NAPOWRIMO Day 23: The Romantic Zone: A Street Symphony 

NAPOWRIMO Day 23: The Romantic Zone: A Street Symphony 

In the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working and mating sound the same —

Outside my terrace, construction workers are using jackhammers
The locals are lining up to grab a few tacos al pastor from a street food stall
The man selling el gas competes with the mattress salesman
While in my casa headboards of lovers bang against the wall
The funicular toting laundry to the rooftop hums off and on
And the Great-tailed Grackle who gathers at the pool is the loudest of them all!

~Just L (April 23, 2018, a rewrite of NAPOWRIMO Day 19)

Listen to the sounds of the gas truck here.

Listen to the sounds of the mattress truck here.

Author’s Note: NAPOWRIMO Prompt – We challenge you to honor this idea with a poem based in sound. The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

NAPOWRIMO Day 22: The Sun Rises in the West

NAPOWRIMO Day 22: The Sun Rises in the West

The sun can’t rise in the west, they say
Yet, I saw this very thing happen one day

Near the South Pole
Flying faster than the earth rotates its axis
Because every single hour
The earth rotates 15 degrees

And every 24 hours the sun shines
At the same angle and location
Flying westbound after sunset
I caught up with the sun

~Just L (April 22, 2018)

Author’s Note: Prompt – Take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens:

The sun can’t rise in the west.

A circle can’t have corners.

Pigs can’t fly.

The clock can’t strike thirteen.

The stars cannot rearrange themselves in the sky.

A mouse can’t eat an elephant.

NAPOWRIMO Day 21: The Reflecting Pool Talks Back

NAPOWRIMO Day 21: The Reflecting Pool Talks Back

You can only hope you transform into a flower after pining away at your reflection in a pool –
You, Narkissos, are handsome, but in your arrogance are a fool.

You shall not be let off so easily for the untold suffering to those you abuse –
You, Narkissos, are a spirit crusher, you take an individual and control and confuse.

You torment with a bewildering array of verbal and physical weaponry over time –
You, Narkissos, withhold love just to gratify your insatiable, egotistical mind.

You hurt me in ways that pushed them ever closer to the brink of the abyss –
You, Narkissos, have forever changed my life in ways that I will have to terms with.

But –
You did not break me.
You no longer have a place in my heart, and that’s your loss.
You taught me a lesson that I needed to learn.
You will never love; I can only pity you, Narkissos.

~Just L (April 21, 2018)

Author’s Note: Prompt – After reading the myth of Narcissus, try writing a poem that plays with the myth in some way. For example, you could imagine that imagine the water is speaking to you, the narcissus flower. Or you could write a poem in which the narcissus berates the Kardashians for stealing their neurosis. Or a poem that comments on the narcissism of our time, i.e. beauty and body obsession, etc.

NAPOWRIMO Day 20: Why wait for Memorial Day to wear white?

NAPOWRIMO Day 20: Why wait for Memorial Day to wear white?

It is April 2018 and I am wearing [gulp] white pants!
I am breaking a hard and fast rule
Ripped jeans, done right, look fashioned forward and cool
Distressed jeans in any color, my mother would be aghast

It started in the ‘30’s with the ultra-rich wearing only white in the summer
Light clothing gave the look of leisure
This idea expanded in the 50’s among the middle class
GRITS (Girls Raised In The South) held to no white before or after Labor Day

Before you scoff
Fashion rules are meant to be broken for those who can pull it off!

~Just L (April 20, 2018)

Author’s Note: Prompt – Write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.

NAPOWRIMO Day 19: Mating Calls in the Romantic Zone

NAPOWRIMO Day 19: Mating Calls in the Romantic Zone

In Puerto Vallarta, working and mating sound the same.
Outside my terrace, construction workers using jackhammers.
Headboards of lovers bang against the wall.
The Funicular to a nearby rooftop restaurant hums off and on.
And the bird who gathers at the pool each morning is the loudest of them all!

~Just L (April 19, 2018)

Author’s Note: Prompt – Write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.

NAPOWRIMO Day 18: My Distant Love Appears Unannounced

NAPOWRIMO Day 18: My Distant Love Appears Unannounced

Let her in, she is crying
She wants to get out, but is entangled.

Into the night,
He wandered and played about.

Again, another excuse
My distant love appears unannounced.

I don’t care as my heart is overflowing.

Is he weary of carrying a heavy load?

A few extra pounds never hurt anyone.

Never empty-handed,
My distant love appears unannounced.

The night frost does not freeze him out,

He breaks the chains,
My distant love appears unannounced.

I drink it all in.

He smells like short bread cookies,
Holding back tears, he offers me delicious gifts,
My distant love appears unannounced, foolishly.

I did not intend to make him sad by asking for too much.

He sacrifices himself to offer such gifts
My distant love appears unannounced.

I am starved
Craving naked ebony morsels
Though I have tasted other colors, too.

My woman’s appetite cannot be contained.

I cannot have just one
My distant love appears unannounced.

I am not proper, I have shed all rules.

I am always trying things.
She is crying loudly, unashamed.

A figure emerges from the fog.

Offering a sacrificial feast
My distant love appears unannounced.

~Just L (April 18, 2018)

Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt – First, find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-the-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-the-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

Source Poem:

My Lover Who Lives Far

BY CAMILLE T. DUNGY

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room
and offers supper in a bowl made of his breath.

The stew has boiled and I wonder at the cat born from its steam.

The cat is in the bedroom now, mewling. The cat is indecent
and I, who am trying to be tidy, I, who am trying to do things

the proper way, I, who am sick from the shedding, I am undone.

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room
and offers pastries in a basket spun from his vision.

It is closely woven, the kind of container some women collect.

I have seen these in many colors, but the basket he brings is simple:
only black, only nude. The basket he brings is full of sweet scones
and I eat even the crumbs. As if I’ve not dined for days.

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room
and offers tea made from the liquid he’s crying.

I do not want my lover crying and I am sorry I ever asked for tea.

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room pretending
he never cried. He offers tea and cold cakes. The tea is delicious:
spiced like the start of our courtship, honeyed and warm.

I drink every bit of the tea and put aside the rest.

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room
like a man loving his strength. The lock I replaced
this morning will not keep him away.

My lover, who lives far away, opens the door to my room
and brings me nothing.

Perhaps he has noticed how fat I’ve grown, indulged.

Perhaps he is poor and sick of emptying his store.

It is no matter to me any longer, he has filled me, already, so full.

My lover who is far away opens the door to my room
and tells me he is tired.

I do not ask what he’s tired from for my lover, far away,
has already disappeared.

The blankets are big with his body. The cat, under the covers,
because it is cold out and she is not stupid, mews.

Camille Dungy, “My Lover Who Lives Far” from Smith Blue. Copyright © 2011 by Camille Dungy.  Reprinted by permission of Southern Illinois University Press.

Source: Smith Blue (Southern Illinois University Press, 2011)

NAPOWRIMO Day 17: The Wilsons Were We

NAPOWRIMO Day 17: The Wilsons Were We

The Wilsons were a pious bunch
Built a church the whole family attended
Grandma declared that her kids would never divorce
It seemed this would be the ultimate remorse
We never knew for sure if my grandparents were legally married
But they were together until death did them part
7 children, 19 grandchildren, and greats /great greats still mounting
But there is always a secret in the family tree
One aunt and uncle married each other times three!
And Wilson is not even our real lineage
On a wanted poster was another great great named Peas
So he took the wallet of a dead man
And forever more the Wilsons were we.

~Just L (April 17, 2018)

Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt – Write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time. It could be the story of the time your Uncle Louis caught a home run ball, the time your Cousin May accidentally brought home a coyote and gave it a bath, thinking it was a stray dog, or something darker (or even sillier).