Grad School and Poetry -- The two just don't mix . . .

My word! Grad school projects ate a huge chunk of time out of my writing schedule this month. I am hoping before April 30th to go back and at least cherry-pick 2-3 NaPoWriMo prompts I'd like to try my hand at, but in the meantime, these limericks fell out of a textbook where I tucked them after writing them a bit after St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

There was a fair maid from Lacey
she drove all the young boys so crazy
she'd wiggle and grin
toss her hair and her chin
and kiss her girlfriend, Stacey.

There once was a saint called Patrick
he had a few fears in his attic
they slithered and hissed
'till the poor man got pissed
and drove them off in a panic.


Days 13 - 16 of NaPoWriMo

Day 16: Time Never Ends, Your Song Lives On

Put to rest your doubt and fear.
Sun always rises above dark clouds,
put to rest your doubt and fear.

Time withers hope when not cultivated.
Cup your hands ‘round living sparks,
Put to rest your doubt and fear.

Cup your hand ‘round living sparks,
Breathe softly on tindered moss, and
cup your hand ‘round living sparks.

A gentle wee nudge – your breath of life
nurtures, sustains, feet trudging on.
Breathe softly on tindered moss, and

Let go the fluttering moth, once cocooned
now violently flapping birth-damp wings that
nurtures, sustains, feet trudging on.

Purposeful trekking towards setting sun.
Put to rest your doubt and fear,
time never ends; your song lives on.
Put to rest your doubt and fear.

Day 15: Do I write poetry? Or does it write me?

slapdash efforts
mosh pit finale
contrasting words
spiced with dots and with dashes
words that rhyme
words that mime:
                internal chances
                from exposure and time.
failed efforts
when not overseen
by rules
or clear expectations – give me:
                clear boundaries
                where freedom lies.

Day 14: Now?

A moment of my time is all he’ll ever share.
What wall is this closing my ears?

“So boring.”
He sighs, slumped in a chair.

Sturdy and white (slightly grey with use),
these chairs have for years harbored bums of all stripes
cautious young women with delicate linens,
widowed matrons in curlers and hand-sewn quilts
mothers with toddlers (in tow and wide-eyed),
leaking mismatched socks and ratty diapers
lonely-heart men; neither young nor old –
all join in the pilgrimage required
for spinning suds, drying fluff.

“How so?”
I barely lift my eyes.
“My day off and I’m here.”

I pause in my scribblings with ballpoint, lined paper.
A clear leave me alone! for folks with eyes.
“Read a book?” I offer. “Play a game? Take a nap?”

He grumbles and sighs,
fingers tapping his phone
in frantic reprise.
A triumphant grin, “Here, check this out!”
A toaster – repurposed -- for Nintendo aficionados
graces his Facebook page
the home of deep connection . . . (not)
but for him, yes, indeed.
Regaling my ears with tales of curiosities, oddities, strange little posts
on the gamer’s evolution, on the gamer’s delight.
It’s a badge of honor, I suppose,
A bit of street cred. Or a subtle suggestion of a place of connection.

“I’m older than you,”
Just a wee tidbit of information.
“My first game was Pong, played on a black and white TV.”
There’s a long pause, welcome silence
broken only by the scratching
of pen still crossing the white divide of blue scored lines,
holding half-formed thoughts and inept poetry.

With a sudden move, he’s on his feet
hailing a young women,
starting coy conversation
describing the relative merits, you see,
of dryers numbered six, nine and thirteen.

Day 13: The Flame

What does a trimmed, waxen wick suggest to you?
time nurturing dreams, soft-scented
                lazy breezes ripple orange flames
                bending, bowing, falling to knees . . .
                unfolding, opening

Flame come alive.
Proud beacon of life.


NaPoWriMo: Days 7-12

The important part about these writing challenges is that I keep my hand in the game. The poetry I'm writing this year does not strike me as particularly appealing on any level,  but it's critical to just plug away. Part of the difficulty is just that work is pretty intense and grad school takes a lot of time. Life is just busy right now. But that busyness firms my resolve to get things different enough in my life that I have the time and space to do what calls to me, to make use of the gifts I've been given. Enough maunderings. Here we go:

Day 12: Where I long to be. 

Jagged peaks cut crystal blue sky,
rising sun cast upon shimmering snow, a
glowing welcome.

Climbing stone knees,
deep green pines keep tight grip --
aspen tremble, whispering in chill wind.

Sinuous snakes the river tracing
open valley floor; look to the mountain's edge.
I can see forever.

Day 11: The challenge is to write a poem in the Sapphic form.

Pink becomes the burdened limbs of spring’s delight
a nesting ground of life reborn, a promise filled;
hope is born in violent thrusts of beak and claw --
soft bundles of fluff.

Day 10: The challenge is to write an abecedarian poem. 

Another day came slinking in
beneath the golden streaks of hope
copper-hued grey fleece, the
dancing tendrils
escape, they
flee, they
groan in
horror – or is it ecstasy?

Imagine, if you will
just for a second or two, the
kiss midair, of Solaris and his
lover. Luna is a
maiden fair, but
never so much as when she dares
opine,  to gently preach
pursuit of freedom, her
quest for liberty
ringing in Solaris’ ears, a thunderous
statement, a
testimony to
unmet need, to her
virginal dreams of no longer being tied to the
westward setting, a
xylene solution that breeds only
zealots, filled with keen fancy.

Day 9: Try your hand at a calligram (i.e., a poem or other text in which the words are arranged into a specific shape or image.)

So, here’s the poem:

What interrupts the slow ripple
out and beyond the sinking stone of decisions made?
What diverts the wave of consequence from lapping against
the shores of yesterdays and yesteryears still to come?

And here’s the crude hand-drawn shape:

Day 8: Write a palinode (i.e., a poem in which the poet retracts a statement made in an earlier poem.

The original poem:

Sticky fingers was afraid
to let go of her cherry pie.
So, she clung like a burr,
and caused a sore that slowly died.

The palinode:

Sticky fingers was not afraid
to let go of her cherry pie.
She tossed it in the garbage bin,
and wiped the crumbs right off her hands.

Day 7: The challenge is to write a poem about money.

It’s all about the money, luv’ –
too little too late, and you’re
past the expiration date . . .       
too much too soon, and they
call you a buffoon.

Money doesn’t handle you, luv’ –
you handle it. There’s a dress code, quite strict with
kid gloves for the delicate trades
of favors and goods;
bloodstained boxing gloves
when reclaiming your soul.

You’re the money, luv’ –
never forget
what you put into it
is all that you’ll get.


Days 3, 4, 5 and 6 of NaPoWriMo

Check out NaPoWriMo's website for the daily prompts . . . and forgive my tardiness. I suspect this month will be more of a play catch-as-catch-can while I juggle a plethora of other objects. Enjoy!

Day 6: Write a morning poem to Monday . . .

Where did Monday morning go?
It vanished . . .  in a haze of work-a-day storms.
My eyes: my poor, tender eyes -- grit-filled and leaking sand -- blinking in double timed frenzy.
Morning's glow barely seen,
a side-swiped tickle of "Hey! Pay attention!"

Now dim memory. 

Day 5: Recreate an Emily Dickinson poem.  

Of Glory is a story which I do not willingly tell,
she came to us one sodden day,
a will-o-the-wisp, a glint gone astray
and now not even a Beam is left.
The grey remains.

But, if it weren't for Glory's abrupt appearance,
with her jabbing reminder of what could yet be
we would only and ever forever be lost in the turrets and towers, well-hid, you see
in her Eternal House.
Glory brought rules, reminders and expectations
of what you must do
to be seen through
the twin lenses of grace and dignity
all others must fade away.

The Asterisk is for the Dead.
Nay, say I.
Turn that thought on its head.
Remember this lesson
bought with a price most dear:

The Living is for the Stars.

Day 4: write a poem that expresses the feeling of love or lovelorn-ness without using the word or usual images

Look, my dears, look closely here at these hands of ropey, twisted veins
at my swollen knuckles and clawed fingers; they grasp and pinch -- but oh, with such effort.
Despite the strain, I grin. Movement is precious, and
to complain
a sin.
I ask you, what story do they tell?
What tidbits of time
spent smoothing ruffled hair
wiping salted tears
kneading loaves of bread before kneeling next to beds
rubbing aching backs tense from nightmares?

Day 3: Write a "fourteener"

How could I have missed the point of all the extra noises?
It matters not how I say a word of such unknowns . . .
The goal is to preserve the word despite all your objections!    


Day 2 of NaPoWriMo

glints catch wayward eyes
past your eager, grasping hands
fireflies flitting by
time a slow wheel -- and you the hub
. . . . in your mind's eye
dreams long buried
explosive colors fade in shame
the sinner's lament
caught in a twinkle
of time ill-spent


National Poetry Writing Month 2015: Let the Fun Begin!

NaPoWriMo is back! Every year, 30 glorious days of trying one's hand at poetry. Let the creative juices flow . . . . Day one is a poem of negation – describing something in terms of what it is not. Without further ado. *drum roll*

What It Is Not!

It is not brick walls built one by one
With blood-based, bone crushing mortar.
It is not dead trees stripped bare and replanted
With hemp lashed together.
It is not narrow slits in well-dressed stone,
flickering light dancing
from which
feathered darts
From eye to eye. From hand to head.
It is not a curtain wall glimmering In the setting of the sun,
or the rising of a round harvest moon.
It is not still-life guards, faces turned outward,
Hearts and mind in:
stern and guarded
hidden life harbored,

“Halt! who desires entry within?”


Bye, Bye Bully

So, May is Short Story A Day month. Today's prompt got me thinking, especially after the last few months helping coordinate and offer domestic violence trainings. Learn more about the May writing challenge here: http://storyaday.org/ and here's the story that was sparked by today's prompt:

Bye, Bye Bully

“So, today’s training is geared to help you get into the mind of the abuser. We’re all pretty savvy when it comes to surviving violence, or we wouldn’t be here. What do you need to know to avoid hitting the repeat button that gives abusers the opening into hurting you again? How do these people think? Ideas? Anyone?”
Madge had edged her chair into a corner that faced the door to the dingy meeting room. Crossing arms over trembling chest, she eyed the group leader with a jaundiced eye. Great, Madge thought, put the pressure on the already victimized. Just what they need.
The room remained stubbornly silent. Undaunted, the group leader continued.
“It doesn’t just end in broken bones, bruises, black eyes, or death. There’s a pattern of control, and it starts in the early days.”
Small shiftings of discomfort rustled in the room. In the early days of hope, those tiny red flags were generally set aside. No one was perfect, right? The excuses mounted up, a complicated weaving of self-blame and rage against the man, the machine, the boss . . . but never the bully. Hyper-awareness of every nuance in mood or behavior built to a fine crescendo, that inevitably came crashing down when the attention and compliance slipped. No matter how it was sliced, the victim facing the abuse always seemed to be at fault, as far as Madge could tell.
Madge sighed, and unfolded her arms. Who cared? All she wanted to know was how to fight back effectively. Running hadn’t helped. Calling the cops certainly didn’t help. The courts were overbooked and didn’t have time to sift through the nuance of who started it, and who ended it. It was only because Madge had a good attorney that she was sitting in a survivor’s workshop as opposed to jail. But damn it, she wasn’t taking it any longer.
The group leader’s voice droned on, stretching the afternoon into an eternity of meaningless dribble. Finally, the class was wrapped up with a list of community resources: Need housing? Go here. Need food? Go there. Looking for help with filing court documents? Call advocate so-and-so.
            Nothing about where to get courage, Madge noted. Well, she had a solution to that little pickle, and then courage would be one step closer, and Madge wouldn’t need to deal with the abuse any longer.
           The group leader ended the court-ordered class for victims, opening the door to the hallway. Fresh air flooded he room, and fled before the overpowering, rank stench of frightened women. The group leader handed a half-sheet certificate to each woman as she left the room – proof of attendance for the courts.
Madge was the last person to leave the room, and gingerly accepted the piece of paper. She briefly met the group leader’s eyes, before commenting, “You forgot the most important part.”
“What’s that?” The leader raised an eyebrow.
“The part about courage. The part about bullies only hurting others until they’re stood up to.”
Madge shrugged and slipped out the door, ignoring the woman’s mouth opening and closing around impotent protestations of escalation, and the greater strength of a man.
Idiot, Madge thought. Why does everyone think violence only ever occurs between a man and a woman?
An hour later, Madge had closed the deal on her courage, heading home. Once there, she carefully arranged the chair she would sit in to allow her to keep an eye on both the door and the window. Madge clicked off the safety, swearing that if Rose showed her face here today, her home would be the last one Rose ever entered.