Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2015


Day Thirty. Another National Poetry Month for the history books. I hope, if you were writing a poem a day, that you succeeded. If you didn't, that's perfectly all right. You'll be able to do it next time!

Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo prompt: "I’d like you to try an odd little exercise that I have had good results with. Today, I challenge you to write a poem backwards. Start with the last line and work your way up the page to the beginning."

Robert Lee Brewer's PAD prompt: "take the phrase 'Bury the (blank),' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Some possible titles include: 'Bury the Hatchet,' 'Bury the Body,' 'Bury the Past,' 'Bury the Hate,' and 'Bury the Acorns.'"

I made my Thorson upside-down poem an abecedarian to keep control of the composition. I would know that the first line would start with a Z and then I would have to lead somehow to a Y and then to an X, etc. For some reason, I decided to up the ante by making each line only one word long. I started writing the ZYX words at the bottom, working backward, but then simultaneously worked on the ABC words to make sure it made sense going down the page. I found myself essentially writing two poems that would meet in the middle (around M and N), even though they were the same poem, the same column of words. So I had inadvertently doubled Maureen's prompt. Turned out I had upped the ante a bit.

The Brewer prompt entered in with the poem's sense-making. I'm a fan of The Walking Dead show and comics, and Brewer's word "bury" somehow brought "zombies" into the poem, even if the word doesn't appear. I didn't plan to do that; it just somehow happened. Fun, I hope.

Bury the Zombies
— a somersault abecedarian
    read first down left column
    and then down right column
    same words, new punctuation

All
Bury
Caskets.
Doom’s
Exhausted.
Forever
Green
Horrific
Inside
Jujubes
Kissing
Lips,
Miniature,
Never
Oblique.
Plan
Quiet
Reveries,
Secure
Trees.
Under
Visible
Wound,
eXit
Your
Zipper.
         
Zipper
Your
eXit
Wound,
Visible
Under
Trees’
Secure
Reveries,
Quiet.
Plan
Oblique
Never
Miniature
Lips
Kissing
Jujubes
Inside
Horrific
Green.
Forever
Exhausted,
Doom's
Caskets
Bury
All.

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

At first I typed the draft poem out A-Z, with instructions to the reader to also read the poem from bottom to top. I left off punctuation so as not to limit sense-making in the two directions. Then I decided to make it easier on the reader by also typing out the word list flip-flopped (Z-A, in a second column). But then I noticed that the lack of punctuation made the meaning ambiguous in places. Eventually, I realized that punctuation had to be inserted and different in both columns in order to guide flow and meaning.

I call the form a somersault abecedarian because of how the A-Z sequence is turned over in the second column. You should try to write one. They're fun but also the devil to carry off.

Okay, on to Alan's last poem for National Poetry Month. "I went a bit rogue with this one. Brewer's prompt about burial suggests that a literal burial was not necessary; I was thinking about what gets revealed when cleaning out a drawer. Why this poem turned out a sonnet, I don't know."

Mercurochrome

A bottle smaller than my thumb, tucked back
behind the various home cures, old gauze
unwound and yellowed, lozenges of Halls
Mentho-Lyptus, Band-Aids, liquorish Black
Draught, and, just hidden in a paper sack,
some “rooster pills,” four rolling loose moth balls,
dull dried-up Paregoric, Dr. Scholl’s
bunion cushions, liniment, half-smoked pack
of Salems, picture of my infant wife
still swaddled, in her sleepy mother’s arms,
the last of five, who spent her childhood life
among Republicans, scared false alarms
from Birchers, Auburn fans, Braves’ twisted knife
of fandom, what we hope will cure still harms.


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

These details bring me back, Alan. Mercurochrome was the first-aid wound treatment I preferred because the other option, Merthiolate, stung. A lot. A LOT. I also remember Paregoric, for gastric distress and other ailments. Another item I could imagine in this drawer is Vicks VapoRub, though Mentho-Lyptus is reminiscent of it. Also, at the dinner table sometimes, my dad, a devoted Democrat, would rail against John Birchers. I used to think when I was little that Birchers had something to do with tree branches.   

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


3 comments:

De said...

What fun, Vince! This is awsome! :)

Bruce Niedt said...

Wow, Vince, that is really clever. Congrats on making it through the month again!

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

Vince, I am not certain what to call the form where one's poem starts reflecting itself from the middle. It is not a "mirror" poem, because, as we have seen, Robert Lee Brewer has applied that term to the "palindrome" poem (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/personal-updates/poetic-form-palindrome-poetry-or-mirror-poem); however, he refers to a poem where the order of all the words exactly reverses, not just a reversal of the poem line by line. I first encountered the line-by-line reflection in an issue of Poetry, in Randall Mann's "Order" (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/245620). I hope one of your blog's readers knows of a formal term for this type of poem.

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