Monday, April 4, 2016

Day Four ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2016


Day 4 is the cruelest day.    No, just kidding. See the first prompt immediately after this. Kind of a poetry in-joke.

Maureen Thorson's NaPoWriMo suggestion: “And now, for our (optional) prompt. In his poem ‘The Waste Land,’ T. S. Eliot famously declared that ‘April is the cruelest month.’ But is it? I’d have thought February. Today I challenge you to write a poem in which you explore what you think is the cruelest month, and why. Perhaps it’s September, because kids have to go back to school. Or January, because the holidays are over and now you’re up to your neck in snow. Or maybe it’s a month most people wouldn’t think of (like April), but which you think of because of something that’s happened in your life. Happy (or, if not happy, not-too-cruel) writing!”

Robert Lee Brewer's PAD assignment: “For today’s prompt, write a distance poem. As a runner, I automatically think of running when I think distance. But hey, there’s long distance relationships. Or why not get beyond geographic distance and consider distance in terms of time or emotional distance. Or some other interpretation.”

Okay, here's my poem merging both prompts. Good ones today, Maureen and Robert.

 Long Distance Relationship

                                                — for Kathy

 April is the cruelest month. But not just April.
 How about September, October, November,
 and also January, February — in short almost all

 the months that we have school. Not December
’cause there’s always the possibility that if
 our gift-shopping budgets will flex a bit for

 plane fare, I can sky to you. That’s a big if
 though. And not always a given. March can
 be less cruel. Some of our students fly off

 to Orlando or Daytona Beach. Our Cancun
 is your living room, with spring snow in NY,
 answering committee emails and grading

 student papers. Ah, but May, June, July,
 August . . . lemonade and light, you and I.

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

It's a terza rima sonnet. Not haiku stanzas this time. Meter, yes, kinda, roughed-up.

Alan says, “Combining a ‘worst month’ prompt with a ‘faraway’ prompt was easy for me because I have been on the road so much for the past few weeks.”

March Roads

Those March roads took me far from home, away
from my own mountains, north to Maryland
(almost — I crossed the river border break
of day from West Virginia). Weeks before,
I took to Tennessee’s west end, so flat
past Nashville I was wanting hills and asked,
when someone leaves the green and rounded east,
where tree-lined ridges rim between the earth
and limb-laced sky, why one would wend out west
and settle in that shamefaced way, but then
I closed the month again, twice more beyond
my home, west past the great plateau, both times
to show my son remoteness, rootless, lost
between the borders, more than boundaries
and ways of thought, but being so far gone,
when every intersection stops to praise
itself that someone’s path might sometime cross
in level sight for miles, to celebrate
what company one finds, brief courtesy
permitting folks go first at four-way stops.

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

Alan, I love how you play with m sounds, alliteration and consonance, to highlight (I think) the operative word "month." You have, from the top, March, me, home, my, mountains, Maryland — just in the first two lines! Dipping in and out of the poem: from, someone, rim, limb, shame, remoteness, more, sometime, and company. Beautifully done.

Jed wrote two poems today. He says, “I couldn’t get the fan letter prompt [from yesterday] out of my head. This happened.”

Dickinson

Emily, I have to apologize.
(The poet Emily, not my sister.)
I changed my major; I won’t even try
To build that time machine to come rescue
You from loneliness. I’ve moved on in life.
Anyway, it was arrogant to think
You’d want me if I could get there. My shelf
Still has a place for you. But I don’t look
Through your poems often anymore. True,
I still recite the ones I memorized,
To remember you. You carried me through
Dark times. Life is better because you lived.
But if your shade is angry because I’m
Moving on, please, come haunt me anytime.

—Draft by Jedediah Kurth    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

“Or,” Jed continues, “if you want one for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt.”

Friction

February is the worst month.
I was born.
It’s not that I regret my life,
But I’m torn
When my “special” day comes around;
Do I tell?
I hate the attention. I’ve found
I feel small
Making that sort of plea. Just leave
Me alone.
But my inner child wants me
To have one
Special day, where everything’s right.
Then I say,
“That’s idiotic. The world’s not
There to pay
Attention to me. Now grow up.”

Happy birthday to me. Happy . . .

—Draft by Jedediah Kurth    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Jed is playing some interesting, understated games with rhyme here. Notice in “Friction” how he buries the rhyme in those short lines, to disguise them, to hide them. And then a flurry of internal rhyme: the long e sounds in the final line, as well as in the one before it.

Above that, in “Dickinson” the occasional, subtle rhyme uncovers the poem as a disguised sonnet. Where the Shakespearean a rhymes would go: the long i in apologize and try; b: sis in sister rhymed with res in rescue; c: the l and f in life and shelf; d: think and look; e: the almost full rhyme of True and through; f: almost an eye rhyme in -ized and -ived; and finally the g couplet: a full rhyme of I'm and -time softened by enjambing line 13. Brilliant!

Okay, we've seen several months take "cruelest" . . . March, February, my own laundry list of distance-tinged months. Here Ven gives us a paean to the beginning of the year.

 January Sucks.

 Joy from Christmas swiftly fades
 And darkness bookends working days.
 Now the pure white snow is a slushy grey,
 Upsetting stomachs and dulling brains.
 Adventureland’s closed for winter break, all
 Road trips verboten due to fearful brakes.
 Year-end resolutions thaw faster than the miles of snow piles lining the interstates.

 Some switch screensavers to beaches and waves,
 Unspoiled landscapes, distant vistas, hot deserts, old caves.
’Cos this month invites procrastination,
 Knife-edge depression, and obsession with sun-deprived shames.
 Suck it up and smile if you can—it’s just a New Year with the same old psychic pains.


 —Draft by Ven Batista    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Before we finish, I want to tell you something about Ven and this poem. Well, first about Ven and poetry: the man hates capital letters at the start of lines only for the sake of having them capitalized. If that first word in the line is neither a proper noun nor a sentence start, Ven deplores, deprecates, despises, detests, and disfavors capitals there. But for this specific poem, Ven told me, "I had to overcome my dislike for the capitals." Now, knowing that, go back and read Ven's poem again.

Following in Ven's seasonal footsteps here is Sarah, giving us a poem with widely varying line lengths.

Caution: Ice Ahead

Falling is
easy. It starts when the sunrises are
black and the moonrise is blacker, when days are eternally
reoccurring reenactments of trudging through quicksand, and every step over
undulating pavements of ice is a marathon of
anxiety. Winter slips inside, shadowing the soul like a cheesy horror movie effect;
rotten CGI. Fading away hurts friends and they reach out, but it’s hard to close the distance when
you’re numb.


—Draft by Sarah Smith    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Sarah, an apt evocation of winter and also your cruelest month. Thank you. Just as with Ven's, read down on the left.


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 2016 • 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:

Tournesol CLR said...

Wow, so many poems and convincing too! I should say February and March for the snow storms we get but still it is white and lightens the nights. Working late shifts I see dark too much...so November is my month of dread and depressing.

Jedediah Kurth said...

There had to be slant rhymes, Vince. I mean, it was an Homage to Emily Dickinson. The Life and Shelf rhyme is originally hers, from "I cannot live with you".

Vince Gotera said...

Tournesol CLR ... thanks for your comment. You should write a "November is the cruelest month" poem! If you do, I hope you'll show it to me.

Vince Gotera said...

Jed, of course. Yes.

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