Poetry on an Rx Pad

During our last several poetry workshops at LLIChesterfield.org, the participants discussed some writing prompts I offered to help inspire their poetic expressions. I presented ” The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams to illustrate that poetry could be concise and spontaneous enough to be written on a prescription pad. William Carlos Williams has always been known as an experimenter, an innovator, a revolutionary figure in American poetry. Yet in comparison to artists of his own time who sought a new environment for creativity as expatriates in Europe, Williams lived a remarkably conventional life. A doctor for more than forty years serving the New Jersey town of Rutherford, he relied on his patients, the America around him, and his own ebullient imagination to create a distinctively American verse. Often domestic in focus and “remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects,” Williams’s poetry is also characteristically honest: “There is no optimistic blindness in Williams,” wrote Randall Jarrell, “though there is a fresh gaiety, a stubborn or invincible joyousness.” *

william-carlos-williams

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

In Williams short poem, written on a prescription pad, he notes that these relations are vital for survival, but leaves it up to the reader to discuss what they signify. Our class thought that they meant that all of life is dependent on the relationship between the careful use of technology and man’s approach at working with the crops. The images of the wheelbarrow being glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens, give the poem a powerful magical symbol to reinforce the relationships between nature, animals, and man. He notes that these relations are vital for survival, but leaves it up to the reader to discuss what is the significance of the wheelbarrow. Our class thought that the poem meant that all of life is dependent on the relationship between the careful use of technology and man’s approach at working with the crops. The images of the wheelbarrow being glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens give the poem a powerful magical symbol to reinforce the relationships between nature, animals, and man.  Here is the poem, below:

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams 

redwheelbarrowdownload (2)

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens

* Bio and poem from www.poetryfoundation.org

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 Bob Ferguson of our LLI poetry workshop, took a small pad, much like an RX pad and wrote these six wonderful poems with the inspiration of William Carlos Williams:

April Poems by Bob Ferguson 

#1

Day into night

Dark seeking light

Old times

Forgotten or not

New news

Same shoes

#2

The wind whistles

Need I reply?

A bird sings

I wonder why?

Skies blue or red or gray

What else is there to say?

#3

The dome of heaven

star streaked

Faces upturned

follow

the drinking gourd.

#4

Bold designs

colorbursts

Subtle shading

competing, completing

A master plan

#5

The present is

the future of the past

Sea and earth

divided

Sky united

Seeds sown

into the unknown

#6

Disreputable, tough

sneaking

spreading

survivalist

Back ache strain

plant of pain

Crabgrass.JPG 

Crabgrass

Jungle 

Dark secrets, struggles grim lie within

your shimmering shroud of green.

Your life is somehow unseen and yet

A million eyes observe all, while countless

Claws and teeth await the unwary.

Beauty and bounty combine, intertwine

Ages pass yet you, unchanging over time

Speak of the past before we reshaped

Our world to suit our tastes and passions.

We could learn much, if we pause and look.

In poem number 3, Bob said that it was inspired by the slaves escaping on the underground railroad who looked up to the stars to guide their way to freedom. I thought that poem number 6 was about the persistence of back strain, which I certainly understand. He said that it focused on managing crabgrass and the back strain that it gave him.

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Timothy Pace was inspired by a recent poetry workshop where we discussed poems that used similes, metaphors, and old cliches. He wanted to use as many of them as he could to write a final memory to a long lost and unhappy former love relationship. He said he had no idea where the object of this poem lived now and didn’t think that he cared to try to locate her. However, he conceded that writing the poem was a good prescription to help him get over his melancholy. More than anything, he said, “It was great fun writing the poem.”

Poem of Love Long Lost (extracted from old clichés) by Timothy Pace 

Once I lived in the springtime of love

Just me and Betsy, my sweet little turtle-dove

All the flowers of tomorrow were once in the seeds of yesterday

But now the seeds are all withered, and winds have blown them away

Clearly we had bitten off more than we could chew

We thought our love was here to stay and now we are both so blue

I used to be up on cloud nine, basking in the sunlight with you

But that’s now water under the bridge and were both feeling so blue

We used to talk for hours, even until the cows came home

But now we argue for days, and it saddens me down to the bone

 You once thought you were so pretty,   just like a cat’s meow

But honey dear, that was yesterday and this is where are now

 

 I recognize that we both can be stubborn and can’t see the forest thru the trees

But honey baby you stole my heart and took away the keys

Our arguments are all old now, just as old as them those hills

My soul is all empty, like a shell without any frills

You don’t care now, like a moth once attracted to a flame

The fire in your eyes is gone and you are playing a different game

They said we could bank our love, as it was once as good as gold

 But with the sands of time, it is all now tarnished, and looking very old

It is clear we are no longer each other’s cup of tea

And instead of parting ways, we tried to make something that remained of you and me

We use to do things together and act together as one

But we are both hurting now, so stick a fork in me, I’m done!

 

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2 Thoughts to “Poetry on an Rx Pad”

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