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Prompt #114 Carved in stone

July 12, 2012


Carved in stone

a community poem prompt

We Write Poems:

Our interesting prompt idea this week is provided by “new-comer” Julie!  Here’s a change of pace.  Put bluntly, put brief, although a little more than simple black and white, Julie asks us to write our own “epitaph”, in the form of a poem of course.  Rather intimate, and how would you sum your life in just those few long enduring words?

There’s considerable history for engaging in this introspection, and we have some references for you, just possible suggestions, which however you’re always welcome to invigorate from your own point of view.

Because of their length please click the link at the end of this posting to read the references in detail.

Come back next Wednesday when you see,It’s Post Your Poems Day!” and leave a link to the poem on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, then please, post your poem in the comment itself. *** You are invited to respond to the prompt given here, but if you have something else you’re just itching to share, please feel welcome in doing that. Our first desire here is to encourage you to write and learn and share. *** When leaving comments to other’s poems, please be appreciative and encouraging. We are not a poem “critique” site (unless someone specifically asks for that). Be kind with each other (and yourself!). *** Please consider including a link with your blog poem back to the prompt response here at We Write Poems so that others may see and join our community. More participants do make better soup!

Edgar Lee Masters in 1915 wrote the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of fictional epitaphs, as stated by the dead themselves. While the cultural time period is rather “dated” in these voices, we think you’ll still find these “brief stories” informative and evocative. You may wish to read at least a few of these to set one possibility for your frame of mind.

The complete collection is provided by A Penn State Electronic Classics Series Publication in a PDF format.  By way of example, here are merely two of many…

Sam Hookey

I RAN away from home with the circus,
Having fallen in love with Mademoiselle Estralada,
The lion tamer.
One time, having starved the lions
For more than a day,
I entered the cage and began to beat Brutus
And Leo and Gypsy.
Whereupon Brutus sprang upon me,
And killed me.
On entering these regions
I met a shadow who cursed me,
And said it served me right. . . .
It was Robespierre!


Minerva Jones

I AM Minerva, the village poetess,
Hooted at, jeered at by the Yahoos of the street
For my heavy body, cock-eye, and rolling walk,
And all the more when “Butch” Weldy
Captured me after a brutal hunt.
He left me to my fate with Doctor Meyers;
And I sank into death, growing numb from the feet up,
Like one stepping deeper and deeper into a stream of ice.
Will some one go to the village newspaper,
And gather into a book the verses I wrote?—
I thirsted so for love
I hungered so for life!


To phrase it a bit more in contemporary terms, perhaps you’ve seen the movie “Walk the Line“, about the life of singer Johnny Cash.  Early in his musical endeavor, his first audition actually, the scene has Johnny Cash singing a “too-oft-copied” popular song about religious faith.  Here’s the dialog between him and record producer Sam Phillips, who has stopped Cash’s band just a couple verses into their song.

Sam Phillips:  You know exactly what I’m telling you.  We’ve already heard that song a hundred times.  Just like that.  Just… like… how… you… sing it.

Johnny Cash:  Well you didn’t let us bring it home.

Sam Phillips:  Bring… bring it home?  All right, let’s bring it home.  If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing *one* song.  Huh?  One song that people would remember before you’re dirt.  One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth.  One song that would sum you up.  You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing?  That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real, and how you’re gonna shout it?  Or… would you sing somethin’ different.  Somethin’ real.  Somethin’ *you* felt.  Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear.  That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.  It ain’t got nothin to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash.  It has to do with believin’ in yourself.

So song or poem, what difference?  Here’s your chance to write your own epitaph.  Provocative enough?  What you got to say?

Read you in a week!

One Comment
  1. Irene permalink*
    July 12, 2012 5:09 pm

    Wise words, Sam Phillips!

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