PAD 2021 – Day 15

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.

Kitchen Story

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.
Kitchen Towel, by Me

PAD 2021 – Day 11

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.

At Eleven

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.

PAD 2019 – Day 30

The final day! Woot! To anyone who’s been reading my poems, thank you. I write and post these drafts to keep myself on track, but it’s always nice to have the kind eyes of others on them too.

Today I decided to include all three of the prompt sites I’ve been using this month. A bit of a challenge since NaPoWriMo called for a micropoem. Packing more into less. That’s what poetry’s all about in many ways. So I tried to squeeze in the Poetic Asides call for a “stop” poem and the Stroll of Poets “standing in line” prompt.

 

tourist rest stop

 

cradled

by the rocky mountains

 

in the bathroom line

 

i hear “beautiful”

in six languages

 

 

PAD 2019 – Day 28

Never has mixing prompts been so fitting. Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt called for a poem about poetry, while Poetic Asides suggested “re-mixing” a poem or poems that have been penned earlier this month. I mined the poems from earlier days for words or phrases, then blended them into this.

 

Uncovering a Poem

 

It’s there to be found when it’s time,

but it means digging.

Poking at dreams wanting to be left undisturbed.

Peeking over the gate to see what’s growing.

Snaking the imagination, back — to gather traces of memory,

forward — to plant something new. Words, the closest ones to you,

unshared, but there like family. Reflections, imprints,

the bark of a tree, texture revealed

when it’s rubbed with a pencil.

PAD 2019 – Day 26

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt called for a poem that uses repetition, while Poetic Asides suggested writing something about “evening”.  Here’s what came out of the mix:

Evenfall

 

Evening comes

faster the less you pay attention,

like everything that slips in unnoticed. Silver inch of growth

in the part of your hair,  shimmery skin cells sealing a wound,

lines on the face memorializing every frown or smile.

 

Evening comes

solemnly when you are not listening,

whispers of gold and pink asking you to let go

of fulgent preoccupations. A coolness in the gloaming,

offering calm restoration.

 

Evening comes

steadily no matter how much you long for pause,

reliable reminder of all you cannot, should not control.

Winds calm, stars test the sky with the first pricks of light,

darkness readies.

PAD 2019 – Day 16

Working off the Poetic Asides prompt asking for a catch and/or release poem, and my local Stroll of Poets call to write a poem more about sound than meaning.

 

The Frequency of Calm

 

In. Out. In. Out.

As though it were that simple.

As though thinking doesn’t complicate even this.

 

Chase away the panic.

Catch the breath. Hold. Release.

 

Draw it in with a rush, flurry, gulp.

Let it out with a hush, whisper, sigh.

 

Draw, draw, aww, aww, awe

for this. Now.

Hold , hold, whole, whole, hole

of worry. Fade.

Let go, let go, here, here, hear

the whisper. Still.

 

Vibrato hum. Hum. Hum.

Om. Om. Om.

 

NaPoWriMo – Day 2

Combining  the NaPoWriMo.net prompt that suggested a poem that played with voice and the Poetic Asides prompt asking for a portrait poem. Today would have been my Mom’s 75th birthday, and I have been thinking a lot today about birthdays past, as well as the tendentious nature of memory.

Birthday Memory

1.

I remember another birthday, Easter weekend too,

thirty degrees above zero and all of us sticky

in the K-Car on the long drive to Auntie Deb’s.

 

I remember your face, Mom.  Soft.

Young, though I didn’t recognize it then.

You hummed when Tom Jones came on the radio.

 

I remember the conversation between you

and Dad, farm kids gone city, speculating

on the state of the fields, the summer ahead.

 

I remember you holding a bouquet of pink tulips.

We asked Dad to buy them from all of us.

Afterthought gift  from the gas station.

 

2.

If you could feel the heat then, daughter

from the sun and family, too close.

Even affection can be stifling sometimes.

 

If you could paint my portrait

there’d be lies in the brushstrokes.

Smoothed over wrinkles and anger.

 

If you could hear only what was said

and not what was meant, I wouldn’t

blame you. Your optimistic child’s ear.

 

If you could see my fingers rubbing

the plush flower petals. Not meaning to

wear a hole in something I loved so much.

November PAD – Day 1

I thought about trying NaNoWriMo this year. I even have an idea for a novel that I’m rolling around in my brain, but it’s sort of at the marble in an empty bucket stage. I can’t imagine what the full bucket looks like just yet.

But, I remembered that the Poetic Asides blog on the Writer’s Digest site does a Poem-A-Day prompt in November, with the goal of producing a chapbook by the end of the month. What would this be called…NaChaWriMo? NaPoWriMoCha? I’ve decided to write prose poems, so maybe NaProPoChaWriMo? What ever the abbreviation, the challenge seems more do-able for me this year. And also keeps me writing. Even if it’s just stream of consciousness that I can trim and polish later.

The prompt today was to compose a “New Day” poem.  Here’s what grew:

1.

C’est un nouveau jour. It always is, but today I stretch my tongue with unfamiliar words. Grind fresh coffee beans. Press my finger along the crease of a new notebook, the possibility of one blank page after the next. We woke up to snow, wet and conscious of its own arrival. A confident declaration, je suis là. Our daughter pulled on her new winter boots, still a little too big, but everything needs space to grow. I used to think the winter stopped that — flourishing. The season of pause. But that was before I forgot to kiss you goodbye. Missed the tickle of one day’s growth on your stubbly chin.

PAD 2017 – Day 30

The last day! Unfortunately, also a day when I am feeling quite under the weather, so didn’t have as much time and energy to devote to the final poem as I would’ve liked. Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt was the very wide open suggestion to write a  “The ____” poem. I decided to narrow it down a bit with the NaPoWriMo prompt to write about something that happens again and again.

 

The Sun & You

 

the sunrise

missed

when you’re in my bed

 

hot on my neck

the midday sun

your breath

 

the sunset

always better

next to you

 

My last Alberta poet of the month is Edmonton writer and artist Laurie MacFayden.  In keeping with the “The ___ ” theme, I thought of Laurie’s stunning poem “The Last Night,”  from her book Kissing Keeps Us Afloat. It resonates with me especially well, as it reminds me of things I’ve written (or tried to write, perhaps less successfully) about dealing with my Mom’s death. Listen and watch Laurie give a wonderful reading of it here.

PAD 2017 – Day 29

The penultimate day of the poem-a-day challenge! I liked today’s NaPoWriMo prompt, which asked writers to take a noun from a favourite poem, do some word association with it, then use it in a new poem. I went with a classic, T.S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Fun fact: it also happens to be the poem that inspired the name of this blog! Many interesting nouns in that one, but “sawdust” stuck out for me. It also combined well with today’s Writer’s Digest prompt to write a poem that uses the language, or a theme from,  the metric system.

Sawdust

 

Watching you from the open window that summer,

grind and whine of the electric saw a soundtrack

as you worked to build our girls a play fort

drawn purely from your own imagination.

I saw the way your brow furrowed,

as you measured twice to cut once,

sometimes still ending up a centimetre off.

I saw the way your spine straightened, small smile

on your face when you made one piece

fit so perfectly into the next.

I knew when I married you that there were

depths I would get to discover years later, or maybe never.

Surprises that might reveal themselves gradually

in stories you told, or the way your eyes looked

when I told you mine. But I never expected that new tingle

on my lips, a whole seventeen years in, when you came

inside for a glass of water, and leaned over to kiss me,

the scent of fresh sawdust all over your skin.

 

My Alberta poem today is by Calgary writer Nikki Reimer. With a title like “I suppose the ideal basement tenant would be a quiet retiree in good health, partially deaf, with reclusive but not unpleasant habits. Maybe tenants like that are already all taken,” you have to know the rest of the poem will be filled with wonderful wordplay and wit. Some worldly wisdom in  it too. Watch Ms. Reimer read it here.