Naming Poems

for a prompt from

Sibyl and the Wind

What Sibyl knew, she wrote on leaves
and stacked beside the door, so even known,
the fates of men were playthings for the wind.


The Toy Arcana

what the kite said to the blue
what the kite said to the string
what the string said to the kite
what the string said to the spool
what the spool said to the spindle
what the spool said to the weeds
what the weeds said to the wind
what the weed said to the kite
was pricked onto the leaves
and stacked beside the door
was written on the leaves
my mother stripped
from slender whips
to stripe my white calves red
these things were written on the waves
in a teacup in the rain,
gouged deeply in the mud
with light swords and magic wands
pooh said the words and tinkerbelle
and broken sea shells stuttered them
rocks gathered them with moss
and shovels scooped them into buckets
sand condensed them into pearls
I strung on clover chains
I tied onto a kite
I lost to the wind.

Process notes:

If I were a little less careless reading these prompts, I might save some energy and time. Might not, though. Could be that haring off on misperceptions gives access to ideas that wouldn’t have been in the neighborhood otherwise.

I wrote these titles

spilled coffee seeks its level
we always lean toward death or chaos
the ethics of meat on the floor
the hawk in the reading room
hairs of lavender
what is air?
the place that used to be here
resident alien geese
cracks in the ceiling, cracks on the wall
balls of mercury
the newest thing since dirt
the pH of spit

for the Big Tent Poetry prompt “what’s in a Name?”

Then I re-read the prompt and understood that the idea was to find a title to go along with a body of existing work. The chapbook title.
And write a poem to that.

Well, I don’t really have the chapbook, but I’ve been playing with an idea for one. I have considered creating my own Major Arcana, based only loosely on the cards of the Tarot.  Had a go at it once, and chose some random photos from Flickr’s “Intrestingness” category.  I was happy with the result, but not with the method, because the pictures were not really mine to use.  I have considered public domain images, and may have to resort to that, but I have an idea that would be better IF I can manage it.

A couple of the photos that appealed most to me were staged pictures of toys.  One was from a series of Lego characters in action. The other was an odd little felt toy given some props and appearing to be out in the world.  I would like to try making some similar photos, and use the resulting images for my arcana.  Then I want to use the “cards” to suggest themes for poems.

I was in a thrift store yesterday, and ran across some grab bags of small toys. They look like crazy miscellaneous mixes of Beanie Babies, bubble gum machine prizes, and toddler toys. I bought two bags for five bucks. The project has been started.

And now it has a name: The Toy Arcana

Of the Sibyl:

In her cave she was accustomed to inscribe on leaves gathered from the trees the names and fates of individuals. The leaves thus inscribed were arranged in order within the cave, and might be consulted by her votaries. But if perchance at the opening of the door the wind rushed in and dispersed the leaves the Sibyl gave no aid to restoring them again, and the oracle was irreparably lost.

__Bullfinch’s Mythology:  The Age of Fable Ch. 25



    • Thanks, Jeanne. I hope it isn’t beyond my skill set in photography. At least with digital you have endless do-overs without the waste of paper and chemicals real photos entail.

  1. Oh, yes. This is fascinating. The poem, your process, your reading the prompt differently, perhaps….

    (I find I do that a lot!)

    And here, the outcome.

    This is a word-and-idea-and-poetic feast. Loved the entire experience.


  2. Keep being careless, because you come up with these phenomenal ideas. And I appreciate that you share these stories wrapped with processes tied up with poems and commentary paper, it fills out the skeleton of a blog post and gives it character.

    • Sometimes there is enough outside the poems that it does seem to want to come along. I don’t as a rule, because I’m so chaotic that my prose doesn’t clarify all that much.

    • Thanks, Dick. It’s still rough (like everything I write for these prompts) and I’m not certain where it thinks it’s going. I like that about a folk tale morphing, though. That could work

    • Just now and then, Ren. I don’t explain things well. Like those people who CANNOT tell a joke. Lose track of where I am because the details charm me.

      And I don’t like the way my inner voice sounds.

    • how funny. you just commented. the iPad dings
      I was working on your PTT details exercise.

      maybe next time you should pair what is seen with sound from outside

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