Margo Roby proved to be a double pain this week.

On August 13th, Margo’s suggestion was used for the prompt at We Write Poems, http://wewritepoems.wordpress.com/. Prompt number 68, was to look at something thirteen different ways, and then write a poem about what you saw. Hummm, thank you, Margo.

Then, for her Tuesday Tryouts, http://margoroby.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/tuesday-tryouts-hands-on-poem/, in her own blog, she wanted us to list five strong nouns, five strong verbs and five strong adjectives. Only after writing these lists were we to really look at either our left or right hand and make a list of what we saw, how we use or have used that hand in the past, or how we might use it in the future. Now, use that list and as many of the words from the noun, verb and adjective lists as possible to write a poem. Hummm, thank you again, Margo.

At this point, I was banging my head on my computer desk and rapidly increasing the tempo. I still hadn’t found a subject to look at thirteen ways when she wants a poem about a hand.

 Epiphany: combine the two impossible poems into one impossible poem. As soon as the thought hit me, my muse grabbed me by the throat (using one hand) and started dictating. Even then, she could only come up with twelve stanzas before she left in disgust.

by Mike Patrick

I look at you, now curled into the fist
which blacked the eye of my first foe.
Many times, when trouble came, I’d enlist
your faithful strength I’d come to know.

Neither large nor small; somewhere between,
with fingers piano keys reject,
no delicate grace in you is seen;
but built for any task I may select.

Scars of work and trouble mark your hide
while calluses mar the hardened palm.
I cannot see the muscle deep inside,
but it awaits command without a qualm.

With joy you grasp the tools of man,
a hammer’s handle or sword’s fine hilt,
and eagerly meet my small demands
for building homes or battles’ blood unspilt.

A manicure would help the nails,
although their purpose is obscure,
ability to scratch an itch prevails
as long as they endure.

The ridges on phalanges’ ends,
make fingerprints of mine unique
with loops and whorls and random bends.
Each groove and dot and angled peak

make up the friction ridges used
to grip minutia of the day.
They separate the pages fused
and count the money of our pay.

Of these five digits’ tactile nerves
my world of sensory love relies.
So soft while touching my love’s curves,
they start the rite that satisfies.

Across the palm, the line of head,
which drives my will to write,
ends like a delta’s watershed:
so many interests, it’s a plight.

That line of heart, so often broke,
reveals a past of starts and stops.
Their memories can still provoke
the aches of loves not soon forgot.

The line of life, still deep and long,
runs clear across my open hand.
Vitality is easy to prolong
when God has granted life so grand.

Oh mighty right, you’re at your best
with strength beyond compare
when gently folded with the left
each night, in silent evening prayer.

This entry was posted in Iambic, Mixed Meter, My Hand, Ode, Poetry, Rhyming, Tuesday Tryouts, We Write Poems and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to ODE TO MY RIGHT HAND

  1. vivinfrance says:

    Three cheers for my friend Mike. To combine these prompts was a stroke of genius and I wish I’d thought of it first. Some delightful moments in this, some funny ones and some profound thought.
    I think I’m going to delete my last two posts in shame!

  2. Mike Patrick says:

    Having one marinating for most of a week, and then seeing the other sealed the deal.

  3. nan says:

    Very, very nice! I love the last stanza.

  4. mareymercy says:

    Wow – way to go with combining those two prompts! Nicely done!

    • Mike Patrick says:

      The second prompt triggered the first one. I was at a loss up until then. It sounds like Margo is fighting a bit of a block too. I hope she finds her way through it. It is such a helpless feeling.

  5. pamelasayers says:

    Good heavens Mike, those last three stanzas tie up this piece beautifully.

  6. 1sojournal says:

    Congratulations on combining both prompts so skillfully. I enjoyed Margo’s prompt because it took me to so many favorites places and memories. I like your ode and especially how your chose to end it, after beginning it in an entirely different frame. That right hand really comes in (oh no) handy. Awful, lol.


    • Mike Patrick says:

      Margo makes us stretch ourselves. I get complacent and tend to stay withing my comfort zone without some kind of push. I have a feeling she got the best out of her students too.

  7. Mike, you more than met the challenge. The breadth of experience of your hand, the whorls of your fingertips, the touch of your love, the hard work, the black eye delivered… and ending in prayer. I’m not sure that this isn’t my favorite write of yours so far. Your knowledge of self, your willingness to admit ALL… an astonishing poem. Thank you. Amy
    …and just to show I’m back to my “shenanigans” self…!

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Thanks, Amy. I dropped in on you yesterday after a few days off, and saw you were still treading were few are willing to go. Your tenacity with important subjects speaks well of you.

  8. earlybird says:

    Funny, self-aware, touching, practical… most impressive, Mike.

  9. Jess P says:

    A lovely ode. It was a stroke of luck for the two prompts to work so well together. You told a life story through your hand, nicely done.

  10. Bodhirose says:

    I loved that you decided to make the two prompts combined. This was great–I really enjoyed reading your homage to your hand!

  11. adeeyoyo says:

    Well done Mike! Loved your poem and, especially, the last stanza…

  12. Irene says:

    A mighty ode indeed. You’ve done a terrific job! High five!

  13. margo roby says:

    I have never heard so much moaning in my life! And your poor head. And look at the results! Hmmm…maybe you should continue banging it. I love what you did — took two prompts that weren’t working for you and came up with your own take. The poem reads beautifully, silently and aloud. While I love the four stanzas on the lines of your palm, the lines I love to read are:
    The ridges on phalanges’ ends,
    make fingerprints of mine unique
    with loops and whorls and random bends.
    Each groove and dot and angled peak

    make up the friction ridges used
    to grip minutia of the day.

    And the last stanza is quietly beautiful.


    • Mike Patrick says:

      I wanted to come up with something so badly, I believe this was desperation’s answer. My lame attempt at palmistry was the only way to fill stanzas. Fingerprints, on the other hand (pun intended), are something I understand. This one struck me as being exceptionally difficult–until I read some of the others by poets who can actually follow directions. You are still bringing out their best. After this and the Ghazal, I’m ready for anything.

  14. jinksy says:

    A masterpiece, no less – and which muse would want to write more than a round dozen of verses, I ask myself?
    This was my favourite picture of a fingerprint …
    “make up the friction ridges used
    to grip minutia of the day”.

  15. TheMsLvh says:

    You have written the strength and softness of not only your hand, but your soul in this poem. I could not tell it was two prompts, nicely done. I found myself looking at my own hand. I really could relate to this one Mike:

    Across the palm, the line of head,
    which drives my will to write,
    ends like a delta’s watershed:
    so many interests, it’s a plight.

    Great stanza!

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Back when I was young and single, I read several books on palmistry. It was great way to meet women. My freaky memory holds on to most things I read, and that was one of the book’s explanations for a bifurcated head line. First time I’ve used it in forty years.

  16. neil reid says:

    Tis neither a right nor wrong way to write a poem as such, nor to begin! Sometimes it’s just like that – impossible until it isn’t any more. Even a good omen sometimes too! You did more than fine to find so much in your focal palm and hand. Good and good, as well to combine the two prompts as you did. The poem flows and reads very naturally, not forced at all. Thanks for playing!

  17. Mr. Walker says:

    Mike, you obviously need to keep doing the impossible, because you do it so well. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I will reiterate what others have said, that ending is sublime. Personally, I loved stanzas eight and nine. I loved “sensory love” and the softness of that stanza – it’s beautiful, a poem all its own. And then I so identified with what you said in stanza nine. Thanks.


  18. siggiofmaine says:

    Mike. I found this in a file of prompts …. I found the prompt and went to to your poem…I started when I had prompts I liked, but clueless about how to go about writing anything so complicated. I am so happy I took the time to read this and love how you presented your thoughts. Thank you for all the joy you’ve brought me in the past year plus…and some great food for thought.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

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