Another day, another poem. Why not? If you’re retired especially, poetry would seem to be a suitable idle pursuit. Idle in a positive sense, as in letting the imagination play. And when that happens, you’ll perhaps find your own voice. Which is the whole point really. The whole of point of poetry. The prompt is what poetry does.
Poetry had dovetailed nicely into
the in-between spaces. For me
it started off like that. Then it became
idly persistent, even in the moonlight
sparkled like diamonds. It left a
feeling of tingling contentment.
In the morning it would have an attitude
and a presence when I sought to make form
out of language, as there’s always some
incommunicable and pressing thing
like a consciousness veering off into
the ineffable, a whisper.
Language being big thumps on the reality
we make, the alliance of alliances, else
why bother to be precise?
It’s how we look to negotiate to be
ourselves and not blubber and to
loud-mouthed propaganda bow.
Sometimes you people are like God, immanent but absent. Is that a contradiction? I hope you’re feeling well. And that you keep writing. The prompt is inspired by God.
She wouldn’t be in the thick of it,
the religious part, the kneeling to prayer
to sort out your feelings,
as if she felt more complex,
more thickly layered,
sometimes wished for the same
argument, the conviction vividly held.
All that Edenic story, that whiff of religion
discarding all other ways of being
got her flustered.
Now that she saw the pieces
coming together, there’s no denying,
no more disclaiming;
it’s God’s presence in spades.
Like being in a cold and muted place
there’s dispersed warmth in
one form or another and people
lucking into each other.
We’re into May, which is a lovely month. The mercury’s risen. I hope for you, as it seems to be for me, a month of respite. Maybe, for you as it has been for me, poetry has taken a back seat. Yet when you pick up the pen, you realise that it’s nourishing, as language is, and you feel more on fire when you write. The prompt is to write a descriptive poem, which as Jane Hirshfield said, “is never purely description, it is a portrait of a state of being, of soul.” So what is the state of your soul, and would you answer it in a poem?
The flares of gold in the afternoon
set us on edge, so we coast till
the day got dark.
You were importunate and I had my
defaults, and depletions. These ways of
coping became permanent.
In a room crowded with observation,
personalities got into a deep mix.
Me with my pen, and you with
your wise sympathies, drawing
us aside. Us with our sly hopes,
and silent boycotts.
The young me once wrote about
oblivion, what it meant to be drawn
into unconsciousness. Deep sleep as
sound as a whistle. To be nothing, is
that grand? Then, this pen dropped
into my twitching hand.
It’s day 30 and for me poem #26. I’ll go on for a bit to complete 30 days. Today’s prompt is to write a May poem.
It was around the beginning of May,
the ceremonious flowering
so there’s a different kind of air
making up for the tawdry seediness that beset
the old, the prelude to the body’s woes.
Old men curled in beds,
a world entirely strange to me.
To be put through the paces of needles,
probes, a lack of restraint making cuts and repairs!
All marked and stiff, now that the tasks asked of one
have diminished, so the angels blowing trumpets
hark of the other lair.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Things you’d never guessed happen anyway.
You listened to the birds out of the window
content, ramshackled, entering the domain of
extreme endurance, and love falls like
a snow blanket for all your days.
It’s day 29 and for me, poem #25. I have a couple of days to catch up. Probably not by tomorrow as it’s the last day of April. Too deadbeat. Today’s prompt is to write an apocalypse poem.
A crowding together like a gathering of birds
in a murmuration, swooping this way
and that so gamely, isn’t that as boggling
as the world’s fiercely exploded population?
Ever since God had said, go forth and multiply,
we had gone on with it, in ease and aplomb,
And now you say, apocalypse? Isn’t that
a particularly hated word that makes
no distinctions between anyone’s creed, or beliefs,
or morals? It’s a leering bang, isn’t it, like
the planet Melancholia colliding with Earth
and Kirsten basking in the moonlight
as exquisite as a blossoming bride?
No, that would be too mean.
The sun shone today,
sending special greetings.
It’s day 26 and for me poem #24. Today’s prompt is to write a solitude poem.
As you lay down at night bits and pieces of
your mind would trickle down like a leaking
faucet, and you’d thought of everything,
tried to keep down the unruly sensations while
staying very quiet—isn’t that what alone feels,
a prodigious solitude until someone,
something let out a whistle.
You’re marked by some kind of muddle
till you swing yourself up. A stark bliss laying
down post-exercise counteracts what ageing does
and snarly-like stings you. You’d imagine
there’re still years and years of life left;
sometimes you think not so, and it’s too much
the moment everything goes dark.
It’s day 26 and for me poem #23. Today’s prompt is to write a poem inspired by a Greek mythological figure. Mine’s Medusa.
It was a curse that turned her head
into a barrage of snakes.
So imagine her sitting there in the temple
defiled, ravished then hissing like a demon,
her moans multiplying, having her breath squeezed out of
her, become within her fire a person changed
into a myth, a Gorgon one, a shadow.
For wasn’t it female rage that turned against her
own kind; why, when she became a horror wouldn’t
she be spurned, wasn’t that the same as if her face was
tossed with acid, deep scarring as in other stories,
so men’s gazes turned stony on sight;
she couldn’t be choosy at all, having been
robbed by vengeful Athena.
In the Piazza della Signoria you’d find
a statue of Perseus flaunting in his hand
the head of Medusa, that’s her sorry end,
as if to say, her demons had been slayed,
perhaps that’s what truly had been vanquished?
Her ghost stays with us, for all of eternity,
a twisted fate for all to say.
It’s day 25 and for me it’s poem #22. It’s the Monday of the last week of April. I like it when time flies. I also love Mondays, they don’t get me down. Today’s prompt is to write a poem inspired by someone’s quote. In my case it would be Emily Dickinson.
She said she never reads fiction,
only practical stuff, not all those under-
ground bounty—only she wouldn’t have
said that word. That is the meaning
I take, from the motley crowd,
those who haven’t tasted those
congealings you know by heart.
What are congealings she asked.
Blobs of meanings residing in words,
particularly those that would take the top
off your head, as Emily had said.
Then you would be imploring,
a moody silence would prevail from which
you would emerge with feathers
or breasts or something.
It’s day 24 but I’m only on poem #21. Never you mind. Today’s prompt is to write a littoral poem.
The tide had gone out so we stood in
the mud flat. Just last week a man was
swimming, bobbing his head beside
the mangrove; now the aerial roots
stood in clumps. Things could change in
a week, or a day, or a blinking second.
Once I had gone out with Tom,
that was his name I think. I corrected
his essays, taught him in that way,
and then we’d been out once to the sea,
bobbing around like that man. It felt like
a date, as rudimentary as a stair.
And there was my dad teaching me
asking me to hold my breath under
the still dark. As I cleaved to him,
I learned to be one, a swimmer.
Why do I stitch up the past, between
the deep blue sea and me?
Hey ho, I’m back, at least today. I’ve skipped more than a couple of days, written but not posted, and pretty certain I’ll catch up later. I’m not sure about you. Are you still writing, not writing? Do you even want prompting? Do we ever not want prompting? I haven’t got time so enough of the blather. Here’s my poem today. We do whatever works for us. That goes for our poetry too.
My window faces east, catches morning
streaks of pale blue and orange.
The air still, and thick with expectancy.
The frizz of sun, then the moon
dying to get away. Grown and distant,
till it returns, a formality of behavior,
a conventionality reigns.
Some things are unquestionable
yet who’s to say? Sun and moon,
the laws of nature, that is all.
I don’t mean to imply a conservatism
to disdain, but openness, the heart being
the gauge, and if no longer available then
where’re the rays?
We are laden, yet bare, starved,
yet stuffed, injurious like grime,
something sun must have known about
for a long time.