Thursday, April 13, 2017

Day 13 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2017


The number 13 always reminds me of a radio station from my youth in San Francisco, the soul station KDIA at 1310 AM on the dial. I can still hear the station-identification jingle, "K - D - I - A, lucky thirtee-een." (You can hear the jingle here . . . blast from the past for me!)

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: "write a family poem. It could be about your family, someone else’s family, a big family, a small family. It could be about one person in the family or a group picture. Your call. Just write that poem."

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: write a "ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English . . . A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lines of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to your own name in the final couplet."

One of my favorite ghazals — pronounced like "guzzle," by the way — is Patricia Smith's "Hip Hop Ghazal." Her repeated end-word is hips, preceded by the rhyming sound ooo. Smith also incorporates her first name in the last couplet. Fun. Full of sass and 'tude. Ooo. 


I'm so pleased at today's prompts. I have been writing a poetic narrative, a novella-in-poems, about two aswang, mythical Philippine monsters — Clara the winged vampire and Santiago the shapeshifter weredog — who fall in love and attempt to live like normal humans, in plain sight, in daylight, trying to outrun their monsterly selves. They marry and bear a son, whom they name Malcolm, baptized in the Catholic church. The question they dread is this: is Malcolm doomed to be like them, an aswang? Or will he be something new under the sun? Today, with a challenge to write a ghazal on family, I can advance my aswang project and explore the existential quandary these two lovers face in their quest to be "normal."

Son of Aswang

From dawn's mists at the birth of the world, aswang.
To judgment day's star-starved midnight, yes, aswang.

Black bird of the heart rises up into the open throat
and back down again, croaking the song of the aswang.

Pitch-dark feathers, tar, bitumen, creosote, obsidian
stone blade chipped into the sharp sword of the aswang.

Bakunawa dragon devouring the deep sky's silver eye,
dread darkness swallowing then spitting up the aswang.

Santiago and Clara, saintly and lucent, desperate tenebrae,
have borne Malcolm into the light. But will he be aswang?

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

Instead of using my own name in the last couplet, I cite the two aswang lovers as well as the baby's name. They are, after all, the poets here, the "makers" in the root sense of the Greek word poesis. This is the second ghazal in my aswang poem cycle.

By the way, just for fun, there is now a toy aswang action figure made by Funko POP. Isn't that cool?
Aswang action figure by Funko POP

Alan has been very busy at work of late. He is involved in a two-day literary conference at East Tennessee State University, and Catherine Pritchard Childress (who did NaPoWriMo with me in the blog five years ago) has played a principal role in keeping everything rolling.

Alan gives a small intro to his poem today: "Here is a ghazal about a family member. If you're looking for my name at the end, I have relied on the root meanings of two of my names."

Byrum

“Where are you going now? How long will you be out, Byrum?
Why are you on the road? What is that life about, Byrum?”

Your mother hung on you, and would have kept you close to her,
child of her dreams, her baby son, so big and stout, Byrum.

Unlike the scrawny ones, so like their father, wiry, small,
and meek of disposition, prone to mewl and pout, Byrum,

You had the best of land, because you were her favored son;
were you confined by farming on a rural route, Byrum?

You used to tell us tales of selling goods for easy cash
but listing “damaged freight” when you were logging out, Byrum.

You got yourself a wife who kept a well-swept home for you,
including your own room, a housekeeper devout, Byrum.

She did not keep herself, she was not waiting home for you,
but I suspect you knew and never suffered doubt, Byrum.

You had no despair either, legacy outside your cares,
where one neglects to plant, one does not plan for sprout, Byrum.

Those secret distances, adventures meant for men like you,
the romance of the road, you yearned to feel its clout, Byrum.

Twin harmony of road, a secret kept from jukebox song,
you played your life and bearded rules you loved to flout, Byrum.

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

Excellent ghazal, Alan. I appreciate how you have incorporated a rhyming sound (-out) in front of the repeated end-word Byrum. Brilliant!


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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