2021 NaPoWriMo April 22 Inside Out



* *. *

In a prompt originally posted this past February, Poets & Writers directs us to an essay by Urvi Kumbhat on the use of mangoes in diasporic literature. As she discusses in her essay, mangoes have become a sort of shorthand or symbol that writers use to invoke an entire culture, country, or way of life. This has the beauty of simplicity – but also the problems of simplicity, in that you really can’t sum up a culture in a single image or item, and you risk cliché if you try.

But at the same time, the “staying power” of the mango underscores the strength of metonymy in poetry.

Today’s prompt involves metonymy in poetry. I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that invokes a specific object as a symbol of a particular time, era, or place. (For detailed prompt, see below.)

Happy writing!


Inside Out

They wave their flag,
let it flutter, swirl,
a square piece of cloth
that resembles them,

square like law and order,
structure, grounding,
sense of security, home,

a flag, its color red like
a startled robin’s breast?
poppies at the edge of a field?

A mix, magenta and yellow,
to recall blood shed
serving in foreign armies
in medieval times.

The flag’s center linen-white,
shaped like a cross,
sewn on soldiers’ armor to
tell them apart from the enemy,

white, signifying
faith in the invisible,
belief in peace and purity.

In time the flag
spawned, in reverse, a twin,
a white square
bearing a red cross,

heralding an outgoing, caring, impartial compassion for the suffering,
relief for victims of disasters,
help for prisoners of war.

A symbol, turning itself inside out,
ushered in a new time,
changed the world.

One thought on “2021 NaPoWriMo April 22 Inside Out

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