Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 22 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2020


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “engage with different languages and cultures through the lens of proverbs and idiomatic phrases. Many different cultures have proverbs or phrases that have largely the same meaning, but are expressed in different ways. For example, in English we say ’his bark is worse than his bite,’ but the same idea in Spanish would be stated as ’the lion isn’t as fierce as his painting.’ Today, I’d like to challenge you to find an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture, and use it as the jumping-off point for your poem.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “write a quirk poem. The quirk could be a personal or human quality. Or it could be a quirk of fate.”


Alan's poem today takes on the "quirk" prompt with close observations of people.

Telling

The people who ponder words
before they speak telegraph
how important their thoughts are
by how they bolster themselves
before delivering them.
In my small circle of friends
with whom I share everything,
the women’s signs are subtle,
sometimes only eye signals,
but one leans back just a bit,
another purses her lips,
and one raises her eyebrows,
and so I know something big
is soon to be delivered.
Three of the men stroke their beards,
even the scraggly bearded man,
one of them chuckles a bit,
and one perks up, ramrod straight.
But there’s one of them who holds
his hand across his lower face
and speaks between his fingers
as if what words escape should
count if any do at all.

I see these signs and turn my head
so I can let them talk without
the reservations eyes prompt,
offering my askance trust.

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

Today, my first poem, a tanka, is based on the "quirk" prompt, like Alan's, but focuses on a large social and/or natural quirk, marking today's annual celebration — a 50th anniversary.

Coronavirus
quarantine quirk side effect:
Los Angeles has
the cleanest air in the world.
Happy Earth Day, everyone.

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

My second poem today arises from the "proverb" prompt: a curtal sonnet in my aswang novella-in-poems (as described earlier in the blog): Clara gets some probably not unexpected news.

The Truth

Official letter from the US Army.
I open it slow, knowing what’s inside.
Yes, my Santiago is dead. No hope
left. Found in the jungle, no uniform.
He was naked and so presumed tortured.
No, that’s not what that means. He was happy

at the end. I can see Tiyago’s smile,
hunting humans again. True self he hid
within finally out, my man’s true shape.
Habang may buhay, may pag-asa. While
            there’s life, there’s hope.

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

A little analysis and explication here, if I may: it’s fascinating to look at the rhymed words:

            Army / uniform
            inside / tortured / hid
            hope / happy / life / hope
            smile / while


I got lucky there. The second set of rhymes (the b rhyme) suggests Santiago’s emotional situation, being aswang, and his inner conflict about what Clara wants of him. The c and d rhymes imply Santiago’s feelings on ultimately being true to his real self. Clara finally realizes the truth about her husband’s true desires, and the proverb represents both of their viewpoints.

The well-known Philippine proverb — or salawikain — I included in the poem I found in an Owlcation article, "55 Examples of Filipino Proverbs." Quite a treasure trove there of Filipino folk wisdom.


Stay safe out there, friends. And Happy Earth Day!

         

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...

Once again we seem to be on the same wavelength. I wrote a curtal sonnet, too, yesterday, and today I made the observation that pollution is down worldwide just in time for Earth Day (in Philadelphia it's down by as much as 25%).

Vince Gotera said...

Bruce, thanks. Yes, indeed. I do love the curtal sonnet. I wrote another today. Hey, I like the E poem ... fun!




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