Tasks, Goals, and Obligations (oh my!)

Today I learned of some brilliantly good news for a friend, a happy happening that spilled over to create joy for me. I love when my friends succeed, seeing them stretching into new spaces thrills me. It’s also fuel for my own ambitions.

I’ve just come off of two months of almost non-stop focus on a project for work, a project that pretty much ruined me for all other endeavors (as evidence, I offer some of the desperately meager posts I put up last month for the Slice of Life Stories Challenge … oy). I’ve spent a lot of the last week sleeping to recover from that effort. Now it’s time to shift focus and get back to work on a couple of personal projects that were pushed to the back burner by my job. I have a mid-July deadline for one, and possibly a year’s end deadline for the other. And tons of work to do on both!

And I still have my job, of course, and the April poem-a-day challenge, and a bunch of other tasks, goals, and obligations. When are we expanding time so that a week lasts for ten days?

Meanwhile, I continue to wrestle with the Golden Shovel. It may be time to do another cull of Lucille Clifton’s magnificent work, pull some new lines. Between the heaviness of the lines I’ve been using for source material and the fact that I’ve been thinking so much these last days about a situation that saddens and frustrates me, the poems I’ve been writing have been pretty dour. Tonight’s source text is, once again, “Jasper Texas 1998.”


I waited. While
you tried patience, I tempered hope
and saw that it bleeds
red, as I do, slowly.
Bleeds from
every one of my
dreams, as they bubble from my mouth.
It reminds me that I
struggle to acknowledge when I am
tired, I am empty, I am done.
While you break every rule with
your bare hands, turning this
possibility -- every possibility -- to dust,
pretending not to see that I
have closed my eyes and turned away, that I am,
finally, done.

National Poetry Month 2021: the Golden Shovel

As I’ve done for the last forever, I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April. I don’t always succeed, but I always give it my best shot. The “Golden Shovel” was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks. I learned about it from my friend Sonia (aka Red Emma). I’ll be using Lucille Clifton’s poems as my starting point this month. Here are the rules:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

Should be interesting!

3 thoughts on “Tasks, Goals, and Obligations (oh my!)

  1. “When are we expanding time so that a week last for ten days?” Sadly, that still would not be enough for all we want to do, before we are all that dust.

    “Hope bleeding from my mouth” is such a dark powerful metaphor..


  2. Lainie Levin

    This is so powerful. I keep reading your poem over and over, trying to come up with words that serve as an adequate response, and keep coming short. This weight you carry. It is heavy and difficult. The frustration, the exhaustion – I feel discouraged and hopeless along with you. And I don’t know you in real life, but if I did, and I saw you in real life, you would be someone whose hands I would take in mine. And I would look straight into your eyes and tell you that you are not alone. And I would let you sit – with love and compassion, and silence if you needed it.


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