PAD 2017 – Day 15

Today marks the halfway point, and the NaPoWriMo site called for participating poets to celebrate by writing a halfway poem. I took inspiration from the Writer’s Digest prompt to write a “one time” poem, and meshed them to write a small something about gratitude.

More Than One Time

Halfway through
an average life,
I’ve spent many moments
eyeing those who have
more than I ever will,
but more than one time
I’ve looked with eyes
less green and seen
many more
who will never have
nearly as much.

 

Sometimes I’m a little envious of, but mostly impressed by, the talents of prolific poet and spoken word artist Sheri-D Wilson. As wonderful as her writing is, her performance is even better. I’ve always loved the vibe in this video for “Spinsters Hanging In Trees.”

 

 

PAD 2017 – Day 14

Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt called for poems inspired by popular sayings. I’m feeling a little “under the weather” and couldn’t muster more than a few micros today. I think the idea of taking an old saying some place new certainly has potential for fun and interesting wordplay, on a day when I have a little more “get up and go.”

*****

tug of war

the news pulls

my heartstrings

*****

Mom’s recipes

everything’s easier

than pie

*****

air grows thin

with time

on cloud nine

*****

editing the poem

I become a woman

of few(er) words

I’ve admired the writing of Alberta poet, and former Edmonton Poet Laureate, Anna Marie Sewell for a long time, but I just discovered today that she’s doing wonderful things on her website for National Poetry Month. I’ve enjoyed all her daily offerings so far, but especially her poem for April 4, which begins with the line: “it reeks a hirsute, ursine pong.” Awesome.  Check out the 30/30 2017 poems here.

PAD 2017 – Day 12

Guilt is the theme of the Writer’s Digest prompt today. As bad as it feels sometimes, guilt is also one of the most wonderful of emotions in its ability to help us be loving, kind people. It’s a regulator of the heart and the head, which is maybe why my micro poems today all used “heart”, though I didn’t set out for that to happen. Did a bit of combining with the NaPoWriMo prompt to use alliteration and assonance too, though not as overtly as I sometimes do.

Guilt

1.

heavy heart

keeps heavy eyelids

wide open

 

2.

gulped down

then bubbling up

like heartburn

 

3.

pacifist heart

patters with pleasure

when the tyrant takes one

to the face

 

4.

sharing the burden

the heart

the mind

 

Jenna Butler is one of my favourite Alberta writers. I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with her last fall, and was amazed at how she seems to speak in poetry, even when she’s just telling a story.  There is some effortless alliteration in her short, stunning poem “This Rain.”

PAD 2017 – Day 11

Oh, sonnets. I really do love a good one, both classic and modern.  And I really, really can’t write one. But no better time than the poem-a-day challenge to try new things. Here’s my treacle-filled (kids will do that to you) take on today’s Writer’s Digest prompt to compose a sonnet:

 

To Our Girl

 

You arrived on a sunlit summer day

Lilac morning, soft after howling night.

Round eyes alert, learning how to convey

the bliss of being, the journey to light.

How soon we knew you, felt our hearts entwine.

Yet the fear took hold, snaked under our skin,

the burrowing worry passed through blood lines.

How we learned to nurture, let you begin.

The temptation to cling, to hold you tight

but you leap into a world uncharted.

Each time you return, touched by delight,

imagination sparked, independence started.

Seven years of wonder, watching you grow.

All we’ve discovered, so much yet to know.

 

Sometimes a sonnet by name is no sonnet at all, yet tries to be more. I’m posting this, “Sonnet #1” which is really not the best thing famed Alberta poet Robert Kroetsch ever wrote. Why post something “meh” by a man who wrote so many wonderful things? Because it makes me feel better to know that great writers still produce bad writing from time to time. And I still think it’s fun poem.

 

 

PAD 2017 – Day 10

Travel was the theme of the Writer’s Digest prompt today. I clicked on that just after reading about another airline debacle, and another instance of physical force being used before reason or communication. I watched the video of a man being dragged from a flight, and listened to the outrage by some of the passengers. Yet, like people often do in these situations — like I would probably do in this kind of situation — people mostly sat by and watched. Interesting how we as humans are sometimes aggressive when we should be calm, and passive when we should take action.

Fly the Friendly Skies

 

Origins come up on planes.

Where are you from?

Are you flying home?

Stories offered, across

an armrest or an aisle.

A three-hour community,

at least for this leg.

The way we all lick pretzel salt

from our fingers, smile politely

at young parents wearing

twins on their bellies,

take our eyes off our books,

iPads or phones when the attendant

stands to talk about oxygen.

We breathe this air together,

recycled and flowing .

We stay sitting together,

when one of us is picked.

Dragged off before take-off.

 

The Alberta poem I thought of today manages to put a smart, political spin on the thrill of traveling to a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Check out Edmonton writer Ben Freeland’s “New Orleans is Clawing at My Bones.”

PAD 2017 – Day 7

Discovery is the theme of the Writer’s Digest prompt today. There’s a thick fog outside today, and one in my head too after a night of restless sleep, so not sure how coherent these mini efforts are, but maybe I can discover something bigger from them later.

 

treasure hunting

the robin

unearths the worm

*****

garbage day

crows uncover

leftovers

*****

spin class

revealing

new muscles

*****

discovery

the shadow

on the x-ray

*****

Edmonton poet Ray Rasmussen is a master of haiku, senryu, haibun and haiga. If you love the Japanese forms as much as I do, I encourage you to explore his wonderful website.

PAD 2017 – Day 6

Writing about sound is difficult, but when it works I think it can be one of best kinds of evocative, sensory writing. Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt asked for poems inspired by sounds. The NaPoWriMo prompt called for poems that examine a thing in several different ways, like the wonderful Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Way of Looking at a Blackbird.” Here’s my attempt at seven ways of thinking about, and hearing, sirens.

Seven Sirens

 

1.

As children we’d try to pick out each one,

quick woo-woo-woo of a police car,

shrill staccato blast of the fire engine,

the scream of an ambulance,

wailing up and down the scale.

Like knowing which emergency to fear

would earn us a badge.

 

2.

we tilt our heads

like dogs following a sound

like cats curious

for catastrophe

 

 

3.

four firefighters jump on

as the truck pulls away,

a hollering siren,

a rallying cry.

 

4.

Sticky summer night

they screech in

through our open window.

Not everyone’s as safe

as us together.

 

5.

flat out

on the inside

of an ambulance

the bawling siren

cries for you

 

6.

siren song

irresistible distraction

distressing reaction

 

7.

I tell my daughter

about sirens — nymphs of the sea,

their songs said to be dangerous.

I tell my daughter

that sometimes our voice

is our only defense.

 

Today’s Alberta poet certainly knows how to use sound in his writing. Please take the time to watch, and listen, to Calgary poet Richard Harrison sharing poems from his book Big Breath of a Wish which chronicles his daughter’s discovery and acquisition of language.

PAD 2017 – Day 5

So many possibilities for today’s Writer’s Digest prompt to write about an element on the periodic table. The first element I thought of was copper, and it immediately reminded me of my Uncle Leif — a man of small stature and mighty character. I sort of combined that with today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to take inspiration from Mary Oliver, and incorporate some of the world’s natural wonder into your writing. Not sure there’s a lot of Mary in here, but the title is based on her poem “The Uses of Sorrow.”

The Uses of Copper

 

Arrive at the farm in autumn

when the amber sun sets early

over aurous fields, and stories

fall from his chapped lips

like water from a rusty pump.

You’ll know him by his dusty ball cap,

wind worn skin, and the copper wire,

welded crooked, ever round his wrist.

He’ll swear it shoos the arthritis away,

helps the blood flow, wards off colds.

He’ll show you the verdigris on the wire,

how it’s leached green onto his skin.

Elemental magic that shields him through

frigid winters, keeps him growing, going

like the rolling prairie grass.

 

Today’s Alberta poet is Edmonton’s Julie C. Robinson. With family and prairie roots on my brain, I thought of her beautiful poem Family Tree.

PAD 2017 – Day 4

There was some prompt harmony today between the Writer’s Digest suggestion to write a beginning or ending poem, and the POETRYisEVERYTHING prompt to write a poem in the voice of an extinct animal. The first that came to mind was passenger pigeons, because I find their story both interesting and terrible. There were an estimated 3-5 billion in North America before European contact, and by the early 1900s, none were left in the wild. The last known passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoological Garden in 1914. Here’s a stab and a start to a poem that could be the beginning of something bigger.

 

Chorus

 

We remember the whir of  a thousand wings, the way

each of our bodies read the bodies at our sides.

Sky wave rolling from one cluster of oaks to the next,

we poured into valleys to rest and to feed.

 

How rapid the change from a few violent blasts,

to a thunder of rifles, the snag of nets,

the bite of flames and grey dust in the nests.

How hollow the wind without us.

 

Taking a historical perspective on Alberta writing today with Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson’s “Seasons in Alberta.” I love the imagery in here, and the line: For her own amusement alone / she teases the four winds

 

PAD 2017 – Day 3

Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt is to write a “______ of Love” poem. I have “not a lot of love” for this prompt, because I found it so difficult! All I could come up with was a micro of sorts, but many of the other creations I’ve read on the site are wonderful.

Parachute of Love

If I had one now
I wouldn’t be
falling for you
so hard.

It was much easier for me to pick an Alberta poet today, and fittingly there’s some lusty humour and masterful wordplay in her poem. Leslie Greentree is a Griffin Poetry Prize nominated writer from Red Deer. Please check out this excellent video of her reading “if I was a gate” from her book go-go dancing for Elvis.