Object Poems with Paint Chips

It’s Friday once again and time for another paint chip poetry prompt. This week we are in the O section of the poetry dictionary. I was torn between two of the entries, until I actually pulled the paint chips and found one that I could easily apply to one of the two possible entries.

I decided this week we’ll be writing object poems, which John Drury defines as follows:

OBJECT POEM A poem about an inanimate object. It may give us a fresh look at something ordinary, or it may transform a strange object into something familiar.

The term is a translation of the German Dinggedicht, or “thing poem,” and some of the best object poems are by Rainer Maria Rilke, including his “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” Don Bogen has written object poems such as “Card Catalog,” “Salver,” “Necklace,” “Among Appliances,” and “Bullhorn” (which he calls “A gun / for the mouth”). Charles Simic’s “Fork,” which appears on the next page [but is not included in this prompt], has two companion poems, “Knife” and “The Spoon.”

the poetry dictionary, pg. 193

The Challenge

My challenge to you is to pick one of the paint chips below and write an object poem about it. If you are feeling ambitious, write a series of object poems, one about each of the paint chip words and phrases. If you are feeling rebellious, you can write an object poem about some other object but incorporate one or more of the paint chip words and phrases in your poem.

An aside: The other day, my husband and I were at Wilco looking for plants to add to the garden. I caught sight of the paint section and wandered over to see if actual paint chips had some good words that I could add to the mix. The first few I looked at were kind of boring. I may give it another look sometime, but for now, I’m still using the paint chip poetry deck on our second time through.

The paint chip words and phrases we have to work with this week are cotton, nest, emerald, wonderful wisteria, Boundary Waters, hermit crab, and swamp.

My Poems

I’ve decided to write two separate object poems about two of the paint chip words, though I think I may weave one of the other words into one of the poems.

In Black and White

Ink and charcoal swirl 
seemingly haphazardly
on white paper
until an image emerges
of a rough weaved
robin's nest
no eggs
no tufts of cotton
to soften the hatching
should eggs ever be laid
in this drawing on
my living room wall
Birthday Ring

Tiny emeralds encircle
a single creamy pearl
Perfection after days
of scouring ring case
after ring case
in every Hana Hwy boutique in Paia
in every Whalers Village store in Ka'anapali
in every Front St. shop in Lahaina
finding nothing I liked
nothing suitable for the occasion.

Until there it gleamed
the right price
the perfect size
the tiny emeralds a splendid green
the pearl robustly round
a proper present for a
birthday in paradise

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to write one or more object poems inspired by the paint chips of the day. I do hope they all get used some how, some way, by someone. You can share your object poem in the comments. Or, if you prefer, post it on your blog or website and drop a link in the comments. Remember to invite your friends, both readers and writers, over to join the fun.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


13 Responses

  1. Nesting Instinct

    I spy a robin gathering bits
    Of hair and feathers, twigs and sticks
    String, paper, mud and grass
    She builds a nest she knows will last

    When it is to her satisfaction
    She lays her eggs with no distraction
    Her mate brings food and keeps close eye
    For predators both on land and sky

    Her brood is never far from her sight
    Not for a moment day or night
    When you see fledglings lying alone
    Mother is close with food for her own

    She won’t stray far till all can fly
    Till all can fly

    It all started with a sturdy nest
    A mother’s heart knows what’s best

  2. Swamp

    The surface of the swamp you see –
    Below, the rotting mystery.
    The light green algae ought to know
    There’s nothing good down there to show –
    Sweet pleasure covers secret sin
    and quicksand should you venture in.

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