Saturday, April 4, 2015

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


Day Four. We're just a smidgen over 1/10th of the way through National Poetry Month. So pretty exciting . . . lots of good poems to go yet. Hope you're writing poems too, and that it's going well. April doesn't have to be "the cruelest month," as T. S. Eliot wrote.

Let's cut to the chase. NaPoWriMo: "loveless" love poem. PAD: departure poem. You want the longer versions? Here you go.

Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo prompt: "I challenge you to write a 'loveless' love poem. Don’t use the word love! And avoid the flowers and rainbows. And if you’re not in the mood for love? Well, the flip-side of the love poem — the break-up poem — is another staple of the poet’s repertoire. If that’s more your speed at present, try writing one of those, but again, avoid thunder, rain, and lines beginning with a plaintive 'why?' Try to write a poem that expresses the feeling of love or lovelorn-ness without the traditional trappings you associate with the subject matter.

Robert Lee Brewer's PAD prompt: "write a departure poem. Many people depart to school and/or work every day, and they depart on a plane, train, or automobile — some even walk or ride a bike. Of course, that’s keeping things rather physical; there are also emotional and psychological departures. You may even decide to make a departure from your normal writing style in tone or structure today."

Alan this morning wrote me on facebook, "Ah, Vince, there's already a perfect combination of these two poetry prompts, and it's always a joy to teach: "The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter" by Ezra Pound." Yes, indeed. I don't think I can probably hope to match that matchless poem, but you just gotta try, right?

"Aswang" by Bobby Baredo 
http://bit.ly/1CpKsVL
Once again I've mashed up the two prompts in today's poem.

But before you read it, let me give you a little background. This poem will be part of a sequence I'm composing about two aswang in love. The aswang are Philippine monsters that come in different varieties: shapeshifters, were animals, ghouls, vampires. The last group includes the manananggal — a woman who can break her top half from her bottom half, grow leathery wings, and fly in search of prey, typically babies or fetuses. My aswang lovers are a manananggal and a werewolf. In the first two poems in the series, the manananngal Clara and the shapeshifting Jesús (pronounced the Spanish way, hey-SOOS) meet and fall in love. The third poem I've already finished occurs during their honeymoon, after they wed. This new (fourth) poem falls in between: Clara, just before meeting Jesús for a tryst, meditates on her love for her man . . . er, wolf.

Aswang Love

Once more I lift, depart my legs, my hips,
sprout wak-wak bat wings like a manta ray
in air, and fly to you, black wolf, my sweet.

My love true as the ruddy guts that dip
below my torso, my dusky breasts that sway,
hungry for your red tongue, your whiskered snout.

I want your claws to rake across my back,
so you can drink my body’s wine, my blood.
How I love you — let me count the ways —
more than newborn meat and bone, fresh womb suck.
                                  My monstrous beloved.

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

The poem is a curtal sonnet, a poetic form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins in the 19th century. The word "curtal" is a now archaic term meaning "short"; the curtal sonnet is 3/4 of a regular sonnet. Instead of 14 lines, it has 10 1/2 lines: a six-line section and a four-line section followed by a half line or "tail line." The curtal sonnet has a tight, rigorous rhyme scheme: abc abc dbcdc (or dcbdc). I really enjoyed working the curtal sonnet today. It almost felt as if the poem wrote itself, as the cliché goes.

Alan introduces his poem for day four with his take on today's suggested approaches: "The combined prompts are to write (a) a love poem without saying "love" and (b) to write of departure. Here goes."

Sundowners

I’d hurried back. I’d sensed that Christmas, days
before, would be the last we all would sit
together at the table, one so lost
but sitting at the head, his focus down,
directed to his plate and not to us
who’d been his focus all his life but now
some conversation he refrained to join,
it being uninvolved with where he was
at this warm time of tasty ham and pie.
And so again, before semester’s start,
I drove back down, my daughter, too, so she
could go and shop with Mom, to get her out
and let me drive him through the towns he knew
for all his life, in hopes his stories might
return. I drove him by the snake-filled swamps
at Lacon, out to Falkville, Hartselle, back
around the old way, his old school and church
and home, and nothing came but comments, what
he saw that day along the way, no past
apparent in a thing he said. I woke
regretting work and school would make us leave
and packed as quickly as I could to spend
some time, more coffee my excuse to sit,
delay, but saw sundowner’s toll on him
and Mom as well. They needed rest. I called
my daughter from the other room, where she
was playing with their dog, and said we had
to go and saw from Mom’s expression she
could tell what I had figured out but would
not say. The effort of his standing up
contracted me, and, bending down to kiss
his forehead, I could feel the faintest brush
of fingertips along my ribs where he
had missed embracing me. He left the house
days after us. I wish that it had been
a tickle I still feel now that he’s gone.

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

Alan's always so good at these family situations and relationships, teasing out the deep and tough emotions that accompany being a parent or child or a brother or sister, and so on. Such a poignant moment at the end, where all of us share in facing mortality among our loved ones.

Friends, won't you comment, please? What do you think? 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:

vstefani said...

Remembering your much earlier poem "Aswang" - and now this entirely different POV - very interesting

Thomas Alan Holmes said...

That grunting assonance in the second stanza makes for an interesting effect in this "love song," with the repeated "uh" sound emphasizing physicality, Vince.

Vince Gotera said...

Vicki, thanks. If you search the blog for the word "aswang" you'll see two other poems in the sequence, though in earlier versions.

Alan, what a great observation! Thank you.

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