It’s almost over! Do I write this with happiness or regret? Maybe both. Certainly finding the motivation to write some days this month has been a challenge, but it’s also been a kind of comfort to have a routine, and so many other new poems from others to inspire me.
The final NaPoWriMo.net prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.
How to Get to the Back Deck to Drink Your Coffee
Never assume a short journey is an easy one.
Begin by preparing for diversions — a phone call you
don’t want to answer; the broken glass you’ll have to carefully
pick up, when a too-quick pivot to answer a child calling
from another room results in an elbow knocking last night’s
wine glass from the counter. Allow time for a loud expletive,
then a sigh. Embrace exasperations that end in small relief.
When it seems there is quiet — a gifted moment when no one
remembers you’re there — pour coffee into your favourite mug,
or your favourite right now, one that knows the shape of your hand.
Take soft steps toward your destination. Watch out for
the squeaky spot between the kitchen and the dining room.
Keep your hip clear of the metal chair, pushed back from the table
after someone’s hurried breakfast, now collecting sun
from the bare window. Casting shadow on an unswept floor.
Turn the lock on the deck door cautiously, with one foot out to
the side, that experienced stance to block escape artist cats.
Open only as wide as is needed for you to slip through. Don’t
pause at the threshold, overcome with birdsong or
the welcome wash of cool air. Just get out there. Sit.
And stay. Even after you’re needed on the inside again.
Stay, sipping hot coffee and staring at clouds.
Let a part of you remain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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