Day 20 – Two-Part Harmony

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Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash

Two-Part Harmony

The path beyond my garden leads
to worlds beneath blanket of sky
a verse of footfall’s lullaby
I walk the mist where breeze recedes

Her breath lifts wings of butterfly
the path beyond my garden leads
to shores where she heeds by her deeds
I add my verse as battle cry

Our voices foil and amplify
a duet on the winds and reeds
the path beyond my garden leads
to where our songs reunify

Melody sparks the Pleiades
starlight won’t sing a sad goodbye
she croons with me as we pass by
the path beyond my garden leads
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 20 prompt:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from Notley’s rebelliousness, and asks you to write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.

Ironically, I’ve done so much free-verse in the past month that the most rebellious thing I could do right now is to actually stick with a form verbatim, and perhaps incorporate a rhyme scheme too. I used the quatern form and added an “abba-baab” rhyme scheme to enhance my little “rebellion”.

I first saw the quatern on Shannon’s blog post, located here. I told you I’d give it a shot, Shannon!

Day 19 – Untitled (Or, Why I Hate Erasure Poems)

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Untitled

The path beyond my garden
cinderblock, asphalt, dirt
once meant to be green
dirt fields Kill the Man
one kid with football goal
keep off the grass signs
tackled by two-dozen kids

Reward privilege of trying
score winner reputation
defend your place by word

I, The Professor, called teachers
asking more for free

Stripes on dirt field
bone-crushing tackles
they cheered when others would
call me hyperbolic, but
I was so big

Derisive friends
crush emboldened love
I plagiarize, reconstruct my point
with jazz, funk, and soul

Her name was safe
thirty-five years ago
her fate foreign, I loved her
with whole heart
she blushed,
Judy Blume befuddled

Older brother, throwing
with crooked smirk
Cheshire Cat pretending
almost comfortable enough

Upended by something terrible.
***

Alright… that’s enough of that shit. Here’s an appropriate palette-cleanser:

I wrote this for NaPoWriMo Day 19 prompt, which is an erasure prompt, but I just gave up midway, as I absolutely despise making erasure poems. Writing erasure poems is literally my least favorite style. It makes me irrationally angry that the words don’t fit exactly the way I want them to. I don’t even know why I stuck at this for so long, but I’ve had enough. Let’s just pretend like this one didn’t happen, OK?

If you’re curious about the text I pulled this erasure poem from, just go to this essay.

I know I’m technically still a day behind (I’m not counting the previous haibun), but I gotta go get this bad taste out of my mouth. I’ll try to catch up tomorrow.

I’m so mad at this poem I wanna fight somebody. 

 

The Tough Terrain

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Image source: urban.org

The Tough Terrain

The path beyond my garden was once concrete, cinderblock, brick, asphalt, and dirt fields that were once meant to be green. On those dirt fields, we played a game called “Kill the Man”, where one kid would try to run with the football from one goal – marked by the faded “keep off the grass” signs – to the other without being tackled by the two-dozen other kids clamoring to clobber him. If the kid got tackled, he’d throw the ball up in the air, and we’d scratch, claw, and elbow each other for the right to possess the ball and be the next runner to be clobbered.

If you scored a goal, your reward was the privilege of trying to make it back through the masses to the other goal. We didn’t keep score. There was no winner. There was only your reputation to defend; your place etched in cinderblock by word of mouth.

I started out as The Professor. That’s what they called me because of my coke-bottle glasses, my nose usually being in a book, and my uncanny math-solving skills that had teachers asking me to participate in the academic Olympics – a request I declined, as I know when adults were gaming kids with more homework, and I wasn’t working overtime for free.

I entered the field as The Professor, but after a few weeks of earning my stripes on that dirt field, they started calling me something else. They marveled at my elusiveness as “The Man”, oooed and ahhed at my prowess in delivering bone-crushing tackles for someone so comically undersized, and they cheered me on as I never quit on a play, even when all others would. They began to call me Superman, which was rather hyperbolic, but I was only Superman on the field, so no big.

Off the field, I was still The Professor, but it was no longer a derisive term. I had friends, I had a best friend, and I even had a crush who I was emboldened enough to write love notes. I knew little of emoting in writing, but I knew enough to plagiarize and reconstruct whole sections of Judy Blume novels to get my point across; chopping and screwing words the way hip-hop DJ’s worked their magic with jazz, funk, and soul.

Her name was Charise Parker. I’m probably safe revealing her name, as this was some thirty-five years and 1,732.91 miles ago, and her fate and familiarity are now foreign to me. But I loved her as much as a ten-year-old could love a girl with his whole heart. She liked me as a friend, but she still blushed at reading my Judy Blume samples, and she let me play jump-rope with her homegirls, which befuddled the boys who played “Kill the Man”.

Her older brother would play catch with me, always throwing the ball much harder than I could catch, always with a wry, crooked smirk on his face. I imagine that if his smile ever showed teeth, he’d disappear like the Cheshire Cat. It was like he knew I was just pretending to be hard, but he didn’t care. As long as his sister liked me, he treated me like a pesky kid brother. And with her, I was almost comfortable enough to show her the parts of me I hid from brick viewpoints.

Almost.

(Aside: My hard-fought place in the universe would eventually be upended by something terrible and completely unrelated to those kids who had given me a seat in the dirt, but that’s another story I won’t get into here.)

I would school hard and play hard, and then come home to momma and Phil and our afternoon/evening routine. In addition to watching cartoons, doing my homework, and helping Phil with his, I was keeping tabs on Baby Fae, the infant with a heart defect, who had her heart replaced with that of a baboon’s. It was supposed to be a miracle of modern medicine.

Medical stuff made me queasy, both then and now, but I voraciously ingested this story. I don’t know why it resonated so deeply with me, but someone so vulnerable and innocent just had to have a happy ending. We were poor and lucky enough to have the lights turned back on recently while Reagan hosted state dinners with the choicest cuts of meat, and J.R. Ewing got away with being a wealthy tyrant every Friday, but I just knew that fate wouldn’t be cruel enough to take away Baby Fae so young.

Obviously, I had a lot to learn about the cosmos not giving a damn about our pain and suffering.

When the news reported her death, I remember curling up in momma’s lap, just a ten-year-old crybaby. I don’t know how long I cried, nor how long momma tried to convince me that the infant was in heaven now, but I what I appreciate most was that eventually, she held me in absolute silence, allowing me my time to grieve for the child I never knew, allowing my vulnerability.

Tomorrow, I would again don the mask that earned my dusty seat at the neighborhood table, but that night, momma held me as I sobbed, and she just let me be me.

snowfall seasoned dirt
the earth beneath me hardened
it will melt in spring

Day 18 – She Still Sees

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Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

She Still Sees

You are the Truth
locked tight in my pocket;
promise kept by my fortuity.

You linger patiently,
meeting my frailties with loyalty
pouring into my cracks.
You stay,
voice soothing my raspy song,
facing, leaning into my calm.

Your will
driving intent to fill my silent plea.
I feel this,
your tacit strain
as you heal my wounds.

You’re afraid to leave
without securing my trust
where I live on abyss’s edge.
You steadily shatter delusions
trumpeting your presence
crossing my boundaries.

But I am not here
can’t be found in the light;
cocooned twilight.
You join our hips
expanding as I contract,
filling void with familiar
you still see me where I live.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 18 prompt:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) isn’t exactly based in revision, but it’s not exactly not based in revision, either. It also sounds a bit more complicated than it is, so bear with me! First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

I wasn’t too keen on this prompt, so I tweaked it a bit. Instead of finding an unfamiliar poem/poet, I found an extremely familiar one to me. I chose a poet I admire, a frequent collaborator, and a good friend, Tre. The poem I used as a reference is titled The One I Spared. I encourage you to head over and read her exquisite work.

Yesterday, me and Wifey traveled from Whistler back home, and today I had a talk therapy session, so I’m a day behind in my poetry. Perhaps I can squeeze out another one later.

Day 17 – Implicit Non-Disclosure

Implicit Non-Disclosure

The path beyond our truths
is paved by her
vulnerability,

gifted only to me
as promissory note
in exchange for my own
implied promise
of confidence,

an intimate currency
shared between us,

and as proud as I am
as sole recipient
of these treasures,

as beneficiary
of her hopes, fears,
triumphs, and demons,

as tempted as I am
to squander her gifted windfall,
sharing this wondrous woman’s gems
with the rest of the cosmos,

I know enough
to enjoy and appreciate
her gifts
in reverent silence,

for her priceless confessional
can never become
just another
cut-rate anecdote.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 17 prompt: “write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time.”

As someone who dabbles in confessional poetry far too often, I probably default to anecdotes all the time. While I enjoyed this prompt, this was also a perfect opportunity to zig instead of zagging.

 

Day 16 – Mindfulness as an Exercise, or Something, Hell, I Dunno, Ah Fuck It

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Sunset in British Columbia, just south of Whistler.

Mindfulness as an Exercise, or Something, Hell, I Dunno, Ah Fuck It

Step number one.
Be your best self.

Right now!

Oh?
You weren’t your best self
at the first stanza?

No worries.
Just be your best self
right… NOW!

Good!
Excellent work!

Now…
just keep on being your best…
ah shit,

you’re not
your best self anymore.

No worries!
Just be your best self… right-
no, no, no, no…

now you’re worse than before
when you were at your best.

Get out of your own head,
it’s a fucking house of horrors in there!

OK, OK,
let’s level-set…

All right…
starting over…
So…

No worries, though!

The most important thing
is for you to be your best self
right…
no, no…
fuck later!

FUCK later,
fuck later like
you’re fresh out of prison!

(Easy, you randy bastard.)

Let’s just not get too
wrapped-up in later, OK?

Later is only for fucking.

The most important thing
is to be
your best self
riiiiiiiiight….

NOW!

Perfect!
No, not perfect,
but it was your BEST!

And it happened at
THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT!

You starting to pick-up
what I’m laying down, homie?

Dammit, I’m NOT patronizing!

All I ask is that you be
your best self right now.

It’s all relative;
your best could be dogshit,
but it doesn’t matter
as long as it is the
absolute best
you can ever be

right fucking now.

Professor X called it
that space between
serenity and rage.

In most anime,
the mentor tells the hero
to just yell a lot
until he starts glowing
and his hair changes color.

I won’t pretend to know
what these things are about,

But as they needed to practice
their serenity-raging,
yell-glowing, and hair-dying,

you need to practice
step number one so you can
call on it whenever you need.

OK, on to step number two.
You ready for this one?

It’s a real doozy.

OK, here it goes:

Not every poem
needs to start
with a view of the path
beyond your garden, OK?

If that’s your best self,
I ain’t mad at ya,
but maybe try a few new tricks,
see where they lead.

If they lead back to your garden,
then so be it.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 16 prompt:

…write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up (sort of like Calvinball).

Since I’m already punchy and sleep-deprived, this is the perfect time to make some rules while breaking some rules.

Day 15 – Hero of His Own Story

Hero of His Own Story

The path beyond my garden
began decades ago
when I was Ivan Drago
to my lil’ brother Phil’s Balboa.

As kids,
we reenacted the classic scene;
the boxing exhibition
that ended the cold war.

In the film, Rocky overcame
insurmountable odds to win;

in my version, he just kept on
getting his tiny ass kicked
until he started crying
and throwing real punches at me

– or Drago, if you will – which led
to an unfortunate escalation,
and perhaps even a few
Queensbury rule violations,

which led to Drago and Balboa’s mom
bursting in to win the match by default.

It was in those formative years
that I learned the greatest truth
about action fiction;
the bad guy may not always win,

but he usually has the most fun.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 15 prompt: “a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil).”

Sorry for the delay. It was a loooong drive to Whistler. I’m a day behind and punch-drunk from lack of sleep, but I hope to find my footing soon.

Day 14 – On Missing the Old Nightmares

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Photo by Tran Phu on Unsplash

On Missing the Old Nightmares

The path beyond my poetry
leads rarely to poetry of
the socially dogmatic self-satire
that has sadly become reality

but here I sit on this foreign trail
somehow familiar to muscle memory,

it is a path of nonsense and
unearned self-satisfaction, littered
with unraked autumn leaves

seasoned by spring petals falling,
the ground as envisioned by
a poor Jackson Pollok imitation.

Along the path I find a snake
eating its own tail, warming itself
in the relentless midnight sun.

I say fool,
you’re only eating yourself,
you know?

He said I know,
but ain’t I delicious though?

I suspect that I’m dreaming,
and the dream may be colored
by the current political climate.

Just then, I hear horrid shrieking,
and look up to see a bald eagle
being pursued and assaulted
by an ornery seagull half its size.

That’s when I knew for sure that
my dream was influenced by politics,
but the haughty irony of the scene
filled me with an odd calm.

After all, you know
it was just one deplorable scavenger
trying to grab the pussy
of a better looking deplorable scavenger.

Business as usual.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 14 prompt: “write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary.”

I took some license with the prompt because I wasn’t feeling the dream interpretation aspect of it. Sorry I’m so late to the game. Getting ready to take a road trip, and I’m a bit stressed.

Day 13 – Tastes like Stardust

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Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

Tastes like Stardust

The path beyond
our garden
leads
where daylight
won’t tread

where she follows
with eyes that beg
for relief I live
to provide

touching her where
her lean suggests

spinning circles
where her breath
catches and skips
and lingers

her heartbeat
tastes like stardust,
moonbeams and
Venus dimples

I am her
percussionist;
steadily I drum
readily as a duet
is hummed to
an audience
of two

I exist as
both composer and
her instrument to strum
or tease a bar
or two

she is my music
I am her best verse

our groove
not nearly as harsh
as I’m able
or she wants,

but firm enough
to shift firmament
and furniture
where leeway
yields
to leverage,

not leaning into
the strong force or
dark energy,

but as she sheens,
slick from my sweat,
she knows I’m there
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 13 prompt:

…write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: “a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.” Or “It’s raining cats and dogs” might prompt the phrase “Snakes and lizards evaporate into the sky.” Those are both rather haunting, strange images, and exploring them could provide you with an equally haunting, strange poem (or a funny one!)

In all honesty, this prompt left me a bit lost. When I tried in earnest, I was left writing nonsensical garbage. I didn’t give up though; I shifted focus and tried writing about a known event between consenting adults in a new way. It’s not quite up-ended, but I’m ok with the result.

Day 12 – Town of Green Giants

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Town of Green Giants

The path beyond the garden hidden among evergreen titans rises and falls on gentle sloping hills that seem to roll upon each other like sleepy lovers playfully jostling for their share of the asphalt blanket. The rain, ever present in a fine mist, tamps down much of the troublesome pollen, while simultaneously opening the senses to pine, fir, rhododendrons, and that smell that smells of renewal; the smell that shocks the lungs into expanding to take in as much as possible.

Children play at the end of the cul-de-sac with a sense of oblivious urgency as they sketch in chalk the scaffolding of worlds only they understand, their shrill voices, quaint little bells of amusement amid mild relief that they’re someone else’s problem as long as the squeals don’t turn into sobbing. Kids at play yield to love songs performed by the neighborhood bird choir, who then yield the stage to the sunset, next then a frog symphony, and if you’re extremely lucky, an owl or two might quiz you.

The path curves, rises, winds, and falls, weaving between tree line and homestead, painting unhurried, sleepy tracers from where love lives to where she wanders to prove herself. She need not travel far; all that is needed is within reach. It is a wondrous balance, living inside a temperate rainforest that hosts a town that hopes to remain sleepy; remote enough to be considered a hassle to visit, and yet somehow, at the center of all that matters.

green giants shush me
it’s the wind rousing the trees
yielding their secrets
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 12 prompt: Oh yeah! Stop! Haibun-Time!

Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.

Anyone who’s been sniffing around this blog from the beginning knows how much I love writing haibun. Still, I’m glad there are no haibun police, as I’m a habitual haibun rule-breaker. I think I did ok with this one.