PF: Box Poems

74707-poetry-friday-logoThis month the Sunday Night Swaggers tackled a prompt shared by Catherine Flynn, who challenged us to write a poem about a box. It could be about a box from photos she shared, or about any box we wanted. I knew immediately that I would write about my recipe box, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I had lots of ideas, and random phrases, but could not settle on a form. Nothing came together. 

After lots of fruitless starts, I suddenly remembered Ian MacMillan’s poem, “Ten Things Found In a Wizard’s Pocket.” Bingo! I had my form! Though now I had to stick to ten things–another challenge!

The bare bones of the poem came easily, but I am still fiddling away with it. Every time I think it’s “finished”, I come back to it and find myself changing it–sometimes merely a word, sometimes cutting a phrase, sometimes adding one. It just hasn’t quite clicked into place. It’s a squirmy one! But alas, the deadline has sounded, so here it is, in it’s slightly drafty form.

Ten Things Found in My Recipe Box

An array of batter-splattered cards
Four corners with dusty, clustered crumbles
A whispered scent of warm spices
A marked preference for desserts
Yellowed newspaper clippings, fragile at the folds
My mother’s faded handwriting
An archive of good intentions
Time-proven spells for comfort and celebration
Sticky fingerprints, from small, helpful hands and
a handful of empty recipe cards,
waiting. 

©Molly Hogan, 2019 (draft)

Then I thought I’d play around with a more generic box in a “Things to do…” poem. It occurred to me that a basic cardboard box has a lot of things it can do!

Things to do if you’re a cardboard box

Package a pizza
make a cheap, speedy sled
Bedeck yourself with blankets
for a cozy cat bed

Stay solid when shaken
enclose and protect
transform at the hands
of a small architect

Yield to blunt scissors
and imagination
become a car!
                    a rocket!
                              a ship!
with unknown destination

Hold keepsakes in the attic
cuddle colored lights
Serve as sword or shield
in raucous pirate fights

Grant a reader respite
from the hurly burly world
Reinvent yourself until
your sides are frayed and curled

Once time-worn and tattered,
fold yourself and then
recycling awaits you
–your chance to start again!

©Molly Hogan, 2019

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at the blog, Poetry for Children, hosted by the dynamic duo, Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. Among other offerings, my fellow Swaggers will be sharing their box poems. Make sure to stop by and fill up with poetry for the weekend!

If you want to go straight to some other box poems, click to visit my fellow Swaggers:
Heidi Mordhorst
Catherine Flynn
Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon

25 thoughts on “PF: Box Poems

  1. margaretsmn says:

    Both of your poems touch me in different ways. I have a recipe box with faded handwriting and fingerprints. I love how recipe boxes are archives for love. And the pizza box is a delightful things to do poem that I’d like to use with my students.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite part of writing is the “fiddling around,” a word here and there. My best editing is when I find a word, a sentence, a whole section to delete. Less is more. And then there is the magic that is a deadline. Many of us could fiddle forever, but deadlines allow us to beat away the demons of perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie says:

    Love that “Sticky fingerprints, from small, helpful hands”, then wonder how many have such a box of memories? And I love the box telling its own tale. That ‘grant a reader’ stanza is perfect! Fun all around!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love these, Molly! That whispered scent and the archive of good intentions totally grabbed me in the first poem. And the things to do poem is delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Molly, these are both strong poems in such different ways–the perspectives of experience and newness, the reflective vs. the playful. I really like how the ending of the first one developed to include past and future, and how the box just gets to keep going around and around!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Heidi! The endings of both of these poems did not come easily. I knew what I wanted to do, but it took a lot of fiddling and some solid constructive feedback to finally finagle them into shape.

      Like

  6. Linda Mitchell says:

    That recipe box poem gets me…right in the ticker! And, here’s the thing–except for the title, ‘recipe box’ isn’t even mentioned. Doesn’t have to be. We just know what all those spatters and handwritings and spells are. I love it. This just might be one of my favorites of yours. Beautifully written. And, the Things to Do poem is a treat too as it conjures the readers imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Linda! I’ve always treasured the recipe cards I have in my mother’s handwriting. In fact, even though I’m vegetarian, I’ve kept the meat-based ones tucked in with the others.

      Like

  7. These are both wonderful, Molly. I love “An archive of good intentions” because it’s so true, and “time-proven spells” because cooking is a sort of magic, isn’t it? And your word choice in “Things To Do…” is such fun! I need a box where I can get a “respite/from the hurly burly world!” Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Catherine! Kitchen magic is the best! The “spells” were also a nod to Ian MacMillan and his inspiring poem. Wishing you respite as you need it–whether it comes in the form of a cardboard box or not!

      Like

  8. They are both lovely, Molly. I especially connect with the second. My granddaughter’s favorite toys are simple boxes, and I love watching her imagination bloom with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tabatha says:

    I can relate to “a marked preference for desserts”! 🙂
    I especially loved “Stay solid when shaken/enclose and protect/transform at the hands/of a small architect.” Charming poems, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jama says:

    Love both poems — of course I’m a little partial to the recipe box one. You really nailed it with “archive of good intentions” and I can relate to “preference for desserts.” I cherish the recipe cards I have in my box that are written in my mom’s handwriting. Your ending for the second poem is just perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Jama! I cherish the cards in my mom’s handwriting, too. There are so many cards that are like touchstones, whisking me back to far off friends, celebrations, holidays, family, etc.

      Like

  11. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Oh I like both these poems. My recipe box is housed in a binder (that is now falling apart and spilling out of its rings). And the things to do with a box is such fun–I’ve probably tried most of these at some point in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I have a messy binder as well. I tidied it up a bit this summer, but didn’t quite finish the job. I think the binder lends itself to all those printed internet recipes, while the recipe box is perfect for “From the Kitchen of…” recipes.

      Like

  12. How fun! Your box poem reminds me of the classic picture book by Patricia Lee Gauch, an oldie, but a favorite! And definitely a kid-pleaser! Thanks for sharing it this Poetry Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Two treasured filled box poems Molly. I like this line in the middle of your first poem,
    “Yellowed newspaper clippings, fragile at the folds”
    I have a couple of these too.
    And your second poem is a fun romp with the box, thanks for both!

    Like

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