Saturday, April 11, 2020

Day 11 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2020


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “write a control poem. That is, write about having control, losing control, or sharing control with others. Of course, I expect at least one person to mention the control key on keyboards. And well, y’all always surprise me, because I can’t control which direction everyone is going to go with this prompt.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt today focuses on the language of flowers or floriography, for example, how “yellow roses stand for friendship, white roses for innocence, and red roses for love.” She continues, “there are as many potential meanings for flowers as there are flowers. The Victorians were particularly ga-ga for giving each other bouquets that were essentially decoder-rings of meaning. For today, I challenge you to write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings.”

I started looking for pictures of interesting flowers. Here's a beautiful one: the White Egret Orchid.

         

Here's another one, beautiful in its own way but also evidently sickening, the Corpse Flower. Aptly named because it smells like death. According to the Cincinnati Zoo its odor is "a combination of Limburger cheese, garlic, rotting flesh and smelly feet."

         
Photo by Jacquelyn Martin, AP


My prose poem today inverts the Thorson prompt; rather than flowers taking on different meanings, characters — the aswang couple in my novella-in-poems — are given flower associations by their neighbors. Also, the idea of control (in the Brewer prompt) is only hinted at. (For more on my aswang novella, see my blog posts for April 8 and April 9.)

Neighbors at the Back Fence

Hey, Gladys, how are you? Wonderful day, isn’t it?

It sure is, Ethel. Lovely day. I just got back from a walk. Do you know that Filipino couple down the block? I ran into them out for a walk, pushing a pram with their little baby.

She’s a pretty little gal, isn't she? Her name is Clara, right? I always think she looks like a little bird. She smells like those orchids we saw at the greenhouse in Golden Gate Park last week.

Oh, that’s funny, Ethel. ’Cause those orchids look like birds! Weren’t they called White Egret flowers?

That’s right. Now him, he’s a strange fellow. What’s his name?

Santiago. He is, at that. Speaking of smell, he has a funny scent about him, a little stinky.

I’ve noticed that too, Gladys, faint but definitely there. What is that smell?

Oh! I know what it is, speaking of the greenhouse. It's that six-foot-tall one, the Corpse Flower!

Gladys, you've got it! Yes, that's the smell. I guess we can't always control things like that. He's clean and all, you can smell the soap on him, but definitely a smell of death about the man. A shame.

Well, see you later, Ethel. I need to make dinner.

Me too. Ta-ta!

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

The greenhouse in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was one of my favorite places growing up in that magical city. Its official name is The Conservatory of Flowers.

           

Incidentally, the Conservatory currently has a Corpse Flower, which bloomed in 2019. They only bloom once every ten years or so. And the bloom only lasts a couple of days. I'd love to see — and smell — that some day. Gotta visit my home town!


And here's Alan's poem on both prompts!

How to Court a Tuscaloosa Co-Ed in the 1980s through Self-Control

I had a buddy named Jim, more a scientist
than I imagined I would ever be,
and neither of us gave a damn about Greek Life,
confirmed GDIs all the way,
and Jim had the good sense to make friends with women
instead of pursuing the kinds of relationships common
in that part of west Alabama
when Reagan was president,
Bryant was dead,
and Boy George was what meant New Wave to the Tri-Delts and Sigmas who still lived
by Animal House rules for years after Belushi died.
So, weeks into dating this one girlfriend steady,
Jim started to bring her a rose every weekend,
beginning with white. After weeks,
as their feelings grew loving, he started
to bring her the palest pink roses
he could, building up over weeks to the deeper
and richer pinks. I don’t know how he could manage
the money and patience of one or two florists
to build up his romantic palette,
but all turn out well when a knock on his door
showed her there with a dozen red roses for him.
Who could turn down a proposal like that?

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



Yes, who could turn that down? I love a good happy ending. Thanks, Alan!


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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