Literally, or: Figuratively

Poetry Partners #67

‘The poem of your life’, a poem by Kim Whysall-Hammond of ‘The Cheesesellers Wife’

You have always strived to understand
when very small you deduced
gravity was invisible strings tied to our feet
and God sat at the world's centre pulling hard
which is why He doesnโ€™t answer little boys prayers,
He has not got the time.

Mathematics teachers despaired of you
as they tried to teach you something that wasnโ€™t
โ€œToo easy, Mum.โ€

Each day you grow taller
your shoulders broaden
I must stretch up and up
to kiss your cheek.

At dinner last month
the other two discussed History theory
and you mouthed
โ€œI just need equations, donโ€™t you?โ€
I had to agree.

A ‘descort’ poem by ben Alexander of โ€˜The Skepticโ€™s Kaddishโ€™

You might be awesome, or maybe
I'm subjective, but perhaps 
my subjectivity
is justified in this case. You 
might agree or argue with me, 

you love to do.

At only seven-years-
old, you reason that the countries
of Eastern Europe likely
that Vladimir Putin might attack
them if he conquers Ukraine. You're
exactly right.

Don't get me 
wrong, daughter; it's very 
clear that you're a seven-
year-old; you 
can be such a pain in the tushy, as I
say to you. Even if you call yourself medium-

still just a little girl and often act 

But you're so incredibly sweet, my

and -constantly- tell me and your mother
that you love us; I haven't met any
other children who
tell their parents that they love
them more often than their parents say
so to them.


honest, I was concerned at the
start of this
year because I thought the other
first-graders might tease you for being different than them,

but you have so many friends,

nobody gives you a hard time for reading
books in English at a fourth grade
reading level during recess, 
while you're all being taught to read Hebrew
at a(n age

appropriate) first-grade reading level.
Your little friends 
respect you; some of
them have even asked you to teach them English

Oh, and you know how to use an 

abacus to add 
and subtract 
numbers in the thousands and millions, and you've 
written the multiplication table out for yourself
from memory (also during recess) in 
your little notebook, which you often refer to;

recently I explained the
concept of negative 

numbers to you, and you caught on 
right away.

The problem
with this poem of mine is
that I have enough fodder for it to become
endless. Literally,

not figuratively, as you say.

Descort poem?

The descort differentiates itself from other forms by differentiating its lines from other lines within the poem. That is, the main rule of descort poems is that each line needs to be different from every other line in the poem.

A descort poem has different line lengths, meters, avoids rhyming with other lines, no refrains, and that goes for stanzas as well. In other words, no two lines in a descort should look like each other, and the same could be said for each descort.

Note: This is different than free verse, because even free verse may occasionally have similar line lengths and meter. However, descort is very intentional in its variability.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

List of Poetry Partners

35 thoughts on “Literally, or: Figuratively”

  1. Our children never cease to amaze do they? Lovely poetic observations in your poems David and Kim โค

      1. Thank you, David. I have enjoyed reading your partner poetry. I may well do that.๐Ÿ˜Š

      1. I bet she will write more with you! My oldest has started making his own books– and then he has to read them to everybody. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s so neat to get to see ourselves in these tiny (or “medium sized”) people.

  2. such a great job on the poem Kim and David.
    “can be such a pain in the tushy, as I
    say to you.”

    All i can say is get used to it.. lol ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  3. I love your response poem! The descort form was an interesting way to go with it. Your daughter sounds very bright, with some wonderful classmates that will hopefully stay with her throughout her education. The son I describe in the poem is now training to be an aerospace engineer, so equations won.

    This is a fun thing to do isn’t it? Hedgehog Poetry Press likes to publish poetry ‘conversations’ between two poets, where a chapbook is made up of poems written in response to the previous poem.

  4. Both poems are wonderful. Children always have a way of keeping us on our toes. When my eldest, at age 4, wanted to understand the reason the mirror reflected the image backwards, I knew I would be a frequent flyer viewing the encyclopedia.

  5. Shavuah Tov, David.
    I can see that you can go on endlessly, and you have the right to do so, as a proud parent of an amazing little girl. Credit goes to her parents, of course!
    Much love,

  6. Both poems are utterly delightful and startlingly touching, and the love of parents for their children is so readily apparent. Put together, there’s a wonderful synergy at work. Honestly, I want to read more of both. These are fascinating glimpses into both childhood and parenthood, and the love shared by both. Well done, Kim and David! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. She is wise beyond her years! I love the two different poems that point to the differences in children. Yet there is a similarity in the pride every parent feels when reflecting on their progeny…

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