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Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a ” tell it to the _______” poem.  Really not sure what to do with that.

It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day!  As ever, I have my basket full of poems to give out to people at work so that I can be sure they’ll have poems in their pockets as they go through their days.  Last year, knowing that I’d be in the hospital for PYP Day, I left a supply of poems behind with explicit instructions to have them given out on the correct day … and I brought a bunch of poems with me to the hospital to give out.  Seriously.  I offered poems to every nurse and PA who came into my room, gave poems to my room mate and her partners, and carried them along with me when I was taken out for my little physical therapy walk around the floor.  Many people seemed to think I was nuts, but I’m used to that at this point.

Today, I brought a few dozen poems with me to my morning meeting.  My morning meeting at City Hall with one of the Deputy Mayors.  I figured it would be good to have poems on me just in case.  You know, just in case someone asked.  Just in case there was a poetry emergency.  Just in case the meeting was chummy enough that it wouldn’t have been too strange for me to pull out my little plastic case full of poems and start offering them around. Sadly, the moment never presented itself.  The Deputy Mayor will never know what I was packing as I sat across the table from him.  Alas!

I’m still waiting for the day that someone on the street actually turns to me and asks if I have a poem in my pocket and if I’ll share it with her/him.

Tell it to My Heart

Real
feeling – 
hidden, dense.
All my secrets
exposed. This time I’m
sure,
surer
than last time,
than any time
you’ve been at my side.
Love?
Something
stronger, hard –
the one thing I’ve
avoided knowing.

Not sure it worked as well as I had in mind.  I wanted to see if I could recycle some of the lines from last night’s poem, see if I could leave them in the same place they landed in my “place” poem but give them a totally different feel here.  

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  To date, I’ve received almost half my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

* And no, we can’t go there without going here:

I know a place.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “place” poem.  I decided to be literal about it an choose a physical place, but I also decided to choose a place that would push me to start thinking again about a writing project I set aside last summer and haven’t made time to go back to.  I have this annoying habit of setting limiting and strict rules for myself for no good reason.  I mean, it’s a pretty good bet that, no matter what idea I come up with, there will be some external voice telling me I can’t do it or it’s a bad idea or that someone else has already done it and I can’t do it as well as that person so I may as well quit.  Or some such.  So if those naysayers are already out there, and are all ready to take me down a few notches, why do I use up my valuable energy doing their work for them?  Feh.

Last summer, a propos of nothing, I began writing a memoir.  Not Adventures. That was already under way.  No, this was a more traditional, prose-only memoir.  And I had a LOT to say … but then I stopped myself because, as my internal censor pointed out, “You can’t write two memoirs at once, and you’re already working on the comic.”  Who says?!  Right, but I listened to myself last year and put the memoir aside.  Tonight’s poem, though it is hardly a return to the writing of the memoir, it is at the very least a shot across my internal censor’s bow, a warning to let her know she needs to pipe down and let me do my work.

I Know a Place

Troy.
A weight,
hidden, dense.
All my secrets
kept.               Long afternoons,
long
bike rides.
Books read, hills
climbed. My bully / 
my friend at my side.
Jean –
taller,
stronger, hard –
she knew things I
avoided knowing.

Her
story
twists around
mine. But it’s time
to let myself go, leave
her
alone.
Walk away
from her story
learn  to tell my own.

Jean,
is your
memory
shaded purple
and grey, same as mine?

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  In the first week, I’ve received almost 40% of my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write either an optimistic or a pessimistic poem.  Not sure I’m really feeling either of those right now.  I’m more than a little focused on my plans for this summer … when all the family tree discoveries of the last two weeks don’t crowd out everything else and take over my brain.

I’m excited about the work on Adventures, and am really looking forward to getting out the Berkeley for VONA.  At the same time, I’m also feeling disconnected from the rest of my writing.  The last few days of being home and trying to make some real progress on working out what my class submission for June will be made me miss fiction writing — not the flash fiction I’ve been so focused on the last several months but the longer stories that I spend months and months finding my way through.  I haven’t written a story in just about forever, and that makes me sad.  I love the short-shorts.  They please me enormously.  But they aren’t the same.  Of course not.  I was all set to start a short-fiction blog — push myself to write one of those stories every morning — but I’ve tabled that idea for the moment.  I need to settle myself first.

It comes back to time, to making more time for my writing, comes back to not trying to squeeze in all my ideas into the handful of minutes before I need to fall asleep each night.  For a brief moment I was getting up early every morning to write.  And that was great, but I couldn’t sustain it.  My exhaustion level was so high, I barely knew my own name by the time I stopped.  It’s not a way to function.  So I need to figure some stuff out, find a way to give myself the writing time I’m craving.

Time
never
hesitates,
never sits still,
gives me a minute.

Peace.
Quiet.
Unbroken
contemplation.

We still disagree,
time
and I.
I’m searching
out common ground.
Time to save my soul.

Playing again with breaks, trying to stretch the Arun to see what it can be and do.

_____

Yesterday, Alejna taggged me in a writing process meme that’s running around — it showed up on my FB feed in the status of another writer friend.  I like that we’re all thinking about our writing processes just now.  Very fitting with my writing practice contemplation.  My post for the meme will go up next week Monday if you’re curious.  And I’ll be tagging a couple of folks to post the week after.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer.  “Support” can be as simple and cost-free as sending the Indiegogo link out to your friends and telling them why they might want to help me get to VONA.  Any and all help is appreciated.  In the first week, I’ve received almost 40% of my goal amount! I am encouraged and humbled by everyone’s generosity.  Thank you all!

I even made a video for the campaign!

 

SOL image 2014

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!  Check out all of today’s slices over at Two Writing Teachers!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Re-imagining

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “back to basics” poem — resetting, relearning, restarting …

Find
a new
meaning, a 
definition
of family. One
tree,
many
limbs. Searching
lost histories,
re-imagining.
See
us now.
Family.
Each has a name,
all living on, here.

Starting to wonder if I’m holding myself back, forcing each of these poems to be only a single stanza when they could be much longer.  Waiting until the lat minute to start writing and pushing myself to post before midnight is constricting.  Yes, of course that’s true, but these last poems have seems the worse for it, stunted out of necessity.  May have to revisit and revise …

And still thinking about yesterday’s realization that I haven’t been the poster child for self-deprecation this month with all my poems.  I think this change is, in large part, due to all the mental space that’s been taken up by the family history I’ve been uncovering.  I’ve been so focused on searching out connections, on finding pieces here and there, deciphering the handwriting on 150-year-old census documents … there just hasn’t been room to remember to put myself down!

As much as I’ve enjoyed this year’s poem-a-day challenge, I’m also happy enough that April’s coming to a close.  I want to release the daily pressure and setting into some of my more “normal” writing. (Who knows what I mean by that, but we’ll see come May.)

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Every year that I’ve given myself the challenge of writing a poem a day for April, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what a crazy endeavor that is because I’m so not a poet. I go on and on day after day about how much I’m not a poet. And it’s true that I don’t think of myself as a poet, but it is also quite obviously true that I continue to write poems in spite of that self-perception.

I started this month in much the same way — talking about how not-a-poet me was back again, planning to sully the internets with my feeble attempts at poems.

But then that stopped. And stopped really early on. And I didn’t notice, didn’t see that it had stopped. And I didn’t feel any compunction to badmouth the work I was posting — and even had the audacity to post beyond the confines of this little-visited corner of the web.

What happened? Are the poems I’m writing this year better than each of the past years? Hardly.  Much more interestingly, I think what’s happened is that I’ve stepped out of my way — at least a little bit — and given myself permission to just write my poems without having to fire up the neon signs of disapproval every time I post one.  It’s a nice change, I won’t lie.  As nice as it is completely unexpected.

_____

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a family poem.  About time the prompts got in sync with my one-track mind!  I’ve been writing family poems since I found that first mystery relative at the Underground Railroad Museum.

Fold
my hands, 
bow my head,
give thanks, give praise.
We’re here, still alive,
still
hoping,
still calling
across the gulfs
of time and silence.
Now
finding
one, one more.
Fill the spaces,
bring every child home.

I didn’t go to church today, but I thought about it, a lot. On my way out of town to have an early Easter dinner, I passed the wide open doors of a church about 15 blocks from here.  What I could only think of as a clarion call flowed out to the street: a single horn playing a beautiful fanfare, calling me, calling me, welcoming me in.  It was a church I’d never noticed before, and I wanted to let myself be drawn in.  Never mind the train I had to catch.  Never mind that it wasn’t “my” church.  I wanted to climb those steps and walk in, wanted to share that song and the soon-coming moments of silence and prayer with the room full of strangers.  I wanted to send up my quiet “thank you,” amid the praise songs.

I went to the train, stayed with my original plan.  But I’ve been hearing that trumpet, remembering the feel of that pull all day.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Say my name.

The Poetic Asides prompt for today is “color,” to make a color the title of your poem and go from there.  I like that idea, and have written a few poems in the past about colors.  Specifically two poems about the color blue.  And so I immediately thought of blue when I read that prompt. But I’m not feeling the colors today, my mind still — big surprise — caught up in the past, in the anticipation of what I might find Tuesday when I go to the family search center downtown.

I am drawn again and again to those slave schedules, to the lists of unnamed people.  That’s where I want to start, but how?

Call
my name –
place me, ground
me. Connect me
to your past, to mine,
give
me Home.
Call my name. 
See that I”m here.
A name: full, weighted,
mine.
A name
to carry,
show that I’m here,
place me beside you.

Almost.  This one didn’t fall into my brain as easily as the ones I’ve been writing the last week or so. Feels a little heavy and awkward.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

Today I slept long and late — one of the vestiges of my organization’s founding as a faith-based non-profit is that Good Friday is a holiday – and I feel like a person again.  I’m betting that I’ll feel even better on Wednesday, as I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off work and giving myself a mini-spring break.  A visit with my family is included in there, as is some quality time at the Mormon family search center.  What a surprise to find that there is a center in downtown Brooklyn.  I know there are reasons to be a little less than cheerful about the “why” of LDS interest in finding and collecting genealogical records, but I’m willing to take advantage all the same.  I think they might be the key to getting started with the slave records I need to find.  We’ll see.

Tell
the past
I’m coming.
Turning on lights,
opening windows.
I’m
coming.
One day — soon? –
the right record,
the right file box,
right
story
will unfold,
take the spotlight,
reveal me to me.

Oh. Well, I didn’t know where that was going.  And I don’t know if it’s any good … but I do know I need to use that first sentence in something, as a title for something.  I really like it.

natpoetrymonth1

Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!

__________

An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

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