This really is the last poem for my NaPoWriMo month. Initially, the prompt stymied me. But it turned out to be fun. One of the (several) reasons I love NaPoWriMo. 😏 I’ve tried so many different poetic strategies this past month. Not every one of them has worked (one I flat didn’t follow!), but many have. And I’ve learned so much! That’s the best reason to invest the month in poetry: you learn. Are all the poems good? Not even most of the poems are good. And that’s okay. That, too, is what NaPoWriMo is about.
So here’s my last prompt:
Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.
And the poem:
In the next year of the water dragon ~
A boy will find a wooden box
Holding in its belly the fine blade
Of a fountain pen, the glass bowl
Of an inkwell, a piece of blotter
He will open the smooth lid
Sliding the handmade black hook
From its catch, and lift out
The golden nib, the crystal cup
He will wonder at the black ink
Touch his finger to the dark liquid
Wipe it on the heavy paper, a smear
Of blue and black without meaning
Reversed upon the blotter’s surface
Are letters he can almost call to mind
A broken word, the trail of a line
Nothing he can understand
Holding in his hand pen & ink & paper
He wonders why they rest together
Who made the perfect box, who filled it
And just what these totems once were used for
It turns out I still have two poems to catch up completely. Sigh… But that’s a quasi-happy sigh, as I probably will not write a poem daily for a while. Maybe not until next April!
The two days are 25 & 26. This is the NaPoWriMo prompt for day 25, an interesting one.
In 1958, the philosopher/critic Gaston Bachelard wrote a book called The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.
Here’s the poem:
The space between
An infant’s focus
Is the space between
Our faces, as he lays
Within the cradle
Of my arms
His dark wide eyes
Following my own
The infinity of facing
My focus is the years
From now until I shatter
My glass absorbed
His eyes holding
Within the space between
I so love being forced (voluntarily, I realise) to write poetry. I will whine, procrastinate, kick the wall, shine some more, and even then skip engire weeks if left to my own (writing) devices. But give me structure & a deadline, & I’m down.
So here’s my last (I think?) NaPoWriMo prompt, day #18:
Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates neologisms. What’s that? Well, it’s a made-up word! Your neologisms could be portmanteaus (basically, a word made from combining two existing words, like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. Probably the most famous example of a poem incorporating neologisms is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, but neologisms don’t have to be funny or used in the service of humor. You can use them to try to get at something that you don’t have an exact word for, or to create a sense of sound and rhythm, or simply to make the poem feel strange and unworldly.
I found it immensely freeing to write with made-up words. I strongly recommend it as an exercise. Here’s the poem:
In the blithful momus wey
The sunby frogs sang luffabees
And all the glitwinged startleduks
Swanneled through the melomy.
Still writing! Luckily (at least it feels that way today) I have a few assignments left. 😏 Day 16’s NaPoWriMo prompt came quickly. Here it is:
Today I challenge you to take your inspiration, like our featured interviewee did in the chapbook she co-authored with Ross Gay, from the act of letter-writing. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.
And the poem:
Dear America ~
Please explain to my grandson
Why you will not trust him as he grows.
Why his uncle and his mother are suspect
Those dubious brown people
Why my cousin’s darker grandsons
Carry with them trouble
As dark as their shadows
As dark as white fear.
Can you explain
So that we all understand?
It’s over. My beloved NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month. I look forward to it all year, then whine about while writing. Here’s the last NaPoWriMo assignment:
The prompt ~
I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that happens again and again (kind of like NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo). It could be the setting of the sun, or your Aunt Georgia telling the same story at Thanksgiving every single year. It could be the swallows returning to Capistrano or how, without fail, you will lock your keys in the car whenever you go to the beach.
Here’s the poem:
The door opens
On cats at the threshold
Each morning they await
Their entry into our bed.
Noses to the crack beneath
The door, they leap to attention
When my beloved swings it wide
They rush the bed I linger in
Scratch nesting hollows
Into the sheets and curl up
Their different bodies similar
In need. Hector large, male, dark
And easy. Sophie tiny, grey as smoke,
Her own quiet ghost. Each demanding
My attention. Which I offer willingly
Comforted by love that needs
I’m not the middle of almost anything. The first girl cousin on my mother’s side. The eldest child. “Middle’ is not a word I think about much. So the NaPoWriMo prompt for day 15 was an interesting experiment. I had to think about middles, and what immediately came to mind was a logic class I failed twice, many many years ago. Because of the law of the excluded middle.
Here’s the NaPoWriMo:
I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Half a loaf is supposedly better than none, but what’s the difference between half of a very large loaf and all of a very small one? Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end.
Here’s the poem:
The law of the excluded middle
Dr. Brown bless his heart said I was wrong
So wrong I might be crazy:
The last person who said that ended up
In an institution, Miss Britton!
But he was wrong.
Even if the third law of thought
Is on his side ~ a thing cannot be
Both true and false. One or the other
Must be the case. Something can not be
And not be ~
My southeast asian childhood
Tells me differently.
To be and not to be:
That is no question, but a state
Of being/not being.
Like the mind, illusory and yet…
Like the breath, both in and out
Like the middle:
Excluded even in its bridging state.
Like love, which is at least one part
Its darker neighbour.