Tuesday Tryouts: Poems on Things That are Lost

21 Jun

9:00 a.m. — San Antonio

Hello dear readers. I promised you an open prompt this week, which means you get to choose the form, whether it is free verse, or a more structured form. For those who have been assuming free verse is free: Hah!

While free verse is my usual format, in many ways that choice provides more difficulties, because when I am not choosing a standard form, I do need to consider the structure of the poem. Forms, such as those we have played with in the past few weeks, take a lot of thinking out of the equation, because the form tells us how to structure the poem. We can concentrate on other aspects. With free verse we have to come up with our own structure to support our content, as well as all the other things that make a poem.

Didn’t know you were going to get a mini-lecture thrown in did you? On to the prompt!


Start by thinking about and then listing all the things you have lost. Leave room for notes with each item. Consider things like a memory, a tooth, keys, a friend, your direction [can be literal or figurative], an opportunity, a close relative. What other things have you lost? Or, in a wider, more abstract view, what has been lost to your generation, or town, or country? Plenty of possibilities.

Next to each loss jot notes on what you remember. Try to include as many concrete and sensory details as you can.

Then, jot notes on any feelings and emotions you associate with each loss.

Pick one from your list of things lost. Decide whether you want to write in free verse or one of the forms we have been playing with or, indeed, a form you like but we haven’t played with yet. Choose the point of view — will the speaker speak in first or third person? The choice affects how the poem comes across, so you might choose one and mentally try the other once you have a draft. Consider whether you wish to include feelings, or just tell the story. Decide on the speaker’s tone: sad, angry, tongue in cheek, humourous…your word choice will support the tone. And, if you don’t remember the whole story, make up whatever you need to convey the story you want to tell.

Write and then post so we can read the results.

If you have questions do ask; if you think someone would enjoy this, click on the buttons below.

I shall see you on Thursday for a reader suggested topic: the poetic inversion; Friday for the week’s roundup of prompts; and next Tuesday for…yes, another open prompt [I know what’s coming down the pike with forms, so I’m lulling you].

Happy writing all.


Posted by on 21/06/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

41 responses to “Tuesday Tryouts: Poems on Things That are Lost

  1. brenda w

    21/06/2011 at 2:22 pm

    This is my first Tuesday Tryouts, Margo. Thanks for being here. My piece is about something painful, but it happened long ago. I had two tubal pregnancies. That’s what I lost, that and the ability to have more children. One of the tubal pregnancies occured before my daughter was born, and one after. My pregnancy with her was high risk and difficult. She’s here, she’s amazing, beautiful, brilliant…on and on. I also have two step children. Life is rich.
    ectopic chimera

    • margo roby

      21/06/2011 at 3:28 pm

      It will be interesting after about six months, for you to go back and look at your work, Paula. Never get rid of it. There is plenty to mine in early stuff. Meanwhile welcome, which I forgot to do with Brenda. Definitely the more the merrier.
      I’ll head over now and look at your earlier poem.


  2. margo roby

    21/06/2011 at 2:31 pm

    I have already been over and left a comment, Brenda. Despite the sadness which permeates the poem, I enjoyed figuring out what the poem was about through your imagery and metaphor. Then my brain dug up ectopic, I Googled, and I was correct.
    But you are right: life is rich. And the fact that we can write about all facets of it makes it even richer. Thank you for posting.

    PS And, welcome! Don’t know where my manners are today — not enough sleep.

  3. pmwanken

    21/06/2011 at 3:08 pm

    Also my first Tuesday Tryouts visit…and I intend to write a “lost” poem….but thought I’d include, here, a poem I wrote back in January….about a month into my “writing efforts”. I think I’m evolving as a writer, but this one is at the foundation…

    I’ll be back (eventually) with another. Thanks for this site, Margo… : )


  4. anjum wasim dar

    21/06/2011 at 4:18 pm

    so what , it was just
    a piece of paper, I lost
    I am used to this
    whatever I get,
    is lost ,
    who to look for
    who to own
    each one I found
    I wanted, I lost,
    moon too is far
    away, seems, is lost
    thought is a storm
    the shore is lost,
    a name I love
    is a tear, I lost
    my path is thorny
    my guide I lost
    a cut is a painful
    wound, cure I lost
    a star I am
    in Milky Way am lost.

    • margo roby

      21/06/2011 at 5:37 pm

      Anjum – this is lovely. The repetition of lost/I lost as an end word or phrase makes the poem. And the speaker’s tone seems a cross between sadness and frustration. I am enjoying rereading the poem.


      • anjum wasim dar

        22/06/2011 at 1:04 am

        Margo since I write in urdu too, I will share that version-maybe some readers will enjoy the share-

        kiya hua jo gum hua

        kaaghaz ka tukrra hi tha
        ab to aadat si ho gayee hai
        jo bhi milla, gum hua.

        kis ko dhoondein
        kis ko paaein
        har koi unn sa hua

        chaand bhi duur se
        takta raha gum sum hua
        be wafaie har taraf, dosti
        zakhm hai, dukhta hua

        baar baar mar ke jiyee
        dil hai ik diya, dukhta hua.

        soch ik toofan hai
        har saahil-e-khyaal
        unn ka hua.

        kis tarah samate loon
        naam jo aankh ka
        aansoo hua

        yaad ka ab bojh hai
        saans hai thehra hua

        khaar daar raah guzar
        chalte rahe be khabar
        koi rah numa na hua

        laakh hun Najm falak pe
        chaahe, hai koi jo Anjum hua?

      • anjum wasim dar

        22/06/2011 at 1:08 am

        In the 13 th line-
        please read:

        dil hai ik diya ghatt taa hua

  5. pmwanken

    21/06/2011 at 5:23 pm

    OK…here’s a quick go at a new poem…

    See you soon! : )

  6. ladynimue

    21/06/2011 at 5:25 pm

    • margo roby

      21/06/2011 at 5:44 pm

      Welcome, Lady N. I shall come over and read it.


  7. wordsandthoughtspjs

    21/06/2011 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the prompt, Margo. I am a bit earlier than usual. Some reason this prompt stirred up some memories. The rain isn’t really helping my mood, any. Two days, no sun, yuck!


    August Anniversaries

    • margo roby

      21/06/2011 at 10:25 pm

      This prompt has a lot of people in early, Pamela. It seems to have struck a chord. And, hey! We’ll take your rain. You can have our sun. Really 🙂 Am going over now to read your poem.


  8. vivinfrance

    22/06/2011 at 2:03 am

    I thought it would be easy, the poeming will is there, but when writing about loss, remembered emotion tends to overwhelm. I’ve made a start, but don’t hold your breath that you will see the poem very soon! The exercise is well worthwhile, Margo, and thank you for stirring me up.

  9. margo roby

    22/06/2011 at 8:28 am

    I have been fascinated with the response to this prompt, Viv. And you may not reach a poem, but the thinking and remembering may bring others, and the emotion, while exhausting, should, on leaving, leave you feeling better. I have found in my losses that even if writing about them does not lead to a poem I will share, I am able to leave much of the emotion on the page and feel the lighter for it. We do need stirring occasionally, don’t we?

    • vivinfrance

      23/06/2011 at 2:02 am

      Ten-years-longed-for freedom,
      anticipated elation doesn’t come.

      Lost, embarrassed friends,
      not knowing how to treat me.
      Step aside, you’re on your own now, girl.

      Lost, one home,
      more than four walls and a roof,
      I grieve for dog and cat and horses –
      unexpected loneliness
      a lump of concrete in my head.
      I grieve for garden,
      a joy and a burden.

      Lost for a while,
      the respect of my children,
      I must have done something wrong;
      interest in food, so too much weight;
      sense of direction, purpose;
      the certainty of who and what I am.

      Gained: a freedom far too poignant.

      I won’t put this on my blog, as my children read it, and I don’t want to re-open healed wounds. This is very rough and ready, and I may come back to it later, but please feel free to critique.

      • margo roby

        23/06/2011 at 9:16 am

        Understood, Viv. If you come back to it, you might focus on ‘Lost for a while…/the certainty of who and what I am./Gained: a freedom far too poignant.’ Now I need to think about why I say that. I know I like the listing of the concrete, the specifics of the preceding stanza, but my real interest is in the lines I quote. I went through a rough patch many years ago, during which I discovered who and what I thought I was, was not. Took me years to put back together a clear vision of me. The results of the loss of self still resonates, but I learned so much. I think it is your use of ‘poignant’. I like the me now better but I wish I hadn’t to learn her the way I did and lose the many things I did to find her. I hope that makes sense.

        The other possibility if you revisit and want to keep it lighter [if there can be a lighter here] is the third stanza which reads like a Lost poster one might find tacked on a telephone pole, or cafe window: Lost — one cat, black and white…you know the sort. The poem will be short but the listing might work as a way to give an identity to the loss.

        And, Viv, thank you.


      • vivinfrance

        23/06/2011 at 4:54 pm

        Thank you, Margo – I’ve done a little tweaking, but I think it needs to lie fallow for a while before a final edit. I read it tonight at the Mill (strangers are a much easier audience!) and it went down well, except that they pointed out a syntax problem in the 4th stanza. Work on it later, I think!

      • margo roby

        23/06/2011 at 5:44 pm

        Not sure in what order this reply will appear, Viv, as had to go back to the original comment to reply. I should think between the thinking, the writing, and the reading that a lot happened. I shouldn’t be surprised if the poem were to lie fallow for quite a while. You may not even feel the need to come back to it.


      • vivinfrance

        24/06/2011 at 3:06 am

        Fallow: 24 hours and your comments brought this re-write:
        The title is only in caps because I couldn’t make bold stick!


        Lost for a while, the respect of my children,
        grief a lump of concrete in my head.
        Lost, one home,
        more than four walls and a roof,
        Lost dog and cat and horses –
        unexpected loneliness
        Lost, garden –
        past joy and burden.
        Lost friends,
        unwilling to choose or merely embarrassed
        Lost, appetite
        and too much weight,
        Lost, sense of direction, purpose;
        Temporarily mislaid,
        the certainty of who and what I am.

        Found: a freedom far too poignant.

      • vivinfrance

        24/06/2011 at 3:19 am

        Groan, groan, grovel, grovel: in my attempts to correct the vagaries of layout which WordPress inflicted on me, I seem to have posted about 4 versions, none of which is quite right! Please can you delete or trash all but the last version by time of posting? So sorry to be a nuisance!

  10. Madeleine Begun Kane

    22/06/2011 at 3:02 pm

    Memorized data—
    Still there, but hard to access.
    Mulltiple choice brain.

    Lost Cause?

    • margo roby

      22/06/2011 at 4:09 pm

      I love that, Madeleine: multiple choice brain. I’m sharing this one with my mother. she’ll love it.


    • vivinfrance

      23/06/2011 at 4:55 pm

      Yay, are you talking about me, Mad? Witty, as usual.

  11. anjum wasim dar

    22/06/2011 at 5:00 pm

    If life begins in a state
    of loss
    where is the hope
    of finding
    where is the joy
    of having
    where is the music
    of dancing
    where is the rhythm
    of peace
    where is the love
    of liberty
    where is the link
    of brotherhood
    where is the blood
    of kinship
    where is the vision
    of tolerance
    and where is the cry
    of O Life! Let me Live”

    I was born
    in loss
    of law and land

    I never saw my home

    I grew up with fear
    of war and death

    I never saw a victory

    I carried my first born
    in bullets straffing

    I never settled at ease

    I lost a child
    but so many others
    did too
    Loss of little things
    sweets and pencils
    loss of toys and stencils
    Loss of love and friends
    and then it all makes sense
    I learnt that what
    is Lost
    was never meant
    to be with you or for You
    It was taken away
    as it was sent.

  12. margo roby

    22/06/2011 at 5:57 pm

    I think you have two poems here, Anjum and I like both, especially the one structured on repetition, but I like the theme of the second part.

  13. anjum wasim dar

    22/06/2011 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you Margo -writing’ Geminian style…

  14. Kris W

    23/06/2011 at 12:23 am

    I loved this prompt and wrote for it (a bit late…) ~

    thanks for a wonderful challenge!

    • margo roby

      23/06/2011 at 8:57 am

      Kris, there is never a too late on my blog. Happy to see a response! I shall wander over and read your poem as soon as my morning coffee starts working 🙂


  15. vivinfrance

    24/06/2011 at 3:10 am

    Darn it – the layout was lost in posting this – Lost should hang on the left, with the next line indented, to leave lost on its own – probably as clear as mud!

    • Margo Roby

      24/06/2011 at 9:28 am

      Oh, Viv, yes. I love the structure. Your description is clear. I will probably copy paste and format so I can see it as it should be. I think I will like it even better. You kept everything you should and “lost” everything not needed for the poem. It works. That last line is powerful now. The strongest image still the concrete in your head.

      I will try and get rid of the earlier versions but I have to find where wordpress lets me edit.


  16. Margo Roby

    24/06/2011 at 9:21 am

    Can’t wait to work back through this, Viv. It’s a pain in the rear, but I copy paste onto Notepad before copying and pasting into my blog post. That usually keeps the layout. Also, if you look in WordPress’ help section they have poetry listed now and instructions for formatting.

  17. anjum wasim dar

    25/06/2011 at 3:10 pm

    A Day of Loss
    It was suddenly
    a day of loss
    who was the worker
    Who was The Boss?
    Who was the slave?
    who was so Free
    Who was The Brave
    On The Great Cross!
    To me it was
    A Day of Death
    A Day of Loss
    When a Nation
    held its breath
    the date was
    the same
    For some
    only One Name
    For others, Life
    was a game
    Saints or Sinners;
    Kill kill kill
    Do what you will!
    Let the blood spill !
    There is nothing wrong
    OH, Please dont –
    Still – a Song
    All to Dust
    Do not bring-
    What is this Life?
    With emptiness to fill;
    When Silences Sting
    And -No birds Sing.

  18. margo roby

    25/06/2011 at 3:27 pm

    The last two lines, Anjum. Love the last two lines.

  19. anjum wasim dar

    25/06/2011 at 11:13 pm

    Thank You M


Join the discussion and feel free to critique, or suggest an idea for any poem I post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: