Poem for Poetry Thursday

Happy Poetry Thursday!

So this week I'm reposting a poem from April that no one saw, but I'm extremely proud of. And, it kinda sorta follows the prompt. I wanted to write a new poem for today but I have a cold, so I'm not feeling up to snuff.

As I did in April, I feel like I have to say something about the poem "Contrition." As with all of my work, please don't assume the author of the poem and the speaker in the poem are the same. I don't like disclaimers but this is one of those times I feel it necessary.

*Poetry Thursday is like a holiday for the mind. Can't wait to spend time with your blogs and your poems.*


My son asks me how to write a poem
I tell him that I do not know how
sometimes the poem writes me.
I tell him the story about the woman
who feeds her son oatmeal, he doesn’t want it
but she doesn’t see that—or maybe she does,
jamming the spoon into his clenched mouth
until she hears it clang against his
chipped teeth. He cries, says he’s sorry.
She puts him in Time Out where
he sits facing the wall for hours,
days, years, threatens to throw him
into the middle of next week if he turns around.
He sits there until he faces her as a man. She asks,
“do you remember the color of the oatmeal bowl?”
Now you’re ready to write a poem.

Copyright 2006 January G. O'Neil


jenclair said…
Ouch! I think maybe you've hit on the reason I don't write poetry. Can't remember the color of the bowl, but still suffer the clenched teeth. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Getting a poem out is an effort I'm not willing to make.
Chad Simpson said…
Very cool poem, January.

That one's going to stick with me for a while.
FatCharlatan said…
My poet friend who's been mentoring me in this genre often speaks of "kicker" last lines...and yours definitely qualifies! That's a good thing! I also think your poem speaks to a larger theme: pain and writing and also, more importantly, honesty and writing...the speaker is showing her son how he needs to home in on the one image--be it the color of the oatmeal bowl or whatever--that'll sustain his memory, his writing, his passion. I really, really like this one. Nice work, as usual.
ecm said…
Amazing poem...so glad you posted it!
Cailleach said…
I love this line "He sits there until he faces her as a man"
Very, very good!
Jennifer said…
amazing (ouch was the first word that popped into my head too actually)
OH, Geez. Ouch is right! But I think every poet here has been the child at the (metaphorical) bowl of oatmeal, or we wouldn't be writing poems now. Great piece.
Bug said…
Very powerful! (and even without the disclaimer I would know that wasn't you!)
bb said…
I love how this loops in and out of fable and 'reality'. It's a poem to ponder - my favourite sort!

Glad you took the time to re-post, January, and hope your cold's better soon :-)
KL said…
Yeah, this is a GREAT poem. Well said

wendylou who? said…
oh the very essence of the poet mind! You grasped it so well.Not all the pretty pictures have stories to tell...but the hard ones, the ugly ones..They are screaming!!

Yeah for you. Hope you feel better soon.
Star said…
This leaves me silent in thought. Very deep for so few words.
Catherine said…
Yes, I'm still thinking about this one. I find it quite disturbing (in a very well written way).
I certainly wouldn't ahve thought it was you.
"sometimes the poem writes me"

can I just say what an amazing, truthful line that is? Sometimes I feel I am just along for the ride, my writing leading the way.

I love the power behind your words.
lisrobbe said…
brilliant. My favorite so far
January said…
Thanks everyone for the kind words.
twitches said…
Perfecto! I love it. So many unexpected twists and turns - takes you somewhere you don't expect to go.
Colorsonmymind said…
very intense
very good
Lynn said…
Detail, detail, detail: the detail of the color of the oatmeal bowl. The detail remembered even in the midst of adversity or sorrow or some other type of difficulty.

Yes, this is a poem you should feel good about having written.
Deb R said…
Wow. Amazing poem and the final lines are killer!
J.B. Rowell said…
Powerful poem!
Writing Blind said…
This is great, I especially love that last line.
paris parfait said…
Excellent work, January! Really clever.
Suzie said…
Very interesting and has more than one "bite" to it. I can understand using the disclaimer. I have had those painful lessons before too and it's true, it forces you to remember details. Excellent work!
liz elayne said…
fantastic. your poetry makes me pause every week. and i love that.

thank you for sharing this one again.
the question about the color of the bowl, holy crap, stopped me and i had to start again.
jim said…
What a great way to come back from a vacation, to read this sharp, hard poem. The parallel overlay, of the story within the narrative, is ingenious, and you don't go for an "agreeable" ending. Really brave stuff, January!
chiefbiscuit said…
This is soooo good. I love the surprise in it - the line where suddenly he's a man. And like catherine, i would never have thought it was you.

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