Saturday, April 10, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 10

This is a "recycled" poem, so it's not my real entry for today. It's just one I found, and love, even though I wrote it last year. I wanted it here because it's how I am feeling right now. A new poem, in a poetic form I have never seen before which a friend used in his blog will be posted later today, after I have written it.

But for now: "For today's prompt, I want you to take the title of a poem you especially like (by another poet) and change it. Then, with this new altered title, I want you to write a poem. Your altered poem does NOT have to follow the same style as the original poet, though you can try if you wish. " I am, of course, going to shadow the form of the poem, simply because I want to see if I can do it. So here we are. See what you think.

Here's my template:

Sea Fever

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trip's over.

John Masefield

And here's my attempt:

Spring Fever

I must go down to the store again, to the lovely gardening store,
And all I ask is a tall tree, and a flat of plants galore,
And a wind chime, and a windsock, and a white narcissus,
And a green thumb, and a rose bush that will please the missus.

I must go down to the store again, for the call of the growing green
Is the weed's clutch, and a yard full of stuff you've never seen;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray of the RoundUp, and the crabgrass dying.

I must go down to the store again, for the vagrant gypsy's life
Is a soft dream that was long gone when I bought a house with my wife.
And all I ask is a spool of yarn to block the cats from the clover,
And a long vacation in someone else's garden when spring is over.

Friday, April 9, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 9

Here's today's prompt...first, think of a number between one and ten. Thinking of that number, go to this site, and go to that number of quotes on the page. Copy the quote, and write a poem about it, about what it might make you think about.

My quote:

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act III

My poem: (poetic form is the anaphora, a poem where each line begins with the same word or series of words)

Miss, Taken

I never knew it could be dangerous to share myself,
I never knew someone might not accept me as I was.
I never knew the many ways people can bruise your soul,
I never knew a reason to be frightened of a friend.

I never knew, until I began seeing what's-his-name--
I never knew anyone who could make me seem so real,
I never knew when someone said "my girl", he could mean me.
I never knew the others to whom he said the same thing.

I never knew it was abuse, the things he did, he said,
I never knew I was a victim, never would have been.
I never knew anyone who could make me feel so small--
I never knew I would believe that it was all my fault.

I never knew how powerful I would feel when I left.
I never knew the many years his shadow would remain,
I never knew my children would be caught in the crossfire,
I never knew how long it would be until things might change.

I never knew what it would do to me to live that life,
I never knew how much I'd like myself, much better now,
I never knew the way a possible life-long mistake
I never knew I'd made might serve to make me who I am.

I never knew mistakes could lead to life experience,
I never knew that quote by Wilde could show me who I am.

I never knew.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 8

Today is a "recycled poem", one I wrote two years ago, but just found again in looking through old manuscripts. Your prompt, if you would like to play, is to write a poem based on some "rule" or "symbol system" that you use in your personal life. This poem is based on The Witche's Pyramid.


To know...that one was easiest...
To my peril, because I became arrogant...
And indeed, the pyramid collapsed
With the weight of my over-confidence.

So once again, I began to build.
To know.
Not to tell everyone everything.
Not to brag, or boast, or blather.
But to quietly, successfully,
Go about the Work,
And the final result
Would come in its time
This I know.

And so, to Will
To do more than Want
But to intend, to focus,
Indeed, to Be the thing desired.
When did I finally realize
That Willing is not something you do,
And Willing is not something you want.
The True Will is Who You Are...
And I know this.
And I am this.

And so, to Dare.
Reaching beyond the Self
To encounter the Being of the Other,
Others, people, sisters, brothers, friends.
To Dare, to speak one's Truth
To Dare, to be in another's grief
To Dare, to change, to become, to be More
More than Self
More than Will
Daring, and Sharing
And becoming One.

And so, to the final rung
The final angle of the Pyramid.
Now I Am With...
Now there is We, not just I
Now I see, and I hear
In the hearts, in the pain
In the crisis and the struggle of the Other
I am there
I am Daring to Be
With the Other,
Friend, Brother, Sister, Lover, Companion.

And so, we are One.
And so, I see through the eyes of others.
I see hatred,
I see dishonor,
I see injustice,
I see lies that hurt.

And, now, on that fourth angle
One step from completing the Pyramid.
I halt.
I have to stop.
I cannot continue.

For here and now,
In the pain of the Other
Who is also mySelf,
In the grip of injustice,
How can I Be Silent?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 7

A slightly different prompt today...if you're playing, post a poem by someone else that resonates with you today, and then post your own poetic response thereto. Here's my model for today, Maya Angelou:

The Rock Cries Out To Us Today

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.


I Cry Out To The Rock....

Oh, strong, stalwart stone,
O thou upon whom was built
The foundation of history,
The church of Jesus,
The bones of civilization,
Hear now my complaint of thee....

Thou has become a bulwark,
A symbol of fortitude,
An icon of stability,
The metaphor for firmness,
Those things which must BE.

I say unto thee now,
It is time to change that.
It is the time for you
To crumble, to become sand,
To give in to the vicissitudes
Of time, and wear, and growth.

Let a tree's roots crack you.
Let thunder shake you in your bed.
Let a bolt of lightning
Split you asunder.
Let yourself be Moved,
Changed, Dissolved, Remade.

Become the Living Stone,
The avatar of existence
From which all things were made.
Become again sentient,
Let yourself be a live thing,
A life form, one which grows.

Too long have we poor humans
Used you as a symbol
To excuse our own failures,
Our own mental laziness,
Our own stubborn wrong-headedness,
Our failures to Become.

So, O Rock, show us now
That you are bone of bone,
And bone must grow, or die.
Illustrate for us
The power of transformation,
The reality of malleability.

Make us aware
That it is not the Rock
Upon which we build
But the vitality of the structure
That will sustain us,
That will make us Beings.

O rock, I know you hear me.
Rise up now, in power.
Become an earthquake.
Open a chasm
Prove to us that you can change.
And then, we can, too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 6

Here's another "oldie but a goodie", written on our vacation to Florida two years ago. Prompt for today...write a poem about a place you've been.

Ocean Thoughts

What is it, this vast, blue deepness?
Ululating bladder of an unseen wind
Stretching imperatively from horizon to horizon…

How to create enough awareness,
Not superimposing Self on the phenomenon,
To begin to encompass its living vastness.

I find it impossible.
Not even a drop in the coruscating breathing,
I just stare.

Composed when observing the ocean from Miami Beach
July 2008

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 5

All right then, yes, I am an old woman and a long-time of course we have to do some things that are classical poetic exercises. So.. your prompt today. Pick an ADJECTIVE, and use it as your title. Form...the classic sonnet. Fourteen lines, iambic pentameter, rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg. Use your adjective at least once in the body of your poem. Have fun!


It takes a lot of courage to be strange.
No one has ever tried who couldn't see
The unexpected challenges the range
Of deviant behaviours might set free,

The many ways not living by the norm
Might point you out too clearly to the mob
Of those who live their lives in standard form
And think your forced compliance is their job.

So, creeping on the fringes of your own
Uncommon life, you yet begin to see
A certain kind of beauty, all your own,
In shattering of custom. It could be

The most important thing you'll ever do.
To live your life as no one else but you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 4

Here's a new one. If you would like a prompt, what are you doing lately that makes you feel good? Write a poem about that.


I had forgotten how it felt
To be out in the air
By myself
Stretching, looking, wondering.

Yesterday, I went along the street
Picking up trash
Consciously making an offering
To the Lady of the Land

Today, it was so brisk and chilly,
I hurried a little,
Making steam with my breath
And counting my paces.

And when I got home
I thought deeply.
How is it that I
Have so long neglected this simple joy?'s not exercise
Not any more.
I won't fall into
The trap of "I gotta".

It's a privilege
It's a joy
My self-time,
Daily communion with Nature.

So...every day
Because I want to,
I will go out.
Don't bother me, I'm walking.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 3

I am going to celebrate National Poetry Month, this year, with my own work, some recycled, some new. Here's a prompt for you....What's the first "-ing word" that comes to your mind? Make that your poem's title, and proceed in accordance....

Here's mine, one I wrote a number of years ago for My Honey, on seeing her photo seeming to look down on me from the wall. I looked back, and I called it...


I sit here in my armchair
Gazing at your face
Smiling down from the wall at me
With your accustomed grace

Or sometimes, when you’re busy
I just glance, unnoticed,

And you put me in a tizzy,
Even when you’re fully focused
On whatever you are doing.

I can sneak a look and wonder
How long have you been brewing
The spell you have me under?

I fall away from my own work, uncaring
And watch the play of light
and shadow in your eyes…

It's always a surprise,
And always a delight,
To look when you don’t see. How can I, daring

To disturb your concentration,
Even for a minute,

Intrude on you with talk of love
And how deep I am in it?

I love to rediscover how lovely you can be
while doing something focused,
that is nowise about me.

No matter how many times
I see you on the sofa
It is always a surprise that I never quite get over.

That you love me?!?

Then you look up
and give me that impish grin
and remind me once again, brand-new,
how deep the love I'm in...

No matter what you’re doing, I can be
As stealthy as a cat, and turn my head
And try to see
What are you thinking? Watching? Doing?

But…It never fails...

You will look up at me,
as if I had just called your name, instead
Of silently

just touching with my eyes…as if I touched, pursuing.

And love prevails.

You are forever somewhere, in your head
Or in a job of work…but I, unknown,
Can watch as if I were not there,
And know that you alone
Belong to me. On any day I gaze
You are within my view. The lamplight plays
Upon your hair, your skin…you have your work

But I….have you.

Friday, April 2, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 2

Today's poem came to me from a random thought I had during the morning's reading session, so I am not sure it is worthy of a prompt. I suppose we might say, write a poem based on an idea you got from whatever you're reading....My own prompt is complicated. I got the thought from a book of fiction I'm reading, but the actual place the idea originated is a quote from the Bible. So...whatever you're reading, what kind of poetic thought does it engender? For me.....


They wandered in the desert,
A people lost, abandoned,
Long before escaping from the plague in Egypt's land,

They'd always been the lost ones,
The wandering outsiders,
Convinced their God had sent them forth to wander in His name.

They knew that they were Chosen,
The only ones who knew Him,
The one God, He who told them they must worship at His shrines,

Disclaiming other Godness.
And so, within His writings
There came the Word forbidding any wasting of the seed.

They learned that it was better
To give a whore one's children
Than to ensure, by wasting, that there'd be no child at all.

Because they were the Chosen
Yet always few in numbers
They were enjoined from ever wasting seed upon the ground.

There was the tale of Onan,
Who would not be the father
With Tamar of a child he must support, yet not his child.

For centuries they've used it,
All Biblical non-scholars,
To justify forbidding masturbation, and to say

To all who would prohibit
Conception of more children
That anything that interferes with pregnancy is sin.

Today, I wandered into
The world of exigesis,
To find which verse, exactly, gives the context to this rule.

The way I'd always heard it,
"Tis better that the seed be
Cast in the belly of a whore than spilt upon the ground".

Surprisingly, I found out
There IS no verse of scripture
Which says this, nor in any way implies that it is so.

The "verse" is fabrication,
Cast into ancient diction
To make it sound like scripture, so the message would ring true.

Indeed, that very Tamar,
Not fertile, due to Onan,
Seduced her husband's father, and was not cast into hell.

And so, today, I wonder,
How many other places
Are we certain of a shibboleth which never has been real?

How many other "scriptures"
Are the work of politicians
Who need the strength of God's word to support their feeble own?

And most of all, who are we,
We herd of "chosen peoples"
Who somehow think it honors God to not think for ourselves?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Poetry Month, Day 1

Poetry Prompt--It's a Nine-Nine-Nine....closest book to hand, page nine, every ninth word, nine words total, and nine lines. Extra credit if you use nine words per line. Omit prepositions and conjunctions, as well as proper names...use every other word in your count. See what you can do with it. Here's mine:


Too Little, Too Late

I remember a story my father told me once,
A tale of an eastern star, remote and cold,
And of its fall into oblivion, due to being
Fixed on its dignity, at the expense of brilliance.

Dad reminded me that I also was too quick
To judge, to assume, to decide that some dingy
Remnant of someone's life, laid on their kitchen table
Was beneath my use, too simple, not wise enough.

And then, he died. I found his words.....eternal.