PAD Challenge – Day 30

The End. Finito. The Final Day. I feel both relieved and rueful that today marks the end of the April poem-a-day challenge. It’s been fun, frustrating and enlightening, as so many of the prompts I’ve followed have allowed me to try new things. And I hope it’s not the end for some of the poems I’ve written. From revision comes afterlife.

For today’s poem, I took the “dead end” prompt at Poetic Asides and combined it with This Is Not A Literary Journal’s suggestion to write a poem to a place you’ve never been.

 

Addressing the Road

 

The mystery is too inviting,

so we choose you, trackless road

with your shadowy mouth,

and moss-coated branches

that crook and join

their sisters on the other side.

And we do hear the crows calling

deadend deadend deadend, but

crafty as they are, what do they

know about adventure?

It’s a gamble, we know, but

we’ll take our chances, road.

We’ll know when

we’ve found the place.

We’ll hear it in the swish of leaves,

whispering, where you end

is where you start.

 

The NaPoWriMo site has been celebrating poets in translation all month long. It’s been wonderful discovering the work of poets who write from a voice and experience outside the North American one I’m so often exposed to. And it’s been a great reminder that the best poets create images that are universal. Because it’s “the end” of the PAD journey for this year, I was reminded of this stellar poem “After a Death” by Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

And a final note: to anyone who’s read even one of my posts this month, thank you so very much. I’ve been writing all month to stretch my own poetic muscles, and posting to keep myself on track, but to know there are readers out there who’ve joined me in the experiment is extra sweet icing on the cake.

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PAD Challenge – Day 28

The end of the poem-a-day challenge is near, and I realize I’ve been avoiding the “form” prompts all month. So today I decided to give it a go, combining the tritina challenge at This Is Not A Literary Journal with the Poetic Asides suggestion to write an “Important ______ ” poem. Got a little sappy with this one, as is often the case in my first drafts, but in the spirit of the PAD challenge, I’m posting it anyway.

 

Important Moments in History

 

Starting small in a city so big,

bachelor suite, in a muddle of buildings that blocked the sun.

My hand-carved table and your vintage Pepsi cooler, sharing the room.

 

From the dirty window of the hospital room,

you looked for proof of something this big.

A photo of the rising sun.

 

We bulged like the sun,

finding ways to make a little more room.

The space a child fills is infinitely big.

 

This house isn’t big, but there’s sun in every room.

 

 

Today’s emphasis on what’s important reminded me of the wonderful, tongue-in-cheek poem, simply titled “Poetry” by Marianne Moore.

PAD Challenge – Day 24

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt asked lost and found. I found myself a little lost for words, but did squeak out a few micro-minis.

 

lost art –

handwriting

the letter

*****

planting time

uncovering

the squirrel’s stash

*****

so easy to lose

so hard to find —

my patience

*****

pregnancy weight

never lost

but so much gained

*****

 

This Is Not A Literary Journal suggested writing a poem about who or what you dreamed of last night. I have mined my dreams for poems before, but this morning I couldn’t remember any specific details. When I do remember my dreams, they are often about the people I love, and sometimes people I’ve lost, which is maybe why I am so drawn to “Dreaming About My Father” by Ed Ochester, The details about the garden are my favourite part.

 

PAD Challenge – Day 22

Happy Earth Day! The NaPoWriMo prompt today asked for poems to Mother Earth, and the Poetic Asides prompt suggested starting or titling poems with Star____.  I decided to do some micro mashing with these:

stark beauty
desert lily
full bloom

*****

starving
for attention
lost dog

*****

star maps
catching dust
in his new condo

*****

star anise
celebrity
of the spice cupboard

*****

starfruit
a taste of heaven
in my smoothie

*****

starlings
trembling
in the aspen

*****

I liked the prompt suggested by This Is Not A Literary Journal to take 8-10 words from your favourite recipe, and mix it into a poem. Short on time today, so I will have to bookmark that for another day. However, I did decide to see what came up when I searched other “recipe” poems, which led me to this celebratory poem called “A Recipe For Whisky” by Scottish poet Ron Butlin.

PAD Challenge – Day 20

Today the Poetic Asides prompt spoke to me with the suggestion to write a things said or unsaid poem. I always think of secluded spots in nature as the best places to hear our own thoughts, which is probably what inspired this:

 

On the Lake

 

It makes him feel insignificant

and that’s his favourite thing about it.

How he might patter off into the underbrush,

rove the shadowed spaces between the spruce.

 

When he’s on the lake, those first minutes

after dawn, the surface so still and solid,

he believes it can support

every weighty worry.

 

All the things he never says,

known by the glimmering water.

 

 

Today the  NaPoWriMo site puts out the call to get clever with a “kenning” poem, which is  a riddle made up of several lines of kennings (usually two-word descriptors in a unique or old language) to describe something or someone.

At This Is Not A Literary Journal the assignment is to take an imagined trip to a place that scares you, then write about it. As poets I think we naturally write about our fears, and as readers we’re drawn to the exploration of those fears. It helps us cope and heal. And sometimes it makes for such beautiful poems, like Seamus Heaney’s “Anything Can Happen.

 

PAD Challenge – Day 18

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt suggested embracing that “Monday — back to work” feeling to write a poem about the office or office life. For me, this coincided a little with the NaPoWriMo prompt to incorporate the “language of home” into a poem. I’ve done a little of this here, but think I’d like to incorporate more in the revision stages with this poem:

 

Home Office

 

His real office was his car,

the commute and the workday one

as he crisscrossed Saskatchewan,

breaking every stock image of the

smooth talking traveling salesman.

 

At home, the office I knew, a scarred

metal desk, tucked in the back corner

of our basement, surrounded by file boxes,

piled memos — neatly classified chaos,

and always a cup of coffee.

 

A place to do paperwork, a strangely

alluring word to me. Important, and something

adult that must be done, would be done

by me, someday. I could help with the stapling,

when packets of papers were needed, reading

names for inventory, and carrying heavy sample

boxes, stacked like giant Lego bricks,

at the bottom of the stairs.

 

My Dad, always going places, going to get

ahead and mostly to get back

to us — our baseball games, dance recitals, plays.

And my  Mom, the Chief Everything Officer who

never left the office, never saw a paycheque

and never let any of us down.

 

This Is Not A Literary Journal invites reflection on a “thing” or a treasured thing we no longer have, and asks us to write an ode to it. It reminded me of Don McKay’s nuanced tribute to the cutlery we all use everyday in “Setting the Table”. You can watch the revered poet himself reading it here.

PAD Challenge – Day 15

Doing double-duty today, incorporating a word list prompt from Poetic Asides, and the NaPoWriMo challenge to do something in “double” — in my case, I wrote in non-rhyming couplets. I used six out of eight words: flat, ring, lavish, vessel, paper and tooth. Just couldn’t get gaudy and blacklist in there. This was tough, and not very successful, but it’s the half-way point in the month, and I can’t stop posting now! 🙂

 

Vanishing Act

 

She put the ring on the counter, next to the coffee pot, and started walking

through the fields, flat and white as paper, now and for most of the year.

 

She would miss the sky, revealing so much depending on the shape of the clouds,

and the way the wind would chisel at her front tooth if she dared to smile.

 

She came with the hope she could be a vessel for something — grace

or contentment. Nothing so lavish as joy, but together they tried.

 

She left emptier, a familiar feeling, but  by spring — distant spring,

her footprints would melt away. Even the coldest winters are forgotten.

 

This Is Not A Literary Journal suggests writing a poem using Robert Peake’s word generator. I’ve used this before and posted the result here. It’s a great tool to take you unexpected places, and if nothing else, check out the rest of Peake’s site, and read three of his picturesque poems here.

PAD Challenge – Day 14

Time-outs are important, and not just in the last two minutes of a tense playoff game. Today the Poetic Asides prompts asks for a “time-out” poem. I went tiny again with this:

hammock nap
brown hare hunkers
in my shadow

I’m fascinated, but intimidated, by the NaPoWriMo suggestion to try a san san. Perhaps I need to devote a different month to trying out all these exciting forms.

I do believe beautiful things could come from the prompt over at This Is Not A Literary Journal, which asks you to think about naming ordinary things or objects, like trees, cars or birds. It brought to mind this wonderful (like they all are…) poem by Don McKay called “Song for the Song of the White-throated Sparrow.

 

PAD Challenge – Day 13

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt calls for a Last _____ poem. I went the micro route today, with these three:

 

Last piece of pie —

a year ago I would’ve

left it for you.

*****

Last time

I got butterflies.

Today, only heartburn.

*****

Last spring

I still remembered

the sound of her laugh.

*****

This is Not A Literary Journal suggests playing with repetition in a list poem, and the NaPoWriMo challenge is a fun one that I plan to try on a day when I have a little more time: write a poem inspired by fortune cookies. It reminded me of humorous Lines For The Fortune Cookies by Frank O’Hara.

PAD Challenge – Day 12

Hooray, I got to play today! The Poetic Asides prompt said “write something serious, or something silly”, and over at This Is Not A Literary Journal, the prompt called for dark limericks, in the vein of Edward Gorey. I have never written a limerick before, but I do love my fiction and TV when it’s gruesome and dark. I couldn’t imagine how to (and didn’t really want to) rhyme about anything too real or serious, so I went with classic monsters instead.

Monster Limericks

She thought him a true beau ideal,

til’ his razor sharp fangs he revealed,

She grabbed for a stake

but alas, it did break

and he drank all her blood with such zeal.

******

Two weeks from the day they were wed

disease took him right in his bed.

She cast a dark spell,

sprinkled herbs for the smell

and  summoned him back from the dead.

*******

A  handsome young scholar named Fitz

under full-moons lost all of his wits.

He  grew  hair everywhere,

sharp fangs he would bare

and  chew hapless old ladies to bits.

******

The NaPoWriMo site poses the challenge to write an index poem. This is something I have never done, but it seems like an interesting exercise. The example they give is this inventive poem by Thomas Brendler titled Index of First Lines.