NaPoWriMo Day 19 – Cacophony of Conventional Wisdom

Photo by Nicholas Kusuma on Unsplash

Cacophony of Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom
 – my brashest, least-favorite oxymoron –
blares at unseemly decibels
saturating all possible outcomes
with the loudest of laziest hindsights

suggesting through simplistic screeches
that all rules are to be obeyed
and never scrutinized,
“don’t do the crime if
you can’t do the time”
and other nonsensical violations
against critical thought,

since whoever conjured such
banal ideas must have to
cram day and night
studying from rote books of
trite cliches and empty platitudes,
burning both ends of the candle,

giving one-hundred and ten percent
in an all-or-nothing
nice-guys-finish-last campaign
just to be considered slightly above
average dimwits who think
about the box as an actual box
when thinking outside of said box,

completely oblivious to his
actual boxed-in nature, and no,

I’m not calling those types vapid,
obtuse, or hilariously freed from
reason and accountability – for
I do not enjoy stating that which
can be so easily observed
by anyone familiar with
the scientific method – I’m just

asking those braying hyenas
and jackasses to pipe-down a moment
so the rest of us can
hear ourselves think.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 19 Prompt:

“Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a humorous rant. In this poem, you may excoriate to your heart’s content all the things that get on your nerves. Perhaps it’s people who tailgate when driving, or don’t put the caps back on pens after they use them. Or the raccoons who get into your garbage cans. For inspiration, perhaps you might look to this list of Shakespearean insults. Or, for all of you who grew up on cartoons from the 1980s, perhaps this compendium of Skeletor’s Best Insults might provide some insight.”

NaPoWriMo Day 19 Prompt

I struggled a bit with this one. I had to keep my thoughts abstract because whenever I leaned into concrete and specific ideas, I found myself writing recklessly about things that could cause me problems if the wrong person read them, and conventional wisdom told me to play it safe, which made me really pissed at conventional wisdom for a few minutes, and I hate it when a poet or artist overexplains their art, especially via long, run-on sentences, don’t you?

Anyway, that’s how this particular sausage was made.

NaPoWriMo Day 18 – Derivative

Photo by Luis del Río from Pexels


New vines of first bloom
give flora budding footholds for fauna,
wrenching the wheel from
man’s myopic grip

as drab warehouses again vanish
behind newly greening thickets,

spring reclaiming west ridge
between the people
and their stockpile of things,

illusion of balance
slowly restored once more,

save for incessant warning chimes
of cargo trucks backing in
to be filled or voided,

a sound mimicked by various birds
to spook predators into fearing man
and his stuff’s imminent, lethal
encroachment, and I am unsure

if nature is adaptive,
derivative, or prophetic,
but acoustically, it sounds better
when the birds drive the trucks.  

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 18 Prompt:

‘This one comes to us from Stephanie Malley, who challenges us to write a poem based on the title of one of the chpaters from Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. The book’s  table of contents can be viewed using Amazon’s “Look inside” feature. Will you choose “the poem squash?” or perhaps “grocery weeping” or “the blue socks”? If none of the 60 rather wonderful chapter titles here inspire you, perhaps a chapter title from a favorite book would do? For example, the photo on my personal twitter account is a shot of a chapter title from a P.G. Wodehouse novel — the chapter title being “Sensational Occurrence at a Poetry Reading.”’

NaPoWriMo Day 18 Prompt

I chose “Derivative” which is the title of the seventh chapter of the novel Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee. I chose it because I’m actively reading it and I found the coincidental irony of this choice too kooky to pass up. I mean, that’s literally the chapter where my bookmark now lies.

P.S. – I’m currently still reading it, so don’t tell me what happens next, ok?

NaPoWriMo Day 17 – Nocturnal Whispers

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Nocturnal Whispers

I bathe in moonlight often,
reminding myself – sometimes
directly, but often subconsciously –
that she and I are born from suns;

but beneath her muted, lifeless rock,
you and I share warmth, awareness,
though we are just chemical reactions,

compounds and elements also
from long doomed stars; just
sweaty bags of meat and skin seeking

to shape fractions of fractions of space
within our miniscule influence and
there be abstractions; apparitions

without physical form or mass,
conjured from a series of
micro-bioelectric misfires

we’ve collectively come to agreement
in defining as love and hate,

dividing the two in glib arrogance
as divinity might split day from night,

leaving heavy moon hanging in
empty black to help us find our way
through nocturnal whispers,

listening to our secrets,
mingling nutrients and emotion
through lunar tidal shifts,

compelling some to howl and
others to reflect in silence at

how such a luminous companion
could be both apart from and
a part of our collective journey

anyway, I see the moon tonight
and all I can think about is you.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 17 Prompt:

“For better or worse, the moon seems to exert a powerful hold on poets, as this large collection of moon-themed poems suggests. Today, I’d like to challenge you to stop fighting the moon. Lean in. Accept the moon. The moon just wants what’s best for you and your poems. So yes – write a poem that is about, or that involves, the moon.”

NaPoWriMo Day 17 Prompt

I do find myself writing about the moon a lot. This time I want with a deconstruction of sorts.

*Writer’s note: In the past I would have tried to make up the lost days, but this time I decided to let depression have its pound of flesh and just move on. Thanks for understanding.

For Adam Toledo

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

For Adam Toledo

midnight has feasted
enveloping light, purpose
reason, an orphan

how can we move on from this?
we dwell in bizarro-world

a sun collapses
seeds scatter for their rebirth
from star’s violent end

an unarmed son falls again
and all perspective is lost

crestfallen shadow
specters of past vertigo
howls rendered speechless

rage, yielding to apathy
the kid was only thirteen

I just don’t have it in me to do a prompt today. Too depressed.

We’ll try again tomorrow.

NaPoWriMo Day 14 – Etymology of Red Mud

Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Etymology of Red Mud

Gaelic in origin, Barry probably
means good enough, if not boring, dull, or
quick to bail on patriarchal pursuits,
as I gave up on reading the bone-dry
etymology four sentences in.

That’s a half-truth, but even patrons who
came up with it felt it was good enough,
surrendering midway, saying it might mean
“fair-headed, or maybe an Irish spear?
Hell’s bells, I dunno; why ask me? Fuck you.”

Ask momma and she’d tell you that it means
sweetie; ask grandma and she’d reply with
stanka; ask anyone else and you’ll get
other truthy-sounding observations.

The only important part is that I’m
the fourth of my name, third to serve in the
armed forces, second known to wildly wield
sarcasm as a melee weapon, and
first to clearly see the maze as well as
my iron-clad limitations within.

Dawson means son of David, and David
means beloved; loved by God, amen. Therefore,  
biblically-speaking, I guess that makes me
a bit of a legacy kid, amen.

Favor onto me, descendent of slave
and master, origin muddied, traced back to
great divide, to Mississippi riverbed
and no further, no deeper shall we tread.

In truth, all that can be gleaned from the name
means it is unique enough to be known
and when spoken in general earshot,
I will know it is me you are seeking.

I guess that will have to be good enough.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 14 Prompt:

‘I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. Looking for inspiration? Take a look at this poem by Mark Wunderlich, appropriately titled “Wunderlich.”’

NaPoWriMo Day 14 Prompt

While I like this prompt, I feel like I’ve done it many times from the patriarchal angle, only to be frustrated that I can’t (or won’t) really go any deeper …

NaPoWriMo Day 13 – Breaking: Global Inner Children Rescued

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Breaking: Global Inner Children Rescued

Earth: In an unprecedented move
individuals and nations of the world
collectively began critical inner-child work
to address their respective traumas,

resulting in immediate cessation
of military hostilities,

lifting of crippling
economic embargos,

ending toxic rhetoric, and
condemning and halting of all
ethnic cleansing, as well as

acknowledging and stopping all
foreign and domestic terrorism,

leaving only an overwhelming chill vibe
and global economic boon
once everyone realized money was just
an inedible social construct

and all agreed to respect everyone’s
differences and religious beliefs,

and though worship remains optional,
everyone agreed to ignore
any harmful dogma

while following the actual spirit of the
teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad,
and Leon Jackson, the former transient

who also once yelled at random citizens
about aliens, but not anymore

since homelessness and mental illness
have both been addressed with
nuance and empathy,

raising the quality of life for all,
leading to everyone being
freed to become

the beautiful people
they’ve always wanted to be.

Related: Mars colonized
and liberated
within the same afternoon.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 13 Prompt:

“Today’s prompt comes from the Instagram account of Sundress Publications, which posts a writing prompt every day, all year long. This one is short and sweet: write a poem in the form of a news article you wish would come out tomorrow.”

NaPoWriMo Day 13 Prompt

This one just fell out of my head. It almost felt like cheating!

NaPoWriMo Day 12 – Decaying Momentum

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Decaying Momentum

Another wait-n-see casualty
epitaph-inscribed ellipses
waking-sleep at the wheel
watching his own eclipse
from hermetically-sealed airlock
objects in motion retain commotion
unless acted upon by aging’s gravest drag
and gravity fills complacency’s cavity
feeble Van-Winkle-eyes strain
and fail to read a copious account
of all the proper names
speeding past his
bleeding orbit  
of last gasps
and fading

But if you move …

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 12 Prompt:

“I’m calling this one “Past and Future.” This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. A hat tip to Cathy Park Hong for a tweet that pointed me to the science fiction dictionary and to Hoa Nguyen for introducing me to the Classical Dictionary.”

NaPoWriMo Day 12 Prompt

NaPoWriMo Day 11 – Nwala’s Reply

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Nwala’s Reply

How do I move the way I do?
Well, how can you not, father?

Your melancholy puzzles me, cousin
Why do you not rejoice with us?

I see, son; still stuck in the mundane
Still corporeal, linear, limited

I gifted you with a name, and yet
Here you sit, awaiting more morsels

We tried showing it all at once
But fearful, you averted your eyes

Like this, you’ll never see the whole elephant
But if you move, it may become clearer

Do not worry, brother; take your time
We will embrace you when you’re ready.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 11 Prompt:

“This is a twist on a prompt offered by Kay Gabriel during a meeting she facilitated at the Poetry Project last year. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response. These can be as short or long as you like, in the form of prose poems, or with line breaks – and of course, the subject matter of the letters is totally up to you.”

NaPoWriMo Day 11 Prompt

I partially completed this prompt, but I dig the results. Check yesterday’s poem for the first letter.  

NaPoWriMo Day 10 – Nwala

Photo by Thiago Borges from Pexels


You came to me in a dream
The son I have never met, or perhaps
A forefather’s liminal return

I’d not heard your name spoken
But it rang like a bell from within

You spoke it from your mother’s womb
And that word embraced me, dancing

Unorganized, ready to receive you
I made space for your arrival

Cheap unused coasters tossed aside
Purple sharpie readied for notes

Bottle-opener – your granddad called-
 – the one you never met
 – or maybe you did in past lives
Anyway, he called them church-keys

Yeah, I never got the joke either
But I easily made space for it
So fitting you in was a shoo-in

A lighter, always a lighter
 – For incense, for centering
 – For the weed tucked away for weekend
For sage, to oust evil spirits

But that ain’t for you, unmet kin, whose
Name I never heard, but always knew

I never want to catch you either,
Though I do need to pause a spell
To catch my breath thinking of you

Please settle near me; know us better
Stay as long as you like and tell me
Everything you need to clear the air

Your name’s meaning is elusive
But it hails from Nigeria, along
With the brunt of our ancestry

How many lives have you lived?

Did you toil, like most of us, within
Colonization’s unending shadow
Or did you stand unbowed, unbroken
Mahogany-forged by African sun?

My curiosity boils over
Becoming fixated upon you

My non-born child, my dancing ancestor
Baltering through my subconscious
Hinting at realms greater than my grasp

Leaving droplet wakes on the surface
Nwala, how do you move the way you do?

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 10 prompt:

“Finally, here’s our daily prompt (optional, of course!). It’s called “Junk Drawer Song,” and comes to us from the poet Hoa Nguyen.

NaPoWriMo Day 10 prompt

(You’ll have to click on the prompt link for the description.)

*Writer’s note: WordPress editor just ate my biting criticism of it, so just know that I am most displeased with it and I will be going back to my other site after NaPoWriMo ends.

You know what it is.

NaPoWriMo Day 9 – Giacomo Casanova’s To Do List:

Photo by Rebe Adelaida on Unsplash

Giacomo Casanova’s To Do List:

“Cheating is a sin, but honest cunning is simply prudence. It is a virtue. To be sure, it has a likeness to roguery, but that cannot be helped. He who has not learned to practice it is a fool.”

― Giacomo Casanova

do study Theology
do give thyself to God
learning the ways of the cloth

do meet the sisters
do give myself to the sisters

no, not nuns (never nuns)
such sacrilege!

but yes, actual birth sisters
simultaneously, generously

do cast off the cloth;
theology can wait

do attend concerto
do listen to the male soprano
becoming captivated, by him?

must learn more- and
-ah, there it is;
an imposter, a woman

do give myself into
her womb for certainty
leaving my seed for her
to harvest our bastard

do attend carnival
saving nobleman from certain death
do get that bread (receive reward)

do go gambling
meeting bewitching courtesan
try not to get seduced and swindled

having failed that
duel one of courtesan’s many lovers
do for money, honor, to save face
or whatever

do prevail, wounding the scallywag
do look over my shoulder
continue doing this forever

do visit France
do learn French
do the French landlady’s daughter

do confuse and seduce
fourteen-year-old girl
trailing her to convent
while she carries my seed

do not contemplate if
this is the vilest task
I have ever completed

having failed at not
contemplating this atrocity
do hold my ale

do meat the sisters (not a typo)
yes, nuns, hun, has to be nuns
to ignore them is sacrilege!

do solicit coitus-ravaged nuns’ help
in wooing underage lover
and maybe do give myself
to one or two more

I dunno
maybe let a monk or pastor
watch a few times?

(try not get arrested for indecency)

having failed this
do escape from prison
with a monk accomplice

do change name, do change game
get that bread, get new threads

try not to squander wealth
on actresses, debutantes,
indiscriminate common strumpets

having failed this
try not to fall into debt

do change name again
after falling into debt again

do save friend’s debutante wife
from unwanted pregnancy with him
via unlawful, dangerous abortion

or, having failed to abort
do try ending pregnancy
via my mystic doggy-style

failing this as well
just say “oh well”
leaving them to their fate
what’s done is done

but do refuse on principal
to become a son’s dad
and granddad, by refusing to
impregnate one of my countless
illegitimate daughters

I do have my limits, sir!
I may be a lecherous cheat
but I am no monster!

after careful consideration
do agree to become my son’s
dad and granddad by- well

(probably see where this is going)

do lean into becoming a mystic
becoming a cultist, claiming to
resurrect the dead

do go ahead and
get that bread
from true-believers
who still pray

never overstay

let’s see, what else?
oh, I dunno
become a librarian, I guess?

do brag about all the shagging
do write it all down
do name names

do set aside enough time
to regret and learn
absolutely nothing

The video I chose is completely unrelated to the poem. Rest easy, DMX. 1970-2021

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 9 Prompt:

“The fun of this prompt is to make it the “to-do list” of an unusual person or character. For example, what’s on the Tooth Fairy’s to-do list? Or on the to-do list of Genghis Khan? Of a housefly? Your list can be a mix of extremely boring things and wild things. For example, maybe Santa Claus needs to order his elves to make 7 million animatronic Baby Yoda dolls, to have his hat dry-cleaned to get off all the soot it picked up last December, and to get his head electrician to change out the sparkplugs on Rudolph’s nose.”

NaPoWriMo Day 9 Prompt:

I may have had a bit too much fun with this one …