Monthly Archives: March 2016

P is for Pliers

Well, P is for Procrastination and for Performance Anxiety. But we want a concrete noun for a poem. Just the other week I bought a copy of 52 Write a poem a week Start Now Keep going. I was going to start that week and then the first poem Everything is going to be amazing by Lauren Zuniga made me chuckle, and I was lying in bed and I don’t ever write poems in bed, so it was best to turn the page and read another poem. Now it’s Easter Monday and I’m shortly off to Holland, to the Netherlands. While I can read English poems over in Holland, I cannot write them as I’m back speaking Dutch. Therefore, it makes sense to postpone.

I can tell you about the pliers, though. The prompt must have come from Matthew Sweeney who was the tutor that week. We were just to sit quietly, clearing the head from clutter and then to slowly run through the letters of the alphabet until one letter gave some energy, or sound or resistance. I remember that I was sitting on the loggia, looking out over the terraced fields and the small white chapel in the distance. That may explain why the previous 15 letters were silent. Once we got the letter, we were to run through some nouns until one noun spoke….potato, parsley, parchment. Below is the poem Pliers that I wrote that day.


A museum dedicated to pliers
opened last month in the old part of town.
Pliers, collected from five continents,
are displayed in rows on walls and in glass cases.
Most are made from metal, shiny or a rusty red;
their handles green, blue, grey or black.
The curator, a small Belgian, Jan de Smets, exiled
from the Congo thirty years before, found
the earliest exhibits on his expeditions
to empty houses, garages, sheds and shacks.
Pliers have also been donated to him by retired
plumbers, old builders, and master carpenters.
Six toy pliers are on permanent loan.
So far, de Smets has catalogued 1491.
Where pliers are missing from a boxed set,
the white outline of their shape remains.