Friday, April 24, 2015

PAD Day 24: From Poignant to Silly

Today's prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo:
(1) Write a "moment" poem, and
(2) Write a parody of a famous poem or poet.

I probably could have combined these prompts fairly easily if I could find a famous poem about a "moment" to parody.  However, I responded to the Poetic Asides prompt rather quickly and forgot about NaPoWriMo till later in the day. I'd been thinking of writing about the Oklahoma City bombing  (whose anniversary was on April 19th) for a few days now, and thought I might do it yesterday for the "history" poem, but didn't. Then when the "moment" presented itself, so to speak, I knew I had to write about that terrible moment twenty years ago. This one got a lot of emotional response from poets on the Poetic Asides blog today, and some even wondered if it was autobiographical - it's not.

Empty Chair
Sometimes I wonder what he would be doing today –
would he be working on his doctorate
or expecting his first child, driving a semi
or digging for fossils? He liked trucks and dinosaurs.
The gate to the field is etched with the moment
it happened, 9:02, when that coward
parked a rented van in front of the building
and blew it up, tearing off the whole fa├žade,
ripping into offices and my son’s day care center.
In the field, one-hundred and sixty-eight stone chairs,
Including nineteen smaller ones,
arrayed in the pattern of where each victim fell.
That one has my child’s name. Twenty years ago,
a single flash took them all away, a heinous crime,
eclipsed only six years later.
I’m not a devout man, but I hope there is a Heaven
where he still plays with his little friends,
because it would also mean
that McVeigh burns in Hell.

One of the perks of not combining the prompts, of course, is that if you still use them both, you get two poems. Technically, as you'll see below, I got three.  My inspiration here is a favorite book, The Holy Tango of Literature, by Francis Heaney, which I've mentioned on this blog on prior occasions. Heaney took the names of famous poets and playwrights, anagrammed them, and made that the title of a poem or theater piece that lampooned the author.  Thus, T.S. Eliot becomes "Toilets", and Emily Dickinson becomes "Skinny Domicile". You can actually find a free text of the book here, but I still recommend you buy it to support the author - the illustrations are funny too. And by the way, "Holy Tango" is an anagram of "Anthology".  

I have written a series of poems using Heaney's premise, like a parody of Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" ("The Errand Boy") one in the style of Gertrude Stein ("Registered Nut"), and a satire of W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" called "Stay, Web" ("And what rough virus, its hour come round at last,/Slouches towards Microsoft to be born?" )  However, I never did a "holy tango" poem in the style of my favorite poet, William Carlos Williams - until now. Here are two that parody two of Williams' most famous short poems, "This is Just to Say" and "The Red Wheelbarrow". (P.S.: After writing these, I remembered that Heaney did a parody of  "This is Just to Say" in his book, called "I Will Alarm Islamic Owls". I trumped him, however, on "The Red Wheelbarrow", and I daresay I had the better anagram.)

I'm Ill; Mail is a Slow Crawl
by William Carlos Williams

I have not delivered
the girlie magazines
that should be in
your mailbox

and which
you will probably
not get till

Forgive me
I feel lousy
I have a fever
and a cold

or :

so much depends 

a sick mail

glazed with yellow 
beside the white 

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