Poetry Friday: Bells


At the beginning of May, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, of Today’s Little Ditty, posted a lovely interview with Nikki Grimes. At the end of the interview, Grimes challenged readers to write a “wordplay exercise and create your own free verse poem” based on a word chosen from a short list. Be sure to head over to Michelle’s blog to read all of the poems contributed for this challenge.

I’ve been playing with this all month. First I picked lemon, but wasn’t happy with the results. Once I started thinking about bell, the possibilities and references in popular culture seemed endless. If I had more time, I think it would be fun to create a found poem just from lines in songs and movies. Here is my current draft:

Bell is a heralding word—
Whether pealing in joy
or tolling in grief;
clanging on trains
or ding-donging on doors,
a bell says, “Listen to me!”

Bells are blue in the garden
and silver on sleighs.
Bells of brass
sound on ships at sea.

Bells wake us each morn,
they urge us to flee;
they can jangle our nerves
or proclaim angels’ new wings.

Once the town crier,
now they ping on our phones.
Whatever song they send
through the sky,
Bells cry out “Listen to me!”

© Catherine Flynn, 2015

Please be sure to visit Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche for the Poetry Friday Round Up.

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Bells

  1. Ding! Ding! Ding! In bellspeak, that’s Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m listening!

    So many wonderful references in this poem, Catherine. Love that you included bluebells in the garden and angels’ new wings. Also your connection between town crier to cell phone ping – brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bells have so many connotations for us. I couldn’t help but recall these famous lines of John Donne:
    “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.”
    I love your response to Michelle’s challenge! Maybe it’s time of me to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine, this poem made me listen to the bells with intensity. The lines that resonated with me were: they can jangle our nerves
    or proclaim angels’ new wings.
    It is interesting how our minds can twist and turns through free verse. I am looking forward to your offering for Spring’s Symphony.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a poem I’d like to have my students read for author’s word choice. So many great words that are specific to bells and ringing!

    Liked by 1 person

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