Friday, April 30, 2021

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Last day! It's been a lot of fun!

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: [W]rite a goodbye poem. Whether leaving for a holiday or going to get groceries, many people find themselves in positions of saying goodbye to each other. So this feels like an appropriate way to close out this year's challenge ... until we meet again.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo suggestion: “Today’s prompt is based on a prompt written by Jacqueline Saphra, and featured in this group of prompts published back in 2015 by The Poetry Society of the U.K. This prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like 'the bottom of your heart,' or 'where missing socks go.' Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.”


For the last poem, a tanka, melding both prompts. Usually tanka, like haiku, are not titled unless they are linked into sequences, but I'll give this one a title for the sake of fulfilling the prompts. Probably if I submit this poem somewhere, I'll remove the title.

Goodbye for Now

follow the same path
to get here every April —
walk the labyrinth
step here     here     reach the center
last poem     last day     last beauty

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

Photos from LabyrinthCompany.com
   

Alan's poem today is a very detailed look at family history.



P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

 

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

 


Well, there we go! Thirty poems for each of us. We'll see how many of these poems we'll each pursue further.

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Penultimate day of National Poetry Month!

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “For today's prompt, write an evening poem. The evening can be a quiet and contemplative time, a stressed or fearful time, or, well, party time. Evenings can be lonely or romantic, cool or humid, inspirational or numbing. And today (or tonight, depending on when you consume your poetry prompts), evening is the time for poeming--even if you're doing it in the middle of the afternoon.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo suggestion: “And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one is called 'in the window.' Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be your childhood neighbor’s workshop, or a window looking into an alien spaceship. Maybe a window looking into a witch’s gingerbread cottage, or Lord Nelson’s cabin aboard the H.M.S. Victory. What do you see? What’s going on?”


Mashing up both prompts but probably not quite in the manner Robert and Maureen might have envisioned. I offer an ekphrastic tanka sequence (or linked tanka) on a famous Edward Hopper etching, in which a window and evening figure.

Tryst
—on Evening Wind, etching
   by Edward Hopper (1921)
bedsheets shape mountains
of soft muslin, a landscape
in a world of sleep
but not yet — the evening light
out the window glimmering

white curtains billow
like feathery angel's wings
against a backdrop —
inky dark heavy brick walls
framing the open window

she gazes outside,
auburn hair hiding her face
from us and yet not
from someone out there, young man
she’s waiting for, gentle smile

her hand smooths the bed:
come in, be my muse, sing me
a sweet aria,
velvet nocturne, till morning
brings dawn’s silky serenade

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

Edward Hopper, Evening Wind (1921)   (WikiArt)

Alan's window and evening are the wrought center of this poem, which orbits around that nexus.

Evening Window

From the domed hill in our backyard, one can see into the lit living room of our home, although we
            keep it lit by only a single lamp and the large panel of our television.
Depending on where one stands, one can perhaps peer into our dining room, through the large glass
            doors, but we keep that room unlit unless we sit at the table together before twilight.
Who would stand in the tangled back lot and look?
Once, my father warned me that someone could wait in the back of our lot and shoot through the
            kitchen window to wound me as I stood washing dishes,
as he once warned me that the political stickers on my truck could lead to vandalism or even road
            rage—this warning came years ago, before grievance became the primary means of
            expressing political tribalism,
and that Hell was a place for punishment with a wandering warden, walking to find vulnerable
            suckers for eternal punishment.
Who could stand back there, among the tangled honeysuckle and barbed black locust, to case our
            small home
where our routine has so exhausted us of stories
that we search for them on pages, in recordings, through streamed feeds
and not for a stranger crouched behind the elderberry, beneath the redbud?
Who would say “Flowering Judas” to my neighbors and expect them to understand?

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a remix poem. This has become one of my favorite prompts, because it asks us to look over what we've written this month and pick something (or many somethings) to poem out in a new way. Maybe your free verse becomes a sonnet or your sestina transforms into haiku. Or take a line or phrase from each of your poems this month and work it into a cohesive new creation.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “[W]rite a poem that poses a series of questions. The questions could be a mix of the serious ('What is the meaning of life?') and humorous ('What’s the deal with cats knocking things off tables?'), the interruptive ('Could you repeat that?') and the conversational ('Are those peanuts? Can I have some?'). You can choose to answer them – or just let the questions keep building up, creating a poem that asks the reader to come up with their own answer(s).”


Today I remixed my poem "The Moon, Always Waiting, Speaks" from Day 17 into a series of questions. The original poem, on Grant Wood's 1931 painting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, was spoken by the moon looking down from the sky at Revere riding through a hamlet at midnight. The remix focuses on the man standing in his doorway, startled by Revere's ride . . . see the detail from the painting below (click for a magnified view).

Grant Wood, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931)

Who Was That Masked Man?
—after The Midnight Ride of
    Paul Revere
by Grant Wood
Who just rode by, making such a clatter in the middle of the night?
Maybe a highwayman wearing a kerchief for a mask, up to no good?
All in black, astride a black horse — one of the Four Horsemen?
Do you think, dear wife, that the end of times are nigh upon us?
Could you hear what that rapscallion was yelling? Who's coming?
End of times indeed — pfft! — has this anything to do with us?
Come, let's back to bed. Did you see that beautiful moon above?
I wonder what the man in the moon thinks about all this uproar?
Surely we are safe here, wife. Won't good King George see to that?

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

Alan remixed his poem "Leech" from Day 19 into a question poem.

Leech, Reconsidered

And do you expect the guy
taking the 8:15 a.m. first-semester British survey
to have read the material any time but right before he fell asleep
the night before, having put off the chore of Beowulf
until the last possible moments of a long day?
And do you expect the guy
who sits in the back of a lecture hall
with something approaching stadium seating
although it holds only about fifty students, max,
to expect to draw your attention, much less offer his?
And do you expect the guy
whose political opinions take up less space
on the front of his trucker hat
than his own name would
to get or even acknowledge parallels
between the centuries-old texts
and current events?
Why should he recognize the tragicomic qualities of sexual relations?
Why should he be engaged by a bold Christ who would sacrifice His mortal being to
            fulfill a mission of love?
Why would he denigrate a self-delusional rebel who comes to understand only at the last
            that even his failed rebellion has been foreseen, defeated before begun?
Perhaps he is enjoying a rich internal life.
Perhaps he has calculated that his efforts would be better spent in his profitable major
            than in a gen ed course
where somebody evaluates his minimal effort assignment fulfillments
as if they matter in the long run.
Perhaps the only thing he read all the way through was Dr. Faustus, and he understood
            it, and he decided it was a good deal, after all.

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day suggestion is this month's “final Two-for-Tuesday ... prompt:  1. Write a believe poem and/or ... 2. Write a don't believe poem.”

It seems that the NaPoWriMo website was hacked yesterday! Maureen Thorson announced the hack on facebook and on Twitter, saying that her hosting company shut down the website "to prevent further damage." The website has since been brought back up but with no new material after Day 26. Instead Maureen issued the prompt on Facebook and twitter: “Today's prompt asks you to get in touch with some minor, haunting feelings.”

I wrote that (above) at 6:30 this morning. It is now a little after 9:00am and NaPoWriMo seems to be back to normal. Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo full prompt today is “I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The entries are very vivid – maybe too vivid! But perhaps one of the sorrows will strike a chord with you, or even get you thinking about defining an in-between, minor, haunting feeling that you have, and that does not yet have a name.”


Mashing up all three prompts, with some tanka prose, where the ending tanka is an acrostic poem spelling out a word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, "wytai," which means, "a feature of modern society that suddenly strikes you as absurd and grotesque."

Real Lives?

I can’t believe someone would actually take the time to hack
a poetry website like NaPoWriMo.net. There’s no money in it.
No adventure, like hackers in Neuromancer wearing a haptic
suit with virtual goggles and storming websites imaged as
castles in cyberspace. Don’t hackers have real lives?

At the same time, I do believe it, and I just shake my head. It’s
a sign of our times that there are people for whom conspiracy
theories literally are real life, like the QAnon Shaman, in his
buffalo-horn headdress and leather chaps, shirtless, leading
the Capitol invasion in January. Is that how a hacker sees
themselves, as some kind of Messiah? As Moses in the
wilderness, with a burning bush telling them, go take down
Poetry . . . it’s a Democrat sex-trafficking scheme that's
threatening the life-blood of the nation.

                              W hy do hackers do it?
                               Y ou would think
                               T hey’d be cooking chili
                               A nd walking the dog.
                                I t’s weirder than QAnon.

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

QAnon Shaman at the Capitol riots, January 2021.

Alan did the NaPoWriMo prompt today, drawing a word from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.



P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

 

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

 


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Monday, April 26, 2021

Day 26 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[T]ake the phrase '(blank) World,' replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: 'Theme Park World,' 'Poeming World,' and/or 'Brave New World.' Have fun putting the world in a poem.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a parody. Besides being fun, writing parodies can be a great way to hone your poetic skills – particularly your sense of rhyme and sound, as you try to mimic the form of an existing poem while changing the content. Just find a poem – or a song – that has always annoyed you, and write an altered, silly version of it. Or, alternatively, find a poem with a very particular rhyme scheme or form, and use that scheme/form as the basis for a poem that mocks something else.”


Okay, mashing up both prompts as usual, but this time with utter, consummate silliness.

Out of this World

Star Warsh is a laundromat
where spacemen clean their spacesuits,
where Yoda washes his T-shirts and undies
and artfully scuffs up his boots.

Where Chewie buffs up his shoulder belt
and Han launders his vest,
where Luke cleans off his off-white leggings
and Leia bleaches her dress.

Star Warsh is run by Obi-Wan,
who always chants this motto:
“We keep you clean in Tatooine,”
sung with sweet vibrato.

After they get themselves spiffed up,
they board the Millennium Falcon,
then blast off to battle dirty Darth Vader,
and live happily ever afton.

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

A couple of footnotes: (1) Thanks to F. Scott Fitzgerald, from whom lifted the advert jingle, and (2) Thanks also to Dr. Seuss, from whom I learned this cool poetic lesson: if you can't find a rhyme word, make one up! (Shakespeare used to do it too, but his coinages often stayed in our vocabularies.)

C3PO Laundry Day — Guess he didn't make the laundromat.

Alan's poem today mashes up the two prompts, riffing on "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks while also doing some trenchant social commentary.

We’re Q World
(Stay Out of Trenton, Georgia)

We’re Trump-trained. We’re
Bad-brained. We’re

Fake news. We’re
False clues. We’re

Greene-graced. We’re
False-faced. We’re

Q World. We’re
Pig-pearled.

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Day 25 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a thought poem. Of course, my first thought (maybe like yours) is, 'Aren't all poems thought poems?' Well, I guess, but I'm thinking of a poem that captures a thought or random ramblings running 'round your cranium. It doesn't have to be a rambling poem, but that's one thing. Another possibility is having two people share their thoughts with each other and/or NOT share them. Think about it a moment and then unleash your thought poem.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “[W]rite an 'occasional' poem. What’s that? Well, it’s a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion. This past January, lots of people who usually don’t encounter poetry got a dose when Amanda Gorman read a poem at President Biden’s inauguration. And then she followed it up with a poem at the Superbowl (not traditionally an event associated with verse!) The poem you write can be for an occasion in the past or the future, one important to you and your family (a wedding, a birth) or for an occasion in the public eye (the Olympics, perhaps?).”


This poem came together really quick, maybe 20 minutes. Merging both prompts with stream-of-consciousness followed by a whispered conversation.

Funeral
trigger warning:
car accident details
screeching tires on pavement like tearing silk the shoulder wrenched
by the seat belt chest banged against the steering wheel breaking your
eye torn from its socket your face crashing through the windshield
tearing at your skin like a hundred knives like shark’s or tiger’s teeth
your arms flailing in wind the bones cracking as your body pounds
the sidewalk the wheels of the car up in the air spinning into black

“Boy, he looks good, doesn’t he? I thought his face would be a mess.”

Shh. Keep it down. Yeah, they do a great job here. Good make-up.”

“I guess the colored lights above the casket help with the skin tone.”

“You know, as good as he looks, he doesn’t seem really alive there.”

“That’s what people say sometimes, but Uncle Frank looks natural.”

“Well, better him than us. Between you and me, I never liked him.”

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

Alan's occasion poem today is a Petrarchan sonnet.



P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

 

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

 



Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Day 24 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a question poem. There are a few different ways to come at this one. First, make the title of your poem a question and use the poem to answer it. Or make the title the answer and the poem the question. Or end your poem on a question.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Find a factual article about an animal. A Wikipedia article or something from National Geographic would do nicely – just make sure it repeats the name of the animal a lot. Now, go back through the text and replace the name of the animal with something else – it could be something very abstract, like 'sadness' or 'my heart,' or something more concrete, like 'the streetlight outside my window that won’t stop blinking.' You should wind up with some very funny and even touching combinations, which you can then rearrange and edit into a poem.”


Alan worked exclusively with the NaPoWriMo prompt. He told me, "I could have forced this effort to fit Brewer, but it would have hurt it."



P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

 

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

 


Like Alan, I also worked only with the NaPoWriMo prompt today. And again, like Alan, I feel my poem would not have worked as well with questions.

They Had Some Rifles
— after Joy Harjo
They had some rifles.
They had rifles who shone steel-gray in the sun.
They had rifles who hid themselves in deep night.
They had rifles who had one eye like a locomotive.
They had rifles who were the light at the end of the tunnel.

They had rifles who laughed too much.
They had rifles who stayed quiet in the back of the truck cab.
They had rifles who had some rifles.
They had rifles who had many, many rifles.

They had some rifles.

They had rifles who refused to fire.
They had rifles who would fire till the cows came home.
They had rifles who jammed in the sand.
They had rifles who never jammed and were always ready for judgment day.
They had rifles who loved magazines jammed hard inside.
They had rifles who preferred empty magazines and dreamed of the light.

They had rifles who cried in their beer.
They had rifles who said they weren't afraid.
They had rifles who lied.
They had rifles who told the truth and liked high-rises.
They had rifles who lived in glass houses.
They had rifles who threw rocks at glass houses.

They had some rifles.

They had rifles who called themselves "rifle."
They had rifles who called themselves "skeet" and kept their pull secret.
They had rifles who had no serial numbers.
They had rifles who had the longest serial numbers.
They had rifles who waited for buyback.
They had rifles who waited for automatic fire.

They had some rifles.

They had some rifles they adored.
They had some rifles they abhorred.

These were the same rifles.

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


I'd like to apologize to Joy Harjo here. Some lines are uncomfortably close to her wording in "She Had Some Horses." Although my poem is not strictly a parody, the "rule" in writing parody that text lifted from the original is not plagiarism will surely also apply here. I think the close wording in this case is a compliment to Harjo and her meaning.


Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Friday, April 23, 2021

Day 23 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: Write “an appointment poem. My first thoughts with appointments conjure up visions of doctors, dentists, and parent-teacher conferences. But there are also business meetings and romantic dates.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that responds, in some way, to another. This could be as simple as using a line or image from another poem as a jumping-off point, or it could be a more formal poetic response to the argument or ideas raised in another poem. You might use a favorite (or least favorite poem) as the source for your response.”


Mashing up both prompts today in a small ditty after Emily Dickinson (Johnson 927). Here I'm using her go-to, common meter, either hymnal stanza or ballad. Her poem that begins "Absent place — an April Day —" is written in hymnal stanza, slant rhymed, but I'm employing a ballad, more fully rhymed.

In the Katoski Greenbelt
— beginning with a line
     from Emily Dickinson
Absent place — an April day
without one appointment.
No class, no Zoom, no doctors —
just the present moment.

Here, in these quiet woods
I have an appointment —
meeting a sprawl of wild bluebells
chorusing an indigo chant.

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

I actually did go for a walk this morning in the Katoski Greenbelt, a park in Waterloo, Iowa, and shot this photo as well as many others of the bluebells I found there.


Alan worked with both prompts today, responding to "Under Ben Bulben" by William Butler Yeats with an acrostic Petrarchan sonnet. The line he's playing with is the last bit in the poem, and conceivably the speaker's very last stone utterance.

Horseman

Considering his soul secure in Christ,
Assuming his salvation was secure
Since ministers had told him he was pure
Through his repentance, sins he sacrificed
Against his inclinations; what enticed
Could trap him, he was careful. He was sure
Of every temptation that might lure,
Lamenting the restraint he exercised.
Dying before he died by many years,
Erroneously thinking joy is sin,
Yet going through the motions of the good:
Engagement, marriage, even fatherhood
Of reservation; he could not begin,
Never loving fully, hellbent in fears.

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Day 22 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Happy Earth Day, o fellow earthlings!

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a nature poem. Write about the natural world, sure. But don't be afraid to delve into human nature or the nature of love or whichever other interpretation comes naturally to you. Poem on!”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo suggestion today begins by citing a Poets & Writers prompt based on "an essay by Urvi Kumbhat on the use of mangoes in diasporic literature,” which maintains that “mangoes have become a sort of shorthand or symbol that writers use to invoke an entire culture, country, or way of life. This has the beauty of simplicity – but also the problems of simplicity, in that you really can’t sum up a culture in a single image or item, and you risk cliché if you try.” Today's prompt “challenge[s us] to write a poem that invokes a specific object as a symbol of a particular time, era, or place.”

I use the mango again in linked haiku here, but in my mash-up of both prompts, the mango is not a symbol but rather a mountain.

Mango World

Partially eaten
mango lying by the side
of a park pathway.

Nearby, an ant hill
brims with workers and soldiers
to explore this world:

mountain of mango . . .
deep within, the wrinkled seed
a brown rocky mass.

Workers swarm over
the gigantic precipice
of sweet, golden fruit,

mango flesh seething
with interlocked ant bodies,
legs and antennae,

in concert, a corps,
individual soldiers
bound in regiment,

a bucket brigade
made of thousands of bodies
heaving together.

The crag of mango
starts to slip sideways toward
the waiting ant hill.

Slow lurching at first,
then gradually moving
faster, a smooth glide.

The yellow mountain
swallowed by the open mouth
of the ant hill nest.

The community 
shivers in merriment, joy
at mango treasure.

Juicy mango meat
will feed the giant city
one bright, long season.

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


Today, Alan worked with, not the mango, but the mimosa.

Mimosa

A forked mimosa stood on the western edge
of our property, its split so low I could
straddle it or hoist myself up into it,
climbing higher but never more than a man’s height
from the ground. They broke easily.
In spring, their blooms looked like the pink hair
of Muppet fairies, and they would fill
with webworms, building tents
and feeding on the leaves,
leaves so fragile that touching even healthy ones
would trigger them to close,
fragile as the tree itself,
imported as ornament
and bringing its own destroyer
along with it.

My home now, miles and years away,
is filled with black locusts,
bearing sharp thorns,
sending shoots underground,
and twisting upon itself
as it grows, so that its own asymmetry
supports it or its neighbor,
leaving some standing dead,
an imminent, heavy threat
should it fall.

I would be an oak,
taking my time to mature,
reaching all around and up.

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

Friends, won’t you comment, please? Love to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   


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