Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 24 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


24 Divisadero. If you're San Francisco born and bred, like me, that's what the number 24 conjures up: a bus line. But let's get to today's poeming.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a faith poem. For some people, faith means religion. For others, faith means trusting in science and mathematics. Still others, think George Michael’s 'Faith' just as some immediately conjure up Faith Hill. Regardless of where you put your faith (or don’t), today’s poem gives you an opportunity to express yourself."


Okay, here is my medieval marginalia — marginalium? — a bit of nunnery humor in a "bas-de-page" or bottom-of-the-page illustration found in a mid-14th-century manuscript of the Roman de la Rose, attributed to manuscript illuminator — illuminatrix? — Jeanne de Montbaston.


Yup. That's what they are. A little pale . . . I suppose they grow where the sun don't shine.

Sister Marie Considers Faith

A bird in the hand is worth
two in the bush, thought Sister.
Since I have two in my basket,
and four more in yon tree,
I'll soon be the happiest woman
in Christendom, so long as I
keep faith they can make me fly.

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

Here is Alan's medieval illustration: “Jael and Sisera” (from Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westphalen, c.1360.)


You can read this Bible narrative in "The Song of Deborah" (Judges 5). If you click on the image above, you can view the full illustration — a two-parter.

Jael

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
sleeping Sisera
in his exhausted assumption
that she, peasant woman,
oppressed by his occupation,
would watch at her tent’s flap
to warn him, his bearing
a foil to his cowardice,
retreating and hiding,
asleep.

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
through an eye socket
of the unseeing commander,
through the ear canal
of the unhearing oppressor,
through the open mouth
whose voice could level her camp,
suffering and hurting,
bereft.

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
choosing his temple,
not obscuring his face
or his recognition
of his last mistakes
that her subjugation
meant weakness,
that homely implements
are not weapons.

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

Alan tells us more about his process today, "Of course, one of the first things I did was ask Thomas Crofts, medievalist, if he had a favorite image that he might recommend. He directed me to a British Libraries site, where they offer a digitized version of The Luttrell Psalter, and it is a lovely work that deserves far more consideration than I have the luxury to spend today. I will return to it, however, for its variety of images. I told Thomas that I was going to start drawing in the margins of all of my books. Get a look at this fine webpage here." Alan also told me, "I used to draw flipbook animations in lab manuals, so I am happy."

An interesting quandary today, with regard to the blog being "family-friendly" or not. With these illustrations and their matching poems, we have the old problem of PG-13 vs. R vs. NC-17 ratings: which is worse? Sex or violence? I like the old Saturday Night Live joke: sax and violins . . . what's so bad about that, really?


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 23 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Ending the third week of NaPoWriMo, kinda. Seven days left after today. Trying this month to always do both prompts, find some way to bridge them. Been successful so far. Hoping the prompts from here on out cooperate!

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. . . . A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "take the phrase 'Last (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 include: 'Last Straighter,' 'Last Unicorn,' 'Last Day of Summer,' 'Last Cookie in the Cookie Jar,' and so on."


"The problem" with today's prompts, Alan wrote when he sent me his poem, "had to do with Brewer's fixing a word in the title and then following the form encouraged by Thorson, so I remembered something from a long time ago. I am not sure I handled Brewer's prompt the way he intends, but when one offers a word that has any number of meanings, one risks unexpected responses."

Last

Last
Foot form
In cordwainer’s shop
New leather, new footwear
Beginning

Last
Foot form
In cobbler’s shop
Repairing burst and worn
Sustaining

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

Wonderful, Alan! I love the word "cordwainer" because I find the connection with "Cordoba" (as in Spanish leather) intriguing and I am also a huge fan of science-fiction writer Cordwainer Smith. If any of you gentle readers don't know his SF, you gotta check it out.

I wrote Alan back, in response to this poem, "Very nicely done. You really nail the opposition idea Thorson suggests. Sorry 'nail' was a bad pun. Can one even get leather shoes worked on these days?" As a child, I loved going to a shoe repair shop and smelling the leather in the air. I suppose you'd have to go to a saddle shop now to have that experience. Do saddleries repair leather shoes? Where are the shoes of yesteryear?


Okay, here's my attempt to mash up "Last ____" with the double elevenie. Trying also to accommodate Thorson's challenge to address opposing ideas in the two elevenies.

Last Day

sunrise
morning starts
eastern horizon lightening
just like every other
day

end
life's last
look far westward
shuddering breath, eyes close
sunset

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

This is the first time I've tried to write an elevenie . . . never heard about it before, actually. What do you think, o gentle readers? I tried to write lines that were both endstopped and enjambed. In other words, they could be read as individual self-contained lines at the same time that they could spill over into the other lines, backward and forward. Hope it worked out.


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 22 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Happy Earth Day!

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. . . . Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a fable poem. A fable is a story that conveys a moral, usually told with animal characters."


Alan's note that came with his poem: "Enjoying the rain today, and here's my brief poem, a memory from my elementary school years, when they led us to believe odd things about Native People."

The First Agriculture I Learned

A fish finds a net
and gasps in the air
to lie curled in earth,
a seed in its curve,
life's flesh-to-life path.

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

Alan continues: "I was thinking today of how little we learned about Native American people when I was in school, although I imagine at least half of the students would have said they were part Cherokee or Creek from a couple of generations back. I remember a poem that suggested that all Indian life had been replaced by the modern (white) world ('Indian Children' by Annette Wynne), some discussion of how to convert a log into a canoe, and some brief discussion of the Trail of Tears. We learned less about Native Americans than we did about African Americans, and, frankly, that wasn't much.

"I have been increasingly concerned about how we teach history and civics to our public school children. I believe that I did not learn as much as I needed to learn, because it was not taught to me at the time, but I do not know what justification our diverse American culture can offer today."


My poem today blends the two prompts of Georgic and Fable with another prompt earlier in NaPoWriMo for a creation myth.     (Just looked up it up . . . Day 19.)

Eartha

When the world was young and new
the long pink worms had a meeting
to decide what their destiny would be.
After long debate among the older worms,
the young wormling Eartha suggested,
"Let us pass our Mother the Soil
through our bodies and bring Father Air
down into the tunnels we excavate."
This speech was met with many huzzahs
and a vote passed to change their name
to Earthworms after wise, good Eartha.
And thus it came to pass that the ground
is softened and aerated for maple seeds
to wing down and find a home, a base
for their lofty branches to reach for sky.

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 21 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Blackjack. Roberto Clemente with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nine o'clock sans sun.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a coworker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "pick an object (any object), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: 'Toothbrush,' 'Rake,' 'Pilot G2 Premium Gel Roller Pen,' or any number of other objective titles. Have fun with it."


I just got back from lunch at the Union here at my university. Man, the things you hear. This transpired literally within the last hour.

Quesadilla

Lunch at the Union, next table.
“Yeah, I haven’t listened to
a word she’s said in years.”

Student speaking takes a bite
of her quesadilla. “So fuck her.”
Turns out she’s talking about

her mom. Bite of quesadilla.
Later she says, “I’m a romantic,
you know.” Quesadilla bite.

Back to her mom, with rants
on her mom’s health, MRI’s, and
“stupid decisions.” Quesadilla.

I wonder how many times
this woman’s mom has cooked
quesadillas for her over the years?

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



Alan's poem also came from eavesdropping while eating. During dinner at a restaurant last night, in fact.

Implant

“She said he just felt sick and dizzy all
the time, and all those jokes about the pill—
but no one thinks about an implant—she
just wanted him to feel all right about
himself, and he’d quit cigarettes and lost
a bit of weight, but still, you know, there was
that other thing. Somehow, he has to bend
it into shape, and when they’re done, he tucks
it down in place. Oh, it’s a honeymoon,
to hear her talk. Before, he’d always been
‘attentive’ to her needs—I didn’t ask—
but now they hurry home from work, and I’ve
not seen them out for drinks since he got cleared
to—honey, I don’t know about some folks.”

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

Wow.

About this Alan wrote me, "Thank Heavens for iambic pentameter, which polishes even accidental Applebee's eavesdropping." Also, folks, it's an unrhymed sonnet! Well, actually, some occasional rhyme: all/pill, tucks/folks, honeymoon/been.

Okay, everyone, you know what to do next time you're eating at some fine establishment. Bring a yellow pad. And a gel pen so you can write fast. Laptop, even.


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 20 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Imagine each day a finger. Today, we're at four hands. Two hands left to go.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a task poem. The task can be some glorious duty, or it can be a seemingly small and insignificant job. Or the poem can take someone to task. It’s your task to figure it out and write it."

Both Alan and I are melding the prompts today, shuffling the cards, and dealing the hands.

Hang Time

A certain so-called point guard
has been lobbing air ball tweets
from downtown, setting blindside
screens to fake out everyone
from the Russian run-and-gun,
unsportsman-like fouls by his coach.
Let’s keep up the full-court press,
force some double-dribble errors, and
dunk him in the (im)peach basket.

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



Golf Terms that Appear to Be Associated with
Being an Incumbent Candidate in Kentucky


Alignment
Angle of Approach (or Attack)
Approach
Axis
Backspin
Balance
Block
Bump and Run
Bunker
Chicken Wing
Choke
Dead Hands
Explosion
Fade
Lag
Lay Off
Lie
Mulligan
Overclub
Pistol Grip
Plugged Lie
Press
Reverse
Scramble
Separation
Spoon
Steer
Straight-Faced
Swinger
Uncock
Upright
Visualization
Weak Grip
Whiff
                                          (SOURCE).

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

Alan cited this source for his list of golf terms: http://www.pga.com/golf-instruction/instruction-feature/fundamentals/golf-glossary-and-golf-terms.


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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