Thursday, May 11, 2017

Prince ... A Year After


I meant to post a tribute to Prince on the anniversary of his death. But completely forgot! So here goes, a couple weeks late.

This is USA Today's tribute to Prince on 21 April 2017, exactly one year after his death. I especially like the graphic at the top showing his Love Symbol guitar with a black mourning band on it. And how it matches the photo of Prince holding that guitar, from his renowned Super Bowl performance in 2007. Can't believe that was ten years ago!


Here's my elegy for Prince, which appeared in A Prince Tribute: ...only wanted one time to see you laughing, an anthology edited by Sarah Frances Moran (Yellow Chair Press, 2016).

Rest in Purple

Prince soared from Paisley Park
in a little red Corvette, upward

to magenta clouds, bathing in
purple rain majestic, radio blasting
Dr. Funkenstein slap-and-pop.

Riding shotgun: love symbol axe
with its Salvador Dalí mustachio.

Heading to heaven to jam with Jimi,
Janis, James Brown the Godfather of Soul,
and Michael Jackson the King of Pop.

His third eye staring straight into
the liquid light-blaring orb of God.

Prince of Purple finally with his
Prince of Peace, a dazzling smile.

—Vince Gotera, from A Prince Tribute (2016)

In the poem, I tried to incorporate Prince's great faith as a Jehovah's Witness. And I also enjoyed all the J's in the heavenly musicians' names. The mention of the "third eye" is a tribute to his last music project, 3rdEyeGirl, a band Prince fronted, with bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen, guitarist Donna Grantis, and drummer Hannah Welton.

A Prince Tribute had a really glorious front cover, in purple of course. A truly fitting celebration of Prince both visually and in the beautiful writing contained in the anthology.


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


The final day of NaPoWriMo/Poem-a-Day. I'm going to display NaPoWriMo's blog button (at right). I've been doing NaPoWriMo for years and have never done that.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "And finally, our final prompt — at least until next year! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that happens again and again (kind of like NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo). It could be the setting of the sun, or your Aunt Georgia telling the same story at Thanksgiving every single year. It could be the swallows returning to Capistrano or how, without fail, you will lock your keys in the car whenever you go to the beach."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "For today’s prompt, take the phrase 'The (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 could include: 'The Poets,' 'The Good Guys,' 'The Bad Guys,' 'The Last Thing She Said,' and so on."

Okay, here we go . . . merging the prompts one more time.

The Thirty Days

Again, April's 30 days are over.
So fast they swing by, like the poems themselves.
Challenge accepted and done: NaPoWriMo.

Thirty poems richer. Writing stronger.
This time, unlike every other year, I resolve
to keep writing a poem a day. And so

here we go. Poem and poem and poem,
I hope. Let's bring more poems home and home.

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

For the first time, I was successful this month in merging all the prompts each day, Maureen's and Robert's both. Even the two-for-Tuesday ones (which meant I'd have three prompts to mash up on those days). I even got a couple of installments of my aswang novella-in-poems done. Maybe that narrative should be my continuing poem-a-day project.

Here is Alan's intro to his poem today: "This has been a difficult month for writing poetry, because April always proves to be one of the most difficult months of the academic year, with all the grading, all the events, and all the restlessness. I confess relief to have made it to the end of another NaPoWriMo. I think I have a handful of salvagable pieces (probably 'Bottleassin'' as the likely next candidate for revision). Good luck to everyone who created something this month!"

The Patdown

Watch the men in my family when they stand,
watch how they brush their hands along the sides of their thighs,
watch how they move their hands behind them,
watch how they hook their thumbs in their back pockets,
how they pat themselves down to assure
their pockets hold what they should hold,
their handkerchiefs and billfolds,
their pocketknives and wads of keys,
the older men, their pocket combs,
the younger men, their new cel phones,
their pockets carrying their lives,
their contact with the world,
their financial well-being,
their whittling ingenuity,
where every key is a responsibility,
how each has his own preference,
a wallet in a front pocket,
a carabiner for a keyring,
a rabbit’s foot,
everything to be checked
for assurance
that nothing has gapped
that nothing has dropped
that nothing has slipped
out, fallen between cushions,
been loaned,
been lost,
but rests where we have put it,
even the guitar picks in my watch pocket.

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

Wonderful poem, as always, Alan. Congratulations to you on completing NaPoWriMo. Congratulations to both of us!

Thanks, Maureen. Thanks, Robert. See you again next April: the cruelest month and the joyfullest too.


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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


29 is where I live.

That's an interesting sentence, isn't it? Translation: I live in the state of Iowa, which is the 29th state in the US, admitted to the Union in 1846.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Today, I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word 'stones' or 'specter.' After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations — other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a metric poem. Most of the world uses the metric system to measure things out; not so much in the States. But there are meters and liters, and the occasional millimeters. Also, poetry uses metrics (the study of meter in poetry). And metrics, in a general sense, can measure various things by a common denominator — even inches and/or teaspoons."


Today, Alan and I are both using Maureen's example poem above, [One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —], Johnson # 670 / Franklin # 407; we are both riffing on the word "Revolver" from that Emily Dickinson poem.

Revolver

When I was 9 my prized possession was
a Mattel Colt .45 Peacemaker,
a Marshal Matt Dillon chrome revolver,
a smokin’ cap gun brought by Santa Claus.

I didn’t know about that other Colt
.45, the semi-automatic,
magazine-fed, recoil-operated, bolt-
action pistol used by American

troops in the Philippine-American war.
It was invented to kill Filipinos!
In the ’80s, the DOD changed over
to 9mm weapons like NATO’s.

But 9mm or .45 inch
can still kill my people. Just a hunch.


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

There you go, a sonnet starting with the idea of the revolver, moving from inches to metric. Two kinds of metric because the poem is also in pentameter. The abbreviation "DOD" stands for Department of Defense. I assume you all know what "NATO" is.

For those who nerd out on poetics, in lines 2 and 4 of the second quatrain, I'm using enjambed rhyme. The ic-n in "American" (line 4) is rhymed with the ic/m in the middle of the phrase "semi-automatic / magazine" split by a line break (line 2). Fun, huh?


Here's Alan's intro to his "revolver" poem today: "Well, the creepy thing is that 'One need not be a chamber to be haunted' got me thinking about gun puns, and the tone of it reminded me a bit of 'Eleanor Rigby' from the Beatles' Revolver album, and I had trouble disconnecting the two, so here we are."

Cylinder

One need not be a Chamber — to be loaded.
Where do they all come from?
One need not be surrounded — to be goaded
Where do they all belong?

Could she be hungry, picking up rice,
Given to clean,
Returning home where she takes off her face,
Living in dreams?

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a’chase
To follow greatness, Pepper’s wallop,
Request all waste?

But, earlier, she dies alone
To face the world
With her jarred face slightly undone,
Its edges curled.

The Beatles bestow a Revolver
That aims and spins
At precisely thirty-three and one third
RPMs.

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

Great poem, Alan, thank you. A marvelous Dickinson imitation. Gentle readers, I hope you enjoyed our widely different approaches to that same word revolver. I hope too you got Alan's Abbey Road and Satanic Majesty play.

Incidentally, Alan also used enjambed rhyme in the last stanza. The ird in the ending word "third" (line 3) is rhymed with er/th in the phrase "Revolver / That" split by a line break (line 1). So cool that both of us employed enjambed rhyme today.


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Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


28 is a happy number.

Do you know about "happy numbers"? I didn't until a couple of minutes ago. "A happy number is a number defined by the following process: Starting with any positive integer, replace the number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until the number either equals 1 (where it will stay), or it loops endlessly in a cycle that does not include 1. Those numbers for which this process ends in 1 are happy numbers, while those that do not end in 1 are unhappy numbers (or sad numbers)" (Wikipedia).

So, for 28 . . . 22 + 82 = 68. Apply the squaring and adding again . . . 62 + 82 = 100. Again . . . 12 + 02 + 02 = 1. Okay, there we are, happy!   

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "write a poem using Skeltonic verse. Don’t worry, there are no skeletons involved. Rather, Skeltonic verse gets its name from John Skelton, a fifteenth-century English poet who pioneered the use of short stanzas with irregular meter, but two strong stresses per line (otherwise know as 'dipodic' or 'two-footed' verse). The lines rhyme, but there’s not a rhyme scheme per se. The poet simply rhymes against one word until he or she gets bored and moves on to another."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a poem about a smell. Similar to Day 6’s prompt about writing a poem about a sound, today’s prompt involves thinking about the various good and bad smells that fill the world. Pick one smell (or a variety, I suppose), and write a poem."

Here's my best shot today, merging both prompts. I'm just okay with this one. It's going to need some serious revision, probably. But here it is for now, starting with some song lyrics you might recognize.

Prevention

Ooo-ooo, that smell.
Can you smell
that smell?
Lynyrd
frickin’ Skynyrd
wanted to save
lives. To save
you and me.
Music is free:
you hear it, we
hear it. Hard drugs
aren’t just for thugs.
That girl next door,
that boy who’s your
lawn mower, they’re
all in danger.
But what to do?
It’s all on you.
Love your kids till
they know and feel
they’re something real
important. Give
them strength to live
each day with pride,
not have to hide.
Let’s stem the tide.
Let love abide.

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

Man, this skeltonic form is tough. The rhyme comes back so fast! Easy to use for light verse, for humor, probably, but I wanted to try to write something in a serious vein. I almost went "rogue" (evaded the prompts, that is), but I've committed myself this month to using and combining both prompts.

And now, Alan's skeltonics . . .

Blue Guitar

Vince Gotera
stands on terra
firma, thera-
peutic air o’
seeing, peri-
scopic stare a-
bove the crowd,
in tune, unbowed
while playing loud
and polyrhythmic,
cataclysmic
spills of seismic
rills and cosmic
fire-pick sweet lick
testified,
amplified,
led beside
still waters,
sons and daughters,
troll-abhoring,
poll-deploring,
goal-ignoring,
soul-restoring,
soul-imploring,
psychedelia
like you tell ya
gals and fellas
like Vidalias
sweet and layered
like the first heard
hungry, thirsty
on the first day
joy that burst ‘way
up and out
and all about
as our nation
needs creation.

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

Why, thank you, Alan. What a treat. Love the -smic rhymes! I also find delightful the rhymes of air o’ and stare a- with my last name.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


27 Club Brian Jones Jimi Hendrix Janis Joplin Jim Morrison Kurt Cobain Amy Winehouse Heaven's band . . .
Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Many poems explore the sight or sound or feel of things, and Proust famously wrote about the memories evoked by smell, but today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores your sense of taste! This could be a poem about food, or wine, or even the oddly metallic sensation of a snowflake on your tongue."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "For today’s prompt, use at least 3 of the following 6 words in your poem (using a word or two in your title is fine); for extra credit, try using all 6: pest, crack, ramble, hiccup, wince, festoon.

I've often wondered what it must be like to hear colors and see music.

Synesthesia

pesto pasta and pine nuts
tart bitter creamy forest green
glimpsing G minor arpeggios

1965 Rambler American
listen to shiny teal enamel
taste chrome bumpers and trim

crack of heat lightning
9-volt batteries on the tongue
touching black sky thunder

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

Alan got more of the words in than I did. Bravo!

Char to Hiccup

Flavor so sharp, I wince in joy
eating the apple vinegar-based
sauce from North Carolina,
tasting sharp, sweet cracked pepper
over tang. I’d like to ramble
over the line now, pester a cook
near to cracking me over the head.

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

Did you notice Alan got all six words in? Look at the left margin! Acrostic.   

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 26 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


In an interesting coincidence, 26 is the atomic number of iron, which intersects with my poem for today. But first the prompts.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: "Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a 'World’s Best Grandpa' coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone."

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a regret poem. Most people regret some action they’ve taken over the years, whether it’s saying the wrong thing, making the wrong choice, or putting off something for a tomorrow that never comes. Write about your own regrets, or the regrets of others (this is a great opportunity to write a persona poem)."


Once again, Alan is first up today, first done. Interesting take on the prompts.

Artifacts

Preparing
an old truck
for trade-in,
I found lodged
in cushions
a small toy
a fast food
restaurant
had used for
promotion.

My kids were
at their stage
of changing;
not one had
unwrapped it
from plastic.

If I was
unthinking
or wanting
to keep them
small children,
this wrapped toy
reminds me
how time moves
through people
who mark it
in all their
surroundings.

Forgive my
distraction,
uncertain
of how to
dispose of
an object
remaining
beyond us
providing
some meaning,
contrasting
all children
we once were
or have been.

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

As usual, I'm merging both prompts, taking on Maureen's suggestion of an alien archaeologist — someone from the star we call TRAPPIST-1, to be precise, though that doesn't matter in the poem.

Astro-Archaeologist’s Log

We have deciphered the script of the planet’s
inhabitants and learned they called their world
“Earth.” Some huge catastrophe, a holocaust,
as yet unknown, had evidently swirled

across the entire planet, killing all fauna
and flora. The ruling species may be found
dead on the long paths that crisscross the land,
sometimes with one brain, other times with none,

sometimes with three or more brains, all sizes.
These Earth creatures are metal-based, ferrous,
like us. They move as we do on round disks.
What I can’t grasp is how they are unlike us:

their brains could exist outside their bodies,
traveling — implausibly — on two long pods!
I regret we found this planet too late. I would
love to wheel with these beings on their roads.

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

For those of you who are interested in poetic form, this poem uses four different kinds of quatrains — alternating, envelope, couplet, and monorhyme — admittedly slant-rhymed in a couple of places. I didn't set out to do that on purpose. I had started off writing a Shakespearean sonnet (though I "cheated" on the 2nd and 3rd quatrains) but found that the topic outgrew the 14-line space, needing just a couple more lines to bring in the notion of regret. But that gave me a little more room to clinch the irony of the poem and the archaeologist's understanding.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 25 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


April 5/6 gone . . . 0.833333333333333333333 . . . etc.

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “In 1958, the philosopher/critic Gaston Bachelard wrote a book called The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces — the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space — it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do — so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Two-for-Tuesday prompt: (1) “Write a love poem. The poem could be about lovers, but also the love of family, love between friends, or even loving your job, chocolate, or music. Or . . .” (2) “Write an anti-love poem. Maybe you’re a hater; that’s fine. We’ve got the anti-love poem prompt for you.”

First up is Alan, merging today's prompts.

Cigar Box

It had dovetail joints — it was made
for a finer brand of cigars, but it was not
special — there were hundreds of them,
and the King Edward cigar plant
in my hometown was happy to let
our elementary school class have them.
We spread newspapers on our desks,
and Mrs. Trimble, the only single mother
I knew at the time, showed us how
to brush varnish on the outside,
to move the banded clasps to assure
that every outside surface got two coats.
Although the clasps were a little rusty,
they held the wooden lids secure,
each hinge square and fit enough
to have preserved some of the rich
tobacco smell that we associated
with Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The next day, we each cut green felt
to fit and glued it to the bottom inside
surface of the box. Mrs. Trimble knew
something about children and boxes,
how a special box could make any content
a treasure. I kept mine many years
and think it had some trading cards,
some nesting dolls shaped like penguins,
some plastic Disney figures, and a wallet
portrait of Christana Ellison, aqua cateye
frames, ribboned pigtails, and puffed
white blouse sleeves under her blue jumper.

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

And here's my fairy tale about a beautiful wooden house and the creature who lives there, blending all three prompts.

Gibson

was a little invisible sprite, three inches tall,
who lived inside a guitar. This small ghost
named himself after the guitar, a Gibson

acoustic that looked just like a house within,
A shapely wooden enclosure, curved walls,
that smelled like poplar sawdust and sun.

Gibson loved it when the guitar's owner
would strum and play. Chords raining down
in the house through the roof's round hole.

What Gibson did not love were scales.
Notes rising and falling like wheeling bats
in predictable patterns, so damn boring.

But Gibson knew the owner also hated scales,
and so he felt most at one with the guitarist
during those interminable intervals, knowing

sweet true music would soon return. Bliss.

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

The impressive view inside a Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar — Gary Deacon Blog

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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!

Ingat, everyone.   


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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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