Poem Tryouts: Stem Those Protests!

21 Jan

7:41 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Babel sung by Mumford & Sons: one of those rare singers to whose voice I have a visceral reaction [that’s a good thing]

Hello, my chickadees. There is grumbling in the ranks. Prompts too complex? Hmm. You forget I have been with you awhile and know of what you are capable [you like the proper use of preposition?]. However, as I am in a dry period and my brain appears to have gone walkabout, as well, let’s try some single word prompts, as I know you like them.

This week we have stem, a word that manages to go in several directions, including being an antonym of itself. The word stems from [snicker] the base word ‘-sta’ — the upright part, the part that “stands” up — and descends through the Germanic and Norse languages. Therein lies the difference in meanings.

From its Germanic ancestry we get the stem we associate with holding something up, or together, the stem of a flower, of a watch winder, the bow of a boat, the part of the wine glass we hold, or the part of the pipe put in the mouth.

We also have the meaning to arise, or emanate from, as in Their protest stemmed from the lack of coffee in the early hours.

From the Old Norse we have the meaning of stopping something, of holding back the tide, some kind of onslaught, or just slowing oneself down while skiing.

For the entirety of possibilities head over to my favourite web-based dictionary.

The poem: Again, many possibilities. You can write about something that has one of the meanings as its thread, or main focus.

You can include the word, but you don’t have to. You can write a poem that revolves around one of the meanings without ever mentioning ‘stem’.

You can write a poem that uses the word with two different meanings. If you don’t mention the word, you might even write a poem that involves several meanings of ‘stem’.

You can look at the synonyms and select a half-dozen to use in a poem.

You can write of a memory that stems [it’s the most logical word, k?] from something I have written about ‘stem’ or something you read over at thefreedictionary should you wander over there.

I want poems, people. It’s the third week in January and you need to start gearing up for April. I shall see you Friday for the week’s roundup of prompts; and next Tuesday for an image prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 21/01/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry



29 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Stem Those Protests!

    • margo roby

      21/01/2014 at 10:02 am

      What? I chivvy people and they send poems but stop talking to me!?!

      We drove up to DC this weekend [I know: mad] to see our daughter. Had a wonderful time and that should tide us over for a bit.


      • julespaige

        21/01/2014 at 10:14 am

        I’ve been just a tad busy the end of Dec. And too Jan.
        Trying to write all those thanks for your concern cards (for our loss) and then having to futz with Federal Jury duty which thankfully didn’t pan out. But I still had to take the train in to Philly.

        Grandchildren take up time too. Son of Son is now 3.5 yrs. and Daughter of Son is 6 months! And starting to crawl!

        Even with the snow – Mom and Dad are pulling a firehouse shift so I’ll see the bitties for about four or five hours today. So I guess I’d better shovel the driveway…
        Am I forgiven now?
        Here’s a haibun you might like:

        By the way I had to look up chivvy – thanks! ~J

        • margo roby

          21/01/2014 at 10:37 am

          Laughing, with you, of course. One sentence will do me. I know you are usually up to your eyebrows in stuff.

          I can’t believe Son of Son is 3.5 years. Good grief, Jules. Of course, Hazel turns two next month.

          Forgiven? Always.

          Isn’t it a great word!



    21/01/2014 at 10:03 am


    Brave January soldiers
    standing proudly in a row,
    stem from bulbs
    buried in September.
    Emergent green
    shows stgrength of stem
    as harbinger of spring
    to stem the onslaught
    of february blues.
    The stiff stems of March
    bear blooming buds –
    a blessing.

    Sorry Margo, just playing! We noticed this hopeful sign of spring outside the Mairie this afternoon.

    • margo roby

      21/01/2014 at 10:11 am

      Oh ViV, you know I like play. It’s fun using the same word differently in a poem, isn’t it? I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Misky

    21/01/2014 at 12:32 pm

    Have fun; as you’ll discover, I have a new hobby.

  3. markwindham

    21/01/2014 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, to write, instead of work,
    but, tis food
    which stems from work,
    therefore I shall work,
    for children brood when there is no food.

    • margo roby

      21/01/2014 at 12:45 pm

      Clown, but it’s good to know you’re alive 😉

  4. markwindham

    21/01/2014 at 12:53 pm

    🙂 january sucks in my profession…w2s, 1099s, payroll filings etc etc. Oh well, hopefully some time to write soon

    • margo roby

      21/01/2014 at 12:57 pm

      Ick and ack. When you need a break from the numbers, turn to the words even if only for twenty minutes [Well, yes, you can talk to your family, or go for a walk — whichever, remember to take those breaks. They are miracle workers.].

  5. Carol Carlisle

    21/01/2014 at 1:40 pm

    I e-stem-ate I will write a stem poem soon.
    Love Viv’s
    Very fond of Mumford & Sons..wondering if I could adopt them 😉
    Happy Tuesday!

    • margo roby

      21/01/2014 at 1:48 pm

      I love the fun everyone is having!
      I’ll share custody 😉
      A happy Tuesday to you!

  6. coalblack

    21/01/2014 at 7:33 pm

    I saw Mumford & Sons on PBS along with my personal favorite, Emmylou Harris. The singer for Mumford was properly worshipful of her!

    • markwindham

      21/01/2014 at 9:45 pm

      ah, something resembling a poem…

    • markwindham

      21/01/2014 at 9:46 pm

      That was excellent. There was one with The Avett Brothers and Randy Travis which was equally good.

      • margo roby

        22/01/2014 at 7:56 am

        PBS does well with concerts. I have to remember to check, though.

    • margo roby

      22/01/2014 at 7:57 am

      In that case, we like Mumford even more.

  7. Hannah Gosselin

    22/01/2014 at 2:37 pm


    Hi, Margo. 🙂

    Thank you my poetic friend.

  8. barbara_y

    23/01/2014 at 7:41 am

    Somebody snarking you and Jos, too? Odd. I need tough. Something to fight against. The easy ones let my mind go skittering off.

    a tree is grass
    the trunk, a stem
    an ax, a blade
    cold as the wind

    • margo roby

      23/01/2014 at 9:19 am

      I almost mentioned Joseph. I admit I get great joy out of conceiving the more complex ones. Don’t worry, I won’t stop but I’ll throw a word prompt in every now and then. I find looking those up fun, too.

      Hey, I like the little thing you threw off. It has something.


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