Posts Tagged ‘pantoum’

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A week ago I had a Mohs procedure on my nose. That means the dermatologist biopsied what I thought was a zit that turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma. This type of surgery is no big deal to the young “boy scout” who was extremely proud of his suturing technique, but to me, it was uncomfortable and annoying. Ethical ELA was having its monthly Open Write, so the whole thing became a muse for a poem. Scott McCloskey led the exercise in writing about something you were “today years old” when you first learned about it.

Numbed Ignorance

Being a patient is not new to me,
but at today’s years old,
I learned of a procedure for removing
cancer cells off a nose called Mohs.

The young doctor told me
“You’re going to love this!”
as he stitched and stitched
as if there’s anything to love about
his brutal touch, about cancer cells, about a hole in my nose.

Sure I want to be rid of it,
but I carry the sign,
the cross-hatch signature
he was so proud of, the black eye,
the irritant of a bandage on my face.

I am learning that knowledge
is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Just hand me an ice pack
and let me go back to
numbed ignorance.

Margaret Simon, draft

Some people are good at sending cards. I want to be better. It’s a skill I admire. When my daughter’s mother-in-law heard about my little procedure, she sent me a card. I’ve been using Dictionary for a Better World to teach my students about poetry. On Friday, we explored Irene Latham’s poem Belonging which is a pantoum form. I’ve been puzzling with the form ever since. A pantoum is much harder to write than it looks, but here goes…


A card came in the mail
addressed especially to me.
As I fingered each detail,
I felt your hand in mine.

Addressed especially for me,
little bear with a bouquet
held his hands out to mine
with caring words to say.

This little bear with bouquet
hopes I’m better by today.
Your kind words do say
someone cares.

You hope I’m better today.
I feel your hand in mine. 
Across the miles you say
in a card that’s in the mail.

Margaret Simon, for Andree
Sweet card from Andree’

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Poetry Friday Round-up is with Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference

Poetry Friday Round-up is with Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference

Poetry can take you to unexpected places. This was my experience with writing a Pantoum. The form seems simple, yet it complicates things. The form is made up of 4-line stanzas. The second and fourth lines of the first quatrain become the first and third lines of the second, and this pattern continues. Often the last line repeats the first; although, mine did not. Poetry forms can both confine the writer and free her. In my experience, the rhymes confined me, yet the message I thought I was making changed with the writing.


A writing group friend gave me a book this week, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It drew me in immediately. Her writing style is fresh. She writes with intelligence and honesty. I took a line from her second chapter, “How I wrestle with last night’s dream,” and then looked at notes from my meditation journal. I thought I would write about God as a loving center. The poem, however, seems more about my love, my husband, and his ever present trust in my life. You never know where a poem may lead. Sometimes we just have to follow.

How I wrestle with last night’s dream.
The words have all been said before,
nothing new, what can they mean,
written on the stone of this cold floor?

The words have all been said before.
I reach for your open hand so near
writing my love on the stone cold floor
words to erase my fear.

I reach for your open hand so near
like a child reaches for her mother.
Words will erase my fear
with trust in honesty and one another.

Like a child reaching for her mother,
I recognize that look on your face
with trust in honesty and one another,
open to your willing embrace.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

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