It’s the penultimate day of Poetry Month! I think I say that every year on the 29th, mostly because “penultimate” is a fun word. Today’s #NaPoWriMo.net prompt asked for an “in the window” poem. Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be your childhood neighbor’s workshop, or a window looking into an alien spaceship. Maybe a window looking into a witch’s gingerbread cottage, or Lord Nelson’s cabin aboard the H.M.S. Victory. What do you see? What’s going on? I decided to look into someplace both completely familiar and always a mystery to me.
I’ve said how I wished
a tiny window existed
just above your right ear,
under a flap of brown hair
that I could part
to peek inside,
so I could see them
forming and burrowing —
your great and terrible thoughts,
your swirling spectrum dreams,
the shy ones that slowly emerge
from shady corners —
but if you had such
a window, wouldn’t I too?
And however would I justify
keeping it permanently
Today’s 30/30 prompt was simply “skyline.” The NaPoWriMo.net prompt asked for a poem that poses a series of questions. The questions could be a mix of the serious (“What is the meaning of life?”) and humorous (“What’s the deal with cats knocking things off tables?”), the interruptive (“Could you repeat that?”) and the conversational (“Are those peanuts? Can I have some?”). I decided, based on my ongoing obsession with the sky and constantly taking photos of it, to combine the two for a super short poem that I could potentially build on later.
5 Questions to Ask The Sky
How does it feel to hold the sun?
Which clouds are the teenagers?
Do you feel less alone after the release of rain?
What’s your favourite song?
Can anything, even blue, really be limitless?
Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt challenged writers to create a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The entries are very vivid, but the sorrows do have potential to strike a chord, or even get you thinking about defining an in-between, minor, haunting feeling that you have, and that does not yet have a name.
The “sorrow” that first jumped out at me was lachesism. The poem is still a work-in-progress, I think, so I’m not posting. But the definition itself is beautifully crafted.
n. the desire to be struck by disaster—to survive a plane crash, to lose everything in a fire, to plunge over a waterfall—which would put a kink in the smooth arc of your life, and forge it into something hardened and flexible and sharp, not just a stiff prefabricated beam that barely covers the gap between one end of your life and the other.
I already wrote a moon poem earlier this month, but to hold true to the poetic stereotype, I have more to say about it. Today I used the 30/30 prompt “concentration moon” to come up with a few quick micros.
on the full face
of a super moon
but still come up
like phases of the moon
wax wan new repeat
when I lose
the day’s light
I try to remember
that it’s yet held
by the moon
Today I used the 30/30 prompt calling for a “Ten Things” poem.
10 things about this morning
There are birds. An entire assembly welcoming the day from the bare lilac bushes outside my bedroom window.
There is sun. Spilling through that window, because some lucky Saturdays it awakens before I do.
There is coffee. No less enjoyed though it’s been made and poured by only me.
There are dishes. Left drying on a rack after another meal spent with people I’m fortunate to make a home with.
There is a table. Awash in morning light, and shadows cast from the chairs we use to make it a gathering place.
There are cats. Greeting me with demand, but also affection. Possibly gratitude.
There is a sweater. Once belonging to my mom. Slipped over shoulders that have yet to carry what she did.
There is a message. From a faraway friend offering small but welcome news.
There are seedlings. In need of water and attention. Patient in their want of a whole garden.
There are words. Waiting to be fished from a mysterious stream that reliably flows, even when I’ve wandered far from its banks.
Today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt called for writers to create a poem that responds, in some way, to another. This could be as simple as using a line or image from another poem as a jumping-off point, or it could be a more formal poetic response to the argument or ideas raised in anothe poem.I have too many favourite poems, so decided instead to open randomly to any page in All Of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver (who is a favourite writer or mine). I happened up on the poem “The Minuet” (photo below) which I had never read before, but which, by some poetic magic, definitely spoke to me at this moment in my life. I didn’t set out to match the poem’s line rhythms and number, but once I started in with the voice of his poem’s dancer, it sort of fell into step.
New moon night.
I am awake with want of everything.
This life to move in triple time. Or stop,
when someone comes in.
A person who tiptoes, or could.
Would see the glimmer of light
off the diamond I carry.
How it acts something like a spark.
That ancient igniter.
Of fire. I’ve danced through that
by chance and choice.
Am still asking for more.
In addition to the poem-a-day challenge in April, I’ve been writing a poem a month along with a local group of writers. They are ’21 themed for the year. This month’s called for a 21-line or 21-syllable poem that honours someone important to you. Short on time, but no less inspired by my own daughter, I came up with a micro.
When My Daughter Doodles
Hearts where hands and eyes should go
I draw what I feel, she says
What if the world is still good?
This is my first ever try at at a sijo, the traditional Korean form prompted today by NaPoWriMo.net. Like the haiku, it has three lines, but the lines are much longer. Typically, they are 14-16 syllables, and optimally each line will consist of two parts – like two sentences, or a sentence of two clauses divided by a comma. In terms of overall structure, a sijo functions like an abbreviated sonnet, in that the first line sets up an inquiry or discussion, the second line continues the discussion, and the third line resolves it with a “twist” or surprise. For more on the sijo, check out the primer here and a long list of examples in English, here. I am quite sure I didn’t hit all the criteria here to make it a good sijo, but I like trying new forms, so this was pretty cool.
At The Window In This Room
At sunset we stand too close, fingers grazing, I step aside.
It’s old work, watching for sparks, checking for heat, damping down flames.
But still the fire keeps burning, until there is more smoke than air.
I really did write a poem today, but I’m not sure it’s fully dressed to face the world, so instead I will post the prompt I used: a 30/30 call to incorporate “constant / transient / permanent” into a poem.