Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a word, or phrase. You can even repeat an image, perhaps slightly changing or enlarging it from stanza to stanza, to alter its meaning. There are (perhaps paradoxically) infinite possibilities in repetition. Want to look at some examples? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in Joanna Klink’s “Some Feel Rain” or John Pluecker’s “So Many.”
When she waved ‘Goodbye’ to me at the end
of a regular day at work, with her characteristic
chirpy voice and a bounce in her step that made her
curls fly, I called out ‘See you tomorrow,’ a moment later,
after she’d turned; I didn’t get to smile back. I didn’t know
she wouldn’t make it the next day, that she’d be hit
on the way at 7.00 a.m over the bridge. We were in the same team.
When she laughed and talked of her treatment,
how she’d been so scared of injections in school,
how many surgeries she had, the chemo, the radiation
and said she was leaving for the last check-up, I hugged her
and promised to meet her again once she was back;
I didn’t know that I had made a promise that I could never
fulfill. She was my friend.
When he said he loved fishing and asked me to join the
boys’ for the weekend, on his fishing boat; I said I didn’t want to be
stranded in the middle of the sea. I went to work instead while they
went fishing; I didn’t know I’d be the only one at work to pick the call;
the morning after a day at sea; died of thirst they said, in the scorching heat;
his face cremated in the sand, his work I.D in his pocket and hence the call.
We were peers.
When she said she was wearing a new dress amidst a chuckle and
wondered what people might think of her donning a new outfit
on a frail body with no hair on the head and a dimple in her
cheek, I said it didn’t matter what the world thought; I said I had
accounts to balance, I hung up, I said, ‘I’ll call later’ ;
I didn’t know that it would be our last conversation.
She was my home.
I didn’t know that life was just one breath at a time. I didn’t know that
tomorrow is just air- out of one’s grasp and today is all we’ve got.
I didn’t know that people too came with an expiry date.
And I didn’t know that it has nothing to do with age or looks or what
you eat or wear or did.
I didn’t know why it bothered dad when I said, ‘I didn’t know.’
I didn’t know, how an excuse I used when I was little would
be my crutch into the future.
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