying claim to this.
On any given Sunday you’ll find him
pissing his life away; he thinks
he’s keeping his demons at bay.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2021

PROMPT #353 – TAKE COMFORT WHERE YOU CAN GET IT

Autumn is upon us and as the season takes hold we take comfort wherever we find it. It could be from a bowl of hot soup, it might be a warm blanket or a seat next to a warm fire. What is your comfort? We’re writing a comfort poem!


MARIE’S COMFORT:

Fall


There’s a chill in the air. Just enough to grab a sweater
and cute boots.
Enough to birth sweet, crisp apples.
The kind of perfect chill that calls my dad to mind -
the pride I felt watching him direct the Star-Spangled Banner
for the football pregame on a perfect autumn afternoon 
that smelled of popcorn and stadium dogs. 
The kind of chill that warms my heart and feeds my joy.

Fall:  The season of my heart.
Fall:  Collapse.

As I drink in the season, life collapses at the feet of a friend.
She writes of the woeful loss of her husband
with words that both singe and chill.

I know her only from afar, 
but I know her. 
How often have her stirring words
and soothing photos of the beauty surrounding her
touched my heart, and lifted my spirits?
How often has she bravely shared the slow slide of Alzheimer’s
as it stole her sweetheart far too soon?
When the news came to me,
I spent much time vainly stringing words
and counting syllables -
only to realize there’s a chill in the air,
and no words warm enough.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

Dearest Janet:  May you feel the strength of our Father’s love, and the warmth of your Poetic Bloomings family.  Gentle hugs …

WALT’S EASE:

ALLA FREDDA TUA CAPANNA

To Your Cold Hut (Translated)

In my travels, I have seen great opulence,
I have seen great want, just a scant spec of existence.
But even such a life will spark a persistence to survive.
The key is to keep alive. As the seasons transform
from the warm climates to a chilled alternative,
it is imperative we care for those sisters or brothers.

I will come to your cold hut
bringing a meal to feed you,
a warmth to fill you and seed you
with the spark of life meant for all.
I will call on you to bring you sustenance.

I will come to your cold hut
bringing clothes more substantial
than the tatters you cling to in modesty.
I honestly care to share with you
to fill your chests with my excess.

I will come to your cold hut
bearing logs for your fire,
meant to stoke the desire within you.
It is within you to lift yourself up
in the glowing warmth of love’s flow.

I will come to your cold hut
to comfort you in your time of sadness,
hoping to fill you with the gladness
which your life truly deserves.
It preserves your sanity, your humanity.

I will come to your cold hut
to share the joy of Christmas,
bearing gifts of life
meant to lift your strife
and bring you its blessings through love.

I have a purpose to help where I can
and be the kind of man I was meant to be,
to see the suffering of others,
buffering my sisters and brothers
from its pain, again and again.
And I will come to your hut in love.

In that, I take pause.
I am (everybody’s) Santa Claus.

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

PROMPT #352 – MANY FROM ONE

On Wednesday, during our exploration of Wallace Stevens’ work through his “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, I instructed you to be mindful of this piece of poetics. Stevens observed his subject from many different angles, yet staying true to his subject, blackbirds.

I ask that you choose a subject, be it something in your travels or something in your realm of influence, and write your observations in as many parts as you see fit. The point of view is all yours. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so they say. There are many views of your chosen subject. Write them!

MARIE’S OBSERVATION:

GOLDEN DOOR

1.  Statue of Liberty

Mother of Exiles:
the unofficial greeter
who lights the entry.

2.  E pluribus unum (from many, one)

Though it may sing, the
human voice can’t, on its own,
create harmony.

3.  Breathe Free

Asphyxiated,
come! Inhale liberty, and
exhale oppression.

4.  Golden Door

Inexpensively
opening up a child’s world:
Little Golden Books.

5.  Rings True

You opened my heart
and sealed life-long allegiance
with just a gold band.

6.  Treasure Box

To the hungry child,
the dream door to open is
a fridge full of food.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021




WALT’S WIDE VIEW:

THE CHRISTMAS STAR

I

It shines in the night
To the children’s delight,
Clear and bright
It makes the world seem alright!

II 

They came from afar
At the behest of this star.
Leading them to the place
Where the Child born of grace lays.
Above Him it stays.

III

Twinkle, twinkle Christmas star
High in the sky is where you are.

IV

In the silence of night
The shepherds take comfort
By your fervent glow.
Angels call and the keepers know
That they need not be afraid.

V

Multitude of stars shine
But their combined light 
Is not as bright as the one star,
A constellation of itself.

VI

Christmas comes
Not in foil wrapped boxes,
Not with ribbons and bows.
God knows where the Son rises
And there are no surprises to find.
For where the star glows
Can salvation be far behind?

VII

Polish tradition states
That the meatless meal on your plate 
is not consumed before the star’s first light is seen.
A familial scene of togetherness.
The adults prepare their Christmas eve fare,
While the children keep watch in the skies.
Soon the starlight will come.
Star light, star bright, first star we see tonight!

VIII

My eyes don’t deceive,
For every time I leave for my flight
On that special night, the Star of Christmas 
shows its bright light. Christmas has come once again,
and I and my reindeer friends embark
into the dark night with only that star to lead.
Everywhere the starlight touches
Does as much to announce the day.
And I in my sleigh bow my head at that blessed sight,
I am Santa Claus, and all is right. 
It is Christmas!

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021


PROMPT #350 – NIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOR

We’re writing a night poem. The shining could be the moon and stars. The armor can be an alcove of trees. The romance is whatever stirs your emotions! Take your words and try to get medieval on us. Or better yet, make us swoon.

MARIE’S NIGHT:

Still


If time stood still, would I continue on?
Would forward movement cease then to exist?
Could sun and moon be viewed from dusk to dawn,
And deadlines not be met, yet not be missed?

Would falling stars suspend themselves in space,
Like frozen fireworks across night’s sky,
As lovers fused beneath in warm embrace
Would never need to say the word goodbye?

Would guarantees be suddenly fulfilled, 
Or would our contracts be for naught, and nixed?
Would all that’s overflowing go un-spilled?
Might what was once detaching be affixed?

If all that was foreshadowed was foregone
As time stood still, would we continue on?

© Marie Elena Good, 2021


(The first stanza was taken from a poem I wrote in 2013.  I liked that stanza at the time, but not the remainder of that poem.  I decided to use it as the first stanza of a sonnet, and use the first line as an echo at the end.)

WALT’S PEACE:

NIGHT FALLS

Evening descends like a hushed silence,
and tranquility is its marker.
Your song is a lilting lullaby
in the shadows of the night.
There’s no threat of violence
as the midnight sky grows much darker.
The constellations fill the sky
contradicting darkness, bringing light.
I see you in silhouette.
I see you in whispers.
I see you in every moonlit sky.
You are the vision this night craves.
It saves me from the pain of my wretched soul.
It takes its toll. From the moon to the stars,
from Venus to Mars, from these hearts of ours. 
When love calls, night falls.

© Walter J Wojtanik

PROMPT #349 – A “SHEL” OF YOUR FORMER SELF

Hi, Walt here. I begin with this poem:

THE LITTLE BOY AND THE OLD MAN
By Shel Silverstein 

Said the little boy, sometimes I drop my spoon.
Said the little old man, I do that too.
The little boy whispered, I wet my pants.
I do too, laughed the old man.
Said the little boy, I often cry.
The old man nodded. So do I.
But worst of all, said the boy,
it seems grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
I know what you mean, said the little old man.


Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-little-boy-and-old-man-by-shel-silverstein

This week we breech a subject with which more of us here deal than not. Aging. As we get a little older, we become more and more a shell of our former selves. Our highlighted poem by Shel Silverstein (a personal favorite poet of both Marie’s and mine) approaches the subject tenderly and lovingly as the similarity between the little boy and the aged gentleman is compared.

In spite of the prompts I post and the Reading Room features offered on occasion, I am again faced with my mortality and the prospects of aging. Health issues have prevented me from being more of a presence than I’d like of late. But, my saving grace is my wonderful granddaughter, Brooklyn Ariel. She pulls me from the brink of that precipice time and time again.

And so, we come to this week’s prompt. Re-read the Silverstein poem to refresh the concept. Then, you are charged with writing a poem that reflects your process as told to a young person. You are the Old (Woman/Man) talking to a little one, be they a grandchild, a young family member, a wide-eyed neighbor child… someone who can benefit from your packet of wisdom surrendered in your poem. You’re writing a poem in language a child would understand. It’s a bit of a challenge if you are not used to writing a children’s poem, but I have faith in your collective poetic abilities to be able to pull it off. As always, I appreciate each and every one of you as poets and friends.

MARIE’S THOUGHTS:

Nonna Ree's Priorities

The older I get, the older I feel
     It’s hard to run. It’s hard to kneel.
           Can’t cartwheel as in childhood.
                  (But, truth-be-told, I never could. 😉 )
                        Consistently can’t find my words -
                              Can access just perhaps two thirds.
                                    Can’t run too fast. Can’t hear when asked.
                                            My skates and skis were long-since trashed.
                                    But I’ll still race you on my bike,
                        and take a walk or even hike
                and talk and laugh and draw (kind of 😉 )
        and listen well 
  and deeply love. 

© Marie Elena Good, 2021



WALT’S WORDED WISDOM:

POPPI, OPEN THE EYES!

You sit with me upon my knee
as we watch your program on TV.
You’re light as a feather and I’m not
sure, whether you know how loved you truly are.
I begin to doze and I sense you know
and you wrap your fingers around my nose.
You give a shake, to my surprise and you say,
“Poppi, open the eyes!”

I startle awake at your gentle shake
and you laugh at the funny face that I make.
To sleep through our time is a big mistake
so, I wake up, for heaven’s sake.
I give a hug to you my love bug 
and you respond with your simple shrug
as you huddle closer, nice and snug and say,
“Wake up Poppi, open the eyes.”

My sleep eludes me and you exude such joy,
like you do when we sit and play with a toy.
I marvel at the smarts you possess
and the pride I feel inside my chest
tells me you just might change the world,
girl with the straight blonde hair (with no curl).
You search me out and you smile oh, so wide,
you grasp my hand and you hold it so tight.

And I’m happy you came along when you did,
and I laugh when you claim “I’m a big kid!”
And you certainly are, I believe you’ll go far,
and I wish I’ll be here to bask in your star.
But, there will soon come a day when
our time at play will come to an end,
and I will miss you, my lovely young friend
who worked so hard to keep me so young.

On that one day, my eyes will stay closed
and no bit of shaking upon my cold nose
will stir me from my timeless sleep.
And my non-response might make you weep.
But, don’t be sad for your old granddad,
just remember all the fun that we had.
Over time you’ll feel glad to recall it all.
Before it's all gone, it would be wise 
for your Poppi to open up his eyes!

 © Walter J Wojtanik - 2021 

PROMPT #345 – YA GOTTA HAVE HEART

Today, we’re writing a “HEART” poem.

Be it, the Heart of the Matter, or artichoke hearts. The heart as a vital organ, or a heart felt expression of something. I hope you ❤ this prompt. You’re not necessarily writing a “love” poem, but if that’s what’s in your heart, by all means, go for it. I ❤ Poetry!

MARIE’S HEART:

THE HEART OF AN OLYMPIAN

Dreams held within resist all hindrances,
As though an iron breastplate shelters it.
Equating fear and doubt as hidden sins,
It will not recognize them, nor admit

Susceptibility may lie inside.  
It soundly strikes a metronome-like beat  
That pulses toward the goal that it has eyed,
Where grueling pain and utter joy may meet.

But when a running water hose crimps tight,
The urgent fix outweighs the aim at hand.
The crimp must be relaxed … And this despite
Whatever lofty plan was in demand.

Olympic hearts are human, in the end.
They’ve earned soft hands to hold them as they mend.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021


WALT’S HEART:

THE HEART OF POETICS

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance”

  ~An Essay on Criticism (Sound and Sense) Alexander Pope

The heart expresses all that its eyes can see;
it is a voice that’s clear and speaks to all who wish to hear.
So, do not close your mind to what is possible. It can be
that a heart so blind will make love disappear.
But pens that stroke in broad and heartfelt hues,
will yield a master work in the words you choose.

© Walter J. Wojtanik

PROMPT # 341 – HOME IS WHERE THE POEM IS

We’re giving the heart a break (not as in broken heart, but as a rest) when we say the title of this prompt. Your poem is inspired by someplace close to your – heart (break’s over). Take the place you were born, where you grew up, or somewhere you lived, and use it is the base of your poem. If this place is famous for something, write that poem. I was born in Lackawanna, New York and for the longest time it was a steel town. So, Lackawanna Steel became my title/topic. You can take this poem anywhere you want and you’ll never leave home. Write that home pome!

MARIE’S HOME:

The Heart of it All (Fibonacci)

Home
Is
The state
Of my heart:
Heart-shaped Ohio.
“Ohio, The Heart of It All,”
Is more than its slogan, to me. It’s a certainty
Born of dappled sunlight, porch swing swishes, marching bands, sure love, and lingering laughter.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

(Bummer. My final line, written in 21 syllables, breaks up on site.)

WALT’S PLACE:

LACKAWANNA STEEL

Lackawanna was home long before I knew I’d roam,
and find another place that fills this space in my heart,
From my start I was forged in Lackawanna Steel; a real
sense of structure and foundation built upon the
rigid girders of steel. Bethlehem Steel gave us all we had,
or all that Dad earned to set us up to succeed.
He worked hard and lived harder with liquor the answer,
and a demise from cancer. The plant had long since closed,
and I suppose it was just as well. The swell of steel workers
had found a similar fate, much too late to save them.
But this steel town outside of Buffalo, found itself
deeply seeded in each native son’s hearts. From the start
they were all “Men of Steel” good to feel at home
just south of where the Buffalo roam!

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2021

PROMPT #340 – MAKE YOUR CHOICE

Today, the prompt is up to you. This is sort of a wild card day. I will offer three categories from which you choose where your poem takes you. The choices are rather ordinary. The extraordinary thing here will be the poem you write, for you are all extraordinary poets! So, her goes…

Write a colorful poem – Pick a color, any color and write a poem using that color as your inspiration.

Write a weather poem – Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. So do something about it and use it in a poem. Wind, rain, snow, wherever you go take the weather with you!

Write a royal poem – You know the hierarchy – King, Queen, Prince, …Choose a ranking and make yourself the (your choice) of something. You are the King Of Rhyme, the Queen of Sumptuous foods, the Prince of Pondering… you get the idea. Write a “Royal” poem, but don’t let it be a pain!

MARIE’S CHOICE:

Her wittiness stings
and rings of cynicism.
Her Royal Wryness.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021



WALT’S SELECTION:

THE PRINCE OF PASSIONS

He has this longing from a long way off,
and he scoffs at any disparaging comment
that he was not meant to find love
in the expression of such passions.
He fashions himself as a romantic,
a frantic wordsmith, smitten with the words
he ponders and her out yonder.
Choosing to be perusing the horizon,
wise men become fools when love enters.
She loves a fool, for he gives her
full attention, not to mention a feeling
of warmth inside. He may come 
to hide it from the world, but the girl
becomes a point of his focus. 
No hocus-pocus brings them together,
as distance is as safe a haven that 
they’ve ever needed. Yet, indeed!
His princess gives him his standing,
no begging or commanding, 
just a seat in the throne. She brings him
home, he is the prince she all ways needed. 

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

PROMPT #335 – SOFT AND HARD

We’re working both sides of the street today and delving into the concepts of SOFT and HARD. We’ll write either into a poem. But to compound things further, you are to come up with a compound word highlighting either extreme. We’ll be doing a few of these exercises with different opposing ideas so this is just the beginning.

You ask, “What does Walt mean compound words!” Think of these few examples: Soft Cell, Feather Soft, Hard Sell, Hard Times, soft opening, hard headed… You get the picture. Write softly and carry a hard problem to an easy solution!

MARIE’S SOFT WORDS:

softly screaming

She never fingered
soft, supple, pretty petals
for fear of thorn’s prick.

Gently moonlit clouds
went unnoticed, for stark-glared
terror of tripping.

Her lips never sought
a tender kiss. Her heart slammed
shut, expecting ache.

She clashed with herself.
Subtly soft-spoken. Screaming
unyielding unease.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S HARD SOLUTION:

THE SOFT PARADE

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2021

PROMPT #334 – IT HAPPENS

I was reminded during the millionth (it’s seemed like it) broadcast of Forrest Gump when the T-Shirt designer steps in IT and an unflappable Gump comes forth with the line “It Happens.” We all encounter things that “happen” in our lives, both good and not quite so.

What’s happening? Or better yet what has happened in your realm of influence? What would you like to happen? Be it personal, local, or wider spread than that, let us know through your poetic heart. It happens to all of us. We’ll help you step around it.

MARIE’S HAPPENING:

JUST YESTERDAY

I loved gardening
beneath sun and deep blue sky
in sensible shoes.

I loved Keith as he
painted old cheap plastic pots
‘seventies Corvettes.

I loved filling them
with flamboyant petunias,
modest marigolds.

I loved settling in,
sipping black coffee, watching
red robins rummage.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S HAPPENSTANCE:

HAPPENSTANCE

    “Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” ~Aldous Huxley

You live and learn,
earning your respect
and stumbling your way
through this world. You hope to build
strength and character and
strength of character
to anchor you. Feet firmly planted,
convicted to depict a man
who makes his mistakes better
each next time he makes them.
Never curse the sins visited upon the son
for they were merely lessons the father
never got around to teaching.
Nothing wrong with reaching for the stars,
venturing far from home base,
yet keeping our heart close to the place
that bears your footprint.
Not all missteps are mistakes,
every deviation takes you to a new location.
For generations this had been your station.
But your errors are the foundation upon which
your life was built. Becoming sturdy
and strong, ending up where you belong.
Remember it happens to all of us.
Learn from it and move on!