Day25: From the Balcony on Schuyler

Wisteria 2020 – taking over the (little) world with its fingery stems.

From the Balcony on Schuyler


the balcony is like a big window, from here

one cannot see above or too much to each side to

see birds that fly high silently sweep their crawling

black shadow on the bush. So we can guess below just

how large they may be or are – could they be holding up

thumbs and fingers backlit with the sun, with the ground

as the white sheet? And of course you are the audience

perhaps they could be interested in a snack of the ants

in a line that found the chives survived from winter

who now face smaller jaws of death – so Spring

is not a guarantee of eternal summer life. It is more

than a greening in front, as the wisteria twists and knits

the yarn of its stem every year further, boasting its lilac

victory in spills and gushes. Nature reals more estate.

“I’ll be your gypsy” – how did people get along with two

out of seven days of their short lives to be? The empty

lot has what remains of a chicken or rabbit coop

and the same wisteria is determined to shroud and erase

the evidence of human enterprise until the full greening

of summer, the winter barren browns are losing

their empire to buds and blossoms in a boom

economy – everyone is trying to save their breath

in a stretch of imagination and yoga, and painting

and singing, and they cook too

much eating too

much ado about nothing – to do everything we want

these days the neighbours and their two small dogs

walk on the vineyard road – so many pebbles

and rubble, white and beige. And the sun

reflects wide on the sparse leafless

yards – low open panels – “and it all comes

down to you” in spills and gushes or strikes

more than once so maybe twice – so many

insects buzz around in brand new wings

new lives and darts – in and out of the sun

yet another bird speakers in its happy contention

to all of the above.



Saffron – April 2020



The prompt, which you can find in its entirety here, was  developed by the poet and teacher Hoa Nguyen, asks you to use a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost for your poem. This is a prompt that allows you to sink deeply into another poet’s work, as well as your own. See below:

Next, for writing: please see the following suggestions and have them ready for a free write, selecting and using those that further your present tense engagement. Write for at least twenty minutes. You can return to this prompt and write through it numerous more times, to infinity.

  • Bring your perspective and verbs back to the present tense, even when addressing memory
  • Seek the “unforced flow of words”
  • Introduce all of the things that you might ordinarily deem incidental or too small for consideration
  • Include quoted speech (overheard, announced, in dialogue, as song lyrics)
  • Build your lines with associative accumulation (parataxis), move with your attentions
  • Introduce a swerve or observation that serves as interjection, non-sequitur
  • Include at least four colours
  • Animate the landscape or nearby object, imbue it with expressiveness of action or address
  • Include perceptions of the weather without, perceptions of weather within
  • Use a noun as verb that is typically not used that way (anthimeria): “white freaked with red”
  • Introduce the occasional 3- and 4-word sentence.
  • “Let’s make a list”: include a list of things you love
  • Did you remember to ask questions?
  • Include a hemistich line: a line made-up of two halves, of equivalent beats, hinged on a silent beat (caesura): “The world is all cut-outs then—and slip or step steadily down”

Keep writing: if you get stuck, begin again by penning a sentence that begins with the word “And…”

Keep writing: if you get stuck, repeat a word or phrase you wrote earlier and build

Keep writing: if you get stuck, perform an instant acrostic—look up and find a short word and use the letters from seeds to generate language

6 thoughts on “Day25: From the Balcony on Schuyler

  1. You nailed this prompt! Love the voice and the images–vivid and convincing. And this line–and what follows–seems to be about my current lifestyle: “everyone is trying to save their breath / in a stretch of imagination and yoga…” 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Romana!
      It was a difficult prompt, but once I got into it I felt like I could just continue indefinitely. Not my usual style, but I’m glad to have my limits stretched. Or imagination, or yoga poses. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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