Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prompt #101 – High Five

In symbolism, the number five is the number of harmony and balance. It is also the number of the divine grace. It was a symbol of perfection for the Mayas. Greek philosophers gave five principles in man: body, animal soul, psyche, intelligence, and divine spirit. There are five fundamental virtues: wisdom, love, truth, goodness, and justice. There are five books in the Torah. Jesus Christ had five wounds.  There are five commandments of Buddha Gautama. Astrologically, the number five is associated with Leo, the fifth sign of the Zodiac. Yes, you guessed it – this week we’re going to work with the number five.

1. Take yourself to place in which you can relax (your den, your front porch, your backyard, near a lake or stream, the woods, a park).

2. Once you’re settled and comfortable, look around carefully. Notice things (objects, trees, plants, water, stones, etc.) around you and write down five things that capture your attention (and, hopefully, your imagination). Like the image above (five trees in a row), you might select five things that are similar or the same (five flowers, five pens or pencils, five windows, five pieces of paper, five books, five people walking by).

3. Now notice the details of those “things.” Jot down some notes.

4. Then write a poem that’s based on, about, or that includes the five things you selected. Look for connections among the five "things" you've chosen and yourself. How do they "speak" to you? What story might they tell?

5. Let your environment become the “landscape” of the poem. Write in the present tense – here and now.  Let the objects direct the content of your poem. Describe them, define them, contextualize them, analyze them, repurpose them, recreate them. Play on the number “five.” Let your poem take you where it wants to go, but don’t let your five “things” get lost.

Here’s are examples that are not exactly what we’re working on with this prompt (they don’t focus on five things), but they’re close and may inspire you.


  1. Interesting! I really like the idea of "things" and how we observe and relate to them. Thanks, Adele!


    1. Thanks, Jamie! Always great to hear from you!

  2. Five Bees

    Five bees drowning in a swimming pool,
    Caught by a reflection,
    A sparkling promise of pollen,

    Once they touch down the mirage disappears
    And they are caught,
    Their sodden wings can no longer fly.

    Seeing tiny ripples in the water from their struggles
    I take my net and lift them out
    Onto concrete warmed by the morning sun.

    Two are not moving,
    But the other three have begun grooming,
    Abdomen and thorax,
    With every available leg,
    Diligently scraping off water.

    One is still so exhausted
    He cannot keep his balance and tumbles over
    From the disproportionate weight of water
    Still clinging to one side of his body.

    With a leaf stem I help restore his balance
    So his meticulous grooming can continue,
    So the sun can dry his cellophane wings.

    The strongest of the three revs up his wings in a blur
    Moving in short bursts across the cement,
    His legs still giving support,
    Then he lifts into the air,

    Perhaps the other two were in the water longer,
    For it takes more grooming and warming
    Until they too are free from the terrible gravity of the ground.
    Or perhaps they are less bold?
    It’s hard to fathom the personality of a garden bee.
    They may be older, more sentimental,
    More shaken by the sight of their two dead comrades
    Lying on their backs,
    Legs pointed toward heaven,
    Without purpose.

    They might wonder,
    If they were anything at all like you and me.
    Why did God spare only three?

    They do not know what we know,
    That when it comes to saving lives,
    Some will stay,
    Some will go.

    1. Very nice, Russ! Thanks for sharing! Your five bees make such interesting content!

  3. Thanks for this prompt Adele. I took myself outside to the porch and wrote:

    1. Thanks for your comment, Annette, and for sharing your wonderful poem "Five Flowers in Spring!" It's always great to receive this kind of feedback, and I'm so glad the prompt worked for you! Thanks again!

  4. Once again, a very interesting prompt!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  5. No Body

    Only one image
    looks back at me
    in the mirror
    I have had many faces
    looking back at me
    less wrinkled
    Who is that person looking back at me?
    Who really lives here inside?
    Moving my limbs
    Whose hand is this?
    Whose feet?
    Who feels this pain?
    This joy?
    No one. Truly.
    I've just borrowed this body
    for a short while
    and will leave it behind
    like an old suit
    pray not to need an new one again

  6. Thanks for sharing your poem, Risa! Questions we've all asked ourselves ...