Sunday, April 29, 2012

Like Writing Your own Obit!


Look back over the poems you have written this month. Pretend that they, even in their rough-draft imperfection, comprise a chapbook.  The prompt is to write cover blurbs or a short review of your supposed chapbook in the form of a poem.   Separate blurbs might become stanzas, or a longer review might fill a number of stanzas. 

The blurbs or review, if credited, can be credited to “anonymous” or to your own aliases or perhaps to obviously imagined or long deceased poets or critics.  I suggest not making up blurbs and crediting them to living individuals due to obvious potential for confusions and legal repercussions.  Your poem commenting on your other April poems can be earnest and sincere or over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek.  The poem can be a joke, an apology, or a careful analysis of your April poems’ strengths and weaknesses.  The trick here is that whatever you write has to become somehow a poem in its own right.



Each poem is as 
protean as its author;
each one written on a whim.


I've learned to -

Today's prompt: What have you learned?


Stop...
whatever I'm doing
and be still for a moment;
the world comes to me when
I'm still.

Look...
up once in a while,
look around;
the world reveals itself to me when
I look.

Listen...
to other voices, to the birds,
to the song the wind makes;
the world will tell me its stories
if I listen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today's prompt: Find new images for speaking about your past.




All those broken threads
 dangling, memories like small beads
slipping into the cracks.

All those bridges burned,
those roads not taken.
dwindling into twilit space.

All those words, both uttered
and unspoken,
serving as paving stones to 
the present. 




Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring is...



Today's prompt: Write a poem that includes synesthesia—at least three incidences of cross-sensory metaphor.  


The rich, brown scent of damp earth
disguised as a newly plowed field,
and the smell of green on the land;
the blue shape of water
undisturbed by cotton clouds.

What color is hope, what form renewal?
Let all your senses reel,
let them dance the happy dance
of sunshine, of spilled, yellow joy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the Other Hand...

Today's prompt: Let your poem address the issue of why we tell stories.


We don't tell stories.
We are our stories, and they
tell us who we'll be.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ties That Bind

The three things exercise:  write a poem that mentions, lists, or emphasizes three things.



Two's company, three's a crowd
they say,
except for the night when we three,
she, I, you,
and you leaving us,
were suspended in time, waiting...


Then three was the truth of us
and we both knew it.
We spoke across you
the way we'd done when we were teenagers
and you in the middle, smoking intently,
ignoring us both,
making your choice.


He loved me, she said.
But you always loved him.
She wasn't asking. I didn't answer.


And there in that room
with you between us, leaving us,
she gave me what I'd always hoped to have -
a chance to hold your hand,
a chance to say I love you,


and the return of her friendship.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I used to think my mother was a queen...


Today's prompt: Make unlikely, yet particular, offerings to the queen.
You get twelve lines —
four three-line stanzas,
or three four-line stanzas.

Make each stanza able to stand alone . All the rules are arbitrary.  You are free to ignore them.  The queen has no hold over you.

To Mommy

I'll make you a crown of paper
with make-believe jewels.
You could use my magic wand
To make it be real.


You can borrow my fake fur muff.
I will put black spots on it with
my magic marker so it looks
like it's made of real fur.


Real queens have to make laws and things
but we already have enough rules 
in this house.
If I was the queen, I'd take some away.


I put my blankie on your chair.
Now it looks like a real throne.
I gave you a cushion, too.
Can you put it back on the sofa when you're done?







Monday, April 23, 2012

My Granddaughter's Vision

Today's prompt: write a thread poem; what life thread you follow or seek.


What Holds Us Together

At four she was still new enough
to see it shimmering silver
in the air between us,
that thin cord that connects us all,
its links forged in time and space
and love.
When I looked into her eyes
I could see it too, just off there where
the corners of the universes collide.
You can’t look full on once you’re grown;
the light, along with your beliefs, will blind you.
The twin ties of love and blood do not die
with us; love is remembered, blood
carries on. No matter my age, or hers—
the cord will stretch from here to
eternity.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mine

Prompt: Draw a window and climb through - what do you see?

That kid Harold with his purple crayon
changed walls into worlds.
Mine would be green and I'd draw mountains of all sizes
and great green lakes fed by sinuous turquoise rivers.
Spinach would grow in tidy rows near the lettuces
and corn stalks would thrive, sturdy and tasseled.
Overhead the willow trees would hold their umbrellas of green
Shading my book as I read, and the whole green circle
Of earth would be my bed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Continuing participation in National Poetry Month


I have been away caring for the grands since Wednesday. Here are poems through today that have occurred to me at odd moments but were not committed to paper until now. Sunday and Monday’s offerings will appear here after the fact as well. The daily prompts were as follows:
19th - Hatch the metaphoric egg.
20th - Be an old Chinese poet or talk to or about one. Go anywhere you want with this.  
21st  - Hand over Hand — The Climbing Out of a Hole Exercise: Let your poem start with a dark mood, a negative statement, or a dire predicament. Through the course of a short poem, rescue yourself.




Heat Wave
The sun rises,
A solid yolk
In a hard boiled sky.
No rain has fallen for weeks:
None is in the offing.
The earth cracks,
Spilling us all into
The shimmering mirage of hope.

Origami Life
Ancient ones know much
About colors and folding;
Art is in the crease. 

Perhaps
She was an angel with one wing only
and could not stay.  Her room
had pink elephants marching tail to trunk
around the walls, and the white bassinet with
its lace and pink ribbons, stood waiting. Perhaps
it was wrong to plan so plainly, to be so sure.
Perhaps I should have hoped only.
Such a fragile thing, hope. And as strong
as stone steps that lead from the precipice
to safety. I look up, up, hoping…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stories We tell




Looking at the Sky Exercise: Write a poem about looking at the sky or one in which looking at the sky plays a role. 


It isn't really blue, you know 
- the sky - 
it's all done with atmosphere,
smoke and mirrors magic.

The sun's
white light is scattered,
absorbed by gas molecules and 
radiated in different directions.

And white light, you know, is 
really Roy G Biv.

Our eyes constantly perceive 
one thing as another,
seeing blue sky
where light bounces off

matter. But what matters
is that beneath the fiction
we tell ourselves 
- the sky is blue, the horizon exists -

we know the truth
and stick to our stories anyhow.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seek and ye shall find...


Try a syllable count poetry form. (Mine is four, four-line stanzas - 6-6-6-2, 6-6-6-2, 6-6-6-2, 6-6-6-2 syllables.)



Oh blue-shuttered cottage - 
who would guess the heartache
that led me to your door?
I knew

the moment I saw your
four-walled arms that I'd be
safe, and the violets
that grew

in wild blue profusion
promised sunshine, and rain
that would lull me to sleep
at night.

One could wander for years
seeking consolation 
and then find violets,
and peace.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Otherwise

Today's prompt: Write a poem that is a provisional assertion of yes and happiness, in an “it might be otherwise” tone.





No truer words were spoken
than this too, shall pass.
Joy and sorrow share the same path,
walking hand in hand.

One is wise to remember
it can always be otherwise -
But, oh the joy!
The promise of joy

when life is dark, that
leads us to walk between the two,
 ever mindful that

this too, shall pass.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fear

Write a poem with an extended metaphor, a metaphor so extended it fills most of the poem.  Your poem doesn’t have to be about the heart.  The metaphor need not be that of an animal.  However, do keep your heart open and welcome whatever creatures, if any, appear.




The chained dog,
tethered for years,
when freed will 
lick your hand,
and stay.

The freed heart
will no more run
than the
chained dog,
but circles the same worn path
waiting for freedom.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Comfort Food


Write a poem a person might actually cook from, but it has to be about something beyond just food.  It should be a poem as well as a recipe.

There are days when, 
in my hunger,
I could open my mouth
and eat the whole world,

but even that would not my assuage
the deep and unbidden craving,
so I settle for sliced ripe tomatoes
and thick slabs of buffalo mozzerella
circling the plate,
to which I add
a handful of chopped onion,
a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar,
a splash of oil,
several leaves of fresh basil,
and a mere dash of black pepper

Eaten slowly
it comes close to satisfying
that gnawing ache inside
that yearning for something not food
that even vinegar cannot reach. 



Friday, April 13, 2012

Believe What you See

Write a fanciful theory/explanation poem.


pals.iastate.edu
I know the water cycle
makes perfect sense but
it's a cover up for what
really happens - 
clouds are not made of evaporated water.
How mundane.

They are composed of our ancestors,
those hardy folk who went before us,
or pets that have gone to their reward.
Hordes of departed souls form clouds
Proof lies in their shapes - 
a galloping horse over here, 
Aunt Winifred's silhouette looming there,
a ragged line of immigrants trudging 
along the horizon.

freebigpictures.com




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Endless Cycle

Today's prompt: Single Sentence 55 Word Poem. 


The sun's a winking eye 
on the horizon; night shadows 
slink off like beaten dogs, 
like the remains of sinister 
dreams that haunt me even 
in my waking hours, dreams 
of brakeless cars, lost children, 
of faceless creatures that chase 
me from restless sleep to 
rise with the sun, a 
winking eye on the horizon.




Yikes! It's only day 11 and I'm running out of steam. What's going to happen next week, I wonder, and the week after that? Whose idea was this poem-a-day project anyhow? 



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Magic



My mother's hands were worn,
tending children, house and garden.
But oh! they were full
of love and of music!
She would sit herself down,
hands still damp from washing
the noontime dishes, towel tossed
carelessly over her shoulder, and
strike a chord, play some
notes, and we children were
swept up and flung star-ward.


Today's prompt: Try a fifty-five word poem. You get eleven five-word lines. Imagine they become a frame or perhaps an empty bowl. Into it place a picture, colorful, worth recalling in silence, or maybe something edible, nourishing. Begin before it is over to paint with your word-brush. Approaching the poem’s abrupt end, try lifting your earth-eyes skyward.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Geese




Over and over they flock to the pond,
veering over the tree line to splash down,
one and one and one, until the water
is awash with feathers and wings, 
bills and wild eyes; heads dip below 
the surface, water pearls flash in the sunlight,
sharp cries pierce the blue until
the wildness pulls you in, until whatever you were
eons ago wants to fly, to soar, to cut the air with sharp
wings.






Today's prompt: Try a single sentence poem. These single sentence poems must be readable, make sense, and have deeper meaning that gives them a reason to be. You might strive for those basic requirements Galway Kinnell thinks a poem should have:  creatures of the world, beautiful language, and psychic weight.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Share

Today's prompt: Write an Event Instruction Zen Poem 




Stop by the flowers.
Feast your eyes on the colors;
Leave without picking.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

How To

The How to Be a Poet Exercise


In poem form write “rules” for yourself.  Remind yourself how to be a poet.  Leave in the quirky humor.


Have fun with words; write often and with joy
but
don't try to be too clever. Cleverness is not wisdom.
Always
read your poems aloud in order to hear
what your words are really saying,
but
don't overstate the obvious -
don't drape blue jeans poems in rhinestones.
Never 
force a rhyme at the expense of rhythm,
but
sit your words on horseback
and teach them to post before they
gallop.





Saturday, April 07, 2012

Ha!

Today's prompt: The 16 Word Stanza Exercise

Three five-line stanzas—each stanza only sixteen words. What can you stuff
into this simple form?



Sunrise brings the 
wind that slept
in the night,
blanketed in moonlight,
pillowed on bright stars.

Wind wakes fully.
no shilly-shallying.
It bends the tall grasses
and waltzes with the
forsythia.

Left on the clothesline
overnight, a lone shirt
hugs itself, its
sleeves wrapped
against the chill.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Bending the Rules

Today's prompt: Write a simple poem about writing with simplicity.


I am manipulating the prompt here, I know (and this is one prompt I may come back to after this month of once-a-day poetry is over), but the sample poem was written by Mary Oliver and after reading it, I couldn't think of a thing to say. 




The Art of Perusing the Dictionary
(and writing a simple poem)

open
search
discard

find
consider
claim

ponder
scribble
toss

decide
compose
offer





Thursday, April 05, 2012

To Be a Tree


All I want to be
is the topmost branch
of a tree, my feet anchored
deep in the ground,
my head in the company of
clouds.



From today's prompt: 
More Starting Places



“All I want to be
is a thousand blackbirds
bursting from a tree,
seeding the sky.”
Kooser/Harrison

Start each stanza:  All I want to be…” and continue.  



Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Today's Challenge

Word Palette Exercise
 The poem below could be viewed as a word palette.  Don’t imitate this poem, but borrow its vocabulary as your word supply. Use the words in a very different order to say something quite different.  This is another way a poem can be a trampoline.
  
    Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down.  Otherwise,
clouds.  Sea rippled here and
there.  Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has --
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses -- as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren't enough,
as if joy weren't strewn all around.
  ~ Holly Hughes ~


My take, short and sweet because today was a hectic day and I had little time for writing.


Clouds pile like porridge
in a blue sky bowl; let awe
fill in for a spoon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Modern Sisyphus

Today’s prompt:  Often between the title and the poem itself we find a short, credited quotation intended to suggest the poem’s theme.  Pick a short quotation from anything, one that speaks to you, and let it be your poem’s jump-start.


“It’s heavy to drag this big sack of what
I might have done.”
William Stafford


I had a dream once
born of a broken heart and desperation
wherein I stood in the middle of
a human circle, shouldering a bag of rocks
that I longed to set down, to leave there
in the care of the desert sun and the shimmery folk
who circled me, watching.

And so I did; set down the bag, walked away.
The circle parted. Before me lay the whole world;
in every direction rocks, as far as one could see.
I bent and picked one up before moving on.

Image borrowed from Wishfulthinking.co.uk

Monday, April 02, 2012

A Poet's Notebook



You might think,
looking at that journal,
leather bound and tied with a string,
that she lives her life in fragments,
in brief, punctuated sentences,

but in truth, her life is seamless.
Commas are mere pauses to catch
the breath, periods small knots
that end one thread before another begins.
Exclamation points are like straight pins—
they keep the fabric of her life
from unraveling.


Today's prompt? Write about a poet's journal.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Writing in April

I have agreed to participate with some local writer friends in a write-a-poem-a-day project for the month of April. There will be daily prompts though one need not follow them. I have a harder time writing with a prompt than without one so thought it might be a good discipline to try them.

This morning's prompt was to write a trampoline poem. One can create a new poem by copying the syllable count and word stresses of a given poem, as I did with this one, or use the poem's idea as a jumping off point. I am posting my first drafts. If someday I go back and rework any of the month's efforts, I may post them as well. Come play with me.

If Each Day Falls


If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.

                        Pablo Neruda




To the River

I would stand here
beside your banks
to listen as you
sing patiently of salvation.

You ought to be pure white light
by now free of distrust
since you have observed life
in fullness.

Is there much a river doesn't know?