I liked today’s NaPoWriMo suggestion to write a season-specific poem engaging all five senses and using a rhetorical question. I decided to blend it with the Poetic Asides call for an “exile” poem.
Why is it so difficult to banish?
That stubborn cold that burrows down to the bone,
pinch felt on the skin when you dare to step outside uncovered.
The look of winter remains long after spring has made its calendar declaration.
Gaunt branches poking at cloudy skies, the scent of fetid leaves in murky melt puddles.
Stubborn islands of snow and ice in the shadowy parts of a yard imploring a seasonal shift.
Guardian birds who’ve overseen winter’s term sing songs of eviction and welcome.
Leaveleave Leaveleave calls the chickadee. Come Come Come rallies the crow.
We munch sweet greenhouse carrots, savour tangy lemons imported from hot places.
Ingest what we desire — freshness, tenderness, growth. Forced internal blooming
to overtake a season of still grey.
Followed the NaPoWriMo.net suggestion today to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Then, build a poem by erasing words from this paragraph or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem. I did a quick free write about the view from my window, and then cherry-picked words to make a new poem.
Light slaps the deck,
highlights the cracks in the paint.
Dusting of dirt and grit,
dried leaves wedged
between the boards.
Sunglasses sky —
snow threat forgotten, for now.
At the top of a bare elm, magpie surveyor.
We both stare at that mound of dirty ice.
Some things will be gone
before day’s end.
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.
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.
Hooray, hooray, it’s the first of … April! I always get excited about NaPoWriMo and the poem-a-day challenge. For one, it forces me to write. Secondly, I’ve learned that doing these quick drafts where I just let things flow and lay off the self-editing can actually take the writing to new and fun places. Bad writing can be made better later, but it has to exist first.
This year I’m aiming to write a poem every day in a local, closed group with other adventurous Stroll of Poets members, but when I can I will try to post here as well. I will also try to respond to either the NaPoWriMo site prompt, the Poetic Asides prompt, or a combination if it works. Today’s prompt was certainly harmonious, with my local group, NaPoWriMo and Poetic Asides all asking for a version of a “secret” poem. Here’s what snuck out.
I know it’s hidden
under a span of cold mornings,
beneath a crust of snow,
below the hardened soil,
in the throat of a robin.
I hear the whisper
of a season
ready to emerge.
I hold this secret hope
that tomorrow might bring
another Arctic gale,
another lash of winter,
another frigid night
with nothing to do
but make each other
I woke up to snow where I am this supposedly spring morning. It made me a little grumpy at first, as I’m ready for spring, but it also seemed like good inspiration for the Writer’s Digest prompt to write a poem with the title “______ System.” I decided to try to combine it with the NaPoWriMo letter-poem prompt.
Replying to a Note From a Weather System
Dear Keeper of the Clouds,
You’ve been busy this morning.
Busy making rain and snow,
reminding us that as much
as we wish for change — a slow
smile of green taking over the
trees, a peak of purple crocus
pushing through the grey dirt
— you are in charge. You set
the tone. I wonder, Keeper,
if you’re sending us a message.
Writing as clear as the crystalline
flakes falling. A raised eyebrow in
our direction. We’ve been
shirking our jobs as stewards
of this land, we know, Keeper.
We’ve been chasing more dollars
than dreams, stuck ourselves in the
dirty mud of the past, instead of
looking ahead — up, to you — to
see that we can be more, for
each other and for the earth
we share. I wonder, Dear Keeper,
if we’ll catch a whispering snowflake,
quiet our simmering voices,
Today is also a beautiful day in Edmonton because it’s the start of the Edmonton Poetry Festival! The line-up of featured local and Canadian poets is as amazing as ever. I thought I would mark the day by linking to a great poem from current Edmonton Youth Poet Laureate Nasra Adem. Please take a minute to watch, listen and enjoy “Blush.”
This week’s Haiku Horizons word prompt is “search.” It’s been awhile since I played along, but the first day of spring (on the calendar anyway…still wintry out my window) seems like a good reason to plant some words.
first day of spring
magpie searches the snow
for a sign
her searchlight smile
from the red carpet
searching for answers
in moon shadows