April 28 – Futility

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I had an idea for a poem when I awoke, about walls. But I lost most of it. Then I thought I would use the NaPo prompt of the day = http://www.napowrimo.net/ for day 28.  I don’t think I really succeeded with either the walls theme or the prompt but it was fun.

April 28 Futility

The history of walls
Whether short or tall
Is clearly apparent
in the bricks resplendent
crumbled on the ground
neither lost nor found.
Once they had astounded
possibly confounded
perhaps even surrounded
a castle or a country
til stone or brick grew spongy
with lichen, moss and sundry
that caused the wall to yield
to times unending steal.

 

LInda 28 April

April 27 – From today’s prompt: First come, first served

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NaPo prompt was to explore taste. Although I had expected to write a poem of found words and phrases gleaned from my bus ride, this is what happened instead.

April 27  First come, first served.

Holding a bite between my teeth
sweet’s not the first thing that comes
Flesh that tastes earthy, like venison
supple, like lemon curd.

If the skin punctures a bit
allows my tongue to penetrate
the peel, graze the outer pith
the bitterness of yielded time

May infiltrate the breach,
further the juices of delight
past lips, past throat
a nip of  honeyed prime.

I will devour you indelicate
snack the source of my cravings
the source of my bottomless lust.

 

April is drawing to a close, NaPoWriMo is screeching toward the exit.  It’s been a wild ride as usual.

L

April 26 – a found conversation

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I taught tonight and what with getting ready and riding my bike home, fatigue is getting the best of me and I haven’t focused quite as much on my wordsmithing.  That said, for some reason people love to talk to me and I pick up quite a few interesting conversations while I’m commuting on the streetcar. This tends not to happen on the bus so there might be something about streetcar passengers.  Typically these conversations are more one sided than really conversational.

So tonight’s poem is taken from one of those recent conversations.

 The contents of our conversation

Just bought a bike off

of my buddy. Five bucks

good price eh. It might

of been stolen, don’t care

though, if it was stolen or not,

cuz I mean 5 bucks. And anyway

I probably’ll lose it, I’m

always losing all kinds of

shit. I’ll just put it down

and forget about it. Like I

can’t remember where

I put anything, my driver’s license

money, blocked out.

I can just buy another

one if I do, if I need it to get

somewhere. I can’t drink but if

I’ve had a sip of beer, I like

I black out or something

start losing shit. That happens

a lot. It doesn’t

matter – got no family even

if I did it wouldn’t matter.

It’s just all up to me whether I do

or don’t.

That’s a nice bike you’ve got.

April 25: Shelter

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Following the NaPo prompt today which I haven’t in quite awhile. I actually wrote two poems. The first is indeed using the prompt:

April 25 –  Shelter (a small poem)

That closet was my first love where I could hide
Sharing did not permit what I desired

Even when we moved to bigger digs
the family just pressed too close to my skin

Sized just for me, pillow on the floor
Light for reading, shelves for books.

One other time I lived in a closet
Not with the first love, no but with the best

Space adequate for two, a double bed
Shared room enough for what I desired

Put me in a tiny house, a Roma caravan
Close enough to touch, far enough to roam.

This second is the work still needing work! A newspaper clip on a lost fugitive (24, as old as my son) whose remains were found on a trail I frequent was the push for this one.

Stumbling on my own remains,

What the hell am I doing here
three miles on the Dry Creek Trail
do I even know that?
Wait, that’s right, I stole a car
tailed by the cops, yeah I remember
It was cold and snowy
they tailed me to a creek, man that water
rushed high.

It wasn’t the first car I stole
no, not the second neither always
looking for the joy in a ride,
big trucks get stuck too, stuck
in the drifts. I saw the cabins
when my footsteps stopped at the creek
Rock jumping has always been a
mine, I just kept going they
kept coming til they didn’t. Could’ve
stopped. Didn’t.

Man am I cold. Those damn trees are
everywhere, not like where I’m from,
take me back
there will you. I haven’t had anything to
eat for days and the snow is too damn cold.
My bed too, hell even the jail
bed was softer than this. Hey I think I
see my mom. Hey mom. HEY MOM. Or was it
my dad, damn him.  But she’s dead. Dead.
Mom bailed me out of jail once. Maybe that’s why she’s
here.

I think I’ll just lie down a minute. Mom, can
you wake me after ten. Then we can walk
down
together.

 

NaPoWriMo is almost done! What will I do with all this free time!
L

April 24 – Changing it up

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One of the things I like to do in this poetry month is to take a poem I like (or maybe one I don’t like so well) and change it up. It doesn’t have to be one of my poems — it can be a stranger’s poem or someone from my poetry group.  The point is to take the concept as a jumping off point. I sometimes also use the language the other writer has used but not always.

Today I was working on a poem based on this snippet from a writer in my poet’s group.

Instead of
closing like an ocean shell
hiding that germ of criticism inside
cutting you off
defending myself of not being perfect
feeling misunderstood
blaming you of insensitivity

And began to explore the shell metaphor more thoroughly:

She was a clam shell
or a snail shell, a turtle drawn into itself.
No, an oyster, the germ of reproach
deep inside, an irritant no doubt,
a worry. Something to stew about.

This was the comfort place
painful as it was, it could be defended
closed off. Someone else to blame.
The nacreous shell concealing
the pithy truth congealing.

I’m still working this up but have enjoyed the process thus far.

The NaPo prompt was to write an ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. I didn’t do that yet, but depending on the prompt for tomorrow, I may go back in time and pick this up instead.

til tomorrow,

 

April 23 – Looking the end in the eye

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NaPoWriMo is three weeks old but it’s end is looking me squarely in the eye. One more week of poetry, one more week of sharing the end result of patience (or impatience, whatever I might be feeling to get another poem out the door.)

I took the NaPo prompt from yesterday a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns….  It is definitely one of my least fully formed poems of these past weeks… there are good nuggets, maybe too many of them spread them (gravel?).  Maybe it’s two poems in here.  So for today, April 23, here it is

 

April 23: How to grow a star

 Be mindful of the earth wherepon you place a step.
The ladder goes here, you are set to harvest
some brilliant thing from the sky, souls of
your children, souls of your parents returned
to the luminous heavens.
You have earned the right to climb
to where you’ve been before, before the light
claimed the seed. The pip has been planted,
the fruiting body present but lacking,
an essential element absent. You are set
to reap, too soon.
Psyche was too mortal, in love with the
winged Cupid. The breath of love conjoined
borne to meet the unknown,
borne to some rebirth.
Three trials she must undertake,
three trials to break betrayal.
Passion giving way to trust.
Trust giving way to tenderness
The wedding night is set, time to reap.

 

 

 

April 21 Sorting Mechanism

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​I wanted to do something with the Napo prompt which was to use a “found” conversation as a poetic entry point but my overheard conversations seemed dull, and then I got too tired and uninspired to undertake it.  I did indeed spend a few hours “deep cleaning” some file drawers.  This poem was what resulted and although it doesn’t feel especially poetic to me it’s what I got tonight.

Sorting mechanism

It’s been too long since I did this spring cleaning
digging deep into files filled with receipts,
old catalogues, warrantees long outdone by age,
twenty year tax forms, the house deed!

I filled the recycle bag in no time with the results
of my excavation. Four file drawers filled with the neat
remains of the passing of time.  Then I stumble —
a few folders dedicated to my children, each unique.

Report cards, pictures they drew, pictures of them
Cards from my parents, birthday greetings
Doctor’s reports, financial aid forms, more report cards
various and sundry left for safekeeping.                                                            I

The letters I used to write them, every day for awhile
“What did I appreciate about you to today” because
some days just wore me down to where the only thing
between me and “adios”  was whatever I could toss
into a list of gratitudes: “for doing your homework”
“for picking up your clothes”
“not arguing with your sister”
“telling a good joke”

I remember the hardness of those days
the incessant fantasy of running away.
I took whatever lifeline I could gather
wove it underneath them to make a stay.

Now I hear from them, or get a text
“Mom, I really appreciate how you raised me”
perhaps they memorized those gratitudes
turned them into a maternal guarantee.

 

Linda April 21

April 20 – Warning: you might be offended

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Or maybe not.

Prompted by something I read that reminded me that progress is often two steps forward and one back.

You just can’t make this stuff up

Women in leadership
an apparent contradiction
the women’s leadership award winner
was a Mr. Dickson

They had vendors of course
Booths teeming with items
From dress for success suits
To vaginal re-tightening

Speakers touting paradigms
of new, improved, inclusive
Men and not “just” women
deserve a workplace that’s conducive

The panel on cultural competency
Would bust your gut with laughing
All white guys with ties (over 50)
‘splaining isms on behalf of.

Yeah we’re post gender all right
Post racial too
Just ask the guy over there
He’ll tell you it’s true.

April 19: Inspiration from various sources

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I’ve been ruminating on my post yesterday and, although I haven’t come to any fixed decision, feel like I can post works in progress and be within the letter of the “unpublished previous works” vibe I discussed. So I am posting a poem today.

I’ve gotten a bit intrigued by the idea of “found” poems where you use language from some other work to craft a poem. My problem is I’m drawn to work that already is poetic. For example, I’m currently reading The Names of the Stars by Pete Fromm, a nonfiction author whose work has been previously unknown to me. He is a breathtaking writer and there was a scene I read yesterday that I was particularly drawn to as poetry. Revisiting it today, I realized it couldn’t become a poem as it already was (although in prose form). So rather than use his language (partly for the concern that it would be too close to plagiarism), I took his concept and the urgency he conveyed and crafted something else, although it does still hold to the original topic of his piece (a drowning).

Here’s my latest work in progress.

April 19
The back of his t-shirt was missing

And his hands and back covered in scratches
Deeper gouges too like some crazed animal
had set upon him, eager to get at his bones.

Before the official report, I could see what
had happened, received the vision of the drowning.
They’d gone down to the Sandy, he and his wife
little girl in tow, down to the river where the eastsiders
flee when the day gets hot. This small band,
riverbait, aiming for coolness in the breezy bend.
The river slope is short, banks quickly to the deep,
ten drownings a year not uncommon. Bathers come
down to the river to pray for relief. Rash headed
teenagers, babushka’d Russian mothers, skinny dads in
white t-shirts. Toddlers in diapers. The undertow
lurks, turbulent, concealed.

His little girl had waded in, brought down by a
boat wake, wailing. The mother found purchase
on the mud then flailing, slips herself, slips past
the shelf, in deeper, nothing but the ice of glacier
beneath her feet, she’s screaming now, toddler forgotten,
nothing for it but to slice the air and water with
her hands.

He’s in there too, half thrown the baby to someone
(anyone please) on shore, thrashing himself,
reaching toward her hand, now she’s climbing, climbing
on his back, grabbing, scratching, pulling him down,
he reaches a rock, turns to pull her in after, reaches.

Reaches.

Reaches.

Grasps the empty air.

April 18 A post to ponder, for poets

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I was doing some research and reading about submitting poems for publication and was brought up short by the report that some publishers consider personal blog publishing as equal to being “previously published” and for that reason will not accept your poem (or to be more accurate, you should not submit that poem to them).

It’s given me pause, caused to re-think what I might be putting on my blog for the rest of the month.  I did not consider this as akin to publishing in part I guess because paper feels real to me while virtual materials, especially those on my own website or blog, seem ephemeral although in reality these bits do seem to live forever (witness peoples’ Facebook pages after they have died – they still exist). One solution might be to take down the post if I decide to send in something for publication. Another option might be to clearly indicate the poems as “draft” material  and then edit like crazy before submission.  I don’t know if this skirt the intent of the rule of “previously published material” but I like to think there are options.

The personal seems personal to me, while sending something away, beyond my small circle of friends or blog readers, seems a step into the bigger world.

So for this post, I leave you with some fragments, nothing special, just some noodling while I ponder my own message.

#1
The jury’s out, I wonder
what verdict they’ll maintain
Pronounced upon my head
my own judgement is striking
like a guillotine’s blade
 

#2
Always picked last for tag
I know what you think of me
tolerated, some occasional way.
what is it that you don’t like
yet can’t tell me to go away?

my usual crisis of courage has come
go home, get out of the way
I shut the door stop my ears
back to my own damn place
of last in line.