Archive for April 2012

Last Day of National Poetry Month! (April!)

April 30, 2012

At The End of National Poetry Month

I am linking this old post to With Real Toads, where Kerry promises that the Real Toads crew will do thirty prompts in thirty days for National Poetry Month.  I’ve written a poem a day in April for the last few years – and since the Toads prompt today is about what April means to a poet, I thought of linking this.  The poem at least is short – apologies for the discursive beginning.


Today is the last day of this year’s National Poetry Month.  As in the last couple of years, I’ve tried to write a new draft poem every day of the month.  I hope that even the not-so-good ones have provided some fun for readers, even if that fun was at my expense!

One of the great things about an exercise like this (to my mind) is that it helps debunk the notion of the muse.  

People/poets/writers/artists can get very attached to the idea of a muse–this shadowy presence that comes and goes and makes them feel special.

To me, a rather plodding sort of person, the muse is mainly a combination of attention and determination.

Attention to what is going on outside; attention, too, to all the little pokes and prods inside.

Then there’s the determination to take notes of what you’ve paid attention to, and, once you’ve taken the notes, to reshape them in the sometimes harsh (sometimes way too indiscriminate) light of your computer screen.

The advantage of an exercise like writing a poem a day is that you just can’t wait for the muse to come your way.  You simply have to get down to attending and determining!

As my final homage to National Poetry Month 2012, I am re-posting my April 30 poem from 2011:

End of National Poetry Month Haiku

Some say that April is the
cruelest month. They must
be people who write poems.

Thanks so much for checking in!

“Sunday Morning Ajar” (Mag 115)

April 29, 2012

Image by Manu Pombrol

Sunday Morning Ajar

A swab about the kitchen quick
then silence re-descends so thick
it brings translucence to the calm
and calls for yet another balm.
Ah, he thinks, stripping down to luster,
there’s nothing else that cuts the mustard
like a Sunday morning soak.

Sinks, then feels the bath invoke
the thinker in him, so holds quite high
a slim slim volume of poe-try. 

Till suddenly, a blistered curse,
that’s quite the opposite of terse,
sounds loudly from a nearby room
above the beating and the boom
of door of fridge and counter clutter-
“gosh darn it,” comes a distinct mutter–
“and now where has my Dijon gone?”

He, dripping, reaches for his thong–
and hurries hurries all to dry,
while fumbling for an alibi–  
though it probably won’t do the trick
even if his brain works quick
for it seems he left the door ajar
while dipping in her favorite jar.   


Posting the above for Tess Kincaid’s The Mag 115.  Tess gives a photograph prompt each week.   (It’s a lot of fun – check it out.)  I usually try to do my own version of the photo, but I am tired enough from National Poetry Month to just stick with the plain old wonderful image by Manu Pombrol.

“Giving Thanks For Small Favors” (Bugged by) Haiku

April 29, 2012

Copyright Mama Zen Photography

Giving Thanks For Small Favors

Fake flowers gather
no bugs.  So I tell myself
when dark truths pester.


The above haiku was written  for for a “Real Toads” Poetry Prompt featuring photographs by the wonderful Mama Zen (who has both a photography and poetry blog.)  It is also written for National Poetry Month, a poem a day–I’ve lost track of which number.  (Agh.)

“Short Sleeves” (Thinking of Sierra Leone)

April 28, 2012


“Short Sleeves” (Thinking of Sierra Leone)

I cannot come close to really imagining
the bite of knife, the cold metal
below the shoulder blades.

My image of the invading soldiers as they unsheathe
their intent
is stock, stereotyped–when I try to place myself as captive,
the man now without arms, I feel
like the lowest thief of despair, a vampire
sucking at the heart of darkness, truth, suffering,
to fill my own precious

The metal hooks that serve
as his hands
bring wounds to my head, soundbites like
“the congealment of survival.”

My safe/sound cerebellum sees him dreaming
of lost arms, fingers, that clutch at the throats
of metal grins, until, as a dark flock flutters overhead,
all taking wing at once, they stretch
down to his loins, caressing,
tender.  I imagine him waking to nub sides, weeping
at the loss of touch, the touch of him, and
I want to weep–that
part is genuine enough–I want
to weep without, I imagine,
ceasing, touched
in every part of soul I can muster,
as best I can.

I wrote the above post for dVerse Poets Pub Poetics Challenge on vampires, hosted by a blogger named Blue Flute.  I have read my share of straight and fun vampire books–in fact if you search vampire on this blog–you will find vampire elephants, vampire camels, and many posts on Robert Pattinson–but today  the theme brought to mind the current war crimes trial at the Hague against Charles Taylor, Liberian dictator–the blood lust of the soldiers and the sorrow I feel over these things without, I know, a true understanding of them.   When Taylor’s  troops invaded Sierra Leone, they sometimes taunted victims with the “choice” of “long sleeves,” the cutting off of their hands, or “short sleeves,” the cutting off of arms above the elbows.  People were given “smiles” by the cutting off of their lips.  Taylor has been found guilty.

Watcher of Charles G. Taylor Trial, From Sierra Leone

April 27, 2012


Watcher of Charles G. Taylor Trial, From Sierra Leone

He raises with hook a bunched white handkerchief;
it is not a flag of surrender.
Still presses it to lips to catch at least
pieces of sobs that linger, that sunder
him in two–before and after, then
and now–when already he’s been trimmed
down to his core, both of his arms sliced off when
the slicing was good, so that now he’s rimmed
with sling, limbed with plastic counterparts.
He misses hands, mourns more those who are gone–
he wants to see their shine of faces, hearts–
not smeared with blood and not with bodies shorn.
He wants to take them in lost arms, to enfold,
he wants them back, and then to hold, to hold.


The coverage of the trial of Charles G. Taylor, brutal dictator of Liberia, is horrific and moving.

“Dust to Dust” (Dust to Sisyphus)

April 26, 2012


Dust to Dust

I roll this rock
up up this hill,
trying to remember
where I put

The rock is large, chest-high–not like some
marble you can thumb at all the world.
I lean into it as I push, as if it
were the dais of my existence–

though I also pinch my lips
into a tight shut fist against the dust
thrown up by our erosive path,
our close connection–

Of course, I want it to
crumble–the rock to pulverize, the
hill to subside.  How else will I dis-solve
this problem
of path and footing?

But still chest stumbles; dust
seeping through every refusal–
Because I just can’t breathe
when holding breath, can’t rest
when pushing.
(And not-pushing is not
an option–I’m pretty sure
they were clear on that much–)

Oh where–
did I put–


I am posting the above poem for dVerse Poets Pub “meeting the bar” challenge, hosted by Victoria C. Slotto.  The challenge was to write an allegorical poem.  I went for the obvious (sort of.)

The 26th day of National Poetry Month!

“Dead Zone”

April 26, 2012

NYC (But not actually Park Avenue but Empire State Building seen from Hudson)

Dead Zone

His name still on my cellphone, cool air
on flexed wrist, Park Avenue bordering
on indigo eventide; press
key that rings up just
my mom now.

Helmsley Palace (ahead) wears
lit stories like a
tiara.  Hi sweetie,
she says as brightly, then launches (after and how
are you)
into the letter she got today from
guess who.

Happiness pairs with despair as I wonder who actually
got down to write her as I had meant to, who else would know
his birthday (the first he’s ever missed). An irritatingly-
organized cousin comes
to mind.

The President, she gloats (so, not cousin)–siren
morphs to moan a few blocks distant–you know I’ve
never gotten a letter from a president before, not
in my whole life. 

Curb shapes huge cobbles–my father
in two wars–picture
a foamed stein with
floating sun–dawn hike in Czechlosovakia,
issued for breakfast, later, beer, each
with raw egg–

Deep step onto tar, and
even as I know, this being NYC, that all the shadows
wearing black are not
in mourning: he wants
you to send him some money,
I tell

Yes, she laughs, it said
‘do not bend,’ right on the envelope.

I know she hasn’t forgotten this date, just today’s–
so many red finned limos, trucks, I have to cross
in angles.

I want to whisper, Mom, you know it’s April 25th, then
imagine her voice scraping the top of something
or bottom, once she remembers, and how, after
she has descended into sadness, I
would comfort her; how, after making her
feel bad, I’d make her
feel better—the Metlife passage huge with
sheen and shine, blocks of transluscent

Deep into that gloss, a warble
of politics and donations,
I’ll probably lose you soon, I say,  
just as I always do when I get to about that spot–


Twenty-fith draft poem of sorts for National Poetry Month.  Agh. My initial posting of it a bit confusing, but I’ve edited it now.  (So I hope it reads better.)

I am linking this one to Real Toads, which had an “Ella’s Edge” prompt about writing an “Inside Outside Poem” one that moves in concentric circles.   I’m not sure that I quite understood the prompt – but there you have it.  This poem was also inspired by the very different and much more uplifting poem of Lady Nyo’s about the anniversary of the birth of her father’s birthday.

“Autonomic Onomatopoeia”

April 24, 2012

Autonomic Onomatopoeia

Certain words onomatopoeically
pluck meaning from innate sound–
evolved sound, sound that we have
very long inhaled–their consonants frets
on the neck of our consciousness, their vowels keys
to our xylobones; their syllabication
autonomically strutting
across the bass of our brains.
They sneak 
their tongues
into our ears – kiss;
strum tenderly the harp
of tuned
 tendons; zither
our various plexi; nipple songs
hip (pocampus) as if
on a dulcimer
of reflexive-fuck
percussively; susurrate love
like the near silence

of twilit breeze; and when you are far,
and I am farther still,
 make up poems
that both of us
by heart.

Draft poem for 24th day of  National Poetry Month.  I like it!  I hope you do too.  (Sorry to those who are offended by profanity for the profanity!)  Also updated since first posting – could not resist the hippocampus.

This is not linked to any other site, so, instead, I’ll plug some of my books!  (Second Sorry!)  Comic novel, NOSE DIVE,  book of poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, or children’s counting book (with elephants)  1 MISSISSIPPI.   Check them out! 

“Reverie on Duty (Taps)”

April 23, 2012

Reverie to Duty (Taps)

There’s a certain sequence of notes, not exactly a scale–let’s say “Taps”–that resonates in chords in the striving soul.

One harmonic sounds in sadness.  Maybe, even, shuddering.  We can’t help but think of endings–

Another harmonic sounds (if we’re lucky) in satisfaction, and another – the third tone of the chord–as thrill: the thrill of fitting into a tradition, like the first wearing of white gloves, first billfold in back pocket.

But tonight I think of Duty, and that, in turn, brings up fried fish–the story of the daughter who watches her mother, throughout her childhood, cutting off the two curled edges of a fillet–like so, like so—-before committing it to the frying pan.

The daughter then teaches her own daughters, that–like so, like so–they must cut off the ends of all fish before cooking; that this is the proper way to cook fish; that they are women who cook fish in this proper way.

Years later–when the daughter sits beside her mother (now grandmother, maybe even great)–knitting perhaps, or, more likely, bemoaning the decline of current days, and asks how this tradition was handed down, the mother/grandmother pauses, thinks, and explains that she just always had a very small frying pan.

Duty, traditional duty–we like to think of it as an obligation owed to nothing but an undersized skillet.

But now I hear the harmonics of Taps again–and fear, listening, that its sombre notes mean the loss of light and of all light’s twists and turns, those rainbows we want to pursue, be.

Still, one tends to child, parent, damaged child, damaged parent, person who feels like child, parent or just damaged–a fish out of water–

One tends also to things—-job, house, list–that feel a bit more like the squared-off fillet–

All I can tell myself is that rainbows can be found on fish too, if you look carefully–

Even fillets once had them–

And that, in the mind, there are surely all kinds of scales to be seen, seen through, weighed, balanced, listened to–


Because this is April, National Poetry Month, I am calling the above a prose poem and also my 23rd poem this month.  (For some reason, I seem to feel that it’s my duty to write a new poem every day this month, so at this point, I am calling almost everything I write a poem!)   Thanks for your patience!

I am also linking this poem to dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night and to Imperfect Prose, both very supportive sites full of interesting writers.   Check them out!

“Wood Be Harry (Caught by Houdini’s Lure)” – Mag 114

April 22, 2012


Wood Be Harry (Caught by Houdini’s Lure)

Caught by Houdini’s lure
before he even heard the name–
he climbed from crib, rolled from
stroller, finessed
his way from fingertips, magicking red
the faces of his parents once again, when, as
six-year old, he found the manacles
in their bedroom drawer and showed them
how he could release his pale clasped
wrists without even a nudge of
the coupled key.

But to teach his lungs to burst
their bounds
would take some work.  And privacy.  How
could he practice
in a public pool?  A pond aligned with
a window?  A river by any road?
No.  He took his tank–aquarium
salvaged from dentist’s dumpster–
to a high far glen, where sounded only
the spark of bird, the knock of woodpecker, the rare
ullulation of wild turkey blustering through
the bush.  Carting up
the water had been a bitch.

But worth it, he thought, lowering head
beneath the slosh, as a reverse bubbling slipped
between the press of lips, and freedom itself,
escaping the crimp
of the wide world, took refuge in
his second-counting soul,
and bloomed.

He could go on this way,
he thought, forever–until,
suddenly, captured wave caressing
his proud teen’s musclebound
limbs, the image of his parents’ manacles
came to mind, the fraught stillness of
their years-ago bedroom drawer, and, with a spluttered
cough half-trapped in his
tight throat, he realized, ruefully,
that much much more practice
would be necessary.


Here’s my offering for Tess Kincaid’s Magpie Tales, 114.   My iPad painting is based on Tess’s prompt, an image by Alex Stoddard.  This is also my 22nd poem – I’ll call them that, though some have been very prosey – for National Poetry Month!