NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 26)

Day 26 prompt: write a poem using responses to an Almanac Questionnaire of 23 questions as the basis. My 23 responses follow the poem. Additionally, I used the 80s song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears, for inspiration. A video of the younger Fears for Tears group also follows the poem. I selected this version for the sights as much as the sounds. There are several other good videos, including a late cover by LORDE, which is very (scary) different.


Welcome to my life
What’s done is done forever
Even my dreams are unreal reality
Rain, colors, pennies, and cats
Distant mountains, local culture, answers
With no questions, lovers and indecisions.
Do I want to rule the world?

Dragon music in the distance
Mixed with drums of tribal nuisance
But the path to take, I cannot decide,
Is beauty in the freedom of my pleasure?
I fear the pain that lasts forever.
Do you want to rule the world?

Is there life atop the steeple?
As walls and halls crumble, AC to DC?
Can I answer her questionnaire?
Welcome to mi vida loca, a happy
blessed by sad. Does anybody
Want to rule the world?

Married to my convolutions, may
Her memory Bern my conscience,
The alley of answers to many questions.
Can responsibility, freedom,
Or love rule the world?

The headline news is like this:
A virus. We’re all basically screwed.
But nothing is good or bad, and
Nothing lasts forever. Of this
I am certain: I do not want
To rule the world.


Look both ways to answer questions.
Mind the gaps.
One poem, twenty-three answers.

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather: I prefer rain to hot and dry.
Flora: Color variation is good. Green is a favorite.
Architecture: I like old church architecture, both inside and out.
Customs: I’ve never liked shaking hands, I don’t love everyone, and I hug only favorite people.
Mammals/reptiles/fish: I like dogs. I prefer cats. Both are pets. I respect nature, but it’s not safe.
Childhood dream: Hard to say, but I always thought something was not right. Unlimited candy?
Found on the Street: Pennies for luck, treasures no one wants but me.
Export: Wendell Berry prefers local economy. I understand why.
Graffiti: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Lover: Everyone should have at least one.
Conspiracy: There are some, but everything is not.
Dress: no ties, comfort before culture, some sweatpants are nicer than others.
Hometown memory: The distant Poconos.
Notable person: Mom.
Outside your window, you find: Texas
Today’s news headline: The NY Governor is an interesting person. The TX Lt Gov is not.
Scrap from a letter: I wish I still had the letter my father wrote to me.
Animal from a myth: Dragons
Story read to children at night: Once upon a time they lived happily ever after and other lies.
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: the answer to the question.
You walk to the border and hear: music.
What you fear: mean and stupid in the same person.
Picture on your city’s postcard: Coal miners, cactus, and rivers.


NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 25)

Day 25 prompt: write a poem using Hymn to Life, a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost while following the prompted suggestions of Hoa Nguyen. Write for at least 20 minutes.


The Big Event

It is morning. Friday morning. It’s the day. The day when I risk my life.
Sitting up, I remove my c-pap mask. I walk to the master bathroom.
After peeing I wash my hands. I walk to the living room.
Yolonda says, “It’s going to be 94 today. Walk outside soon to be cool.”
I make coffee, black, with a red wine-colored maker. I add milk.
I move things in the sink and on the counter. I wash my hands.
I say, “We must complete the list. I go to the store today.” I take
the last orange. A happy fruit for a poem. I sit and type on my laptop.
The sound of The Price is Right is distracting as I read about oranges.
Back in the kitchen, I do inventories of shelves, fridge, and freezer.
She rewrites the list, an orderly plan for the store. I add milk.
I don’t see her list vanilla ice cream. I wash my hands.
I review the list for items and order. I plan movements and wonder
if alcohol or disinfectant will ever be there again. I take morning pills
with coffee and pour frozen blueberries into a bowl, then some granola
I made yesterday, and I top with sliced half-a-banana. I wash my hands.
I check the list for frozen blueberries. I go back to my lappy to read more
about the fruit and the word for the color of orange while eating cereal.
She comes in and we talk of things like food, adult children, grandchildren,
politics, and humor. I take my empty bowl to the kitchen and rinse it.
I wash my hands. I look at some sketches. Draw lines. I look at my painting.
I add green, purple, brown, and blue. I wash my hands. I get dressed.
I inventory my pockets; wallet, handkerchief, pocket-knife,
notebook and pen, keys. I put on gloves to retrieve the trash can
from the curb, leaving the still full recycling bin. I remove the gloves.
I wash my hands. I wash my glasses with shaving cream.
In the car I notice the full gas tank is on week three. I don sunscreen sleeves
and sunglasses. I back out and drive to a grocery store. I park.
I wear a blue surgical mask and darker blue, almost purple, surgical gloves.
I pull up a bandanna-like scarf over the mask. I notice others
with masks and gloves. I feel like a team player. I retrieve a cart.
The young man at the door hands me a wipe.
I wipe the cart and trash the wipe. It begins. I risk my life // for food and drink.
No rubbing alcohol or disinfectant. Too many close calls // less than six feet.
I see men without masks. Republicans, I assume. Why do they believe that?
And not this? Which checkout line is shortest? I follow the rules. I thank them
and go to my car. I load it and return cart to a stand. In the car I remove masks,
realize I wore my sunglasses the whole time. I carefully remove gloves. I wash
my hands with sanitizer and drive home. I put on different gloves
to check mail, carry in deliveries, and retrieve the recycling bin.
I remove those gloves, then I remove store items from plastic bags into cart.
Yolonda takes the cart into our house. I open delivery boxes. I wash my hands.
We discuss the overall condition of store, the virus evasion, what they had,
and what not. We buy real food. Ice cream is real. It’s too hot to walk.
I write and sketch and paint. I didn’t see a text she had sent.
I feel like I cheated death one more day, one more time. I wash my hands.
Our internet and cable TV are down. I write anyway. It is Friday.


Look both ways while shopping.
Watch for people, carts, and items on lists.
Mind the gaps before they fill with carts and shoppers.
Wash your hands.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 21)

Day 21 prompt: Find a poem in a language you don’t know. Write a “homophonic translation” of it by trying to translate it based simply on how it sounds.


I discovered a poem called Freagra Scéine ar Aimhirghin (Scéine’s Reply to Amergin), by Irish Poet Paddy Bushe. I loved it in both English and Irish. May the Irish people, Mr. Bushe, and history forgive me for following this prompt. I can’t read or speak Irish, so I had to listen (line by line) to the YouTube video of the Poet reading the poem in Irish. The video also had it in English, with an Irish brogue, of course.

The video is at the end of this post, if you want to hear what it is supposed to sound like. It puts this beautiful poem into mythical perspective. My efforts resulted in something of a nonsense poem, but it mimics the sounds of the Irish language poem.


My time today, tomorrow
It is my feeling that leaving
May town dealing through
It’s sliding through and rough,
My true goal is standing there
It’s my paining and moaning
Mach down a shower tune
Church a go miles for what hereafter
My shower cool and inviting
Barn odd to be show goer
My doer is a free man now
Brewing fear in the mind at night
My tool is falling often
Behold, the evils Liam and we’un
My touch can matter too
Garfield got back at the father good
My brogan needs a line
Meow the cat sounds very sick
Mass looks evolve through
Ride go to it, on it
My true tome hate ya
Miss of May, hey ya got
I’m being fair to another,
Chicago in a tangle lost the art
My being thin skinned changed that
Shares the shield a penitent

Cough if you need, kay rated the ballast, Dummy
Kay the raid baldish, kay runs grinning a gallop from
It’s now known as Glock show, and is soulish, given an edge
My hand and skull left, buckled and suckled, my name’s Sinead.


Look both ways in any language.
Mind the gaps and do the prompts.
Let no challenge be untested.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 20)

Day 20 prompt: write a poem about a handmade/homemade gift.


What Matters

For the man who has everything
or who could, if he would,
make (don’t buy) to please.

Amazon does not have your heart
nor your hand, and Bezos does not
need your money. In the end, it’s you
that is my gift, so keep it simple
and easy. Go underboard, if you’re able.

Spend less. Write or read, sketch or draw,
don’t buy me a book. Read one and tell me
all about it. Write me a four-line poem.
Sketch a joke caricature of me.

Write a note that says you love me,
put on lipstick, kiss the paper, and send it.

What I want from you is a bit
of your time and attention. Just briefly.
From you to me is all that I need.

Here, let me hand you this notebook
and this pen, in the time it would take
for you to scribble a quickie phrase…

I’ll be happier, no internet search required,
a treasure like no other will I have,
and you will feel better too. Trust me.
It’s not that I ask little,
it’s that I want you. I know what matters.


Look both ways and slightly behind.
Be safe. Mind the gaps in your masks.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 19)

Day 19 prompt: write a poem based on a “walking archive.”


The Spring Draw

Spring replaces Winter’s browns and grays
with shades and hues of green, some pinks
and whites in the trees. And more rain,
and wind to help insects spread pollen,
the whole point being new life, hope,
and promises of Summer to come.

Even the trails lay a carpet of green grass,
soft to my steps, comforting. To the sides
more color and tones of red and blue,
orange and proud yellows mixed with white,
every color and shade seems bright.
Both quiet and loud, and deer appear,
rutting passed soon we’ll see fawns running.

I pause often to photograph or admire
this gallery of natural art, walking on my trail,
some path remains, limestone rock
for stepping or tripping as creeks and washes run
wet with rainwater, animal prints in mud,
views obstructed by leaves fresh and green.

There is beauty even in the old dead trunks
of former mighty oaks, with knots and holes,
still standing tall and proud, some down
yielding to stormy winds, the promise still
of awakening even the soil of the Earth.
I sit to rest and to ponder or brood,
to drink and to stare and admire,
and to pity many who have seen
neither tree nor forest, nor felt the happy
heart of a Spring calf.

I walk Texas trails in Spring before
Hell sends Summer to scorch, and it calls
for cream to screen the rays of sun. Before
wet clay turns to dust and water runs rare.
Before the prickly pear cactus turns
its brilliant yellow flower, then to an apple red
bulb, then to a new cactus head. So long
as I am, and I can, out I shall go to treat
my senses to the many glances of nature.

“Me imperturbe, standing at ease in nature.”
Or, at attention, as I want to miss none of it all.


(Quote: credit Walt Whitman)

Always look both ways and all around, up and down.
Mind gaps and ravines in natural beauty if you seek pleasure.

 

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 16)

 


Day 16 prompt: write a poem of over-the-top compliments. I added my apology.


To all the men and women, to the heroes and heroines
in worlds of history, art, literature, lifestyle, and character;
in science, medicine, and defense, like beacons of hope for humanity
you have been, each individually, a bright star in my sky.
By your exquisite example of perfection personified,
with wit, wisdom, and humor, you were my compass.

I was blinded by your brilliance, deaf to your depth,
ignorant of your veracity. Forgive my foolish denial of
truth by seeing you only as god or goddess, only as
a sunny day with never a shadowed soul, never a flaw,
never as another frail human being. When I placed
you upon pedestals and you proved me wrong,
we both cried.


Look both ways with discernment toward others.
Mind the gaps in every life as perfection is not what we think it is.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 15)

Day 15 prompt: write a poem inspired by my favorite kind of music.


I Want a New Song

Boom! Old bods holding young hearts,
hot funk, cool punk, a shimmering light
and the smell of colitas up
from green river, in the age of jive
it’s got the same soul.

Play rock & roll at my memorial
and stand her in the doorway when
I join Buddy, Richie, Patsy,
and Jim. Let me hear Ricky
and John, a new wave dance craze.

By my own device, a prisoner here,
I may check out any time,
but I’ll never leave rock & roll.
Bury me in pair of pink sidewinders,
but first, save the last dance for me.

Dance with me, dream of me, dream on;
Dream On! Sing along with me, let music
take me away when it’s raining
and the players are playing,
but I’m still gunna live forever.

I can feel the rain. I’m Alive!
On a hippie trail, my head like a zombie,
stars fading, but I linger on.
I want a rock & roll song.
But there ain’t no use in pretending.


Look both ways, but music is present in my past.
Mind the gaps,
those spaces between the notes.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 11)

Day 11 prompt: write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. I wrote three poems, but only posting two.


That Special Flower

Bluebonnets taking over the crushed granite trail.

March is an alarm clock
if you’re a Texas Bluebonnet,
the official flower of that State
everybody knows.
We have pride of place artfully
set in many homes but few yards
of natives and transplants, alike.

By legislative decree, all species
are official, and abundant,
thanks to Lady Bird who said
plant a tree, a bush, or a shrub.
Our blue pedals and white top
mark spring weather as we make
bisexual moves for next year.

We marvel at our neighbor,
Indian Paintbrushes or Blankets
complimentary red and yellow
color of 200 species or more,
as we compete for turf in arid, sandy,
dry soil. It’s Texas, after all.

Crowding where others fear to grow
we push our blue until we turn purple,
near the end of our time, then struggle
and exit the stage for later bloomers.

True Texans must be pictured with
children and pets and flowers all around.
They hunt bluebonnets with cameras,
and drive miles to wait in line,
to see and capture scenes
in the perfect photo or painting,

and they name everything after us.
What’s not the lone star is called
the bluebonnet whatever it is.
It’s nice to be so loved, but our
magical time is brief, yet meaningful.
Here comes the sun of the Texas
Summer following Spring.


Married to Bluebonnets

Texas Bluebonnets mean Yolonda,
and art on our walls, and spares in boxes,
they mean Lady Bird behind so many
wildflowers, like Indian Paintbrush,
or Blankets, they are what early spring is for.
They tell us it’s that time of change.

Close up of Indian Paintbrush seen on my walk.

In Texas, it’s Spring baseball (but not this year)
and bluebonnets and with their blue and white
caps that turn purple (purple bonnets?);
and the red, orange, yellow tease of
200 varieties of Indian whatever wildflowers
that are the first up, pushing their
primary colors quickly into the world,
making seeds to make more flowers for next year.

They mean the toughness of my adopted State,
the arid sandiness and limestonish mix
to be followed in the last few weeks
of spring with more crazy beautiful
flowering weeds, and the colorful,
awesomeness of prickly pear cactus
flowers that remind me of Silvia Plath,
and her poem about Red Poppies, yet to come.

I smile at the flowers, partly because of beauty,
and partly because of what they mean to me;
another season with a new reason, but mostly
because of who they remind me of.


Look both ways but keep your eyes on the road.
Mind the gaps, each one is there for a seed to make a plant.

The mix of early Spring wildflowers.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 10)

Day 10 prompt: write one or more hay(na)ku poems, which are six-word stanzas where one word is the first line, two words make the second, and three words make up the third line. I made 11 (66 words).


Goodbye
often means
someone will die.

Life,
the source
of all death.

Find
what will
not kill you.

Would
you cry
as I did?

Care
not what
people will say.

Nobody
likes you
when you’re drunk.

Addiction,
part of
the human condition.

Sometimes
my poem
is not good.

Sometimes
it is
just another poem.

Exercise
is often
the best medicine.

Hayna?
is colloquial
to northeastern PA.


Look both ways crossing new roads.
Mind the gaps.
The pavement’s hard.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 8)

Day 8 prompt: Use a portion of a poem from a twitter bot as seed (inspiration) to write a poem.


Confession: I dislike the words twitter, tweet, and bot. It’s getting late. I need a poem. I’ve read nearly all of Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay” searching. I considered her “Where does unbelief begin?” and discovered her phrase, “That was the night that centered Heaven and Hell,” which I may use later. I pondered Richard Siken’s words, “Let’s admit, without apology, what we do to each other” and “This has nothing to do with faith but is still a good question.” I did the perusal work of reviewing several twitter bots. Nothing worked.

Then, as I was re-reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (1990), I found it. I try to do “optional” prompts. I hope I semi-followed the elective prompt with a twist.

My poem is based on a scene from O’Brien’s book, specifically from the chapter, “On the Rainy River.” Tim writes of sitting in a small boat 20 yards from Canada while facing his inner dilemma of doing what he thinks is morally right and what his family and most people (at the time) thought he should do: to accept his draft notice and fight in the Viet Nam War.


The Embarrassment of Tears

It was a moral freeze,
part hallucination, he supposed,
as paralysis took his heart,
a tightness he wants me to feel.

He could swim but he saw them,
a blind poet scribbling notes, people,
his past and his future, and mine.

His conscience lost the battle in a war
it could not win. He would do it.

He would go to the war –
he would kill, and maybe die
because he was embarrassed
not to. That was the thing.

And so, he sat in the boat,
and he cried, but he did not die.
Not a happy ending, his war,
his book, our war. He went to the war.

He was a coward, he claims,
because he stuffed it for them,
for their love, which he carried then,
and carries today. I disagree.

He asks me, and you,
would you cry? The scene jerks
my tears, not for Tim, or the war,
but for me. I was not in his boat.


Sit in your boat and look both ways, to Canada or to home.
Mind the gaps, there may a book or a poem in them.