I have written two of the last three poems for NaPoWriMo 2019. Laid low by an infected wound, and just now feeling up to writing, again, three or four days into a seven-day script for antibiotics. I hope to add the third poem to this page sometime before the end of Friday.
as I slept, the sun
appeared and warmed the ground
I woke to tulips
Very loosely based on the Day 18 prompt from the Cuyahoga County Public Library. I am not sure that I’ll go back to rework this after NaPoWriMo is over for this year. I do know that I do not write poetry in four-line stanzas.
‘topics not under discussion’
sometimes I turn around to see
as though from outside human space
the larger patterns…masked by lies
then my heart catches…forgets how to beat
and I find myself hoping that it won’t
remember…how to start itself again
in the longer run the gifts I wield
will make no lasting difference
all will die quietly…fade away in sleep
what I can achieve is to be present
in this moment, acknowledging each
thing that lives and care…until we’re dead
I found myself considering the sadness of leaves and seeds that fall where they can neither decompose nor have the opportunity to germinate and grow. And so, on a (serious) whimsy, I promised the residue on the garage floor that when I was finished with taking their photographs, there, I would gather up them all and return them to the outdoors, where they may decay, or sprout, and live again.
I cry for the leaves on the garage floor
thrown out in new plastic bags
not renewing the soil
Hay(na)Ku, a new form by Eileen R. Tabio, has one word in the first line, two in the second and three in the third, with each word having as many syllables as you wish. Try one! (Cuyahoga Library Writers Center, Day 10)
As I write this poem, I am listening to an ongoing spring blizzard that has delivered over seven inches of snow, so far today. We expect another five to seven inches before the storm ends. The tulips and daffodils long since emerged from the warm, damp grown. I am trusting the new snow to protect them from the wind and icy rains still to come.
I have looked at photos from previous years, and April snows are not that unexpected. Still, it is strange to be confined to house and outbuildings by snow drifts, when at the beginning of the week, I was outside barefoot and without a jacket.
And today is actually a special day: Two for Tuesday! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice! (1) Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen? (2) Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it!
death of oceans
deserts without breath
bright colors on the water
moonlight’s dance on silent waves
I decided to go back to yesterday’s poetry prompts list and write a poem to go with my favorite grasshopper photograph.
Brewer: “For today’s prompt, pick an insect (any insect), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Praying Mantis,” “Ants,” and “Grasshoppers.” I’ll even except other creepy crawlies, like spiders, slugs, and leeches (shiver). Sorry in advance if this prompt gives you the heebie-jeebies; feel free to use insect repellent in your verse.”
one warm summer day
a debonair grasshopper
dines on a flower
spotting a street photographer
he grins between bites and bows
Real life-long learning doesn’t have to be profound or deep or even long-lasting. Doing so keeps us young! While in Boston this last weekend, I learned that I love lobster rolls. I also learned that I love the warm welcoming people I met. Learning something new blesses us all in one way or another and perhaps only in hindsight. Onward!
a water pail
moist dirt between my toes
after a lingering winter
it’s time to plant flowers
I had thought there would be more feelings about…more active involvement in the act of my dying. Interaction with this new experience. Not simply waiting in the not-silence, listening to my breath in- and outing…all other sounds too far away. I slip into sleep. When I wake, I listen for the sound of breathing, check to see if it’s really mine. Somewhere along the line, it won’t be, anymore.
sounds fade away, approach again…
listening for forever
Prompt for the day, Cayahoga library: List all the jobs you have had, including volunteer work and other unpaid jobs. Turn the list into a list poem by rearranging, repeating or just titling it. /Or/ write a poem about one of them.
I thought I’d stick to the jobs during grade school and high school, leaving out the gardening chores, since that really was free labor for the common good.
“It’s good for you”
My first jobs, tedious but
character- and muscle-building
picking rocks at springtime
in farmers’ fields
kids’ time is cheaper than repairs
Father rented us out by the day
The second summer job lasted
much shorter than it seemed
which was always and forever
clipping grass around stones
mowing the cemetery grounds
setting traps for ground squirrels
who spoiled painstaking work—
lugging pails of well water
to drown the pests or
drive them out
Should have stuck with the rock picking
The best job of my childhood
was selling door to door
in a small town every household
finds the need for more stationery
cards for none or all occasions
so their children find buyers, too
Pay-off was a week or two
each August far away from home
for private and group lessons,
ensemble, band and choir rehearsals
Brass ensemble work cost extra…
Worth the miles walked to get there
An “origin story” is the backstory of how a character became a protagonist or how superheroines (or -heroes) received theirsuperpowers. Write a poem that imagines your backstory as either a poet or a superhero(ine).
The Vicissitudes of Childhood
I learned to talk aloud
by learning how to read
line by line, books read—
two pages, pointing out
each word and saying it,
and when I’d read them back
I’d open up my mouth again…
to eat a bite of baby food
while Mother turned the page
This poem is in response to a poem not from this challenge, but one that I wrote for the 2008 SFPA poetry contest; the theme was “Energy”. The poem’s title is “Future Freedom”. It’s the second poem on this page of my QuiltedPoetry blog.
For April 22, I selected this prompt from naprowrimo:
And now for our daily prompt (optional as always). I’ve found this one rather useful in trying to ‘surprise’ myself into writing something I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise. Today, I’d like you to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens: …” But the phrase that immediately came to mind was “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.
As Far As The East Is
the sun rolls along
west is ahead—east, behind
just a glance away
In bright sunlight, all shadows
are behind me as I face the sun.
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a temptation poem. Nearly everyone is tempted by something: fame, glory, money, chocolate. Today is the perfect day to give in to the temptation to write about your (or “a friend’s”) temptation. Also, I totally understand the temptation to write about The Temptations today.
Tempted to Silence
as the years move on
as I move with them
or we go separate ways
I have less to say
there is less to hear
around me that inspires…
I don’t know what I miss—
words of kindness, uplifting
without self-serving thoughts
a different world, perhaps,
outside the door…with hope
for more than me and mine and yours
If I were alone, again
if there were no one to care
if I were there or here
I would take a lease
on a cabin in the woods
for enough years to die
listening to rain and bird calls
wind and ice and hearth fire
pencil scratching paper
I love to dance
strong horizontal sweeps
of the tail fin below…
gill covers and filaments
vibrating, my head up
looking at the bright waves
of sunlight as the lights
flow on above me
Prompt- Cayahoga library: Katerina Stoykova-Klemer has written, “Often I Wish I Were// a potato.// Eyes opened/ in all directions.” Begin a poem with “Often I wish I were” and complete the stanza with…” and see where that takes your poem.
I sometimes wish I were a garden
filled with roots, berries and such
I would renew both dirt and harvest
sending seeds throughout the Earth
I always wished I had big shoulders
broad and strong to share life’s cares
I’d wrap my arms around the crying
help transform their tears to joy
I often wish I were a spirit
floating high above the world…
I’d watch closely for the hurting
act to foster hope’s rebirth
NaPoWriMo Prompt: 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.
A Late Spring
Rabbits have eaten the bark from low Cotoneaster branches, leaving them bare to lingering cold, icy winds, and snow storms. Again this year, the bushes are at risk to dry and die when the heat does come, searing tender leaves. There will be no warm rains to waken grass seed strewn in hope, six months ago. Birds eat the grains, finding no new growth.
dormant flax seeds hide
beneath last autumn’s bent stalks
waiting for summer
I decided to go back to April 9, to the Pilgrimage prompt, and wander a bit through the family tree. My mother was a genealogist, among other things, and we kids got to do research, each in our turn.
Who We Were [still a rough draft]
Our people came from Iowa
by way of the Norman invasion,
Mayflower I and II, the Winthrop Fleet
by way of rivers on diverse craft
neighbors with neighbors
towns moving together
They arrived in the Firelands
then settled in Iowa and
opened South Dakota—farms
were lost behind the dam, so
back to small-town Iowa
Penneys went into retail, catalog sales
A connection of “our” Bennetts sent
Stanley to find Livingston
the Deans made sausage, and the
Gallops (Kolopp, from Alsace) took polls
The grocery store owner in
South Dakota patented a plow
the Carters served in India
as Methodist missionaries
Evangeline Ink wrote an exposé
novel about TB camp swindles
My generation and the next have been
lawyers, executives, freelancers, clerks
writing and publishing books,
poetry. textbooks, and many stories
nurses caring for the injured and elderly,
builders, handcrafters, quilters,
Myself, I grow wild flax
in the backyard garden, take naps
with the puppy dogs, make up recipes
and do the laundry, play piano, and
hold my husband close to my heart
I read only as many books in a week
as I write poems, a photo for most
no children, but a library
gathered over a lifetime
determined to leave no book unread…
always buying more
There’s always time to write a poem…
time to read a book
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write an intelligence poem. Of course, intelligence is subjective. What is common sense for one person makes no sense to another. But intelligence is more than IQ and test scores. There’s artificial intelligence, intelligent animals, and military intel. And I’ve found that many poets have a special intelligence of their own.
I’m good with words
Ideas flow from my mouth
guiding the bewildered
the puzzled, the lost
Just don’t ask me to repeat
what I said last—I can’t
My mind has moved
into a new channel
The sound of spoken words
often bypasses memory
The words that I gave you
rest only with you, now
Prompt from NaPoWriMo: “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….”
when the patterns that you see
do not mirror the observations of others
patterns can be dangerous
the loaded gun can go off
when patterns go askew
things can happen
even when they don’t
flow with the
a lot like my life
I read both the NaPoWriMo and the NaHaiWriMo prompts for this day, coming away with “bowl” (haiku prompt) and NaPoWriMo’s suggestion to write a love poem to an object. They blended in my mind to produce “Dreams in Porcelain”, combining Mother’s memories of her childhood and her love of collecting such decorative pieces during her cross-country travels. As they reminded her, I expect, of her childhood, the memory of them calls up memories from my own childhood…and the dreams that she had and fostered for us.
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “back in the day” poem. You might also
call this a “good old days” poem or a “bad old days” poem. To me, back in
the day is synonymous with history–but a kind of personal history (even if
shared among a community).
gold field…harvest time
footprints and downed stalks trail us
our shortcut home
In childhood, we wandered throughout the neighboring pastures and fields, afternoons and early evenings and weekend days. We swam in the creeks and marshes, rivers and shallow pond, often coming home soaked to the skin and coated with mud. When we arrived home in answer to Mother’s call, she often made us strip at the back door and sprayed us down with the garden hose until we were clean enough to come into the house, put on clean clothes, and help set the table for supper.
Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a response poem. The poem can be a response to anything–a piece of news, some art, a famous (or not so famous) quotation, or whatever. However, I thought it might be a cool opportunity to respond to a poem that you’ve written this month. If both poems work, it could make an interesting dynamic to have two (or more) poems that interact with each other.
leaves on edge
dance to autumn’s wind
My husband and I have been talking about this writing prompt, how we feel about being remembered after we die. As a writer, I thought at first that I would want my poetry to be remembered (and I would be pleased if people printed out a poem or two that spoke to them, since one does not remember poems, and contrary to popular belief, stuff on the Internet does not hang around forever). And I write too much, too often, to produce comprehensive books of my work.
Ephemeral experiences, however, are worthy of being cherished. So often, I find, people remember me because of my smile…and mention it to me, when they see me again after our first meeting. Smiles. Laughter. Recognition of a momentary rapport with a stranger. A moment of not-aloneness. When I experience that, I feel somehow more real.
Prompt for the 24th: Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “how I’ll be remembered” poem. It’s an interesting question: How will I be remembered? My amazing looks? My incredible personality? My charitable nature? My goofy jokes? The cranky guy who’s always telling people to stay off his lawn? Dive into this introspection today.
If you remember me at all,
recall my joy—my laughter.
Remember me. The one who
looked into your eyes
and recognized a friend.
No matter that we’d never meet again.
Remember me, taking notice of you,
drawing your attention. I laughed…
When I see her now
she looks so much younger—
filled with song
vigorous and happy, radiant…
sorrows past, still in love
—Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-18
My mother died on 15 November 2016 (age 94, and my father, a little more than 3 months later, age 100), and I have been trying to write a poem for the Day 14 prompt from PoetryPotion: “When I see my mother”. It took me a while, but it was a writing prompt I wanted to respond to. (Also posting this on my Quilted Poetry blog.)
I went through a number of variations on this. Still not sure which one I like the best. This, which I mailed in for my poem-a-day group, or the adaptation I used for Ronovan Writes Haiku weekly challenge. Or perhaps one of the drafts that I deleted.
I went with NaHaiWriMo’s prompt, again: solar wind. I remember reading a science fiction book (I think it was in Lightwing, by Tara Harper, 1992) that included traveling from asteroid to asteroid using foil sails powered by the solar winds of the star where their space station was placed in orbit. Sometimes I dream of it