Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 29. Two days to go. Or, at the time I'm writing this, one day and one hour to go in National Poetry Month!

Robert Lee Brewer has a two-for-Tuesday prompt in honor of Gabriel García Márquez: "Write a realism poem" and/or "Write a magical poem . . . Or write like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and do both!"(Poetic Asides).

Maureen Thorson's "prompt is called the 'Twenty Little Poetry Projects,' and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. . . . the challenge is to use them all in one poem" (NaPoWriMo).

Twenty Little Poetry Projects     by Jim Simmerman

  1.  Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2.  Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3.  Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4.  Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5.  Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6.  Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7.  Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8.  Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9.  Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10.  Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11.  Create a metaphor using the following construction: "The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . ."
12.  Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13.  Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in "real life."
14.  Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15.  Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16.  Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17.  Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18.  Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19.  Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20.  Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that "echoes" an image from earlier in the poem.

Okay, here we go. Not trying to channel Gabriel García Márquez at all. Just trying to channel both real and surreal (which I hope evinces some magic) while trying to do the Simmerman projects in order. Thus mixing all three prompts.

Carnac the Magnificent & Dancing Cactus

The sun rises in the east like a bubble of lava,
streaking the sky with stripes of flowing magma
that smell like pine tar & taste of cinnamon,
loudly sounding red & white like candy canes
forged by Santa Claus & his elves in Hell.
Yes, the sky was riddled with Christmas suns,
riddled wth Easter grass, riddled with Chinese
firecrackers that sh-boom sh-boomed merrily.
The sky's blue was caused by the fireworks.
&, speaking of fireworks: "sis boom bah!"
The magnificent Carnac of happiness brings
us the Light of Truth: "Describe the sound
when a sheep explodes." Johnny Carson will
surely rise from the dead, just as Vince will
not. Incandescent water, the hard texture
of incense smoke . . . let's get real. Let's get
down & dirty. Johnny Carson lives in all
our hearts, a celebrity who was respectful
of all people & all cultures, who raised
a diseased camel from its egg to its coffin.
El camello enfermo de amor. Let's get back
to the real world. Where a saguaro cactus
pulls its legs out of the ground & dances
a poisonous tarantella, a lovely fandango,
bowing to the west like a man of green lava.


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

I don't know how Johnny Carson came to be in the poem but when I was driving to Chicago last week (a five-hour trip) I heard a talk show about TV comedy and heard the Carnac the Magnificent "sis boom bah" bit. (That's when I actually heard this "piece of talk" recently.) I bet not many people know anymore that "sis boom bah" was connected in the late 1800s to fireworks watching and then later in the mid-1900s to cheerleading.


Now on to Alan's poem for Day 29. "I think that I have managed to merge Maureen and Robert's prompts for today. I am not certain what to make of this attempt, though."

Thomas Crofts and I Consider Haruspication
and Routine Examinations of Middle-Aged Men


Outside the English building, near the street,
I hold the map to my most inner self,
the pink and rounded corridor of flesh,
provided me when I awoke from dark
in digital, 600 dpi, my name
in bold across the top, results of tests,
the endoscopic plumber’s snake they probed
down my esophagus, to foretell all.
My printout prophecy provided me
and Thomas Crofts, medievalist, the chance
and welcome opportunity to mourn
the mystery of life, now mapped the way
an unmanned Google car can plot a town.
I told him how the sweatbee sting, a vein
on my right hand, felt nothing like the bland
green plastic guide they had me bite down on
so that the camera probe would never touch
my teeth, my swollen, bitten lips, my fog
and doubt of what I might have said as I
awoke from anesthetic sleep. “And yet,”
he said, “far more routine and comic goes
the colonoscopy, in through the out,
as Led Zep punned, another orifice,
another oracle, to the same end,
to read our guts and tell us times to come.”

“In times to come”—before us stand in scrubs
of rainbow hue to designate the role
of each, a surgeon’s staff encircling one
who lies beneath an arc of burning white,
his abdomen split open to reveal
the sum of what has been and what’s to come.
The surgeon speaks, “Let’s have a poke around.
He has a chance at twenty years, but see
his gut distended, tears in tissue here,
the liver knobbiness—just close him up.”
Supine, the patient turns to smile at us,
to gesture Blue Cross has o.k.’ed our turn,
extended palm of state-insured in full.

I smirked to mask my gasp of churning guts,
reminded of a vivisected frog
my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Freeman, flayed
in front of us, its spinal cord in two
from her deft ice pick plunge. Her thumb was black
from silver nitrate. She had stopped me once
when I was wiping off electrolyte
from naked wires my partner had plugged in.

“If diagnosis tells the future, I’m an ass!”
Regret I said it followed; here I was,
aware that part of me is mess and tubes, aware
Yossarian has learned the same, “There, there,”
a spoken breath as Snowden shows a truth
that I have printed on my desk, refute
it as I might, repeat, “Wo ist der Schnee
vom vegangenen Jahr?”
I taste that blank
white bitterness and nurse my ruptured lip.

Then Thomas said, “Entrance intransigence!” and laughed
that anyone would transfix on his frailty.
“I guess nobody told you, Cousin, why
it is that men die early? ‘Cause they can!”
I heard it echo from the science hall.
Then I fell hoarse from laughing, flecks of blood
sprayed on my wrist, and I took off alive,
relieved to have a rank companion free
to chide me, send me home to feed my kids,
to fall asleep turned on my side to grasp
my sweet one’s side, behind me the machine
that forces breath down through me as I sleep.

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

Well, Alan, that was fun. Though I gotta say, I have no idea what to make of any of either of our poems. I certainly am not sure how to even come close to illustrating your poem with an image!


Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

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


3 comments:

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

I just like the "Carnac of Happiness" idea, Vince. It's just as well that you don't offer an endoscopic image; although it grounds me to see pictures of my insides and I try to be a good Whitman reader, I think I answer his praise of every part with humility about every part. A good friend grounds a person, too. I'm not sure that some readers will recognize that the persona in this poem relies on a CPAP machine for sleeping, so there's a kind of irony of the persona's discomfort about being attached to one machine to prompt the discussion yet relying on one nightly for rest.

Vince Gotera said...

Alan, I actually DID understand that there was a CPAP machine in the vicinity. ヅ

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

Vince, "Haruspication" will be in an upcoming issue of The Examined Life!

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