NaPoWriMo Day 8 – A Graverobber’s Curse

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

A Graverobber’s Curse

some nights
as you kill time
hanging out in graveyards
fleecing corpses, all you will find
are bones

the curse
awaiting most intrepid souls
daring to excavate
pauper’s plots is

the bell
shall not rattle
seedless pockets of old
mortally bankrupt spirits for
your gain

you wane
bit by bit with each passing phase
perhaps near your own berth
later exhumed
and fleeced

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 8 Prompt:

“I call this one “Return to Spoon River,” after Edgar Lee Masters’ eminently creepy 1915 book Spoon River Anthology. The book consists of well over 100 poetic monologues, each spoken by a person buried in the cemetery of the fictional town of Spoon River, Illinois.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to read a few of the poems from Spoon River Anthology, and then write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood, like the gentleman who ran the shoeshine stand, or one of your grandmother’s bingo buddies.”

NaPoWriMo Day 8 Prompt

Obviously, I didn’t follow the prompt because it gave me the creeps (I tried, but it gave me all of the “yips” if you get my meaning), but I’m still sharing the prompt along with a link to the book because it was an intriguing and innovative idea, though yes, also a very creepy one. I read some of the poems and it’s ingenious in a macabre way how they all seem to fit together.

Though I didn’t do the prompt, I leaned into the shivers I got from trying by writing dual-mirrored cinquains on what felt like adjacent subject matter. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go sage my laptop.

NaPoWriMo Day 7 – Echo of Whishes

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay 

Echo of Whishes

from past-life
embracing the now
with warming butterfly kisses
which cause an echo of whishes
flowing to greet your
musing smile
a fond

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 7 Prompt:

“There are many different poetic forms. Some have specific line counts, syllable counts, stresses, rhymes, or a mix-and-match of the above. Of the poetic forms that are based on syllable counts, probably the most well-known – to English speakers, at least – is the Japanese form called the haiku. But there are many other syllable-based forms. Today, I’d like to challenge you to pick from two of them – the shadorma, and the Fib.”

NaPoWriMo Day 7 Prompt

I’ve dabbled with the shadorma a few times, but I cannot recall ever trying a Fib, so naturally, I went with the unknown to see if I could make a new friend of it. The Fib is a fun, light form that seems made for nostalgia.

NaPoWriMo Day 6 – Indifferent Light

Photo by Dids from Pexels

Indifferent Light

The sun will still rise,
and us to meet it.

We take turns
leading and trailing
over the course of many seasons,

first one,
then the other,
shuffles becoming steps,
leading us to do as we must,

our fate
unfolding at the next bend;

we blend
into the curve
as if its contours
were already felt,

as asphalt drops away
beneath us towards impenetrable mist,

unflinching are we,
barreling through haze at earth-speed.

Ready or not,
the universe unfolds before us
as we play our parts, grappling
with our place within it,

but travel long enough
and boundaries blur and vanish,
revealing we were all one and the same.

The sun has never risen,
and spinning towards and from its
life-giving and cancerous light,
no different are we.

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 6 Prompt:

“This prompt, which comes from Holly Lyn Walrath, is pretty simple. As she explains it here:

‘Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.’

I encourage you to read Walrath’s full post, which has some other ideas for generating new poems based on pre-existing text.”

NaPoWriMo Day 6 Prompt

The line I used is “History has failed us, but no matter.” This is the opening line of the historical novel, Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee. It’s a gripping opening, similar to “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” and the novel more than lives up to its thesis statement, becoming my favorite book in 2020.

NaPoWriMo Day 5 – Concerned Citizen

Photo by James Eades on Unsplash

Concerned Citizen

When you proclaim to not see race

        despite a world
        licking its infected wounds
        overtly envisioned
        and widened
        deepened by the status-quo 
        our beauty bound and muted
        listless and silenced

        might you see rebirth
        lift us as something

        other than a threat?

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 5 Prompt:

‘This prompt challenges you to find a poem, and then write a new poem that has the shape of the original, and in which every line starts with the first letter of the corresponding line in the original poem. If I used Roethke’s poem as my model, for example, the first line would start with “I,” the second line with “W,” and the third line with “A.” And I would try to make all my lines neither super-short nor overlong, but have about ten syllables. I would also have my poem take the form of four, seven-line stanzas. I have found this prompt particularly inspiring when I use a base poem that mixes long and short lines, or stanzas of different lengths. Any poem will do as a jumping-off point, but if you’re having trouble finding one, perhaps you might consider Mary Szybist’s “We Think We Do Not Have Medieval Eyes” or for something shorter, Natalie Shapero’s “Pennsylvania.”’

NaPoWriMo Day 5 Prompt

The poem I chose was “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, one of the greats.

NaPoWriMo Day 4 – Clipped in Transition

Photo by Michael Förtsch on Unsplash

Clipped in Transition

We all will face
our oncoming storm
in our own way

Some rush through chores
reclaiming hemmed,
partially frayed
fragments of self
from the line

Others shelter in silence
within groaning layers
that once stood stoically,
limbs shushing sudden blasts
as pressure shifts

The bleeding-edge peers
over liminal horizon;

sooner or later, but inevitably,
en masse, or individually,
it will swallow us all

You will either rest here,
or you are on your way

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 4 Prompt:

“In honor of the always-becoming nature of poetry, I challenge you today to select a photograph from the perpetually disconcerting @SpaceLiminalBot, and write a poem inspired by one of these odd, in-transition spaces. Will you pick the empty mall food court? The vending machine near the back entrance to the high school gym? The swimming pool at what seems to be M.C. Escher’s alpine retreat? No matter what neglected or eerie space you choose, I hope its oddness tugs at the place in your mind and heart where poems are made.”

NaPoWriMo Day 4 Prompt

I couldn’t find a good way to cite the photos there, so I used one from

NaPoWriMo Day 3 – Life on the Surface

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Life on the Surface

You borrow a cup of sugar
from the neighbors, knowing
they will never get it back

not completely, not even
if a slice of fresh baked
German chocolate cake is shared

in return, in gratitude, and yet
if they have it, it’s yours.

Next week they may need
two cups of flour and if you
have it to give, you give,
and still no one is keeping score.

During these unmeasured exchanges,
they may toot the horn of their beloved’s
achievements as you nod and smile,

never bringing up that someone
sounding a lot like them through the walls
has taken to midnight sobbing.

They will politely pretend not to notice
your puffy, bloodshot eyes as well.

Perhaps you may share a glass or two
of red wine and trite cliches
as facile lies go unscrutinized,
failing to not undress themselves

as somehow no one falls apart
in this fleeting reprieve from physics.

When parting, one of you will ask
the other – as if it matters –
if they have everything they need,

knowing the answer will be a
resounding yes, and yes, again,
a lie will go unchallenged as both
return to respective bubbles to bake

nutrient-deficient treats
to be consumed with
scarcely a thought of gratitude.

Written for NaPoWriMo: Day 3 – I’m off-prompt today, as today’s prompt felt a bit too much like an Ikea furniture build for me. But go check it out for yourself if you like your prompts to be of the more involved variety.

NaPoWriMo Day 2 – Not Yet That Road

Photo by Dan Visan on Unsplash

Not Yet That Road

And what of the difference anyway?
All paths lead to this chambered next gasp
To deconstruct is to sift away
Foundations where we live, love, and play
As time’s fleeting grains fall from our grasp

Dare you rule regret as garden path
As miserly as man’s own timeline
Fill ledgers with dread’s feeble new math
Flog missteps with chaste, unbridled wrath
Or admire our road’s divine design?

We are not this somber switch-backed trail
Our value, more than stone, earth, and bone
Our feet dare not scale where we prevail
Stardust exhaled, we sail cosmic gale
Sown tracks overgrown best left unknown

I toast every knotted twist and turn
Woodland, universe, and I are same
We learn, unlearn, as winds of fate churn
Until the earthen soil I return
I care not from which path that I came.

Written for NaPoWriMo’s Day 2 Prompt:

“In the world of well-known poems, maybe there’s no gem quite so hoary as Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.’ Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about your own road not taken – about a choice of yours that has “made all the difference,” and what might have happened had you made a different choice.”

NaPoWriMo’s Day 2 Prompt

I’m no Robert Frost, nor would I presume to place myself on the same level (as Jay-Z put it, we’re not even shooting at the same baskets), so I opted to go with the “there is no spoon” approach.

The System Of A Down video I embedded is actually about ADHD, but I really liked the chorus and how it took me in a different direction, so I included it.

NaPoWriMo Day 1 – Perfect Moment

Photo by Sabine Ojeil on Unsplash

Perfect Moment

Galaxies coalesce
dispersing in bone marrow
while heart keeps time with paisley chaos

for the scantest of moments
the universe murmurs every messy secret
into overflowing vessels

causing breath to catch mid-gasp
as we collectively forget
how the melody ends

and anyway,
perfectly half-baked
and fully-formed was our jam

that was the half-beat
just after her stunned silence
and teary-eyed smile

before whispering what I already knew,
a chorus of rhythm and rhyme
without words

yet somehow, I had always felt them
long before our pride and shame
muddied things and anyway,

no spirit, green-leaf or opioid
will ever hold technicolor candle to
the perfect twinkling
of her raspy, first-time ever

“I love you too.”

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 1 Prompt:

“Sometimes, writing poetry is a matter of getting outside of your own head, and learning to see the world in a new way. To an extent, you have to “derange” yourself – make the world strange, and see it as a stranger might. To help you do that, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by this animated version of “Seductive Fantasy” by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. If you don’t feel after watching it a little bit like the top of your head’s been taken off, and your thoughts given a good stir – well, maybe you are already living in a state of heightened poetic awareness!”

NaPoWriMo Day 1 Prompt

Well, I don’t know about heightened poetic awareness, but that song and video was a whole vibe onto itself. I played it on repeat and allowed it to take me wherever it wanted me to go. I embedded the video above.

Thule Time Machine

Snow goggles – ca. 800–1200 Thule, Native American Source: The Met Online – Public Domain – On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 746

Thule Time Machine

Top of
glaciered world,
bathed within virgin
snowdrifts, ivory-carved, frosty
niche shaped from fang of felled
beast, leaving nothing to waste
save for scattered ingenuity
seeded, entombed in icy
island-hopped earth;

the slit apertures still filter
whiteouts as designed,
now as anachronism
carefully preserved
to see only
the past.

Written for NaPoWriMo Early-Bird Prompt.

NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with black background
GloPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background

Interview with a Poet — Thinking About Poetry Series

Interview with a Poet — Thinking About Poetry Series

Image by Author (Pre-Pandemic-Quarantine weight-gain, of course.)

Happy Friday, everyone! I was asked by Zay Pareltheon to participate in Scrittura’s “Thinking About Poetry” series, and my response was published here. Thank you for inviting me to participate, Zay. I enjoyed writing it far more than I imagined!

Pete Beardsworth – Everything is Just Colors and Shapes – This song just feels like Happy Friday morning to me.