Archive for the ‘death’ Tag

Pirene’s Fountain   Leave a comment

Lincoln's death bed

http://pirenesfountain.com/archives/issue_05/current_issue/peterson_helen.html

Tomb Painter, the first of the two poems of mine that Pirene‘s Fountain published in May of 2009, was written after a pretty horrific prompt. A friend of mine, who at the time was working for a cleaning service, had been called to clean a home after a suicide, and had taken a picture of the bed where the person had shot themselves. It was pretty gruesome, but all I could think of, looking at this picture being passed around, is the inn in Washington DC where they took Lincoln after he was shot, across from the theater, and how, as an eighth grader, it had deeply affected me, walking around the bed, seeing the pillow with its faint brown stain.

I thought about this weird connection, how a person might fit in both places, how one place could lead to another. It lead me to images of Lincoln, his death mask, which lead me to the death masks and photographs of other dead persons, photographed in their coffins. I thought about the person behind the camera, was it a relative, a professional brought in, an employee of the funeral home? What about crime scenes, suicides, who dreams of being a photographer of the dead, as opposed to babies and weddings and school children?

The result of all of these threads, after free writing, sketching out a character, cutting and pasting, was the poem Tomb Painter.

What intrigues you? Have you seen a photograph, read a poem or short story, that reminded you of something else? Explore the threads that bind them together in your mind, see what other associations you can make from them. Create a story or poem of your own, using these threads.

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Danse Macabre   Leave a comment

The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut,...

Image via Wikipedia

http://dansemacabre.art.officelive.com/PoesieAuxBarricades.aspx

Danse Macabre has to be one of the most beautiful online literary sites up and running today. Every issue is so well put together, with the art and the words. So, I was pleased as punch they published a poem of mine earlier this year called “The Feminine Mystique“.

The poem was based upon something my good friend and fellow poet Katie Moore, editor of the Legendary posted on Facebook once, how she almost “drank” a brown recluse that had slipped into her coffee cup. The image was so vivid to me, a self-proclaimed arachnaphobe, that I had to write about it.  I thought about what I thought of as Katie’s strengths, as well as those of some of my other favorite ladies who write, and wove a simple tale about the recycling of a spider corpse. A bit creepy, a bit empowering. It’s all good.

Tonight, take someone’s status update and weave a tale through it. Share it here, or share it on your friends’ wall. Create unlikely dialogue through the time-sucking device of social networking. Make Facebook work for you for once.

Shine Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.theshinejournal.com/petersonhelenr.htm

The past week has been a long one for me, going back to work, sending two of three kids off to school. One thing that has suffered is the blog here, and I apologize if you’ve missed me the past couple of days. I promise to catch up.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks, and in honor of that day,  I’ve posted my one and only 9/11 poem, published last year in The Shine Journal.  Unlike many other writers, it took me four years to write on the subject. On September 11, 2001, I listened to the first reports on NPR as I took my son to preschool, thinking that it had just been a small plane, mildly concerned. I should add that we didn’t have a tv at that time, no internet, no cell phone. It wasn’t until I got to work and saw my coworkers circling a monitor in the back, shell shocked, anxious. It wasn’t until my son’s preschool, state run, called and said I needed to pick him up, that the governor was closing all state buildings. It wasn’t until I went home and stared up at a sky free of jet trails that it hit me what we were dealing with. At that point the threads that connected the events to me were either too thin or rock solid to write about. It was only when my son, now seven years old, was baptized on the fourth anniversary of the attacks that I could find a way in to the emotions I felt that day in a way that I hoped made sense to the rest of the world, and approached the topic in a new and interesting way.

This year I sent another child to preschool for the first time. I am more connected to the world than I ever thought possible, for better or for worse. I look at the world, at the mess we’ve made of things, the hope of a more united country and world fizzling as we split hairs over what we call a community center. It makes me want to write another poem, only I can’t find a way in…yet…

Maybe you can. Give it a try, what has changed for you in the past nine years? How do world events connect you to the world around you? Find an in, write it out, and feel free to post it here.