NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 20)

What will future archaeologists from human or alien civilizations make of us? Today, I’m challenged to answer with a poem. My poem should explore an object or place from the point of view of the future scientist.

n Si(CH3)2Cl2 + n H2O → [Si(CH3)2O]n + 2n HCl

n Si(CH3)2(CH3COO)2 + n H2O → [Si(CH3)2O]n + 2n CH3COOH

They discovered it around the start of what they called
the Twentieth Century, which related to keeping track
of and measuring what they called time… beginning
with when one of their five thousand or so gods supposedly lived,
as best we can tell, given their early rudimentary measurement devices.

As far as we know, some called it rubber or plastic
but eventually virtually all said silicone because few could pronounce
polydimethylsiloxane in any one of their hundreds of languages.
Before they died off, this stuff was virtually everywhere
sometimes solving, and at times, causing problems.

We cannot examine or test anything they did anywhere
without finding this stuff in use by them, internally and externally.
We find it in all parts of their semi-decomposed bodies, mostly
to make lips, breasts, and other sexual organs look inflated
or larger. Eventually, it was everywhere. We find it in clothing,
on them as sexual lubricants and toys, and in everything they looked at or touched.

We mostly take it for granted now and we suspect
they did, too. They used it for rudimentary rockets but when
they failed to test it completely, it let them down and caused
many deaths. In fact, we can accurately determine when
things happened by how they used silicone before what they called
“artificial intelligence” (which was real) made their existence redundant.

Look both ways.
But study the past and appreciate the present.
Mind the gaps when the AI starts working together at night in your garage.


Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).


This is very brief clip from The Graduate:

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 19)

On Wednesday, the nineteenth day of April 2023, I was asked (challenged, assigned, or prompted) to write a poem about something that scared me or was used to scare me as child and may still haunt me somewhat. Well, nothing fits that memory mold perfectly. But still, they tried.

When I was young
many things scared me
most of my own invention.
Adult assurances solved nothing.

Death saddened me more then
but not the causes
like diseases, cancer, or stupid.

Yet, I knew well the Hearse Song (or poem)
by the age of seven.
Parents and siblings alike (all dead now)
tried to torment me with recitations.

But I do not recall my fear. Now,
at my advanced age
I find the whole thing ironically humorous.

Look both ways.
Memory is often as reliable as divination.
Mind the gaps and hysterical historical lapses.

*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

If you want the more musical version:


NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 18)

Today, I am NaPo-challenged to compose an abecedarian poem – a poem in which the word choice follows the order of the alphabet. It may be a 26-word piece in alphabetical order (a boy can dance… etc.), or a poem of 26 lines with the first letter of the first word of each line following the order of the alphabet. I chose the latter.

I decided to free-style a poem using alphabetized band and singer names with comment.

Music by the Letters

ABBA set the stage for glam-bands
Blondie, Boston, or Brooks & Dunn: you choose
CCR Cream(s) Chicago, but love ‘em all
Dire Straits did the Walk of Life into self-destruction
Elephant Revival caught the White Rabbit best
Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” inspired my marathons
Grateful Dead’s name was Garcia’s dictionary find
Haddaway had his heyday in the nineties
Isaac Hays might have gotten off the Shaft, but
Journey, like some greats, never won a Grammy (dumb)
Kiss, likewise, but was named for “Psycho Circus”
Lynyrd Skynyrd, another no-Gram, not for Free Bird or ‘bama
Melanie still roller skates without a brand new key
Neil Young barely dances these days under a Harvest Moon
Otis Redding still longs for his songs from The Dock of the Bay
Patsy Cline still makes me Crazy and I Fall To Pieces
Queen rocks this boho as champions of rhapsody (no Grammy?)
Roy Orbison was a Traveler, but got me with Pretty Woman
Stealers Wheel stuck me in the middle with you looking in
T. Rex bangs a gong when I Get It On with Hot Love
Uriah Heep’s Lady in Black had some Easy Livin’
Village People remind me the Y.M.C.A. is In the Navy.
Willie Nelson will live forever On the Road Again
XTC sang Dear God and now is no more
Yes still thinks Love Will Find a Way, but hey ho,
ZZ Top bottoms the list like a Tush in La Grange.

Look both ways with music finding better days.
Mind the gaps and carful not to scratch them records.
Just what is a Grammy, anyway?


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

Monday’s Rune: NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 17)

I call my Monday poems runes, which can be ancient Germanic alphabets or stones with such symbols used in fortune telling (mystery or magic). Synonyms for rune include lyric, poem, song, and verse. (

For today, my NaPo challenge was to write a poem that contains the name of a specific variety of edible plant that grows in my area. I was to make a specific comparison (or contrast) between some aspect of the plant’s lifespan and my own. I was also to include at least one repeating phrase.

Byline: By Bill Reynolds as prompted by Maureen Thorson at NaPoWriMo dot net.
Dateline: Everywhere in Texas, but mostly from near Austin, 
perhaps anywhere in the Americas, April 17, 2023.
Copyright and published: 2013, by Our Literary Journey, 
NaPo #17, Monday edition, Rune section.

Cautious Culinary

An eerie red afterglow surrounded us as we drove between the hellish throbbing of wildfire embers from the hearts of burned prickly pear cactus.
I don’t know why.

Ubiquitous, often unseen until it stings, Opuntia of family Cactaceae, also called tuna, sabra, nopal and more,
a bushy edible succulent, often decorative, shrub.

Light green or bluish thorny fleshy pads sprout Spring’s purple-red fruit for jam, jelly, or syrup.
Unharvested fruit become beautiful cactus flowers.
I don’t know why.

They are decorations for xeriscape, desert, Mediterranean, and cactus gardens.

When spiny glochids are removed, pads or fruit are nutritious but best harvested in morning as taste changes during each passing day.
I get it.
I also change as hours of each day pass and like the pear, I taste better in the morning.

The fruit emerges in Spring and soon flowers, more growth and long lived but old age produces less desirable taste.
I get that too.

I can be oh so prickly, no more fruit or flowers, but inside, except for arteries and added parts, I am soft and moist, maybe a little salty for some.
Don’t know why that is either.

I cannot nail down my life span but this year is “expectancy”, nor if the pear outside my door will be there after I’m gone. They live a long time but eventually
everything must die.

I don’t know why, it’s one of those things.
For life to be, there must be death, food chains, health, fire, and sickness
when an eerie red is glowing all around us.
And like me, prickly cactus can be too much.

Look both ways.
The cactus you do not see will stick you good.
Mind the gaps, wear good boots, and watch for snakes.


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).


Prickly Pear cactus after they flower in Spring.


Edible pads and fruit.

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 16)

On the third Sunday of April in the year twenty-twenty-three, I was given the sixteenth daily option to write poetic. My assignment was to compose a poem prompted by negation (I also like contradiction or paradox). That is a poem describing something in terms of what it is not, or what it is not like—as a fish is not a bird and vice-versa, although some fish can fly and some birds swim well. Generally, in English, things (and people) are defined by what they are rather than what they are not.

Cats are not gods
but if they could talk
they’d argue that point.

Cats cannot fly
but my oh my
how did mine get up so high?

Cats do not like to be petted or scratched
unless they ask you to do so.
They’ll be sure you know when you are done.

Cats cannot sing
but here is the thing
do not tell them that meow isn’t a tune.

Cats don’t care
unless they are there
when you want to write,
make dinner, sleep,
or go away for a while.

Look both ways when considering what a thing is or is not.
Mind the gaps that can make even the simple too complex.


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 14)

Dear Bill,

Today, I challenge you to write a parody or satire based on a famous, favorite, or unfavorite, poem of the past.

Happy writing! And regards,


PS: Don’t forget, Yolonda’s birthday is in exactly two weeks.

I love Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. However, I decided to use it for my ridiculous (or maybe not) parody.

Say What?

Half a league is still
over a mile and a half—
The Valley of what?
Did you say death?
Now hold on there, Cowboy.
Right, we got six hundred.
The rooskies got way more.

Blyme, Sir. Did I hear right?
Charge their cannons
with our lancers?
Another Army SNAFU.
I need to explain something.
I don’t give a rat’s ass why.
We’re all going to feckin’ die.
Not in this man’s life,
not even with six hundred.

All of them artys on three sides,
no cover, no air support, and
whose idea was it
to bring our knives to
this crazy cannon gun fight?
Me and this horse will
just mosey yonder and wait.

What the hell is wrong
with you, Captain? I say
we let them Cossacks
and Rooskies be. They mean
no harm to me.

Oh, shit! Now look what
you did—another “oopsie”
by our genius leadership.
There has been some ugly
stuff out here. We’re not
six hundred no more.

I heard you say that
glorious death awaits me.
Maybe so. But I prefer
don’t be stupid and live
to fight another day.
“Noble six hundred” my ass.

Look both ways, but knives are no help in a gun fight.
Mind the gaps and pass the ammunition.

To learn more about the history of this event, click here.

To read and hear read Tennyson’s poem, click here.


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 13)

On the 13th day I was to write a short poem that follows the beats of a classic joke. My poem should emphasize the interplay between the form of the poem and the punchline.

I use humor. But today? Nada. In desperation I am posting this just so that I post “on prompt” and do not get behind. (Nobody said it had to be good.) I hope to do better tomorrow. Anyway…

Doctor, doctor,
what is wrong with me?

Each morning
when I look into the mirror
I feel like throwing up.
What is wrong with me?

The doctor says
he doesn’t know
then adds,
“but your eyesight
is perfect.”

Look both ways when contemplating the literal and the ironic.
Mind the gaps. Even the best comics flop sometimes.


Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

Not his best, but Ray is on-prompt, too.

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 12)

It’s another hump day and I’ve written (to prompt) a poem that “addresses itself or some aspect of itself.”

I attempted a bit humor using personification, elements of poems, and dialogue (dialogue poems are legit) between two old poem friends.

If I get ripped for being a little sexist, so be it. Bukowski, I’m not.

The Dialogue Readings

Frankie. Wake up! We have a problem.

My name is Francesca. Not Frankie.
What is it now Gabbie?

I’m Gabriella.

Whatever. What’s your problem?

It’s poetry month and he’s picking poems
to read at that open mic thingy.

So what? He does that every month.

He abandoned us years ago.
Now he wants to dress me up and take me out.
He wants to upgrade my imagery.
My metaphor needs to be adjusted.

This scheme makes my verse look fat.
Look, my couplets are sagging!
And my rhymes sound forced.

Gabbs, all rhymes are forced, don’t worry.
And your couplets are pure soliloquy.

What meter will he dress me in?
I’ve lost my rhythm and sorry,
but I forget what that metaphor was for.

At least you’re not a limerick. Or worse,
an ode pastoral haiku.
You got standup stanza, Girlfriend!

Well, I still think my verse is a bit terse,
And my assonance isn’t what it was.
But my onomatopoeia still got its boom-boom.

Sounds wonderful. What are you going to wear?

I think my sonnet bonnet beats that old free verse fedora.
Over my enclosed rhyme-wear, that pentameter blouse
goes well with my cinquain studded skirt.
I saw some nice narrative-tercet flats to tell his sorry story.

You’ll be poetry personified, Gabriella.
Now let me go back to sleep. Have fun.

Hey, sestet, you’re getting read too.
So get ready, Frankie, dear Francesca.

What? Ode noooo.

Look both ways at the new and the old.
Mind the gaps, especially when you stereotype.


Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 11)

Today, I was to write a poem that takes as its starting point something overheard that made me laugh, or something someone told me once that struck me as funny. So, one day…

Testimonial Tiptoeing

While walking to Bible Study one sunny Sunday
I thought I heard her say to me, “Sit on your hands
and keep your mouth shut.”
She may have said, “Please.”
I may have laughed,
as they say, out loud.

I don’t recall.
I hadn’t planned for this behavior,
nor had others. I was well-known
for my robust questions effectuating discourse.
But I agreed to remain calm and quiet.

Perhaps a little too proud of my oracular
transformation of boring topics into
heated disputes among those who cared
(maybe a little too much) about all things biblical.

I did my best. I really tried to make her proud.
With both hands literally under my arse,
and my lips drawn to a thin white line,
I was being holy as hell and doing fine,
until the lovely lady facilitating the study asked,

“Bill, why have you been so quiet?
Why have you not blessed us
with your usual wit and wisdom?”
And why is your face so red?

I don’t remember much after that.
The priest said it was demonic.
A friend said smoke bellowed
from my ears. I swear I heard a nun pray,
more impassioned than logical,
“May the saints preserve us from
this cantankerous old toad.”

Look both ways when contemplating all things divine.
Mind the gaps but give respect to get respect.
Sometimes a story is just a story and a joke is just a joke.


Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).

NaPoWriMo 2023 (Day 10)

What is a sea shanty?

It’s a poem in the form of a song, strongly rhymed and rhythmic. Two famous sea shanties, in addition to The Wellerman (listen, it’s fun), are What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? and Blow the Man Down.

My assignment was to write a poem with nautical phrases to keep “the sea in my shanty.” While formerly career Air Force, I’m intrigued by submarines and aircraft carriers and the life sailors live. I decided on a poem about submariners, after knowing some and learning more (for a flyboy/landlubber). I used so much jargon that I decided on extensive glossing.

Blind Man’s Bluff

Shipmate, shipmate, useless thou art
you’ll be chief of the crank
or you’ll be walkin’ the plank
unqualled and unfit to smell a chief’s fart.

Yer like a dog with two peters
so confused in that bubble
a bluenose nub, yer nothin’ but trouble
below-decks with the cooks and the beaters.

The worst we got yet from rottin’ o’Groton
yer too fuckin’ green to sit in the box.
Today yer a FLOB washing my socks.
We’ll rig for red and drop you in Boston.

Shipmate, shipmate, you’re new to the crew.
Bubblehead, bubblehead, give me a clue.
Carry on with target prosecution that’s true,
a fish in the water with the firing solution.

What’s that? A dolphin on your chest?
And the COB now thinks yer one of the best.
Sooner than sonar our service’s a test,
an a-ganger now, yer the best of the rest.

With orders all ahead full cavitate,
it’s hard for the skimmers to fully appreciate
the pukas in our honeycomb tube
remember your days as a dumbass nub-noob.

Shipmate, shipmate, here we go again
bubblehead, bubblehead, give us a clue.
We’re just out of Groton all shiny and new.
We’ll be diving in soon, you tell us all when.

Look both ways, but things can hide behind a submarine.
Mind the gaps on the port and the starboard, but out of the water the rudder is right.

Note: I got the title from Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, and Annette Lawrence Drew, published in 1998, is a non-fiction book about U.S. Navy submarine operations during the Cold War. I give the book 5 stars.

Gloss: “Shipmate” is pejorative when used sailor to sailor, but not usually otherwise. “Chief” is a senior enlisted rank, but here it is sarcastic. “Crank”s are the shit-jobs on submarines. The “bubble” refers to leveling the sub. A “NUB” is a non-useful body, unqualified without a dolphin badge (like a pilot without wings).

The USN submarine school and museum (I recommend if you like subs and their history) are located near Groton, Connecticut (USA). I’ve heard it called “rotten Groton.”

The “box” is a key location on a sub. “FLOB” is an initialism for freeloading oxygen breather. “Rig for red” is going to red lights to preserve night vision before rising to periscope depth. “Bubblehead” refers to people on submarines. “Fish” in the water refers to a torpedo. US Submariners are awarded a dolphin badge when they become fully qualified. “COB” is the enlisted chief of the boat. “A-gangers” are experienced crewmembers (aka, knuckle-draggers/tough guys). “All ahead full cavitate” is getting away quickly. “Skimmers” are surface ships and sailors. “Pukas” are small hiding places on a sub.


*Click on the NaPo 2023 button to see the challenge and to read more poems (not all are on prompt).