The Sound of Home

NaPoWriMo Day 18: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates “the sound of home.” Think back to your childhood, and the figures of speech and particular ways of talking that the people around you used, and which you may not hear anymore. My grandfather and mother, in particular, used several phrases I’ve rarely heard any others say, and I also absorbed certain ways of talking living in Charleston, South Carolina that I don’t hear on a daily basis in Washington, DC. Coax your ear and your voice backwards, and write a poem that speaks the language of home, and not the language of adulthood, office, or work. Happy writing!

My name, nearly as long as the alphabet, was used by my mother only on special occasions.

Like — “Loretta Janelle Bumgardner get in this house right now; boys go home!”

It seemed we could go anywhere, “Lord willing the creek don’t rise.”

I suppose my grandmother had to actually forge a creek or two.

At my best friend’s house they would “round up” the table, whereas I’m pretty sure we simply set it.

My entire family can still sit at that same table in my childhood home to this day.

Our Harman Kardon console stereo dished out a respectable 100 watts per channel…

Belting out Wayne Newton using canopy bedpost toppers or hair brushes as a microphone.

“Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen; Thank you for all the joy and pain.”

“Lori, do you want to lick the spoon?” may explain why I’d rather eat batter than brownies.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for this food, and the hands that prepared it, bless it to the nourishment of our bodies. In Christ’s name, Amen” Was my father’s nightly refrain.

Growing up in church I sang hymns before I could read, I’m sure you may know them, too—

“Hallelujah! Christ had toast!” (Christ Arose)

“Saved a wrench like me…” (Amazing Grace)

“Bringing in the cheese, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the cheese!” (Bringing in the Sheaves)

~Just L (April 18, 2016)

Authorized Version of the Day

NaPoWriMo Day 17: Today, I challenge you to find, either on your shelves or online, a specialized dictionary. This could be, for example, a dictionary of nautical terms, or woodworking terms, or geology terms. Anything, really, so long as it’s not a standard dictionary! Now write a poem that incorporates at least ten words from your specialized source. Happy writing! 

The closest thing I could find to fornication is “fortications,” which are fenced cities.
And homosexuality is clearly missing between the words “Homer” and “Honey.”
But, pray tell why is “Bethany” a house of misery?
Or why must “Dance” be a contrast to mourning?
Why can’t we be just happy?
My own name was nowhere to be found —
It would have come after the “Lord’s Supper”
So does that mean I am just dessert?
Interestingly, there is more written about “wine” than this supper —
“Celebrated with great rejoicings… they encouraged each other by shouts”
This, to me, makes so much sense.
As blowing one’s “trumpet” is what life is all about!
Besides happy, other words not to be found were glad or gay.
“Sin” is simply a city in Egypt mentioned only by Ezekiel.
But the Jews are making “sin offerings”… What the hay?

~Just L (April 17, 2016)

 Selected words from “A Dictionary of the Bible” by Wm. Smith LLD. – Teacher’s Edition, 1884: Bethany. House of dates or house of misery (p. 85); Dance. The dance is spoken of in Holy Scripture universally as symbolical for rejoicing, and is often coupled for the sake of contrast with mourning. (p. 135); Fortications. Fenced Cities. (p. 198); Homer. Weights and Measures. (p. 251); Honey. The Hebrew debash in the first place applies to the product of the bee. (p. 251); Lord’s Supper. Two- half pages of explanation (pp. 364-365); Sin. A city in Egypt mentioned only by Ezekiel (p. 633); Sin offering. The sin offering among the Jews was the sacrifice in which for propitiation and of atonement for sin were most distinctly marked. (p. 633); Trumpet. Cornet. (p. 714); Wine. More than I can possibly explain…. (pp. 746-747)

Unseasonably Hot

NaPoWriMo Day 16: Today, I challenge you to fill out, in no more than five minutes, the following “Almanac Questionnaire,” which solicits concrete details about a specific place (real or imagined). Then write a poem incorporating or based on one or more of your answers. Happy writing!

A powerful storm produced piles of agates, three buckets of beers, and 8 inches of love. The pounding waves destroyed the sandy beach, stole my flip flops, and raged, “Go home, you’re drunk.”

~Just L (April 16, 2016)

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather: Marine layer
Flora: Hanging pots of Bouganvilla, heavenly morning glories, and Jade vines
Architecture: Spanish Colonial
Customs: Catholic
Mammals/reptiles/fish: Yellowfin Tuna, Marlin, Sailfish
Childhood dream: To be an ex-pat and author
Found on the Street: Market vendors
Export: Tequila
Graffiti: Murals
Lover: Latin, duh.
Conspiracy: Government corruption
Dress: White cotton embroidered dresses
Hometown memory: Trees touching across the street
Notable person: Lady of Guadalupe
Outside your window, you find: Bay of Banderas
Today’s news headline: El Nino Delays Whales
Scrap from a letter: With you, all my love goes away
Animal from a myth: Mermaids
Story read to children at night: Goodnight Moon
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: A thrown out piece of furniture to be restored
You walk to the border and hear: “chiclet chiclet….”
What you fear: Being too fierce and bold for any one man to love forever
Picture on your city’s postcard: Cathedral

Click Clique

NaPoWriMo Day 15: Because today marks the halfway point in our 30-day sprint, today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the idea of doubles. You could incorporate doubling into the form, for example, by writing a poem in couplets. Or you could make doubles the theme of the poem, by writing, for example, about mirrors or twins, or simply things that come in pairs. Or you could double your doublings by incorporating things-that-come-in-twos into both your subject and form. Happy writing!

No one had Shoes for a Princessto tell me how powerful such a simple accessory can make a girl feel —
At age six I had a penchant for patent leather and now I adore strappy heels;

My mother keeps hers in my childhood room in clear plastic boxes with labels —
While you might find mine strewn about the floor like clues for Hansel and Gretel;

The climate where I live allows me to rock boots from September through June —
Biker, cowboy, military inspired; Over-the-knee suede puts me over the moon;

Though I believe in the magic of ruby slippers, except Chuck-Ts, I’m not fond of flats —
But, I definitely do not think that spike heel platforms worn by strippers make you all that;

At 5’11” I absolutely do not need the extra height to command attention in a room —
Especially when I lose my balance and my confident strut quickly leads to my doom.

~Just L (April 15, 2016)

There is no denying that this grown up girly girl loves a great pair of shoes.

An effort to make sense out of the essentially senseless

NaPoWriMo Day 14: Today’s prompt comes to us from TJ Kearney, who invites us to try a seven-line poem called a san san, which means “three three” in Chinese (It’s also a term of art in the game Go). The san san has some things in common with the tritina, including repetition and rhyme. In particular, the san san repeats, three times, each of three terms or images. The seven lines rhyme in the pattern a-b-c-a-b-d-c-d.

Whispering on my neck, he leaves me essentially senseless;
Resistance is as futile as finding the perfect shade of lipstick;
Neither of us knew we possessed this deep capacity for love;
His quiet strength, attracts me, and colors me perfectly breathless;
Happiness has stopped teasing us; whispering, “This is no magic trick.”
To essentially ignore this is as senseless as thwarting God’s plan;
By the sound of his sweet essential voice, whispering from above;
Resting in the perfect shade, there is no doubt he is my man!

~Just L (April 14, 2016)

Just Add “…In Bed”

NaPoWriMo Day 13: The number 13 is often considered unlucky, so today I’d like to challenge you to beat the bad luck away with a poem inspired by fortune cookies. You could write a poem made up entirely of statements that predict the future (“You will meet a handsome stranger”), aphoristic statements (“The secret to getting ahead is getting started)” or just silly questions (“How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?”) Or you could use a phrase you’ve actually received in a real fortune cookie as a title or first line. However you proceed, I hope you will feel fortunate in the results (do you get it? Do you get it? Rimshot, please). Happy writing!

When one door closes another opens…
Stop procrastinating starting tomorrow…
Soon you will be sitting on top of the world…
Over self-confidence is equal to being blind…
Success has nothing to do with luck…
Apply your imagination to any problem that arises…
Look around happiness is trying to catch you…
Every exit is an entrance to new experiences…
Don’t worry about money. The best things in life are free…
Many memorable and pleasurable experiences are waiting for you…
You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment…
It’s the journey not the destination that counts…
You’re totally going to blow your presentation today…
You will soon discover your hidden talent…
A part of us remains wherever we have been…
The love of your life will appear in front of you unexpectedly…
You will be hungry again in one hour…

~Just L (April 13, 2016)

Anti-Woman Sentiment in Lit, Art & Tho’t

NaPoWriMo Day 12: Today, I challenge you to write your own index poem. You could start with found language from an actual index, or you could invent an index, somewhat in the style of this poem by Thomas Brendler. Happy writing!

Masturbation in women, 66-81; 74-75; 79-80, 91, 99, 125, 134-36, 145-48, 178, 202, 248-50, 261, 273, 297, 308; and bestiality, 297, 308; as cause of mental debility, 178; as cause for nymphomania 249-50; link with narcissism, 145-48; visual evidence of 74-75, 79-80.

~Just L (April 12)

 From Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-De-Siecle Culture by Bram Dukstra


NaPoWriMo Day 11: Today, I challenge you to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does. I think of the “surprise” ending to this James Wright Poem as a model for the effect I’m hoping you’ll achieve. An abstract, philosophical kind of statement closing out a poem that is otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details. Happy writing!

The tree protects the yard
It’s evergreen umbrella, a communal treat
Underneath the roots run deep
Pushing up the patio concrete
The leaves on the drooping branches in the wind twirl
Its expansive shade guards the grass
And for the birds provides a retreat
Along with a winter trunk for squirrels
The fire is on the inside behind the glass.

~Just L (April 11, 2016)

The cocktail table tells her story

NaPoWriMo Day 10: I know yesterday’s was a hard one for many of you, although I also was also very touched by the vulnerability and bravery displayed in your poems! But today’s prompt should be a little bit less emotionally involving — a nice chaser for yesterday. Today’s prompt comes to us from Lillian Hallberg. She challenges us to write a “book spine” poem. This involves taking a look at your bookshelves, and writing down titles in order (or rearranging the titles) to create a poem. Some fun images of book spine poems can be found here. If you want to take things a step further, Lillian suggests gathering a list of titles from your shelves (every third or fifth book, perhaps, if you have a lot) and using the titles, as close to the originals as possible, to create a poem that is seeded throughout with your own lines, interjections, and thoughts. Happy writing!

She loves poetry.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
A Working Girl Can’t Win
The Love Poetry of Rumi

Appreciates art.
The Best of Beardsley
Banksy Wall and Piece
Idols of Perversity

Photography, especially gelatin silver.
Weston’s Forms of Passion
A Singular Elegance

And adores the classics.
Man without a Country
The Courtship of Miles Standish
The Happy Prince

She believes philosophy is life’s handbook.
Blue Truth
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Terminal Paradox

Life, a thrilling adventure.
True Hallucinations
The Devil’s Sandbox

Strives for harmony, right or wrong.
Using Feng Shui
A Room of her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces
The Little Book of Wrong Shui

Values soul bearing honesty.
Every Day Diary – 1974
The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rockstar

And simpler times.
Outdoors and In
Janet and Mark

~Just L (April 10, 2016)

Indecision becomes a decision with time

NaPoWriMo Day 9: This one sounds simple, but it can be pretty difficult. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that includes a line that you’re afraid to write. This might be because it expresses something very personal that makes you uncomfortable – either because of its content (“I always hated grandma”), or because it seems too emotional or ugly or strange (“I love you so much I would eat a cockroach for you”). Or even because it sounds too boring or expected (“You know what? I like cooking noodles and going to bed at 7 p.m.”). But it should be something that you’re genuinely a little scared to say. Happy (or if not happy, brave) writing!

April 9, 2015: LOVE
I have thrown my heart over the line
But the truth is I find
That I am having a hard time
Being with him without wanting
To have our lives completely entwined.

April 9, 2016: FEAR
We shared one heart on Valentine’s
But the truth I did find
That he’s now having a hard time
Wanting anything remotely mine
Indecision becomes a decision with time.

~Just L (April 9, 2016)