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 …

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.