NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu 27 The Nature of Hills & Niagara




Today’s prompt on the Found Poetry Review blog offers a choice of constraints from Montrealer Greg Santos.  Here’s what he’s suggested, every one of them are worth trying:

  1. Dialogue with Ghost:  Find an audio recording of a dead poet or musician. Play the recording. Start writing words that jump in your head, lines of your own. Write a 10-14 line poem using the words you jotted down, either in response to the original poem/song or a completely new piece.
  1. Reverse Poem:  Find a draft of a poem you’ve already written. Rewrite your new poem backwards, writing the last stanza first and so on. The new order might reveal something new and exciting.
  1. Table of Contents Poem: Use the table of contents of any book to find each line for your found poem.
  1. Online Erasure Poem: Go to Wave Books’ Erasures website to find online source texts, with excerpts ranging from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to The Voyage Out by Virginia Wolf. The cool website lets you click on any word or punctuation mark to make it disappear. You can save, print, or email the newly sculpted text when you’re done.

Today I tried first the Reverse poem.  Two shorter poems did not seem to change much nor for the better, but a longer poem was a little more interesting. I chose a found poem I had done last summer from a prose piece of Walt Whitman’s, On Seeing Niagara to Advantage. That poem is here, followed by the reverse version, with some further carving done to it.

The blog post and other poems for this challenge are found here: at Found Poetry Review

On Seeing Niagara to Advantage
found in Walt Whitman 

English: Walt Whitman. Library of Congress des...

Walt Whitman. (Wikipedia)

     June 4, ’80.

Seizing the common sunshine,
the mystery of identity, there comes
some lucky five minutes of  fortuitous concurrence,
circumstance bringing a brief flash of thought about two o’clock.

This afternoon gave me Niagara, superb severity of action, color,
majestic indescribable show. Slowly crossing the Suspension bridge,
not a full stop anywhere, and I out on the platform, the falls in plain view,
a mile distinct, and no roar, a murmur-river tumbling green and white,
the plentiful umbrage, many bronze cedars, shadow tempering
immense materiality. Clear sky, a few white clouds silent.

Brief quiet, a remembrance always afterwards.
I lay away rare and blessed bits of hours,
—the wild sea-storm one winter,
—night-views on the field, after battles
—the peculiar sentiment of moonlight
—stars over Kansas
—a stiff breeze off Navesink.

That afternoon five minutes’ perfect absorption.
Niagara— the great majestic gem complete
in indispensable surround.

Carol A. Stephen
excerpt from Whitman, Walt, Specimen Days, 1882

And this is the poem I carved out today from the one above:

On Revisiting Niagara April 27, 2016

I lay away rare and blessed bits of hours
brief quiet, a remembrance.

Always afterwards, immense materiality,
clear sky, a few white clouds silent.

The plentiful umbrage, many bronze cedars,
shadow tempering a mile.

No roar, a murmur-river tumbling green and white,
not a full stop anywhere.

Crossing the bridge gave me Niagara,
A brief flash of thought about two o’clock.

Five minutes of identity
seizing the common sunshine.

Carol A. Stephen

But I wasn’t convinced it was “my” poem for today.  The Ghosts prompt is tempting but no idea where to start so I went with the Erasure generator from Wave Books. I was disappointed that I could only print it in tiny print, and the site would not, for some reason, allow me to sign up so I could email or save.  But I did manage to get an image of it.  I found it a challenge as both times I tried the erasures I ended up putting back words that I thought I had erased, and erasing words I wanted to keep, so the image text is a bit different from my transcribed version, which is the “final” one.  The text was taken from The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin.


The nature of                                         hills,

High desert

High desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

blunt, burned, squeezed                out of chaos       chrome and vermilion


                plains full of intolerable sun               narrow

valleys drowned in    blue                                              streaked with

ash drift and                                 lava.          After rains

in the hollows,

dry lakes.                                                           the

rains                                                               dark and bitter,

with efflorescence.                                   A thin

crust                       along the marsh

has neither beauty nor freshness.                       broad wastes open to the

wind           sand drifts in hummocks                           and

between them                                                       The sculpture of

water work,                      the quick storms

scar them                                  In             the

desert               there are essays in miniature



      the hot stink of Death

the air has                     a tang of frost.                         long heavy

winds and                                                                dust devils

whirling up into          wide, pale sky            no rain

when         the earth cries for it

A land of lost rivers,

so                                little told of it.

Nature of Hills_0007


2 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2016 FPR Impromptu 27 The Nature of Hills & Niagara

  1. Hi – I compile a website of Niagara poetry at I really like these two poems and would like to add them to my site. Could you please contact me at the email address below. Thanks very much.
    Cheers, Andrew

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.