Original Poem 15: Refrain

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I wrote this villanelle poem during my poetry course at Grinnell. I wasn’t fond of it then, and still think it needs tweaking now, but I like that it is a bit edgier than my normal writing style. However, what remained constant when writing this poem was my love of playing with word meaning. I found a unique opportunity in this poem to use the word “refrain” for its double meaning: v. to abstain from an impulse and n. a refrain, phrase, line, or group of lines repeated at intervals throughout a poem. In noun form, the word “refrain” compliments the villanelle poem in an amusing and playful way.

Refrain by Liz Davis

2009

You see me as a drop of rain among many

sprinkling droplets, yet I worship

you, and—no. I must refrain

from drinking too much champagne

and saying impractical love-sloppy (stop me!) shit

to you. I am a single drop of rain,

a teardrop sphere, driven insane

by you—and it’s hard to admit,

but you already know. I must refrain

from pouring my heart down the drain

every time I skip, then slip,

then take a sip because of you. I drop like rain,

roll down your hard veins, and gain

nothing, feeling desperate pain when I strip

and you say no. I must refrain

and give up this drowning campaign,

a weathered obsession.

You tire of rain.

I must refrain.

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The Watcher

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I read a poem called “The Watcher” at the funeral of my step-grandmother, Annette. She was also known as “Grandma Nut” for a number of reasons, including her health conscientiousness, her sense of humor, and her artistic nature.

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Annette, September 13, 1930 – April 26, 2015

“The Watcher” is a beautiful depiction of motherly love and attentiveness, and in a way the poem absolves children of their tendency to resist or roll their eyes at a watchful and concerned mother. In fact, ironically, the poem comforts the mother’s children by reassuring them that their mother is still watching from heaven.

“The Watcher” by Margaret Widdermer

She always leaned to watch for us
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe,
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget,
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting ’til we come home to her
Anxious if we are late
Watching from Heaven’s window
Leaning from Heaven’s gate.

Original Poem 14: How do I know my heart belongs to you?

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This is a sonnet that I wrote to my husband for our one year wedding anniversary ❤

June 21, 2015

How do I know my heart belongs to you?
Of fate or choice is of no consequence,
In truth, love’s beauty thrives as I pursue
A constant light of love with confidence,
Just as a ship seeks safety by the shore,
And fears of ruin fade when light appears,
My aspirations, clearer than before,
I sail toward happiness when love’s light steers.
Forget the sunken wreckage of the sea,
Two mother ships that bravely faced their storms,
Our flame’s enough to last eternity,
Love’s providence, you need no longer mourn.
I cherish our unwavering life together,
Love fills my heart and brings me constant pleasure.

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The River

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I saw The River on Broadway last weekend and fell in love with this poem. The play revolves around the idea of a man’s relationships with women and his obsession with catching the perfect fish. There is ambiguity in the play about time and space. The audience isn’t sure if the women are real, if the play is depicting one woman in the present and one from the past, or if one woman is reality and one is a fantasy. The poem is sung throughout the play by the women. The image of a “wand” for a fishing pole suggests a mystical element in the play. The “fire” in the man’s head also suggests that the cabin is a retreat from madness. On the other hand, the cabin is actually a place where a man can go mad–as they do in the woods in many Romantics/gothic poems and short stories.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Original Poem 13: Out of Sync

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Out of Sync

October 13, 2014

Put down the tab.

Let me get it.

Together.

Above us the stars light up,

settling into night’s mist,

taking wishes into account.

I stare at you. You stare down,

eyes diverted from the world,

views missed, moments passing,

out of sync with nature’s beauty

and mine.

Original Poem 12: Reminiscing

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Devotion

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean–
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

-Robert Frost

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Reminiscing

The heart thinks fondly of loving acts,
captured photos, artifacts,
kindred kisses rendering emotion,
overflowing with love’s devotion,
reminiscent of the shore to the ocean.

-Elizabeth Hereford

July 20, 2014

Original Poem 11: “Daisy”

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December 2009

Using “Psalm and Lament” by Donald Justice as a model, write an elegy. The poem should be written in couplets, repeat words, include a parenthetical remark, and describe the environment.

“Daisy”

The flowers bloom on wooden trellises. My grandmother
sits in the Trellis Gardens retirement apartment crying.

The sound of an airplane floods through the open window.
The WWII model airplane points its nose downward.

A maroon carpeted hall once led to grandpa’s intensive care,
but now there is no need to pass by the flowery wall-papered corridor.

Just the children come (they come for grandma’s sake)
but nothing official is done for months.

Grandma watches television, looks through magazines,
watches more television, and sleeps.

The birds visit her window. They eat from her feeder.
No one else visits. It’s hard to visit and she’s hard to visit,

though we love her and feel guilty sometimes.
In the summer the family makes it to Michigan.

It isn’t so sad. (We knew he was gone five years ago.
On the last visit, I remember we took him on a short walk

to look at flowers, but who knows what he saw.
To me he looked stiff, empty, decaying.)

The saddest part, in fact, was seeing grandma in her condition,
three hundred pounds, relying on her oxygen tank,

unable to kneel down herself and put a daisy,
a memory of the name she goes by, on grandpa’s urn.

I thought the daisy was perfect,
but it made me really sad and I cried.

in memory of Russell Noble