NaPoWriMo – Day 13

Went weird, and steam of consciousness for Friday the 13th. I combined the NaPoWriMo.net prompt asking to upend or change a popular saying, with the Poetic Asides prompt asking for an insect title poem. I settled on the phrase “barking up the wrong tree” and changed it (I don’t know why) to “whispering into a flower’s ear.”  That naturally made me think of bees.

 

The Bees

There have been first-hand reports of bees in the area. Bumbling from one rare patch of exposed, dead grass to the next. Carrying a dusting of post-season snow on their backs. An old woman in line at the grocery store told me she saw one hovering at her window, its oversized eyes fixed on a potted daisy inside. (Her niece sent it to her after the cataracts operation — a total success. Everything looks much sharper now!) The bee, she said, was whispering into the flower’s ear. Reciting an incantation through the glass. Stayed for a full ten minutes, and three more bees gathered at the window. A barbershop quartet of bees, bedecked in their striped suits. All that was missing was the little hats, and wouldn’t that be cute? When their serenade was done, she said, she watched the daisies grow. Green stems stretching up, up. Bright white heads bending toward the grey light of a spring morning masquerading as December. Their yellow centers grinning, because they’d been asked to join the call. An uprising of chutes and flora, persisting despite winter’s insistence. Then, the old women said, a burst of purple through the snow. Then another. A whole crop of crocuses, their petals parting, yearning for the sweet bee kiss.

November PAD – Day 18

The prompt today asked for a “good for nothing” poem. I thought of all those things poets write about over and over again, which — to me — doesn’t mean they’re not worth writing about. Rather, aren’t we all just trying and trying to write them right?

18.

Don’t let them tell you the moon is good for nothing. Its full, shining face used up, like any actress over 40. Don’t let them tell you that birdsong is Top 40, overplayed and boring, background din. Don’t let them tell you the rain is washed up. That the strange coziness of cloud cover, the way the petrichor freshens not just the air, but the feeling you’ve been carrying for weeks, is not something worth documenting —if not for history, then for your own hardening heart.  Don’t let them tell you the flowers have been overwritten, their unexpected colours and fragile petals as common as a definite article. Don’t let them tell you every good ode to the sun has already been written. They’ve forgotten to appreciate morning, the very fact of it. How can anyone who makes light of the sun call herself a poet?

PAD Challenge – Day 8

It’s a triple prompt attempt! Today the prompt at Poetic Asides called for a doodle poem, This is Not A Literary Journal said toss in some words — themed or un-themed — to make a poem salad, and NaPoWriMo central calls for a flower poem.  So, here I tried to mash them all together. Not sure it worked all that well, but it was fun!

Names for Girls

 

At month four, when it got real,

when we stopped thinking about it

as a maybe and more of a must be;

when those who knew me, but not

well enough to know, thought I’d

just gained a few over Christmas;

when we felt safe enough to

say it out loud, to doodle on scrap

paper  — side silhouettes of me

like a pear, two big hearts and a small,

or pretty names in loopy letters;

when we started to make lists,

compare and overrule, roll

the sounds around our tongues,

that’s when the flowers started.

I was pinned to Daisy for weeks,

the pertness of it, the simplicity,

and had you nearly convinced

until we both thought: Daisy Duck,

Daisy Duke, lazy, crazy, rhymes with

Daisy, and it withered. Rose was too

old-fashioned, Jasmine too Disney,

Dahlia too lah-dee-dah and lately

Lillies were popping up everywhere.

I offered Calla instead, but you wrinkled

your nose, tossed Poppy back at me,

but I saw kind toothless grandpas.

Lotus seemed perfect, for one moment of

Zen, and we both pondered Iris for awhile.

Blossoming names and inked flowers

marking the margins while I sat in meetings,

trying to freewrite the one that would fit.

At month five,  the anatomy check,

two arms, two legs, good heart and big

brain, but  a nudge in my belly still

wouldn’t get it to flip — a modest one

in there. Shrinking violet or a shy little guy.

It was too hard to tell, and I turned to ask,

How about boys named after cities?

 

Writing a list of flower names made me think of “For the Roses” by Joni Mitchell, which, lyrically, isn’t about flowers at all. What it is, in both melody and verse, is remarkable. Not every songwriter is a poet, but Joni is. Her deftness with the pen as well as the guitar was introduced to me by my high school creative writing teacher, who I might describe as Joni’s number one fan. He worshiped her, and spread the gospel to his students. True fact: Joni actually attended my former high school in Saskatoon, several decades before me of course. But her photo was in our trophy case as tribute, and the art, music and writing teachers all held her up as an example of what we could become…if only.  Read and listen to the 1972 song “For the Roses” here.