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.
Using the 30/30 prompt “susurration” to build on a recent moment with my daughter.
There Will Be Gentle Things
I miss normal
she whispered to me
as I rubbed a circle over
her back, some kind of
dial to move her toward
sleep, toward an even quieter
place than this darkened bedroom,
where the hard edges and jagged ridges
of the last year have dissolved into
only soft S sounds, the small swish
of two pages closing against one another.
Using the NaPoWriMo.net suggestion to stop fighting the moon. Lean in. Accept the moon. Do what poets have done and keep on doing and write a poem that is about, or that involves, the moon. I added a dab of the 30/30 prompt, “house I used to live in,” too.
Another Moon Poem
Nothing new can be written about the moon.
No question or tribute that hasn’t been said better,
brighter. How its round face has been held
responsible for madness, but also revered.
Relief in the dark. I’m remembering it now,
on the back deck of our first house, no-cloud
night with a handful of stars tossed in patterns
that scattered differently than the ones we looked
to growing up. I know you’ve marveled at it too.
Felt tethered, just like the inevitable ocean.
Today I took inspiration from the Writer’s Digest prompt to write a poem with a “_________ Story” title, and the NaPoWriMo.net prompt from Juan Martinez. It asks you to think about a small habit you picked up from one of your parents, and then to write a piece that explores an early memory of your parent engaged in that habit, before shifting into writing about yourself engaging in the same habit.
She moved through the small space
too quickly for me to keep track of her hands,
mother magician with a whisk for a wand,
tea towel for a cape,
throwing the threadbare plaid cloth
over her shoulder with a flourish
when concentration was at its highest.
I feel it now too, the furrowed expression
of attentiveness on my face, a meditation almost,
kitchen work. Poring over a recipe, looking
for the unwritten instructions that will make
for a close imitation, if never as good as hers.
The way, I too, wipe my hands, then throw
the towel across my left shoulder, as though
the ritual will result in big reveal:
here she is! Again, all along.
Today I used the NaPoWriMo.net prompt calling for a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. The example was this poem by Mark Wunderlich, appropriately titled “Wunderlich.” I went in a different direction, after finding some meanings of my surname, Mannix, here and here.
green field after a rainstorm,
the way the clouds cast shadows
over a treeless meadow.
Call the first blooming daisy
little monk, for the way it lifts its
face to the sky, gathers sun like faith.
Mark your place on a well-worn path
with the letter X, crossed sticks or the stems
of two dandelions, so when the next traveller
comes along, O' Mainichin or MacNeice,
they will see something familiar in the inscription,
knowledge that though the sounds may vary, over the
course of one life or generations, something simple
connects us to this place. Both as important and as plain
as a blue pen, signing us into history.
I’m happy to have one of my 100-word stories featured today at Microfiction Monday Magazine. I’ve pasted my story below, but if you love microfiction as much as I do, please check out the entire issue here.
As he boarded the train, she drew a tissue from her pocket, thinking the tears would come any second. They didn’t.
Numb. I’m just numb now, she thought, dabbing at the corner of her eye anyway. In case he was watching.
“Last trip for the year,” he said on the drive to the station. “Then it’ll be just us together for months.”
“I can’t wait,” she said, grateful he was looking at the road instead of her face.
After his train pulled away, she stepped up to the ticket booth.
“One way for whatever gets me the farthest,” she said.
A klutzy accident and unexpected trip to one of my most anxiety-inducing destinations today — the hospital ER — served as inspiration for today’s poems. I tried to incorporate the 30/30 prompt calling for an “anticipation” poem, and the League of Canadian Poets prompt asking for connected haiku.
is the opposite
hum of the air vent
its whirring does not drown out
my pounding pulse
nurse asks for pain scale
but there is no number
we screen fevers
not people, says the nurse
bring purse to x-ray
worn at the edges
like this nurse
tired woman says to daughter
it will be ok