Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prompt #91 – Firsts

This week we’re going to think about significant “firsts” in our lives – not childhood milestones (first words, first steps) but, rather, times in our later lives that recalled the childlike wonder of a special “first” or “first times/first experiences" that have been disturbing and perhaps even life-changing.

One way to begin is to create a list of important “firsts” in your life. You may opt to use this inventory to write a list poem in which you write about several of your "firsts." For a more challenging activity, select one of the “firsts” from your list and write about it in detail. Think about why your “first” was important to you. How did it affect you at the time? How has it impacted your life? Were other people involved and, if so, what roles did they play? Be sure to include details of time and place. Keep your imagery fresh and original. Develop a strong emotional center (but be careful of sentimentality). For an added edge, try to write something more than an anecdotal poem – don't simply tell a story, reveal something of the story's deepest meaning.

Alternatively, you may decide on a humorous approach. If you do, remember that a witty tone doesn’t mean you can’t make a serious point – funny and profound can happen in the same poem. (Some good technical elements to try in humorous poems include exaggeration, anaphora, and rhyme.)

Keep in mind that you don’t have to know exactly where your poem is going when you begin to write. Let the poem lead you and perhaps even surprise you. Be creative – the only rule is that the “first” you write about must be your own (not a child’s, friend’s, spouse’s, partner’s, or anyone else’s), and the poem [imagine a grin here] should be written in the “first” person.

A few “starter” ideas:

First Love
First Kiss  
First Loss  
First Death    
First Grief  
First Fear
First Deception  
First Taste of ______  
First Pet  
First Marriage  
First Child
First Time I Saw _____  
First House  
First Car  
First Secret

Sample “First” Poems:


  1. Definitely "grist for the mill!"

    Here's a poem by Goethe that fits this week's prompt:

    First Loss by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    AH! who'll e'er those days restore,

    Those bright days of early love
    Who'll one hour again concede,

    Of that time so fondly cherish'd!
    Silently my wounds I feed,
    And with wailing evermore

    Sorrow o'er each joy now perish'd.
    Ah! who'll e'er the days restore

    Of that time so fondly cherish'd.

    1. Thanks, Bob!

      I didn't know the Goethe poem and I'm grateful that you've shared it here for other readers to enjoy.

    2. A beautiful poem. Thanks, Bob!


  2. Thanks for the prompt, Adele. Here's what it evoked.

    That Dog
    Gail Fishman Gerwin

    The first time I saw a Basset Hound
    I was a young teacher on a playground
    in Baltimore, the students now
    grandparents no doubt.

    Dodge Ball allowed long-legged Iris,
    a fourth grader with blonde pigtails
    (her skills limited her to picture books),
    to work out her frustrations by targeting
    the bullies who mocked her in reading group.

    I glimpsed the dog as it waddled leashless
    across the blacktop. Its ears almost swept
    the pavement, its long body pressed
    on creased legs that seemed too short
    to carry their heavy load, ready
    to collapse under the pressure.

    Yet it shuffled on toward home,
    swung its ears back and forth
    like a pendulum, voiced its pleasure
    with a low awhoooo as it spied
    its owner on the playground’s skirt.

    The game continued, long-legged Iris
    slammed Steven, chortled with glee,
    unaware of her own journey ahead,
    while I hoped that her determination
    to learn would serve beyond that day
    when I first saw a Basset Hound.

    1. WONDERFUL, Gail!

      Your meticulous attention to detail takes the reader right to the playground with you! I can REALLY picture that Basset Hound.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

    2. I love your poem, Gail! Thank you for sharing it with us!


  3. Found you through Margo Roby; looking forward to exploring your site. This is an experimental piece from last month. FIts the prompt well.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Welcome! It's great to "meet" you here! Thanks so much for the link to your poem, which does fit the prompt very well.

      I hope to hear more from you!

    2. Thanks for sharing the link to your poem, Mark! A very interesting poem!


  4. No Longer Young

    In moments of great pain
    I think of you so young,
    The first time our unclothed bodies touched,
    Pressed and rubbed together
    In the satin sea of my small bed,
    A secret in my parents’ house.

    It was the first time I felt
    The length, the breadth, the depth,
    The full measure of myself,
    Alive, awake and rippling through every pore.

    Look, look what time has done!
    I awoke this morning,
    No longer young.

    1. Russ,

      Great layering of firsts (with which many can relate) - first love, first romance, first secret, first awareness of becoming older).

      Thanks so much for posting!

    2. Hi Russ,

      Looks like you're a regular here too! The weekly prompts and sample poems are always something to look forward to. Thanks for sharing another of your great poems!


  5. @ Russ, how true. How unexpected. Thank you for the reminder.