Poetry Prompts from the New York Times
Ashley Bryan & Langston Hughes

Poem: Open Space

Open Space

Tell us about your friends
You mean M.C.? Who danced on tables
and lit the night up loud
with his Long Island accent?
That friend? I still tend the mug,
a favor, from the prom
He was the teacher, I was the gossip,
The chaperone’s date
They didn’t know
The truth, we were never together
That way though I would
give anything to hear him sing
“There’s a kind of hush”
At the fountain at
Washington Square Park
“All over the world

Draft, Susan Thomsen, 2022


This poem riffs off a line from my feed reader. Last week I wrote about how the New York Times "Well" feed sometimes resembles a font of poetry prompts, so I ran with its offering "Tell us about your friends." All week long the next sentence in my head has been, "You mean M.C.?," so that is indeed what came next. I continue to tinker with this draft.

I have a nonfiction recommendation on the theme of friendship: Hua Hsu's Stay True: A Memoir, which I'm reading now. It's making all the best-of lists.

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Karen Edmisten's blog on December 16th. Enjoy!

Photo by ST


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Susan, I am an NYU grad -- that hush at the fountain in Washington Square Park takes me back.

Laura, wow. Then you know the neighborhood! (I scrambled some Herman’s Hermits lyrics in there, too.) I spent a lot of time in that area over the years. My husband and niece are NYU grads as well.

Oh, that's my favorite--when poem starts to write itself in my head and it's all mine for a while. I'm always afraid I'm going to "lose" it. This poem brings up so many sights and sounds from the past. It could make a very nice beginning poem to more!

That "poem in my head all week" feeling is the best. And sometimes the worst. Then the best again as the tinkering continues. :) I love the nostalgic feel of this and all the sights and sounds it conjures.

Linda and Karen, yes, I am often writing in my head! And I can't stand it when I forget my great idea. I do think another stanza is going to follow at some point.

I go back and forth about whether the song lyrics need quotation marks in the poem.

Thanks for reading!

Your prompt last week fed my creative spirit too. I will be thinking of my friends now. :)

I'm so glad, Patricia! I have another Well prompt poem, and the process reminds me of improv, and asking for a line. (I've read & seen improv, never performed it myself.)

And now I'm singing Carpenters' songs!
Thank you for sharing this poem and for pointing me to last week's post. I too get these newsletters and find some of the words sticking in my head, but I've never considered them as poetry prompts. Now I will!

Tricia, the Carpenters sang it, too? I'd completely forgotten! No wonder it was stuck in my head. I'm a 70s kid, and they were everywhere on the radio during that era. What a beautiful voice Karen Carpenter had.

I love your poem, and how you got there. I also like the conversational part of the beginning. And with your, “There’s a kind of hush” which you slipped in so seamlessly, I had to go listen to Herman's Hermits, "There's A Kind of Hush," such a feel good song, and so many memories, thanks Susan! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1MV-Jy_Bog

Hmm...maybe I need to sign up for the "Well" newsletters (aka Poem Prompts In The Titles newsletters).

Your poem has me thinking about the very different Open Spaces of my own Prom Era...as well as those friends and the music we listened to. They might need a poem...

Thanks, as always, for the inspirations!

What a fun memory you have captured!

Michelle, thanks so much for a link to the Herman's Hermits video. They look like they're having so much fun.

Mary Lee, oh, yes, a poem for the friends!

Margaret, this poem did indeed start with memories of a great friend. He loved the holidays, so I'm not surprised he's the one who came to mind after that line from the Times, given that we're so near Christmas.

Memories are always good fodder for poems. There's a Kind of Hush is going to stay in my mind today and I am wondering if that will turn into a poem. Thanks for the inspiration, Susan.
NYC trains??? Penn Station???

Carol, YES to NYC trains and Penn Station! I think that public transportation and hubs are wonderful places to gather material/write about. All that coming and going.

Grand Central is opening an Amtrak connection on its lower level, and I've seen a preview of the fantastic public art there. I tried to see it the other day and take pics but couldn't get past security. I'm not sure if it opened yet or will soon.

I love how you found a steady source of poetry prompts in the NYT feeds! Thanks for the link to last week's post with those samples. So much potential! Don't you love when something sparks and lingers--a poem kindling? I'm so glad you breathed some more oxygen on your lingering thought and conflagrated a poem.

That's the best when the lines start accumulating in your mind before you even write down anything. And inevitably the fixes to a problem come at a time when you're doing something completely unrelated to writing--washing dishes, taking a walk, etc. Thanks for reading, Molly!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)