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prompt 184 Cultivating Old Memories

November 21, 2013

Uncle Foster and Dad_s

This prompt is about memory, and we’ll kick off with one of my favourite poems. I have many, finding it difficult to choose just one or two, and my favourites are influenced by my mood, but I always enjoy reading this one.


Over a Cup of CoffeeBy Stephen Dobyns

Over a cup of coffee or sitting on a park bench or
walking the dog, he would recall some incident
from his youth—nothing significant—climbing a tree
in his backyard, waiting in left field for a batter’s
swing, sitting in a parked car with a girl whose face
he no longer remembered, his hand on her breast
and his body electric; memories to look at with
curiosity, the harmless behaviour of a stranger, with
nothing to regret or elicit particular joy. And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realise how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognising a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.


The problem with memory is that if it’s not kept well-oiled, it starts to rust. Turns forgetful. Let’s oil the gears and resurrect an old friend or family member. Search back into your memory of a specific person, and then polish up your recollection of them, create memories, fill in blanks, if you need to.

So here’s what we’ll do. Take a piece of paper and pencil, and write your strongest memories of that person in a list. Now, to each word add a verb and/or adjective to bring that word to life. Don’t be afraid to add opposites or unusual  word combinations. You’ll start to form word groups. Look for similarities, and let your muse be inspired by all the little encapsulated words of memory.

Now write about that person (you needn’t say who it is). Bring them to the forefront of your memory, and enjoy your time with that person again.

  1. November 21, 2013 1:02 am

    Hi! I decided to rekindle an older poem before posting my new one. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at a (sometimes annoying) person I actually love very much:

    • November 22, 2013 1:30 am

      On my way for a read as soon as I grab a coffee. 🙂

  2. November 21, 2013 5:05 am

    This will fix nicely with the series… I will wait though for the other prompt to see how to incorporate the two. Though I might do two again…

    • November 22, 2013 1:33 am

      Lovely! Look forward to it, Jules.

  3. November 21, 2013 5:25 am

    Write We Poems #184

    Prompt: Cultivating Old Memories

    Beach Comb for a Dream

    Long ago
    Far away
    In a land
    By the sea
    You and I
    Lived a dream
    That never
    Blown away
    By strong
    Winds from
    The South
    If only I
    Beach comb
    On a hot day
    By the sea
    I would
    Find the
    The boy
    The dog
    The fisherman
    ……and his wife

    • November 21, 2013 9:42 am

      This is lovely and a wonderful cultivation of memories.

    • November 22, 2013 1:34 am

      I love this! I’ve read it twice, and now I’m going back for another read. So lovely. Well done.

    • November 24, 2013 3:06 pm

      Lovely that your poem mimicked the elusive quality, Annell.

    • November 26, 2013 12:56 pm

      The short lines string the reader along and beckon him/her to continue…kind of like a little path of stone or pebbles. Very nice.


  4. November 21, 2013 7:02 am

    Misky, I am going through some doldrums so I am reposting an older work that, I think, meets your requirements. Everything in it is a real memory of my youth.

    • November 21, 2013 7:48 am

      btw, I love the poem you chose to share. I feel exactly what the last lines express. I look back at the girl I was as a stranger or perhaps a character in a book I’ve read. I hardly feel any kinship to her.

    • November 22, 2013 1:35 am

      On my way read it, Debi. 🙂 I also can relate to that poem on so many levels. It always makes me smile; it always feels familiar.

    • November 22, 2013 1:38 am

      Excellent. I look forward to reading it. On my way!

  5. November 21, 2013 2:21 pm

    Oh, good! This is great, Misky…I love the image and poem and prompting.

    I have something I’d like to work on for this but I’ll have to find an appropriate window.

    Thank you!

    • November 22, 2013 1:40 am

      We’ll be here waiting…. 😀

  6. November 21, 2013 2:25 pm

    Great photo.

    Shame to follow it with this

    • November 22, 2013 1:40 am

      I left a comment with your poem, but I have to say there’s no shame involved. It’s a wonderful read, thoroughly enjoyable and a visual treat.

    • November 22, 2013 1:41 am

      Loved this. Looks like we are both piano players!

  7. November 22, 2013 5:35 am

    While not exactly based in reality…my Spell Bound series continues here:

    Might do a second piece if I have time.

    • November 23, 2013 1:59 pm

      Enjoyed that one, and I left a comment with your post. 🙂

      • November 23, 2013 3:12 pm

        I’m not sure when I started writing for We Write Poem prompts. I think I found the link on Wordgathering not sure if it is the first one, but I found one I wrote from WWP 114. That’s almost a year and a half. Might have missed a couple but not many. I kind of feel very loyal to this prompt site. I really enjoy the reaching, stretching and growing that one can do here.

        Glad you are enjoying the series. 🙂

  8. November 22, 2013 12:19 pm

    I don’t usually like very short lines, but your poem is the exception: absolutely charming.

  9. November 22, 2013 12:19 pm

    That comment was for Annell’s poem, but it became detached. Sorry.

  10. November 23, 2013 11:33 am

    Not exactly what you wanted however I wrote this poem this month about my memories of Grandfather’s house. I can still remember the sounds, the smells. and love I enjoyed there 60 years past.

    • November 23, 2013 1:15 pm

      Excellent! I’m on my way to read it now.

  11. November 24, 2013 6:13 am

    Thanks for sharing *the photo*, Misky.

    Not feeling very retrospective myself, so just a dream memory

    • November 24, 2013 6:58 am

      I just read it, and I loved it, Irene. Thank you so very much for adding your poem to this week’s prompt. 🙂

    • November 24, 2013 3:00 pm

      Thank you for being the hostess with the mostest, M!

  12. November 24, 2013 3:56 pm

    Here is my offering….

    This went left of center: a good memory ending badly.

    (Trigger warning: depiction of suicide)

    • November 25, 2013 3:07 am

      Oh dear! I’m on my way to read now….

Comments are closed.