Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 24 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


24 Divisadero. If you're San Francisco born and bred, like me, that's what the number 24 conjures up: a bus line. But let's get to today's poeming.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a faith poem. For some people, faith means religion. For others, faith means trusting in science and mathematics. Still others, think George Michael’s 'Faith' just as some immediately conjure up Faith Hill. Regardless of where you put your faith (or don’t), today’s poem gives you an opportunity to express yourself."


Okay, here is my medieval marginalia — marginalium? — a bit of nunnery humor in a "bas-de-page" or bottom-of-the-page illustration found in a mid-14th-century manuscript of the Roman de la Rose, attributed to manuscript illuminator — illuminatrix? — Jeanne de Montbaston.


Yup. That's what they are. A little pale . . . I suppose they grow where the sun don't shine.

Sister Marie Considers Faith

A bird in the hand is worth
two in the bush, thought Sister.
Since I have two in my basket,
and four more in yon tree,
I'll soon be the happiest woman
in Christendom, so long as I
keep faith they can make me fly.

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

Here is Alan's medieval illustration: “Jael and Sisera” (from Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westphalen, c.1360.)


You can read this Bible narrative in "The Song of Deborah" (Judges 5). If you click on the image above, you can view the full illustration — a two-parter.

Jael

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
sleeping Sisera
in his exhausted assumption
that she, peasant woman,
oppressed by his occupation,
would watch at her tent’s flap
to warn him, his bearing
a foil to his cowardice,
retreating and hiding,
asleep.

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
through an eye socket
of the unseeing commander,
through the ear canal
of the unhearing oppressor,
through the open mouth
whose voice could level her camp,
suffering and hurting,
bereft.

Unwieldy the tent peg and heavy the maul,
how easy to give its tip purchase,
choosing his temple,
not obscuring his face
or his recognition
of his last mistakes
that her subjugation
meant weakness,
that homely implements
are not weapons.

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

Alan tells us more about his process today, "Of course, one of the first things I did was ask Thomas Crofts, medievalist, if he had a favorite image that he might recommend. He directed me to a British Libraries site, where they offer a digitized version of The Luttrell Psalter, and it is a lovely work that deserves far more consideration than I have the luxury to spend today. I will return to it, however, for its variety of images. I told Thomas that I was going to start drawing in the margins of all of my books. Get a look at this fine webpage here." Alan also told me, "I used to draw flipbook animations in lab manuals, so I am happy."

An interesting quandary today, with regard to the blog being "family-friendly" or not. With these illustrations and their matching poems, we have the old problem of PG-13 vs. R vs. NC-17 ratings: which is worse? Sex or violence? I like the old Saturday Night Live joke: sax and violins . . . what's so bad about that, really?


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.   


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 23 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Ending the third week of NaPoWriMo, kinda. Seven days left after today. Trying this month to always do both prompts, find some way to bridge them. Been successful so far. Hoping the prompts from here on out cooperate!

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. . . . A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "take the phrase 'Last (blank),' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: 'Last Straighter,' 'Last Unicorn,' 'Last Day of Summer,' 'Last Cookie in the Cookie Jar,' and so on."


"The problem" with today's prompts, Alan wrote when he sent me his poem, "had to do with Brewer's fixing a word in the title and then following the form encouraged by Thorson, so I remembered something from a long time ago. I am not sure I handled Brewer's prompt the way he intends, but when one offers a word that has any number of meanings, one risks unexpected responses."

Last

Last
Foot form
In cordwainer’s shop
New leather, new footwear
Beginning

Last
Foot form
In cobbler’s shop
Repairing burst and worn
Sustaining

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

Wonderful, Alan! I love the word "cordwainer" because I find the connection with "Cordoba" (as in Spanish leather) intriguing and I am also a huge fan of science-fiction writer Cordwainer Smith. If any of you gentle readers don't know his SF, you gotta check it out.

I wrote Alan back, in response to this poem, "Very nicely done. You really nail the opposition idea Thorson suggests. Sorry 'nail' was a bad pun. Can one even get leather shoes worked on these days?" As a child, I loved going to a shoe repair shop and smelling the leather in the air. I suppose you'd have to go to a saddle shop now to have that experience. Do saddleries repair leather shoes? Where are the shoes of yesteryear?


Okay, here's my attempt to mash up "Last ____" with the double elevenie. Trying also to accommodate Thorson's challenge to address opposing ideas in the two elevenies.

Last Day

sunrise
morning starts
eastern horizon lightening
just like every other
day

end
life's last
look far westward
shuddering breath, eyes close
sunset

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

This is the first time I've tried to write an elevenie . . . never heard about it before, actually. What do you think, o gentle readers? I tried to write lines that were both endstopped and enjambed. In other words, they could be read as individual self-contained lines at the same time that they could spill over into the other lines, backward and forward. Hope it worked out.


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.   


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 22 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Happy Earth Day!

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. . . . Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a fable poem. A fable is a story that conveys a moral, usually told with animal characters."


Alan's note that came with his poem: "Enjoying the rain today, and here's my brief poem, a memory from my elementary school years, when they led us to believe odd things about Native People."

The First Agriculture I Learned

A fish finds a net
and gasps in the air
to lie curled in earth,
a seed in its curve,
life's flesh-to-life path.

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

Alan continues: "I was thinking today of how little we learned about Native American people when I was in school, although I imagine at least half of the students would have said they were part Cherokee or Creek from a couple of generations back. I remember a poem that suggested that all Indian life had been replaced by the modern (white) world ('Indian Children' by Annette Wynne), some discussion of how to convert a log into a canoe, and some brief discussion of the Trail of Tears. We learned less about Native Americans than we did about African Americans, and, frankly, that wasn't much.

"I have been increasingly concerned about how we teach history and civics to our public school children. I believe that I did not learn as much as I needed to learn, because it was not taught to me at the time, but I do not know what justification our diverse American culture can offer today."


My poem today blends the two prompts of Georgic and Fable with another prompt earlier in NaPoWriMo for a creation myth.     (Just looked up it up . . . Day 19.)

Eartha

When the world was young and new
the long pink worms had a meeting
to decide what their destiny would be.
After long debate among the older worms,
the young wormling Eartha suggested,
"Let us pass our Mother the Soil
through our bodies and bring Father Air
down into the tunnels we excavate."
This speech was met with many huzzahs
and a vote passed to change their name
to Earthworms after wise, good Eartha.
And thus it came to pass that the ground
is softened and aerated for maple seeds
to wing down and find a home, a base
for their lofty branches to reach for sky.

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

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!

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 21 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Blackjack. Roberto Clemente with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nine o'clock sans sun.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a coworker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "pick an object (any object), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: 'Toothbrush,' 'Rake,' 'Pilot G2 Premium Gel Roller Pen,' or any number of other objective titles. Have fun with it."


I just got back from lunch at the Union here at my university. Man, the things you hear. This transpired literally within the last hour.

Quesadilla

Lunch at the Union, next table.
“Yeah, I haven’t listened to
a word she’s said in years.”

Student speaking takes a bite
of her quesadilla. “So fuck her.”
Turns out she’s talking about

her mom. Bite of quesadilla.
Later she says, “I’m a romantic,
you know.” Quesadilla bite.

Back to her mom, with rants
on her mom’s health, MRI’s, and
“stupid decisions.” Quesadilla.

I wonder how many times
this woman’s mom has cooked
quesadillas for her over the years?

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



Alan's poem also came from eavesdropping while eating. During dinner at a restaurant last night, in fact.

Implant

“She said he just felt sick and dizzy all
the time, and all those jokes about the pill—
but no one thinks about an implant—she
just wanted him to feel all right about
himself, and he’d quit cigarettes and lost
a bit of weight, but still, you know, there was
that other thing. Somehow, he has to bend
it into shape, and when they’re done, he tucks
it down in place. Oh, it’s a honeymoon,
to hear her talk. Before, he’d always been
‘attentive’ to her needs—I didn’t ask—
but now they hurry home from work, and I’ve
not seen them out for drinks since he got cleared
to—honey, I don’t know about some folks.”

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

Wow.

About this Alan wrote me, "Thank Heavens for iambic pentameter, which polishes even accidental Applebee's eavesdropping." Also, folks, it's an unrhymed sonnet! Well, actually, some occasional rhyme: all/pill, tucks/folks, honeymoon/been.

Okay, everyone, you know what to do next time you're eating at some fine establishment. Bring a yellow pad. And a gel pen so you can write fast. Laptop, even.


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.   


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 20 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Imagine each day a finger. Today, we're at four hands. Two hands left to go.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a task poem. The task can be some glorious duty, or it can be a seemingly small and insignificant job. Or the poem can take someone to task. It’s your task to figure it out and write it."

Both Alan and I are melding the prompts today, shuffling the cards, and dealing the hands.

Hang Time

A certain so-called point guard
has been lobbing air ball tweets
from downtown, setting blindside
screens to fake out everyone
from the Russian run-and-gun,
unsportsman-like fouls by his coach.
Let’s keep up the full-court press,
force some double-dribble errors, and
dunk him in the (im)peach basket.

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



Golf Terms that Appear to Be Associated with
Being an Incumbent Candidate in Kentucky


Alignment
Angle of Approach (or Attack)
Approach
Axis
Backspin
Balance
Block
Bump and Run
Bunker
Chicken Wing
Choke
Dead Hands
Explosion
Fade
Lag
Lay Off
Lie
Mulligan
Overclub
Pistol Grip
Plugged Lie
Press
Reverse
Scramble
Separation
Spoon
Steer
Straight-Faced
Swinger
Uncock
Upright
Visualization
Weak Grip
Whiff
                                          (SOURCE).

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

Alan cited this source for his list of golf terms: http://www.pga.com/golf-instruction/instruction-feature/fundamentals/golf-glossary-and-golf-terms.


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.   


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 19 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Let's get right to the poeming, shall we?

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a memory poem. Pick a memory, any memory. It can be a significant event, but sometimes there are beautiful insignificant moments (that ironically are very significant — quite the paradox). Mine your memories to come up with something good today."


Today, the prompts allow me the chance to work some more on my novella-in-stories about two aswang lovers. The aswang are Philippine monsters; in my story, Clara, a vampire, and Santiago, a weredog, fall in love, despite their monsterly natures. My poem today, a curtal sonnet, provides backstory, a personal history, for Clara.

Creation of an Aswang

Clara tossed and turned one night, dreaming.
An old woman dying in a large white bed,
her Tita Lucia, her mother's sister. Clara,

five years old, was alone with her, cleaning
her aunt's face with a wet cloth, wiping blood
from her lips. Tita Lucia turned toward Clara

and kissed her mouth. A black bird, wet, left the aunt's
mouth and slipped into the girl's throat. The bed
shook. The aunt died, gurgling. The girl swallowed. Clara
woke: a memory, not a dream. The maiden aunt's
                legacy for Clara.


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

Here's an image from an article titled "Maria Labo: The Creepy Tale Of The Legendary Aswang" which shows the black bird issuing from an aswang's mouth. The black bird lives within an aswang's body and, when that aswang dies, moves to a new host. Fun, huh? All aswang, as I understand the myth, have that black bird within them. Like a heart. Or a soul.

Any Star Trek fans reading this right now? This is just like Jadzia Dax. The black bird is a Trill symbiont. Okay, okay, I'm probably pissing somebody off right now. No, people, it's not. Trill symbionts are good. They are nice. They are our friends.  (#sorrynotsorry)

I'll tell you who I'm probably pissing off here: Alan. 'Cause he's got to follow that horrific image. I'm gonna write a bunch here in an effort to put some blog space between that picture and his poem. So sorry, Alan.

Well, gentle readers, here's an interesting coincidence in aswang lore, which I noticed just now . . . the name Maria Labo, an (in)famous "historical" aswang, as noted in the article from which I lifted that lovely aswang+bird image above, sounds an awful lot like Marie Laveau, the famous (actually historical) Creole practitioner of Voodoo from New Orleans in the 1800s. Fascinating. I wonder if there's some sort of connection.

Okay, that might be enough white space. On with the show.

How “Hava Nagila” Became
My High School Halftime Finale


Our band director in the early ’70s
received direction from the local board
the Monday following a football game
at Etowah, where students broke
some band bus windows as we left,
that “Dixie” would no longer be
the song we played as we marched off the field.
He knew full well what he had done;
George Corley Wallace was
the governor, and Etowah
was integrated far, far more
than my high school has ever been;
back then, the only real minority
at Cullman High was Catholics.

I’d name him, but I’d run the risk
that his devotees, after forty years,
would take it hard that I’d besmirch
his name, but why “Hava Nagila”
in place of “Dixie”? Other high school bands
were playing fight songs from Notre Dame
or Michigan, even military marches
so soon after Viet Nam. We played “Live
and Let Die” and part of the Jaws soundtrack.
We even played the theme song from SWAT,
lots of songs associated with violence.

I looked the lyrics up: “Let us rejoice”
and “Have a happy heart,” calls
for brotherhood and peace,
and us standing in tall black
busby shakos, gold tuxedo
jackets over baggy black trousers,
crammed so close the flag girls
had to elbow their way through.

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

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.   


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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 18 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


More than halfway . . . 3/5 in fact.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem that incorporates neologisms. . . . portmanteaus [or maybe] words invented entirely for their sound. [They] don’t have to be funny or used in the service of humor. You can use them to try to get at something that you don’t have an exact word for, or to create a sense of sound and rhythm, or simply to make the poem feel strange and unworldly."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Two-for-Tuesday prompt: "Write a life poem. The poem could be about the miracle of life, the complexity of life, the game of Life, or anything else that means life for you. Or . . . Write a death poem. For most organisms, life leads to death. So this should be as full of possibility as the life poem."

Poles, antipodes, new words for old, new words from old, old words for new, diametrics, phoenix.

one | zero
   
and | nor
sunrise | moonset
birdflash | birdfall
leafbud | trunkbreak
mistralswoon | twisterdoom
starbubble | spiralcinder
rippleswell | tidalcrash
hiveswarm | lonerbee
wombsend | gravesend
dna | end

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

As you can see in the third line from the bottom, I was influenced by Alan's poem "Where Are Those Who Were Before Us" on the 12th. I feel for that single, lonely bee who couldn't find the hive. Please look back at that poem. It's heartbreaking. The proverbial child who came home from school to find his family had moved. In fact, the whole house — in this case, the whole tree — had disappeared.

About his poem today, Alan wrote, "Neologisms from my father, who left them for us —"

Bottleassin’

My dad took me “bottleassin’ ” on occasion,
mostly Saturdays we got done early from work
and didn’t feel like going home, about the same
as “hanging out,” but more, not “drunk,”
because my dad despised a drunk.
“bottleassin’ ” means to be as free of care
as a greenbottle fly, to be directionless
as an afternoon when you can drive around
and stop at a country mom-and-pop and find the kind
of soda that you never have at home,
a flavor different from the standby Coca-Cola
your mom would buy, and take that sweaty bottle back
and sit shotgun and ride all over county roads
and listen to his music on the radio
and talk about the world that you could reach
with half a tank, the world you don’t see yet
because, like him, you spent the great part
of your life in one known place or, what I see now,
you’re just fifteen and haven’t thought
about the world past paperbacks and junior year,
your dad yet a healthy man you haven’t tried
to figure out because he’s steady, and it doesn’t
occur to you that one day he won’t be steady,
and you think that you will manage to be steady, too,
but not his way; he hasn’t let on he’s figured out
you won’t be in this county long, but he won’t say
because he doesn’t want it solid with those words,
but when he thinks about it, he’ll continue driving,
but now he’s stretching out his time with you
and isn’t bottleassin’ any more.


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


Our illustration today is the cover of Killjoy Literary Magazine, The #Demands Issue — Tax Day 2017. The cover image is my own "Russian Hacking Gothic," a parody of the Grant Wood painting. This Killjoy issue was published today.



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.   


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Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 17 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Today, our poems are a sneak peek into the warmer evenings of summer coming on, one hopes soon.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "Write a dance poem. The poem can be about the process of dancing or just somehow incorporate or reference dancing in the poem. There are so many styles of dance out there and even more occasions for dancing: school dances, daddy-daughter dances, wedding dances, people who dance when they are happy, people who dance when they are sad, people who dance in large groups, and those who dance alone. And, of course, there are so who just won’t dance for anything."

Alan got done first today. He says, "If y'all don't like dactyls, you're hard up today."

Hoedown Lullaby

Counterintuitive, picking the baby up,
picking the toddler up, singing a song
that’s too loud, older brother’s mad,
doing his homework while I’m honky-tonkin’
and boot-scootin’ babies to bed,
make it funny and laugh, there’s adventure
in countin’ a 1-2-3 unlike the time
each will spend as a grownup
and cope with duality,
pray to a trinity,
dream of infinity,
whisk up the baby, now,
whisk up the toddler, now,
let them be loved with a laughter, a song
about trailers and cigarettes,
moonshine on Rocky Top,
Tennessee waltzin’ and losin’ a darlin’,
while Mom pulls the covers back,
I pack ‘em in like a hundred-weight cotton sack,
tickle for giggle and now there’s a fairy tale
or the next chapter of wizards and mugwumps
in schools of adventure and mystery,
sleepy then prayerful to name
everybody we want to remember,
including big brother who, homework done,
gets much less grumpy and stays up
because he is big but not yet big enough
to sing classic old country
and wheedle like Willie or thunder like Johnny
or croon just like (no, not true) Merle
as I walk down the hall from soft voices
and lights out and thinking I’ve given them
something they’ll keep a long time.

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

Here's my nocturne for the day, or maybe I should say for the night. This poem came to me when I saw this morning in a bare tree — spring hasn't quite sprung here yet — what looked like an upside-down birdhouse.

Night Wings Love

In the royal blue wash of July night
a yellow glow surrounds the lone street lamp,
whirling school of flying insects punch drunk

on bright light, dancing a frenzied foxtrot
in thick air, their wings whirring loud in amped-
up concerto. More love than you would think

existed in the world. But other love
waits in the wings, so to speak. A ballet
troupe in fur and leather enters the fray,

gliding through the crowd, a soundless dive.
Glorious bats, intoxicated with this trance
of love on the wing, this lavish wheeling dance.

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

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.   


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 16 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring to all you northern-hemisphere readers. Happy Fall to everyone in the southern hemisphere.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: an epistolary poem. "Today I challenge you to take your inspiration . . . from the act of letter-writing. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "For today’s prompt, take the phrase '(blank) System,' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: 'Weather System,' 'Solar System,' 'Writing System,' 'Ecological System,' or any number of other takes on systems."

I usually try to go beyond the examples Maureen or Robert suggest, but as an almost–astronomy major in college lo those many eons ago, I was attracted to one of Robert's today . . .

To the Solar System

Dearest Sun, Planets (and you too, old friend Pluto,
plus fellow dwarfs), Comets, Asteroids, and Moons:

Sorry that sounded like a Lucky Charms commercial.
Thank you for five billion years of spinning, spinning.

Thank you, Sol — center, pivot, compass, auroral wellspring.
You've anchored us amoebas, flora, fauna, humans, and ghosts.

Thank you, silvery Luna — night light, hunter, inspiration of all
werebeasts — for keeping your brightest face to us always.

Saturn, thank you for your humongous hula-hoop act of the ages.
Jupiter, we appreciate you keeping your huge stormy eye out.

All you planets, big and dwarf, all you moons, thank you
for keeping time in the music of the spheres, whiz and hum.

Asteroids, many many thanks for dodging nimbly out of our way.
Comets, gratitude for swishing your tails in eternal light shows.

Little green men, bug-eyed monsters, pilots of UFOs,
we are thankful for your visits. We love the crop circles.

And most of all, thank you, Earth/Terra/Gaia/Blue Mother,
we thank you for your dust and rock that cradle our feet,

your ancient, star-mined water that makes up our bodies,
your delicious air, your ozone canopy, your long sweet dance.

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


  Click on this image to see it larger. Source: NASA

Interestingly, Alan — quite independently from me — also chose a "solar system" topic. Well, that's how the poem begins, at least, but moves to some other kinds of stars.

Dear Pluto, Regarding Your Solar System Designation

I.

When some situation comedies
have been on the air many years,
they attempt to add children
to renew audience interest in the program.

The discovery of Eris in 2003
made the inclusion of Pluto
as a major planet problematic,
given that Eris has a larger diameter.

There is a persistent rumor
that John Lennon wished
to introduce more members
to The Beatles.

II.

One has only to think of Cousin Oliver,
a late addition to The Brady Bunch,
as the negative consequence
of completely misreading the dynamic
of a group with devoted followers.

Part of the problem in designation
has to do with when one stops inclusion,
because we face expanding possibility
that as we learn more about our solar system,
we may discover more large objects
in orbit around our sun.

Two likely candidates
for an expanded Beatles line-up
would have been Eric Clapton,
who plays the guitar solo
in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,”
and Billy Preston, who is on keyboards
for the Let It Be sessions.
John wanted Yoko Ono in the group
as well, so the story goes.

III.

Yet situation comedies are product,
and we have to expect the production
companies to exploit its material
past its benefits, although good stories
come to well-earned endings.

But math is math, and definitions hold,
and romance has no place in measurement;
nothing detracts from Pluto as an object
just because it has faced demotion
in its designation. We make more discoveries
and include those objects as we can.
Each discovery makes for a new story.

Less romantic types suggest that McCartney,
influenced by a less than scrupulous manager,
fought the idea of expanding The Beatles,
and we are only left some consideration
of the social impact an expanded lineup
of racial diversity may have had
during the social unrest of the ’70s.
I have heard unpolished tapes of Linda
McCartney’s vocals
the Wings over America tour
and marvel at Paul’s rift with John.

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

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.   


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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 15 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


Midway through National Poetry Month today, or actually at the end of today. Halfway, half-and-half. I'm equal parts happy and sad to be at the midpoint.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Because we’re halfway through . . . I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. . . . Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!"

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a 'one time' poem. This poem could be about a once in a lifetime experience. Or it could be about something a person wants to try just one time (good or bad). Or take it where you will — as always."


Alan introduces his poem today: "My family has gone through a lot of changes in the past couple of years, some of them natural, some of them perhaps avoidable, but when the prompts for today combined to suggest a middle and an experience that I might not repeat, I could not help but think of my experience of being 'middle-aged' me. There are times when I feel about the same as I have ever felt, but there are other times when I feel drained, depleted in ways I have not experienced before. I would not halt the life transitions I see — of course we want the children we know and love to grow into happy, talented, beloved adults who explore life in their own way — but there are also those costs of some losses that seem to grow in number and frequency the older I get. The only remedy I have found in this situation has been to change as much as I can during these times, too. I have been as engaged a parent as I can figure out to be. I take classes as well as teach them, I help my younger colleagues in their projects, and I always have a new project of my own in mind, too. I keep a 'moveable middle,' I guess, and resist being fixed in place, as a title or a seat of honor fixes a person."

On the Bench

The wedding party placed me on a bench
beside my widowed mother, and I knew
then what photographers don’t say, what they,
my family, my new-bride niece, may not
have planned together or have thought to say,
that now, our father gone, I am the one,
the oldest Holmes of us, at middle age.
It’s some relief to live these years just once,
my pain of losing loved ones as they pass,
my mingled joy of children turned adult,
my bracing harder every day to fight
despair’s distracting me from each day’s joy,
a struggle always worth it, every time,
my forty-minute 5K, climbing stairs
while holding onto railing, nodding off
to droning meeting presentations, costs
of aging, true, but just this week, I saw
a friend I hadn’t seen in months, and all
I had for him was listening. These years
require resilience for the next long stretch.

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

Alan mentioned in his intro feeling "drained, depleted in ways [he has] not experienced before." I find that true for me with the Trump presidency. The current saber-rattling with North Korea is troubling, for example, but not the first time I've felt such depletion in his first 100 days, which are not over. My poem today works with the ideas "halfway" and "one time" and also the date, "15." Trying to write as small a poem as possible here.

This-Better-Be-a-One-Time-Thing Haiku

Wish we were halfway
through Trump, not 15 days short


of the first hundred.

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

Yesterday, Alan mentioned to me on facebook a visual idea he had: "I wish I were a graphic artist, Vince. I would take that scene from Dr. Strangelove, convert the bomb into a big Viagra tablet, and have Trump straddle it like Major Kong." Alan did add, however, that if such an image existed he probably wouldn't post it because it would seem like a cheap shot.

Well, cheap shot or no, I couldn't resist creating that image. And here it is.



You can also see it here in my DeviantArt gallery. Yesterday, Alan had shown me an image of Trump riding a bomb from the facebook group Americans Against Trump. I photomanipulated that image to produce my parody. Today, I discovered the Trump/bomb image had been created by WMX Design and was an illustration for an article. Beautiful work!


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.   


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