Aimless: A Poem a Day

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Yesterday, I completed GloPoWriMo, the worldwide celebration of Poetry Month in April. I am guessing that writing a poem a day for thirty days doubled my lifetime output of poetry. And what did I discover?

In the past, I turned to poems, rarely shared, when emotions pressed in so closely that writing poetry offered the only possible relief. In the rain-soaked winter of my first year in college, the lines I scratched in a green, hard-backed journal (a Christmas gift from my sister) carried me through a tricky emotional state after the boy I loved dropped out of the university and, hence, my life.  I didn’t feel that any of that handful of poems were any good–though some had a rhythm I liked and one contained an image of mud-caked boots which I loved.  But writing them helped me to, eventually, smile again, and fall in love again, and again.

During this past April, I didn’t write poems for emotional relief: I wrote them as a daily exercise. Surprisingly, relief came anyway. I feel happier and more resilient, and the act of writing poems contributed to this. It was a challenging month for us in a practical matter, as we went through a kitchen remodel. And personally, in terms of life themes, I faced a few challenges, too, as I dove deep into questions about my sense of self and the role of friendship in my life.

These themes both found resolution this past month. The discoveries I made writing poetry helped, and this practice also opened me to find resolution through other material I read. Writing the poem Identity cinched something essential in me to how I see myself and others continuing through shifts in form. And somehow, though I didn’t write much about my puzzles surrounding friendships, writing poems primed me for this New York Times article,  Friendship’s Dark Side: “We Need a Common Enemy,” which has helped me understand that, while I practice friendliness and kindness universally, I tend not to do “friendship,” at least not in the way that article describes.

Poetry seems to affect my brain similarly to music–Bach, specifically. Fragments link up. Pauses gain significance. And a sense of wholeness, which, really, is what health is, seeps in.

So, I think I’ll keep up with the practice of writing poems, not daily, but, perhaps, weekly. The habit is good for my mental health.

And now that Poetry Month is over, a friend tells me that it is Short Story Month, which means A Story a Day. Dare I try? I think I will. Though I’m much more experienced in writing short fiction than poetry, I’m gifting myself leeway in what I post: expect short, rough, quick sketches, that may, or may not, fit the daily prompts. It’s an experiment to see how daily fiction writing compares to daily poetry writing.

And before I close, thank you to all who read my poems in April! You were kind and gracious readers, and I enjoyed sharing my lines with you!

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GloPoWriMo: Day 30

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Lost Dark Matter, Found

“The missing links
between galaxies
have finally been found.”

And with the loss
of lost dark matter
something stirred–
disappointment?
Hope?
Abandonment.

When it was lost
what was lost
within her didn’t matter–
we are without structure,
right?

But if structure
wound through
the baryons,
then the part
of her particles
that were missing
were simply

gone.
Empty.
Lost.

The vast
universe
was within
and there was
no room
for her.

Ah, well,
but Neptune
is in Pisces.

With one reason
gone, another steps
in to simply
take its place.

We become
whole
when wholly
lost.

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

The fact (and the source for the opening quotation): Half the universe’s missing matter has finally been found, by Leah Crane

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GloPoWriMo: Day 29

Henrietta Davida Thoreau

Willow
For Sylvia

They say in nothing lies madness,
poets, mad women,
Sylvia.

Sylvia, like an elm.
A willow rests in nothing.
Its roots stretch
through gaps
between soil
into spaces
where water flows.

In nothing lies peace,
not escape
but rescue
from crossed-wires
that flame into too
many words.

Claim your name–
Sylvia. Find the deep
woods, past where the elm
grows. Go deeper, to the
willow. Burrow through
the empty spaces,
follow water,
to find,
this silent

spot

of solace.

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

I chose Plath’s Elm.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 28

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Up Redwood Road
To my sister, the fairy queen

Look! Remember this boulder? It’s still here–of course it is. Where would it go, without ice flow to heave it off the mountain? It looks the same, only more dappled in sunlight. “Take out your braids! Take off your clothes! Perch on the rock, like a fairy girl!” I wouldn’t model for your Imogen Cunningham moment, though I yearned to be transformed into art. Mom would scold if my hair were a mess. I stood unhappy, in the shade between allegiance and duty. You got married. I escaped to college. Let’s meet again at the rock, all these lifetimes later. Let’s strip naked, cloak ourselves in our long white hair, and perch on the boulder, two fairy crones, dappled princess maidens, always.

Daily Prompt:  “Draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 27

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Ace of Wands

It starts with an itch.
The ember roars to burn.
Unless you scratch, you know you’ll twitch.

Not all ideas will make you rich.
There’s something else you want to earn.
It always starts with an itch.

Thread the needle for the first stitch,
Work quick, for ashes fill the urn.
You must scratch, or else you’ll twitch.

Of course, it’s magic, you witch.
To create means: stake your turn.
It always starts with an itch.

Act now. Avoid the hitch.
Coax them to unfurl, these fronds of fern.
If you don’t scratch, you’ll surely twitch.

You can hear it. Now sing, in pitch.
Don’t pretend it’s perfection, for which you yearn.
Creation starts with an itch.
If you don’t scratch, you know you’ll twitch.

Daily Prompt:  “Pick a card (any card) from…  the tarot [I used the Gilded Tarot from Llewellyn Worldwide], and then to write a poem inspired either by the card or by the images or ideas that are associated with it,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 26

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Pacific Sestina

Sometimes blows the Pacific wind
across three hundred miles of desert,
carrying memory
of seaweed, whales, seals, and wave,
a heartsong of echo,
a whisper of home.

In the garden behind home
I catch the wind
to smell the echo
of salt, strange in the desert.
It carries the wave
of kelp, a distant memory.

A gull cries in memory–
I wonder, am I home?
I strain after the crash of wave–
Can sound hitch a ride on wind?
But in the desert
the sea’s roar won’t echo.

Salt on my tongue, the echo
of a childhood memory
when the island was the only desert
near my home,
stripped by wind
washed by wave.

After a heatwave
we wait for thunder’s echo.
Rain stops, followed by wind.
My skin jumps at the memory
of a beach, far from home
which, during storm, picnickers desert.

I suppose, in a way, a desert
is like a sea, where grasses wave
beside the path toward home.
The canyons ring with echo–
if this were your childhood memory
Would you then face east for wind?

Turn east, turn west, toward yesterday’s wind.
It hauls the crates of memory.
A scent, a sound, a taste, a touch–it carries your childhood’s echo.

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 25

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Care and Feeding

Warning: Though independent
and resourceful,
this being requires
tender consideration.

Left to her own devices
she will be fine.

But expose her to
harsh environments,
large groups of people,
and rooms without
windows

And she will wither.

It helps to
listen to her,
too, when she
has a need to share
thoughts, dreams,
wishes, inspirations.

This being requires
copious amounts
of time outdoors,
preferably in a garden
or other natural setting.
In a pinch,
a rooftop
will do.

Provide for her
these minimal
considerations
and you will be
rewarded
with a friend
who can cook
sweet applesauce,
brew aromatic coffee,
and smile with
a grin that reaches
her eyes.

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that takes the form of a warning label . . . for yourself!” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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