Monday, April 30, 2012

Assumptions - 30/30!

Mission accomplished! With this, another NaPoWriMo comes to a close. I want to thank everyone who has been following me. Thank you for your time and encouragement, and to all the other writers who actually made it through to day 30, massive congratulations! (Not everyone made it here with us, so let's take a moment of silence for those we've lost along the way...)

The final poem of NaPoWriMo I've got for you all today was written at the prompting of NaPoWriMo.
And now, the final prompt. Artist and writer Joe Brainard is probably best remembered for his 1970 poem/memoir I Remember. The book consists of multiple statements beginning with the phrase “I remember,” including:
I remember my first erections. I thought I had some terrible disease or something.
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember when my father would say “Keep your hands out from under the covers” as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.
I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.
Today’s prompt asks you to write a poem incorporating at least three “I remember” statements. This invocation of memory seems a fitting way to end our month together.
Good luck, and happy writing!
So, with that motivation, I've got a poem here to leave you all scratching your heads. I pose the question: what do we actually remember?

Assumptions

I remember sunlight’s liquescent ribbons
as a river trickled itself between the reeds
of my fingers. The water still dreaming
of bygone winter, spring calling it to wake.
Tadpoles flirting with the surface,
then shying away from skin and air.
Or did a photograph tell me that?

I remember fields turning a delicious green
before groping legs and waist with their
stalks. The wind, a seasonal calling card
of motors and freshly mown grass.
The burs proving my excursions
that I would pluck from denim and wool,
clinging like lovesick insects.
They always made me laugh.
Didn’t they? Or was that, too,
from a photograph?

The yield of summertime fishing trips,
all scale and wriggle and slime.
My hands, a bundle of wonder and pride;
my face, dimpling innocence,
while shockingly useless gills
pantomime distress to no avail.
That fish, a sun-gilt trophy,
can’t I still feel it slip through my fingers?
The flash of afternoon light as it drips
back into the lake. Is it memory,
or imagination? Of the nine thousand days
scrawled like cave-script throughout my skull –
the flick of a fish, the trickle of a stream –
what did I form from scrapbooked displays,
and what do I actually remember?

* * *

Have a great year, everyone! Don't stop writing! I want to keep reading great stuff. I'll keep posting what I turn out here, so stick around!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Funeral Songs for Helios - 29/30

Another beach poem. Surprised? Don't worry, it's a good one.

This one, inspired by how the sun, hidden behind clouds, still reflects cleanly on wet sand. An interesting image, the sun in sand. 

Funeral Songs for Helios 

Helios glows from the underworld
and Poseidon laments his nephew
with droves of tide-wove breath,
salty with the songs and psalms
sung on sunken seahorse tongues,
played between slick tentacles
forming underwater clefs.
Naiads with crustacean skin
dance trots and sideways sambas,
and nymphs crowned in anemones
whirl their puckering hair in turn
while unicornic beauties arc
their bulk throughout the sea,
all for the love of poor Helios,
his aureole glowing
in the thick and liquored sand.

Lichenwear - 28/30


Saw a gnarly tree at the beach, covered in vines and roots, and thought to myself, well, there's a sight to capture in some writing. So, the poem. 

Lichenwear 

Nervous tendrils climbing,
veining this body of bark.
Circulatory decorum.
The soil wrestles immobily
for the worms it construes have left it,
forlorn, an empty nest before
this lichen-denizened totem.
Its belly and its bosom, though,
still writhe with undeparted kin.
Coprophagic entrails
digesting humic mouthfuls,
while the shore, a road of foot-shaped scars,
applauds the tree's attire
with salt and acrophobic clouds.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Zedd, Interrupted - 27/30

Today we were encouraged over at NaPoWriMo to cap the week off with a nursery rhyme, which got me thinking along lines of silly, short rhyming verse. I'm on my way out the door to the beach for the weekend, so I wanted to crank something out before I leave.

So, today's poem is short, funny, and probably completely nonsensical unless you're familiar with Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth book series. (Which, while I'm on the subject, is fantastic and should be read by everyone who likes emotionally authentic, well-written high fantasy.) Is that the mark of a bad poem? Inability to translate a scenario to one unfamiliar with it? Probably, but oh well. Hits and misses. 

Zedd, Interrupted

There’s nothing like the feel of stone
underneath your toes,
or the kiss of wind upon your skin
while spring its whisper blows.
The clouds above shift in language
I augur atop my wizard’s rock,
clouds like runes, scribbled sigils,
and lace upon a lady’s frock.
Speaking of frocks, who needs clothes?
Nudity’s the greater joy!
Here atop my rock I’m free and–
Oh! Richard, my boy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aerugo and Rust - 26/30

T minus four days and counting. This has been a great month. Gone fast, but nice to have bulked up my portfolio with quite a few solid and submittable pieces.

Today, I used the challenge put forth over at NaPoWriMo.
Our prompt for today, however, is not likely to induce smiles. For today, I challenge you to write an elegy. Classically, an elegy is a poem written in response to someone’s death, a poem of mourning and remembrance. Your elegy can be about a specific person, a group of people, a pet, a plant, even an idea. Or, like Anne Sexton, you could try your hand at an anti-elegy.
I have had an idea kicking around in my head for a couple months now (a bizarro image/metaphor, really), and this prompt gave me the perfect excuse to explore it. 

Aerugo and Rust
an elegy for Peter Steele

A bloodhound staring down a hypodermic nose
will never forget the scent, will never lose track.
Its syringe-shaped proboscis, instilling the skin
with juices pooled at the bottom of black spoons,
is a Babylonian hook in the septum: this way to
captivity. This bloodhound is of all things patient.
Years will not dull the smell of blood and skin.
Once it is shown a protruding vein, it is only
a matter of when.

Whitney Houston proved this, but she was not
the first with a heart too full of this bloodhound’s
effluvia to run from the hunt any longer, to beat
in arhythmic defiance. I only wish you, Peter,
had resolved to lead your life like you did your
sludge-fuzzed musical outlet: with an unbowable
originality. Perhaps then you never would have
whet that hound’s appetite in inhaled tally marks,
consigning it your heart.

Peter, even though it eventually found you, seizing
its cardiac property with pulmonary-born fingers,
I wonder if you weren’t surprised, because much
of what I know as wisdom I did not receive from
a fool. No servant is greater than his master, so
if I realized this, the bloodhound’s bent, I wonder
didn’t you? As note by funerary note you crafted
your dirge-somber legacy, did you hear it coming?
Underneath your druidic Mass, there’s the slightest
but most dire howling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

With All Due Respect to Beyonce - 25/30

I woke up today writing this poem. Anyone else know that feeling? You wake up with a line in your head. It's great, right? Rarely happens to me, but when it does (and it's an actually worthwhile thought) it is a good sign.

So today's poem is a response to something I think I overheard on the news while I was somewhere between sleeping and waking up (that gray space some may call Snoregatory). It is called... 

With All Due Respect to Beyonce 

People Magazine,
I saw your misnomer plastered over
a TV screen like an atlas:
World's Most Beautiful Woman.

I don’t write, though, to interject between singer
and her celebrity,
but just to marvel at the minuscule scale
of the world you live in,

because this very day,
there are women who have never been photographed
wearing the dust of their
atomized children like foundation, refusing

to forget them despite how much it may hurt to remember.
There are women
who waive their right to healthcare the moment another
life returns their stare.

There are women
beneath canopies of thick, Edenic green
living with the shameless
beauty of antecedent Adam and Eve,

cocoa-rich skin smoother than the fabrications
touted out of Estee Lauder,
Shiseido and Clinique; skin that still recalls
God’s touch sculpting humanity.

People Magazine,
between stateside drywall and African tenements,
between Iraqi abodes and
apartments in Japan, housing businesswomen,

proud and unbowed, proving beauty like two fingers
pointing it out on a map made
of mirror - the world you claim is far too small,
a TV adrift and denying the ocean.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mordor (an Orc's Haiku) - 24/30

Only 6 days left. Wow, you want to make April fly by...participate in NaPoWriMo. Feels like I just started and now it's almost done. Craziness.

Today I don't have time to write and get all deep and beatnik on you, so I've got something funny and short for you.

You know how I took you to Middle Earth a week or so ago in "Our Only Wish"? Well, put on your cloak and grab some Lembas, because you're about to go back, to sit in on a very...unique...perspective.

Mordor (an Orc's Haiku)...an Orcku

Come ‘ere!
Lemme tell you
somefin’ ‘bout Mordor.

We’ll eat rats if
we ‘ave to, but your belly’s
lookin’ betta.

We don’t care ‘bout
your trinkets, but your corpse…
that’s a pretty.

We ‘ate everyfin’
‘bout everyone, and most
of all,

we ain’t
got time to count syllables,
you maggoty morgul rat!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strobilus Parousia - 23/30

Today I've got a poem for you, prompt-free, that could be about a pine cone, but probably is about a whole lot more. Carrying on the Earth Day theme, apparently.

Strobilus Parousia

It falls
  a pregnant warhead,
    shingled in lobster skin
      and pollen.
        The ground,
          an embrace made of
            earth and mingling
              ants, craves its coming thud
                intensely, pines for this needle-
                  muffled concussion with hope.
                    And when it at last comes,
                      this pillowed collision,
                        the very soil claps
                          in joy, sending
                            plumes of mustard-
                              colored applause
                                to thank the
                                  deflorate heights.

*Strobilus: botanical name for a pine cone, essentially.
**Parousia: ancient Greek term meaning 'appearance' or 'presence'; used Biblically to refer to the second coming of Christ, the advent.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Bouquet - 22/30

I wrote today's poem before checking NaPoWriMo.net for the prompt, but when I did so I was surprised to see that this poem fits perfectly with the prompt. Probably because it's Earth Day, but still...funny coincidences.

Today's poem may be a first for me. I've written a lot of heartfelt poems, a lot of tragedies, but today's, for whatever reason, is the first to actually make me cry while writing it. I was not drawing upon any personal experiences for this one, so...you be the judge. This might just be a very authentically emotional piece, and if it hits you like it hit me, I think you'll enjoy it, and I hope it sticks with you.

And have a great Earth Day! Go enjoy the world! It's a beautiful one we've got here.

The Bouquet

She brought me a bouquet of stowaways.

It was not her intention, of course,
as she tweezed from the field’s choicest follicles.

The expectant smile dimpling her cheeks
as she snapped green stems hoisting heads

crowned with petals, plucked others
too tenacious to forsake their wormy roots.

Whatever caught her eye: yellow-maned
beauties quizzically considered weeds, flowers

red like mommy’s lipstick,
six months unused in a dresser drawer,

and a cluster of congregating fairies
she blew into the afternoon wind with a wish.

She brought her bounty to me in joy, a pride
sparkling in her eyes I knew she was used to

showing her mom, and even when the ants
claimed our vase-improved table as new territory,

I loved her for every pesky one of them.
Because we laughed together then,

and she had her mother's smile.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Silver Doe (to Lily with Love) - 21/30

Today I've got some Harry Potter poetry for you Hogwarts students out there. So, enjoy.

The Silver Doe (to Lily with Love)

Lily,

I have not removed
my eyes from the moon
since I saw how you vanished
into its glow,
how it absorbed
your evacuating ghost
like mist through the namelessly
broken window.
Know that though
you fell for another, I fell
for you long ago, and there’s no
length of years to make me forget
your countenance under the willow.

Lily,
you were to me
this moon, commanding tides
capillary-red.
I surged with even
your most prudent words,
waxed stagnant with summer
in your stead,
but never, even now
as light seems to flee me,
has this heart beat for aught
but you,
luminary, cherished,
casting your luster into
dementor-thick dark, my patronus.
Lily, I’ve loved you,
which time can’t annul,
death hasn’t hampered and
never will.

      Severus

Friday, April 20, 2012

M51 - 20/30

Well, 20 days in, and I can feel my muse dragging its feet. Maybe it's just a temporary chemical imbalance, but I'm finding it harder and harder to want to write these past couple days. Saaa, Je suis fatigué indeed.

But yes, here's today's poem, about a particularly intriguing celestial body. This is short, but I feel there may be something else I want to do with this. I think I will be revisiting this galaxy in a later piece. I like what came out of the letter-styled poem "A Letter to the Dance Pole", and I am feeling like the M51 galaxy might shine with the same treatment. So, you may see this return in a later piece. But for now, I give you the poem of the day. 

M51

When the cosmos unwound its innards
in haloes and glowing laurels,
a spear-thrust shower
surrounding my brow in its secrets,
I was not surprised to find
this familiar Golgothic silhouette
nestled like treasure in this nebula,
an X marking the spot,
a final star-circled signature
emphasizing all that history holds
in its crucifix-hinged pages.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When Asked 'What's It Like?' - 19/30

Nineteen days in. And I'm tired. Buuut... gotta saddle up and finish this marathon.

So, here's today's poem. You won't like it. Or maybe you will, but I won't expect you to. 

When Asked 'What's It Like?' 

This is how it happens.
The fixtures unfortunate enough
to dangle over dimpled drywall
will rattle with the concussive thumps
that, from the other room,
send golden-framed testaments
to selective memory
to shatter face-down on the floor.

It is as if you live under an overpass,
but you do not live under an overpass.
It is no regimented clickity-clack
of trains saying their greetings
that shifts the shelved portraits,
though you wish to God it was.
It is no earthquake, though
you duck and cover
like they taught you in school.
Your hands collar your nape,
your knees two spheres of arabesques
from the carpet’s curly imprint.
You can feel the rug on your cheeks,
a thousand soft hands
offering their absorptive comfort.
You can feel your heart,
a sparrow maddened by
the bars of your childish ribcage.
You can’t hear the shouting anymore.
Or the even worse implications

of its silence.

Not so much as your pulse,

your body’s most dire defense, lulling 

It’ll be okay.

Everything will be fine. 

And you sleep, its frequent comfort
reabsorbing you like tears.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ursa - 18/30

I've got a lullaby today, as per the prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net.
My busy week has translated itself into fairly sleepless nights, which inspired me to come up with today’s prompt — writing a lullaby! Soothing, short, repetitive and usually rhyming . . . lullabies exist in every culture. Perhaps you could write a special lullaby for poets? “Hush little poet, lay down your pen/Momma’s gonna buy you the complete Dickinson.” The rhyme’s a little slant, and the meter a bit wobbly, but it will do! Happy writing.
So, the poem today is simple, in tone, pace and imagery. Just try not to read it at work...might actually put you to sleep! 

Ursa

A star
of sung silk
breathes its gleam
of twinkling blue, as
this sleepy lullaby falls
head over heels for you,
its murmur heard within
the brook, its whispers
drifting through the
boughs, all to lay
you down and
softly watch
you as you
drowse.

Sleep
beneath its
watchful eye, and
waft upon a serenade
of summer afternoons
sinking into perfect evening
shade, while fireflies mime
the stars that slowly lull
you from afar, until the
moss beneath your
feet embraces you
in sweetest
sleep.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter to the Dance Pole - 17/30

17 days/poems in! I said it before, but this year is incredibly overshadowing last year's in sheer quality and quantity. Some mesmerizing stuff I'm reading (and hopefully writing too!).

As for today's poem, the prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net hit me in just the right way, at just the right time apparently, because I am very proud of how today's poem turned out. Mm. Let me say that again. I am very proud of today's poem.

The prompt was as follows:
Today’s prompt is an epistolary poem — a poem in the form of a letter. In particular, I challenge you to write a poem addressing an inanimate object — Dear Headache, Dear Goldfish Bowl, etc. But that’s not all. Try to include at least 4 of the below in your poem:
1) a song lyric
2) a historical fact
3) an oddball adjective-noun combination (like red grass or loud silence)
4) a fruit
5) the name of a street in your neighborhood
6) a measure of distance.
You can tick them off as you read through, but I'll tell you which ones I chose to include in the poem: 1, 2, 3, and 4. It's like a Highlights puzzle...see if you can find them all! 

A Letter to the Dance Pole 

Dear dance pole –

Records hold that Joan of Arc
dissolved in the arms of your ancestor,
a rigid, imperious backbone
bearing her shame
to a salivating mob.
Don’t ignore the resemblance.
You may have had six centuries
to change, but I can still smell
the wood in you, the smoke
in your mirror-colored ash
as girls blinking away
the same sadness rise to brace
against your vertebrae
for the flames you promised
would come, green
but no less carnivorous
for the jeers mistaken for adoration.

Dance pole,
they eye you a shiny apple,
but you’re hiding Grimhilde’s fingerprints
in this glitter and glistered acclaim,
these strobes that flicker
like familiar tongues and bid
each victim disrobe,
and these girls,
they call your poison empowerment,
but you know the truth.
Isn’t that right, dance pole?
You’ve got the heirs
of suffragists and feminists
propped up like beautified effigies,
their faces painted targets
for an ingrained and nostalgic hate
that ate Joan of Arc alive
and smoulders these girls
from the inside, while
someone in the distance pleads,
drowned out by hungry applause,
you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone.*

Dance pole,
glory all you want atop
your stage of crippled victories.
Just know I’m coming with axe in hand,
but know,
it’s not for you.
Your complicit pillar
would be nothing were it not
for these seated witch-burners,
tongues lolling comically lupine
while your quarry whirls
and whirls, like desperate smoke signals
haloing Joan’s ruined heap.
I’m coming to rob you of your gawkers,
your glamour and your grief.
I’m coming to end your fame, dance pole.

Sincerely written,
Me

* Lyric taken from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"

Monday, April 16, 2012

If My Obituary Read "Death by Hummingbird" - 16/30

Today's poem: true story, brah. 

If My Obituary Read "Death by Hummingbird" 

It flew from a fruitless thicket
with the speed to fell a Philistine,
a miniscule kamikaze clad in emerald,
ruby and nacre.

And something in the trees sung
like the song a swinging gate would
whistle into the night on hinges weary
and red with rust.

And all of spring seemed to preen
and flaunt peacocky verdure as I thought
these wilds delightful, and a bullet undetected
took flight to call my bluff.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

As David Watched Her Bathe - 15/30

Whoa! I've got 4 minutes to go! Cutting it close, huh? That's what I get for working on a day that I should be writing poetry!

As David Watched Her Bathe

She had a name like an augur-less omen,
her form more diamond than flesh
with the way the sun trailed its fingers
down the rivulets of her bathing.
Bathsheba,
a curse to the crowned voyeur
glimpsing her beauty through parted scarlet,
his heart
a sudden holocaust of need.
Need one message quickly appeased,
on Peregrine-swift wings retrieving
David’s foremost folly.

He had not wavered before embedding
his sling-shot pebble in Goliath’s brow.
He had not quavered when Saul hauled
armies cross-country with bloody cravings.
But this, this star-inscribed seraph
David could not tear from mind.
She, a high place he trembled to surmount.
The God for whom he warred
could do all things, sculpt the globe
and rend its very waters,
but,
provide for his enflamed heart
a salve more perfect than that
which he’d have with Bathsheba
(she already the bride of Uriah)?

The lie,
exhaled like incense, won his judgement.
And the husband,
dispatched like fodder, won his envy.
But the ripened fruit
of their noonday tryst, swelling
a gourd of Bathsheba that glistened
with afternoon diamonds,
this child won David’s consequence,
an involuntary christ
interred for his selfishness. His doubt,
a coat-hanger spear to the side
of something he never thought he’d have to
good-bye.

David would never recall the Exodus
after this without Pharaoh’s tenth coercion
stinging sympathy from his tear ducts.
He’d remember his own folly
and tell of its consequence repeatedly,
a scriptural reverence thanking
God on the tip of his tongue.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Green Man - 14/30

Today marks two years since one of my favorite musicians and artists, Peter Steele, died. He was at the helm of the band Type O Negative, and having grown up on their music, on his rich and sepulchral voice, I've always felt a very familial bond to them, and him especially. Our mutual birthday and personalities only strengthen that. He felt like a brother I'd never met.

So, I wanted to write something in his honor today. I've got a poem here, written without prompt, to further memorialize and remember one of the music underground's legends. The song this poem references is called, shockingly, "The Green Man", off the album October Rust.

Go give it a listen. In fact, grab your iPod, put their entire discography on it (after buying it of course!) and go to your nearest wooded area and just...absorb.

Here's to you, Peter.

The Green Man 
for Peter Steele (1962-2010)

You told me you were the green man,
emerald eyes rising out of
the subterranean dark with
its burden of buried whispers
on your lips, but,

how strongly this soil is holding you.
How ironic that the middle
of Spring’s elated romp
saw you, not rise, but descend
into newly verdant ground.

You told me you were the green man,
but did you do so with
your verdigrisy gaze affixed
on the finality of winter,
its chill accenting your baritone?

You greeted the seasons with an irony
like lichen so none could
see you for your masque.
Famous, never wanting to be.
April 14th, exeunt tragically.

You told me you were the green man,
and maybe now you are,
because I glimpse you more
and more in these ivy-adorned
forests, their deep, brooding emerald
whispering
I'm the green man.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Ghazal to Inadequate Plums - 13/30

Today I used the prompt posted over at NaPoWriMo.net, challenging me to write a ghazal.
And our prompt today is to write a ghazal. This is an old Persian form of poetry, and rather strange if you’re used to European meter-and-rhyme forms. A ghazal is made of couplets. Traditionally, the the two lines of the first couplet end with the same word or phrase, and then that same word/phrase is used to end the second line of each succeeding couplet. All of the lines are supposed to be of about the same length, although there is no formal meter or syllable count. If you want to get super traditional/technical, the last couplet is supposed to refer to the poet, either by name, or through some kind of allusion.

One of the strangest things about a ghazal is there’s no obligation for the various couplets to have much of anything to do with one another. You can almost think of each couplet as its own, self-contained poem. The unity of the poem as a whole doesn’t derive from narrative logic, so much as from the repeated refrain that ends each couplet.

For examples, see Agha Shahid Ali’s Even the Rain, Heather McHugh’s rather silly Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun, or Patricia Smith’s Hip-Hop Ghazal.
 I believe I wrote a ghazal last year, the poem entitled "To Know the Fullness of Pain", and that was by prompt as well I'm sure. This one, though, I feel may be somewhat more finely crafted.

A Ghazal to Inadequate Plums

Through years of pine and fresh paint, I still remember the plums.
I remember our adolescence dawning to the scent of fallen plums.

The sun, a ripened orange dripping sticky, saccharine sunlight
on your cheeks and my skinned knees between trees full of plums.

I can remember how pungently each summer day embraced us,
sending us back home in the gnat-enamouring eau de plums.

Your cheeks, were they freckled? Did your smile glint in the sun?
Did our games exude a beauty from you, rich like unplucked plums?

I search through memory, past rods in my knee, spring, winter and fall.
Why can't I recall your face like I can remember those fallen plums?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Indestructible Beard - 12/30

Today I used the amazing Nicole Homer's prompt from her blog Asterisk and Sidebar* (where she's hosting the one and only NiProWriMo (Nicole's Prompt Writing Month)). I've been hooked on her poetry for years, so it came as no surprise to me that she has a knack for inspiring and motivating others to write as well. She's been motivating me since I first heard her, so I'm glad to take up one of her prompts.

Her challenge:
Superheroes are amplifications. They are what we love most about ourselves and/or humanity multiplied by a thousand.

My brother said to me in the month before my kids were born, “Don’t be afraid to be a mom; you’re mostly a good person and being a parent just make you more of who you are.”

Today, choose some attribute of yours (physical, emotional, whatever).

Then, choose a normal scenario (ordering coffee, taking out the trash.)

Add these two elements together and amplify the situation.

You can’t order coffee because your fingernails are 2 feet long and so you can’t reach into your pocket to get the cash. This is clearly a metaphor for something. Your other job is to make sure your choices aren’t random.
With that idea thrown my way, it took me a few minutes of chin-stroking before I settled on an idea. A grand idea, if I don't say so myself.

I love beards. I love my beard, and I have had a beard, in some way, shape or form, since I could grow one. If my life were a TLC special, they'd say I was addicted to my beard (but I'm totally not, because that would be absurd and nine kinds of ridiculous). Not a day goes by that I don't encounter some kind of beard-hate, however. The world, our culture anyway, is terrified of the beard. We teach the boys to keep them shaved off and the girls to keep them at arm's length with a loathing wont of Frankenstein.

So, with that understanding, I see the beard as a metaphor...for other things that society quite possibly relishes looking down upon and would love to snuff out. Nerdy things. Geeky things. Things represented by things referenced in this very poem!

Basically, this is an anti-conformity poem. I don't know if I've ever truly written one, too simple and borderline angsty for my taste, but this is what came out, and hopefully the hyperbolic humor tempers the somewhat amateurish message.

The Indestructible Beard 

I, the indestructible beard!
The whiskers loth to e’er be sheared!
Bring your Norelco if you dare.
I’ll leave it choked on steel wool hair,
strands like Logan’s coated bones
or Shagrath behind microphones.
You cannot tame this metal, black
as Gotham once Bane broke the back
of a bat-winged, mask-clad vigilante.
You’ve got a Braun to up the ante?
Bring it! See how far you get
before motors smoke their groaned regret
and rue the day you purposed to
rough-hew me into another you.
I’ve got 3 meters of this weird,
this pride that you were taught to fear,
these whiskers, loth to e’er be sheared –
I, the indestructible beard!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Armadillidiidae - 11/30

Today, I couldn't really latch on to any prompts offered, so I just delved into a childhood memory instead.

Armadillidiidae

My hands were knuckle-deep in earth
when I learned what I learned
and would never forget. This,
my tenth summer, saw fingernails
adopt muddy crescents in search
of something to collect, something
to displace and place in a preferable space
made of dirt, twig and aquarium.
The air was rich, my nose
plucking lilac, niter, and pine sap
from evening breezes blown in from Paradise,
plucking scents as easily as my
soil-stained fingers found their spherical quarry.
Each time I’d move the right handful
they’d be waiting there,
like chalk across September slate,
rolled into yogic protection.
With a touch inexplicably delicate
I would airlift each between my fingers,
from soil to jar, from jar to tank,
their cannonballs landing gently
in my Neighborhood Pill Bug Refuge.

I would watch them with an entomologist’s eyes,
intrigued by how leaves and pebbles
participated in a pill bug’s ecosystem,
their gridelin-hued populace
putting that of the Ant Farm to shame.
All summer I observed, and unknowingly
learned, their introspective reflex,
the roll-when-threatened instinct
that would guide my eyes inward
when childhood would shatter
like plates against walls
one lengthy hallway down.

I couldn’t smell the rain coming.
It billowed on the horizon,
conquistadors on horseback,
but my ten years weren’t enough
to pinpoint its significance.
It was only later,
maybe even days later,
that I realized what forgetting costs,
my hands, like God’s, knuckle-deep
in mud and devastation,
a hundred tiny forms
floating like lost beachballs,
their eyes turned desperately inward
to find a means of survival.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chant of Winterfell - 10/30

10 days in! It's so awesome seeing all the work people are turning out. This is only my second NaPoWriMo, but it's overshadowing last year's by leaps and bounds in sheer quality and quantity of the writing I'm not only producing but reading. Keep it up, everyone.

As for today's poem, today's prompt sounded like a fun way to push myself into new creative territory.

The prompt:
Our prompt for today comes from a quote usually attributed to T.S. Eliot: Good poets borrow; great poets steal. You can learn all about what Eliot actually said here. But let’s stick to plain old stealing today by writing poems with their first lines lifted from other poems. You can pick a favorite poem of yours to take a line from. If that doesn’t appeal, famous sonnets are always a good way to go. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, perhaps? Maybe try a little “biblomancy” — get a big book of poetry, an anthology for preference, and open it randomly and use the first line from a poem on the page you hit upon. That’s a good tactic if you don’t want to be too influenced by the poem you’re working from — it can be hard to write a completely different poem using a line from a piece you know well. Anyway, happy thieving!
With that gauntlet thrown down at my keyboard, I grabbed my copy of Garrison Keillor's Good Poems and flipped through to the most random page I could. I landed on "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens, the first line being "One must have a mind of winter."

I could only go one direction with this. I had no choice. Enjoy!

Chant of Winterfell
(after "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens)

One must have a mind of winter,
though summer still thrills with insect humming
and casts its blessing ‘pon worshipping fields,
for surely, winter is coming.

One must bear a veinal chill
with snowflakes sluicing cells becoming,
when lions prowl and trouts spawn,
for surely, winter is coming.

One must not forget the howl
between lungs like raven wings drumming,
especially in the sight of sun-gilt pikes,
for surely, winter is coming.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Only Wish - 9/30

So we're really nine days in already? Time sure flies when you're always trying to write something good, and oh, do I have a treat for the geeks out there today! I've been wanting to write this persona poem for months, and I just knew there would come a day to light a fire under me and get it done. Well, thanks to Maureen Thorson over at NaPoWriMo.net, today is the day.

The prompt goes:
Our prompt for today is to write a persona poem — a kind of dramatic monologue. Here’s Rita Dove channeling Beethoven, and Robert Browning giving voice to a very grumpy monk. The Summer 2008 issue of Poemeleon furnishes many more great examples. So pick a character to inhabit — a person from history, an imaginary or mythical person (like Snow White or Zeus), or just someone you’re not (an Olympic marathon champion, perhaps? I know I’m not one of those), and write in their voice.
And oohwee do I love what I turned out today! Get ready, I'm taking y'all to Middle-Earth.

Our Only Wish

We used to fish, felt the wriggle
of worms between our fingers,
between gritty earth and
hook, shiny, shiny hook.
We would wake to sunshine,
warm gold spilled across grass,
blades green like trees, trees
that gave up hunting for their hearts.

We used to walk, and speak
names our tongue does not remember.
Others used to know us, their
eyes and greetings bright,
but not so bright
as hers.

We did not used to hide.
We used to sleep beside the river,
it would sing to us in ripples
and the splash of spawning fish.
We did not used to fear the sun,
back before the river and
the mud and
my precious.
We heard her singing.
She wasn’t his to take, his hands
stealing her from riverbeds,
always keeping their secrets,
she was ours! Ours! She loved us,
she called to us,
her gold, her beautiful glow,
my precious.
Our hands finding his throat.

When they found us,
they hated us,
cursed us into the wilds
with lips like old wormses,
and she,
she betrayed us,
gravel in our throat.
We begged the moon to
crush us, the mists
to swallow us whole,
and inside drippy mountainses
we…were. Our hair
falling out like our teeth
falling out between uncrunchable stones
and our voiceless, sore weeping.
Our nails, broken
as we climbed deeper into
shadow and further
away from
the hateful, rotten sun.

The world forgot us and we
forgot the world,
down where fishes swim eyeless
and our whispers were not
our friends. We forgot
the taste of bread, the sound
of trees, the softness of the wind.
Down where the air no longer
echoed our shame in
calls, “murderer, murderer,”
we even forgot our own name.

Thank you,
my precious.

Que Bella: A Recommendation

Since the start of April, I've been looking to slake my NaPoWriMo-inspired thirst for great writing, and I've found a few great new writers in the process. The NaPoWriMo hub is a great resource, with its 800+ listed participants.

One such participant is Que Bella, found over at afineruffling.blogspot.com. I've read what she has written so far, and would be remiss in my duty as a writer and lover of literature if I didn't spread word of her blog like peanut butter. Delicious, delicious peanut butter.

If you want some strong poems, some stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth imagery, go spend some time on her blog. Follow her even. The poem "Missing" in particular, is a feat of tragedy and beauty in less than 30 lines. Haunting.

Just like all great poetry.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Two Women Come to Mourn - 8/30

It's Easter Sunday! No matter what you do today, no matter what you believe, I hope you have an enjoyable day and maybe take a just a few minutes to consider the gift this day commemorates. In Christ's lauded resurrection, we have a gift like no other. Jesus Christ is alive, prevailing over death and the grave, and in His victory we are victorious. Christ is alive.

Two Women Come to Mourn

Morning wove them a path through bramble and ivy,
two women wrapped in linen grief,
their master held like breath beneath a mountain.

Two women wrapped in linen grief
carrying bouquets of wringing hands,
their master dammed like water behind a stone.

Carrying bouquets of wringing hands,
they widened weeping eyes when greeted with the sight
yawning, black and hollow, before these two hewn women.

They widened weeping eyes when greeted with the sight,
instantly brilliant! A thousand spokes of light,
something like the sun shining alien salutations.

Instantly brilliant, a thousand spokes of light
plumbed the tomb’s darkness, proving terrifically true
their master’s necromantic word given in times before.

Plumbed, the tomb’s darkness, proving terrifically true
the comfort this angel hereafter spoke
to women wrapped in linen grief ‘til hearing

the comfort this angel hereafter spoke:
“He is not here; He is risen,”
a glorious exhalation present in these words:

“He is not here; He is risen.
He is not here; He is risen!”
They could not stop their shaking, the lightning in their feet.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Jar and Its Precious Contents - 7/30

Realized today that Easter is tomorrow and I have yet to write an Easter poem this month. So I definitely wanted to get at least one good poem out on the topic of Easter.

For me, writing Easter poems is tradition. I love covering new territory of the crucifixion story, the story of salvation. I have covered a lot of perspectives and aspects, but there are always more to plumb...it may just take some harder thinking. Like today's. Hopefully it turned out and you can dig on what is being said.

The Jar and Its Precious Contents

She christens his head with nostalgia,
works myrrh into weeping locks
whose scalp, anticipating tomorrow’s
thorns, absorbs this blessing thirstily.

She runs fingers rich like frankincense
through curls reserved for this
funerary worship
since a virgin defied science
with the birthing of a son.

She slowly drains her alabaster jar.
Those who should know him best
protest and proclaim her praise as
waste, yet still she pours her fortune
of sepulchral perfume.

She kneads the emptied opulence to
smoothing furrows he got from his Father.
In all this woman’s tenderness
she all but leans to kiss his head,
loving him with precious drops
so like the cross-extracted red
with which he’d do the same:
a kiss
hung and waiting
on the morrow's sanguine lips.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hachiko - 6/30

Today's prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net lined up perfectly with an idea I already had brewing around. It's nice when that happens. Like rain falling on you when you needed a shower...that's not an apt comparison. But rain is nice.

*ahem* Anyway...the prompt!

And now, the prompt! Marianne Moore is probably best remembered for two things: long, long-lined poems that nonetheless had a precision to their music and imagery, a finicky grace, and the fact that she wrote so much about animals. For examples of both things happening at once, try The Fish, or He “Digesteth Harde Yron”, or The Pangolin, or any of dozens more.
In her honor, I challenge you today to write a poem about an animal. If you’re feeling up to it, try Moore’s trick of incorporating quotes or text from other sources — maybe you write about an elephant, and incorporate some elephant facts. This trick gave her work a collaged feeling, as though it is both educational and lyrical. You could also play around with varying line-lengths, oddly-shaped stanzas, or trying to write with her formal tone (she always sounds like a very dignified great-aunt to me). Happy Marianne Moore-ing!
I have had an animal in mind that I've wanted to write something for for a while. So, today was good in finally bringing it to a boil and bubbling its poetic goodness over onto this barely read blog. So to all 8 of my readers, enjoy the poem! (and if you would like to learn more about this animal, I recommend the movie "Hachiko: A Dog's Tale". Just go into it expecting to leave a weepy mess.)

Hachiko

The bronze eyes stare from where
seventy-seven years before
a dog drew a portrait of God
with his faithfulness.
Verdure dully reflects
in this dark, memorial fur.
Winter pours and pillows
on its vigil, as with his.
Hachiko.
When death plucked
his best friend away like
the sun suddenly eclipsed,
Hachiko waited where he
saw him last, in the shadow of
Shibuya’s timepiece, trusting
that eventually this sun
would return from whatever
dark had claimed it.
No amount of time
was too long to wait, panting
an adoration we have yet
to understand
into daytime’s crowds and
midnight’s shroud.

Hachiko,
if only I could love like you.
If only my wiring
was more Akita, less
human: so slow to notice
our bonds, so quick to
let them go.
Teach me how to love
from my soul, so nothing –
no difference, no distance,
no compulsory busyness –
would ever sever
these soul-wove tethers,
these bonds.
That bond, beyond love or need
but without better words
to tame it,
that had you hold a nine-year post
like the best ‘Welcome Home’
anyone could ever know,
until sleep at
last returned
him to you.
Hachiko.

His bronze testament
sits ready over a sea of autumn
and humanity, its eyes
merely sculpture
in their convex stare,
and yet,
with each patina-fleeced glance
and the noble tilt of his chin,
something burns
deep between my shoulder blades
and tangles in my throat,
as if witnessing something
I’ll never be able
to appreciate.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Comparing Serpents - 5/30

Okay, I already wrote a poem for today, but then I saw the prompt Hillary Kobernick posted on her blog, and I couldn't refuse.

Sometimes evil is hilarious. Sometimes evil is so tragic you forget what alive is. Evil often gets personified in the Devil, and so today’s prompt is to write about the Devil. Maybe he’s misunderstood. Maybe he really is evil. Maybe he’s a she. Lucille Clifton has a series of poems about the Devil, whom she calls Lucifer, some of which can be found here. Scroll down to the very bottom and you’ll find “lucifer speaks in his own voice.”

Write a poem from the voice of the Devil, or one that tells the story about the Devil. If it helps, start with a character sketch: jot down several things you know to be true about the Devil.
 Hitting on a very provocative topic, I got something pretty interesting out of it today. So, lucky you, you get a twofer today!

Comparing Serpents

You know me as the serpent,
the hissing libido
between Adam and his Eve,
my belly slick and plump
despite the imprecation of dust.
You know me as the serpent,

but that brazen snake
transfixed and raised over
the peregrine law-giver’s hoar,
that isn’t me.
The bringer of pomegranate-
encapsulated light,
I am no Nehushtan.
Do not paint me with
such insulting stripes.
Sheitan suits me better.

While all of those sand-licking Israelites
doubled over with bellies
enflamed by my sibilance,
it was not me in my stolen identity
held aloft in cleansing foreshadowing.
That repugnant pole,
Nehushtan,
God removing all I dared wage
in vengeance,
in fairness.

You knew me as the serpent,
but never let such slander
slip across your lips again.
I am no messianic Nehushtan.
From me, you'll only get sin.

A Cat's Life is Deceiving - 5/30

Didn't use any prompts today, just a simple little poem about a boy and some cats.

A Cat's Life is Deceiving

The boy who wished to be a cat
because they seemed so lazy,
quickly wished he’d wished instead

for yoga classes
or any preparatory stretching
that would ready him

for that feline need to mime
mythology’s circling ouroboros,
his tongue, sandpaper pink.

He wished he’d wished instead
to be a bird, or even a goldfish.
Neither of those would leave him

scratching at invisible itches
hosting Olympics on his nape.
Most of all, he wished

he’d wished instead to have no wish,
staying spoon-deep in his Cheerios
between two sleeping temptations.

He would have wished his way back
to couch and Star Wars pajamas,
but his voice kept getting lost

in the hygiene clogging his throat.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lady Apathy

This poem isn't part of the NaPoWriMo season. Just a bit of extracurricular writing, on a subject of which I'm sure there is no short supply of writing, but I have to speak on it anyway.

Lady Apathy

When people vanish
into the bulk of the forest
to be found but pallid bodies,
newly untenanted and strewn like
molt across autumn’s recent leavings,

any hint of comfort comes only
in knowing that nature’s to blame,
that there is no culpable face
or name out there
eluding justice.

When the night
unleashes the fiends
nurtured in its murk, looses
lurkers and lapdogs on somebody’s
beloved, aura the woeful color of chalk,

the only solace comes in holding to
what we’re told about badges
too sterling to be false:
no crime goes
unpunished.

But
when Trayvon Martin slipped into a gutter
grown dark with the stake of ancestral struggles,
his chest a mess of violence and lament,
there was no luxury of natural causes,
no faultless mishap that tore Trayvon’s
hoodied torso like paper.
No swift recompense descending
in flurries of red and blue to prove
Lady Justice’s blindfold
or balance out her scales.

No,
Trayvon hit the pavement, chest
punctuated
with a Zorro-wannabe’s signature
maybe
for skin too many shades south of right.
Maybe
            for betting it’d just stay a fight.
Regardless of the reason
Zimmerman shot him that night,
Trayvon hit the pavement,
and he's been bleeding ever since.

Love like Lubrication - 4/30

Today's poem was at least partially inspired by the prompt posted at the NaPoWriMo hub.

A couple of days ago, I suggested you write a poem based on a particular song. Today’s prompt is another musical one, loosely adapted from the suggestions here, which revolve around writing a poem based on a musical form. (Hat tip to P. Agarwal!) Now, the forms they suggest are rather complicated classical forms, but I suggest you write a blues.
I spent some time trying to write something in the traditional blues domain (three line stanzas, the first two repeating) but just wasn't getting anywhere. So I started something else expecting to just do my own thing, sans prompt. Turns out the prompt was still working in me, because this piece came out pretty bluesy, if not the exact structure specified.

A poem of longing, separation, loneliness, and love...pretty bluesy indeed. Hope you dig it.

Love like Lubrication

Stay away too long,
stay away too long,
and you might just get to hear
this choking motor’s song.

Leave me here alone,
leave me here alone,
and you’ll see rings too dark for steam
coming through your answered phone.

Think of me no more,
think of me no more,
and all the oil in the world
won’t save my smoldering core.

Stay away too long,
stay away too long,
and you might just get to hear
this choking motor's song.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Bridegroom, Pillow in Hand - 3/30

I didn't use a prompt yesterday, but today's prompt posted over at NaPoWriMo.net definitely hit me in the right spot.

The prompt challenges as follows:
April marks the beginning of “wedding season,” and so I challenge you today to write an epithalamium (somethimes also called an epithalamion). This is nothing more or less than a poem celebrating a wedding. The first such poems were popular in the classical world, and were typically addressed to brides. The modern versions are a bit more expansive, and needn’t address just the bride, but can address the whole idea of the wedding, both partners, weddings in general, etc. Your epithalamium could be about an upcoming wedding, about the wedding of an already-married couple, or some sort of imaginary ur-wedding, if you like. No particular form, length, or rhyme scheme required!
To that end, I've got a really...special poem for today. Hope you enjoy.

The Bridegroom, Pillow in Hand

To my wedding night-lulled bride,
locks, blonde tendrils consuming
the purple of rumpled bedding,
I thought it would never come.
Your swanny neck,
the skimming digits of my adoration,
I thought it would never come.

I longed to have you close as this,
to hold you, still and perfect,
and to that end, matrimony’s oaths
I gladly mouthed. Gladly vowed,
for bound I was since glimpsing
such an emerald gaze, eyes
now flawless in their wide
and portraiture-wont gleam.

You left me no other choice,
no other option once I saw
the gossamer of your skin
and how sunlight
made a moon of you, glowing
oh so slightly,
these now porcelaneous cheeks.

You, I both will have and hold.
Know those words I’ve meant ever
since your radiance first burned me,
but, my bride, worry not
for sickness or for health.
Beauty such as your naked form,
sinuous and cooling underneath
my roving rapture,
no longer has a thing to gain
from health or lose to sickness.
Now, my truly perfect love,
my bride, forever breathless –
downily succoured, your fragile heart –
not even death can us two part.
 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spoils - 2/30

Spoils

I watch ants march their miniscule
battalions through the ridges and
valleys scarring springtime pine,
various parts of woebegone bugs –
leg of beetle, head of fly, wing of
an orphaning ladybug – carted up
the itchy molasses like Troy’s
sorrowed but irretrievable innards.
And there, the hobbled knot of ant,
is that perhaps Hector, carried away
to keep Achilles’ word to eat him raw?
Or is it Achilles himself, beloved hero
hamstrung in the hunt, carried now
by Ajax for a consolatory feast?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Transition of Palms - 1/30

The Transition of Palms


From palms laid down to palms stretched out,
pierced in depicting divinity’s gift
with dislocated limbs proclaiming, “I love you
this                                                                   much,”
between reception and rejection
only five days waited,
five before the people’s king was
stripped and flagellated.

Show me caprice better illustrated.
We are of tenderly temperamental stock,
a creature commanded by mood and whim,
and yet went forth the Christ
to crowds quick to cross their prostrate arms,
still serving them His fullness on a platter called Golgotha,
and who could say they deserved it?
Thankfully, He didn’t gauge His behavior
by that of a people imperfect.

So whatever you do, know that it’s worth it
simply because your heart’s furnace burns for it.
Don’t shy from the sight of your Jerusalem
because people hide crosses in their compliments.
Don’t snuff the kindled vigil in
the middle of your chest
because some won’t recognize its glow.
Don’t forgo
all you were forged to illuminate and do,
but burn,
burn into the beacon you know you should be.
With the embers in your irises
and coals beneath your feet,
show the ones you love
this                                                                   much
just how much you love them.
With the fire in your throat
turning spittle to silken steam speak
the Pentecostal tongue of love
and burn,
burn into the beacon you know you should be.
Do so without either qualm or doubt,
not hiding your flames on account of the crowd,
our creature no less capricious now
than then, when five days turned us around
from palms laid down to palms stretched out.