Thursday, January 12, 2006


today a high of 70
where is the snow?

American Life in Poetry: Column 039


Many of us keep journals, but while doing so few of us pay much attention to selecting the most precise words, to determining their most effective order, to working with effective pauses and breath-like pacing, to presenting an engaging impression of a single, unique day. This poem by Nebraskan Nancy McCleery is a good example of one poet’s carefully recorded observations.

December Notes

The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks

The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,

Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew

Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out

Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.

The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail

Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.

Reprinted from “Girl Talk,” The Backwaters Press, 2002, by permission of the author. Copyright © 1994 by Nancy McCleery. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

My off-the-cuff response poem:

January Notes

The backyard is one mud puddle
where we avoid the deepest sink

our shoes may never recover from.
Children wear short sleeves, turn

their pants into shorts talk
about snow speculated for more

than ten days out. There, dim
like a promise of a groundhog or

a season far off. While this one
stalls like my car off the edge

of the driveway tire spinning,
spilling earth's wet __________.

I can't find the right last word yet, any suggestions? It's like a Madlib!


Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

ooze, sap, innards, puss (that's Craig's contribution) . . . this is going nowhere!

9:54 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Anna Greene said...

How about:
spewing Earth's wet indignation

or something like that?

10:30 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger reniebob said...

ooh, I like that, Anna!
Julia, just like a man (boy) to suggest "puss." :)

11:15 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Michelle e o said...

Spit! Love that, never saw mad lib poetry before =) Fun.

11:40 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Vivek said...

jan notes look dismal compared to dec notes

12:26 PM, January 15, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

You're right Vivek - they don't compare do they?

12:34 PM, January 15, 2006  

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