Inside/Outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside, they faced off
like well-matched super heroes
landing blows
that shook the house
but did little
to slow one another.
Their words slammed
into walls, splintered
door ways, shattered
everything of value.
I took my china heart
and shut the door.
Outside, I climbed the oak
I was too old to climb.
I pressed my feet
against her solid trunk.
I grabbed her limbs
in my hands.
I pulled myself
into her lap.
I climbed higher
than I should.
I could hear the wind
singing to the birds.
I could hear the grass
whispering to the worms.
I could hear the leaves
breathe. I found
what I was looking for.
I tucked my stolen treasure
into a moss-lined nest
built by the earth.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved

Paper Dolls

photo-231

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl in the Catalog Speaks

Please, I beg you,
find some scissors
and set me free.
Release me
from this empty space,
this frozen moment.
Help me put down
the pink paisley cinch sack
I’ve had in my hand since
long before the season.
Let me have my own
edges. Cut carefully
around my limbs,
my fingers, the strands
of my fan-blown hair.
Once I’m out, please
don’t let me flop.
Give me some cardboard
backbone—a bit of box
will do. Paste it on.
Snip my feet. Slip a tab
into the slots and help me stand
on my own. I wouldn’t mind
some different clothes—
long jean shorts in lime or peach
a ruched knit tank in ultramarine,
or maybe a pine green taffeta skort.
I think you’ll find
they all come in my size.
How I long to drive around
in a shoe box of friends
from other pages,
other companies.
Perhaps we could pose
for a picnic on the lawn,
but please, I beg you,
don’t leave me
in the rain.

 

Lately I’ve been reading blog posts and internet essays about the tradition of making paper dolls. Girls (and boys?) used to wait for the new Sears catalog to arrive knowing that meant it was safe to cut up the old one. The girls would cut out figures, clothes, furniture, and household objects. They would paste them to cardboard and fold the bottom edge back so the pieces could stand. Some girls made box houses for their dolls. Others made cars out of shoeboxes. After the catalogs had been cut to shreds, they went to the outhouse for their third and final use.

For more Poetry Friday visit Anastasia Suen at Poet!Poet!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2014, all rights reserved

Christmas Cookie Haiku

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eating the tree
before decorating it—
holiday traditions

 

sweet greenery—
wreaths welcome
to the tongue

 

decorated reindeer—
Rudolph’s nose
goes first

 

buttons
missing jackets—
gingerbread kids

 

ornaments
never meant for the tree
iced baubles

 

These haiku were inspired by Robyn Hood Black’s wonderful haiku series, “We Haiku Here,” and Laura’s delicious post at Author Amok last Friday in honor of National Cookie Day!

For more Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.

Happy Holidays!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved.

The Maple

IMG_4097

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Maple

She couldn’t bear to wear
that same green dress
another day. She was sick
of blending in, of posing
in the same plain uniform
as everyone else in the wood.
So, about a week ago, she showed up
orange. Her leaves sparkled
like the bells on a belly dancer’s belt.
She shimmied like she was on fire.
The whole place was shaking,
until yesterday, when the accordion
sneezed, the lute snapped a string
and all her sequins flopped.
Now there she is
standing naked in the cold.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved

For more Poetry Friday, visit Diane at Random Noodling.

Metaphor

Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, San Diego, Oct. 2008.  (Wikimedia Commons)

Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, San Diego, on Oct. 20, 2008.
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy Collins was a guest on the Diane Rehm show this week. It was, as always, a pleasure to hear his voice reading his poems and talking about poetry and life. The show also includes a very cute 3 year-old reciting one of Collins’ poems and a great idea for a dinner party.

Collins did say one thing I took exception to. He said he didn’t think you could teach the rhythm of language or metaphor.

Maybe you can’t teach the rhythm of language in an afternoon or even a semester, but what about over the course of many years? I think I learned about rhythm of language from taking my three kids to early childhood music classes over many, many years. I think I learned about the rhythm of language from reading them picture books and poetry over years and years. I also think I learned and relearn it from walking and feeling the rhythm in my body as I walk.

Metaphor too, I think can be taught. Maybe you can’t teach someone to be a genius, but surely you can help a writer move ahead from where they are. I think the first step is to teach writers to be alert to and reject the cliché. Encourage them to push on and find a new, fresh comparison. I find it helpful to make long lists of possible metaphors. The cliché’s seem to fill the beginning of the list, but then once I’ve gotten them out on paper, other ideas seem to come—brighter, fresher ideas.

Here’s a quick example, using perhaps the most clichéd object around.

Possible metaphors for the moon

A cookie
A cake
A bowl of milk
A cracker
A plate
A face
A bunny
A spoon
A medal
A coin
A balloon
A mirror
A marble
A ball
A baseball
A soccer ball
A saucer
A raindrop
A tear
An eye
A belly button
A button

I don’t think my ideas start to get interesting until pretty far down the list.

Here’s a quick draft, using tear.

Moonfall

The moon
slips down
the cheek
of night
drawing
sorrows
through
the dark.

There’s no time now but I think a second stanza about the sun might work.

 

What do you think? Can we teach the rhythm of language? Can we teach metaphor?

Would you like to give the list strategy a try and report back?

 

For more Poetry Friday, visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem…

(c) Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved