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
Working from two prompts today: the Writer’s Digest challenge to write a poem including a prime number, and the vague but interesting 30/30 prompt, “tomorrow today.” Apologies for sappiness, but that’s the way I get about my kids.
Our heads are together and I can smell
citrus shampoo in her still-damp hair,
toothpaste on her breath when she tells me
I’m worried about growing up. I know it’s not
so-much the body she inhabits, the lengthening limbs
and widening nose, that brings on this
mental weight, but the bigger world.
The thing I have no explanation for.
The thing I too feel the press of, and understand
that at eleven, she can already sense the
goodness of childhood sullying,
the way a frenzy of expanding bubbles
start to pop and fade the minute the water
stops. Inevitable slide into something new,
that will contain so much greatness, yes,
but also expose harsher truths. Tomorrow things,
seen without sheen or shadow disguise.
I cannot admit
that I too worry about her growing up,
not because I lack faith in her, but because I
know it’s harder to walk once you notice
what you’re carrying. And I want to shoulder it for her
as long as I possibly can.
Today’s poem is still twisting a bit, so I’m not posting, but the prompt has some pretty cool potential. NaPoWriMo.net borrowed this prompt from poet Hoa Nguyen.
First, find a song with which you are familiar – it could be a favorite song of yours, or one that just evokes memories of your past. Listen to the song and take notes as you do, without overthinking it or worrying about your notes making sense.
Next, rifle through the objects in your junk drawer – or wherever you keep loose odds and ends that don’t have a place otherwise. On a separate page from your song-notes page, write about the objects in the drawer, for as long as you care to.
Now, bring your two pages of notes together and write a poem that weaves together your ideas and observations from both pages.
My poem-in-progress takes notes from my messy drawer, my strange dreams last night and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” which was playing in my brain when I woke up.
I am not sure what I wrote today even qualifies as a poem, but it was a fun to write. The NaPoWriMo.net prompt called for a poem in the form of a “to-do list.” The suggestion was to make it a “to-do list” of an unusual person or character. For example, what’s on the Tooth Fairy’s to-do list? Or on the to-do list of Genghis Khan? Of a housefly? The list can be a mix of extremely boring things and wild things. For some reason, the first character I thought of was The Mothman.
Mothman’s Friday To-Dos
Do 50 sit ups
Do 50 wing extensions
Clean coffee pot
Build bridge out of sugar cubes
Knock it down
File & paint claws
Gather doom for later harbingering
Remove thorns from feet
Today my poem took inspiration from the the League of Canadian Poets prompt to write a poem about what happens when you sleep, as well as today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt modeled on the 1915 book Spoon River Anthologyby Edgar Lee Masters. It asked for a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood. The monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy, with any degree of drama thrown in. I chose to write from the perspective of a cousin who contracted encephalitis from a mosquito, and died several years later, long before I was born.
To call is it sleeping sickness implies a certain serenity
but I can tell you, from this side of my closed eyes,
it was never true. Before all that I was praised for my
black curls and round blue eyes, like a doll they’d say,
never getting old enough to be noted for my keen
math skills or the way I could run to the treehouse
faster than my brothers and climb the ladder like
a squirrel. I loved the colour yellow and the way
my mother’s carrot cake tasted ¬ best on my birthday.
I never had time for a real crush, or to really dream
about what I’d do when I finished school, but I do
know it would have been more than house and babies.
I do know I would have danced, even through the
reluctance and bone-ache of old age. I do know I
would have gone to the lake every summer,
stayed up for every sunset, shut my eyes to memorize the
way the crimson and pink, the streaks of orange
reflected on the water. Held the shades and shapes like a favourite
painting, in my heart and behind my eyes, so I’d always have
some place to go to in the dark.
One week down!! Today’s seemingly simple prompt proved rather difficult for me. NaPoWriMo.net asked poets pick from or combine two kinds of short form poetry – the shadorma, and the Fib. The shadorma is a six-line, 26-syllable poem (or a stanza – you can write a poem that is made of multiple shadorma stanzas). The syllable count by line is 3/5/3/3/7/5. The Fib is a six-line form where the syllable count is based off the Fibonacci sequence of 1/1/2/3/5/8. You can link multiple Fibs together into a multi-stanza poem, or even start going backwards after your first six lines, with syllable counts of 8/5/3/2/1/1. I tried linking one of each, but haven’t landed on any sort of title.
I never want to
stop myself from dipping into.
Like a tongue
rubbing a raw cut
on the gum,
each twinge will be testimony
or reason to be.
Today I experimented with the NaPoWriMo.net prompt to find a poem, and then write a new poem that has the shape of the original, and in which every line starts with the first letter of the corresponding line in the original poem. The poem I chose was this translation of “Alcaic” by Tomas Tranströmer. The tone is certainly divergent from the original, but it was interesting to see what came out when I had to write within the constraints of starting letters and line-syllable counts.
That devil in me. I wait for your yell:
the way your voice goes high, then deep. Simmering.
In my bedroom, I bury my hot
face in the pink quilt you made for me.
I am never able to access why.
Can’t tell you in words, the need to be seen
takes over from the want to be good.
Testing a needle against a balloon.