Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me; Not-so-happy Halloween

Yep, it's another birthday, all right, and a pretty quiet one so far.  Lots of birthday wishes from Facebook friends, including Marge Piercy, whose intensive workshop I took a couple of summers ago.

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write a "monster" poem, and (2) write an "ekphrastic" poem based on one of four photos provided (or one of your own choosing).  I actually wrote three poems today (the first time all month I wrote more than one in a day), and I'll share two of them here. The first one is in keeping with my personal tradition of writing a poem about my birthday on my birthday. The second is much darker, and was inspired by, not a literal interpretation of, one of the photos on NaPoWriMo, which featured a rather whimsical Halloween decoration in someone's yard.

Birthday Monster

It's cute when it's young
and you look forward to its annual visit,
bringing joy, cake and presents.
But then it matures, gets moodier.
Sometimes it even surprises you
when it shows up at your door:
"Weren't you just here a few months ago?"
As you get older, it becomes more of a nuisance,
and you start to dread when it's due to stop by.
It's grizzled and ugly now, a little grumpy too;
It sings the same song every year
and blows out all your candles.
It makes lame jokes about your age
and reminds you that you're closer
to the end than to the beginning.
And yet, you never lock your door
when you know it's on its way,
because having it call on you again
is much better than the alternative.


In October, they took my neighbor out
in handcuffs. A seventy-ish woman
in a shabby housedress, she didn't
look much like a criminal.  Then guys
in hazmat suits filed into her house,
past all her Halloween decorations
of smiling skeletons and ghosts.

Later I learned that she had smothered
her ninety-three-year old mother
in her sleep and sealed up the room
with duct tape to keep in the smell.
Then she continued to cash her mother's
social security checks until her next-door
neighbors complained about the stench. 
Seems that duct tape works only so long.

Eventually someone put up a for-sale sign
and took down all the Halloween decorations.  
Then all the monsters were gone.

1 comment:

Vince Gotera said...

Bruce, two tremendous poems. Bravo.