Mom’s Plant

This week Margo asks for a poem about an ordinary household object…and I got nuttin’. So, I went back to one that I was considering abandoning and worked with it a bit. It is mostly to the prompt. Also shared at dVerse.


It is a horrid excuse

for a houseplant;
never growing,
brown as much as green,
leaves shriveled, withered.

Occupant of a fake
terra cotta flowerpot,
survivor of two moves
and three years.

We keep it.

You do not throw
out house plants,
even if only half alive;

and it was given as a gift
at her memorial.


Revision Experiment

It was given as a gift
at her memorial,

and you do not throw
out house plants,
even if they are only
half alive.

We keep it.

Survivor of two moves
and three years,
occupant of a fake
terra cotta flowerpot.

Brown as much as green,
leaves shriveled, withered,
never growing.

It is a horrid excuse
of a houseplant.


Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

30 responses to “Mom’s Plant

  1. Oh, I do like this. Has a definite hit at the end.

  2. Gosh, I hope that this doesn’t happened when I finally pop by clogs! 🙂

  3. I’m laughing at your ‘mostly to the prompt’. We have a new contributor this week and the first thing Emma says in her comment is ‘I think I broke the rules’.
    The end does have a hit, maybe a pinch, a sadness like the plant… grey… like the weather 😉

  4. Wow, did this poem hit home, Mark. I have a plant from a memorial here too. I am not a fan of plants really, but I keep this one….just because. I doubt it looks much better than the one you described.

  5. I like this piece so much–I like the rhythm of it!!

  6. Laurie Kolp

    The nearly dead plant is so symbolic.

  7. mmm…we had one of those…one from my mother in laws memorial…there is something there in the clinging to you know…a hope that life remains…

  8. The flow is spot on here, and mother in laws…well I don’t have one so….hahaa xx

  9. I’d also be compelled to keep it. Your last line is an ideal finale to this thoughtful piece.

  10. Some objects, regardless of their monetary value, serve as reminders and story-tellers of those we love and lose. Bittersweet and moving piece.

  11. Wonderful. Have one like it. k.

  12. so much said in a few words. 🙂

  13. Bang! Carried me along this lovely ride to that emotionally charging last line, Mark. Really enjoyed this! ~ j

  14. Oh wow…a plant like that has to stay around…great poem.

  15. jasmine calyx

    Every single time, you manage that shebang at the end. How do you do it???

  16. jasmine calyx

    Okay now I want to write a paper comparing the two. In looking closely at the second to see what changes you made, I get the feeling that the houseplant represents the marriage. That somehow, the marriage has lasted two moves and three years, even though it is barely alive. But I’m left wondering who the “her” is in the opening. Probably your mother or your wife’s mother. So what I would do is make the title “Mother’s Gift.” So it sounds like the plant was a gift for your mother at her memorial service. But by the end, I’m thinking the “gift” is how to have a bad marriage, given to you two by either your mom or hers. What do you think?

    • Interesting , I had not thought of the marriage aspect, but I can see it. The title could confuse the issue: maybe The Funeral Plant (where it came from, not actually hers, sent to the memorial). I think the tone is completely different doing it backwards like this. The first is more positive (?), sad but pleasant memories. The second seems very bitter. It is interesting to change them around, Margo talks about moving stanzas around a lot.

  17. jasmine calyx

    I would also change “of” to “for” in the last line. I really like this experiment. That should be a dverse prompt or something: rewrite an old poem making the last line the first. That was a really great idea, Mark.

  18. Fascinating. The sort of thing I love, the difference in a poem’s effect, through changing the focus, by shifting stanzas. Along with the shift in focus, is the change of tone you mentioned and that’s because of the shift in focus.
    This is why Margo says to play with moving stanzas around ;-). You now have a different poem and a choice of which you want to go with, should you want to take the poem on.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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