Surrealist Imagery Poem for Tuesday Tryouts and Poets’ Pub

Margo offered an “easy” prompt for her first Tuesday Tryouts of 2012.

In the next 12 minutes, make up as many of your own surrealistic images as you can, to add to this list. If you have difficulty, look at some surrealist paintings which to you may look wacky, but to the artists represented a truth about what they depicted. Look closely. Look again. Jot down what you see.

I Googled surrealist paintings and took a look at those that pulled at my eye.  Here is my list of images:

cornucopia of mass production
hot air balloon strung on clouds
time hanging out to dry
eagles carry sheeted mountain tops
petals mate in full blossom
Aphrodite’s body but the mind of a stump
all the beauty of the world decorates my bonnet
face of a cliff and prickly mind
every morning a new egg cracks in the sky
shell-headed mermaid asleep at a tree
safe above the tsunami balancing hats fly free

The next step was:

Select a series of images from the now expanded list that seem to you to work together in a surrealistic way and create a poem. Or, choose one image to place within a poem, or to spark a poem.

I decided to choose one image to root the poem.  So here goes:


youth wild blighted
unblossomed branches
bark tangled red cedar and moss
every twig claws the sky
wrapped in summer birch
stripped bare breasted
dripping milky fog
body man-carved smooth
root chained
into sedimentary rock
arms braided with limbs
shouldering topiary visage
eyes and mouth knot holes
drilled by a thousand woodpeckers
rotting from silence
yet deep
secret colony of thoughts
honey amber rich
hum sweet only to the one
brave enough
to climb past her womb

dVerse Poets’ Pub


About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
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46 Responses to Surrealist Imagery Poem for Tuesday Tryouts and Poets’ Pub

  1. Lindy Lee says:

    Wonderful surrealism list, you have a creative mind but that’s an understatement. Thank you for letting us into your creative mind full of surrealistic thoughts…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Lindy Lee,
      Thank you. I wish I had more surrealistic thoughts. The prompt itself intimidated me, but once I found the right painting for inspiration, the poem came together fairly well. I’d still like to revisit and revise it in the future. I don’t think she’s reached her full potential. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. Thomas Davis says:

    Very well written and beautiful images. Ethel

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you so much for the read and comment. I’ve been so busy with home issues that writing time and energy has shriveled up to nearly nothing. Finals will end this week, so bright end of this tunnel is very near. See you then.

  3. Raven says:

    Yousei, I love the stream of conscious images. You have an ever sparkling imagination.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you. I like this one very much. Things have so busy lately that I’m far behind on my reading and bone-dry on writing. I should have time to myself later this week. I can hardly wait. Thank you for your visit and comment. It brought a much needed smile.

  4. WONDERFUL! Just let the mind stream and all that magic comes up. It’s amazing how forcing writing never works — but what you have done here, does.

    Will you post a photo of your lovely bonnet decorated with all the beauty of the Earth?? 🙂 And will there be a sonnet upon your bonnet? 🙂


    • Yousei Hime says:

      jannie funster,
      Welcome. 😀 Sometimes prompts can spark something special, as this one did. Sometimes they are just good writing practices, stretching us in unconventional but necessary directions. Whatever the case may be, I’m happiest when I’ve written something, especially something good. I know you understand that.

      If only my artistic skills matched your request. Wouldn’t it be great to see such a bonnet, sonnet and all. 😉

  5. ManicDdaily says:

    Very cool. I confess that I am not a great fan of surreal visual artists except perhaps di Chirico, but I think they are quite interesting on a literary level. You’ve captured that here. (If you are interested at all – and don’t feel any obligation–I did a very silly Magpie re a surrealist painter:

    Take care, K.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’m so glad you liked it despite the tepid interest in surrealist visual arts. I definitely don’t like them all, but there are some from which I can’t look away. Of course I’ll visit your surrealist post. Thank you for your frequent visits and encouragement.

  6. Shawna says:

    That is NOT an easy prompt!!!

    I’m starting a new poetry-challenge linkup that I hope you’ll jump in on:


    • Yousei Hime says:

      Argh! I was at the end of replying to this when I brushed against the touchpad on my laptop and lost the whole comment. Anyway (grumble, grumble) … you’re right, that wasn’t an easy prompt. I really enjoyed it though. I’ve checked out your prompt (like it) and hope to have something to you by the end of the week. I’m pretty sure I read a poem using your words already. Congrats. You’ve really been going at it and I love it.

      • Shawna says:

        Where ARE you, sunshine? You haven’t been writing enough. I hope you’re okay.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          (whine, whine, whine) 😦 I want to write but have been tooooo busy. My youngest has finals coming up, he is finally passing, but has much to do to stay that way. He also gets to wrestle for the varsity team now because he’s eligible. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to write and had to help him instead. (whine, whine, whine) Things should be closer to normal after this next week … I hope.

          • Shawna says:

            Are they normal yet? 🙂

            • Yousei Hime says:

              I’ve given up hope on normality. I think I’ll settle for a bit of calm here and there. Finals are this week. By Friday I’ll be walking out of the tunnel . . . at least until the next semester starts. Seriously, what was I thinking wanting kids?

            • Shawna says:

              I ask myself the same thing all the time. 🙂 But then they do something really cute or funny, and I remember.

  7. Shawna says:

    Wow, that image is scary! These are my favorite lines:

    “every twig claws the sky”
    “arms braided with limbs” (someone should trim his arm hair)
    “honey amber rich”

    And, girl, your ending packs a punch.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      🙂 I like that ending too. It unexpectedly grabbed onto a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately. You’ve really been writing productively. I like your new prompts concept. I intend to participate, so feel free to scold me if you don’t see a poem by the end of the week. I’m glad you liked the surrealist inspired poem. I’ve always been drawn to surrealism, though I don’t care for a lot of them. It wasn’t an easy prompt, but it was a pleasure for me. The more I got into it, the more I liked it. See you around, my friend. 🙂

      • Shawna says:

        I just posted the prompt for this week. I hope you’ll find time to write. If not, just find an old poem that includes one of the listed words and link it.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          I’ll definitely try. Thanks for checking in with me. I haven’t forgotten about you, and your visits keep me smiling (at least for a minute).

          • Shawna says:

            LOL … You poor thing. 😦 I really hope things lighten up for you soon.

            • Yousei Hime says:

              Tomorrow is the last day of torture for the semester . . . then it starts all over again. Ugh. I really hope he decides to make some changes. I just can’t keep being the “bad guy” and the “homework enforcer” etc. Ugh, it’s so depressing to have children one doesn’t understand and can’t motivate to change. *whine, whine, whine*

  8. ladynyo says:

    You have brought something here, fresh and remarkable, something I could not have fashioned or realized myself. I don’t like the title for some reason, too mechanical? The poem and image are remarkable, the cobbling of words make my brain explode, in a good way…LOL! and the image…well, I think you wrung just about everything possible from that.

    Amazing and remarkable poem, that grabs the heart and senses….

    Lady Nyo

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Lady Nyo,
      I’m with you on the title. Yet I do like the meaning, though not the actual word. I’m so glad you liked the poem. I really like how it turned out and am looking forward to reworking it in the future. I think I can make it even richer. Hope you are doing well.

  9. lesliepaints says:

    I love this whole idea, Yousei! You could try this with all the different art forms. Perhaps the surrealist ones are a bit easier because they pull at the viewer so much. I like your choice of paintings and your poem stands alone as well as a great description of what the painting seems to say. Wow!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      That’s a great idea. Maybe that’s something I could do on a regular basis. There are definitely all kinds of art to explore. I was really drawn to this particular painting. It had a story to tell, at least to me it did. So glad I could share all of this with you. Thank you for accepting the invitation and exploring a bit. It’s so good to have you here.

  10. Thomas Davis says:

    I liked the swirl of images and some of the creative combinations of words that were really unusual, but at the same time made a kind of poetic sense.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thomas Davis,
      I really enjoyed this one as well. I do believe it will make an extraordinary poem when polished. So glad you enjoyed it. I loved your wife’s Zuni poem so much I read it aloud to my husband. Let me tell you, that is a rare event.

  11. Gloriously surreal. Numerous lines with great imagery, combined with deeper meanings.
    Also, it’s from the prompt but “eagles carry sheeted mountain tops” – I love that. I don’t know if you intend to do anything with it, but it’s good.

    Nice work here. And it’s good to be reminded of surrealism. Been a while since I’ve played around with it.

  12. Pingback: “Water to Sky” by Melanie Carter « The Nightly Poem

  13. Traci B says:

    Yousei, this was a fantastic read. The poem’s rhythm carries the reader from branches to roots, lingering a line or two in each spot on the woman/tree to observe catalog the features, but not stopping until it reaches the ground. It felt like I was tumbling through the tree itself and yet seeing everything about it at the same time.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome and thank you. Your read was good and much like I’d hoped to capture in my structure. So glad you enjoyed it enough to comment. Thank you for the visit and read.

  14. margo roby says:

    Adore the painting and, yes, your poem can stand without it. The poem possesses elements of myth tied with physical descriptions that allow the reader to know this is a tree, but one that possesses those mythic elements.


    • Yousei Hime says:

      Wasn’t that painting captivating, both beautiful and disturbing. I really enjoyed the prompt. I liked the core of what I wrote well enough to promise to revisit it and expand on the mythic elements. Thank you so much for the prompt, read and especially your comment.

  15. Brendan says:

    A very rich compost of brewing thought … you have loads of poetic muscle in your tropes. “Amalgamation,” indeed, though I think your title needs to be more specific to its theme. “Youth, amalgamated,” or “Amalgamations of a growing heart” or something. I really like the naturalistic array of images that reflect a young womanhood (I’m guessing here) that has withstood a lot of windy assaults from without, remaining true and strong within. Fine work. (And yes, you should write longer poems) – Brendan

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome Loremaster. I agree that the title needs a binding word. I chose it because “amalgamation” was an excellent thesaurus choice for “marriage” with the added connection to earth science. Still you are right to point out that it needs a connection to the transformation and hidden depths mentioned in the poem. When I saw the nameless image (you have no idea how long it took me to track down the artist and title),I thought, “Oh, a Green Woman!” Is there such a thing in Celtic or related myths?

      Young womanhood … that was definitely the starting point in my writing, but somehow she evolved into a woman stuck in time. Maybe even a woman with parts young and parts old, like a forest. I definitely want to come back to this one and expand the myth. What do you think about the interjection of modern/autobiographical details? Something like you do? I’d like to build on the natural imagery, with more purposed symbolism and add known myths and lore to the brew. Your writing is an inspiration for longer poems, no doubt. Even Tennyson and Keats hadn’t talked me into that.

  16. vivinfrance says:

    Phew! I’m glad you posted the picture AFTER the poem, as if I’d seen it first, it might have deprived me of the swirling mental images the words aroused in me. As it was, I had to go back to the beginning and re-read!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      You read my mind. I thought it better for the poem that the image was an after-layer instead of a before-filter. You think the writing stands apart from the image? Hmmm. Thanks so much for giving it a read and especially for commenting. I enjoyed your recent sonnet.

  17. brian says:

    wow def surreal…the image itself is a little disturbing…this has a rather mythical quality to it…as if the woodpeckers were there as penance to some angry god, yet still good things/thoughts reside…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I’m so glad you mentioned the gods. As I wrote and looked at the image, the concept of a female Prometheus kept haunting the edges of my thoughts. As you can see, I ignored it, but maybe I’ll take it out for a stroll when I revisit this poem. Thanks so much for the read and especially the comment. Can’t say I enjoyed your winding road poem (blech), but I do love your writing.

  18. I’m always intrigued by unique approaches to poetry, and this surrealist technique was effective enough that I’ve a mind to try it myself. Thanks!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Samuel Peralta,
      Welcome. I can’t claim the approach for my own. Follow the link to Margo’s blog for the full prompt. I look forward to reading your attempt at it.

  19. markwindham says:

    Really enjoyed this, even though it put my attempt to shame. A lot of good lines and images in there. Excellent.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome. I’m so glad you liked it. I visited your site and really enjoyed your piece. More of a story than mine and not bound to a single image. Thanks for coming by and especially for commenting. I imagine we’ll pass each other again swimming up waterfalls.

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