Poem: No Mishaps

I spend too much time on Twitter. Even on days — like most days, lately — when it seems to be an endless timeline of terrible news, there are bright spots. Every day I learn, laugh, connect and discover, but it still sucks my time. So today, I thought I’d try to make (good?) use of that time by chopping snippets of tweets from some of the people or organizations I follow*, tossing them around in a word blender, and attempting to write a new poem. Here’s what came of it. Though not all the tweets that inspired this were political in nature, the thoughts in my head are in political prison right now, so I suppose writing things like this is a way to break out.

 

No Mishaps

 

Can’t tell if the song is brilliant or crap,

the machine gun percussion, big rig motor grind,

and Phil Collins as lead singer. But leaders,

I know leaders. Leaders win and smile when they say,

hey, it’s a-ok, c’mon and drink the water

with just an essence of lead. A danger? No danger,

it’s all in your head, listen to your heart, listen to us,

there is a war, but not that war  — a war on coal,

a war on country, a war on YOU, and how dare they say

it’s not a communist plot. They’re feeding you

this cosmic dread, but the answer is easy,

the answer is here, no, NO, there’s nothing under there,

Look ! OVER HERE! We make the sun shine, the sunshine is huge,

a huge dose of Vitamin D, very important for good health,

you take care of you, and we’ll take care of

us, but  really, you’ll thank us. It’ll be amazing, you’ll see.

Did you taste the water?  We have the best water,

come swim in the water, no one drowns in the water,

no one’s forced into water. YOU, you are the one

touched by migration, you are the one in need of

safe crossing to the future of your past,

to what came before, and what came after. Remember?

Do you remember, it was pure white gold,

that sweet family photo in the tall shiny tower,

you can be in that photo. You can be met with grace,

the resurrection of everything great.

Listen, do you hear it? That round of applause,

the loudest hand claps from the biggest, best hands,

That song we keep playing, are you singing it now?

Are you affected yet? Infected yet? They’ll try

to tell you that a vaccine exists, but the price

is too high. The price isn’t the sky, or the trees

or the birds. The price is your freedom and

we’ll stop you from paying.  No mishaps,

we’re golden. We’re good. And yes, you can

thank us. Your welcome is welcome.

 

*NOTE: The title “No Mishaps” came from a Tweet by Edmonton artist @JayIsPainting. Other parts of lines were borrowed from or inspired by  @thomaspluck: (cosmic dread), @MSF_canada: (vaccine exists, but the price is too high)  @anniegirl1138: (not a communist plot) @wickerkat: (Can’t tell if it’s brilliant or crap) @Don_Share: (touched by migration) @AusmaZehanat: (safe crossing ) @ChuckWendig: (and the resurrection) @HighwayTomson: (Your welcome is welcome. ) @TheAmericansFX: (be met with grace) @ThatEricAlper: (Phil Collins as lead singer & what came before, and what came after) @KimPigSquash: (Vit D very important for good health) @CBCAlerts: (war on coal).

 

 

Haiku Horizons Prompt – Search

This week’s Haiku Horizons word prompt is “search.” It’s been awhile since I played along, but the first day of spring (on the calendar anyway…still wintry out my window) seems like a good reason to plant some words.

 

first day of spring

magpie searches the snow

for a sign

*******

her searchlight smile

beaming

from the red carpet

*******

insomnia

searching for answers

in moon shadows

Poem: Demeter in the Kitchen

Sometimes my dreams are almost like found poems. I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this one in my sleep last night, but perhaps words — like good bread — are best when shared.

 

Demeter in the Kitchen

 

The still house at dawn

and she’s kneading dough, a rye bread

she gently places in a red ceramic loaf pan.

Demeter, of flesh except for her marble eyes,

blank and smooth. She wears a blue floral house dress

pinched neat at the waist, and a thick braid falls

to the middle of her back. I ask if she’ll have me

in the kitchen, to watch her work some more.

A warning wrapped in her silent nod,

there’s a cost to learning

how to conjure life from dust.

 

 

Poem: Poem For Rent

Wiping the dust off the old blog with a quick response to today’s Poetic Asides prompt to write a “bulletin board poem.”

Poem For Rent

 

Small, but clean,

affordable and close to all

metaphorical amenities.

Pets welcome, if they

come in like the fog.

Layers of meaning

removed

by previous tenants,

so it’s yours

to interpret

as you

see fit.

 

Big thanks to the creative Marie Craven who used this for a cool videopoem. You can watch it here.

Poem: Out of the Quagmire

All week I wanted to stop listening to, reading about and watching coverage of the horrific Orlando shooting, but like many people, I am transfixed by these now too-familiar stories, always looking for the why. Then I heard this woman talking on As It Happens about the discovery of a massive hunk of butter preserved for millennia in the Irish bog. It was a fascinating story, and I couldn’t help but imagine how our world might be different if we gave up all our assault rifles to the earth.

 

Out of the Quagmire

 

The Irish woman on the radio relives the moment

she touched a 2000-year-old,

22-pound hunk of odorous bog butter.

An offering to the Gods to protect

a man’s family, his fields, his livestock,

now here again in mortal hands.

A wish kept whole in the earth.

 

I’ve seen photos of bodies, pulled from the same peat,

their bronzed skin stretched across sharp cheekbones,

leather men and women with red, acid-stained hair.

Ropes around the neck, holes in the skull,

even ancient corpses tell how

but rarely the why.

 

Weapons too, preserved by the bog —

hammers, swords, spears, shields.

Iron-age artillery. Basic.

Not high capacity, quick-reload,

reliable, user-friendly, efficient.

Not marketable, profitable, stock shares soaring

before the dead have been named.

 

The Irish woman talks about what the bog can sustain,

but what will it grant? Prayers or amnesty?

Is there room enough for so many mistakes?

If we offered, would it keep our rifles

for another thousand years?

Until some future human’s hands

might pull them from the quagmire,

and note how primitive. How uncivilized.

How simple they were

to think love

could be so easily silenced.

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!

I hope that title put Bay City Rollers in your head, because, fun! Speaking of fun, if you’re in the Edmonton area tomorrow night, why not come down to Robertson-Wesley United Church (10209 123 Street) at 7:30 p.m. for Five New Alberta Voices,  featuring wrap-up readings by the apprentices of the 2016 Writers’ Guild of Alberta Mentorship Program. I am so fortunate to be one of those apprentices, and excited to share a few of the poems I’ve been working on over the past few months with my stellar mentor, Sue Sinclair. But if poetry’s not your thing, don’t despair. The evening will also feature wonderful readings by fiction and non-fiction writers Bruce Cinnamon, Shannon Cleary, Susan Carpenter, and Katherine Koller. Plus, wine and cheese! For details, click the Facebook event here. Love to see you there!

 

PAD Challenge – Day 30

The End. Finito. The Final Day. I feel both relieved and rueful that today marks the end of the April poem-a-day challenge. It’s been fun, frustrating and enlightening, as so many of the prompts I’ve followed have allowed me to try new things. And I hope it’s not the end for some of the poems I’ve written. From revision comes afterlife.

For today’s poem, I took the “dead end” prompt at Poetic Asides and combined it with This Is Not A Literary Journal’s suggestion to write a poem to a place you’ve never been.

 

Addressing the Road

 

The mystery is too inviting,

so we choose you, trackless road

with your shadowy mouth,

and moss-coated branches

that crook and join

their sisters on the other side.

And we do hear the crows calling

deadend deadend deadend, but

crafty as they are, what do they

know about adventure?

It’s a gamble, we know, but

we’ll take our chances, road.

We’ll know when

we’ve found the place.

We’ll hear it in the swish of leaves,

whispering, where you end

is where you start.

 

The NaPoWriMo site has been celebrating poets in translation all month long. It’s been wonderful discovering the work of poets who write from a voice and experience outside the North American one I’m so often exposed to. And it’s been a great reminder that the best poets create images that are universal. Because it’s “the end” of the PAD journey for this year, I was reminded of this stellar poem “After a Death” by Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

And a final note: to anyone who’s read even one of my posts this month, thank you so very much. I’ve been writing all month to stretch my own poetic muscles, and posting to keep myself on track, but to know there are readers out there who’ve joined me in the experiment is extra sweet icing on the cake.

PAD Challenge – Day 29

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked for an “I remember” poem, in the vein of poet and artist Joe Brainard’s book-length poetic memoir I Remember. This Is Not A Literary Journal asked for another “word salad” prompt incorporating a list of random words. I decided to write a memory sentence for each word, to see if any theme emerged. I had twelve meandering memories, that I then pared down to this, using the words pocket, weep and lump from the list. I don’t think it’s complete yet, but it was an interesting exercise. I might even be able to grow other poems out of the discarded memories.

I Remember

 

The brushed velvet softness

of the crumpled tissues

my Mom pulled from her coat pocket.

 

Once, I watched her weep without a sound,

after the call about the suicide, and wondered

how the deepest pains could be the quietest.

 

Later that year, visiting my uncle’s farm,

I poked a lump of hard dirt with a stick,

and stood rapt as dozens of sow bugs

erupted from its core.

PAD Challenge – Day 28

The end of the poem-a-day challenge is near, and I realize I’ve been avoiding the “form” prompts all month. So today I decided to give it a go, combining the tritina challenge at This Is Not A Literary Journal with the Poetic Asides suggestion to write an “Important ______ ” poem. Got a little sappy with this one, as is often the case in my first drafts, but in the spirit of the PAD challenge, I’m posting it anyway.

 

Important Moments in History

 

Starting small in a city so big,

bachelor suite, in a muddle of buildings that blocked the sun.

My hand-carved table and your vintage Pepsi cooler, sharing the room.

 

From the dirty window of the hospital room,

you looked for proof of something this big.

A photo of the rising sun.

 

We bulged like the sun,

finding ways to make a little more room.

The space a child fills is infinitely big.

 

This house isn’t big, but there’s sun in every room.

 

 

Today’s emphasis on what’s important reminded me of the wonderful, tongue-in-cheek poem, simply titled “Poetry” by Marianne Moore.