Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Day 14 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a poem inspired only by stimulus from where you're sitting (or standing, if you write while standing). In the past, I've written poems about pencils, characters in books I can see, and things I can see out my window when using this prompt. So consider your immediate surroundings and poem away today.”

Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. Looking for inspiration? Take a look at this poem by Mark Wunderlich, appropriately titled ‘Wunderlich.’”


Alan's poem today riffs on both prompts in an intriguing meditation on name and place.

From Where I Stand

in the front yard of my parents’ house,
where I grew until I went to college
one hundred miles away and returned home
every weekend until I became a graduate student,
wearing a suit because I have come to attend a wedding
or some other ceremony I have forgotten,
but I have dressed up for my parents’ benefit,
especially for my dad’s,
because he is sinking from dementia
into Alzheimer’s, this would have been eight
or maybe nine years ago, and he wants me
to wear a straw cowboy hat that someone
had given him, just to try it on,
but it will not fit my head—it rides too high
on my forehead, and my thick hair
will not let me push it down. It looks
like a child’s hat on me, so I carry it
with me into the front yard that he mowed
the day before my wife and I arrived,
and I stand in front of the neat white
railing at the narrow front porch,
and I hold the hat by its crown,
as if I have just lifted it from my head,
as I encourage my wife to snap the shot,
me dressed as I rarely ever dress,
holding his hat like a prop,
feeling as thick as a lawyer
or a preacher, as hot
as my curled vinyl last name
on the white and weathered mailbox,
keeping harmony as best I can.

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



Today, I wasn't feeling the love with the prompts so I "went rogue," as Alan puts it, eschewing the prompts for my own direction: I wrote the final poem in my aswang novel-in-poems.

Malcolm’s Amen

She is gone. My mother Clara — the aswang,
the babaylan — has passed on. For thirty years
she has served our barangay as healer, herbalist,
leader, priest, ultimate public servant and guide.
For a longer period than that she has refrained
from turning manananggal, a winged half-body
monster, a dire predator on women and babies.
Instead she has been a midwife bringing infants,
many many children into the world, into life.
She has been our primary shaman, interceder
and bridge, our connection with the spirit world.
She has taught generations of our people how
to live well, how to exist in peace and justice,
how to resist those who would take our freedom.
Mama Clara became a babaylan in atonement
for the evil she and my aswang father Santiago
had perpetrated in the world before I was born.
And so Santiago, the beloved of Clara, my papa,
has also been saved, soul and memory cleansed.
At dawn, I sat by my mother’s bedside as she
drew her last breaths, holding her hand in mine.
As she died, her mouth fell open and out came
a small black bird, its feathers wet and slimy.
It cawed and croaked, staggered like a dying
spider or scorpion, dancing its final fandango.
And then the bird transmuted, turned color
slowly, became a glowing, translucent white.
It looked at me with my mother’s own eyes
and flew away, a soaring beacon in the sky.

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

I'm going to giving a poetry reading tomorrow evening (Thursday 4/15) at 6:00pm CDT for being in an anthology from Glass Lyre Press. I am one of four readers, going first, about 15 minutes.

Here's the facebook event page. Registration is required for the event. The registration link is in that event page. Or you can go direct to the registration here.



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

Ingat, everyone.   


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