Day 9: Heart-Shaped Dispensation

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

Heart-Shaped Dispensation

                        I often                                              wonder
               who came up with                       the valentine-esque
          shape of candy hearts,      as   it resembles nothing of the
      real thing; the vascular     juggernaut seemingly balled into an
    angry fist, forcing fluids     and nutrients to their destinations, no
     thought ever given to its      alleged fragility, or odd tendencies
        for breaking upon rejection,    betrayal, or loss; still though,
            then again, upon reflection,     after experiencing each
                    of these things personally,      at the moment of
                            impact, it was my own    chest I grasped
                                  at, hoping to ease    the pain. Still,
                                           it’s an odd, silly     design,
                                                     though, but     for
                                                          now, I will
                                                              allow
                                                               it.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 9: The Challenge:

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Obviously, I went with a heart shape. Perhaps less obviously, I tried to put a crack in it, but it came out rather wonky. Well, at least I tried.

(A special thank you to Maureen Thorson for featuring my Day 8 poem on her NaPoWriMo site. I’ve never been moved to write for the site traffic, but the unique hits here have gone through the roof, and I greatly appreciate all the new poets and readers visiting me. I’m a bit overwhelmed right now, but I will do my best to visit each of you as well.)

Day 8: A Poem Beginning with a Line by Sylvia Plath

Photo by Warner on Unsplash

A Poem Beginning with a Line by Sylvia Plath

Musky as a lovebed the morning after.
As blue a sky vintage toxins could allow.
Remnants of when playing it cool was disrobed.
Careful not to drop breadcrumbs, out slipped the tongue,
afraid of what could be left unexplored, lost.
What was said, now muddled; tangled, dangled sheets.
Secrets spilled upon linen, taunts veiled in smiles.
Favors returned in earth-suckles and shudders.
Reflections! How urgent! Come through! Come, midnight!
Fat and black, moonless regrets are swallowed whole.
At sunrise, only faint aroma lingers,
pushed aside by a faint whiff of breakfast as
only briefly, hunger displaces hunger.
It all makes sense when thinking of that first kiss.
Still don’t know of the why, but glad of the how.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 8: “…peruse the work of one or more of these twitter bots, and use a line or two, or a phrase or even a word that stands out to you, as the seed for your own poem. Need an example? Well, there’s actually quite a respectable lineage of poems that start with a line by another poet, such as this poem by Robert Duncan, or this one by Lisa Robertson.”

NaPoWriMo nailed it with this one. They even provided me with a Sylvia Plath Twitter Bot, and anyone who reads me probably had an inkling that it was either going to be Plath or Poe.

Day 7: Iron Rain

Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

Iron Rain

Three-hundred, ninety years ago,
as millions of Central and West Africans
traveled involuntarily towards bondage
across the vast Atlantic in irons,
light began its unimaginable journey
of hundreds of trillions of miles
from an undiscovered star-system
where iron vapor condensed,
raining down from a night sky
of a planet twice the size of
our King Jupiter that none yet
on our good earth knew existed,
the faint light finally reaching
our astronomers last month.

News travels fast it seems,
but I guess for some,
not fast enough.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 7: Write a poem based on a news article. I chose the suggested article, “Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron”.

Day 6: Eve’s Side-Eye

God/Jesus with Adam and Eve, Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505, oil on panel, 220 x 390 cm (Museo del Prado)

Eve’s Side-Eye

I’m gonna take the fall for this, aren’t I?
it’s clear from the Holy One’s grip on me
His glare into the heart of man, unmoved
my wrist upturned, defenseless, submitting

Adam’s dumb gaze affixed on His judgement
obedient, naked, dense, stupid beast
bet he really thinks I come from his rib

fruitful and multiply like rabbits, eh?
guess I have no say in the matter then?

mother of original sin? how droll
mother of sciences is more like it

He may well yet bring me to my knees here
but despite my side-eye, I won’t stay there.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 6: “…write a poem from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymus Bosch’s famous (and famously bizarre) triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.”

I gotta be honest here; I hated this prompt. I didn’t enjoy viewing the art nor all the nightmare fuel within it (and there’s a lot going on here). Your mileage may vary, but I was pretty close to skipping this one when my eye caught the scene of God/Jesus, Adam and Eve. That scene compelled me to write this.

Day 5: Short Spring

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

Short Spring

over time, trauma is a thief of joy
two fingers of bourbon mug the mugger
spring oozed into her room nonchalantly
embracing us with equanimity
her voice cooing we shouldn’t do this now
her lips tasting of why haven’t we yet
the fire in her almond eyes read mine
we chose the same musk-knotted adventure
music was jealous of our harmony
you introduced me to Martin Gore and
I didn’t get him, but through you, I did
I’m jealous I missed your London punk scene
and all the parts that broke you apart
we were both trauma and broken things
we been runnin’, done ran, till we bumped heads
finding joy in tending each other’s shards
I lived to cut myself open on you
seducing you into seducing me
say I won’t rise to meet your velvet taunt
your tongue had already run us through
I marked you as mine when your teeth pierced me
by the thinnest skin of goddess sinew
we loved, clear-eyed in the blackest of night
as the box-springs sang je t’aime, je t’aime
you took my life each time I surrendered
only to find your dear Eeyore renewed
I’ll re-steal this joy, returning to us
delightful, bottled beautiful struggle
thus was the elixir of our short spring
***

NaPoWriMo Day 5: “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the list below in the same poem, or as many as possible. This was extremely challenging, but also super engaging. I kicked off my shoes, threw out the punctuation, meditated on a topic that frequents my thoughts, (I was born a dirty old man. Sorry/not sorry) and started tinkering. I fudged some of the criteria, but I honored the spirit of all twenty requirements.

Here they are:

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Day 4: Even the Sweetest Ones

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

Even the Sweetest Ones

It all flattens to simplicity,
stretching to infinity, as in
its edges transcend my perception;

dimming, fading, not like sad, last embers;
not joyously, as sunset aftermath;

but impassively, as the stage scene ends
in that space of quiet contemplation
where audience breathes uneasily
before giving way to rapturous applause.

That is the way all my dreams end, only
the applause never comes through the dark
and I’m left to ponder in this stillness

that maybe this is what awaits us all
when we settle into our final sleep,
converting even my sweetest dreams
into voiceless, realm-voided nightmares.

Sometimes, a ghost’s hollowed whisper is sought
over muted emptiness of end-scenes.
***

Metallica: One

NaPoWriMo Day 4: “…write a poem based on an image from a dream.”

Day 3: crashing a block party over on fullerton…

By Flickr user: Seth Anderson Chicago https://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/ – Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/331315405/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22585050

crashing a block party over on fullerton…

the boom to the kick
and then in comes the improv
to the moon, riding thick
when the sun bows and dissolves

too soon the pulse quickens
when the fun begins
she said her sign is the twins,
I’m trying to get in them skins

so I’m lying like I know
about the horoscope
like I try bending flow
like I’m skipping rope

even though I hate the shallow
like a misanthrope
I play the rope-a-dope
hoping to feel her cantaloupes

she say nuh-uh,
you a Capricorn,
yall’ boys are too uptight
I said if our minds vibe right,
I would beat the daylight

to her bedsheets,
we could creep like TLC,
or wile-out like Janet
anytime, anyplace,
I don’t care who sees us
on this planet

she played me to the left,
calling me thirsty like Rice Krispies
but not being risky, she
slipped me her digits,
knowing she frisky

bystanders threw it in my face
like I was vexed by her reply
but I knew she was two-faced,
just like all sexy Gemini
***

NaPoWriMo Day 3: basically, use Rhymezone and a random book off a shelf to create a palette of rhyming words to construct a poem.

This one didn’t grab me, so I modified it a bit, using both Rhymezone and a quasi-freestyle from words that popped in my head while listening to a 90’s Hip-Hop song (the one imbedded above).

It was pretty fun. Reminded me of when we would gather in hallways banging out beats on the walls while “passing the mic” around to each other.

Day 2: Mixed-Use

Photo by Janine Robinson on Unsplash

Mixed-Use

I’ve been told that way back in the 40’s
our Rosenwald complex was a black pearl
on Chicago’s South Side during the
blues, jazz, and soul renaissance.

It sheltered greats like
Gwendolyn Brooks, Nat “King” Cole, Quincy Jones
 – girl, I said Quincy Jones!

I think even Miles Davis
and Sammy Davis Jr,
but no relation, I believe.

I’ve been told that black folks in Chi
strutted down gaslit 47th street,
danced on smokey Michigan Boulevard,
sang on King Drive, and even Wabash
like they owned the night;

with a sense of pride
and musicality befitting us,
inseparable from the music

spilling from every throbbing tavern,
and even “hole-in-the-wall” was
just a teasing nickname thrown
at friendly endearing faces.

If I squint, I can see gilded hallways
of way back when,
which reek of pungent piss now.

I observe the sheen of polish
on some of the tiles not defiled
by dual-pitchforked, Star-of-David
Gangster-Disciple gang-sign graffiti.

Or is it Gangsta? I try to discern  
the artist’s penmanship from
the ones in our high school instead of

meeting your desperate gaze
as you kneel before me,
taking my hands in yours
in a shameful proposal.

Just yesterday, I’d given up on you.
I’d no tears left to cry over a girl
who don’t want me no more.

Now you return, on your knees,
perfumed in Bacardi rum and weed
you never thought to share with me.

What am I to make of this?

You didn’t even respect me enough
to break up with me;
you ignored my pleas
until I got the message.

Now you want to rewind the clock?

Any boy with a good upbringing
and a residue of self-respect

would’ve slammed that heavy
security door in your face for good,
chaining, deadbolting, and security-pole
in place for all eternity.

Sadly, this building
has seen better days,
better than I can imagine.  

He spurned you as you betrayed me,
you humbled yourself after falling,
and try as I might, I just couldn’t
kick you while down on that musty-ass floor.  

I lifted you from your knees,
welcoming you back into my
self-loathing and desperation,
knowing that I could expect no better.

I walked you home around the corner,
across the dusty courtyard
that once held fresh, manicured grass
when we first moved in.

I held your hand in mine,
thinking that to love you
went hand-in-hand with my
needing you somehow;

that without your water,
my life was empty, dead,
dusty-brown, a rusted, rotten
swing-set without swings;

only tetanus would remain,
waiting for antitoxin or
inevitable condemnation

and abandonment, twenty years from now,
long after our ill-advised marriage cracked,
eroded and ended; long after you

kneeled before me once again,
begging me to hold up my end
of our sham, a plea met with
silence and emptiness, like

the decayed ruins we once called home some
thirty years and two-thousand sixty-four
miles ago, before its renovation
into an elderly citizen’s home,

which is fitting, for all things age, slow,
decay, and are eventually consumed

by silence; even music
 – the most beautiful, the most vibrant;  
 – the most soulful, the most mournful
is fleeting, and always ends,

making way for the next,
as star becoming nebula
becomes proto stars.

I hope whoever walks
that hallway now
smells only lavender.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 2: “…write a poem about a specific place —  a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there.”

I tried to be descriptive, but I was eventually sucked into the narrative. I may try this one again after this month’s challenge ends.

Day 1: Never the Same One Twice

Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

Never the Same One Twice

I lie in bed
a dreaded lie
a lying beheaded liar

a fly caught dead
failing to conceive
the clear pane lying ahead
lying to him

dreading the lies I’ll conspire
constructing in my head

which is a lie
subconsciously formed
before the first lie
coalesced by will
my dream lies

like the rug
awaiting my shiftless feet
and restless legs
egging me on

that I missed the alarm
by two lying-assed minutes
dooming me to what lies
in shadow two minutes ago

which was only ego
yielding to id as I slid
from lying to sitting
grasping at evaporating nothing

warning me that nothing is
as it seems even within
the busted seams
of interrupted dreams

that scream fuck everything
when asked if I slept well
as if I could tell time
and reason from rhyme

and sure
everything’s fine I guess
but I digress
let’s pretend we’re not
because at least we’ll regress
to a partial truth.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 1: “a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.”

Day 0: Just Past Dawn

Image by falconp4 from Pixabay 

Just Past Dawn

I’m roused by a crimson red sun
streaking across reddish-brown skin
nude, save for pale thigh, tinted rose,
draped midriff, ignited by dawn.
What on earth was in that merlot?
Cherry-red lips mark morning kiss;
my red-eyed world turns to meet them.
Disturbed, pale-pink thigh shrinks from blush.
What on earth was in that merlot?
Scarlet kiss, ruddy thigh, opposed?
What on earth was in that merlot?
And I, red sun, caught between worlds?
Trapped between dawn-reddened kisses
my neck and spine tattooed in wine
bracketed by lavish pink pours
confusion yields to crimson want
the cock crows rise with day aflame;
I drown in cups of red again.
“You touch me nice,” said your pink grin.
“Me too,” said your cherry-blushed friend.
But was it really the merlot?
***

NaPoWriMo Day 0: Early-Bird Prompt