Saturday, December 4, 2010

Poetry Prompt #34 – Gifts

During this season of giving, many of us are thinking about gifts of one kind or another. Have you ever thought about what gifts mean, why we give them, how giving and receiving gifts makes us feel? This week, let's write about gifts.

Here are some suggestions:

1. What is the most special gift you've ever received? Was the gift something tangible, or was it a spiritual gift? Write a poem about it.

2. What is the most special gift you've ever given? Write a poem about it.

3. Write a "gift" poem addressed to someone special. (Think about gifting your poem to the person who inspired it.)

4. Write a poem about a simple gift with a large meaning.

5. Write a poem about the spiritual gifts of Chanukah or Christmas.

6. Memories can be metaphorical gifts. Read "At Christmas Time," a poem about "Christmases past." Does the poem "speak" to you? If so, try using it as a model for a poem of your own.

7. If you could give a gift to the world, what would it be? Write a poem about this gift. (Alternatively, what gift would you give to someone in your life, someone in need, a special friend?)

8. Read Sara Teasdale's "The Gift." Have you ever given a similar gift that you might write about?


  1. Great prompt for this time of year! We're all rushing about buying, wrapping, etc., and this prompt asks us to stop and reflect.

    There's a nice little poem about the gift of friends at this site:

  2. Thanks, Bob's Mustangs, for your comment. Thanks, too, for the friendship poem - it's lovely.

  3. This poem might not be an example of a traditional Christmas gift. It's possible to view it as a gift of a mother's love and the retun of that gift in the form of a snug fit of a casket. This was a traditional burial. Relatives and friends would have been amazed if it were anything else. My mother would have been as amazed as anyone else. The form of burial and service might be the most significant part of that type of gift.


    How do you pick out a bed?
    My wife and I went to Macy’s
    and opted for firm and cushy.
    We charged it big time, ten
    years ago, when charge cards
    meant something. Tonight,

    outside our window, there are
    fireworks at the ballpark. Every
    night, another promotion. Tonight,
    it’s Roman candles and what
    passes for M-80s. Our son works
    in baseball, off-field stuff.

    When we went to see him, there
    were fireworks—mid-May, a month
    and a half short of July Fourth. I
    don’t get enough sleep, there are
    pouches under my eyes, concentric
    hemispheres, exhaustion’s ripple

    effect. I take a mild sleeping pill—
    dreamy, three milligram buzz. I
    could be a poster boy for Lunesta—
    a moon, some stars, a prescription
    plan. Lunesta, Lusitania (the words
    are close)—I feel torpedoed.

    Imagine a room filled with beds,
    a Sleepy’s showroom. Imagine, a
    more protracted sleep—a room
    filled with caskets. The funeral
    director asks, “What kind of casket
    would your mother have liked?”

    I answer, “What do you think?”
    She was my mother. She’d want
    for herself what she wanted for
    me, for my brothers—something
    comfortable, warm—something
    to keep the dampness out.

  4. WOW! What a powerful and moving poem, Bloom306!

    You move from picking a bed with your wife to fireworks to a room filled with caskets, and then the "clincher" (which is the GIFT) - your mother's love! Your last stanza is absolutely stunning.

    You mother would love this poem. You've returned her gift with these words. Thank you for sharing.


  5. Bloom306! Thank you so much for sharing your poem. Jamie's comment really says it all. A wonderful poem and a kicking last stanza!

    I know this poem is in your book REUNION, and I urge readers to order a copy at Rosenbloom/dp/1599246511/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291489901&sr=1-1.

  6. To Bloom306,

    GREAT poem! Thanks for posting it.

    This part is especially powerful.

    "The funeral
    director asks, “What kind of casket
    would your mother have liked?”

    I answer, “What do you think?”
    She was my mother. She’d want
    for herself what she wanted for
    me, for my brothers—something
    comfortable, warm—something
    to keep the dampness out."

    As Adele would say, it's great "dismount."

    Thanks again!

  7. Jamie and Bob,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with both of you!

  8. Pied Beauty
     by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Glory be to God for dappled things--
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
    And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise Him.

    This poem is essentially a hymn of praise, but I thought of it in relation to this week's prompt because it is also a poem about God's gifts to the world. It's hard to think of "gifts" and not consider those of our Creator. In this worshipful inventory of God's "pied" creation, Hopkins acknowledges God's "gifts."

    Thank you, Adele!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  9. The Scarf

    Distinctive red lines,
    grey, black and white plaids
    weaved with a soft touch of cashmere
    a gift -
    wrapped, yet tied,
    casually, but warmly, around my neck.

    Blustery winter’s morning.
    Sunday’s walk from the car to the church door.

    This scarf comforts,
    shelters me from the cold.
    Like the arms of my love in the morning,
    around 6 am
    her chenille robe and her embrace

    A good scarf is like the tender embrace
    of a warm lover
    whose intimacy carries the spirit
    through a difficult winter.

    Ray Brown

  10. Thanks, Ray, for posting your poem! I can picture that scarf and imagine the warm feelings you describe.

  11. To Ray Brown,

    Thanks for posting your poems! I really enjoy them, and this one ("The Scarf") especially touched me because I have a scarf my mom gave me the Christmas before she died. I know about those difficult winters and how memory's warm "embrace" can be healing. Thank you!


  12. Máire,

    Thanks so much for the Hopkins poem and for your comments on it!

    Yes, a "worshipful inventory" of God's gifts to us. How beautifully stated.

    Thanks again.

    for Amy,

    This isn't the holiday where we eat
    unleavened bread; or the holiday

    where we don't eat at all and cast
    our sins, through bread crumbs,

    into the nearest river or lake, or
    even bay, where tides carry our

    transgressions out to sea alongside
    oil tankers and cargo ships, as if the

    sins were tug boats; it's not the holi-
    day where we eat outdoors in a cloth-

    and-bamboo covered booth, celebrate
    the harvest with other "farmers" in our

    Lefrak apartment. It's not the holiday
    where we received tablets of law, or

    the one where we paint our faces and
    wear masks and costumes, our very

    own Halloween. It's the holiday of gift-
    giving, because all holidays are gifts,

    our edition of Christmas, its tag-along
    brother, gambling with a dreidl for pocket

    change, this festival of lights and
    candelabras, 44 candles to a super-

    market box. It was the holiday of
    melted wax which we'd ball up while

    still warm and press into comic books,
    then transfer the colored images of

    the cartoon characters onto our mostly
    hairless arms and hands. These were our

    symbols of freedom from oppression, beat-
    ing the odds, our week off from school.

    This poem covers the gift-like nature of holidays. It's off the above gift prompts which Deborah La Veglia used these prompts at her writing workshop at Barron's last night. This is for my daughter. The poem covers a few Jewish holidays

  14. Thank you Bob Rosenbloom (Bloom306)! Another great poem with a superb ending. I'm so glad Deborah used the prompt at Poetswednesday! Thanks for sharing! What a beautiful gift to give your daughter.

    P.S. So many great images - the melted wax balled up and pressed into comic books to transfer colored images into "tattoos" is WONDERFUL - such a perfect expression of childhood!

  15. I just discovered a wonderful poem titled "The Gift" by Li-Young Lee.

    You can read it at this website:


  16. "Chanukah for Amy" is superb. Thanks for posting it, Bloom306.

    Truly memorable imagery! And you're right, "all holidays are gifts."

    The children in your poem could be any children at any holiday, which makes the poem one with which we can all identify. It doesn't get any better than that.

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  17. I owe my daughter a dedication or two. On occasion she's been a first reader and editor.

    Deborah La Veglia had us read the Sara Teasdale and Li-Young Lee poems in the workshop. The Lee poem, especially, helped create a mood, a child's view of things, a feeling towards a parent. I tried for a religious holiday through a child's eyes, a child growing up in Brooklyn. If I could manage identification in Manhattan or The Bronx, that'd be good. That someone in Ireland could identify with it, all the better because I've never been to Europe.Thanks to Maire for her comment and thanks to Adele for the posting(s).

  18. For those who aren't local, Deborah LaVeglia is a gifted poet and long-time director of the Poetswednesday series at Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge, NJ. Before each monthly reading, a poetry workshop is offered. Deborah recently used this prompt for the workshop in which Bloom306 participated.

    Thanks Bloom306 for your poems and for your comments!

  19. bloom306 and raybrown,

    I really enjoyed your poems. Hope you post more with other prompts!