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Poetry in Motion

Heh. I got jokes.

I’m the one in motion — I’ve left own for a conference in Cincinnati.   It remains to be seen whether the poetry has gone on the road with me.

The Poetic Asides prompt for today is a double prompt, offering up both violence and peace. I’m not sure I’m feeling either prompt today. But we’ll see where this goes. I had the strange experience of walking down the street tonight to find some dinner and finding — in addition to dinner — a distressing series of drunk and angry twenty-something men, several of whom spoke to me — but not really to me, but to whatever person they happened to career into.  So I wanted to write about them — I suppose there’s some violence and peace in there after all.

Vine Street, 9pm

Strange
men — boys
really — stalk
my path. Drunk, sad,
one curses, complains.
Love,
leaving,
has left him
bare and in pain.
One misses his mom,
wants
to call
but fears her
many questions,
stinging rejection.

Boys,
tattoos
freshly inked,
boasting manhood,
craving touch, comfort.
Drunk
in their
several
sharp sadnesses,
they see only hurts.
One
calls me.
Says, “Mama,
you hold me back.
You leave, I’m nothing.”

My
hands want
to hold them,
to offer balm,
but I know better.
Their
words call,
but their eyes
are empty, flat,
rage too near the surface.
I
walk fast,
trust the bright,
silver glow-light –
DANGER! — down my spine.

natpoetrymonth1

SOL image 2014

_____

Ever since I’ve known about this conference, I haven’t been able to get the theme song from WKRP out of my head.  I wouldn’t have thought that I remembered that song, and yet … Maybe a few days in Ohio will chase it out.  It’s not all bad, though.  It also reminded me of that Thanksgiving episode:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf3mgmEdfwg

__________

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.

Another day of not-quite-spring.  I’m sorry to be so fussy, but we are well into April at this point.  Of course, over the weekend, a friend in northern Maine posted a picture of her backyard … buried under so much snow only the tops of her willow trees are showing! Okay, I’ll keep my mouth shut.  At least we’ve got no snow.

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a self-portrait poem. I immediately thought of one of my favorite limericks:

For beauty I am not a star.
There are others more handsome by far.
But my face, I don’t mind it
for I am behind it.
It’s the people in front that I jar.

This limerick was, apparently, written by Woodrow Wilson!  I love that that could be true.  I would love it, in fact, if every president had written a limerick or two!

A self portrait.  Of course, I draw a stylized self portrait every time I make a comic, but that’s different.  So, tonight’s Arun:

Draw
my face.
Can you see
missing pieces?
Can you see me? Me?
My
selfies
give little,
almost nothing
true. I look angry,
face
empty,
unfocused.
Looking inward,
hints of love, want, faith.

My
own eyes
see flaws, see
scars, see my eyes
different sizes.
Face
isn’t
self-portrait.
I am greater
than my looks alone.
Why
is it
hard to find
the me inside,
the kernel of real?

That’s actually not where I thought I was going when I started writing, but I’ll take it.

natpoetrymonth1

__________

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.

First
night, first
together,
sky dense, star-full –
cool, inviting, wild.
Warm,
soft air
whispering
along my spine,
hinting at secrets
here,
of you.
Your nearness –
scent, touch, echo, all –
your long-fingered hands in mine.

The Poetic Asides prompt for today is to write a “night” poem. And as soon as I read that, I remembered the day I met AC, the hours and hours that we spent talking, sitting under the fullest night sky I’d ever seen.  Even after everything that happened — and didn’t happen — between us, that night will always feel like magic.

My little Aruns, on the other hand, aren’t feeling so much like magic.  It’s early days still, it’s true, but worry about how the rest of the month will go.  I’m still having my issues with the single-syllable lines, still waiting for one of the poems to wow me, even if just a little bit.  Okay, that’s maybe not fair.  The hitch hiking poem pleased me well enough.  Perhaps I’m being unduly hard on myself and need to just turn off the critic and write?  Oh, right.  Right.

natpoetrymonth1

__________

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.

Discover

Sometimes I think I’m doing Naima a disservice because I know that I am actually the one who needs a mentor.  Of course, who wouldn’t like to have a mentor?  And surely I would be a better mentor for Naima if I’d had the experience of having a strong mentor myself. Never too late to start? So maybe I need to be looking for that woman now. The Poetic Asides writing prompt for this day of the challenge is “discover.” And doesn’t that seem just right?

Discover

My
hands mask
anger, fear.
tell their own story.
Gesture up, left, right,
out.
I look
calm. But you
must ignore that.
See under my gloss.
See
what’s real
in here. See
what your eyes can’t,
won’t.  Unmask.  Reveal.

 

natpoetrymonth1

__________

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.

Spring is here?

I was part of a reading tonight.  I read a bit of memoir, and I think it went well.  People laughed when I hoped they might laugh, and — despite one spot where I could hear myself reading and thought, “Oh, this moment needed more or perhaps an entirely different writing.” —  I surprised myself by being surprisingly calm.  That is not to say I wasn’t nervous, but I didn’t feel the same physical disruption nervousness usually creates in me: light-headedness, upset stomach, jittery feet and hands … oh yes, I’m quite the spectacle when I read!  And I should have been nervous tonight.  I wrote my piece in the dark, pre-dawn hours of the morning and didn’t have any time today to practice it.  At least I had a skeleton to start from, the original sketch I’d made and filed away as something I didn’t know how to use.

For tonight’s Arun, I’m once again listening to rain outside my window, thinking of how wet and crazy-cold it was today, how long winter has held on, despite our desperate pleas for warmth.

Since I’ve Been Waiting

Spring
telling
me she’s here
singing her blues.
She tells me to breathe
deep,
breathe in,
be still, wait.

She’s not ready
to play light, loving.
Winds still cold,
flowers tight
still held in bud
await her warm kiss

 Is the skipped line a no-no?  I have a feeling it should be, but I’m feeling stubborn, so it stays.  Do I have to make up more rules for this form?  Why didn’t anyone tell me this from creation business could be a little like work?

natpoetrymonth1

__________

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.

Silence Broken

Tonight I went to the New York launch of Lisa Factora-Borchers’ anthology, Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence. There was a great introduction/process description and reading — including a recording sent from Belgium — and a Q&A.  My time and my calendar said I shouldn’t go, couldn’t go, but I had to ignore them.  And I’m so very glad I did.   I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m going to say that all of us should.  This is a conversation we need to be having, work we need to be doing.  I’m so grateful to Lisa and all of the writers in the anthology who were brave enough to share their stories, and I’m grateful to the women in the audience who stepped up with the same bravery during the discussion afterward.

Tonight’s Arun.  It didn’t quite do what I wanted, but I felt less hampered that single-syllable line tonight.  Not sure why that might have been true. The Poetic Asides writing prompt for the day is to write a message poem. And so:

Girl,
your voice –
broken-glass
nails on chalkboard –
needles through my brain.
You
have words
no one wants.
Words that open
doors, that open wounds,
fly
in faces,
tell the truth:
lifting all boats
from pain to praisesong.

natpoetrymonth1

__________

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.

Voyager

Naima has taken up the challenge of writing a poem a day, and we’ve decided to email or text them to each other each night.  That’s great inspiration for me to make time to get my poem written!

Also, I followed a link from Minal Hajratwala and found myself taking on yet another challenge for the month. At Writer’s Digest, the Poetic Asides blog is offering up daily poem prompts and asking folks to post their poems in the comments.  The best poems from each day will be selected by daily guest judges and collected in an anthology by Words Dance Publishing. Fun times, yes?  Today’s prompt is to write a voyage poem.  That prompt coupled with the fact that reading Vanessa Veselka’s chilling essay “Highway of Lost Girls” this morning has had me thinking about my own experiences with hitch hiking led me to today’s Arun.

I went for something different, writing Arun stanzas for a longer poem. My jury’s still out.  I’m finding the form to be a bit awkward.  When I was writing Zeno poems two years ago, I found it fairly easy to work my way down from many syllables to one (the Zeno syllable count is 8/4/2/1/4/2/1/4/2/1). I find it much more difficult to start with only one syllable.  It feels more forced, contrived.  In any case, here’s today’s Arun, a voyage poem:

Here Alone

Ride.
Lean back.
Watch the road.
Watch the driver.
Hold your bag. Smile. Talk.
Safe –
for now.
Be ready.
You’re here alone.
Climate changes, shifts.
Watch.
Don’t blink.
Don’t miss it.
Stay on, ready,
always set to jump.

Talk.
Listen.
Hear silence,
weight in non-words.
Hold the door handle.
Ride.
Watch him,
smile and nod.
He’s a good one.
Still: stay on, ready.
Watch.
Lean back.
Hold on tight.
Eyes on his hands.
Keep your smile bright.

Luck.
I rode
months. Alone
with strangers, men
I did … didn’t trust.
Rode.
Oceans
from home, from
family. Trusted
strangers, gave myself
whole,
into
unknown hands.
Luck riding close
down every long mile.

natpoetrymonth1

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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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