my hands are cracking branches
bugs feed on dead flesh flaking from my fingers
it tickles, and they release the smell of oranges as they eat
my hands emit strange noises, cooing sighs of sweet relief
reminding me that oranges in Eden make more sense for Eve
my hands aren’t cracking, I am
maybe it has something to do with the bugs
the bugs that are scarfing down orange fleshed me
maybe it’s because I sprayed their ancestors, an insect retribution
don’t bite the hand that feeds you I tell the little buggers
The frienzied feast of nirvana carries on
a moving carpet of bugs grooms my hands
and I pay homage to the insect world

warren g wails as
world’s die beneath our feet
crawling stigmatas
We will dance the distance between here and there
carpe diem
as the orchard inhales bugs, and exhales satsuma
the branches of my fingers will reach out free and clear

Brenda Warren 2012

Process Notes:
I found this interesting prompt at Margo Roby’s Wordgathering. The skin on my hands is at times untenable. I have an appointment in six week’s time out of town, as the dermatologist’s in my town aren’t worth their weight in beans. The piece fell from this rather detailed prompt Margo supplied. I started it early this morning, then came back to it to finish and polish it. I don’t know if it’s done yet, or not. But it was a good exercise. Thank you, Margo. If you haven’t visited Margo’s blog, you should.

Satsuma is a variety of mandarin orange. The Body Shop puts out an amazing body butter with the Satsuma scent. That’s the other piece of inspiration besides my hands and Margo’s prompt. The bugs showed up on their own.

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in
succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia [mixing the senses].
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word [slang?] you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve heard [preferably in dialect and/or
which you don’t understand].
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction:The
[adjective] [concrete noun] of [abstract noun]…
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative
13. Make the character in the poem do something he/she could not
do in real life.
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense such that part of the poem sounds like a
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that
finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19. Personify an object.
20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but
that echoes an image from earlier in the poem.

14 thoughts on “satsuma

  1. Love the topic and what you did with the prompt and it. My reaction as I read was, yick yick yick, as my eyes stayed glued to not miss a word. I am girding myself to read again because the imagery is wonderful.


  2. There’s so much packed in here, Brenda, that my weary brain (I’m a teacher, remember) is reeling. However, I am walking away the image of your fingers as branches…and hoping that they will one day bear sweet fruit!

    Tell Me, Sister Crow


  3. This is a wonderful poem, Brenda. I’m glad you responded to Margo’s prompt. These lines delighted me: “oranges in Eden make more sense for Eve”, “We will dance the distance between here and there”, and “the orchard inhales bugs, and exhales satsuma”. Insect retribution made me laugh, because I think of an ant holocaust whenever I kill them.

    When I first read the title I thought of Body Shop! I do believe I’ve used that body wash flavor before. I have bottles of Japanese Cherry Blossom, Sweet Lemon and Moroccan Rose in my bathroom cabinet now. 🙂


  4. Lord, this was a complex prompt of Margo’s. I wish I could say I think I will tackle it and come up with something that makes sense. I do wonder if the serpent had handed Eve an orange if she would have bitten into it, or if we would all be living in the Garden of Eden today. Now THAT would be a poem. Paying homage to the insect world? Maybe in my next lifetime. Now you see why I don’t think I can write to the prompt. I could dance the distance between here and there though easily enough. And, all foolishness aside, I do hope that the dermatologist you will see is a good one!


  5. Wonderful take on all those promp ts from Margo’s list! I had to re-read in order to take the poem in full and enjoy it for real. Thanks for sharing!
    Maybe I should check Margo’s prompts some day… I feel intimidated as of yet 🙂


  6. Brenda, I love how you wrote to Margo’s prompt. Funny how the bugs ended up in this. Sorry about your problem with your hands, that must be awful. I knew there was something wrong with washing dishes 😉



  7. Good for you taking this on, Brenda! I don’t know about you but this was daunting to me at first! I love your POV, and this,

    “my hands are cracking branches
    bugs feed on dead flesh flaking from my fingers,”

    Great images!


  8. WOW! An absolutely spectacular response to Margo’s prompt. “Bugs feed on dead flesh flaking from my fingers it tickles, and they release the smell of oranges as they eat my hands emit strange noises, cooing sighs of sweet relief” is incredible writing! Amazingly descriptive, sent shivers of revulsion up and down my spine!!!

    I have had horrendous trouble with atopic dermatitis (eczema) on my hands, back when I had small children and no dishwasher. My hands were constantly in water. I think my doctor put me on Prednisone to get rid of it. Good luck.


    • I KNEW that washing dishes was bad for me. For years, I tried to convince my parents that it wasn’t a good thing. Now look. 😉 Thank you for you comments, and sharing your own hand story with me. Ick, eh?! Glad I could send shivers of revulsion up and down your spine. hee hee


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