Saturday, April 18, 2020

Day 18 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2020


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “write a message poem. You can decide the medium: Message in a bottle, postcard, or voice mail. Of course, there are text messages, telegrams, and letters. My wife loves to leave me messages on Post-It notes (and I love to find them). So write a message in a poem today!”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Our optional prompt for the day also honors the idea of Saturday (the Saturdays of the soul, perhaps?), by challenging you to write an ode to life’s small pleasures. Perhaps it’s the first sip of your morning coffee. Or finding some money in the pockets of an old jacket. Discovering a bird’s nest in a lilac bush or just looking up at the sky and watching the clouds go by.”


Today I offer another episode in my aswang novella-in-poems. (More on that project here.) This is set in late 1942, after Santiago has joined up and is in training with the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment, at the same US Army base in California where I had basic training and was eventually assigned. When I was there in 1972, I had no idea about the Filipino American history at that fort. Anyway, today I cover both prompts with tanka prose.

The Soldier Writes His Wife

                                                                                          22NOV42, 2200 hrs
                                                                                          Fort Ord, California
Dearest Clara:
          It is Sunday night, after lights out. The barracks are quiet as the men sleep to be ready for a hike in the morning and bivouac tomorrow night. I am writing this in the latrine since the lights in here are on all night. I can’t sleep. I am missing you terribly, querida mía. I miss you and Malcolm so. Earlier this evening, I slipped out to look at the moon. Tonight it was full. The clouds above were few, simply wisps of stringy cotton. The bowl of the sky was immense, like a huge colander sprinkled with many sharp points of light. The moon was like a woman’s round face, like your lovely face, mi amor. I could almost smell your lovely scent, faint like sampaguita flowers. The moon, high in the south, shed its light across the parade ground, usually so dusty when we train during the day, but tonight a silver plain. I felt the stirrings of our kind but resisted. I will miss having Thanksgiving with you and our son this week. But I must do my duty for our country, for the States, and also our islands, our Land of the Morning. I send you and Malcolm my love.
                                                                                          Forever yours,
                                                                                          Santiago


                                              The moon watches me.
                                              The lovely pain as my bones
                                              shift and grind. Black fur,
                                              paws’ quiet pad. I begin
                                              to stalk the guard on his beat.


“Ft. Ord Sentry Killed by Wolf” —The Salinas Californian, November 24, 1942

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

Alan's blank verse poem also covers both prompts today, with a speaker sending a message.

Ode to the Shop Vac

If it was out of courtesy to clean
the Oldsmobile I gave away last year,
mechanics having given up their search
for shorts in the electrics, shorts that forced
the car to cut the engine off and risk
the lives of those I love, then let me say
that there was also shame to find the trash
beneath the floorboard rugs, the long-dead bugs
near desiccated on the rear dash, curled
from heat or splayed, and Taco Bell receipts,
so many that I feared for your digestion. How
I wished that I had worn some latex gloves
when I unearthed discoveries to make
a grown man retch. I kept your secrets, kids,
and will not speak of them again except
to say that men created for such times
the shop vac, powerhouse, intensive suck,
to clear a reputation, yours, you slobs,
in this case (love you, kids), because you left
the leaves of seven autumns under seats,
the ashes from (it better be your friends’
tobacco) cigarettes (yes, there’s a butt)
beneath the ashtray and a bottle filled
half-way with viscuous Diet Coke, the swill
of victims mired in their self-hatred. Damn,
there’s great relief in brushing trash away,
in hearing rushing items ricochet
into the vacuum’s inner chamber, trapped
until I dump them out, the tangled hair,
the paper clips, retainer bands, the loose,
left litter you forgot that makes me think
that you’re just kids, my aggravating kids.

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


Thanks for reading today, everyone. Hope you're having a great Saturday!

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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2 comments:

Bruce Niedt said...

Great poems today: Your "aswang" entry is haunting, and Alan's blank verse made me LOL!

Vince Gotera said...

Bruce, thanks. This April has been good to me with the aswang project. I've been stuck at a certain point in the big plot and the 4 or 5 new poems here have broken that block!




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