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Poetry Erupts at Convention

by Harriet Geller

My workshop offering at the Summer Convention this year, "Poetry: Feelings to Words to Feelings," included an exercise in which we each wrote a ten-line poem in ten minutes. The poem was to incorporate a proverb, adage or familiar phrase altered in some way, plus at least four of the following words: cliff, needle, voice, whir, blackberry, cloud, mother, lick. Here is a sampling of the wide range of responses to the guidelines - and some serendipitous similarities.

Back Seat

I am lying in the back seat
Of the family car.
All I hear
Is the whirring of the motor
And my mother's voice,
In the front seat
Talking to my father.
I watch the clouds
Go by.

Linda Marks

First Love

Someday my prince will
Rise like a blackberry cloud,
Float his seedy bulbous body
Into view, and I will needle
Him into deflation - Oh, no!
I mean he will gently descend
Onto my rooftop and lick
The milk from his lips
While I prepare the cream.

Harriet Geller


between the devil and the blue sea
must be that cloud
where my mother lives.

The cliff is high.
Down there, the waves smash in their own
I look, I listen, I smell, I lick,
waiting for her voice.

Yvonne Parma


There is a cliff on the edge of my life
I stand like a devil
between it and the sea
my voice
clouded in the rush
of water collapsing
against stone
gathers on my tongue
I lick the air
I will get no closer
to the water

Jane Lewis


Blackberry, blueberry, strawberry clouds
Each tells a story
My voice will give shout (out)

Burberry, thistle, mother, I tout
Don't count your chickens
They're already out
Snapberry, pigberry, honey the cliff
Over you go
With a whir and a whiff

Stout cloud cliff whiff lick

Marlene Schiller

Individual I

I hate having to use these hackneyed phrases.
They come to me
Like the needle voice of my mother,
Piercing through my stone-walled bulwark,
My will impaled like a fork-stabbed blackberry.

Give me rather my freedom
To write as I please,
Letting the pen flow over the page,
And I - individual I -
One foot out of the grave.

Bob Holmes

This article appeared in the Fall 2001 IPA Newsletter.

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