20120220_yin-yang

There is always pain
with pleasure,
accompanying her
on the walk
down the road.
New boots
muddied
in the first rain.
A fallen petal
just days
after the first bloom.
Falling off a bicycle.
A first kiss.
Getting the highest grade
in the class.
Marrying the man
of your dreams.
It’s always there
this feeble ecstasy,
fleeting if not for
solid sorrow
propping it up,
anchoring it
to sweet memory.

Photo Credit: http://www.vecteezy.com/religion/42491-yin-yang-vector

74__drowning_by_secretsnowdragon9999-d67yawp

It only takes a moment
that dropping from
I am here to
I am not
the transition from
help me I am drowning
to peace, release
fists unclenching
hair fanning wide
across the surface
bubbles, troubles
streaming steadily
upwards, towards
the heavens
A normal force
response to gravity

And even in that moment
there is another moment
molecular
half the distance again
between wakefulness
and rest
just beyond the reach
of reason and reality
that questions
Am I here?

 

Photo Credit: http://secretsnowdragon9999.deviantart.com/art/74-Drowning-376154809

napofeature2

10. I can do anything for 30 days
9. I haven’t lost my love of a challenge. Dare me, people!
8. I like to write to prompts.
7. I can always write the form, but the subject often eludes me.
6. I have a certain “voice.”
5. I write best in the morning.
4. I have not yet made the synaptic connection between journaling and writing poetry
3. When I write with a pen, my creativity is stifled but my emotional pathways are wide open
2. I write for the page.
1. I like writing poetry more than I like reading it (Sshh!)

 

Photo Credit: http://www.napowrimo.net/

untitled1

Goodbye daily line
Farewell prompted word
So long sestet stanza
Godspeed! I’ll take your leave.

 

Napowrimo Day # 30: Write a poem of farewell

Photo Credit: http://mentalexotica.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/

erasure-scan-heart1

Metaphor
Say something preposterous
one image scattered
synesthesia
Name
Contradict
Digress
False logic
A dialect you don’t understand
concrete abstract
an image to reverse
the persona
refer to the third
part
an unlikely
assertion that sounds
other
non-human
a vivid image that “echoes”

Napowrimo Day # 29: Write a Twenty Little Projects Poem that contains all of the following elements. I chose to write an erasure poem based on this list.

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18. Use a phrase from a language
other than English.
19. Make a
non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20. Close the poem with
a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Photo Credit: http://coyotemercury.com/category/poems/

_h353_w628_m6_otrue_lfalse

On Monday, philosophers renewed their search
for more than 100 virtues thought to be trapped
in poor judgment, selfish motives, and decadent choices.

They asked 36 of the 64 known questions
looking for the missing virtues believed
to enhance and expand the meaning of life.

They may need to investigate the remaining
questions as floating debris made it difficult
to be sure that there were no more answers.

Immanuel Kant, an official with the task force,
said that society was making plans to salvage
morality, but details were not available.

Focusing on the aftermath of the disaster,
John Stuart Mills, a consequentialist, declared that the
loss was only as great as the desirability of the outcome

Plato, Father of Classical Philosophy, resigned
over society’s handling of the sinking, blaming
“deep-rooted evils” in society for the tragedy.

Napowrimo Day # 28: Find a news article, and to write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article

News Article and Photo Credit: http://news.msn.com/world/divers-renew-search-for-south-korea-ferry-dead

snow

It’s hard to imagine
people out in this weather
But sure enough, there they are
footsteps coming and going
forming steady lines in the middle
of the white carpet, careful to avoid
the edges, the ditches, the corners
where surprises lurk.

Do they look up and notice
the laden tree branches
poised for a fight,
snowballs at the ready, waiting
for an unfortunate sneeze
a gust, a breeze
to signal the game is on?

The cars are asleep
tucked snug beneath their
downy comforters, like so many
orphans lined up in dormitories
hopeful that the morning will bring
a loving father, brushing the sleep
out of the corners of their eyes.

The stillness is infinite
receding as the walkway
into more and more white.
There are no leaves to flutter,
empty coke cans to break
the silence. No rain,
no discernible movement
to breathe dimension
into God’s canvas.

Napowrimo Day # 27: Write a poem in response to one of the photographs on this page

Photo Credit: http://www.napowrimo.net/

poetry1

It is not hard to forge the form of poems
++The lyric sings its tune in patterned plan
++++Lined up in groups of four, or six, or twelve
The strophe presents the argument at hand
++The antistrophe the reasons to defend
++++Epode brings both the sides to middle sense

But how to find the soul behind the voice?
++The subject oft eludes the graspy pen
++++She hides beneath the clamor of the mind
No ripples does she make to stir the ken
+++++++++++Not a sound

Napowrimo Day 26: Write a curtal sonnet.

Photo Credit: http://readingafterbedtime.wordpress.com/category/poetry/page/3/

I_AM

I am
the light
at day break
weak, oblique
growing
steadily stronger

I am
the wet
on windshield
clearing
the dust of
yesterday’s despair

I am
the blue
of open sky
still, serene
unfazed by
passing clouds

I am
the blaze
that love ignites
hot, enveloping
all doubt
all fright

I am
the dusk
the fading song
that slips
unnoticed
over the horizon

I am
the dark
of setting night
rich, intense
thick with
silent promise

Napowrimo Day # 25: Write a poem that uses anaphora.

Photo Credit: http://minervablog.ilcannocchiale.it/2011/05/04/sono_i_am.html

gold-trophy

I am not here
for the taking
passive
plucked unprotesting
as an egg
from its nest
still warm
with life unrealized

I am not here
as a cup
on a pedestal
shiny and new
raised in triumph
separating winners
from losers

I am not here
to serve and sew
and mend
tattered egos
challenged
by the passage
of time

I am not here
forever
always willing
pliant
casting gold
into
twisted infinity

I am not here
devoid of stories
dreams of my own
making
strides unimagined
by ordinary
wives

I am not here

Napowrimo Day # 24: No prompt.

Photo Credit: http://blogs.colombiadigital.net/era-de-la-imaginacion/creando-un-esquema-de-recompensas-efectivo-para-crowdfunding/

death cap

Do not turn back on death unthinking
instead return to existence
return is the invisible language
–my language–
Let us not speak of death anonymous
It is but peace ever-loving
Only the shortest of work
names the soul of abject stillness
None who seek death have met their destiny.

Non volevo nomi per morti sconosciuti
eppure volevo che esistessero
volevo che una lingua anonima
– la mia –
parlasse di molte morti anonime.
Ciò che chiamiamo pace
ha solo il breve sollievo della tregua.
Se nome è anche raggiungere se stessi
nessuno di questi morti ha raggiunto il suo destino.

Napowrimo Day # 23: Find a poem in a language you don’t know, and translate it into English based on the look of the words and their sounds.

Photo Credit: http://www.progressive-charlestown.com/2011/07/endtimes-guide-to-dining-out.html

Golden+Retriever+image

I am a dog.
I know when people like me.
And when they don’t.
I even know when
they used to like me
but don’t any more.
I know it.
Not the he-said-therefore
kind of knowing;
more like did-i-just-imagine-that
kind of knowing,
where you know
but don’t
want to shatter
carefully erected castles.

Your mother taught you
“never judge a book
by its cover”
Why not?
Isn’t the cover
the author’s best attempt
at his best self?
But we retreat with
he-couldn’t-possibly-have,
away from that tingling,
the negative space
that feeds and mocks
our unease.
We shrug it off

Do dogs shrug it off?
Do they rationalize
gut feelings with
“He doesn’t look like he’s going to
kick me in the teeth
break my heart
starve me.
Me who wants only to be
petted
stroked
thrown a bone
crumbs
the Sally Fields
of the animal kingdom?”

No.
Even the sweetest,
kindest, beaglyest
of pugs, the loyal lionhearts,
the fuzzy bears, the joyous
walk away
when they know
that they will never reach
inside
and hug a soul.
They know that
danger is present.
They know to walk away.

Some growl
but most walk
because they are gracious
and because their mothers
have taught them
to friend their guts,
not Judas them out
in the name of politeness
that shackles,
barring them
from straying too far,
tethering them to shame
and self-denial.

They haven’t pimped out
their safety with
be-nice’s and behaves
they just teach their young
to read the space
like a game
of duck duck goose,
sorting and running
like hell.

No sense in staying.
No treats.

Napowrimo Day # 22: A rewrite from the idea-bank

Photo Credit: http://mindjunks.com/golden-retriever-dog-pictures/

800px-Sleeping_angel

in the tiny space
between one breath
and another

as the dream
flutters from
eyelid to eyelid

curled finger
on blissful cheek
sheet-lined and pink

sun-soft waking
ripples so still
on honey-warm fleece

the tug of
ship to shore
night to light

a silent surge
of possessive
mine all mine

 

Napowrimo Day # 21: Inspired by a poem by the same name by Lauren Gordon

Photo Credit: http://www.bluesci.org/?p=5954

th (3)

This above all:
Be kind. Take not
a comma misplaced
and indict
the whole soul
despise the intelligence
that favors fluidity
of meaning
over strictures
of form.

They do not love
that do not show
mercy. Forgive
the errant line
the double negative
the meter
run too long.
Better a thoughtful
colloquy than a
colloquial thought.

’tis not the pen
that holds our destiny
but the heart. That
it would speak
more faint than
silken tongue
than stars on fire
makes not
a fool a liar.

 

Napowrimo Day # 20

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zengei/6943077858/

EdwardWestonShell1927

incised moon
gather up the stars
the radiant grains
scattered so close
only the smallest
can see the spaces
oases of night

then let them go
to warm the oceans
breadcrumb the way
in worlds other-worldly
your gift
unequal bitterness

 

Napowrimo Day # 19: Take a look at the list of actual sea shell names, and use one or more of them to write a poem.

Photo Credit: http://thoughtsonartandteaching.blogspot.com/2010/03/rules-of-composition.html#axzz2zLHoeCA2

th (2)

I
She came to the city from Persia at dawn
and married at fourteen the prince Shah Jahan
together they grew and ruled over the land
and as the years passed many children were born

II
They say she was graceful and trusted and true
Her wisdom and kindness was matched by just few
She went with him daily wherever he called
to battlefield, to boardroom, she did follow through

III
He gave her the title of “Jewel of the Palace”
she danced and she shone like Aurora Borealis
he tired of her once, as they are wont to do
but when he remarried, she bore him no malice

IV
Then at the old age of forty she died
bearing child number fourteen, he broke down and cried
A city in mourning, a people bereft
They had lost their good leader, lost their dear bride

V
He built her a castle, a tomb to enthrall
princes and peasants, folks big and small
The marble, the marvel, the tall minarets
a tribute to deep love, the great Taj Mahal

 

Napowrimo Day # 18: Write a ruba’i

Photo Credit:https://www.flickr.com/photos/nat507/8239453177/

6a00d8341c790e53ef014e8ae68329970d-500wi

Today
I was in a deep funk
an oyster buried
in the murky green.
No processing.
No pearl.
Sometimes
a grain of sand
is just a grain of sand.

I woke
at 2:00am
and couldn’t
go back to sleep.
I drifted off
on the couch
for a few minutes
at 5:00 and dreamt
my son was homeless
wandering the streets
eating snails for his supper.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 17: No prompt. True story.

Photo Credit: http://glenniacampbell.typepad.com/silenti/2011/09/the-road-to-hana-is-paved-with-good-intentions.html

th (1)

Not first
or last
fresh-faced
or spent
but a middling
mediocrity
nondescript
faded
brittle
as the pages
of a never-opened
book

In between
birth
and death
first blush
and bloom
the waiting
the marching
a purgatory
before
hallowed ground

High noon
flat
shadowless
envious
of dusk
and dawn
of one’s grace
and the other’s promise
it stretches
interminable
still

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 17: One from the archives

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/4318910816/

Sleeping-Beauty

When I first laid eyes on you,
brought you to my breast
and felt that sweet tug,
I was sold! This, I thought,
is true love; it will last forever.
You are beautiful
on the inside, and really
that’s what counts.
Not the one hundred
strokes of hair,
not the thirty-two passes
of toothbrush,
but the sacrifices you make
the spirit-lights you dim
the voices you quiet
soft, gentle, feminine
and sacred. Give
and ye shall receive.
One day it will be your turn
to run, to jump in puddles
You can be everything
you want to be. Smart,
respected for who you are
not what you do. Revered
as mother, cherished
as wife, valued and
rewarded with gifts
of time, leisure, avocation.
Resist not;
it is what it is.

 

Napowrimo Day # 16: Write a 10-line poem in which each line is a lie.

Photo Credit: http://www.paranormalpeopleonline.com/the-sleeping-girl-of-turville-a-real-life-sleeping-beauty/

athena1

Amazon woman, you who were born
of your father’s head, fought
fully armored at first light of dawn

Motherless maiden, fear not
love, lust, vulnerability
your passion for adventure ought

free you from ideals, the futility
of solitude, of justice, of war
that fails to advance humanity

Release yourself from knowledge, lore
Rescue your virginity, let her play,
breathe, take a step outside the door

Sweet Aphrodite, sister, show me a new way

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 15:  Write a poem in terza rima.

Photo Credit: http://landofgoddesses.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/athena-minerva/

question_mark_sticker_by_brianfallen97-d4p15c2

What do you mean
when you say it is
what it is? Is this
determinism or defeatism
or is it just your way
of saying, I can’t be
fucked with this

right now may I
get back to you
get back to the game
get back far away
from all your
existential rage?

Should I just accept
that I will not get
mangoes at Christmas
rainfall in May
a ten percent raise
more beautiful with age,

or should I keep
pedaling
that hamster ride
filing
those thank you letters
reaching
for the candy jar
a short fingertip away?

Do I just trust
in Rilke and live
the questions, love
the unresolved
note, the dissonance,
the F in a C major chord

that calls for
longs for an E
to relieve the suspense
to close the circle
to set the mind at rest?

It is what it is
insofar as
I am what I am.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 14: Write a poem in which every sentence, except for the last one, is in the form of a question.

Photo Credit: http://brianfallen97.deviantart.com/art/Question-Mark-sticker-283908674

ap_east_japan_earthquake_damage_ll_110311_wg

Worli
This is my home bowl
the place to which I return
when the good earth shifts

Nariman Point
Look mama, no hands!
a cleft fissure opens up
just below her brow

Sophia College
From teen to twenty
the music rocked the lab coats
it wasn’t her fault

Takshila
She barely lived there
but those who fed her focus
called it home sweet home

Boundary Street
The mid-point of me
between liquefaction and
the rest of my life

Nobel Drive
It was the first space,
a coming together of
odd tectonic plates

Park Newport
I could not drive my
Honda. “How dare you,” they honked
I swerved to miss the crack

Havenwood
Turtle doves and frog spawn
domesticated mantle
I don the mind fog

Diamante
Shakemaps, subduction,
up and down, round and round this
story has no end

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 13: Our prompt for today is to write a poem that contains at least one kenning.

This poem was inspired by Brynn Saito’s “City in which I Love”

Photo Credit: http://scilearn-hscs2012.wikispaces.com/8B+Term+2

th

Ego is known by the humming sound
created by its beating wings
which allows it to fly
at speeds exceeding 15 meters/second

It has the highest metabolism of any
and meets its need for protein
by preying on insects and spiders
and nectar, a sweet liquid
inside certain flowers.

Ego is specialized and tied
to fear on which it feeds
Fear, pollinated by ego,
comes in shades of red and orange

Egos have long life-spans.

 

Napowrimo Day # 12: Today’s (optional) prompt is a “replacement” poem. Pick a common noun for a physical thing, for example, “desk” or “hat” or “bear,” and then pick one for something intangible, like “love” or “memories” or “aspiration.” Then Google your tangible noun, and find some sentences using it. Now, replace that tangible noun in those sentences with your intangible noun, and use those sentences to create (or inspire) a poem.

Photo Credit: http://amsdaily.net/2012/01/05/the-legend-of-the-hummingbirds/

3589720017_71e3a5ed8f

Driving down the central coast
Highway one the western most
Hills to left and to the right
Valleys rich and green and bright

Cool and damp Au Bon Climat
Hot and dry a Rhone Syrah
Further north in Monterey
Clean and mineral Chardonnay

Please resist the snobbery
of appelation Burgundy
These wines have grace and subtlety
They’re just as good for you and me

 

Napowrimo Day # 11: Write an anacreontic poem about wine and love
 Jeffrey Greenberg / Monterey County CVB

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg / Monterey County CVB https://www.flickr.com/photos/cimontereyca/3589720017/

Have you not heard
of laser guns
that zap hair follicles
one by one
no nick no cut
you’re out of luck
Burma-Shave

 

 

Napwrimo Day # 10:
Once upon a time, poetry was regularly used in advertisements, most notably the Burma-Shave ads:

Said Farmer Brown
Who’s bald on top
“Wish I could
Rotate the crop”
Burma-Shave

Or

She put a bullet
Through his hat
But he’s had closer
Shaves than that
Burma-Shave

200805280724

Some days I wake
with the world
upon my back
the baby’s calling
for a kiss
Oh how I wish
I had time on my hands
just one quiet day

But I’m starting here again
I’m never coming back
No one can be two places
at one time. I’ll be at the
crossroads, the road to
where you are. I’m not
the man you think I am.

So I’ll meet you at the corner
of Washington and Lincoln,
right where we left off.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed
that we’re still here.
You and me
cotton candy
everybody’s opium

 

Napowrimo Day # 9: This is a poem composed entirely of song titles by the band Venice

Photo Credit: http://virtuallypriceless.org/blog/2008/05/the-broken-records-of-health-care/

Sindoor

As the oil warms slowly
in its stone cup
hot peppercorns
sharing their gift
of heat and heat
to make the day
a celebration

she sits crosslegged
heavy-lidded and mute,
the Suprabhatam slow
to awaken her senses.
Her mother’s hands
weave in and out
shaping order
out of thick black hair.

Neither speaks
yet both know
the monument
of this protest,
this betrayal
of wife
and daughter.

He was quite unsuitable
twice her age
a ladies’ man
but surely most egregious
was his love
his friendship with
the man of the house
that allowed him
sweet entry into her life.

She wipes the last
of the oil
into the ends
of coarse black,
slips two gold bangles
off her wrist
and onto two
more delicate
“Come,” she says,
“today is your wedding day.”

 

 

Napwrimo Day # 8: Rewrite a famous poem, giving it your own spin.
Li-Young Lee’s Early in the morning.
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/early-in-the-morning/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pratiphotography/7434480268/

AJ_and_Mummy

Now I have to share you
where once you were all mine
held deep within,
butterfly kisses, our secret language,
unwords of greeting. “Good morning
Mama, you awake yet?”
White-haired women in flowered
housedresses and thick-ankled shoes
would pat me and ask, “You ready
to pop yet?” And I’d nod and smile
even as my breath said, “Not yet.
Just a little while longer.”
I held you like this, well-dilated
for ten days, against all odds,
defying all wisdom.
But I wasn’t ready then
as I am not ready now.

Now I have to share you
with cruel sky that dips
behind tract-house
rooftops, over trees, and
across the ocean, blazing
blue, beyond my fingertips,
beyond my sight.
Then, we traded eyelid kisses,
and whispered stories
wrought from boredom
on threadbare church floors, the pews
your drawing table, my skirt your shield
against the glare. I held your feet,
crooked little commas, no bigger than
the palm of my hand, now size 12
just a few inches shy
of your full-term birth height.

Now I have to share you
with yourself–let you go
to the next sunrise, the next
adventure. I have to watch
as you scrape your knees
and brush off glass-shards
of boys-will-be-boys taunts.
I have to watch as you slip
a coin into an outstretched hat,
and listen as you rage
that it has come to this.
I cannot kiss your pain
away, anymore than
I can trap a moonbeam
in a jar, and expect that
both you and it
will be unchanged.

I have to share you now
and I have no words for it.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 7: No prompt needed.

Photo Credit: Peter Matuchniak http://www.petermatuchniak.com

1613942_10152303709746445_915510131_n

You can’t miss it.
Crest the winding
Pacific Coast Highway
a few miles North
of SLO, and there it is.
Movie-set unreal, bare
brown rock, rising
from still bay waters
reminiscent of a repentant head
emerging from a baptism
clean, unadorned by
trees or scrub, the scars
of old rivulets traversing
the surface as water
drips off the crown
into the eyes, down the
cheeks, then back
into the water
from where it came.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 6:

Take a good look outside your window. Spend a minute or so jotting down all the nouns you see outside. Tree. Car. Bus. Dog. Then spend a minute or so writing down all the colors you see. Finally, think about taking place outside. Is the wind blowing? “Blow.” Is someone walking their dog? “Walk.” Spend a minute or so writing down these verbs. Now you’ve got a whole list of words from which to build a poem, mixing and matching as you go. Happy writing!

Photo Credit: Peter Matuchniak http://www.petermatuchniak.com

wild-horse-silhouette-in-a-blue-moonlight

The last two years have challenged my
thoughts on life and living, have questioned if barn
doors should ever be bolted, the horse having
left for the day, running wild across burned
pastures, dirt-yellow and bare, from known to
unknown, bounding towards horizons that race faster than the
eleven-mile limits of rays and retinas. The ground,
mother earth, herself, supports this flight, this liberation, and I,
I watch from shuttered window, from safe haven, and can
only envy, wonder at the surefootedness of abandon, of now,
without so much as a backward glance at fading sunlight. I see
as never before, shapes emerging out of the darkness, the
lines coming into focus, into form, by the light, by the grace of the moon.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 5
Write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool. You can read Brooks’ poem by reading the last word of each line of Hayes’ poem!

This poem was written based on Barn’s Burnt Down ~ Mizuta Masahide

Photo Credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_VhpgTb08c3k/ScyJv5BSpdI/AAAAAAAAA7Y/QVZSrRq-3XE/s320/wild-horse-silhouette-in-a-blue-moonlight.jpg

Smile_now

Stop constant strife
to be better than before
allow the now


Napowrimo Day # 4 Prompt:
Today’s optional prompt is to write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem. Happy writing!

Photo Credit: By Augusto Pirovano (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

words-of-wisdom

When your heart’s aflutter
and your mind a nutter
take your very worst-thoughts
and put it in a God box
then carry on your work day
no matter what the ghouls say
unfurl that knotted eyebrow
the time to live is right Now.

 

 

Napowrimo Day # 3 Prompt:
Write a charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme. It could be a charm against warts, or against traffic tickets. It could be a charm to bring love, or to bring free pizzas from your local radio station.

Photo Credit: http://www.bing.com/images/search?pq=worry+&sc=8-3&sp=-1&sk=&q=worry+&qft=+filterui:license-L2_L3_L4_L5_L6_L7&FORM=R5IR38#view=detail&id=E288A7FEEF795ACA992CBE3CEE02B1C39323F56A&selectedIndex=25

timthumb

I only ever knew her as that woman
that pathetic creature whose husband sold her,
lost her in a game of dice to his fiercest enemy,
his cousins, all one hundred of them.

They brought her into the room and stripped her
slowly unravelling her modesty, her marriage,
any grain of dignity she might have held on to
silk falling away from skin, from slender waist

lotus-lips pressed in silent prayer, eyes lowered,
away from those who claimed her as a prize,
once before in honor, now again in shame,
indistinguishable in this moment of gray.

They watched her, the Wise one, the Brave one,
the Strong, the Fair, the Loving, neutered by
dharma and karma and all that makes men
go to war, to pick up arms against the innocent.

But was she? Was she this caricature,
this composite of feminine passivity,
this plaything of the Gods, helpless
to stop the wave from beating the shore?

Was she fair, and light, and yielding
dull as a penny worn down from barter
dumb in service of another’s brilliance
too weak to lift her gaze or spine?

She knew what she wanted and when
one couldn’t fill all fourteen graces
she married five, each one grateful
for sweet morsel offered by moonlight

She spun a life more satisfying
for the guile of it, the dance of it
She kept a lover on this side, a Knight
and a friend on the other, a Fool

She wanted the war, the genocide
She let them use her body
to excuse themselves, to explain
why brother killing brother is right

She removed the blindfold that separates
man from animal, beauty from beast
She exposed the skeleton that pain, pleasure,
poverty, plentitude is but a sleight of hand.

Inspired by The Palace of Illusions ~ Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni
Napowrimo Day # 2
write a poem based on a non-Greco-Roman myth. You could write a poem inspired byNorse mythology, or perhaps by one of these creatures from Japanese legend.

Photo Credit: http://thebanyantrees.com/wp-content/themes/DelicateNews/timthumb.php?src=/images/draupadi-10.jpg&h=238&w=238&zc=1

1024px-Igloo_becoming_a_puddle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1719935

I’m so tired of all this striving
all this reaching, remonstrating
myself for almost sometimes
but never quite meeting
my potential. That carrot
has been dangled before
in grade school. “Can do better!”
it said, then as
now when every hair
on my thinning eyebrows
stands on end, waving
protest banners like shields,
my only defense against
the insistent duty-call
of excellence. Or perhaps
they’re flags of surrender
the white wiry ones, waving this way
and that, ineffectually, enough
enough they say.
This war is done.
I am now become
what I want.

 

Napowrimo Day # 1
Prompt:
Today, I’d like you to go to Reb Livingston’s Bibliomancy Oracle. Clear your mind, push the button, and then write a poem based on the quotation that the oracle provides“One day we shall become what we want.” from “Mural” by Mahmoud Darwish (translated by Sargon Boulus)

Photo Courtesy of patrick connolly [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

1024px-Psyche_and_Cupid_in_the_Musee_de_Louvre

I came upon it quite by accident
rushing to get to the end of the hall
to meet the Dying Slave
and set him free.
But here were two
that stopped me in my tracks
arms encircled at perfect distance
a Russian wedding ring
missing hope or faith
but never love.
It took my breath away
the smooth white
the gentleness of the embrace
the gaze
no geometry could fake
The adolescent arm
holding, preserving
her modesty
a perfect foil
for curves, the air
left empty where waist
should be. The languor
of slow wakefulness
passion kindling, reviving
consciousness from the unconscious
breath intermingling
in the space before the kiss.

 

Photo Credit: By Edwin Lee (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

What is seen through an open window
can be deceiving. Is it a sunrise or
sunset, cars coming or going, lunch pails packed
or rinsed out for the next day’s meal
An open window breathes, I am ready
you can look inside now, I am ready for you
ready for the world, I have my face on, the
living room’s been picked up, neatened from
behind the shutters This is what I want
you to see, lighted Christmas tree,
tidy bookshelves warming themselves
in lamp-lit glow. Stars twinkling on banisters
wrapped in green. They come alive like clockwork
arms and legs tucked tight in quilted blankets
steam rising from molten cups, tempers cooling
the little match girl waits outside
the spilled light held back by cold and night
the frame shuts out the corners
the ugly TV, the unmade bed
the messy innards of an overstuffed closet
the toilet paper holder hanging
on its solitary nail, neglect dusting
baseboards right beneath
the windowsill that holds a still-warm pie.

so I don’t have to hear the alarm go off jarring me into wakefulness better to beat it to the punch that dough down get it ready for thanksgiving traditions that I am loath to give up even though I have outgrown my need for them to make tea and start my day that ended at 8pm last night early to bed today might be the day I finally adjust to the time change and grow to my full potential in this lifetime anyway no need to drag and drop this karma into yet another birth a new day a new way kill the old mistakes live another now another momentary eternity the only one we’ll ever have to do so many things today check this check that off the list off the grid off the beaten path explore my new life misbegotten child of bastard grief shed the old the empty nest within each other yesterday in today this morning in noon in night wrapped tight around the moon face scrubbed tight white bright stars disappear fade like aging actors still working invisible to all but that which gave them birth mother love morning.

I see the beach
crests quiet
still sleepy from
the night before
sand stretching,
protesting this early
call not ready
for greedy pimple-pickers
stealing shells and digging
holes to China
Just a few minutes more
more plain, more wane
before the flow of humanity
and footprints and umbrellas
and candy wrappers and
the sickly stench of spf 50
They come to stay all day
digging ruts with their
Radio Flyers and coolers
strangling pelicans and gulls
with their cheetos and kites
flinging sea weed, unmindful
of their delicate skins, disturbing
the life that grows
on silken green threads
for what? Chasing little girls?
Making them squeal “ew!”
dripping their cones carelessly
for crabs to poison themselves
And the tall ones, the ones
who come to laze and graze
who lay out and crisp
and baste themselves
in so much sunshine
happiness forced from
just below the surface, not
quite reaching the derma
the magma from which
all life flows

There you were, below, on the hospital bed, all of seven, maybe eight, lying beneath a sheet, bewildered, not sure what all the fuss was about. The night before you had been scooped up and delivered to a doctor’s office, dimly lit, stool placed oddly in the center of a circular room. He stood there, this stranger, speaking of but not to you, addressing the shadows at the very edges of the room. You couldn’t see much, but you knew you had to hold it together for her sake, for yours. So you stared straight ahead, just as you do now, looking at the cylinders and the cables making a holy mess like so much spaghetti fallen into your lap. One wrong move, and it could all go tumbling to the floor, irretrievable.

The dove swoops in, all starched poplin and precision, checking dials making notes, flicking air bubbles out of their stupor and into the light. She cannot meet your eyes. Better to busy herself with details. You still yourself. Let me help, you think. Let me make this easy. You will do whatever it takes, even a thick needle in a bony thigh. You watch as it goes in, breaking skin neatly, like a diver acing her entry. They watch you, the frightened ones, waiting to see you lose it, waiting for you to give them permission to lose it too. But you know you mustn’t. It would push her over the edge.

Later, when the moon had gone dark. They dressed you and put you in a chair. Why now, you wondered. Why wait for this moment. Why not all the others. Why not when they disconnected you. Or when they pushed your bed into the elevator. Surely that would have been more convenient. Why all the jello and broth. Why the visitors, the family you’ve never seen before. What was different now. What was different then. You looked up toward the ceiling, sensing I was there. I am always here.

To me it will always be Bombay, not Mumbai or whatever grotesque name they wish to (re)claim for their own, those regionalists, mountain rats spreading violence and hatred amongst the uneducated many. To me it will always be a third world city with a first world vibe–fast, bold, welcoming everyone, especially the starry eyed and those with a taste for adventure. I could never imagine living anywhere else, never looking down on the queen’s necklace perched up high on Malabar Hill, never eating mangoes from vendors lined up like so many crows on a telephone wire, never bracing myself against high tide on Worli Seaface, waves flying high overhead, snatching flip flops right off your feet with casual ease.  No, I could never imagine it. I couldn’t imagine coffee shops shuttered by 8:00, chairs stacked neatly on disinfected tables; I couldn’t imagine using a map to find my way to the post office; I couldn’t imagine shopping for tomatoes without also complaining about how sorry they looked, certainly not worth the over-inflated asking price. No. Yet here I am in sterile beige land, where pigeons know better than to poop on benches un-zoned for everything but actual sitting, where they re-paint road lanes every year or so, whether they need to or not, where people smile at you and say “good morning” and you needn’t pat your pockets to check that your wallet’s still there. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, yet here I am.

Sometimes my voice falters
little gasps interrupting
my cadence, my confidence
This is when I know
that I do not know
enough to convince
myself, let alone
a room full of post-lunch faces
eyelids dragging floorward,
periodically flicking to the
plastic clock just above my head.

I could do as my teachers
before me and bullshit
my way through the question
They won’t care so long as the grades
align with the lies. They’ll pack away their
confusion like too-small jeans
for another time when life is not
so overwhelming any more. But
I can’t bring myself
to meet their eyes.

So I soldier on. Stuck
in front of the board, blue
marker poised mid-cheek
close enough that the fumes
wake me from immobility.
How do I explain
time and tense and why
will have been is relevant
in an age of text messages
and instant gratification?

I draw diagrams, 2-D
pictures flattening out the terrain,
the terroir of living language.
I point to passages
in the book, explanations
on the net. I manipulate
sample sentences, use nonsense words
to separate content from structure
I provide historical context, Latinate
derivations, Saxon influence
but they’re not buying it,
and frankly, neither am I.

I’m sorry about New Year’s Eve. I knew you liked him. I saw it in your eyes, the way they smiled just so, the way your shoulders pushed back with each inhale. I saw it all. You couldn’t stop talking about him. How his hair glistened black and thick, winging away from a central part, how his lips twitched right before he got to the punch line, how he held his cigarette. You liked it all. His height, his presence, his ability to be both quiet and the center of attention all at once. You were sure he was the one. Sure there could be no other. You picked your earrings with care that day–silver hoops sparkling in sync with the disco ball that hung overhead. I wore black. The wind blew chill that night out on the open water, Christmas lights swaying to the thrum of the outboard motor. I’d like to say I was drunk, that I didn’t know what I was doing, sprawled out on the deck. But I wasn’t, and I did. I knew he’d come looking for me. He’d been following me with his eyes all evening. Never obvious, not so anyone could tell. But a girl knows. I knew I didn’t like him. Not like that, at any rate. He was too much like me. I knew that I was bored, that the evening was done before it had even begun. I knew that I should have left, just picked up my purse, my shawl, my integrity and left. But I didn’t. I knew that you liked him, and I kissed him anyway.

“This side is mine; it’s always been mine”
he sets a flag in the sand, yielding no ground,
squashing all argument, protests that bubble up
then wash back down my throat
It used to be mine. Why do you think
this side lists so? Why is it flat and worn
after years of silent contemplation
as you lay in my lap, crooked feet rubbing
against each other, meeting my adoration
with simple acceptance, yes, I am that gold.

The back droops, a slack y, Atlas stripped of
his world, once thick and firm, now resigned
to memory and myth, more enchanting for
the distance between now and then.
The seam on the seat cushion is stretched
as my lap, ready to accommodate
his growing needs, knees jut awkwardly
from clumsy legs, peach fuzz dots
the tops of his toes, then I fit no more.

The right side is mine now, across the DMZ
of the middle seat, undisturbed, still new
from disuse and disdain–who wants
to sit between left and right, now
and then, mother and son?
I like my new spot; it offers some comfort.
Good light from the east, a table
to rest my tea on, and I’m still close
enough to love with eyes.

How strange it is to look out the window and see, for the first time,
as she has seen all these months–trees ripe with rain,
yellow leaves strewn on uneven asphalt, giggly freshmen
streaking across the way, parts flapping ungainly,
determined to keep with tradition “first rain naked run.”
The view is fuzzy, separated by screen mesh and midlife
presbyopia, except for one little rectangular cut-out,
a missing door, empty space where a hand may reach
to either shut in or shut out the world.
This is what it must have been like for her.
Always seeing things with fresh eyes, eyes clouded by a past
not her own, true but not crisp, inside yet forever outside,
the strange becoming familiar because someone said it was so.

I see clouds where rainbows dare
spinning webs around happy thoughts
of carnivals and candy floss
they scatter rain and silliness
softening crisp edges quieting
choruses of ya ya ya songs

I got my feet on the ground
And I don’t go to sleep to dream

Not for me the breathless call
of lofty peaks and constellations
their flawed ambition luring fools
and fortune hunters to sylphs
and certain madness
No, not for me such airy paths
No trumpets, strings, no flapping doves
No boulevards dressed in flags

I got my feet on the ground
And I don’t go to sleep to dream

I live in lines drawn years before
crop circles leading nowhere
pretty patterns from the moon
indistinguishable as you near
Wake up, wake up, wake up now
they whisper in my ear

I got my feet on the ground
And I don’t go to sleep to dream

Every morning
as I drive my car
down the freeway
first the 5
then the 22
then the 405
hands on wheel
at 10 and 2
I see it

A tiny scar
where thumb
meets pointer
silver-white
and raised
ever so slightly
catching the sun
as my hands
chatter away
about this
or that
hardship
gossip
inconsequential
to now

Or even then
when the two of us
trembled
on hands and knees
before this rite
of passage
this channel from
callow youth
to parenthood
a first haircut
for our son

You go
I’ll hold
no you go
I’ll hold
I said
shirking the
unthinkable
responsibility
of making
the first snip
this not-quite-first
separation
from us.

And what a snip
it was
Orange fiskars
with six-inch blade
for hair so fine
I had to
bring my face
closer
to believe
it was
actually there.

Hold tight big guy
I said
it wont be a minute
reassuring myself
as much as him
the words serving
to prod my frozen
husband to action
I wrapped
my fingers
around his forehead
sheilding his face
so that bits
wouldn’t fall
in his eyes

The squared-off point
wavered
with my
husband’s resolve
I met his eyes
blue and pale
and in that moment
it was over
a small chunk
of my hand laid bare
red, raw
a memento
of the many firsts
that he and I
would share.

loneliness

Happy children
laughing
outside my window
wishing I were with them
not here
in my sick bed
quarantined from life

A single set of silverware
clinking
against cheap porcelain
in the rear booth
of a roadside Dennys
on Thanksgiving day

The deafening
roar
of a waking ocean
unshielded by
a strong chest
on the windward side
of a mourning walk

Moonlight in Vermont
sticking
on the record player
over and over
no one there
to get up
and help the needle along

These are the sounds of loneliness

I remember
the day he died
I was in French class
twelfth grade
Mother Braganza came herself
pulled me out gently
and walked me back
to the theatre
just as they were
loading his body
onto a stretcher
confused eyes
shifting, drifting,
unfocused,
the only movement
in his eerily still
body

I reached out
for his hand
but it was curled
unresponsive
rejecting my overture
as if to say
where were you
when I needed you
when the room
went white
when my tongue
returned home
to its mother

The ambulance drove off
slow and sombre
no flashy lights
no strident sounds
just steady engine beats
fading as the
red cross receded
into the crowd
i don’t remember
how I got down the hill
who drove me
who showed me
where to go
But I remember
the double doors
the great wide expanse
before which we waited
this unholy trinity
mother, son, and ghost

The news
was steadily good
starting with
the fingertips
then the arm
the left side
all eventually
returning
to greet us
but the lips
the cheek
the chin
lingered
a little longer
tired of all
the idle chatter
withdrawing
to an earlier time
when life was
simpler
quieter
when nobody
expected you to
know how to work
a spoon

The year after
was a slog
a series of
learning
how to walk
how to talk
in all these new
yet familiar
languages
a year of reflection
reevaluation
what am I worth
an actor
who cannot speak?

Then came the final blow
the early retirement
the polite shuttling
out the door
the party
with balloons
and gift mugs
and dozens
of colleagues
who couldn’t quite
meet his eyes
the we-will-miss-yous
that trailed off
for lack of conviction
for shame
for they knew
what they were doing
they knew
they were raising
the guillotine
as surely as if
there were
razor blades
hidden in the
garlands
they wrapped
around his neck

But it took him
another fifteen years
to exhale
the bitterness
that poisoned
his lungs
that shocked
his heart
and killed
his feet
It took him
a small lifetime
to rid himself
of joy
and light
to recede behind
and into
the dark of
his sunglasses
to disappear
one pound of flesh
after another
until all that remained
was skin
and bones
and memories
of blueberry muffins

The vowels
reverberate
pinging
the cathedral
ceiling
of my mouth
Mah-kohn-doh!

They sing
of forests
and torrents
of rain
leaning into
the earth
blurring
the horizon

That loamy
mineraly
tang
of earthworms
and crushed snails
the terroir
of decay
and life

Isolated
from magnets
and mysteries
the songbirds
their only
delight
they toil
and rut
in
indistinguishable
cycles

Of old
and new
life
and death
by mercury
bichloride
“the devil’s
smell”
musky and dark
as a starless night.

 


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I remember him
as an old man
a kind man
a man of few words
scribbling mysteries
on the arm
of his favorite chair
Gulliver
to my Lilliput

It’s hard to imagine
his hand
holding a revolver
the same hand
that gave out
orange-slice candy
and bullseyes
to greedy grandchildren
but it did

I knew him after -
after the glory
after the fame
when the only villains
that remained
were in the pages
of a well-thumbed book

Hank Rearden!
Dagny Taggart!
How he enjoyed
the sound
of their names
so wholesome
so robust
so unlike
the wretched Russians
(Sheniangals!)
who strung
their consonants
together
in the most
inconvenient ways

He had little
patience for them
but for Kitty
(poor Kitty!)
he had all the time
in the world
There he would sit
on the verandah
as she wove
her tales
of conspiracy
willing away
the rays
with a pat
on the hand

I wish
I could say
I knew him well
that I knew
where he got
his green-smudge tattoo
and what it meant
to be a hero
to so many
but I merely
loved him
as children do
when they
see good

Kids and dogs
There’s no fooling them


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