Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day Four ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

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In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur's instructions on how to use the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch go: "And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count . . ." Cracked me up the first time I saw the movie because I assumed Arthur would count to 4, but instead he counts "1, 2, 5."   ;-D

Well, today we've counted to 4. Four shall be the number thou shall count, and the number of the counting shall be four. 4-4. Fourth day of the fourth month. The "13" in 4-4-13, when you add the 1 and the 3 together, also makes 4. How about that!

The PAD and NaPoWriMo prompts for 4-4 are worth quoting at length. Robert says, "For today's prompt, take the phrase 'Hold That (Blank),' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possible titles include 'Hold That Thought,' 'Hold That Space,' 'Hold That Poem,' or whatever else holds your attention."

And Maureen says, "Our prompt for today (again — totally optional!) is a little odd, but here goes. Recently, I read an article about the Scottish science fiction writer Iain M. Banks. His books often have spaceships in them. And those spaceships have extremely odd, poetic names. Like:
             Prosthetic Conscience
             Irregular Apocalypse
             Unfortunate Conflict of Interest
             Gunboat Diplomat   . . .

There's a whole twitter account," Maureen continues, "devoted to tweeting Iain-M-Banks-like names for spaceships. So your challenge for today is to write a poem with a title drawn from one of these spaceship names."

Okay, folks, I'm doing both of these "assignments" in one poem: a tribute in verse, in homage, to Iain M. Banks, who is very ill with cancer. The spaceship name, Screw Loose, comes from Banks's novel The Player of Games.

Hold That Ship: Screw Loose
In honor of Iain M. Banks, Scottish science fiction writer.
Banks's website quotes him, "The bottom line, now,
I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer
patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and
it’s extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year."

The Irish corvette (or small warship)
Macha
named after an ancient Irish goddess of war — carried
William Butler Yeats's body from France to Ireland
for reburial in 1948.

Iain waits at Forth Ports in Rosyth,
where his father had once worked.
He sits on a dock, dangling his feet
into thick air over dark green water,
where once submarines lay to be fixed,
their blunt noses airing in dry docks.

The clipper spaceship Screw Loose,
from his novel The Player of Games,
is on its way to fetch Iain, to ferry
him to Avalon, Ynys Afallon, the Isle
of Apples, where King Arthur waits
to save England again from dire peril.

Iain squints into gray, storm-clouded
sky, unsure from which direction
Screw Loose would appear, swoop in.
A three-masted ship gracefully slips
into dock. Iain pays not one whit
of attention, still scanning the skies.

Iain is surprised when the sailing ship’s
captain walks up to him, plumed tricorn
and tasseled epaulets glowing gold.
"Mr. Banks, I presume? When will you
board, sir? I am master of this ship
in front of you. She is Screw Loose."

Jaw slack, Iain doesn't know what
to say. He allows himself to be led
onto the deck of the clipper ship.
Captain MacBride gives the order
to cast off, weigh anchor. The sun
emerges brightly from behind clouds.

Standing in the bow, Iain leans into
salty spray, the sea scudding and
frothing as it breaks on either side
of the clipper. Iain feels the cancer
somehow fading away, black flakes
sloughing off and flying away in wind.

Iain recalls how he had driven today
to the Rosyth docks in a bit of a frenzy.
He'd imagined he would be tardy and
need to sprint, yelling out for someone
to hold the spaceship even as it left.
He'd look as if he had a screw loose.

Hearing a strange metallic noise,
like a submarine klaxon dive dive,
Iain turns and looks upward
at the sails on the closest mast.
Someone in a boat alongside
the Screw Loose would have seen

Iain smile, as masts fold down,
form a translucent metallic canopy
over the deck and 1950s rocket fins.
The spaceship Screw Loose lifting
from the water, soaring noiselessly
into air, deep space, the heavens.

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

That's my Number Four. Hope you enjoy it. Whether you do or you don't, please let me know with a comment below. Thanks.

See you tomorrow for Poem Five! Ingat, everyone.   ;-)



POEM-A-DAY 2013 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

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