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PROMPTuesday #9: Poetic Inspiration

June 16th, 2008

Today’s PROMPTuesday keeps it simple.


Read this poem (one of my favorites):


Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

by Wallace Stevens


The houses are haunted

By white night-gowns.

None are green,

Or purple with green rings,

Or green with yellow rings,

Or yellow with blue rings.

None of them are strange,

With socks of lace

And beaded ceintures.

People are not going

To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

Only, here and there, an old sailor,

Drunk and asleep in his boots,

Catches Tigers

In red weather.


Meditate on it for a minute. Then write whatever comes to mind.


Here are PROMPTuesday’s rules:


  • You must write your entry in 10 minutes. This encourages top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kicks in. Just set a timer, make your kid count to 600 slowly, whatever. It’s an honor system. And I trust you.
  • Keep to 250 words or less.
  • Please have fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Together, let’s rediscover the simple joy in the writing process.
  • Post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

Write y’all. Let those red tigers escape.


Meanwhile, here’s a retrospective of PROMPTuesdays past.


And here’s the original post explaining the PROMPTuesday concept.


Finally, here’s my submission for the week:


She placed the fork next to the spoon, the way he liked it. She expected him home by 6 o’clock, and she wanted everything to be ready. Just a few more minutes. The platter of ham sat in the center of the table and scalloped potatoes warmed in the oven. He’d want them set out, with a big spoon ready to scoop them up in heaps onto his plate. She poured a glass of water for herself, a rare luxury, since he always liked to be served first, even before she took a sip. But he wasn’t here yet, and she could drink the whole thing and set the empty glass next to her place, no one the wiser.


She hesitated before taking a sip, then drank it all in one swallow. The timer dinged in the kitchen, and she sniffed the first faint smell of burned potato. It was time. She lurched into the kitchen, while her legs would still take her. She needed those potatoes on the table. The casserole dish sent its heat into the potholders and she hurried it to the table, relieved to set it down. She dug a ladle into its tufted center. Then she sat at her place, poured his water, and waited to die.


On June 17th, 2008, Deborah said:

I’m not familiar with the poem (although I loved it) and deliberately did not read anything about it, so this may be the weirdest interpretation you’ve ever seen, but these were the thoughts that came to mind and I went with them:

Tropical night air, steaming. Heavy with the scent of jasmine.
Alive with nocturnal scrabbling, skitter, slither.
Caw! Caw! Darkness cloaks their extravagant feathered hues, but cannot quiet their calls.
Bloated insects, sated on the blood of their victims, sleep on.

Inside ivy covered walls, twirling on tiptoes, gossamer floating in rhythm to unheard music, moonlight casts shadows on cobwebs and furniture, but not on them. Time stopped for the dancers in straightlaced Victorian days. Now liberated, timeless, oblivious. Playful, capricious, cavorting, playing tricks on flesh and blood inhabitants, who leave with fearful, backward glances and never return. As the jungle reclaims the stone and glass intruder, drawing it into its rotting embrace, within the walls they ensnare and then repel trespassers with their heartless games.

Long ago, the sea captain brought his beautiful prize here to this solid structure carved from the jungle, far from the pitiless ocean where he had lost so much. He yearned for forgetfulness in this extraordinary place, alive with the promise of new memories wrought from new lives. Instead, fever overcame his young bride within months, scarlet with the burn of cruel disease, screaming, contorted in agony. He was transfixed, impotent, eyes wide with the sudden flood of old memories. He followed her soon after, struck down by the thrust of his own dagger. Their husks were absorbed by the jungle they would never leave. But their spirits lived on in wild abandon, unencumbered as they never were in life.

On June 17th, 2008, Deborah said:

Darn it, I have “cruel” twice. I hate doing that. Oh well.

On June 17th, 2008, Deborah said:

Wow, I just read your submission. That was really good. I think I should have waited until I was awake to write mine. What was I thinking?

On June 17th, 2008, San Diego Momma said:

Your submission was full of great imagery and atmosphere. The descriptions are outstanding. Maybe not being fully awake works for you? :) I’m going to try it next time.

On June 17th, 2008, chabelamarie said:

It makes me feel nostalgic for past times. Times when people were not afraid to be themselves, to let their imagination run free.

We live too fast, too real. Even entertainment has turned into a debacle of the most unrealistic reality TV shows.

No one dreams of baboons. Society doesn’t even encourage our kids to dream of baboons.

Only those with wandering spirits like sailors and only under a gentle intoxication of consciousness, allow their imagination to fly and wander in red weather.

On June 17th, 2008, Momma Mary said:

Wow. I might have to practice some fiction writing. The places I’ve been tranpsorted to today! Amazing! Do I have to put my link here?? :)

On June 17th, 2008, Okay, I’ll Play « Family of Five said:

[…] I’ll Play Filed under: writing — texasgurl @ 10:51 pm For SanDiegoMomma’s Prompt Tuesday, write something inspired by this […]

On June 17th, 2008, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

I Lovey McLovey your choice of poetry and this exercise, although I scared myself more with this one than last week’s (in which pretty much everyone saw something serene and I sensed a monster beneath the surface *sigh*). Oh my. I think my ego and judgmental brain is safer than my primal thinker.
Love, Cheri

Blog This Mom! has posted her PROMPTuesday #9 submission here.

On June 17th, 2008, Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said:

Yo. Deb. Now that I have read your piece (I never read the other submissions until I’ve written mine), I can’t help but think how similar they are. We must do lunch.

On June 17th, 2008, Tony said:

Ode to Sublimation:
Fleeting, flitting, fluttering
Feeling once and still and always
There and her
(And things from then),
Memories strewn and time-tossed notions,
All spidery in predawn haze,
With solitude and weight –
And knowing that today will come,
As it does each day and brutally,
And finding yet the power to breathe,
He arises and he lives.

On June 17th, 2008, Amanda - The Mom Crowd said:

Okay, like Cheri, I don’t read others until after I have written mine. I was too intimidated to write poetry or fiction… Here is my submission:


What dreams do you have when you are stressed?

I dream of waiting tables at Salt Grass Steakhouse. I always have too many tables and too many orders. Or I forgot my bolo tie. Anytime, I dream of Salt Grass I know I am stressed.

I also dream of college. I see myself on the University of Texas at San Antonio campus. Running in between classes. Cramming for a test.

I don’t have dreams of being naked in public. Only stressful situations.

I have dreamt of Daniel passing. A co-worker told me not to tell my husband. I did anyway. That is the scariest dream I have ever had.

In one dream I was being attacked and I yelled at the attacker “In Jesus name go away!” like they were magical words. It worked in the dream, so I feel like it would work in real life.

My friend Natalie had a dream about me a few weeks before I gave birth. In the dream an angel came to me and said “Fear not” like Mary in the Bible. I remembered what my friend told me the day before I went into labor and I had enormous peace throughout the entire process, because God had spoken to me through my friend to not be afraid.

I like to dream, but usually they are scary or stressful. If I could choose my own dream s I would dream of eating brownie and ice cream all day and not getting fat. My daughter to grow up and be a Humanitarian that changes the world. To be on vacation alone with my husband wearing a bikini on my perfect body. Ha! Maybe one day.

On June 17th, 2008, Team Espinoza » Blog Archive » Tuesday Writing Prompt: Dreams said:

[…] Here is the prompt from Deb at San Diego Momma: […]

On June 17th, 2008, PROMPTuesday: Exercise #9 said:

[…] minutes or less, 250 words or less. This week, the inspiration comes from a poem, “The Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” by Wallace […]

On June 17th, 2008, sallee said:

This poem reminds me of when I was a little girl and black and white tv was all most people had. I could watch this little black and white tv and imagine all the colors. For me, I Love Lucy’s hair was red, the fields in the western’s were green, and Cheyenne’s (Clint Walker’s)eues were blue. It was not something I had to work at…but my mind filled in the colors. As I grew older, the colors in the real world began to pale and become less colorful. As “real life” began to happen, the child like imagination that reminded me to watch a butterfly or just watch the trees dance, started to slip away…like white nightgowns, afraid to fill in with color, afraid to take a chance to be “strange”. Fortunately, I realized this when my children began to be born, and even more with my grandchildren. With them, even black and white tv has beautiful rainbows again.

On June 18th, 2008, http://www.salleebythesea@blogspot said:

Deb, I love your response. It somehow reminds me of the movie The Fisher King, in the scene where the woman is waiting for Jack to come home, dinner is waiting, but he does not come…she “cooks like a jerk”…expecting, hoping and dreaming for what he won’t, or can’t give her.

On June 18th, 2008, Jess said:

Posted my response here:

A little darker than usual for me. Who knows how I got there.

Thanks for the prompt!

On June 18th, 2008, San Diego Momma said:

As usual, brilliance in the making.
Thanks EVERYBODY for being a part of the PROMPT.
And so happy to read some stuff from people new to PROMPTuesdays.
You are all fabulous in the most fabulous sense of the word.

Thanks! You make this so fun.


On June 18th, 2008, http://www.salleebythesea@blogspot said:

I am just excited to find new friends and as a teacher (high school literature, but please don’t hold that against me when you see my lack of control of the English language!) this was FUN.
And thanks for visiting my little baby blog. As for plane-a-phobia, one word: Ativan. (I love my doctor).

On June 20th, 2008, Wade Nash said:

Suddenly, he noticed something gleaming down in the bottom of the sink . . . down inside the disposal, actually, under that rubber, flappy thing. A glow, of sorts, lay beyond. He rested the scrubber against the side of the sink, dropping the glass with its clinging, concupiscent curds, and leaned forward.

It was a spyrograph. And colored pens. And his old rollerskates. Sitting there, untouched, as he remembered them.

Someone was yammering behind him. A voice he heard most nights. Something about spreadsheets and fuel injection and knee braces and insecticide. Something about the second half of that Kerouac book he never finished that sat on the living room shelf, dust blanketing the top edge of the pages. Or was it boxed up in the attic? Or had it been sold for pennies at some yard sale to make room for the annually-grouped Sunset magazine folios. Why hadn’t he finished it? Something about SAT tests, he seemed to remember. And car insurance. And wisdom teeth.

Was he really here now? Had he really wanted this? Had he already called the roller of big cigars? Was he that roller?

He reached deep into the drain, . . . grabbed it by the innards and pulled it inside out, the plumbing slopping out onto the linoleum in globbed intestinal piles . . . the small gear ringlets and pens from the spyograph clattering cleanly to the floor along with the skates, a tablet of Mad Libs, his first velcro wallet. Inside, an ASB card — the laminated photo showing his hair parted in the middle, . . . his freckles darker, . . . more defined. And there was something in those eyes. Something forward looking. Something he had not seen in the mirror in a long, long time.

He strapped on his roller skates – a tad tight perhaps– stood, and rolled through the dining room, past the open front door, and onto the porch. The queen palms stood silhouetted against the phone lines in the twilight sky, a slightly humid and salty taste to the air.

There was an unread second half of a Kerouac book to find out there somewhere.

On June 25th, 2008, Cocktail Maven said:

Woah! Wade Nash – I am fascinated and just a tad disturbed by what lurks in that head of yours. . . but I LOVE it! Isn’t concupiscent another Wallce Stevens word? Wasn’t feeling up to participating myself, but I’m really enjoying the diversity of the submissions.

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