Chapter 3 is called “Stir the Bees: Sound.” Runyan begins the chapter with another line from Billy Collins’ “introduction to poetry”:
or press an ear against its hive
Think about that word, “hive.” I can’t read it it without hearing the buzzing of bees.
This chapter is about sound, about choosing words with sound in mind. That can be rhyme, sure. Runyan also shows a lot of other ways to involve the sense of sound by deconstructing the nursery rhyme “Baa baa black sheep.”
She also encourages us to use word lists to choose the word that evokes sound or that simply sounds good when read aloud. So in my next draft of my poem, I did consult ye olde thesaurus. A couple of those words made it to the final draft.
Roadside Oddity (#3)
There’s nothing odd
about a wee white cross
beside a Texas highway.
“Careful there could be snakes,”
she says, but there’s no water
just a cross
entwined grapevines rising
from prairie grass
just past mile marker 95.
The earth curves away from the crash
tire tracks lead nowhere. Yellow tape
insists, DO NOT CROSS
We cross pasture bleached by drought
stare at ivory sky
Zephyr wind lifts our skirts
Note: This chapter opens with a poem I loved the first time I saw it at Every Day Poems—“Tiny Blast” by Peter Gizzi. It includes the wonderful line, “Turtle into it / with your little force.”
Marilyn Yocum says
THANK YOU for these posts stemming from “How to Write a Poem.” Loving them! I just got the book and look forward to working through it, but first need to complete Claire Burge’s “Spin,” which is filling the space left by this summer’s TSPoetry workshop on mindfulness with Chris Tokel. ( I am awash in inspiration and opportunities to grow in creativity!)
Anyway, I am loving reading your thoughts and how you’re sharing the development of the poem.
Jack Swanzy says
Cross, repeated. Did you have a set of specific intents in choosing the repetition? Good talk at the Writers Conference.
Megan Willome says
I just found it terribly ironic that we were there to plant a cross and there was yellow tape everywhere saying, “Do not cross.” It felt like that actual juxtaposition was screaming out for poetic juxtaposition.
P.S. Thanks for your kind words about the talk.
L.L. Barkat says
I am liking the repetition of cross in this case. Not all words bear repeating. And not all poems can bear repeating words. But this one feels like it’s working.
I’m enjoying watching the evolution of this poem. There was something about the tone in the last version I liked better, but I’m going to wait until the final, final before settling into a viewpoint 🙂
Monica Sharman says
Okay, my revision for chapter 3. I cut out several lines from the beginning, and (following your example) I used a thesaurus!
My mother favored the fireplace.
She threw sprinkles that changed the flames
into colors, like fluid movements of dancers
in jewel-toned tulle.
Mom bought a newspaper log roller,
cast-iron black. We tucked in sheet
after sheet, putting old news to rest;
cranked the handle round and round; saved
a tree and a trip to the recycles.
But the flames didn’t take on sheets altogether
too miserly, rolled all tight. Flames choked out
before the next layer of news. The happenings
of weeks and months of yesterdays
don’t easily burn away in ashes.
Megan Willome says
I like that it’s narrowed to the fireplace now.