Prompt 489

Hello poets,

It’s Valentine’s Day, did you like me almost forget? Or do you view with disgust all saccharine things? It’s just another day for you. No need to go overboard, love speaks its measure in daily affairs. But perhaps the primary expression is love in all its shapes and sizes. How do you write about love?

Perhaps you thought I babbled too much.
And if such babbling would salve no one,
like the disruptive learner to my right
counting steps, I learned to silence—
don’t we all build bubbles that way?
The way memories coalesced into
grid images so that we see them
like dreams below shut lids.
Those streaks of bounty–are they
our sanity to have and to hold?
Like this one–me tumbling after birth
in a hospital gown looking for baby
and nursing him too much till
the milk spilled with no aplomb
from his over full mouth.

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Prompt 488

Hello poets,

It’s the last day of January. We’ve made it this far in 2023. And tomorrow, when it’s February, I hope the world takes a lovely turn. It’ll be the last month to submit to Red Wolf Journal. It’s been a lovely 9 year journey. May you have an adventurous year. Thanks for the love of words that we share. I truly appreciate, my kindred spirits. Write on!

I’d rather not say anything–
become a vault, to a fault.
It’s a habit of not being showy
but there’s water lying in the fields of course.
My head’s swimming in it;
the fishes are pulsing.
And you might wonder what nerve
to tilt the head and look away.
But I’d turned it back if there’s
some knowledge of home
like a green undimmed.
Like the words we seek to relish.

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Prompt 487

Hello poets,

Today’s prompt is, what kind of poet are you? There’re as many kinds of poets as there are different names for snow. It made me think of the Emily Dickinson versus Walt Whitman dichotomy. Or Sharon Olds versus Robert Bly dichotomy. Isn’t dichotomy another word for duality? Aren’t poems a flow of consciousness? At any one particular moment? What about the Philip Larkin versus Sylvia Plath dichotomy? Well, you think about that question okay?

At first there was no purpose—
she felt her way along and what’s accidental
became a pathway. Wasn’t it like that
in the younger days as well?
Which led her to believe in
God always cutting her some slack;
a knight in shining armor
with a big game plan.
As uneasy as she felt.
Then he’d eased her egging her on with hope.
It wasn’t ever that she was gaudily ambitious.
None of that she believed in.
There was always a hue of romance
so I guessed she turned into that sort of poet
where you’d thought you’d bumped into
a bush of dark lilacs
on a dirt path to somewhere.

Prompt 486

Hello poets,

Happy new year, 2023. The world has changed rapidly, tumultously, and continues in its flickering ways. We’re still here. Are we? I wonder what your hopes and wishes are for the new year. I would like to hear. Chronicle them in a poem?

I read (re-read) your poems this morning,
your words ringing in my ears
as if you’re still alive,
or is there an order of things
unchanging, incalculable.
A soothing blankness is not
what I’m after.
You think the world calamitous,
glazed in ice, or as he would oft exclaim,
what the hell.
I tossed everything into the bargain,
prayed not to lose life and limb.
Do words remain as we whittle away?
If so these are some for today.
For I am a chronicler I say.

Prompt 485

Hello poets,

Merry Christmas! Kudos too for making it to the end of the year. That’s an achievement, as some people don’t make it. I’ve heard the sad news of a husband dead, a former colleague dead. I’ve also heard of job losses. How the tide has turned for some. I wonder about those who have nothing to go on. I hope they meet angels. As for me poetry has turned a tide for me. And now that is done, what have I to go on about? Well, write whenever, that is my hope for you too.

Those guileless years are over;
the epoch of what’s called the print age–
the filing of stories, scoops a holy grail,
the late nights hunkering down,
the photographs from the dark room
alongside, the bromides pasted.
Work bearing down on us
like a personal banner.

The fact is the people you knew were
already dead or dying.
So much self-approbation for work
and then dead on Christmas eve.
Thirty-eight years of grind but
that can’t be the only reason so may there be
enough fissures of happiness for
all things alive.

Prompt 484

Hello poets,

Whether you’re nursing a pulled muscle or having your year end vacation, the end of the year is always full of emotions. Hope you’re having positive emotions but really there’s always the other side, the dark side, and that can be really surprising. When that comes out it’s as if a veil is lifted. But what can one feel, what should one feel? And I hope one of those feelings is compassion. The prompt is compassion.

With time things came unfailingly to light.
If something seemed askew for a while–
is she really—some words never spoken,
we dimmed them, we then hissed out.
Then remained close-mouthed,
furious and weeping. No conciliatory light
when our souls flayed open like that.
I imagine a soft radiance after
terror and relief, wonder if you’d be
dead to the world. Or at least
blown apart. Then grief. We had
to make room for it.

Prompt 483

Hello poets,

Relationships are hard. There’s room for a lot of misunderstandings because we’re all so different. And so what one imagines to be one’s message becomes some other message for another person. Wasn’t it E M Forster who famously said, “Only connect!” Because connections are the real thing. It really is and it really is hard. And it’s hard because of what I said in the sentence above. Perhaps another E M Forster quote will help: “It is so difficult – at least, I find it difficult – to understand people who speak the truth.” The prompt is truth / relationships.

I didn’t mean to give offense, but still
you were; I meant you were brave and
substantial, leaning toward no one;
you took it some other way, as if
to show me your sly averted face.
What else is rubbish, you showed me
what one called a downhill slide.
Nothing explained what you saw,
you don’t mind me saying, yes
you did mind and I said it blunt.
I imagine you’re dipped in embarrassment
to have misunderstood the meaning I’ve
since clarified. We slipped under gray skies.
What was being offered to us being
to become each our own vault,
to stand on our own two feet
but of course I leaned, you leaned,
we needed to be seen.

Prompt 482

Hello poets,
I’m curious as to what poetry mean to you, the practice of it. If you’ve been practising it and you’ve stopped then what. Does it change you? Did you feel transformed by practising poetry? And what does it mean to stop practising it? The prompt is Ars Poetica.

As we grow older, a great wariness
sitting back watching the idealism fade
and what remained. Baffled you
chided me for the losses stacked
till I don’t think anything anymore,
beamed a wide secretive smile
watching the world recede flowing
in constant light and shade.
My words do not matter greatly,
yours is ever self-deprecating, charming.
In this last lookout, your acquiescence
is in poetry, speaking to the point.
How would a continuation of yourself
begin without the words soon
to be buried in leaves.

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Prompt 482

Hello poets,

In life there’re certain curveballs. This year, that’s coming to an end, has been one hell of a year of curveballs for me. Least of all is getting covid on my birthday. A milestone birthday and I’d imagine bells and whistles you know. I’m not upset about it really, compared to the other curveballs. Instead I’m here to write about it and I hope you’re inspired to write about curveballs/mortality.

You’d stay to listen to me carrying a tune
—sure I do have some to cry about;
my uncle died the day I’d tested positive
and had to seal myself hermetically;
wouldn’t raise storms of dust
about that. His passage eased as I imagined,
seeing in what’s app his portrait beside
a paper mansion, what passed for a wheel,
a big paper bag of God-knows-what, teaching me
emptiness and humility, purpose in
a mystifying end. Perhaps for him
a lack of wind isn’t exactly a stall
but a permanence. As for mine, a lampooning of
my birthday expectations, a pulling down.
I am grateful for your presence filling those narrow
airways, even if I hadn’t known and never will
till gone to that golden gate as fast as arrows.

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Prompt 481

Hello poets,

Do you write to figure out your thoughts & memories? Poems can be therapy no doubt. For me poems are a processing of those things. I hope I don’t stop. Well, that’s your prompt ie memories/poetry.

I paddled out on a lake, an idyllic memory
that somehow got embedded;
it would, like the rest, be scrubbed out,
when I’m dead. It seemed the tactile ones
stayed–strange why I forget some
and keep others–like shouting questions
in the air as I strode around in school,
or our wading through a monsoon flood
and getting soaked. Would you, dear reader,
like stories like that, however slight;
would you stay, out of curiosity?
Those things that made us feel on
solid ground when after extremity,
we are able to muster our cage of
memories; they were all there were;
having them spelled hope for a stiff age
when clean slates are no longer made.

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