Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 26 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2015


Day Twenty-Six. Is today an especially unlucky day? Maybe even doubly unlucky? The numeral for today's date, 26, is 13 x 2, after all. Are there still people who believe the number 13 is unlucky? In my hometown, San Francisco, what would be Thirteenth Avenue is instead named Funston Avenue. That probably changed, or began to change, around the time of my birth; one of the bands that had a hit when I was 13 was called The 13th Floor Elevators, one of the earliest psychedelic bands. That hit song was "You're Gonna Miss Me." I wonder if one were to send a letter to, say, 1313 Funston Avenue but addressed it to 1313 Thirteenth Avenue, if it would arrive. Or maybe, you're gonna miss me, baby.

Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo prompt: "Our last two prompts have been squarely in the silly zone — this one should give some scope to both the serious-minded and the silly among you. Today, I challenge you to write a persona poem — a poem in the voice of someone else. Your persona could be a mythological or fictional character, a historical figure, or even an inanimate object."

Robert Lee Brewer's PAD prompt: "take a word or two invented by William Shakespeare, make it the title of your poem, and write your poem. Click here for a link to some words coined by Shakespeare, who was baptized on this date in 1564. If the link doesn’t work, here are a few: advertising, bloodstained, critic, dwindle, eyeball, hobnob, luggage, radiance, and zany. He invented more than 1,700!"

I was a teenager during the old psychedelic hippie days. Living in San Francisco, I was right there when it was happening. I was 15 years old during the Summer of Love in 1967. In fact, my family happened to live in the Haight-Ashbury district, just 5 or 6 blocks from Haight St. Something I remember very clearly from those days was the artwork of hippie rock concert posters, which would be stapled on light poles and taped onto walls in the street. One of the most memorable hippie artists was Rick Griffin.

Here's one of Griffin's posters, perhaps the most famous and iconic one, showing a flying eyeball with reptilian tail and claws holding a skull, advertising a February 1968 series of concerts starring Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and Albert King. According to collector Eric King, "This image has been found painted on tribal buffalo skulls in the jungles of Thailand, printed on T-shirts in the Chilean desert and tattooed on Japanese punks in Osaka" and "is Rick[ Griffin]'s vision of the all-seeing eye of God the father, the Old Testament 'jealous and angry God' before whom Rick felt we are all wanting, all guilty, all unworthy sinners doomed to burn forever on a lake of fire."
Rick Griffin, Bill Graham Poster, 1968
I am melding today's two "official prompts," the NaPoWriMo persona poem and the PAD poem with a title made from two words Shakespeare coined. The persona speaking is the flying eyeball from the Griffin poster.

Bloodstained Eyeball

You see me every single day
on your dollar bills, eyeing
you from the highest point
of the Illuminati pyramid.

But this is how I truly look,
children, with my tentacle tail
and claws. Alas, poor Yorick
with sunglasses, this is you.

All of you, this is YOUR head.
You cannot escape me. I shall
break through sky with flames
and angel wings to find you.

Bloody veins may stain me but
I see you. I see you. I see you.

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

Wow, a complete surprise how that poem turned out. I thought it was going to be a light-hearted poem but it asserted itself in a totally different way.

Here's Alan's poem for today. "Shakespeare coined pedant," Alan tells us, "and I am a happy reader of Robert Browning. Combining the two prompts seems to work all right today."

Pedant

That’s my last project, lying on the desk,
looking as if it still matters. I risk
debasing my work now; two dozen chairs
of various departments spent long hours
to fill these forms to suit my tastes. I said
“my tastes” by my design, for none have read
these papers through, administrative stance
reminding them of my significance
when funding issues rise and I am asked
to offer what I’d recommend. I’m tasked
to make these leaders fall in line, who’d teach
as if they have some mastery to reach
their students, having researched, studied years
while holding classes. “Interference” wears
upon them, they complain, as if some words,
a lab, a lecture moves this school towards
desired political expedience.
Of course, we do not sell degrees. Why chance,
however, inciting alumni who
suspect progressiveness is working through
the lectures? Legislators read the news
and ask in public forums what’s the use
of languages, art history, or art
itself, and should their criticism start
on women’s studies and diversity,
then I’d find life more difficult for me.
You don’t think I’d be some officious fool
who’d try to kill these programs through a rule?
Why should I make my motivation clear
when I can make my troubles disappear
by claiming viability’s at stake
and draining their resources? I can make
departments spend uncompensated time
in drafting papers, ream by ream by ream,
and find some point that still will need revised.
Ironically, the more I am despised
by lower ranks, the more I grow endeared
to regents, boards, alumni, too, prepared
to quantify the universities
and measure their success through earned degrees
with standards rooted in the politics
of prejudice and fear. There’s no quick fix
when something sinks, especially when one
who sees the breach controls how something’s done
to mend or mitigate when we’ve begun
to head for shore. Assure the governor
the labor leader’s speech will not occur
because accreditation work is due
too close to any open date. As you
can see, the stadium has broken ground,
and we are certain he will be around
to dedicate it on its opening day.
Our provost’s health is good. I’ll let him know
that you were kind enough to ask. Please go
through here and see the model of the bust
commissioned by the man we’ve just discussed!

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

Ah yes, the Duke of Ferrara is indeed a fascinating role model. Bravo, Alan!

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.   


NAPOWRIMO / PAD 2015 • 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


4 comments:

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

I always find Browning's dramatic monologs rich and deep.

Now, if we can combine the Rick Griffin eye with the Emerson eye, that will be a worthy challenge!

Vince Gotera said...

I wonder what Emerson would think of the Rick Griffin eye. Maybe it would be too much for Ralph, though he might have known of Bosch.

Marian Green said...

Great stuff=- enjoyed that.
And thanks for commenting on my poem.

gramswisewords.blogspot.com

Bruce Niedt said...

Dude, no Day 27 yet? You're featured over at NaPoWriMo for the hay(na)ku, for gosh sakes! Check out mine (written for my BIRTHDAY) along with another birthday poem with numerical theme. Love the Rick Griffin-inspired poem.

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