Today I change my format, although since I write a bit of prose about the photo, it’s still a prose plus poem, though not haiku or technically a haibun. Still, a story in a poem. Remember to heed your feelings and follow that instinct that speaks from within your heart. That’s what poetry is all about. Don’t get locked into some pattern or expectation; let your thoughts go and flow.
I wanted to write about “place of calm” with a photo from April of last year because it is a cold and dreary April day today. I wanted a soothing image of a place that creates a calm, but this photo from April of last year caught my attention. So when I paused and smiled, I chose a different direction.
Our little cat is a hunter and the mice, she can keep. But the birds— we don’t let her out when birds are swooping in to feed on the seeds in the yard. She’s just too quick.
But here you see her wishing she had hid well enough to surprise a little finch or chickadee. Fortunately, the birds are mindful of the cat in this yard. I’m sure they share in their song, “Beware in there a cat hides flat.” They alight, grab a seed, and fly off— all too fast for the cat, hiding in the tree— thank goodness.
So I sat with this photo of our cat looking so disappointed, longing for that little bird flying off to safety. That’s the title. The moment is just that: a moment, a blink of an eye. So, I chose to write a couplet form— just two lines that tell the story.
First line: What was the cat thinking? She’s thinking she hid well enough with patience. I wrote it short with a rhythm of unaccented/accented syllables.
Second line: The disappointment, the bird landed and flew off before danger got it. The disappointment is the bird was too fast. And then what the bird did— landed and flew off, which became a bit of alliteration that fit the same rhythm as the first line. Lit and left. I could have also wrote “Too fast, she flew away.” But I wanted the story— she landed, daringly but alert, a left quickly. So I took the liberty of word usage with “lit” as in “to land or to alight.” Poetry allows freedom of choosing just the right word, even if it’s just a bit off.
I hid, I crouched in waitSheri Edwards
Too fast, she lit and left.
If you have pictures of your pets, look for one with a story— those pet expressions say so much with just a change in eyebrows!
If you need resources for photos for a poem, perhaps not even a pet, try these:
- Margaret Gibson Simon, Reflections on the Teche: This Photo Wants to be a Poem prompts
- New York Times Picture Prompts
- Pictures for Learning for Schools: Pics4Learning with a section on Animals
When you’ve found a picture and considered your idea for the two lines for the story-poem, take a look at this post on couplets— with resources and examples.
You may want to save the title for last— after you’ve captured the two parts of your photo:
- An emotion and its thought
- a surprising result
These are fun to work together with another. You write the first line, and your friend writes the second— and vice versa so you end up with two surprising story-poems.