Thursday, May 11, 2017

Prince ... A Year After


I meant to post a tribute to Prince on the anniversary of his death. But completely forgot! So here goes, a couple weeks late.

This is USA Today's tribute to Prince on 21 April 2017, exactly one year after his death. I especially like the graphic at the top showing his Love Symbol guitar with a black mourning band on it. And how it matches the photo of Prince holding that guitar, from his renowned Super Bowl performance in 2007. Can't believe that was ten years ago!


Here's my elegy for Prince, which appeared in A Prince Tribute: ...only wanted one time to see you laughing, an anthology edited by Sarah Frances Moran (Yellow Chair Press, 2016).

Rest in Purple

Prince soared from Paisley Park
in a little red Corvette, upward

to magenta clouds, bathing in
purple rain majestic, radio blasting
Dr. Funkenstein slap-and-pop.

Riding shotgun: love symbol axe
with its Salvador Dalí mustachio.

Heading to heaven to jam with Jimi,
Janis, James Brown the Godfather of Soul,
and Michael Jackson the King of Pop.

His third eye staring straight into
the liquid light-blaring orb of God.

Prince of Purple finally with his
Prince of Peace, a dazzling smile.

—Vince Gotera, from A Prince Tribute (2016)

In the poem, I tried to incorporate Prince's great faith as a Jehovah's Witness. And I also enjoyed all the J's in the heavenly musicians' names. The mention of the "third eye" is a tribute to his last music project, 3rdEyeGirl, a band Prince fronted, with bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen, guitarist Donna Grantis, and drummer Hannah Welton.

A Prince Tribute had a really glorious front cover, in purple of course. A truly fitting celebration of Prince both visually and in the beautiful writing contained in the anthology.


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


The final day of NaPoWriMo/Poem-a-Day. I'm going to display NaPoWriMo's blog button (at right). I've been doing NaPoWriMo for years and have never done that.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "And finally, our final prompt — at least until next year! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that happens again and again (kind of like NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo). It could be the setting of the sun, or your Aunt Georgia telling the same story at Thanksgiving every single year. It could be the swallows returning to Capistrano or how, without fail, you will lock your keys in the car whenever you go to the beach."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "For today’s prompt, take the phrase 'The (blank),' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: 'The Poets,' 'The Good Guys,' 'The Bad Guys,' 'The Last Thing She Said,' and so on."

Okay, here we go . . . merging the prompts one more time.

The Thirty Days

Again, April's 30 days are over.
So fast they swing by, like the poems themselves.
Challenge accepted and done: NaPoWriMo.

Thirty poems richer. Writing stronger.
This time, unlike every other year, I resolve
to keep writing a poem a day. And so

here we go. Poem and poem and poem,
I hope. Let's bring more poems home and home.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

For the first time, I was successful this month in merging all the prompts each day, Maureen's and Robert's both. Even the two-for-Tuesday ones (which meant I'd have three prompts to mash up on those days). I even got a couple of installments of my aswang novella-in-poems done. Maybe that narrative should be my continuing poem-a-day project.

Here is Alan's intro to his poem today: "This has been a difficult month for writing poetry, because April always proves to be one of the most difficult months of the academic year, with all the grading, all the events, and all the restlessness. I confess relief to have made it to the end of another NaPoWriMo. I think I have a handful of salvagable pieces (probably 'Bottleassin'' as the likely next candidate for revision). Good luck to everyone who created something this month!"

The Patdown

Watch the men in my family when they stand,
watch how they brush their hands along the sides of their thighs,
watch how they move their hands behind them,
watch how they hook their thumbs in their back pockets,
how they pat themselves down to assure
their pockets hold what they should hold,
their handkerchiefs and billfolds,
their pocketknives and wads of keys,
the older men, their pocket combs,
the younger men, their new cel phones,
their pockets carrying their lives,
their contact with the world,
their financial well-being,
their whittling ingenuity,
where every key is a responsibility,
how each has his own preference,
a wallet in a front pocket,
a carabiner for a keyring,
a rabbit’s foot,
everything to be checked
for assurance
that nothing has gapped
that nothing has dropped
that nothing has slipped
out, fallen between cushions,
been loaned,
been lost,
but rests where we have put it,
even the guitar picks in my watch pocket.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Wonderful poem, as always, Alan. Congratulations to you on completing NaPoWriMo. Congratulations to both of us!

Thanks, Maureen. Thanks, Robert. See you again next April: the cruelest month and the joyfullest too.


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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


29 is where I live.

That's an interesting sentence, isn't it? Translation: I live in the state of Iowa, which is the 29th state in the US, admitted to the Union in 1846.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Today, I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word 'stones' or 'specter.' After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations — other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a metric poem. Most of the world uses the metric system to measure things out; not so much in the States. But there are meters and liters, and the occasional millimeters. Also, poetry uses metrics (the study of meter in poetry). And metrics, in a general sense, can measure various things by a common denominator — even inches and/or teaspoons."


Today, Alan and I are both using Maureen's example poem above, [One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —], Johnson # 670 / Franklin # 407; we are both riffing on the word "Revolver" from that Emily Dickinson poem.

Revolver

When I was 9 my prized possession was
a Mattel Colt .45 Peacemaker,
a Marshal Matt Dillon chrome revolver,
a smokin’ cap gun brought by Santa Claus.

I didn’t know about that other Colt
.45, the semi-automatic,
magazine-fed, recoil-operated, bolt-
action pistol used by American

troops in the Philippine-American war.
It was invented to kill Filipinos!
In the ’80s, the DOD changed over
to 9mm weapons like NATO’s.

But 9mm or .45 inch
can still kill my people. Just a hunch.


—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

There you go, a sonnet starting with the idea of the revolver, moving from inches to metric. Two kinds of metric because the poem is also in pentameter. The abbreviation "DOD" stands for Department of Defense. I assume you all know what "NATO" is.

For those who nerd out on poetics, in lines 2 and 4 of the second quatrain, I'm using enjambed rhyme. The ic-n in "American" (line 4) is rhymed with the ic/m in the middle of the phrase "semi-automatic / magazine" split by a line break (line 2). Fun, huh?


Here's Alan's intro to his "revolver" poem today: "Well, the creepy thing is that 'One need not be a chamber to be haunted' got me thinking about gun puns, and the tone of it reminded me a bit of 'Eleanor Rigby' from the Beatles' Revolver album, and I had trouble disconnecting the two, so here we are."

Cylinder

One need not be a Chamber — to be loaded.
Where do they all come from?
One need not be surrounded — to be goaded
Where do they all belong?

Could she be hungry, picking up rice,
Given to clean,
Returning home where she takes off her face,
Living in dreams?

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase
To follow greatness, Pepper’s wallop,
Request all waste?

But, earlier, she dies alone
To face the world
With her jarred face slightly undone,
Its edges curled.

The Beatles bestow a Revolver
That aims and spins
At precisely thirty-three and one third
RPMs.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Great poem, Alan, thank you. A marvelous Dickinson imitation. Gentle readers, I hope you enjoyed our widely different approaches to that same word revolver. I hope too you got Alan's Abbey Road and Satanic Majesty play.

Incidentally, Alan also used enjambed rhyme in the last stanza. The ird in the ending word "third" (line 3) is rhymed with er/th in the phrase "Revolver / That" split by a line break (line 1). So cool that both of us employed enjambed rhyme today.


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Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


28 is a happy number.

Do you know about "happy numbers"? I didn't until a couple of minutes ago. "A happy number is a number defined by the following process: Starting with any positive integer, replace the number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until the number either equals 1 (where it will stay), or it loops endlessly in a cycle that does not include 1. Those numbers for which this process ends in 1 are happy numbers, while those that do not end in 1 are unhappy numbers (or sad numbers)" (Wikipedia).

So, for 28 . . . 22 + 82 = 68. Apply the squaring and adding again . . . 62 + 82 = 100. Again . . . 12 + 02 + 02 = 1. Okay, there we are, happy!   

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem using Skeltonic verse. Don’t worry, there are no skeletons involved. Rather, Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as 'dipodic' or 'two-footed' verse). The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se. The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a poem about a smell. Similar to Day 6’s prompt about writing a poem about a sound, today’s prompt involves thinking about the various good and bad smells that fill the world. Pick one smell (or a variety, I suppose), and write a poem."

Here's my best shot today, merging both prompts. I'm just okay with this one. It's going to need some serious revision, probably. But here it is for now, starting with some song lyrics you might recognize.

Prevention

Ooo-ooo, that smell.
Can you smell
that smell?
Lynyrd
frickin’ Skynyrd
wanted to save
lives. To save
you and me.
Music is free:
you hear it, we
hear it. Hard drugs
aren’t just for thugs.
That girl next door,
that boy who’s your
lawn mower, they’re
all in danger.
But what to do?
It’s all on you.
Love your kids till
they know and feel
they’re something real
important. Give
them strength to live
each day with pride,
not have to hide.
Let’s stem the tide.
Let love abide.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Man, this skeltonic form is tough. The rhyme comes back so fast! Easy to use for light verse, for humor, probably, but I wanted to try to write something in a serious vein. I almost went "rogue" (evaded the prompts, that is), but I've committed myself this month to using and combining both prompts.

And now, Alan's skeltonics . . .

Blue Guitar

Vince Gotera
stands on terra
firma, thera-
peutic air o’
seeing, peri-
scopic stare a-
bove the crowd,
in tune, unbowed
while playing loud
and polyrhythmic,
cataclysmic
spills of seismic
rills and cosmic
fire-pick sweet lick
testified,
amplified,
led beside
still waters,
sons and daughters,
troll-abhoring,
poll-deploring,
goal-ignoring,
soul-restoring,
soul-imploring,
psychedelia
like you tell ya
gals and fellas
like Vidalias
sweet and layered
like the first heard
hungry, thirsty
on the first day
joy that burst ‘way
up and out
and all about
as our nation
needs creation.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Why, thank you, Alan. What a treat. Love the -smic rhymes! I also find delightful the rhymes of air o’ and stare a- with my last name.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


27 Club Brian Jones Jimi Hendrix Janis Joplin Jim Morrison Kurt Cobain Amy Winehouse Heaven's band . . .
Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Many poems explore the sight or sound or feel of things, and Proust famously wrote about the memories evoked by smell, but today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores your sense of taste! This could be a poem about food, or wine, or even the oddly metallic sensation of a snowflake on your tongue."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "For today’s prompt, use at least 3 of the following 6 words in your poem (using a word or two in your title is fine); for extra credit, try using all 6: pest, crack, ramble, hiccup, wince, festoon.

I've often wondered what it must be like to hear colors and see music.

Synesthesia

pesto pasta and pine nuts
tart bitter creamy forest green
glimpsing G minor arpeggios

1965 Rambler American
listen to shiny teal enamel
taste chrome bumpers and trim

crack of heat lightning
9-volt batteries on the tongue
touching black sky thunder

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Alan got more of the words in than I did. Bravo!

Char to Hiccup

Flavor so sharp, I wince in joy
eating the apple vinegar-based
sauce from North Carolina,
tasting sharp, sweet cracked pepper
over tang. I’d like to ramble
over the line now, pester a cook
near to cracking me over the head.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Did you notice Alan got all six words in? Look at the left margin! Acrostic.   

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