Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 20 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 20 . . . Happy Easter and Happy Passover. Two-thirds done with National Poetry Month. Hey, here's another NaPoWriMo button I found online but in reverse colors from the one I showed you yesterday. Or is that "inverted" colors? I suppose one could display this as a token on the blog that shows one did the NaPoWriMo challenge in a certain year? Maybe I can find the 2012 and 2013 ones online too.

Today's "official" prompts are very close to one another, perhaps because of the holiday. "For today's prompt," Robert Lee Brewer says, "write a family poem" (Poetic Asides). At NaPoWriMo Maureen Thorson says, "Today I challenge you to write a poem in the voice of a member of your family." If you follow Maureen's prompt today, you automatically do Robert's. Very cool.

So, here we go. A persona poem from beyond the grave by someone I only know from family stories.

Gerardo, My Dead Brother, Speaks
Gerardo, born premature, lived a week.
Family legend says he visited our house,
invisible, only heard, pointed out by me.
I have been your guardian angel, brother,
for the last sixty years, protecting you
from mishap and danger. Yes, those wings were me,
those wings heard by you and by our mother
and father that time when you were only two.
You called, "Ahdo, Ahdo," identifying me correctly.

We have been together ever since, because the Lord
assigned me to be your keeper. When the car missed you
when you were six — all those other times — because of me
you lived. My motto all your life has been simply one word:
                                                        We . . . always we . . .

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

This is a curtal sonnet, a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins in the 1800s. Shrinking the line count and pattern of the Petrarchan sonnet, 8 + 6 (an octave followed by a sester), Father Hopkins fashioned a smaller ("curtal") form with a sestet and a quatrain plus a half-line, 6 + 4 1/2. Pretty tight little form. The rhyme scheme I use above is modeled after one of his most famous curtal sonnets, "Pied Beauty": abcabc dbcdc. Fun form. Give it a try.

Having been raised Catholic, I remember hearing about guardian angels often. It was something all of us Catholic kids took for granted, that each of us had a guardian angel. How one got one was something we never asked about; having a guardian angel was like having a right hand — you just had one. And the reason you had a right hand still, the reason it hadn't been chopped off somehow, was because you had a guardian angel. Perfect logic. QED.

Pietro da Cortona
"The Guardian Angel" (1656)

And now on to Alan's poem for today. His intro: "Here's a family poem for the holiday."

Syrup

One day before they moved to Hanceville, Mom
took Lynn and me to visit our Aunt Kate
in Holly Pond. She and her husband lived
next door to cotton fields; as girls, my Mom
and Kate had picked by hand long rows
of cotton many years, and, even now,
should Mom and I drive by a field machines
have harvested, she’ll say her dad would not
have let them leave so much behind, the white
clean fiber, partial bolls, it costs too much
to get. My Uncle Bobby’s hardware store
in Hanceville he inherited had kept
him from the fields, and Lynn and I, town boys,
were curious to pull the cotton loose,
in spite of pricking fingers as we picked,
and soon, our small hands full, we pulled apart
and wadded up the white to make ourselves
old men, mustachioed, our eyebrows white
until the wind pulled all away. For lunch
Aunt Kate had made spaghetti, sauce as sweet
as candy (sweet tooths weren’t uncommon; both
sides of my family fall on a cake
like famished castaways) and then dessert:
she made some chocolate syrup poured
on biscuits, melted butter on the top.
Somehow, I don’t know how, she cooked
the syrup so it started hardening
and made a candy by mistake, and Lynn
and I, of course, believed it was the best
we’d ever had, and she, a newlywed,
was vexed. But fifty years ago (about),
how could I say there’s no bad love
with fork and biscuit like a lollypop?

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

Such a wonderful memory, how a mistake can be real and positive in retrospective. You describe the sweetness — both tangible and intangible — so clearly. Bravo, Alan.


Won't you comment, please, friends? 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.

Go hug your family members. Ingat, everyone.  


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


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