Poems: Paper Flowers and a Limerick


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. There are lots of reasons, I suppose, and many times I’ve started a post and never finished one. But I am trying to clear a bit more time to write, so I have taken up Mary Lee Hahn’s Po-emotion Challenge this April. I am leaving some poems in the comments sections at her blog; I thought I’d share the one that I left today, plus one more.

Today’s emotion was “sadness.” Here’s a nice, short post about sadness at Explore, one of Maria Popova’s superb websites. (“All sadness is is a way of sensitizing you to what really matters, what’s really meaningful.”)

This poem explores the strange expansiveness that sadness can sometimes bring.

IMG_0480Paper Flowers

If you were there
with me in the high desert
near Caspana, you
would have felt
the wind on your face,
thin and persistent;
heard it rustle the paper
flowers mourners stuck
in the fence on the day
their dead were borne
from the church;
seen them, too, their color
drained under
a relentless sun:
red to tattered pink,
pink to shredded white.

So wide this sky.
And so simple this wind
that erodes lives
like paper flowers
stuck in a fence, that
scatters pieces across
the high desert. If you
were there with me
near Caspana, you
might have felt the grit
in the wind, and the
roughness of your own skin
under the arid sun,
and, like me, offered
wine and coca leaf to
our scattered souls.

–steve peterson, 2015



Just in case you think, though, that all is serious, here is my poem for the emotion of “disgust,” a poem that came to me while watching Wisconsin play Kentucky during the NCAA tournament, and while lying next to my dog who had spent the day in the woods eating lord only knows what kinds of goodies.

It’s a limerick, of course.

There once was a dog from Decorah
Whose nose led him to fauna, not flora
From the snowbanks did melt
Aged deer guts he smelt
So, bad farts? He had a plethora.


6 thoughts on “Poems: Paper Flowers and a Limerick

  1. “Paper Flowers” is lovely in its sadness.

    I really do love writing with you this month…thanks for joining!

    • I’ve had a great time, Mary Lee. You are really pushing me. I’ve had a long dry spell. Nothing seems worth saying out loud on the webs. This has been great to just go for it, clear some space to write, and, well, just write. Speaking of…I think there’s another poem due tomorrow AM bright and early. 🙂

  2. Oh, Steve! Paper Flowers is just gorgeous! And there’s something amazing that I can’t quite explain about that white space and the move you make between the two stanzas; I keep staring at it like some magic trick I want to learn how to do. And then the limerick, a form I usually avoid. But Decorah, flora and plethora are such fun! Here’s to more poems and posts.

    • Thanks so much, Vicki, for dropping by! As you can probably tell, the poem has been percolating inside (though sometimes not even in words) since last summer.

      Which makes me think about your wonderful post about writing process. I think I’ve been SAYING the poem to myself in my head, sometimes even whispered under my breath, for months now — little snippets on walks, an image here while washing dishes, a feeling there while chopping wood. The push to write it all down came on a recent visit to a prairie remnant in a nearby town. We saw the pasque flowers we hoped to see, but also heard such a lonely wind through last year’s grass. And, boom, I was back in a graveyard near Caspana, Chile. But, if I hadn’t been “writing” that poem for nearly a year now without putting it on paper, maybe I would not have been as attuned to the wind? To wide and lonely spaces under the clear blue sky? Who knows? I suspect that keeping that feeling alive in my heart probably has helped me enjoy many more winds and clear blue skies than if I had written it down right away. Hmm…

      As for the limerick. Me, too, on the seldom go there thought. But there’s a part of me that does like to torture a rhyme. Sadistic, perhaps? 🙂

  3. That is beautiful, Steve (not the dog farts one:>) I love the repetition and intimacy of “If you were there with me in Caspana” and all those wonderful, specific images you use.

    • Not the dog farts one???!!! What? 🙂

      Thank you so much, Laura, for stopping by to read the poem. I love images, that’s for sure, and I was interested in the way the repeated line sort of tied together the two stanzas. I sort of tried to do that, but…it also kind of happened. Writing is interesting that way, I think. Sometimes I figure out what I wanted to say when I read what I said.

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