Welcome to National Poetry Month, a time when all the closet-poets around you suddenly make their presence known by writing one poem per day for thirty days, complete with fanatic revisits to old author-favorites, nervous breakdowns at 11:53pm when a poem still hasn't emerged, the joyous discoveries of new poets and their publications, and a frenzied sort of appreciation for poetry as a craft. Our eyes may be bloodshot and we're speaking in tongues (Ah! Dactylic hexameter!) but we're totally safe, I promise.

I started this period of designated writing time after a month that left me feeling as if I'd endured enough stress to keep my list of creative prompts flowing. Tom came home from Iraq. We've begun this dance (for a second time) that involves complicated steps around living with a partner after living alone for a year, the twirling of occasional mood swings and the quick rushes of celebration.

Then there's been the little things, mostly around the house, that have kept me ridiculously busy. Spring Break was filled with papers to be graded. Flynn ate one arm of the couch (literally. She ATE. IT.) which kept Tom up for one night, sewing for my sanity. A panel of our backyard fence blew over in a windstorm. Stuff like that.

I've more or less been caught in a dry spell when it comes to writing, surprisingly. As I've scrubbed or repaired or graded or driven up and down I-25, I've had imaginary glimpses of a familiar book cover on my reading shelf: Woolf's A Room of One's Own. I can't help wondering if I'd really be able to come up with anything to write if I had guaranteed peace and quiet-- or whether I'd be bored out of my mind without the distractions to write about.

But right now, I'm sitting at my dining room table, and if I lean to the left to see around the vase of half-wilted roses and daisies (they still smell good) I can see my neighbor, Tim, lying on his back in his front yard, tossing a tennis ball up in the air for Louie, his Boston Terrier (Flynn's nemesis). Tim's an older guy, and he's been out raking for the past couple hours as I've worked on class stuff and cleaned up the house. One minute he's filling a garbage can with yard debris from the last windstorm; the next minute he's on his back, side to side with Louie, both of them exhausted from play.

And there might be nothing poetic about it. And I'm learning to get okay with that. I've noticed I've opted out of living in the moment several times before in order to observe the facts, the imagery, the details of a situation. I haven't developed the talent (yet) for multi-tasking in that way-- observing and living, simultaneously. So for now I'm observing.

Tonight, just before I go to bed, I'll check my memory for anything that stuck, and I'll write a poem that stands just as much a chance of being trash as it does for being submitted to a journal. I'll read some William Carlos Williams to console myself in my lack of words. I'll read some Ron Padgett to laugh at myself. And I'll go to bed tired.


Napowrimo day #1

I like the color silver

but tonight

it is a boat too small

to carry my thoughts

and myself together,

a shallow dish

placed on the lip

of a river.

It trembles in the current

as it balances

a load of moonlight,

some cigarette ash,

a letter written in pencil.



Napowrimo day #2

I could never tire of looking

at this guy’s wife,

this guy big as a house

and his wife

like a Porsche parked in front

of him,

he says honey I can’t open

this damn beer

so she says give it here

and the beer is passed

between the two,

catching the bronze afternoon light

which flashes like a candle

blown out

in an upstairs window

across the street.



Napowrimo day #3

The flower shop three blocks from home

sells orchids and cacti and ladyslippers

but won’t be open long on account of its inventory,

solitary blooms looming over sculpted pots,

ogling clientele with orange and yellow eyes.

They pull away from their painted green stakes.

But we can walk there from here

so we do, and we each pick out a cactus.

I say I need something hardy. You say

you want something easy on the eyes.

Cacti are difficult to kill, easy to ignore,

and some of them have dusty pink petals

that burst from the tips of pale tendrils

to touch their neighbors lightly, blind.

You pick the kind that flowers,

I choose a squat, silvery one with spines arranged

on half-moon leaves like teeth. Walking home,

I say our family is growing. You say

my cactus looks impatient.



dot said…
Love the cactus one best. :)
Jackwraith said…
I like the word usage and the hazy imagery of the first one best.
Barkalounger said…
All three are beautiful, but #2 kills me. It's funny and very dark - a perfect balance.
Jen said…
I love impatient cacti and everything else happening here.
Gale said…
I also love the cactus one best! But all three are great - thanks for sharing.

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