GloPoWriMo – Day 21

Cook’s Salty Zen

Tries in geek, Cook may or not know better.
For all were mistaken, kin that garlic was–
soysauce, Ma’am. Has also strips that were all too
clearly zen. Try it with another’s coal–
do, or it taste like oolong.

Synesthesia: try it with knocked knees, Yong.
Pack it in your ear, like this. Try a jeer, not
nice, so all is best. So long, like here, salt it
took, too, like nectar of sea. Dance with me here in
2023 now.

Merry-make, Netty, old grapes, some
search or long of, we tell and phone. Sound is pratter
such may, Ma’am, over jilt’s sake, envy the pea.

How long’s ill, that alleges not dour, we wanna hear
what is worse, go on! Just heard her open it,
niece, for all’s lang syne we aren’t so fare.

Up bed, daughter, or a patchy in own, himself, over
tickles her. How will her, my sin, pay, key? Scissors?
Women gin up dizzy, now wherefore on a tea?

We’re, how was it not, all like ending, touch wool
this: in geek, Cook were all crooked, what mind, her.
The key, he’ll say, what mind her, see far.

Daily Prompt:  “Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a ‘homophonic translation’ on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

My source poem: FERKÂLDEN, in Frisian, by Nyk de Vries, (Please read it–it’s beautiful in Frisian and in translation.)

Author’s note: Sure, the poem’s nonsense, but there’s a bit of a story in it, too. Writing this was a very interesting experience for me. As an autistic person, I experience challenge in social communication processing, particularly in translating spoken word into language. It’s not that I have trouble hearing–my sense of hearing is very keen. It’s that I hear sounds and music, even when people talk, and translating those sounds into language–into actual words that combine to create sentences and containers for meaning–is challenging (and taxing, too). So the process of reading the poem in Frisian, hearing the sounds in my mind, and then translating them into language is very much the experience I have whenever I participate in conversation or need to listen to lectures, spoken instructions, oral presentations, or meetings. Telephone calls, voice chat, and Zoom meetings are especially hard for me and can, basically, ruin me for the rest of the day–or even week. Also, with the poem being partially nonsense and partially containing meaning, that’s a lot of what my experience with spoken word is. I try to reconstruct what sense might be there, and often, I have the feeling that my understanding is not exactly what has been said. Even when my transcription has been 100% correct, I’ll often interpret it literally or precisely, and that’s usually not the intent of the speaker.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 20

In Hand

After my sister left
to marry the puppeteer
my hand clasped the colt
she carved for me last year.

It fit inside my palm
like another hand
simple, rough, black walnut,
cut with a toothed steel band.

It smelled like my sister,
shone with her fingers’ oil,
painted eyes, soft like hers,
around its nose, reins of red toile.

Even now, I sometimes hold
that rough colt in my fingers,
press my thumb against its ears.
Across miles, her presence lingers.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem about a handmade or homemade gift that you have received,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 19


Viewed one way
this rock is
nothing special

ordinary, dull
lumpy, ugly

Turn it over
it shines
crystals reflecting

Turn towards me.
Shine your bright
spirit–that soul-deep
of human goodness.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem based on a ‘walking archive.’ What’s that? Well, it’s when you go on a walk and gather up interesting things – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your ‘walking archive’ – the physical instantiation of your walk,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 18


to stand
in the garden
and breathe

air clean as
the summer
you were ten
and hiked
in the Sierras

that air

(Your dad was alive then,


air carrying
the scent of
the neighbor’s lemon

in bloom

and the bright
promise of
next winter’s


the virus
steals taste
and smell
when it first

but when it
comes for your

it steals


Daily Prompt:  “write an ode to life’s small pleasures,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: Have you noticed how clean the air is these days? Like it sometimes hurts to gaze at intense beauty, it almost hurts to breathe. It’s that pure.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 17

Applesauce, 1918 – 2020

Three cranks forward, one crank back.

My great-grandmother places on the
cutting board, stem-side up
six Newton Pippins, three Arkansas Black, two
Carter’s Blue, five Dudley Winter, one
Winter Queen, and a Maiden’s Blush

to chop, chop, chop–
half, quarter, cook it up!
Green skin, red skin, splotched,
dashed, and dotted,
cores and all in the pot!

Perfumed steam in the kitchen
out the window
through the neighborhood
and everyone sings,
“Grandma’s applesauce!”

Into the cast iron food mill,
crank it one way,
three for the sauce,
crank it back one,
clear the grate

Two steps forward, one step back

Into twelve jars,
the applesauce,

one for Smitty,
whose wife has the flu

three for cousins
whose dad’s out of work

two for the roofers
at Mr. Jones’ store

six for the volunteers
with the Red Cross

One turn forward, one turn back

One hundred and two
revolutions on
our small blue

around the sun

again a virus
brings us down
or draws us to each other

as we stay apart

I cut Granny Smith,
Fuji, Gala into cubes,
simmer on the stove,
blend in the blender

and it’s applesauce
sustains us,
just us two,
alone in our house

but thinking of you.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem that features forgotten technology,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: When I was a child, my mom had an antique cast-iron food mill she used for applesauce, persimmon sauce, and split pea soup. I loved to crank the handle, and the rhythm of the crank was three forward and one back. The backward crank had a lovely grasping sensation as it cleared the grate.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 16

Over the Top

in the middle
of a pandemic.

Be Kind to Yourself.
Order ice cream in your next grocery delivery. Chocolate. Get honey, too. Chocolate sauce. Mix it all together. Eat it. Empty the box of your favorite puzzle, the one of the Norman Rockwell painting, not the barbershop one. The fishing one. Pour all the pieces on your kitchen table. Spend five days putting it together. Don’t start with the edges. Stay up all night playing video games. Live in Tamriel. Forget this planet, just for one night. Then eat more ice cream.

in the middle
of a pandemic

Practice Extreme Self Care.
Breathe. Breathe while you do yoga. Stand in the garden. Breathe. Gaze at the mountains. Breathe. Breathe in the shower. Breathe when you take a bath so long that the rough skin on your heels softens and the bath becomes salty with tears. Breathe. Breathe when you stand in your kitchen, olive oil in one hand, cinnamon in the other, wondering what you are doing with each. Where are you? Breathe. Breathe while you pick the dried flakes of skin on your heels, white scales piling up on the corner of the coffee table, trying not to pick until your feet bleed, breathing because for the first time in three weeks your brain feels normal even if your feet hurt when you walk the next morning.

in the middle


Daily Prompt:  “write a poem of over-the-top compliments,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: Well, I didn’t even try to complete today’s prompt–my mind latched onto “over-the-top,” which this poem is. I considered writing a found-poem composed of Trump’s over-the-top praise for himself (I’d title it “Perfect”), but I don’t really want to feel angry this morning. The poem I wrote is inspired by this article I read last night by Marnie Hunter, published in CNN, “That uncomfortable coronavirus feeling: It could be grief.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 15


They say Bach composed cantatas during a pandemic
They say Bach sang chorales while those around him fell sick

But I know G
is the frequency
to make each cell in the body
vibrate in healing harmony

They say cellos sound most like the voice
of your lover, mother, boyfriend, spouse

I hear Bach talk
kitchen murmur
kettle simmer
quiet chat of him, her

Lose your parents, your first wife, your ten kids
out of twenty, you might choose intervals the church forbids

I’ll play!
I’ll bow.
I’ll live through
my cello.

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 14

“Every Sea Broke Over All”

Let your life become a poem
like Margaret Fuller
to walk beneath
New England oaks
and bright Italian skies

A mind so sharp
that others recoil–
send Hawthorne running
see Emerson scowl.

But look, Thoreau,
with his lone smile,
matches step by step
along the solitary mile.

I hear always the
echoes of his steps
along the beach
littered with calico and scraps
of the best dresses and lost
dolls of the shipwrecked
searching for her lost manuscript
a history now forgotten,
Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli

Remember Fire Island.
Let yourself become a woman.
Brave, sharp, outspoken

Full of life and the rising
bright light
of being

A friend. A lover.
A solitary soul
Full of life.

When every sea breaks over all
let yourself stand bold on the deck
brave with those you love
in the midst of the shipwreck

Daily Prompt:  “write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: Margaret Fuller, and her friendship with Thoreau, endlessly inspire me, filling my imagination. The title is taken from a transcript of the notes Thoreau wrote when he combed the shores after the shipwreck of the Elizabeth, looking for any remnants of Fuller, her husband, and their young son. She’d brought manuscripts with her, including a history of Italy, that were all lost, along with the loss of the lives of her and her family.

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GloPoWriMo – Day 13

Salt-Spray Rosary

I stole my sister’s tears
to string around my neck.

100 for my father’s death,
10 for the tuxedo cat.
50 for the shotgun her
husband stole from neighbors,
70 for the mania
that drove the frantic theft.

Thousands for our mother
who lives beyond the reach
of memory, abandoned fate.
And countless more for distance
and time’s strange grasping hand.

I don’t wear pearls
around my sweaty neck.
I finger this salty rosary
that lets me never forget

a tear for every mile
between us, enough to fill
the wide salt bay
where floats her island home
inescapably far away.

I never saw my sister cry.
I stole her salt-spray tears.

Daily Prompt:  “write a non-apology for the things you’ve stolen,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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