Monday, April 26, 2010

Writing Theft


I stole, at the dining room table while waiting to go off to opera (the fourth and final of my kids' performances in Suor Angelica). Outside, the day was grey. It put me in a poetic mood.

Suor Angelica

I stole the moment, as Cameron suggested a writer should, and I let myself dream a monster's life.

But first I remembered an odd theory, developed after a murder case was solved by a heart-transplant patient's "memories." She remembered because, they suspect, the brain is not the only seat of memory in the body. She remembered what happened in the life of someone else— her donor.

This led me to Frankenstein, Shelley's monster man, made from the parts of various people. What memories might lie in his heart, or toe, his tongue? What life— not his — did these memories come from? And what desires might they urge?

I daydreamed my answers into a form-poem called a pantoum, which I will share. But that is not all I stole.


I stole in the kitchen.


I stole at the opera dressing-room counter.

mako grace card

I took my words, stolen by degrees, and folded memories, love, hope, into five notes to friends (also Cameron's suggestion).

yellow flowers

Who knew that writing-theft could be so heartening? It was.


He stitched me limb by limb,
from pieces he gathered at graves
fresh dug. By candlelight dim
he sorted my heart, hips that once craved.

From pieces he gathered at graves,
I grew by night—calloused toes, amber eyes.
He sorted my heart, hips that once craved,
imprisoned the voice of a man who lied.

I grew by night—calloused toes, amber eyes,
searching for child I'd lost in the Rhine.
He imprisoned the voice of a man who lied
to keep his love from shearing the line.

Searching for child I'd lost in the Rhine,
I welcomed his breath to revive my tongue,
to keep my love from shearing the line,
and speak again of lilies undone.

I welcomed his breath to revive my tongue,
taste her love on a moonless night
and speak again of lilies undone—
their fragrance mocks my soulless plight,

as I wander a world whose fear near looms,
fresh dug by candlelight dim,
while lilies fade in empty rooms,
he stitched me limb by limb.

Suor Angelica photos and photos of cards by one of my favorite card makers, Elizabeth O. Weller, by L.L. Barkat.

HighCallingBlogs Quiltwork
nAncY's hcb book club
Nancy's Just a Minute
Glynn's The Right to Write: Laying Track
Marilyn's If
ELK's flight
Ann's Imperfect Conditions
Lyla's Bad Writing and Croissants
Monica's Week 2
Erin's Dismantling the Writing Life Fairy Tale
Cassandra's Living with My Writer
Melissa's When Everything Flows
Jezamama's Out of Hiding

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Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

Oh my. that is powerful!

8:29 AM  
Blogger ELK said...

oh you did so well..i stole a bit of time too

opera? how old is your singer?

8:54 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Wow I love this.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it fascinating how one thing leads to another while we're stealing time? Great poem. :)

9:16 AM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

Yes, we must steal to's the only way! And I love that you did Cameron's initiation tool -- the recipients of your letters will swoon!

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Wonderful pantoum! Lovely rhythm and rhyme and word-pictures.

I'm glad you took up Frankenstein. He was one of other thoughts before I settled on Quasimodo.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I am speechless. You have weaved together such a beautiful picture of how your creative brain works. These stories of stealing time make me hungry.

And only one thing will satisfy.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is REALLY BAD!

my poor heart can barely take it.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

nAncY makes me laugh.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Frankenstein has always been one of my favorite guys (my anti-hero/hero), I love the facets you've brought out of him. Love it.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Glynn said...

OK, I hope I survive this monster thing.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Haunting poetry. Challenged to try the monster poetry.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Kim said...


10:13 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've personalized page 3 and the lower half of page 6 of InsideOut already, loving these thoughts as I ponder and draw. I don't want to post the images without permission, since there may be copyright issues... Do you have an email where I can send the images for you, or may I post them at my blog, with links to the book, and the option for you to request I remove them?

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Dave Fuller said...

I'm glad your poem is in white type against a black background. It fits the eerie B&W of the early Frankenstein films. Way to go, L.L.

For my ugly little creature of an effort:

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a monster poem--

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are really good at stealing moments. And creating poetry. It takes a certain determination, or an obsession with words, maybe? To think that you stitched together that daunting poem in fragments, snippets of ripped-off time... Monstrous!

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

I grabbed another Ding Dong and made myself do a RAP prompt. I can be done now, right? :) Here you go...meager as it is.

12:22 PM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

Ok...I wasn't sure I could write a monster poem but I had so much fun doing it! Thanks for the fun prompt!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Wow. Your poem was breathtaking.

10:11 PM  

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