Friday, April 20, 2018

PAD Day 20: Rebel, Rebel

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a "rebel" poem, and (2) take a line from one of your poems (preferably one you have written this month) and begin a new poem with it.

I took Robert's prompt a step further: I compiled the last lines from all 22 poems I've written so far this month, and used as many of them as I could, with a few editorial changes. I promised myself to create a poem entirely of these last lines, except for the very last line which would be new.  Here is my list of last lines, in no particular order (although I did tinker with their order a bit to get ideas on how they would fit together):


Look, the Old Fart Has a Hobby
he has just destroyed below
the loom still running
after they plow your stump under
who just had nothing left in the tank
will soon be bare in the end
on my no-fly list of vegetables
I love your flavor
who want to interpret your dreams
and jumping out of it when they do
drifts over the middle stripe in the road
into whatever utopia you've imagined
but know some words just sound like babble
over the telephone
they looked like tears
please save your laments
I'm not done climbing yet
I should have taken better care of myself
and maybe I feel guilty, but I'm smiling too
the saying would be, "The early worm gets the bird."
Just you wait - I’ll Make the Empire Great Again!

...and here is the poem that came out of them. I actually used seventeen last lines (again, with some minor changes), and the title uses parts of two other lines. I guess it's a "rebel" poem in the same sense as Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night".

The Old Fart Flips the Bird

You may be destroyed below
while the loom is still running.

After they plow your stump under,
you, who have nothing left in the tank,
will soon be bare in the end.

You should have taken better care of yourself,
and maybe you feel guilty, but you're smiling too.

If they want to interpret your dreams,
jump out of them when they do.

Drift over the middle stripe in the road
into whatever utopia you've imagined,

but know some words just sound like babble
over the telephone.

Tell them, please save your laments-
I'm not done climbing yet.

They may look like tears
but you love their flavor
and the last laugh is the ultimate joke.





Thursday, April 19, 2018

PAD Day 19: Construction and Deconstruction

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a poem with the title 
"_______ Thread", and 
(2) again, I'll let Maureen from NaPoWriMo explain this:

Today we challenge you to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.


Okay, so I'm going to walk you through my process. I added a prompt by taking this week's word bank from the Sunday Whirl blog (which I use fairly frequently) and wrote a paragraph about something I experienced today, trying to work in all twelve words from the word bank. Then I did the erasure process, coming up with a rather minimalist poem which I hope conveys the same general message.  Here's how it worked:



[Word bank from The Sunday Whirl:]
Inject
Treat
Confess
Tale
Sect
Dress
Channel
Check
Align
Sand
Torrid
Traverse


[My paragraph:]
We step in the weaver shop at the colonial village, and the woman in a dustcap who is sewing a dress treats us to tales of the olden days, and a crash course in the use of a loom. I learn that the vertical threads are the warp, and the horizontal ones we weave across are the weft. She invites me to try it, so I inject a shuttle card with a cotton thread through a channel opened by the bars in the loom, then push down the beater bar to align the thread into the weave, then open the warp again to traverse cloth with shuttle the other way. I do this several times and check my work - I confess it’s not very good. But this cloth in process is just another piece, no matter how imperfect, that would have been added to the fabric of our founding. So much sand through the glass, so many movements and sects and parties and characters that passed through, so many torrid, passionate stories of war and freedom and rights, that might have torn another nation apart, rent its garment of identity. Yet we’re still here, and the loom is still running.

[My erasures:] 
We step in the weaver shop at the colonial village, and the woman in a dustcap who is sewing a dress treats us to tales of the olden days, and a crash course in the use of a loom. I learn that the vertical threads are the warp, and the horizontal ones we weave across are the weft. She invites me to try it, so I inject a shuttle card with a cotton thread through a channel opened by the bars in the loom, then push down the beater bar to align the thread into the weave, then open the warp again to traverse cloth with shuttle the other way. I do this several times and check my work - I confess it’s not very good. But this cloth in process is just another piece, no matter how imperfect, that would have been added to the fabric of our founding. So much sand through the glass, so many movements and sects and parties and characters that passed through, so many torrid, passionate stories of war and freedom and rights, that might have torn another nation apart, rent its garment of identity. Yet we’re still here, and the loom is still running. 


[My poem:]
Thread

the weaver treats a crash
in the loom

the warp and the weft
align

to traverse
shuttle the other way

this cloth is imperfect,
the fabric of founding

sand through the glass
movements and sects

torrid stories
rend its identity

yet we’re still here
still running


And finally, here's the latest draft, thanks to some constructive criticism from my wife, which includes bringing in more of the process into the metaphor:



American Thread

the lamb yields
to the shear

for the sake
of a clump of fleece

carded and combed
to fibers

that are twisted together
to a thread

the weaver crashes the bar
in the loom

the warp and the weft
align

to traverse and
shuttle the other way

this cloth is imperfect
the fabric of founding

movements and parties and
characters come and go

torrid stories
rend our identity

yet we’re still here
the loom still running






Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PAD Day 18: An Experiment, with a Familiar Old Poem

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write a "temptation" poem, and... (2) well, I'll let NaPoWriMo's Maureen Thorson describe this one: 

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.

Okayyy.... Well, I tried this with a newly-published poem by a poet friend, and although I was pretty satisfied with the result, I didn't feel comfortable posting it because I couldn't contact her for permission to use it. So instead I'm posting this one, based on William Carlos Williams' classic "This is Just to Say". (Obviously, it's not a poem I'm unfamiliar with, but oh well....)



Tempting

and so cold
was the spring wind today
so sweet
was the hand I held

they were delicious
those lips
forgive me
for saying it to the world

for breakfast
I want to make you bacon
saving
you the crispiest piece

you were probably
wondering why I would
and which
kitchen I would cook it in

the icebox
that was my heart and the contents
that were in
it, have thawed
the plums
of my passion

I have eaten
of the juices of life
this is just to say
I love your flavor


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

PAD Day 17: Engagement Stories

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a "love" and/or "anti-love" poem, and (2) "write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time."  So without further ado...


Family Engagements

My wife’s grandmother had one date
with her future husband, back when movies
were silent and a nickel.  Its title is lost to the ages,
and they didn’t even hold hands.
Her little brother and sister sat between them.
They were married over fifty years
and had four children.

One evening my wife’s father came to visit
his friend, a fellow musician, and met his sister.
He wrote letters to her, and in one he said
that when he played his saxophone,
the music on his stand dissolved
and he would see her face.
They married six months before the war.

After a Christmas snowstorm, our son took his girlfriend
to see their favorite neighborhood lights display.
She turned around to brush some snow
off a lit plastic snowman, and when she turned back
he was on one knee.
He was married with his grandfather’s wedding ring.

And I, the romantic poet,
proposed to my beloved, my wife of forty-five years,
over the telephone.

Monday, April 16, 2018

PAD Day 16: Light Verse on Fun and Games

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and Na:PoWriMo are rather easy and fit well together: (1) write a poem about something that's your favorite, and (2) write a poem that features the idea of "play". So here's a little light verse about my favorite game.



Weigh with Words

I think a splendid game of Scrabble
sets one above the common rabble.
Strategic placement of those tiles
can bring sweet scores to lexophiles.
How great to get your foe in trouble
with “bingos” or a triple-double.
The winning Scrabble player girds
his loins with rare, exotic words,
Like QI and QAT and SYZYGY,
and ZAX and SUQ and QUIXOTRY.
Though words like MUZJIKS bring elation,
They’re hard to work in conversation.
Vocabulary won’t impress
when causing listeners distress.
So go enjoy your game of Scrabble;
but know some words just sound like babble.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

PAD Day 15: I Know All the Best Words


Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a "metaphor" poem, and (2) "write a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil)." This is political and a bit heavy-handed, and the metaphor is rather obvious, but I offer it for what it's worth.


Vader Redux

They all hate me, that Rebel Alliance,
those troublemakers in their X-wing fighters.
They don’t want me to build the Death Star,
my greatest idea. It’s huge, the size of a moon,
a deterrent, a barrier, a wall if you will,
against alien insurgents, rapists and murderers.
I mean, what’s the point of a Death Star
If you can’t use it? They hate my storm troopers too,
good people, just misunderstood. I want a parade
with the greatest show of force this empire
has ever seen. They’ll all salute me.
I know more than the generals anyway.
Maybe I didn’t have a chance to play
Clone Wars with storm trooper figures as a kid.
Maybe my dad didn’t give me enough attention,
and when he did, he criticized me without mercy.
But none of that matters now. I’m at the top
of the heap. They all fear my imposing presence -
the mask, the black cloak, the full head of hair.
I can choke any of them with a single thought,
and my light saber is the biggest, in my normal-sized hands.
That lyin’ Kenobi learned the hard way.
Just you wait - I’ll Make the Empire Great Again!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

PAD Day 14: The Stuff (and Nonsense) of Dreams


Today's prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a "report" poem, and (2) write a poem based on entries in a "dream dictionary", which purports to interpret symbolism in dreams.  The actual assignment was to write entries for the following dream "symbols": teacup, hammer, seagull,
ballet slipper, shark, wobbly table, dentist, and rowboat. I stretched the prompt a little here, and had a little fun, even if it's not great poetry.




Spectral Analysis

I. Report from Dreamland

Last night I sat down with my teacup on a wobbly table.
I invited my dentist to tea, and he brought a hammer
in case I needed him to smash the china.
I put on ballet slippers before we both went fishing
in my leaky rowboat. In the middle of the lake,
a seagull crapped on my head
and a shark took a bite out of my oar.


II. Interpretation from the Dream Dictionary

The teacup is an obvious symbol of hospitality.
You invite the dentist because you like him
as a person, but the china represents your teeth,
and the dentist’s hammer, his tools.
It’s time to get a new dentist.

The wobbly table represents either your fear
of the decline in your physical condition,
or a hatred of assembling Ikea furniture.

The ballet slippers stand for your need
to feel more agile on your feet, or at least
a secret desire to walk en pointe.

As far as the seagull dumping on your head,
well, you can figure that one out pretty easily yourself,
although it could just signify the wish for a new hat.

Sharks always represent the same thing,
without exception. Swimming towards one
means you will need a lawyer.
Trying to escape one means a lawyer will sue you.
And shark bites, obviously, are legal fees.

The leaky rowboat is, of course, the Ship of State,
but rowing it to the middle of a lake could mean
you want to escape all the wackos
who want to interpret your dreams.