30/30 #9 Baba Yaga Speaks

The prompt for today is to write a persona poem — a kind of dramatic monologue. To pick a character to inhabit — a person from history, an imaginary or mythical person (like Snow White or Zeus), or just someone you’re not  and write in their voice.

I choose to write my poem in the persona of Baba Yaga.

 

Baba Yaga Speaks
The road is treacherous,
A hero’s walk,
Though little children find it,
Easily enough.

Where a man may shake with fear
At the heads speared on the gate,
The little child stands,
Wide eyed, in fascination.

My meager shack,
Crooked and flooded by rains,
Shames the women in town
Who warn their children to stay away.

Only the poorest child comes willingly.
Not put out by a little work,
To get the fire lit,
Or mash the grain.

This hut stands on two legs
Cut from a chicken and
Imbued with old magicks.
Moving in the cover of night.

When the towns people
Have come too close,
With their fear, and
Pitchforks, and lanterns.

They say I eat the children.
Steal them in the night from their beds.
Lure them with treats to the woods.
Trick them, into my pot.

I do no such thing.
Though it is true when they visit me,
The children are no more.
They’ve been set to task.

Setting down childhood,
They leave my little shack
Heroes seeking their obstacles,
Blessed by an old root witch.

30/30 #8 Rebirth

The prompt for today was to get outside and write.  I was outside today but did not write while outside.  I have been reflecting all day on Spring, Easter, Eostre, and the personal resurrection and rebirth that happens (or can happen) at this time of year.  The following came from some work I’ve been doing lately, but especially today, around my own rebirth.   I am metaphorically and physically making space in my life for more light – a new light – to shine.

Rebirth

Cleaning cobwebs from broken lanterns,
Polishing the pieces that still bring beauty,
Discarding the rest to make room for a new light.
The house of my soul begins its rebirth.
Spring has arrived.

30/30 #7 Green

Yesterday’s writing prompt was to write a poem where a specific color is the dominant theme in the poem.  Here is my piece:

Green

Folded neatly in crisp rows,
The money rests inside leather
Made from cows, who
Once chewed the green grass
In the field across the way.
Now, our green money crosses
Neatly from palm to palm
Without notice,
As we buy our lettuce,
Spinach, and artichokes
Covered in a pesticide
Used to spray the leaves,
To prevent the green bugs
From eating what we feel is solely ours.
Our fists tight on our precious green,
We trade quality for quantity.
As we introduce poisons.
And lab created asparagus,
Into our world view,
Our supper tables,
Our children’s sensitive bodies.
Our green, more precious
To us now than any square of grass,
Or rain forest.
We sell away a lush green world
For a world filled with
Paper, creased and stained
Green with greed.

30/30 #6 Orca

I am playing a little catch up here.  This is #6 (yes I am two days behind).  The prompt was to write about an animal and to include some animal facts in the poem.  I chose to write about Orcas because of a dream I had several years ago.  I still don’t really understand the meaning of this dream, but it has stuck with me for years as vivid as the morning I woke from it.  In the dream 3 orcas were swimming in a swimming pool below my hotel balcony.  They had called my name until I came out and looked down.  Then, they sang to me.  I woke up.

Orca

For 90 years
She swam.
Mile after mile,
Seeking her next meal.
Was it her determination
that caused us to dub her,
Killer?
We are so bad at naming things.
Calling a dolphin a whale
A survivor, a killer.

In every ocean,
You will find her brethren.
The black and white
Beauties against blue sky.
They come up for air,
Then disappear again.
Animal medicine says they are the teacher,
Carrying wisdom from the ancestors,
So we can learn to heal ourselves.

She moves in her pack,
Wolves at sea,
Tracking down the next meal
They work together,
Bringing down a blue whale
To be shared with the pod,
And the children.
These creatures
Still remember the importance of
Family.

 .

30/30 #5 Baseball

Today’s writing prompt is to write a poem about Baseball in honor of Opening Day.

 

Baseball

The day your dad died, we played baseball.
No more than 8 of us, we took to the open grass next to the garden,
Tall sunflowers, guardians of our childhood, silently keeping watch.
We ran bases marked by rocks Shannon had carried over from the side yard.
We had wanted to be them, our older cousins,
The youngest 10 years my senior, all of them baseball players.
We listened intently as they laid out the game for our understanding.
You pitched first and I went to bat.
Not a full team, we played by altered rules,
Allowing you to chase me to any base and tag me out.
When the sun set, we walked back exhausted.
You said only, “my dad is dead,” then went inside, too tired to eat.

30/30 #4 Devil Woman

Once again, I’m writing after midnight so my poem postings look a little off, but I’m committed to the 30/30 and will catch up soon.  I really disliked the prompt for day 4.  Write a poem that is essentially a blues song.  3 lines, 2 repeating, a total of 12.  I’m just gonna come right out and say it, this piece is no good.  In part, that is likely because I didn’t take enough time with it.  However, I needed to write and post something for 30/30, so here it is.  As you are reading imagine it’s a blues tune.

Devil Woman

The devil be a sneak, steal her way into your heart
Lord, the devil be a sneak, steal her way into your heart
She gonna hurt you like a hickory switch, before you even start

Shut the door now Johnny, don’t let the devil in
Said, shut the door now Johnny, don’t let the devil in
Cause’ you know that woman wanna fight, and she always gonna win

That man there at the crossroads put the devil in yer eye
Said that man there at the crossroads put the devil in yer eye
You shoulda listened Johnny, and let that woman walk on by

She as fine as tall iced tea, mean as a one eyed dog
She as fine as tall iced tea, mean as a one eyed dog
She done cut you down to size boy, like an old fallen log

30/30 #3 To the Companion Bride

I am publishing #3 a little late, it’s technically day 4 since it is just after midnight.  I had to do things like homework and class today.  I would have much rather been writing.   I also slapped this one together pretty quickly, it’s not my best work.  The writing prompt from NaPoWriMo was to write an epithalamium.  NaPoWriMo describes this as a simple “celebration of a wedding” poem.  However, when I looked up epithalamium it said they were traditionally written to the bride to be read while walking to one’s wedding chambers.  Being the geek I am, I wrote one to a Dr. Who companion who has somehow managed to actually get through her wedding (this never happens in the show, he always interferes before they are legally married).

 

Here is my 3rd poem:

To the Companion Bride –

 

If you made it through your vows
You haven’t met him
He was there alright
Watching, smiling,
He probably danced with your aunt Margie

 

Walking to your wedding chamber,
I know this isn’t the verse you expected –
This is needed though,
Any minute, he’ll show up
With some emergency

 

And you,
You will help him,
Like they all do,
End up in his blue box
Flying through time

 

Forgetting every day,
This day,
The most important day of your life;
Not the day you married,
But the day you met the Doctor.

 

You will be in constant danger of death,
Faced with unbelievable adventures,
There will be times when it feels absolutely worth it
And never will you want to leave the Doctor’s side
Though eventually he will discard you

 

And your heart,
Your full, happy, overflowing heart,
The one you just promised to another
Will break every day
For a man who will not even tell you his name

30/30 – #2 “Pulled From Song”

Today’s writing prompt is to write a poem inspired by the #1 hit song on the day you were born.  My song is “Sailing” by Christopher Cross.  From this song I chose the following lyrics to work with.

“It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
Believe me.”

Here is my poem.

Paint my canvass like a bruise,
Blue and black,
Fading into something uglier
Call it post modernism.
Show it in galleries,
So spectators can comment on the light,
or lack of.

Peddle prints on E-bay, a buck each,
So everyone can contemplate
The scars you’ve made so obvious

Or –

Escape.
When the wind blows just right
And up, like a kite flying,
I drift to never-never land
It must be Friday.

Turned my back on innocence
Because he’d already taken it
In full sun, with onlookers,
In church pews,
I prayed for a miracle.

But God was out that day
Looking at art.
And I never was one for painting.

Sailed away on crystal boats
Lined up by boys
Who would never grow up.
I just wanted to fly.

Or –

Welcome home.
At 30 I was finally born
No reason left to pretend
I sailed my ship right up to shore
Used the wood for a hut,
My own hands building
A new life
Painted in brush strokes
Of red, turquoise,
Golden pinks of sunset
With the wind just right
I flew,
Believe me,
I flew.

30/30 – #1 “Carpe Diem”

April is National Poetry Month and this year I am participating in the NaPoWriMo 30/30.  This means writing a poem every day during April.  This year I’ve also decided to write each of my poems using the writing prompts NaPoWriMo puts out for each day.  I think this is a good way to perhaps stretch a little and write about subjects I might not write about otherwise.  The prompt for today is to write a “carpe diem” poem.  Here is mine.

The earth of this place
Makes itself known
By the drums lining the front entrance.
Turning to the left,
a guitar, then another,
Not in neat rows,
But scattered about
as available as air.

In every room,
Shelves overflow with books;
Poetry, religion, science –
All alongside the fantastical Pratchett
Nestled near a copy of the Torah.
Books creased with use,
Notes in the margins
Left as love letters.

Mismatched dishes
Scattered on the kitchen counter,
An artful display
Of thrift store jewels,
Adorned with avocado,
Peppers, onions, and quinoa-rice.
A burst of dancing during the meal,
A typical Sunday night.

Where life is seized
and loved thoroughly
for what it is,
and what it could be.
As the fire crackles and pops,
Children run laughing through the yard,
Chickens rest on their roosts,
and every breath is made sacred.

Keep the Original

Today I spent a good deal of time thinking about poetry.  What makes a poem hit you where you live?  How do we transform the simple everyday objects of our lives into exquisite works of art?

In my own process, the answer is simple.  Edit.

With every revision the poet has an opportunity to take something personally meaningful and turn the phrases to touch more hearts.  I started thinking about what I know of this process.  I survived for years without editing.  Resistant to striking anything, convinced I would lose some of the essence if I changed a single word.  Told early in life I was a “natural writer,”  it never occurred to me that discipline would only deepen the flavor natural talent brings to my work.  Much of my life I have been able to write anything; poems, short stories, lengthy essays, on short notice.  I skipped the “rough draft” process, except in classes where I was required to turn in a copy.  I thought my ability to write without revisions, still garnering A’s and compliments, put me ahead of the game.

When I met Mendy Knott,I received the authentic compliment, mixed with room to grow, I have come to expect from her.  Mendy loves to encourage writers, but she won’t bullshit you.  So after a reading one night when she told me I was a strong writer and I shot back with my questioning “really?” she closed in on what teachers and peers never had.  She mentioned editing.  I don’t recall the exact conversation but I remember walking away still feeling good about my work but open to this idea of editing.  I did not, however, take her advice for a few more years.

I had dubbed myself a “napkin poet.”  I wrote when the muse suddenly appeared, often driving down I-540 at upwards of 70mph or after a little too much coffee in the middle of the night.  Grabbing at whatever I happened to have on hand, I wrote most of my poetry on napkins, sometimes on my skin, and once in crayon on my dashboard.  I liked being a napkin poet.

It has only been the last 12-18 months I’ve been editing my work.  I thought about this change and the way my writing has strengthened, not just from editing but also the daily discipline of writing.  Much of my writing practice has developed around suggestions solicited from Mendy Knott, who I’ve come to think of as my writing mentor.  A few other tips and overheard statements from other writers have seeped in to my consciousness as well.  A collection of one liners, instructions, and reminders about what it means to show up to this work and to claim the space of being a writer.

With all this in mind, the following poem emerged.  While not all of these treasured tips can be attributed to Mendy, many of them can.  She has been the single most influence on me claiming my space as a writer, professionalizing it little by little, making friends with discipline, meeting my muse halfway, and being able to hear critiques of my work with eagerness.  I’ve titled this piece “Keep the Original.”  This taken from her repeated advice about revisions, always keep a copy of the original in case you cut a little too much.  This wisdom was what held my hand as I picked up my red pen for the first time.   Thanks Mendy.

Keep the Original

write what you know.
Then, add mystery,
step into strange.
listen to your friends’ suggestions,
but stick to your truth.
edit everything.
delete nothing.
sleep on it.
write; when you’re inspired,
because it’s time,
because you must.
Revise.
cut
strike out
nail down
extend metaphor
give detail.
read your work.
yes, out loud,
where others hear you.
devour poetry.
read it through,
then aloud.
digest it.
take it in.
then write.
Edit.
Review.
Revise.
show up everyday
ready to be inspired.
carry a small notebook at all times.
write on napkins when you must.
know poetry is ministry.
release yourself from what holds you back,
just show up.
call yourself a writer,
because you are.
shoulder the burden of the pen,
write a hard truth,
the poem you don’t want to write.
meet your muse halfway,
and be on time.
write the story of your people;
good, bad, and ugly.
poetry transforms.
sleep with poetry by the bed.
write fearlessly.
scribble it all down,
you’ll edit it anyway.
Always-
keep the original.