Looking at Playing House

We portion out love in equal bits little
Weigh powder of affection when winds fly
Spring turns my umbrella inside out and thy
Coat is rain soaked in Summer’s
Sudden storm as we pretend and play
At what we imagine love could be, my
Love, we are not tidy in youth but thoughtless.
A grasping at happiness I hold your hand
We laugh but you pull away, a waning has
Begun as I am pushed and brushed
And Love flees watching you run away.

This is a Golden Shovel poem. It is a form created by Terrance Hayes where you take a line or lines from a favorite poem. You use each word as an end word in a new poem. You must use them in order and give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line(s). The new poem is not required to have the same subject as the original. This poem also fulfills the requirements for NPM21 prompt #4 – Use the words equal, umbrella, tidy, and weight in a poem. This poem utilizes the first stanza of one of my favorite poems – The Fly by William Blake.

I am attempting to expand my horizons and write poetry forms that are either new or challenging for me for National Poetry Month. As an added penance I’m attempting to write love poems or at least poems about love. How often did you “play house”? I remember this game with my sisters, neighborhood friends, and anyone we could rope into the game. We would take on the roles – mother, father, children, the baby, and even pets! Being the mother was the most difficult role by far. The mother had to keep house, tend the baby (who was constantly crying and needing to be fed), keep the children from wandering off, and deal with naughty pets. The easiest role was that of the father. The dad would bid the family farewell and go to work, that is disappear for the rest of the game! In our minds and experience that was the order of things. Of course the inequality of the situation was very apparent even to our young minds. I’m pretty sure that those imaginary games were part of the reason I decided that I wanted a life partner – someone invested in the everyday function of a family. I had a marriage proposal that I turned down because I stated that I wanted a 50-50 partnership for making decisions, raising children, etc. His response was to try to negotiate a 30-70 which he amended to 35-65 and finally 40-60. It wasn’t good enough for me. Though we remained friends I’m very glad I turned him down… Especially when he changed jobs and his 8 month pregnant wife was left to sell the house and move their 2 yr old across country (Ohio to California). I think I’d have been a single mother wanted for murder….

62 thoughts on “Looking at Playing House

    1. Many thanks David! I appreciate your kind words. As for the partnership – you have to realize that was back in the dark ages (1978) when women were just coming into their own and the glass ceiling was unbroken. The expectation was that you could have a “career” but it would be put on hold until your children were in school at least and better yet if they were on their own… (yes I’m old)

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  1. Wow, she says again. Wow on the poem, beautifully shaped and deep!, the form, and loving the story from your life. Wise one, thou art.
    (We used to play house in a box elder tree, whose limbs had spread low over the ground. Each limb was different room of the house. *sigh* I may need to paint…)

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    1. Ha! My work is a success! If what I wrote drives you to paint then I have done what all poets attempt to do – spark creativity in others. I love your imagination with the box elder tree and its many rooms! We were usually “living” in the garage or on the patio…

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            1. My husband is getting his garden ready too – he was going to buy straw to put down but forgot his tarp for the back so will have to get it on Monday. Which is probably better anyway since it has been raining for the last 3 days!

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                1. He has used grass clippings but wants to use the straw to keep the weeds from taking over. He is just prepping the ground – nothing will be planted until Mother’s Day…

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  2. Golden Shovels are a challenge, but fun. Nice job! Loved the story about how, when playing house, it was easiest to be the father. We played dollhouse (with the Fisher Price little people) and it was the same scenario… the father would back the little red car out of the garage and head to work, get home, eat dinner, and watch TV. If it was a weekend, he’d take a nap on the couch. We had no idea what else fathers did, LOL. Maybe that’s why it was such a treat to read my dad’s journals after he passed away. Finally, the inside scoop on what fathers do all day. 🙂

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    1. Ha! I’m tickled that you liked this one and got a kick out of my reminiscences. It was a different time. I’m pretty sure my sons have a completely different idea about marriage and family since my husband was very involved!! Some things change for the better!

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    1. Thanks Kritika! Hehe! Yes he did try to negotiate – it was a different time. Fortunately (I hope) things have evolved and women are on a better footing where they have more choices. Glad you enjoyed this prompt!

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  3. You’d think someone would like to know up front that things will be 50/50. I like new forms of poetry. It makes me wonder though how it gets to be a form of poetry…I mean do you think something up and if it is new it gets to be a new form?
    Will there be more prompts for the rest of the month or should we repeat the ones we want to? I just want to check ahead of time.

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    1. Ha! Christine there are only 14 prompts in my scavenger hunt because I only post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so that came out to 14 posts in April. The “rules” for the scavenger hunt are really relaxed – you can repeat, try different forms, you name it and you can do it! As for how a new form gets recognized, I can only guess but most of the new forms are “created” by individuals who are editors or founders of poetry magazines or e-zines. I think that gives them an audience.

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  4. I agree about the 50-50 life partner. I didn’t get that and I hope I taught my kids that’s how it should be, though. My daughter and I were talking last night about having “me time” as a Mom when you can just go and get away from the pressure of being a parent. I try to make sure she has that – any time I tried to take time for myself I was met with guilt trips from my parents and my partner. I’m better at just doing it now and people have to figure things out while I’m gone.

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    1. Yes Patti the partnership is important. I experienced a single incident of “guilt with the questioning of where/why were you gone”. It never happened again. And I’ve made it a point to nurture my own interests outside of family and spouse – thus ceramic art and blogging. Good for you being able to model that for your children!!

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    1. I’m pleased that this one has caught your eye! I had a really good upbringing where my value as a human was stressed… I never thought of myself as a “second class citizen” so always expected equal treatment, equal input and equal responsibility. I found out after leaving home that that was not the way the rest of the world was functioning. I waited and found my partner 50-50!

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      1. I salute you, that would not have been an easy task!

        I was brought up the complete opposite, girls were to be seen and not heard, here only to serve men … subservience is just not me ..

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        1. I think subservience is a taught behavior that over time either explodes or kills the life spark in the individual who is repressed in mind and spirit. I’ve seen it happen. I don’t think it is anyone. In time past (and perhaps even now) the dampening of spirit forced a creative explosion…. look up the oppression of women under the Taliban in Afghanistan to see an example.(https://static.poetryfoundation.org/o/media/landays.html)

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  5. I remember playing “House”. Sis was always the mother-the matriarch whose word was law, even to the father. She has been that way in real time, as well, but the family is solid as a rock.

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    1. We mimic what we see. I’m sure that your mother is a rock as well and that her word was and is law!! Strong women have consistently been the power behind the throne especially for the common man in his castle.

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  6. This is a great poem and in one of my favourite forms the Golden Shovel I might take a part of your poem and try to create a further piece if that is OK with you? 🙂

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    1. Hi there! I’m flattered that you want to use part of my poem. Though the Golden Shovel was based on William Blake (who is long dead), I don’t think you need his permission to use his poem. As for my effort, go right ahead as long as you give me credit and put a link to my poem in your post!

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