Poetry: Fear of Poetry (NaPoWriMo day 18)

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.

Poetry: Dad’s Ways (NaPoWriMo day 15)

For today’s NaPo prompt, I was supposed to think about (as in remember) a small habit I picked up from one of my parents. Then, I was to write, first about remembering my parent engaged in that behavior before writing about me doing the same thing.

I can do none of that. I recall no small habits of Mom or Dad, much less identify any I copied.

This prompt is one of several generative writing prompts created by Juan Martinez for his college-age creative writing students at Northwestern University. I’ve not been a college student for many years and probably completed my undergraduate degree before Professor Martinez was born.

But I wanted to write a poem from this prompt. Since Martinez used the term generative, I felt comfortable using his idea as the genesis for one applicable to my life by adjusting the parental habit concept to my father. Several of my father’s customs so irritated me that I intentionally do the opposite, do not do them, or if I ever did, I stopped copying them many years ago. This is not phyco-babble. I loved my Dad (sort of) but I despised much of what he did.

That way, I can remember and write about him while also writing about me not engaging in the same behavior, a bit of a reverse of the NaPo prompt. The original theme of a poem about my parent’s habits remains.


I loved him and I think
he loved me, but I can’t recall
him saying it. I’m freer with
I love you’s, hugs, and kisses. I don’t think
Mom considered him a good man.

He had only apple butter and cold
processed meat sandwiches as a kid.
I learned about apple butter at Jimmy’s house.
It was not allowed in ours.

Except for some dining-out places,
I hate for people to wait on or to serve me,
he seemed to expect it,
especially from my Mom.

His teeth spent nights in a glass with water,
I am meticulous about dental hygiene.

He smoked himself to death. I quit long ago.
He had religion. I gave that up too.
He often laid on the couch. I never do.

Our bathroom sink was always disgusting
because of his mess. I clean mine several times
each day and never leave it wet. I don’t think
I’m anal, but I pick up my shit and fix cockeyed things.

I learned how to do things and to have the right tools
before I start. He learned as he worked,
never with the right tool for the job.
I watched his frustration and learned
what not to do.

He didn’t drive. I have a motorcycle.
He smelled too much of cologne,
like a French whore house to me.
I never use scented products to smell attractive.

I believe exercise is good medicine,
he didn’t think so. I fight with my temper,
he often lost his without guilt. I tried to keep away
from him and that violent loss of control.

His ethnic epithets seemed normal Archie
Bunker stuff, I avoid them because of him,
not due to today’s PC environment. It was called
All In the Family, if you don’t know.

It seems to me that my Dad’s good influence
on me was letting me see, hear, and smell
that meat-and-potatoes Irishman who
I believe, did the best he could, and I knew
all along Mom wanted better.


Look both ways at their foibles and yours.
Nobody’s perfect, of course,
but mind the gaps to be the best you can.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #197 (call)

Click for Sammi’s blog.

I wrote two poems because I liked this prompt.


Happy Raspy

The young, talented, beautiful Irish busker’s angelic voice,
unique and indescribable, called to me from Grafton Street.

Her glancing smile and raised brow calls all to pay homage
to the gift that brings me to resonated tears. My raspy old poem.

***

Yo, Billy Boy

When we said, “Call for me,”
we invited a friend, always a boy,
usually Jimmy, to stand outside and yell,
“Hello, Bill (or Billy)” loud enough
to be heard from any part of the house
and responded to, if anyone cared.

***


Look both ways on Grafton in Dublin.
Mind the gaps in such a marvelous voice.

Sammi’s Weekender #187 (niggle)

Click to go to Sammi’s Blog

Expostulated Love

“I love that man,” was what she said to me,
and “I hate that other one,” her follow-on, bait-switch statement,
that morsel of red herring to mislead my unwanted retort
to her bleating caterwaul. I knew this kvetch ranked
behind turd infected punji sticks in heart and soul.

Niggle not. Poetry is sycophantic art when inoffensive kindness
and socially sensitive ethics are euphemisms for hidden truth.


Look both ways, if he can tell it like it is, I’m also justified.
Mind gaps for expiration of truth.

Treasured Rags

 

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.” (Marie Kondo)


New clothes were brought home
as treasured items proudly worn.
Gifts of love once remembered.

And cloth diapers for three babies,
none of whom used wash and wear for theirs,
but they sure as hell wore them.

Old shirts, their purpose long fulfilled,
now used to clean, dry, or wipe.
They’re washed, then continue to serve.

Old rags have memories woven into fabric—
from experiences with life;
from when first worn, old rags aren’t discards.

They’ve simply changed uses. Like people.
And memories. Lots of memories.
“…a rite of passage to a new life.”


Look both ways,
from the marvel of the mint to the value of the venerable.
Mind the gaps, but for most, “it don’t mean a thing.”

Sammi’s Weekender #183 (Wrangle)

Click to go to Sammi’s page and words of other’s.

Left, Right, Left

Loudly, we would wrangle well into the wee hours.
Gene and I would worry all but us; uneasy friends, smok-an’ drinkin’ buds
with different ways we saw our world.
Not even—no more.


Look and listen both ways. Lean from friends.
Mind the gaps of age and wisdom, our unforgiving nature.

***

 

Sammi’s Weekender (histrionics)


Demonstrative was what Mom said,
but no one ever called me histrionic.
A sober adult, some said automaton,
a stoic robot.

One who cared,
but cared not to show it.
I wonder now though
about this thing with Carlin.
I’m unsure if I’m that good,
or that bad.


Look both ways into emotions and dispassionate objectivity.
Mind the ever-present gaps for stumbling blocks.

 

dVerse prose: A Time

Thanks to Merril (from New Jersey) for hosting this dVerse bar challenge: Prosery Monday: A Time, to which I am responding on Tuesday. Merril says to write prose of less then 145 words in response to this line from the poem “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hodge Coke.

“when it is over said and done

it was a time

and there was never enough of it.”


Genre: flash memoir
Word count: 143
Title: L’esprit de l’escalier

***

Last Fall, I wrote a poem about watching my father drink coffee and smoke when I was a young child. Our father-son relationship improved slightly later in life.

I’d received good reaction to the piece, so I considered its potential for submission. I requested further feedback from a critique group (mostly fiction writers). I was aware of the potential risks, but I wanted to know their thoughts.

One person asked, “I did not understand the last few lines where you said, ‘I figured it out. He did too. In the end, it was just the end.’ Can you explain what you meant?”

Stumped for a good answer, I copped-out with, “He died”—a true but poor response on my part.

Now I could simply say, “When it is over, said, and done, it was a time. And there was never enough of it.”

***

Look both ways for answers.
Mind the gaps in the poetry of others,
it’s where we may find answers.

Poetry: Bless My Nurses


They want my brain snot,
and why not? Rosie Rhona Corona
all around, and my blood, IV
goes in and out, needles
in this arm then that. Ouch!

Pressure checked, too high,
stand up and it’s too low.
Count to bloody fourteen,
“pee or we’ll drill for it”—
to prove I’m a well man.

Testing, testing, testing.
Looking good but bend over
butt rush hose to the glory hole.
They’ll fix me man, if they
don’t kill me first.
More blood? Ouches.


Look both ways.
The well-traveled road is the smoothest.
Mind the gaps or no discharge.