I look forward to April every year. It’s poetry month. It’s PAD – Poem-A-Day- with Robert Brewer over at Writer’s Digest. It’s reconnecting with a few poets I’ve met there. It’s feeling creative once more. It’s looking forward to reading the prompt of the day and being challenged to produce. It’s being able to express so many cooped-up feelings. It’s mostly happy and sometimes sad and always a month of possibilities.
Day One: “F”
Future and Present
Future and present me
to past and present you:
Do you remember how much I love all things time/space/dimension travel?
The picture above popped up in my memory feed today on Facebook. Already feeling out of sorts, this added fuel to my sad fire. But it also was fuel for my poem today.The prompt was “thought” . So, I thought, as if I wasn’t already thinking, about how long and how short seven years are.
Thoughts on Seven Years
seven years ago we moved to a new state
it was not our choice
but that’s okay
and though there is such a thing called the seven years war
that’s not what we fought
in fact, many of those seven years were good ones
years of plenty like in Joseph’s dream
and Joseph's life
but years of plenty
soon became lean years, rawboned and grievous
though we enjoyed hiking through the beauty of fall colors
and a few snow-angel winter snows
and spring on the back porch
there was much loss
the demise of three parents while we were away
longing to be with them
even though we often languished
in the city where we tried so hard
we were together
we finally migrated back home
but one month later
for your eternal home
and I try not to wither away
The PAD prompt for April 16th was to write a city poem.
a city on a bay
it’s a lightning city
it’s a cigar city
with hand-rolled goodness
it’s a walking city
with people on the streets
day and night
it’s azalea and hibiscus
it’s bougainvillea and palm trees
it’s Spanish music pouring from open windows
with ethnic markets and breweries
a river runs through it
with alligators and a riverwalk
it’s neighbors and cracks in the sidewalk
it’s my city now
Yes, I’ve written tons of poems about my love for Chuck, our relationship, and his love for me. But, this is a different one, not written by me. It was written by our friend, Dorothy Young, who wrote it when we left Jacksonville/Fruit Cove in 2014 for Birmingham. She gave him a framed copy when we moved. It hung in his home office in Bham and I’ll hang it again when I get to Tampa. Dorothy and Chuck had a special friendship, as evidenced in her words. She included it in her book, Loved from Eternity.
The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of ExplanationBilly Collins
The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --
the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.
And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,
and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.
Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.
But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.
And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.
And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --
to be perfectly honest for a moment --
the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.
I agree that poetry encourages the writing of more poetry. That’s why April has been such an inspirational month for me the past 9-10 years. I started out this past April with a bang, but life has a way changing as we all know. I wrote the following poem the day after we got the first news – the first inkling that things were about to change. I ended up keeping two volumes from the old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias. #1- Poems and Rhymes and #10 – Make and Do. The rest are gone, along with probably 1/2 of my household possessions. Sometimes you just have to keep the important stuff and let go of the rest. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Can't remember when I first felt inspired to write a poem myself
But I do remember some poems of my childhood
From Childcraft: The How and Why Library
Poems and Rhymes
I laughed at the Purple Cow and the limericks
I met characters like little Tommy Tucker
And Polly who put the kettle on
And Mistress Mary who was quite contrary
I chanted Pease Porridge Hot and Jack Be Nimble
Was introduced to the joyous words of Robert Louis Stevenson
And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Whose poem about the little girl with the little curl
Was one my father always quoted to me
And I did the same for my curly headed daughter
And now over fifty years later
I am packing those books up to carry with me once more
Because I just can’t bear to part with them
I found the following poem on an old post. I wrote it in 2017. I’m not sure what I was thinking then, but it has new meaning to me now. The clock hands seem to slow down and speed up randomly these days. The dark and quiet follow me each night. “Till death do us part” has a whole new meaning on the other side. But my love was not blind. It was aware and alive. It still is.
clocks hands so slowly move
on across the minutes
twenty-four and repeat
quiet dawn to soft dusk
and moments in between
at last the lovers meet
that raven evermore
returns time and again
dark and quiet to mind
until death do us part
in faded lace and white
oft times love is so blind
Back on April 5th, the prompt for NaPoWriMo was quite complicated.
“It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following (the list followed) in the same poem. Of course, if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!”
I got most of them in. Stuff like: Begin the poem with a metaphor. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person. Use a phrase from a language other than English. And a bunch more.
Here’s the final product:
today is a loaf of bread the sky’s fresh-baked goodness calls out and lures you, Juliette, to come and play to Siesta Key’s pure white sand today is a pie it’s chocolate-pecan-apple all over today is a mere slice of bread just a taste of life in the sun I closed my eyes and you were gone, Juliette it gave me the frissons the tender band of hope reached out but it didn’t touch Juliette, you soar above the ocean you will rise above us all Mae watches helplessly knowing you will come down but not knowing where your jellied wings will melt Ca c’est bon the pie speaks of love the bread rises again
Like I said in my last post, God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. Today’s prompt from NaPoWrimo was to write a poem based on a “walking archive”. Those of you who follow me here or on Instagram know I post a lot of pictures of things I find on my walks and hikes, so this one was a natural prompt for me.
I walk for sunshine I walk for sanity I walk to remind myself Of Pippa’s song God’s in His heaven All’s right with the world Even when it feels all wrong I find a dandelion And think of Ray Bradbury And The Avett Brothers And blow my wishes to scatter the seeds I observe moss on the rocks And dream of the fairies who visit at night Knowing it’s all pretend Think of how we used to pretend Give each other different names Like Twenty-One Pilots And I hum the song Wish we could turn back time I catch the sun Filtering through the trees Making shadows on my arm While the birds sing A song I do not know I see beauty in the wildflowers Beauty in the ruins And I walk on Ruby by my side Man’s best friend And mine, too.