New House in the Suburbs, an ekphrastic poem . . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

“Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.”  Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

This clapboard suburban house is not like my Sidto’s, a
house with hydrangea blossoming below the front window,
purple and mauve, in a place where big maples gave us
their charming seed pods, those green whirlybirds
that quivered in the wind while determined dandelions
climbed their way to sunshine through breaks between
the cement squares that formed our sidewalks, a kind of
serendipitous geometry from the Office of City Planning

No, this suburban house is not a bit like Sidto’s where
air-raid sirens sounded at noon each day, disturbing
the otherwise peaceful hours of playing out front or
in the tiny kiddie pool on the second floor balcony,
the sun glinting in gold and red sparks off cousin
Linda’s light brown hair, the breezes drawing smoke
from Aunt Mildred’s cigarette to mingle with white
clouds milling above us and a blue sky offsetting
the pale jade waves of the Hudson, no … it’s not

At all like my Sidto’s self-effacing home, this suburban
abode brags and postures with its professionally tended
Kentucky bluegrass lawn, hapless whirlybirds imprisoned,
packed with the cuttings and fallen leaves into bags for
trash collection on Tuesday; this suburban house, painted
In pastels closely approximating the colors of Sidto’s
hydrangea, boasts an in-ground swimming pool out back,
fiberglass and cement, replacing the blue vinyl inflatable,
and here closets stand behind sliding doors, making
armoires unnecessary, an expensive antique indulgence
for those with the bucks and real estate to accommodate

Not at all like my Sidto’s house, no pedestrian chain-link
fences here, poplar trees separate one property line from
the next and dogs are leashed to prevent trampling the
neighbor’s flowers; a huge wall-bracketed television claims
access to three-hundred channels, a technology fallen from
a reasonable seven on a compact Motorola stored in a corner
awaiting special shows in that time before television as lifestyle;
and by day we didn’t have calendars filled with playdates,
we romped by the front stoop with its easy and spontaneous
access by neighbor kids and by adults coffee klatching over
home percolated joe, sipped slowly from six-ounce china cups

The new suburban house has a long drive and three garages,
multiple cars for trips to shops, school, and worship, walking now
a custom of treadmills, health clubs, and routine post-prandial strolls
or weekend hikes in the country; our room-sized closets and other
storage bare witness to our hoarding, which will find its way to
land fill and fish tummies, and our generous pantry is packed with
prefabricated foods and poor canned facsimiles of Sidto’s
cinnamon-scented chicken soup, secretly seasoned with love
and family traditions and I have to ask: Have our lives grown
larger or just our living space and our carbon footprint?

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

* Sidto (Arabic) – grandmother


“The New Suburban House” painting featured above triggered for me the memory of my grandmother’s simple economical home and homely customs as compared to many modern-day developed-world extravagances. This week use the painting as the jumping off point for your own poem in whatever way you are inspired and

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose


Poems submitted on theme in the comments section here will be published in next Tuesday’s collection. Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published. If you are new to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, be sure to include a link to your website, blog, and/or Amazon page to be published along with your poem. Thank you!

Deadline:  Monday, April 27th by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.

Jamie Dedes:

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