{pf: the poetry peeps picture it}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of March! Here’s the scoop: we’re writing an etheree. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you. You have a month to craft your creation and share it on March 31st in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Greetings, friends, on this absolutely frigid (for California) morning!

Ekphrastic poetry appeals to the storyteller in me. The story I found in this week’s image took me back to high school auto shop. One of the few girls around, I so wanted to be one of the boys crew, but alas, my time in the shop was an exercise in frustration, as the brave new world of the 90’s era equality wasn’t quite ready for takeoff. (My Freshers auto shop course was called POWDER PUFF Mechanics, and you can bet your backside I refused to take it on principle.) Even my friends only really only let me do the sticky/annoying jobs – greasing bearings, sanding primer, using a tire iron to wrestle tires from rims, draining oil. I lifted and lowered cars on the hydraulic lift (and raised balancing daredevils on it occasionally) and got to wear a coverall like my grandfather. I learned how fragile a powder coat of paint was, and how quickly it could be streaky or unevenly applied (which was why I was told I could only sand and apply primer because I might get distracted while painting). I learned about the toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things.

Tricia shared the images which jarred my memory this month. For the show Transformed: Objects Reimagined by American Artists, artist Denice Bizot, who “reclaims, deconstructs and transforms” art from salvage yards and junk heaps, created this image called Urban Flora. On display at The Montclair Art Museum exhibit in New Jersey, it features a 1970’s truck hood the artist found in a salvage shop and beautifully helped along in its state of decay with a hand-held plasma torch. The shapes of flowers and arabesques give the illusion of light, shadow, and movement in the rusty green metal.

Bizot’s intervention in the salvage yard lives of this scrap metal won’t stop rust from chewing it up. Realistically, cutting holes in the truck hood will do even less to preserve it than the weather-worn paint the rust is blooming through. Nothing will save the metal from the destructive transformation it’s undergoing, but how we perceive it… that’s what can change us.

Poetry Friday is hosted over at Tab’s place, so be sure to pop over, and thank you, Tabatha!

There’s a host of other images coming into focus today with the Poetry Peeps. You should see Sara’s poem is here. Tricia’s poem is here, and Liz’s is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s post is here, and Michelle’s post is here, and Carol V’s is here. Molly’s gorgeous image is here, and Heidi’s garden bed is here. Margaret’s dual challenge poem is here. Bridget with her twenty-three words poem is here. More Peeps will be checking in throughout the weekend, so stay tuned for the full round-up.

While I never got to do all the things I wanted to in auto shop, I chose to embrace what made me happy: telling my grandfather about what I was doing (and not telling my Dad, who joined my classmates thinking I shouldn’t be doing it), cherishing the small skills I learned (I can still sand a spot of primer as smooth as a baby’s cheek, thank-you), and getting to work in the cavernous cool of the shop filled with loud noises and sharp smells and the sun glinting rainbows in the oil-and-water puddles on the floor. I tried to paint that into my poem; the choice to redefine something that can, at best, reshape us, and at worst, warp us and simply take it as a gift of memory and let it shine in that way. Here’s to the transformation of time. Happy weekend.

27 Replies to “{pf: the poetry peeps picture it}”

  1. Whoa and wow, and beautiful, your poem sounds very Shakespearean to me, and what a transformation, had to read it a couple times through, really lovely Tanita! I like the shift in color you transformed it into too, and your title. And your early line, “I learned about the toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things.” Maybe there’s a poem in there, or a story waiting to emerge… Belated thanks, you always inspire!

  2. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I love so many things here.

    This truth: “I learned about the toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things.”

    That piece of art that was your inspiration. (And Tricia, what a find!)

    This line: “…blight, or beauty redefined?”

    And: “demand some space!”

    And “…shimmer, unashamed.”

    So rich, so good.

    It’s disheartening that we still have so far to go. But, somehow, I think poetry is and continues to be part of the transformation.

  3. Holy wow on multiple levels, Tanita! “toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things” resonates on multiple levels.
    My youngest daughter moved from CA to enter a welding program at a WA college last September only to drop out after the first day. A 19-year old girl among some of the most sexist (and every other -ist people was too much for her – a handful of which were women!) Luckily she landed in the Art department at said college where she is now welding in her sculpture class. #win-win Here’s to ‘rejoining the dance’! 🙂

    1. @bmagee10: Wow, I’m sorry your girl had to drop one dream, but I’m grateful for an arts program which knew how to make room for it to flower elsewhere. Here’s to all the Rosie Riveters and Wendy Welders. May their clan – the creative and determined females of the world – increase.

  4. Toxic corrosion can leave its mark in regret or bitterness, but I like your version better. I can choose to appreciate the lasting lessons I learned in sewing and cooking classes while the boys hung out in the shop. Thanks for the shift in perspective! I especially love your last line.

  5. You and your shop class, me and drafting classes. The 1970s were not a welcoming place for girls who wanted to break some molds. But this poem, this call to action, this reclamation and transformation…Yes, yes YES!

  6. “serrate my self-assurance, suppress and steal my shine…” Look at those mutated flowers spreading beauty over something that was cast off, and how much more beautiful if the message was “celebrate my self-assurance, sustain and smooth my shine”!

  7. I love that idea at the end, Tanita, “take it as a gift of memory and let it shine in that way”. What works personally is a good part of self-care. It was fun to read about your grandfather & you, plus you wanting to be included “fully” in that auto-mechanics class, no powder-puff you! My daughter took a class out of school because she, too, wanted to know how it all worked. I don’t think about the painting, but under the hood. We laugh at her one memory when she was on a date & his car broke down. She kept saying let me look & finally he did. The battery terminals needed a bit of cleaning! She got it working. He never called her again. Tricia’s piece of art shared is so beautiful & I love your idea of “reclaiming the dance”. (I also enjoyed reading about rust, new knowledge for me.

  8. Oh, wow. Tanita. I love the messages you have shared here. So much truth: “I learned about the toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things.”

    And the poem–so different from Laura’s, who used the same image–is gorgeous. I love the challenge to “shimmer, unashamed.”

    1. @Denise Krebs: Sometimes I look at what other people produce from the same prompts and just have to laugh. We are all so different – and yet Laura’s and my poems are thematically similar in some weird ways as well. Thank you for your kind words!

  9. So many beautiful phrases and images that give this poem movement! “WE perform the exhalation…and electric eyes serrate…and shimmer unashamed.” This poem gives an experience. Wow! And, thank you.

  10. There was so much to love in this post before I even got to your poem!
    First, was this. “I learned about the toxic corrosion of rust and about sexism, which turned out to be remarkably similar things.”
    Oh boy. There’s a lot to unpack there, but this spot on.
    And then there was the whole paragraph before the poem about how Bizot’s intervention won’t stop rust from transforming the metal.
    Your whole poem is beauty redefined.

    1. saralewisholmes: A car-based novel …hmmm. Hadn’t really thought of that since MG readers don’t drive, but there’s no reason someone can’t experience the goopy gloppy grossness of greasing bearings, I guess! Thanks for the (demand) thought!

  11. Tanita, second life is a thoughtful poem that focuses on a transformation. “Rejoins the dance”=seco/nd life. Unashamed is an amazing word to end your poem. I have a couple of ekphrastic poems at my blog. I am going to tag them with #PoetryPals on social media. Thanks always for letting me play along with the Poetry Sisters.

  12. Oh, beauty redefined, yes!! So interesting to hear about your auto shop experiences (I had no idea — Len will be highly impressed!). I like your thoughts about how decay is inevitable, but there is much to be said for how we perceive things. “Art” is so relative, isn’t it? Thanks for the food for thought this week.

    1. @jama-j: If Len needs anything sanded… well, knowing Len, he’s already taken care of it and hung the tools up and tidied the garage. 😀 I especially loved this image because it is literally decaying BEAUTIFULLY. Here’s hoping we can all say that!

  13. Every post I read, I leave knowing you better. Wow. Powder Puff Mechanics. Okayyyy. I love those banged-up discards…hoods, people, and more. And your thoughts on rust and not being able to stop the process, but being able to change our perception about it. We have so much work to do!

    1. laurasalas: I think I do the most autobiographical work in poetry. Every poem I write I tend to write to myself – so I acknowledge that the work needs to be done, and I need to do it! I want to decay beautifully, like the truck hood – and not regret or resent the process of a new kind of beautification.

      Maybe by the time I’m really old salvage, I’ll get there. 😀

  14. Oh, I am sucked in from the title alone — and then every full, lush word that follows. Thank you for this reclamation and transformation, Tanita….

    1. Liz Garton Scanlon: Would you believe this poem was partly inspired by your latest camping trip images? You are a person who has had myriad lives, in many ways – and the brave one where you’re out camping in the back of beyond is super impressive. So, thank YOU!

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