The Poet at Play 3 – Working with Metaphors

Find out how I created this first draft

People still
fear
the Trojan horse

Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying

It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
borders

We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
citizens

Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
falling down,
down,
down

toppling
from the wall
they installed

Oh for a portal
to compassion
hidden somewhere
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up

When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?

(c) June Perkins

Ripple Poetry

Image by June Perkins

This week I have been playing with metaphors.  Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.

Some metaphors  have been so used that there have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity.   I have to strive for originality.  But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.

I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.

My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside prisons, and separated from their children.

Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be…

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‘Paper Boats’ by June Perkins

Australian Children's Poetry

Paper boats conjure dreams

of petals soaked by

scents of the

ocean.

Traveling boats

float in shadows

people

who have a simple hope

for happy lands,

but white markers sink

in sandy earth

marking graves of people

who cannot resist new germs.

‘Once watched paper boats,’

paternal grandfather says

in Vietnamese

but nobody understands

No translators here.

So shadow puppets dance

for petals

falling from kumquat boughs.

(c) June Perkins

https://ripplepoetry.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/paperboat.jpg

Creative Commons Flickr Geson Ratnow

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Paper Boats

Magic Fish Dreaming

Image by Geson Ratow

Paper boats conjure dreams
of petals soaked by
scents of the
ocean.

Traveling boats
float in shadows
people
who have a simple hope
for happy lands,
but white markers sink
in sandy earth
marking graves of people
who cannot resist new germs.

‘Once watched paper boats,’
paternal grandfather says
in Vietnamese
but nobody understands
No translators here.

So shadow puppets dance
for petals
falling from kumquat boughs.

By June Perkins

Appeared on Australian Children’s Poetry for Refugee Week Prompt

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Towards Spaces Beyond

Ripple Poetry

Butterflies on the wall, a new creation by artists
calls the People of this city to turn towards
the spaces beyond

“Darkness hath encompassed every land, O my God, and caused most of Thy servants to tremble. I beseech Thee, by Thy Most Great Name, to raise in every city a new creation that shall turn towards Thee, and shall remember Thee amidst Thy servants…”
-Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations

(c) poetry words and image June Perkins.  This first appeared on Nineteen Months

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The Poet at Play 1


If you don’t like knowing the secrets to conjuring tricks read no further.  But if you like to have an insight into how to do them then you will like this series, the poet at play.

In this series I explore how the poet, and creative writer can make their words more powerfully appear on the page, and their metaphors more astounding.

It’s about ways of pushing beyond the boundaries of a cliche, and the obvious.  It’s based on the belief that EVERYONE can potentially make their words salsa, waltz or tango or do the cultural dance of their origins or liking.

I’ll introduce you to some of the text books I like to work with, and some of the things I have found that work for me through my own personal reading, practice and study.

This week, I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s  The Writing Experiment.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions, which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have already shared on this blog. Applying some of the techniques of Smith to past poems, here is what might happen to ‘You strip me back to the bones’   Beyond Prejudice where I substitute a new word for bones.

You strip me back to the bones
You strip me back to raw emotion
You strip me back to my outlines
You strip me back to my thoughts
You strip me back to my music
You strip me back to my soul
You strip me back to me

After I have done one of these experiments I can then do some of my own work and strip away the repetition and rework again. I pull out these words: emotion, bones, outlines, thoughts, music, soul, me.

A short poem emerges.

Emotions bones
Thought outlines
Soul Music
Me

Me
Music
Soul outlines
thought bones

Then these lines emerge as another starting point.

The music of me
In outlines

And looking at  ‘I refuse to see myself through your eyes’ from the same poem – and I continue the process as just outlined to discover new lines.

I refuse to feel myself through your hands
I refuse to hear myself through your music
I refuse to move to your expectations

But I stop because now I can mix the ‘music of me’ with some of the experiments just done, into the beginnings of a new poem,

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

(c) June Perkins  (This series to be continued)