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Go to your kitchen pantry, garden, refrigerator, or spice rack. Pick an herb, spice, fruit, or vegetable. Take it to your writing space. Smell it, feel it, observe it, taste it. Does it come in multiple forms: powdered, sliced, dried, pickled? What sensations does it arouse? What memories does it bring?
Now, write for thirty minutes or more, don’t stop –Don’t think, just write. Reread what you’ve written. Find the connections, the heat, the moments where language lifts, where it sings, and sculpt this into a poem.
If you like, post your results as a comment; we would love to see what people come up with.
Here is a Poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil from her book Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003) to inspire you.
If your man doesn’t know cumin
from cardamom, it’s time to let him go.
but if he discovers a wetted paintbrush dipped
into turmeric makes a soft yellow line
on your back, spells something like You
are my sun—then keep him and hold on tight.
I like a cupboard packed with jam jars rubbed clean,
full of the sand from fantasy beaches of me
and my man and a paintbrush I conjured up
just last night—a cupboard where the difference in reds
means danger or victory for my pot of stew.
And what about cloves pierced
into a fat orange, strung up with ribbon
at Christmas? What came up with that,
and what kind of twisted need did they have
for the occasional prick of spikes under
nails? One, we were leaving
Bombay Palace, my father spooned
caraway and licorice bits into my palm
from the jade bowl on the counter and said,
“This will clean your breath.” The owner
twitched his moustache, and nodded.
Pepper is the obvious choice, in its powder form,
I mean—but there’s something about the crash
of peppercorns into a salad, over pasta, the twist
and flex of wrist that sends men back for more.
But if you really want to impress, try chili flaked fresh
under a rolling pin and wax paper. Make sure he sees
you doing this labor of love—act as if you do this
at every meal, that is how it would be every day
if he desired. And after dinner, float some
in his tea, slip some into his slice of cake.
Be careful for the warmth of his mouth.
who doesn’t love the taste of them yes onions
they are my true companions
bringing with them tears of sulphuric acid
making me less than lucid
so when I toss in a morsel of rice
and follow it up with an onion slice,
that crunching taste I have longed to feel,
has finally come to pass, a true deal.
My only regret post meal, is this
when she comes near me, to kiss
she looks at me, her nose stuck up
and swings at me a peppermint stick.
Wonderful, thought provoking
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thanks for this exercise ~ I really enjoyed it and this is what I came up with:
is your love
the cinnamon grove.
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Melissa Hassard said:
Posted here: http://anexerciseindiscipline.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/dailybread/
Unassuming, this loaf of bread,
smelling of earth and dandelion,
and remarkable as the sun
touched by molasses.
How the grains first come together
is miracle of imagination and convenience,
harvesting flour and rye, turning under corn,
God know which seasons are for oats,
which for brown rice, where to find barley and millet.
Surely the almonds are from California
but I fantasize the sunflower seeds
came from that happy field that
surprised me one summer around
a bend of winding country road.
Fired in someone’s oven, rich
with the scent of warmth
and roasting seed until pulled
out by a man who moves
with deliberate grace,
who will carve when it cools
with practiced method.
For children, crusts are cut away,
little squares of bread soft
on their small tongues until
they are old enough to know better
until they are old enough for the heel,
the chewy, complicated ends of stories.
I woke this morning worried that you hunger.
From the graceless toaster, the slice now
the crunchy underpinning of morning.
I bring you toast and tea in bed.
You are still asleep while I navigate
the dark house to reach you.
I have traveled the dark house
of my life to reach you,
with honey and lemon for your tea,
poetry from my lips,
bread to my chest.
Melissa I. Hassard
(for The Poet’s Billow Challenge, Engaging the Senses)
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Thanks. I will take this to my writing group. If we don’t have writing to share the day we meet, we take a writing prompt.
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What a beautiful blog you have! I just popped in to thank you for liking my recent blog posts on No Holds Barred. I always get a kick out of it. And now I am doubly honored after seeing your site.
Thank you! :)
Reading about the challenge,
The first thing that I came up was cardamom,
Churned in the tea made by my mum.
Its aromatic pleasure,
It is nothing but treasure,
Lifting me up when everything is bad,
Whenever I am very very sad.
It would freshen up the day,
Keep every tension at bay.
Whenever I churn it, I add it,
The sweet aroma clears me up.
And when tea is poured in cup,
With the slight taste of cardamom,
I can do nothing but thank my mum.
Anne Sikes said:
Wonderful idea!! :) Here’s mine from 20 Lines a Day. Thank you for the fun inspiration! :) http://anexerciseindiscipline.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/dont-forget-the-salt-poets-billows-challenge/
Reblogged this on lorageneva and commented:
I enjoyed this post on engaging the senses. I found this to be really helpful to work through writer’s block. Try it!
Melissa Hassard said:
Reblogged this on 20 LINES A DAY – an exercise in discipline and commented:
Alright, you guys … A wonderful exercise to try from The Poet’s Billow. Who wants to try?
my mind might have been wandering….
so cool and perfect in my hand
my fingers caress it, knowing
that one bite will not sate our hunger
sweet juices, inside, liberated by
lip, and tongue, scent
we consume it as we would consume each other
life giving, this crisp motion as this apple
yields it’s very substance to us
and through each bite we share, I see the
perfect movement of your happiness
Blood red outside yet purest white within
as I watch your throat as swallowing
this great cavity of loss of self
as we smile and suck the nectar
across our tongues and chew
I save the last bite for you and
lips moist and full devour it, the last
red skin and white flesh to become
body, blood and bone
and I gaze at you and judge your hunger
This is a great exercise to do. My teachers have recommended this. I love the poem about coloring. Very nice!