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 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 11 – Who Can Say? I’m not There Yet

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Photo by Niels Smeets on Unsplash

Who Can Say? I’m not There Yet

The path beyond my garden glows for hours
after sunset as winter melts into spring
and spring heralds summer’s pending arrival.

A fringe benefit of living
on the fringe of higher latitudes.

I read that somewhere;
cannot recall exactly where,
it sounds true enough
and I have observed this dim
phenomenon with my eyes.

As I walk the trail of softening afterglow,
I hear an owl cry “Who?” but I can’t see him.

His question is answered
with the question of another owl in the distance,
assumedly her answer to his question
of companionship
in owl-speak.

I shrug and keep moving
as nature is never still,
full of questions and answers
leading to more questions.

Suddenly descended an owl from royal-inked skies,
landing on a sturdy low branch of a tree
darker than its own shadow,
his golden-gemmed eyes trained upon my progress,
he tilted his head quizzically, asking me,

“Who are you?”

“I don’t know,” I answered,
in part because I didn’t know,
but also because I was too startled by
the bird’s complete, articulate sentence
to give his question the consideration it deserved.

But mostly because
I had never considered the question before.

“What do you want?”

asked the owl,
briefly stretching his wings.

“I don’t know,” I answered
before immediately recanting
the lie I’d just told on myself.

“I want contentment,
peace, understanding, longer
dusks like this one, too.”

“Where are you going?” asked the owl,
turning his head nearly 360 degrees
to preen his back feathers.

“I guess I’m just following the sun,” I replied,
which was technically true,
but wasn’t always the case.

I once obsessed over success, fearful of
each morning light finding my flaws and failures,
fretting over being caught unprepared
for the next one to shed light on wasted effort.

Now when I think of tomorrow
– if at all – I think of who
will share breakfast with me,
where will whimsy find me at lunch,
and how far will I travel along
the path leading to twilight.

“Who will you be tomorrow?”

asked the owl, taking flight
to the part of the sky
that had already turned night.

He didn’t wait for my answer,
but not wanting to seem impolite,
I answered him anyway.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 11 prompt:

a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”

I greatly enjoyed this prompt, and reading the interview with Kwoya Fagin Maples was amazing and inspiring. I didn’t know who she was, but I will certainly be getting familiar with her poetry.

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Day 8 – Eating the Crow

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Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

Eating the Crow

The path beyond my garden rounds a bend
trending down it descends into a valley
where public servants serve and
health practitioners practice, and

I run the gauntlet of penalty lights
connecting me to society
like so many decompression locks.

The clock strikes the mark,
but still seeking a spot to park,
I am overdue,

which threatens to undo my resolve
because who can find time to shine
when one is five minutes behind?

Best to resign; forget the whole thing,
forfeit.

This wasn’t supposed to rhyme,
sloppy or otherwise.

I should quit this too,
but I didn’t quit then, and
so I won’t quit now.

I didn’t quit weeks ago,
when after staring into a void,
seeing the cosmos, but no reason
connecting me to its purpose,

nothing grounding me into
what could be construed as a place
within this chaotic nonsense,
I sought a shaman,

but only found mental health professionals
that refused to be summoned via
passive incantations;

I was compelled to actively pick up the phone,
verbally admitting my stigma to a stranger.

I did balk at this at first.
It wasn’t quitting; it was a
three-week mental break

from this mentally
counter-intuitive method
of seeking mental help.

But after picking up the phone and
admitting to the disembodied voice that
I needed someone to help me with the void,

the space between she and me and

between me and every other living thing
she scattered colored talisman on a map,
pointing me to the sacred realms nearest me.

I chose a female therapist with an
extremely therapeutic-sounding name
within five minutes of the path beyond
my garden, and so my arriving five

minutes late was actually an impressive
feat of procrastination, even for me,
and so I wanted to quit and eat the co-pay,
but I ate the crow instead, owning my tardiness.

She didn’t seem to mind, which pleased me,
proving that she was in fact
a mental health professional.

But then she wept bitterly at
the telling of my origin story,
which led me to question her
professionalism, my

tenuous place in the universe
unmoored yet again, or still.

Against my better judgment,
I liked opening to her,
so I signed up for a second session,

which I soon cancelled,

as mandated by the laws of seeking
someone to help make sense of things,
she is only available when I’m not.

But I didn’t quit and that alone was legit.

Perhaps when I’m ready to stretch myself again,
I’ll grow more.

Perhaps seeking my personal shaman
is its own medicine.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 8 prompt:

Let’s take a leaf from Shelley’s book, and write poems in which mysterious and magical things occur. Your poem could take the form of a spell, for example, or simply describe an event that can’t be understood literally. Feel free to incorporate crystal balls, fauns, lightning storms, or whatever seems fierce and free and strange. Poetry is like that (at least when you’ve been reading Shelley!) If you’re in search of inspiration, maybe you’ll find it in this poem by Louis Untermeyer, or this one by Kathleen Graber.

I liked this prompt.

Day 7 – Fork

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Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Fork

The path beyond my garden
forks at impossible angles
like the leading edge
of a switchback where I can
climb or descend,
should I choose one.

On the high path
beckons a
wood nymph;

the low path is guarded by
a cat darker than
light’s absence.

As I approach the switchback fork,
the nymph squeals with delight.

“Follow me,” she squeaks,
“into the sunlight! Ahead lies
treasures of impeccable sights!”

I take a step, but
soon paused to observe the cat,
who shrugs and licks his scrotum,
nonplussed, matter-of-fact.

“I’d go with her if I were you,”
he said between luxurious
unhurried licks.

“Down here, there is only truth
and the sad epiphanies
one can only obtain
through pain; it is the

hard-won knowledge
only attained by loss.

“This path is not for the timid.”

The nymph grabbed my hand with a jerk.
“Up here!” she cried, “on this trail,
no one grows old or dies!

“Your mom is alive and well
and rational and laughing!

“Your not-dead-from-cancer dad
is mighty proud of
all the mighty things
you never did or said, but
imagined mightily
inside your head!

“Your children aren’t disappointed
by your disengaged inertia!

“Racism, jingoism, war,
famine, pestilence don’t exist
up here!

“Follow me, and it
will all disappear,
enveloped by your will!

“What will be will only be
if only you dream it so!”

I glance back at the cat,
who just sat and shrugged.

“I won’t pretend to compete
with the little fairy up there.

“Down here, there is truth;
only the reality
of what is, and tough
conversations leading
to more sad truths.

“You may learn new things
about you that you may not like,
only to find that
you’ve always known them.

“Reckonings don’t come with good vibes.
That’s why they’re called reckonings.

“But there is knowledge
in great abundance”

It’s the same daily routine,
and I follow along,
playing my part as if guided
by some sacred ritual.

I always “let” the nymph
drag me along the high road,
not just because it’s easier,

but I could take the path
a billion times and it always
leads me somewhere new.

But upon return,
I accompany the cat
upon the low road,

knowing it always leads home.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 7 prompt:

In our interview, Kyle Dargan suggests writing out a list of all of your different layers of identity. For example, you might be a wife, a grandmother, a Philadelphian, a dental assistant, a rabid Phillies fan, a seamstress, retiree, agnostic, cancer survivor, etc.. These are all ways you could be described or lenses you could be viewed through. Now divide all of those things into lists of what makes you feel powerful and what makes you feel vulnerable. Now write a poem in which one of the identities from the first list contends or talks with an identity from the second list. This might turn out to be kind of a “heavy” exercise, emotionally, but I hope you will find the results enlightening.

Indeed, that did sound like a “heavy” exercise, and as much confessional poetry as I write, this one didn’t appeal to me too much. When I start making lists of things that I am, that list inevitably turns dark for me. I still did the prompt, though I skimmed the surface, opting not to dig much deeper.

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Day 6 – Summoning the Summoner

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Photo By Nick Farnhill – cheetah killUploaded by Mariomassone, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18938737

Summoning the Summoner

The path beyond my garden yields to both reason and whimsy,
the tiled stone becoming clouds
charting my unsteady gait towards the gates of eternal twilight,
where Nihirizumu-no-Kage summons me for reprimand.

My writing spirit is an elegant, lean feline
pacing impatiently in ethereal mist,
her fur dappled in pixelated violet, orange, fiery-red dots,
forever rearranging themselves in new patterns on the fly,
helping to camouflage herself among pastel skies
with long shadows and eerie afterglow.

She is a huntress,
built for chasing down dreams rapidly
while evading what she perceives as threats.

I am perplexed,
as she has never demanded an audience
before now.

“You didn’t heed my call,”
she accused with a hiss,
for she is incapable of roaring.

“How dare you ignore my cry? I had several tales
of love, loss, and woe chambered for you; you only needed
to present the hands to scribe fantasy into reality.”

“I cannot be at your beck and call constantly,” I countered,
“For I am mortal with responsibilities, deadlines, and
people who rely on me to be present. Besides,

I set aside blocks of time awaiting your arrival,
and you rarely visit me then. Why is that?”

“Do you blame the cherry blossom
for blooming only when it’s inconvenient?”
Nihirizumu asked. “Your favorite time of day
is the same as mine; just after sunset,

just before soft blushes become indigoes
and indigoes blend into black.

“Do you blame the sky
for only being that way twice a day,
and only in fleeting moments?

“Only in these moments can you see my beautiful wings,
which only exist to reflect and refract the light
of every sunset ever seen or missed
into every color within the spectrum of our fantasies and realities,
allowing you to see possibilities not yet conceived.”

I narrow my eyes,
glaring impatiently at my impatiently glaring,
pacing,
ostentatious writing spirit.

“You are being willfully dense,
intentionally vague,
and hopelessly unreadable,” I accused, adding,

“Next time,
just come when I ask you,
and not when you clearly know I’m busy.”

Nihirizumu laughed, snorting pink flame from her nostrils,
her eyes, once golden sparks, now electric blue,
freezing ice crystals between her and me.

“And there you go again,” said she, “lashing out
at what you fail to comprehend.

“You like to think that you command me. But still…
I will come whenever the mood suits me.

“And next time,
I expect you to be prepared
to drop everything
and just write.”

Before I could draw breath for rebuttal,
I found myself returned to the stone path beyond my garden,
wondering if evening birdsongs were a battle hymn.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo Day 6 prompt:

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that stretches your comfort zone with line breaks. That could be a poem with very long lines, or very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two. You might break to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or to create a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought. Looking for inspiration? You might take a look at this poem by Lorine Niedeckerthis poem by Stanley Kunitz, or this one by Amiri Baraka.

I wrote this poem as a stream-of-thought block of text with little line editing or punctuation. Then I went back and accentuated where I thought the breaks should be instead of limiting myself because a line was too long. It was quite liberating for me.

Folks familiar with my previous blog might recall me summoning my writing spirit from a previous poem. I’ve never been one to shy away from my nerd stuff. 

Day 5 – Zion, the Midnight Tree Goddess

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Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Zion, the Midnight Tree Goddess

There is night emerging beyond our garden path standing near Zion
her branches end starvation of tidal-locked, structured souls
in her drunkenness, in her leaves, we grow old, regaling our wonder

There is night emerging beyond our garden: lavender scented foresight
in deeds defined as barren, fallen branches lie apart from her sullen trunk
night reveals, night compels gorging on unripen fruit in solitude

Last stand under stars of this cosmos. Ruminating over severed gardens
one last man demands the wooden goddess to tell him of the other souls
in the world. In gruff, even monotone, even miserly tone came her reply

Dancing the same, even, rooted hug-and-sway. She let him know that
her severed night emerged beyond our understanding, even she, Zion: to deceive them
is to be stranded among the river of stars, to intersect brooding night alone

Paralyzed by light-governed dark, synapses break like glass vessels
alone then / alone now, lonely then / lonely now
untended as broken branches.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s Day 5 prompt:

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like the work in Translucence, reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. Begin with a photograph. Now find a poem in a language you don’t know (here’s a good place to look!) Ignore any accompanying English translation (maybe cover it up, or cut-and-paste the original into a new document). Now start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” your photograph. Use the look and feel of the words in the original to guide you along as you write, while trying to describe your photograph. It will be a bit of a balancing act, but hopefully it will lead to new and beautiful (and possibly very weird) places.

Weird places indeed! That was certainly challenging (and at times frustrating), but I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m pretty chill with the result.

The poem I chose is titled, rather fittingly, A Big Bang, by Runa Svetlikova. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the actual English translation is far more optimistic than my fake one.