Sunday, April 19, 2020

Day 19 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2020


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “write a poem that uses the following six words:

            • bump
            • embrace
            • fixture
            • howl
            • lonely
            • resolve

How did I come up with this list? Actually, it’s a tie-in to our Shakespeare Week that starts today, because the Bard is actually credited with inventing all six of these words. Pretty cool, eh? For sestina fans, I kind of intentionally made it six words for a reason. So let’s get writing!”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, our optional prompt challenges you to write a poem based on a ‘walking archive.’ What’s that? Well, it’s when you go on a walk and gather up interesting things – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your ‘walking archive’ – the physical instantiation of your walk. If you’re unable to get out of the house (as many of us now are), you can create a ‘walking archive’ by wandering around your own home and gathering knick-knacks, family photos, maybe a strange spice or kitchen gadget you never use. One you’ve finished your gathering, lay all your materials out on a tray table, like museum specimens. Now, let your group of materials inspire your poem! You can write about just one of the things you’ve gathered, or how all of them are all linked, or even what they say about you, who chose them and brought them together.”


I appreciate how Alan so adeptly merges the two prompts, especially how he gets the words bump and howl to work so seamlessly. And the opening line is a hoot!

Touring the House

I wandered lonely as a dad
between his tasks while safe at home
and found the sound of “bump” came from
the water drained from the main bath,
and so I checked the fixture there,
assured myself there is no leak,
and wiped some toothpaste residue
one of the kids left in the sink.
I keep banged-up used copies stacked
beneath the towels on a wire rack
and see somebody’s reading Howl
from all those books—I don’t know who.
The john’s a fine and private place
to read Ginsberg and wash your face.

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

Alan's poem is a hybrid sonnet, mixing Petrarch, Shakespeare, and Clare: the first quatrain is a Petrarchan envelope, the second a Shakespearean alternating, and then the closing sestet is comprised of Clarean couplets, which is both a Petrarchan mode and Shakespearean with the ending couplet. The rhymes in lines 5 and 7 are fascinating: there and -due (rhymed consonantally with the related sounds th and d), but wait, there's more . . . we have enjambed rhyme as well, with there, /assured and residue!


Today, from me, we have another poem in my aswang novella-in-poems. (Specifics on that project here.) This is set in early 1945, after Santiago's unit has been deployed to fight the Japanese in the Philippines. The two lovers have now had to weather two years of separation because of his military service.

In terms of form, this is a sestina that uses Robert's six words in order; the poem also follows Maureen's prompt with Clara walking around her home with Santiago to gather objects that remind her of him. I was fortunate Robert had included the word "howl" because it gave me the entree into an aswang poem today.

Aswang Despair Late at Night

I was awakened suddenly by a bump
in the night, and I turned to embrace
Tiyago but he is gone for now. A fixture
in my life for ten years, gone. A howl
echoing far off is how I think of him. Lonely
for my husband away at war, I resolved

to be stronger. After all he had resolved
to fight for our country — he was no bump
on a log. The two of us have had two lonely
years while he trained. I’ve learned to embrace
this duty he must follow, but in my heart I howl
at the unfairness of life. I’ve fixed your

face in my mind’s eye as a bright fixture
to get me through the days when my resolve
slips. I wonder if, deployed now, you howl,
fighting in the old country, sharp bumps
of bullets and shells loud in your ears. Brace
yourself, mi amor. I know you are lonely.

If it helps, you should know I’m lonely
too. I got out of bed, picked up your picture,
hugged it to my breast, the only embrace
I own now. I started walking our rooms, resolved
to find things connected to you. My foot bumped
the dining table you constructed, and I howled

at the pain in my little toe. My small howl
helped for a moment, distracting me from lonely
musings. I found another photograph: my baby bump
with you rubbing it jokingly as if to fix it, your
smile so bright, your eyes twinkling, your resolve
to be a good father so clear in your face. I embraced

you that day, I recall. A long, loving embrace
that almost removed the memories of you howling
and me hunting pregnant women. We then resolved
again to give up the aswang ways, no matter how lonely
that would make us, just invisible ordinary fixtures
in the world of humans. I went to Malcolm, sweet bump

of ours, and embraced him. He is our brave fixture
among the others, old prey. Bumped, Malcolm howled
in his sleep. Instantly lonely, I feared for our resolve.

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

I had a blast playing with the teleutons or end-words; it was tough to use fixture seven times!

I offer a bonus poem today . . . an elegy in these times of the novel coronavirus.

In Memoriam John Prine, Dead of COVID-19

Most days, we expect to hear from a famous author
of songs loved by millions for decades even
more of his lovely music. He was only seventy-
three, John Prine, loving and loved husband and father.

My daughter Amelia and I have a duo called
Groovy News, and we perform a noteworthy
song by Mr. Prine, “Angel from Montgomery,”
about an old woman living with her old

husband, their lives a desert of lost dreams.
The song asks, “How the hell can a person
go to work in the morning / and come home
in the evening and have nothing to say?” The man

told us simple, unvarnished truths. COVID-19
may have taken John Prine but in song he lives on.

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


RIP, John Prine. Thanks for reading, everyone.

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...

I KNEW you'd use those word bank words for your aswang saga!
"Howl" certainly was a "gimme", wasn't it? Excellent sestina! Also enjoyed your Prine tribute, and Alan's sonnet was a hoot!

Vince Gotera said...

Thanks, Bruce! I need to go over to your blog now.




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