Friday, March 02, 2018

Ekphrastic Poems With My Poetry Sisters

This month Liz offered up a photo as fodder for our poems. She took this at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Photo ©Liz Garton Scanlon

I did a quick brainstorming exercise, but had a hard time getting away from "between a rock and a hard place." Eventually, the word wedge came to me, and I spent some time thinking about examples of wedges -- a Trivial Pursuit pie, summer sandals, a tool for splitting wood, and more. In the end, it wasn't the noun that moved me, but the verb.

On Learning Vocabulary
Research on vocabulary learning contends we need 12 to 20 meaningful exposures to learn a word (McKeown, Beck, Omanson, and Pople, 1985). These exposures are most effective if they appear over an extended period of time.
1. force into a narrow space
Age 3
That painful ear wasn’t
due to infection
but rather a small plastic toy
from the gumboil machine
stuck where it didn’t belong

Age 4
No, my head wasn’t meant
to fit between the support
bars underneath the kitchen table

Age 5
Playing hide and seek
in the house
my favorite spot was
between the furnace and the wall

Age 7
When my older sister’s boyfriends
came to the house
I regularly charmed my way
into the space between them
on the couch

Age 11
First day of junior high
changing classes in a crowded hallway
turning sideways didn’t make it easier
to pass, but flying elbows did

Age 16
The thrill of my first subway ride
accompanied by the terror
of bodies pressed on every side
wondering how I'll ever get out

Age 17
First time on a plane
Continental airlines flight
from Buffalo to San Francisco
middle seat between two smokers

Age 19
Friday night dance lessons
female cadets in dress blues lined the wall
surrounded by Conn College coeds
in beautiful civilian clothes

Age 20
Before you set sail you learn
that you can't turn around in the head
or sit up in the bunk

Age 22
Raised voices, fists flying
trying to separate two eighth grade boys
close enough to both
to feel the spit and tears

Age 25
It's an interesting dance
trying to fit into too small
clothes - that dress, those jeans

Age 35
Eight months pregnant
stubbornly trying to thread the gap
in public spaces I clearly wasn't meant
to navigate

Age 52
Preparing dinner
Cooper jams his head
between my legs and the counter
hoping for some scraps

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Renee at No Water River. Happy poetry Friday friends.


  1. (Wow, I didn't know you'd been in the military!!) I've been on a Naval ship before with people still on it, and...oh, uh-uh. No, thank you. I've been on submarines, too, empty ones, and was grateful for the emptiness... because those are INSANE. You ARE wedged into them, and, no, no. I love all of these examples of putting yourself in a space, or finding yourself shoved into one. Elbows do help make a flying wedge, so one can fight back!

  2. I love these! What a wonderful way to capture life's moments - I guess we are always trying to fit in somewhere, some how!

  3. This is fantastic, Tricia! And I learned so much about you! I noted a poetry activity recently to try with older students about telling your life story through an object (like, a stanza each about three different meaningful pairs of shoes from three different ages). This feels like an extension of that. Not an object but an action. I really like how this all came together! (Randy and I always tour ships and subs when we can. In Chicago last month, at the Museum of Science and Industry, we toured the Soviet sub. Just standing there feels wedged in, let alone trying to move yourself anywhere!)

  4. It has been fun and interesting to read such diverse responses to the same picture. I love your snapshots of life all connected to the same idea. Creative and interesting!

  5. This is one of my favorite Poetry Princess posts ever. I love how each “wedge” poem brings the reader closer to you, instead of pushing us away. Maybe we can add the verb autobiography form to our 2019 challenges!

  6. LOVE this timeline of "wedgies!"

    1. Ha! I actually had a stanza in there about briefs and leotards, but thought that writing about wedgies was going a bit too far!

      It would have been a great title, though.

  7. Your poem made me look back at 'wedges' too, Tricia. Each time brought a connection from me to you. What a wonderful way of reflection from that picture.

  8. I love all these glimpses into your life.