NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu #24 For the Ones at Shady Valley Residence




Today’s FPR prompt Day 24 comes from Craig Dworki, quoted here:

I am most often interested in seeing what language can do that it didn’t know it could do — in finding the imaginary solutions to questions we never thought to ask. Rather than seek le mot juste — the right word to convey some meaning — I am usually more inclined to see what meanings might arise from materially structured language (“where once one sought a vocabulary for ideas, now one seeks ideas for vocabularies,” as Lyn Hejinian put it). What, I try to ask, does language itself want to convey when given the chance? The hardest part of the task is being quiet enough to listening closely.

Take an erasure poem (FPR is full of them) and then add words to fill in the empty spaces in order to create a new text that flows naturally and coherently. Words should fit exactly — to the letter — so that the result appears to be perfectly justified prose. Don’t cheat by kerning.

You can see the full post and other poems here:

For my source document I chose an erasure poem that I created during PoMoSco, last April’s FPR challenge (well, while not strictly erased, it was cut out, which to me is effectively the same. It was done last April, and I did not go back to the original source document to make sure I was not simply filling in what was there before. It actually reads like a poem still, so I decided to leave in the line breaks rather than create a “perfectly justified prose” text as specified.  The added text is in bold italics. Below today’s piece is the poem I used for this prompt.

Heliotrope flowers

Heliotrope flowers (Wikipedia)


For the ones at Shady Valley Residence


Look first at the lonely people who line the corridors every morning
silent    through choice or the effects of illness

the frail ones whose cares are internal and entrap them
in lives that are small and gray
they just bide their time in the slow slide downhill

Methuselahs the nurses wash
and dress, no longer able to care for themselves
this one has drunk her medicine derived from  the poppy
She      drowses in the common room. Her clothing    
carries the scent of Heliotrope, an old woman smell.  

On a table vases hold masses of flowers – wrap
the urine-and-antiseptic air in a mask of roses and carnations.

The clock proves        it is morning;
in the garden   the bees dance.
but inside not one old woman is listening
from her shell of silence.

The last hour has been filled with rounds, doctors
and nurses, pills and therapy for stiff limbs
and rusty voices.

Visitors sit with family outside, one man blows ash
from his trousers, then coughs           through a haze of smoke.
Not all the residents have guests today. You can tell who,
because they sit surrounded in
So much silence.

Carol A. Stephen
April 24, 2016


My original cut-up poem shown below is titled Time Methuselahs




2 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu #24 For the Ones at Shady Valley Residence

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