Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 11 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day Eleven. Did you know that in base 2, called binary, "11" (two ones) is the number three, in good ol' decimal. Conversely, eleven in base 2 would be written "1011." In hexadecimal (base 16), our everyday eleven would be written "B" and "11" in hexadecimal would be the decimal number seventeen. Those in my generation — I'm barely into my sixties — learned this in the grade-school subject New Math. Anyone remember New Math?     . . .     . . .     . . .     No one? It's probably just as well.

“For today’s prompt,” says Robert Lee Brewer in Poetic Asides, “make a statement the title of your poem and either respond to or expand upon the title. Some example titles might include: “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”; “Guns Don’t Kill People, I Do”; “This Is Your Brain on Drugs”; “Smile for the Camera”; and “Be Kind Rewind.” Of course, there’s an incredible number of possible titles; pick one and start poeming!”

“Poets have been writing about love and wine, wine and love, since . . . well, since the time of Anacreon, a Greek poet who was rather partial to that subject matter,” says Maureen Thorson in NaPoWriMo. “Anacreon developed a particular meter for his tipsy, lovey-dovey verse, but Anacreontics in English generally do away with meter-based constraints. Anacreontics might be described as a sort of high-falutin’ drinking song. So today I challenge you to write about wine-and-love. Of course, you may have no love of wine yourself, in which case you might try an anti-Anacreontic poem. Happy writing!”

Friends, mixing the prompts, as always. Thanks to Kathleen Ann Lawrence (called "Lucky Kathy" by Alan the other day) for helping me brainstorm some possible titles: "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover"; "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They're Hatched"; "A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush" (we had a good laugh over the possible sexual undertones in that one). Kathy helped me come up with some advertising ones too, such as "Only her Hairdresser Knows for Sure" and "Choosy Mothers Choose Jif." I finally settled on the old Maxwell House slogan and wrote a pseudo-Anacreontic or maybe an anti-Anacreontic. You decide. Pretty over the top, doggerel-wise. Enjoy!

Good to the Last Drop

"Let Bacchus, Jove's ambrosial boy,
Distil the grape in drops of joy,"

wrote Anacreon, ancient Greek poet.
"I tremble for my rosy boys!" he ended.

I wonder how the man would fare today
if he had my misfortunate malady:

to be allergic to all wine
in various forms, in every kind.

To be rendered anaphylactic,
Rendering the wine, thus, anticlimactic.

Well, my dear Anacreon, I decree:
You’d have to get used to drinking dark coffee.

A nectar distilled from an ebony bean
That contains the stimulant drug caffeine,

"a bitter white crystalline xanthine
alkaloid," says Wikipedia. Anacreon,

you don't know "crystalline xanthine" from
"alkaloid," but you’ll love this infusion,

this heavenly beverage and the high
it gives, like an everyday Vi-

agra. They say men fall asleep after sex,
but if you have had enough coffee, that hex

will not enslave you. Instead you'll be
in short order, sooner than usual, ready

to go man Van Gogh. So friends, I recommend
coffee over wine any day. The end.

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

Okay, two days of doggerel. Silly doggerel, at that. Hope you've enjoyed it. Doggerel is good. Doggerel is our friend.
Alan sets up his Day 11 poem for us: "I'm going off the prompt grid again today, because I heard myself say something, and it made me think of how my maternal grandmother spoke. I'm not sure if this poem is going to work in print. You have to pronounce 'hyenah' as one syllable (well, as close to a single-syllable word as an Alabamian can manage), kind of gliding your tongue over your top palate as if you are attempting to get peanut butter unstuck from it, making kind of a nasal 'yuck' noise in the middle of the word. Just don't think that I forgot how to spell 'hyena,' although I acknowledge that my attempt to transcribe that other familiar word looks like a laughing beast, too.

"Hyenah"

"You get yourself in here right now, you hear?"
I hear it more the way you said it, "hyenah."
I’m not sure how to write it; there’s an "n"
in there — the "y" is clear enough, last "ah"
not quite an "ah," that tail-end "ah," the way
I've heard our Georgia people talk, their broad
"ah," not the way you said it, nasal pinched,
your tongue brushed on the your front palatal ridge,
a backward sniff, not quite a snort, inside
your sinuses. "Come here," you said, someone
I never heard pronounce her own name right,
the "d" in "Henderson" left out, the "n"
just slurred, the "r" lost to our dialect.
"You hear." I hear. "Come here." Yes ma'am, I'm there.

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

Wow, Alan, I'm pretty gobsmacked heah. No idea how on God's earth one can say "hyenah" as one syllable. I'll have to take your word for it. I tried to replicate the pronunciation based on how you described it, and there's no way. I'm just a Westerner — a San Franciscan, to be precise — and this is beyond me. Now, San Franciscans born and raised in "The City" as we call it also have a native dialect, but that's a story for another time.

Loved the poem and its take on pronunciation and how that's intertwined with familial respect and tradition. You wondered above if the poem works in print. I think it does; as a reader, although I can't grasp the sound contortions (to me), I can take them for granted as true and focus instead on the relationship themes.

I also learned a new word today: "Alabamian." I always thought it was "Alabaman." But Webster's tells me those two spellings are interchangeable, though the one with the "i" in it is preferred. Who'd a-thunk it?   


Won't you comment, please? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment; if you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince and click on the word comments.

Ingat, everyone. Go have an espresso.  


POEM-A-DAY 2014 • 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


1 comment:

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