Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day Twenty-One, Poem #21 - Overwinding the Watch

Overwinding the Watch
NaPoWriMo #21 – flawed perfection

Homogenous flowers in straight rows
are akin to wrinkleless skin,
to the unbruised banana on its
one day of nascent ripeness,
to the vacation where everything
is so intricately timed that there is
nothing whatsoever to remember it by.

When my life is done,
when my watercolor tins have
showed their metal innards
(even in the corners),
when my tea has grown bitter
and tepid, please let it be said
that I overwound my watch,
that I let loose words in
wrong orders
and that I carved my name in
inappropriate places,
that I have been full of flaws
without the embarrassments
of any perfection.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day Twenty, Poem #20 - Sweeping the Night Sky

Sweeping the Night Sky
NaPoWriMo #20 – the hero poem

When the sun set on warm asphalt driveways,
I stretched out lanky kid legs to watch the stars blink
into existence, sometimes one by one,
sometimes in a symphony of firefly lights.

This was a childhood of star dreams,
of telescopes, of constellation maps,
of listening to time whisk past my ears
in the stillness of summer night.

In dreams I climbed ladders to sit in
rickety metal chairs at the base of giant lenses,
eyes to the night sky, cold at the top of hills,
giant-geared watch-works moving below me.

To me it made sense to watch for what was
not there, to try to intuit the unseen and
work it backwards into an existence of science.
It made me real to feel so small as to be a
bit of dust on the mirror of everything.

And so I snuck quiet into the labs of men
too busy to notice an intrusion of a quiet child,
too preoccupied with the huge to notice the miniscule,
too far-seeing to mind what was adjacent to their elbows,
and I watched the numbers and equations flow
from pens and pencils to notebooks, to scratch pads,
to painted walls. I etched their obsessions into my memory.

And when the men burrowed down into the bases
of large radio arrays, I imagined it was me instead,
straightening the records of the milky way gramophone,
putting another sliver of the moon back in the pie plate,
sweeping the night sky to make it orderly for the
next generations of those who dream.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day Nineteen, Poem #19 - An Economy of Motion

An Economy of Motion
NaPoWriMo #19 – light bulb moments

along the rolling
potato hills of home
I wonder
what travels further
or apparitions.

on one hand
there is fiction
of wholesome
nurtured lives
within warm walls.

on the other hand
there is the
stagnant weight
that falls like
a curtain at
the insects’ roar.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day Eighteen, Poem #18 - Elemental Whiskertwitch

Elemental Whiskertwitch
NaPoWriMo prompts #18 – meow!

The first feline was made of air
the purr of wind carving
across the surface of
continental shelves
and meowing past
the mouths of caves.

The second feline was made of earth
inverted hummocks of detritus
warm beds carved for
the fur sleek beasts
slipping quiet in
foggy nighttimes.

The third feline was made of water
large bright eyes glowing
running between raindrops
and leaping puddle widths
and lengths
with silent abandon.

The fourth feline was made of fire
the claws of destruction
cracking the eggshells of
passing moments
teasing them
into becoming real.

The fifth feline was made of spirit
and bound in sinew
to be a guardian
and a muse to
tired bipeds cursed with
too-long lives.

It takes us many cats to exist in full.
That is both our fortune
and our disgrace.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day Seventeen, Poem #17 - Airstream

NaPoWriMo #17 - something elemental

For twenty-seven years
the aluminum husk of the Airstream
sat in adjacent to the house
blocking the breezeway
reflecting the loud summer sun
and the dim winter clouds.

The aerodynamic frame told
fables of the the American road
from the sandblasted badlands to the
fogged mountain passes of the Appalachias.

Fables they were
on dryrotted tires
on bubbled asphalt
on rusted axles.

Daydreams of travel.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day Sixteen, Poem #16 - Fiesta

NaPoWriMo #16 – off prompt

the splayed
cartoon hands
of prickly pears
slapping at the sidewalk
underneath the fence
pattycake the concrete
shake loose the seeds
from tired sunflowers
sombrero-shade the
on mirage afternoons

when night falls
the hands rise up
clap together at the moon
and bloom delicate
flower fingers
so the bats can
sip perfume

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day Fifteen, Poem #15 - Nervous Toast

Nervous Toast
NaPoWriMo #15 – carrying a tune

radical blankets
radical clouds
natural fixations
garlands and shrouds

tinfoil butterflies
tinfoil trees
coffeepot flotsam
intimate pleas

columns of clothing
columns of ghosts
terrified bread makes
nervous toast

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day Fourteen, Poem #14 - Cleave Poem - POLL DANCE

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day Thirteen, Poem #13 - Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

NaPoWriMo prompts #13 – from the first line of a Norman Dubie poem

The morning’s mail rises up the stairwell[1]

a wake of awakening on lizards' toes

and plumage-feathered tails.

Postcards from miniscule islands mingle at the

landing window, basking in the shadow

of a dusty, wilted philodendron.

Chinese food menus and lost pet flyers

rain down from above as a door slams

scuffing across a welcome mat askew.

The bank of metal mailboxes groans,

longing to be unlocked and fall forward

in a relieving heave of hinges.

Too many bills, too many bank statements

and not enough tangos, waltzes, be-bops from the

tips of fountain pens, ballpoints, bright crayons.

No one in the building is aware that this

set of worn steps and rattling windowpanes

is haunted by the ghosts of first class.

[1] from “Not the Bathing Tank at Madras: A Romance”, Norman Dubie, published in Blackbird, Spring 2008 (v7n1)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day Twelve, Poem #12 - Analagous Cephalopod

Analogous Cephalopod
NaPoWriMo prompts #9 & #12 – your mission & secret code

On a bruise blue night
no one is present
to watch the octopus pull the lever,
open the plastic flap,
and massage forth a pellet of food.

Winter winds play shadow puppets
on gray laboratory walls,
sodium lamp marionettes
startle to life,
strum window blinds,
wave talon tendrils in disarray.

There is order and there is afterthought.
A jug of formaldehyde
waits conspicuous,
like a wattle on a
fancy hen,
to protract the limp remains.

But now in the half light,
now in the icy fringe of daybreak,
the neon legs swoon in murky elation,
frisking the pumice stones and
smooth glass walls alike,
bubbles dancing to the surface,
hundreds of pearl balloons
popping of bliss.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day Eleven, Poem #11 - Passport Photos While U Wait

Passport Photos While U Wait
NaPoWriMo #11 – the thing you didn’t choose

Once you unfold a map
it becomes Pandora’s curse.

Please present yourself in color
in a perfect 2” by 2” square.

Proper hygiene starts with the feet,
so bring good, sturdy boots and wicking socks.

Roads are likely to become impassable
so don’t bring more than you can carry in your pack.

You are here as an observer
and an observer only. Gain rapport but be sensitive.

Insect repellent and sunscreen -
the recipe for remaining healthy.

Immunizations are not for the
weak of will.

Most likely you will be detained
at borders.

Do not expect English to be spoken or that
you will be able to contact a translator.

Please keep us informed of your
next of kin.

Once you unfold a map
it becomes Pandora’s destiny.

From the poem prompt to write about one of the paths you didn’t choose.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day Ten, Poem #10 - Woolgatherers

NaPoWriMo #10 – celebrate!

When the right-hand side of my family gathers
we clink together delicately like china cups in saucers
like ice cubes in tall glasses of afternoon iced tea
sometimes too sweet
sometimes too bitter
and never for very long.

When the left-hand side of my family gathers
we pack it in like anchovies in the can
like beer in the mug and smoke in the salty air
sometimes too strong
sometimes too loud
and always until the crack of morning.

From the poetry prompt to assess and describe a recent celebration.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day Nine, Poem #9 - Alligator Pear

Alligator Pear
NaPoWriMo #9 – off prompt

Back when salad plates
held sliced eggs
and baby corn
and alligator pears
the fashionable women
ate grapefruit halves
to slim down
and trim waists
hoping for a teaspoon
of table sugar
to cut the bite.

But the creamy
avocado sliced
in perfect half moon
luna moth green
was a temptation
that no woman
could resist.

A lowly apple,
the fabled fruit,
was no match
for the siren-sweet hum
of the
alligator pear.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day Eight, Poem#8 - Dragon Year

Dragon Year
NaPoWriMo #8 – unusual love connections

Firecrackers bloom on the pavement
just inches from our feet
inside the shadow of the dragon’s head.

It takes both of us to hold up the mask,
to roll the giant swirling eyes
to snap shut the menacing jaws.

We hear children giggle and scream
and older folks chuckle knowingly
as we pass in our slithering husk.

The multitude behind us
holding up the tail and following our lead

For a moment there is mountaintop grass
beneath our toes, inside a cold cloud
and we fly, majestic.

This is our year.
The crowd cheers for us.

From the poem prompt to write an extended metaphor of love

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day Seven, Poem #7 - espresso afterlife

espresso afterlife
NaPoWriMo #7 – love, funny side up

traffic blurs past sidewalk windows
knocking loose beaded curtains of steam
a bottomless refill mug smooth in hand
coffee fogs cold eyeglasses
cinema calls that look the glamour

From the poem prompt to write a humorous tanka about a moment of love

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day Six, Poem #6 - Polaroid Fade

Polaroid Fade
NaPoWriMo #6 – converse with images

In the bright crosshairs
of a storefront window
four boys wait
white school shirts
and skinny arms jangling.

A woman
in a red shift dress
black hair pulled tightly
into a bun at the
pushes the glass door open
and clicks through
on marble
black heels

Her left arm is heavy
square paper bags
rumpling against her

With a snap
she clicks her purse shut
and the boys
look up
meeting her gaze

And for a
five people

From the poem prompt to write with the inspiration of a favorite image

(shown here: *)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day Five, Poem #5 - The Evil Twin

The Evil Twin
NaPoWriMo #5– make your poetry personal

From that moment in the late summer sun
when Louise chided and goaded me to swing higher
and higher on the rope swing and then
let go
I knew that she and I were wary acquaintances
at best
or tied with iron chains to each other like anchors
at worst.

She would take me by the hand and tease leggy spiders
in thick webs.
She’d take my favorite toys and wander alone through the
moonlit fields.
Louise taunted dogs, chased cows, stole bicycles, threw pebbles
at passing cars.

When she was older, she told me about
dangerous boys.
Boys with fast cars, boys with long hair and thousand-mile stares.
Louise walked down alleys at midnight, snuck in the back doors of bars,
ran away to join the carnies and got tattoos over every inch of her body
except her face.

Louise walks tightropes over city blocks.
She parachutes off of bridges on windy days.
She swigs from passing bottles around fires of cold mining camps
in European towns no one has ever heard of.
She is pushed from hot air balloons by spurned lovers
but lives

One of these days when we are both old and deaf,
parked helplessly on someone’s veranda,
she will take out a pen
and a sheaf of unlined writing paper and
scribe in length what it
has been like all these years,
saddled with her evil twin.

From the poem prompt to personify your poetry and give it personality.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day Four, Poem #4 - Joseph Cornell's Paintbox

Joseph Cornell’s Paintbox
NaPoWriMo #4– inside out

Somewhere there is a gramophone recording
gone brittle in attic air and summer birdsong.
And this recording holds words that slip from the page,
that droop sloppily from the vine like bees off honeysuckle.
And these words tell the fable of a man who walked
backwards in the moonlight so as to never retrace his steps
his pant cuffs leaving a glittering trail of dew in his wake.

This man could touch the blades of grass and leave them luminescent
glowing white in the night air and causing crickets to quit chirruping
if only for a second or two
like children counting the space between lightning and thunder
in a far-off summer heat storm.

The leaf green, the grass green, the moss green, the apple green,
collected in the man’s fingers, became brighter and more real
than real could ever really be, the stuff of dreams.

And when he had touched all the colors under the stars and the moon
and everything glowed clear and bright and cold like the winter’s own,
he touched his hands to a small tin box
creaking the lid open in a singsong way
and the colors slithered inside like insects on multifarious feet.

Yes, somewhere there is a recording
and somewhere there was this man.
And if could only but tell you where or when or even how
then I would be as rich as anyone on earth.

From the poem prompt to illustrate your idea of what is inside-out.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day Three, Poem #3 - Whistle Past the Graveyard

Whistle Past the Graveyard
NaPoWriMo #3– scared yet?

A dozen girls run in circles
stomping the warm asphalt of a
church parking lot
coltish legs bolting from under
Brownie uniforms
long hair whipping across
open-mouthed laughter.
Their bodies make long
shadows that chase them
then run ahead
then twist around
to chase them again.

I am number thirteen,
the odd-one-out,
who gets saddled with the
campfire construction
while the leaders are
fixing orange kool-aid and removing
generic duplex cookies from
thundering plastic trays
in the cold basement kitchen
behind fire doors.

To finish the fire cone
I need twigs, I need leaves
and the only trees are
across the street
beyond four lanes of traffic
and up iron-gated stairs
to the shady cemetery that is
so old it was here before the road,
before the sidewalk,
before the town, it seems.

My parents tell me there are
no such thing as ghosts
but my great aunt has told me
to whistle past the cemetery
so the spirits won’t follow me
and even on the hottest July days
I feel the cold breeze fall down the hill
and spill over on me and I think
that this must be them, that I
have not whistled loud enough
or long enough or carried enough
of a tune to distract them.
I have to run each and every time,
tennis shoes slapping the concrete
like crows wings swooping down.

With resolve I start to cross the road
toward the gate, looking both ways once,
twice, three times as I feel the tune bubbling up
to pursed lips. Whistle. Go on. Whistle.

And not once did the spirits get me.
Not a single chill reached out to take my hand.
I carried the song like I was taught.
And lived.

From the prompt to examine and describe a fear

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day Two, Poem #2 - Radio Wave Propagation

Radio Wave Propagation
NaPoWriMo #2– the ol’ acronym switcheroo

There was a time when long rooms
were filled with wires
lit by the nascent glow of
vacuum tubes.

Dust in the air smelled of
warm chipboard, of
solder and the oils
of clacking typewriters.

Men hunched closely over
dials and oscilloscopes,
sweaty white shirts yellowing
in the spiderlight.

Black-rimmed glasses
refracted the readouts,
magnified the subtle proofs
from thin textbook pages.

And from the silence
a low hum reverberates,
shaking the surface of dozens of
cups of cold black coffee.


From the acronym search on the letters RWP

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day One, Poem #1 - Agave


NaPoWriMo #1 – shuffle a poem

If I kept a diary,

like a lonesome schoolgirl,

I might write

‘Friday – I’m in love with the

boy from down the road.’

But not because he is faithful, shooter

of midnight firecrackers,

of stolen guns ,

or that I see him

slipping back from windows

like curtains in the hot breeze, or

in church rolling the prayer off his tongue

with sounds

as full as


bouncing in the jar.

But more because he waits

at the roadside,

a sombre reptile,

watching the hours pass

on the highway, kind enough

not to flinch in the

swirls of sand,

and lets me dance in his shadow

as it stretches to the East

to touch the rising night.

From the song titles “Faithful Shooter” by Richard Buckner, “Friday, I’m In Love” by The Cure, “Highway Kind” by Townes Van Zandt, “The Prayer” by Bloc Party and “Sombre Reptile” by Brian Eno

One Poem, Every Day, One Month

I've taken the read.write.poem National Poetry Month writing challenge. It is a prompt-based challenge and a long road ahead for April. But with some photo shoots scheduled, some events, some travel and some vacation time ahead, I hope I can make good on my promise.

Here's to words, writing and the fuel for thought!