With less than a week left, the Global NaPoWriMo, 25th-day prompt was to write a poem for a particular occasion: an occasional poem. Every active poet seems to write these. The latest well known were Amanda Gorman’s readings for Prez Biden’s inauguration, and the 2021, Super Bowl. Another was Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day,” written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Others include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe about the American Civil War; and “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara about the death of Billie Holiday.
Occasional poems (not a form or style, but a topic) are often lyrical due to their origin in performance and music accompaniment. Historically, they have appeared as wedding songs, dirges, elegies, hymns, and odes.
I decided on a happy personal occasion, walking with my daughter, Julie (who I call, Dewey).
A private occasion, at her location, we walked,
she on my right and me to her left, as
carefully we stepped around
ants, mud puddles; cow, and horse shit;
some plants better untouched, and more.
(She ran beside me years ago, on my right then too,
as I neared the end of the San Antonio Marathon
into the Alamo Dome, there for her Dad.)
We talked of important life things,
other people, how whatever-all
came up to be, stream-of-consciousness
chat, and we talked of what is.
We spoke of things we don’t discuss.
I mostly listened and watched for minor
dangers. I looked at her. She felt pain.
Could have been anything, but it was something.
I mixed roles: both father and friend,
old man down the road,
advocate and critic, partner and lawyer.
Life goes on, but not forever.
My own worry and pain of little consequence,
then—right there, right now; on this land, under that hot,
dry Texas sun. In the end, we were both having fun.
It was more than enjoyable, but not for fun;
it was exercise, but not for health; it was just
a father and daughter sharing some time and life,
one with the other. The little things, like
love and freedom, aches and pains. —— And family.
Look both ways when your baby makes you grand,
when you lean on each other,
when you surrender love for love.
Mind the gaps and watch your step.
The eighteenth day NaPo challenge was to write a poem based on the title of a chapter, as a prompt, in Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. After reading the “look inside” on Amazon, I bought the book at 4 AM. Then I selected Chapter 51, “Fear of Poetry.”
Fear of Poetry
They say, poems find us.
They say, we cannot teach how to poem
words, to think one, or to write one.
They say, we are not all the same,
but we are all equal, or should be,
simply different I suppose. King
thinks writers (poets) are born.
I fear no rainforest, not electricity,
nor my own subconsciousness;
yet ocean depths, being too high,
or the worst of my fears, being a fool
can imprison me: body, mind, and spirit.
Unlike others, poems came to me ever since
I was forced to memorize “O Captain! My Captain!”
at age 13, long before I understood much of anything.
But I hid my love of it for fear of what
poetry might mean to me. Like repressed memories
or unrequited love, I hid from, ignored what I loved.
Now behind that mental dam of fear is stored
years of unexpressed ME (or is it I?) – poetry.
Only in demonstrative anger
or stoically hidden sorrow did I feel safe.
Since owning that,
since calling myself poet,
then writing and thinking,
I let them out. One poem at a time.
Look both ways to see where it began and where it might end.
Mind the gaps because it’s never to late to be completely you.
The NaPo prompt for Friday, April 16th, was to write a poem using a form called Skeltonic, or tumbling, verse. Skeltonic poems have short lines of three to six words, two or three stressed syllables, and are simple verses. There is no specific length. Lines must rhyme and new rhymes may be introduced. There is no alternating rhyme scheme.
Nature can be dastardly
Random in her apathy
Extending thru the galaxy
Giving freely of catastrophe
With all her immortality
With no kind of partiality
Uncaring of our flattery
In her lavish asexuality
At the center of gravity
Lacking godly spirituality
Devoid of all sentimentality
Guilty of total impartiality
What can I possibly say?
What will save us this day?
As to tragedy we give way
Maybe we should pray
To express our dismay
Of her uncaring touché.
Look both ways, in the blues and thru the grays.
Mind the gaps as there may be traps making all of us saps.
My seventh day NaPo adventure is to write at least two poems structured in forms that have a specific number of lines and specific syllable counts per line: the shadorma, and the Fib.
A shadorma is a six-line, 26-syllable poem. Each line’s syllable count is 3/5/3/3/7/5.
A Fib, besides being a white lie, is a six-line form where syllable count is based upon the Fibonacci mathematical sequence of 1/1/2/3/5/8. I may reverse line syllable counts after the first six to 8/5/3/2/1/1.
In both forms, I may use multiple six-line poems to create one multi-stanza poem, provided I use six lines per stanza and the appropriate syllable count per line. Neither form is mentioned in any of my books on poetry, including the Third Edition of Turco’s, The Book of Forms.
dance with me
be my love partner
hold me close
i hold you
step with time to forever
let’s dance into love
i am your lover
steps we know
we endure as years twirl past
we dance together
(Inspired by the songs “Dance With Me,” by Orleans; and “Dance Me To the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen)
In this challenging
World of delicate us and truth.
Will still save us all
(Inspired by this quotation, “It cannot be said too often: all life is one. That is, and I suspect will forever prove to be, the most profound true statement there is.” From A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson)
Look both ways in life and love.
We are not, and wouldn’t survive, alone.
Mind the gaps, plant trees, and be kind to animals.
The NaPo fourth daily prompt is to select a photograph from @SpaceLiminalBot. Then, inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces, write a poem.
The idea is that “poetry often takes us to strange places – to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem.”
In similar cold, impersonal rooms I’ve waited.
In walked one of those transitional, liminal,
“call me doctor” med school grads
titled “resident,” which really means
student-doctor, not to be trusted (yet).
The tall, dark, young, stranger wearing a white coat
over green medical scrubs
and bright-orange plastic slip-on shoes,
said, “I’m Doctor Confident
working with Doctor Supervisor.”
I answered his questions and laughed too often
at his overconfident naivety (couldn’t help it).
I instructed him. I explained.
His pride got in the way, so I stopped.
I smiled. He wanted to argue.
While I didn’t take the bait, I said things
like, “good luck with that” (giggling),
“that’s not gunna happen,” and “we shall see.”
I did not call him doctor, only technically is he.
They need name tags, “Liminal Doctor Botch”
with a footnote that says,
“must be monitored closely.”
Someday soon he will be relied upon
to cure illnesses, to save or extend lives,
to teach other residents the ways of medical science,
to develop rapport with his patients. But first,
he must learn. No longer a student, not yet a doctor.
He may remember a cantankerous old man,
who was not, technically, his teacher or patient.
He will learn. He must. Nothin’s easy.
Look both ways in ever relationship.
Mind the gaps. Maybe fill them in.
For today’s prompt, or assignment, I was to make a “Personal Universe Deck,” and then write a poem using it. My deck needed 50 index cards with 100 words of my choosing but I had to follow 17 rules.
I was to have fun making the deck, which should also be revealing. After I had my deck assembled, I was to shuffle it a few times, then select a card or two for words to use as the basis for a poem. I was not to agonize over my word choices.
I did all that. I blindly selected two cards at random, each with two words. The words were thirst, light, song, and mystic. I admit to liking these words.
My Mystical Song #75
I’m quite average in many ways.
Excellence is not common to me,
as neither stage nor spotlight quench
my introverted comfort zone.
I sing poorly, but I love music.
I’m not spiritual, but I love mystery,
and I drink a bit of the adult life,
which I try not to take too seriously.
When I do well, or simply succeed
to cross the marathon’s finish,
to survive addiction or disease,
I bow my Irish head and take a smile.
Look both ways to find the real you and the real me.
Mind the gaps with special care. That’s where our secrets are.
Perhaps the most prolific
“Minor Regional Novelist,”
has told his final truth
and attended his last picture show,
in Archer City, Texas.
Two days ago, that
gringo who told the
closed up shop.
Look both ways as you measure success,
especially of vanishing breeds.
Mind the gaps wherein hidden depression lasts for years.
Larry McMurtry, a prolific novelist and screenwriter who demythologized the American West with his unromantic depictions of life on the 19th-century frontier and in contemporary small-town Texas, died on Thursday at home in Archer City, Texas. He was 84.
Sometimes, in the morning I stretch like a cat.
It feels good to expand my arms into the air,
to feel my body push against itself,
to feel my life physically trigger another day.
It feels good to stretch my arms into the air,
quietly announcing my arrival before dawn upstages me.
I want to physically trigger another day in my life.
before dawn steals my self-awareness, that “I’m alive” feeling.
I enjoy quietly announcing my arrival while
admiring the cobalt blue and sunny pink sky colors,
as sunrise steals my awareness, an “I’m alive” feeling
that makes me want to make the best of the day to come.
I admire the cobalt blue and sunny pink morning skies
and I want to feel my body push against itself,
as I hope to make the best of the day to come.
Sometimes, in the morning I stretch like a cat.
Look both ways when you’re feeling a bit catty.
Mind the gaps. Especially the ones behind the eyes.