I once read (and now frequently repeat) that a writer can be defined as someone who finds it impossible to look up one word in a dictionary. So today’s ReadWritePoem prompt felt especially apt:
Write a poem today about a word trail. Pick a single word and play with its synonyms or mess around with its antonyms. Follow one word to another and another and then another and go with whatever poem idea emerges. Consider this a brain-storming exercise meets research project, but don’t get in too deep. There’s not a lot of time! Just have fun and loosen up and let some new words crawl into the open spaces.
You can also write about what a word conjures up, even if it’s silly. … If you prefer, you can follow a word’s perfect rhymes or pseudo-rhymes and see where they take you. “Papal” becomes “apple,” which becomes “grapple.” If you add “dabble” or “baffle,” what an interesting story you may have!
The goal is to start with a single word and see where it can take you. (Here’s a clue: the answer is “everywhere.”)
Now that’s my kind of prompt. I’ve always been fascinated by word origins and associations. Some of my favourite poems make those kind of leaps and twists (and I’m in the process of constructing a workshop based on just that sort of thing …)
In this case, the poem was prompted by a German word/phrase for “completely intoxicated”: sternhagelvoll, which translates literally to “full of stars and hail”. Wie könnte ich widerstehen?
And the fillip: the word galaxy comes from two Greek words: “kyklos galaktikos”, literally meaning “milky circle”.
Full of Stars and Hail
I have drunk too deeply
of the stars. I bent down
put my lips to cool water
and felt the River of Heaven
course along my tongue.
And they burn cold, the stars,
fill my body with frozen light.
I blaze, I sparkle, I pulse
with light and the aching depth
between constellations – their tug,
their flight, their gravity fills
me until I am whirling dizzy.
Passion too, feels this way –
a pulse in every nerve, the ache
of cold that comes
with the first sure touch
of a lover’s hand.
The hunger of lips
in the dark. The light
that floods from
every pore. The need
to centre yourself
in a universe
and so very empty.