Monday, April 19, 2021

Day 19 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2021


Maureen Thorson’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a humorous rant. In this poem, you may excoriate to your heart’s content all the things that get on your nerves. Perhaps it’s people who tailgate when driving, or don’t put the caps back on pens after they use them. Or the raccoons who get into your garbage cans. For inspiration, perhaps you might look to this list of Shakespearean insults. Or, for all of you who grew up on cartoons from the 1980s, perhaps this compendium of Skeletor’s Best Insults might provide some insight.”

Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day prompt: “[W]rite a poem with an animal in the title. Titles like 'Counting Sheep,' 'Beside the White Chickens,' and 'Horse' would all qualify. Of course, you can stretch this prompt however you wish. So don't duck this opportunity to horse around with your animal spirit.”


Okay, third ekphrastic poem in three days, all on Grant Wood paintings. The image this poem is based on (see below) shows an adolescent chicken, featherless, standing up among other chickens, feathered normally. The poem imagines what those other chickens might say to that adolescent — not exactly the kind of rant the NaPoWriMo suggested today, but a rant nonetheless. I'm also hewing to the Poem-a-Day call for an animal name in the poem title.

The Chickens Scold Featherless
—after Grant Wood, Puberty (1940)
You may think you’re like a meerkat
standing tall and seeing the farthest,
but you’re also the biggest target,
just prime picking for a rifle scope.

You may think you’re big as a grain silo
towering over all other farm buildings,
but the tornado can see you on the horizon,
saying here I am, come and pluck me!

You may think you’re the lightning rod
on top of the barn, the peak of the roof,
but when the lightning comes, liquid fire
forking through the sky, who’ll get hit?

You may think you’re the most stylish hen,
plucked smooth, enveloped in goose bumps,
but, honey, it’s just a phase, doesn’t faze us,
we’ve been there before, sit down, grow up.

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


Grant Wood, Puberty (1940)


Alan's poem today also issues from the two prompts, but his title may not literally be an animal, though it is an animal word — well, you decide.

Leech

I’d like to give a shout out to the guy
in my first-semester British lit survey
a few semesters ago, where the first two rows
were filled with students who got a kick
out of Chaucer’s bawdy humor
and a two-fisted Jesus climbing a tree like a high diver,
a prat-falling devil,
and a play about a deranged ruler
unaware of how quickly the three kids he still talked to
(I didn’t make an overt comparison, but it was there)
couldn’t wait to get their hands on the kingdom
his unengaged, nostalgic mismanagement
was tearing apart, and this guy just sat there.
The only difficult thing about this class
is that the forms of English do not always sound
like everyday, contemporary American English.
The content is simple. Everything is about God,
sex, or death, or some combination of them.
There are dragons, and some guy rips a monster’s arm off.
Some widow has gotten rich, we think,
because she has fucked all her husbands to death,
and she’s looking for another,
there’s a cosmic war between the forces of good and evil,
and ladies get locked up all over the place,
sometimes because they see visions,
sometimes because they are actually dangerous creatures who might convince an
      otherwise virtuous knight to behave in an unvirtuous manner.
Honestly, sometimes the language is a bit heavy, and, rarely, the stories may be
      complex,
but, for the most part, it’s God, sex, and/or death,
with some degree of honor and smut thrown in,
and, with a lot of the early stuff,
the symbols are obvious and unsophisticated,
because they’re just then learning how to make them,
and the only real complication comes from figuring out
how some later Christian attempted to transcribe
and then improve older texts by interjecting
Christianity into them. Well, that complication
and the dawning realization that Shakespeare
may have written love sonnets to a guy,
which makes the enthusiastic students in the front
squeal as if they have accidentally found
their grandmother’s PornHub account.
But this guy in the back
just sat there, absorbing life
from the class, present in body only,
waiting out the semester for gen ed credit.
Maybe I am being unkind.
Perhaps he was enjoying a rich internal life.
But he wasn’t. At best, he read only the first part
of Dr. Faustus, thought it was a good idea,
and made the same deal.

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

Thanks, Alan. What a fun rant!


A few days ago (the 14th, to be exact) I announced here that I was giving a poetry reading on the 15th in support of the Aeolian Harp Vol. 6 anthology, along with three other poets who were in that book. A video of that reading is now available. Click here to view that video. Hope you enjoy it!

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

Ingat, everyone.   


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1 comment:

Bruce Niedt said...

You guys are both on a roll! Two wickedly funny and insightful poems today - thanks!




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