GloPoWriMo: Day 22

Not Straight, Curved

Straight exists only as a construct:
In nature, all things curve.

When circles have corners,
we can choose
which bathroom to use,
what clothes to wear,
which job to choose,
whom to marry.  Or not.

Because circles have corners–
and squares have curves–
round pegs fit into squares,
square pegs fit round holes.

Straight exists only as a construct:
In nature, all things curve.
That’s why we choose
a more natural groove.

Daily Prompt: “Take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens:

  • The sun can’t rise in the west.
  • A circle can’t have corners.
  • Pigs can’t fly.
  • The clock can’t strike thirteen.
  • The stars cannot rearrange themselves in the sky.
  • A mouse can’t eat an elephant.”

— from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

Author’s note: I didn’t stick completely with the prompt because I don’t believe in impossibility, especially when it comes to social and cultural change.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 21


1. Youth
The mirror lied
in its perfection,
and, repeated
in the gazes
of others,
she believed
the lie.
She was beyond

2. Middle Age
The mirror lied
in its imperfection:
the lines
and splotches
found their
in the averted
of others.
She was beyond

3. Old age
The mirror smiled,
and she smiled back.
Few could see her
now, but those who
could, looked past
the reflection
and saw
the human.

Daily Prompt: “Write  poem that plays with the myth of Narcissus in some way,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 20


Seventy-eight Percent #RedforEd

Thirty-nine thousand teachers
across this red state
vote to walk out
on Thursday.

Miss Sanchez is
ready to walk,
too, shining her bullhorn,
painting her signs.

What about that
boy in her class,
Sean, who comes
early for breakfast,
sneaks seconds
for lunch?
The one she
always saves
an extra bag of
jelly bears for?

What about Laura
who sits in the book
corner, all through
recess? “It’s quiet,
Miss. I like that.”

What about Mark
who feeds the
tortoise? “When the
tortoise is happy,
it’s a good day.”

Sure, we want
what is right. Sure,
kids need more.
We all want
What’s Best
For the Kids.

Miss Sanchez put
away the bullhorn.
Sometimes, the rebel’s
got to stand
up to the rebellion.

Daily Prompt: “Write a poem that involves rebellion in some way,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 19



“Your hat!” my friend calls.
“Too windy!” I mime.

Snapped branch of the palo verde tree,
golden in fallen bloom
crashed to the sidewalk.

Chilled in the shade,
roasting in the sun,
the wind and my braid
in front of me.

Down the alley, a crack–
thicker than my thigh–broken in two.
Wind bends branches,
cambium clings.

Cars stop suddenly,
swerve with no warning.
Half the road blocked
by strewn palm fronds.

Halfway home,
I worry over
our worm-eaten fence,
fallen across the Cleveland sage–
snow peas, blown off trellises
–dessicated kale.

Once home,
the fence still stands.
No mesquites lost limbs.
Rudbeckia wilts in one pot
but the other pot herbs
wave leaves at me.

A spot of evening sun,
high up on the acacia,
lights a brighter goldfinch.
He sings.
I’m home.
We survived the gale.

Daily Prompt: “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. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

The Paragraph: (Actually, five, counting dialogue breaks.)

“Where’s your hat?” my friend calls to me.

“Too windy!” I mime the hat flying off and me chasing it.

When I turn towards her, I notice the snapped branch of the palo verde tree, golden in bloom–a third of the tree, actually, crashed to the sidewalk. I take my afternoon walk, anyway, chilled in the shade, roasting in the sun, with the wind blowing my braid in front of me. As I turn down the alley, a crack–the branch of the mesquite above, thicker than my thigh–broken in two. I pause to watch. The wind bends it horizontally, but the thick skin of bark and cambium keeps it clinging to the tree.

The wind continues until evening, and as I drive home from the office, I am on high alert. Cars stop suddenly, swerve with no warning. Half the road is blocked with fallen palm fronds. I think of our worm-eaten fence, imagining it lying across the Cleveland sage. I worry about the dead branches on the acacia out back and the two mesquites out front. I wonder about the snow peas, blown off their trellises, or the kale, desiccated by the gale. And the snapdragons, calendulas, pansies, and petunias, in their clay pots–they must be withered and wilted by now.

But when I arrive home, the fence still stands. No trees have lost limbs. The snow peas and kale, save for the thin border along the west end of the bed, stand strong and succulent. The rudbeckia wilts in one pot, baked in the afternoon sun, but all the other pot herbs greet me with bright faces and waving leaves. In a spot of evening sun, high up on the acacia, perches a male goldfinch, even brighter in the day’s last sunlight, and he sings. He sings, I’m home, we survived the western gale. The jet stream is wavy, and it’s only the first windstorm of the season, but home is a sanctuary, for now.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 18


The Escape

Oh, Brueghel! I can’t stand
to look at you, these days.
All those primary colors–
yellow skirts fighting with
blue shirts over red hose.

Put the party to rest.
Let the muscles relax.
Let me go to the meadow,
the woods, the fields,
away from the courtyard
overflowing with all of you.

No, I want to sit,
leave the dance
to the very young,
to the strong.

Let the bodies
meet the bodies
that want the flesh.

I want the spirit–
just for now.
Just this evening.

Let me fast
or drink plain water.

Let me grow thin.
Silence the steel guitar.
Hush your voice.

Still. Let me sit still.
This life presses in.

Oh, Brueghel.
A different time.
Youth, perhaps.
Or maybe, a time
when stillness
and silence
weren’t so hard to find.
I can’t look at you now.

Daily Prompt: “First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

Author’s note: My source poem, chosen at random from an anthology, was William Carlos Williams’ The Dance. (You can hear him read it at the link!) At home, we’re approaching the tail end of a kitchen remodel, so I’m a bit frazzled, and the idea of any more people and any more noise–even if they’re represented on canvas or in a poem about a painting–is a bit too much!

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GloPoWriMo: Day 17


The Adventures of Gigi

Remember when Gigi
chased the bear?
Oh, yeah. Mom and
Dad were like
A deer? How nice.
Now go back to sleep.

–And we hid all night
in the tent
except for Cathy
who slept out
under the giant sequoia.

–But she was only like five!
–Yeah, but that was OK.
Gigi chased off the bear!

–And the next morning,
remember the claw marks,
all up and down the trunk?
Smelled like vanilla,
that amber pitch.

–Oh, yeah. But what about
the paw print–

–at the base of Cathy’s
sleeping bag!

–Good ole Gigi,
scaring the bear.
Remember the time
she dove into the
algae in the hot springs
that smelt like sulfur?

–Oh, yeah. Dad fished
her out with his canoe paddle.
–She looked like a drowned rat.
–Smelt so bad, too. Remember

the time she jumped off the cliff?
–Right into Dad’s arms.

But I was never worried,
not at the bear,
not at the hot springs,
not at the cliff,
and not because
Gigi was heroic,
but because Dad was there.

–Yeah. Back then,
the world was safe.

Daily Prompt: “Write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 16


Magic Bean Coffee

Letters danced between the lines,
rearranging themselves into words:

Mast uri nut, nasturtium–
Cutter pub, buttercup.

Mansion drops, the boss scowls soon–
Scissors, spoons, bowls and the moon.

The writer’s pen draws petals
falling, ponds resting
and a frog

At the chessboard,
the Ruy Lopez swirls
into the Nimzo-Indian,
While the Gruenfeld stands
off against the Caro-Kann.

“What’s in this coffee?”
the chess player calls into the kitchen.
Another sip. The Queen winks.

The writer thinks back
to the fixing.
While the kettle heated,
she’d looked out to the garden,
where morning doves
spread wings under the
sprinkler in the squash bed.

Spiny lizards pounced
after dragonflies.
A white-patched skipper
drank deep from the verbena
then soared in crazy drunk circles.

She ground the beans,
breathing in the brandy
mesquite graham cocoa cider
sweetness of it all.

“What did you say was in the coffee?”
called the chess player again.

“Nothing,” said the writer,

“Oh. That explains it.”
And he moved his rook up the file.

Daily Prompt: “Write a poem that prominently features the idea of play,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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