What's in front of me

The idea for this writing prompt is fairly straightforward: write what's happening where you are now. It might be a description of your living room or your den, it might be a conversation you hear at the table next to you in a cafe.Wherever you are sitting, whatever is going on around you, whatever is close at hand or on the bookshelf, try to put it into words. You might write about the shoes you're wearing, or you might write about the color of the paint on your walls, but whatever you decide to write, try to let the activity of thinking and writing be unconstrained and you may be surprised where you're taken by the simplicity of seemingly mundane, everyday surroundings. I suggest taking no more than five minutes for this prompt... here's my go at it:


I'm sitting at a desk in my study. In front of me is a screen and a keyboard, a cold cup of coffee and a lamp. For some reason there's feathers, stones, and a pine cone on the desk (why do I pick up things like this when I'm out for walks?). There's papers and books strewn on the floor. There's a compass sitting next to the window and a flannel shirt thrown over a chair in the corner. On the wall is a picture of Newfoundland, a small corner of St. John's called the Battery. In the picture the houses cling to the cliff-face, boats are tied to wharves, an iceberg is in the background, and the sky looks like a fog is about to roll in. I remember the way the sea smells there, the way that salt water infuses the air. I remember the cry of the gulls and the way that in summer huge, lumbering cruise ships sail through the narrows to bring the tourists to the shore. And this space opens up to that... I am in both places at once, bringing me home, both here and there.

15 comments

Harlequin said...

thanks for this lovely prompt. I am not sure how this works, but once I focus on what's in front of me, it takes me to places I need to go.
I also liked your example... soft and compelling.

January 14, 2010 at 11:21 PM
Jon said...

Harlequin,
I've just read your "what's in front of me" and it's lovely. Funny how there's some of the same things on both our desks!

Thanks for playing along.

January 15, 2010 at 12:53 AM
the walking man said...

The typical electronic paraphernalia with the odd light off to one side or the other, blue for the back up hard drive red for the phone to let me know it is charging.

Over full ashtray, every one says I smoke too much but I say I smoke just the right amount, empty coffee cup because the pot is finished and I have traded it out for a Diet Pepsi.

The darkness beyond the glow of the desk lamp resides behind everything to the point that even though I know the walls are forest green right now they are black.

Off to the right and up are the five envelopes containing the printed version of the last 6 months worth of poetry, most of them put on my blog or presented in public. I use them to remind me that I am a poet.

But I also know that in them is the next book of poetry. But mostly all of that is in my mind, what is right in front of me, in front of my eyes is the keyboard because I type much faster while looking at it.

January 15, 2010 at 5:42 AM
human being said...

in front of me
there is a window

January 15, 2010 at 7:32 AM
Anonymous said...

my credentials encased in wooden boxes collecting dust...hanging on beige off yellow walls... needing re-painting... a fresh coat of colour...change the scene...turn the page...paper cut!

January 16, 2010 at 6:24 PM
Jon said...

walking man,
Thanks for this vignette on your space. I kind of pictured your desk being piled up with sheets of poetry! It sounds like your den is much like mine... though probably not quite as disorganized...



human being,

the window has a latch

I open it...



Anonymous,
Love what you've done with this! The colors and textures are amazing... the dusty feel and natural light... so much packed so tightly in your words. But watch out for those paper cuts!
Thanks for stopping by and for writing along with this.

January 17, 2010 at 11:00 PM
human being said...

:D

ha! you saw it closed, eh?
thanks for opening it...



in front of me
there is a window
the window has a latch
I open it...
the naked branches of the walnut tree are framing the sky
in one frame a bird is flying
in another frame a cloud is floating
in another frame a cat is sitting by a chimney
in another frame a building is being constructed
in another frame the sun is rising





these are the things i see now through the window... a beautiful morning here...

January 17, 2010 at 11:21 PM
Anonymous said...

thanks, Jon, for the feedback.
I plan to write more in the near future :)

January 18, 2010 at 12:24 PM
Jon said...

human being,
The sun is always rising (somewhere), eh? I like where you've gone with this writing, and the things to be seen past the routed window frame. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous,
No problem! I'm all about the interaction. Hope you drop back again soon... I plan to have another idea for writing in the next day or so. I have something simmering and in mind.

January 18, 2010 at 12:42 PM
Anonymous said...

Here's another one (I like this topic)

A plush red and yellow caterpillar
on top of a fur-infested chesterfield
bisecting rain stained glass pane...
Notice the hint of white plastic
against the backdrop of wayward starlings.

January 18, 2010 at 1:33 PM
Jon said...

Anonymous,

Sounds like quite a comfortable room. But I've got to ask, a real caterpillar, or a blanket or pillow shaped that way? And I wonder was it a cat or a dog that left all this fur on the chesterfield?

I like where you're going with this writing and how you've got such an obvious attachment to nature and animals, and juxtapose this with manufactured things -- glass, plastic...

Lots of depths in this poem. Thanks for sharing!

January 18, 2010 at 7:37 PM
Anonymous said...

Hi Jon,
The caterpillar is a stuffed toy, and cats sleeping on top of the furniture leave a great deal of fur :)

January 18, 2010 at 10:00 PM
Jon said...

Anon,
Had a feeling it wasn't a "real" caterpillar! Not sure if you're in the Northern hemisphere, but there's not too many of those little guys around where I live this time of year...
Thanks for playing along with this post, and I hope you'll give the newest one a try as well.

January 19, 2010 at 9:20 PM
Lee said...

I took interest in this and decided to try it. I doubt I might accomplish much in the way of a poetic result (see your example, of course)but it might be neat to try...
A lot of these other posted examples are very good as well, like the Anon's story about their chesterfield. as an owner of fuzzy critters you have my sincerest sympathy!

February 5, 2010 at 8:53 PM
Jon Parsons said...

Lee,

Glad you found something here to perk your interest. And the post by Anon about the fuzzy creatures on the couch caught my imagination as well! If you want to share your writing, please leave me a link or put your writing in the comment box. Sharing is the best part of blogs...

February 7, 2010 at 1:48 AM