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 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
The PAD prompt for April 17th was “Waiting”. But, I got to thinking, the poem I wrote on April 3, with the prompt of “Communication” could have done just as well here.
The past ten months I have done a lot of waiting. Waiting on hold. Waiting on mail. Waiting for the right house to come along. Waiting on other people. In all of this, I have waited on the Lord. Not always patiently I am sorry to say.
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! – Psalm 27:14
So, here’s my poem from April 3rd.
Your wait time is 14 minutes
For the next available representative
Date Of birth
Last four of your social
Your wait time is 23 minutes
How may I help you?
I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that
Let me transfer you
Please remain on the line
I’m sorry for your loss
Your husband’s date of birth
Date of death
Last four of his social
Call us if you haven’t received it in 60 days
No, it takes up to 14 days after processing
No, it takes up to 28 days
A death certificate
A driver's license
A marriage certificate
Your former address
My supervisor isn’t available
Leave your name and phone number
I’m sorry, our office is closed
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
Lights out, room darkening curtains drawn Nature sounds play low in the background Blankets spread just so The whirr of the CPAP machine is more white noise But sometimes the machine isn’t on And the low snoring begins
The night has a life all its own
The low snoring may build in crescendo But sometimes it just falls away That’s when I hear it The dog’s snoring Not loud, just a pleasant little snuffling In between these two beloveds I snuggle down I drift into sleep
The night has a life all its own
Sleep may last hours or not A creak, a door closing And I’m awake Sometimes for minutes Sometimes till dawn Until light creeps around the edges
The night has a life all its own
I wrote this poem earlier in the year – before all that was familiar began to spin away. Is it possible to actually miss the sound of a CPAP machine? I think it is. I can no longer “snuggle down between these two beloved”, but the dog does her best to keep me company. The part that still rings true?
“…I’m awake Sometimes for minutes Sometimes till dawn Until light creeps around the edges”
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