Saturday, June 4, 2022

Another New Book Announcement!

 This is a bit belated, but I'm excited and proud to announce the publication of my second book of 2022, my chapbook entitled Knit Our Broken Bones. It's collection of poems in a form called the "hay(na)ku," which I have mentioned and shared on this blog on several occasions. But let me share my introduction page from the book for an explanation:

The "hay(na)ku" is a poetic form invented by Eileen Tabios around 2000. The basic form is very simple: a three-line poem like a haiku, but consisting of one word on the first line, two on the second, and three on the third. Hay(na)ku can also be written as a string of three-line stanzas. Vince Gotera, the poet who coined the name for this form (from a Filipino phrase that roughly translates to "OMG!"), then created a variation he calls the "hay(na)ku sonnet": four hay(na)ku stanzas followed by a two line closing, or envoi, with each line having three words each. The fourteen lines suggest a sonnet structure. In this book, I take the concept a bit further by incorporating rhyme and a loose meter into most of the poems, with the last word of each stanza being the rhyming word, and the two closing lines rhyming with each other. My rhyme scheme is usually either AABBCC or ABABCC, but  one  poem in the collection is AAAABB . Some of the poems have internal rhyme, and some don't try to rhyme at all.

I wrote most of the poems in the book during 2020 and 2021, and in particular during November 2020, when I wrote a poem a day for Robert Lee Brewer Chapbook Challenge. This is the second book that is the direct result of that challenge. (The first was my 2016 baseball chapbook Hits and Sacrifices.) I was lucky to get two excellent blurbs from the aforementioned Ms. Tabios and Mr. Gotera, who both loved the book. It's published by Maverick Duck Press and is available on their website, maverickduckpress.com, for $8.00. You can also contact me via Facebook Messenger, or just leave a comment here, if you would like an autographed copy.  Here's the awesome cover, designed by my son Jeremy with a photo courtesy of Unsplash.com:


And here is a sample poem, one of the more humorous ones in the book:


Sharknado! 

waterspouts
suck up
killer ocean fish
 
weather
that thinks
humans are delish
 
twisters
shouldn't have
teeth, dorsal fins
 
storms
make landfall
and nobody wins
 
your big umbrella
is useless, fella
 





Sunday, May 1, 2022

PAD April 2022: My Top Ten

 As promised and without further ado, here is a list of my favorites of the poems I wrote this April. I don't know if they are all objectively my "best," but in general I'm happy with how they came out. I also list them for the benefit of readers who don't care to browse 30 days of blog entries for "highlights." I will list them by day, along with the prompts that inspired them. (Note that four of my best/favorite poems for the month were part of my "Elbow Project.")

[Day 3: Write a "glosa;" write a "smell" poem.]

Return Visit
 
And my sister buzzes through the room
leaving perfume in the air
And that's what triggered this
I come back here from time to time....
―Elbow, "Scattered Black and Whites"
 
Some memories are olfactory―
some say that deep recall remains
the longest in the sense of smell.
These days I rarely sense tobacco
from a pipe, but when I do
it wakes me up, it cuts the gloom
and ricochets me back six decades
to my grandfolks' bungalow―
my grandmom sweeping with her broom,
and my sister buzzes through the room,
 
while in his study, Grandpop puffs
on his meerschaum as he toils
at his desk with paperwork
for clients, their insurance policies,
and he'd go door-to-door collecting
premiums, but always fair.
(Some were just a nickel.) Everyone
in town would know this little man
who puffed along without a care,
leaving perfume in the air.
 
Summer weeks we spent with them,
my sis and I, and we would help
Grandmom tend her roses, feed the squirrels,
Grandpop growing rhubarb, feeding birds.
Friday night was TV on the davenport
and one more smell we couldn't miss,
Jiffy Pop, its silver dome expanding,
the steam escaping from ripped foil,
the popcorn smell a buttery kiss―
and that's what triggered this,
 

the scents of summer with the grands,
popcorn, roses, pipe tobacco.
Not all the memories are sweet―
the bathtime scrubs behind the ears,
the time they force-fed lima beans.
But back when candy cost a dime,
and TV shows were black and white,
there still was innocence around.
The everyday is such a climb―
I come back here from time to time.




[Day 6: Write a poem with the title "_______ in the _______;" write a "word acrostic" poem (a poem in which the words of a phrase or line from another poet's work are used in order as the first word in lines of a new poem.]

Looking in the Rearview

Dear friends
You are angels and drunks
You are Magi
Old friends
You stuck a pin in the map I was in
And you are the stars I navigate home by
―Elbow, "Dear Friends"
 
Dear departed, dear still there,
friends who have been part of the journey,
you all got me here today.
Are you sleeping, are you awake?
Angels and demons
and graybeards and ghosts,
drunks and teetotalers, scoundrels and saints,
you all are indispensible, you
are worth more than any gift of the
Magi, more than any billionaire's cache.
 
Old days sometimes fade like photographs, but
friends, you are the afterimage in my eyes,
you are the memories that make me smile,
stuck in the brain like
a favorite record, a butterfly on a
pin. I am still driving
in from the wilderness, dust on
the windshield, creases on the road
map, and I don't know exactly where
I will rest, but I do know I
was in the greatest company
in all the towns you found me in,
 
and you have my gratitude,
you clouds in the sunset, you who
are a two-lane highway through the plains,
the rest stop, the last gas, the
stars that knock me back at night when
I gaze overhead, the same ones I use to
navigate toward the last leg of this trip,
home by breakfast, home
by morning.



[Day 10: a kimo in response to the war, not to the prompts of the day.]

Kramatorsk
 
things left behind at the bombed-out station―
backpacks, water bottles, food,
a blood-soaked teddy bear



[Day 13: Write a poem with the title "How to ____________."]

How to Die Happy
 
...my sweet trampoline...
―Elbow, "Fly Boy Blue/Lunette"
 
all of this bouncing, this back and this forth
and the layover boredom, I wait with a drink
and a smoke and whatever they have on the idiot box
 (in the old days they would let you  smoke in the bar)
 
but now those two monkeys are climbing my back
the one is bile-green and the other soot-black
and I know if I shake them I'll save my own life
but the pangs are too much like a dull rusty knife
 
so will you be my solace, my rising red moon
when I wake in the morning with a pain in the chest
my sweet trampoline, let me sleep on your breast,
let your mystery kill me, your scar and tattoo



[Day 16:  Write  a "touch" poem; write a curtal sonnet.]

Muse
 
I'm struggling tonight to find my voice;
I stumble over meter, sound and verse.
I've written sonnets many dozen times; 
this evening, though, I fumble over choice
of words, my inspiration gone, and worse,
I feel bone-dry, there's not one thing that primes
my pump, no beauty in this darkened space.
But you, with the compassion of a nurse,
come in to hug me, and my heartbeat climbs.
Then all the syllables fall into place;
                                    the evening rhymes.    



[Day 18: (1) Write a poem with the title "We ______," and (2) "write your own poem that provides five answers to the same question – without ever specifically identifying the question that is being answered." ]

We Find the Escaped Bicycle
 
It
chewed right
through the lock.
 
It
rolled away
from human hands.
 
It
wears rust
like a medal.
 
But
its tires
need air, reassurance.
 
And
its chain
droops with sorrow.



[Day 20:  (1) Write a poem from the point of view of a food, and (2) write a poem using at least three, or as many as six, of the following words: content, double, guide, meet, pump, suit.]

Brussels Sprouts Make Their Case
 
Look, we know, we understand, we're not your favorite veg;
tomatoes, corn and broccoli all seem to have the edge.
It's hard to pump excitement up for silly little cabbage,
but give us half a chance, don't just throw us in the gabbage!
All you need's a recipe to be your kitchen guide,
then meet us in the middle, we may get you on our side!
Saute us in some olive oil or butter―now you're shakin'―
and just for extra measure, you can add some chopped-up bacon!
(All right, then, you can  double up the bacon if you wish.)
Toss in some fresh minced garlic for an aromatic dish!
Or stick us in the oven for that extra crispy finish―
perhaps then we'll move up your list, you'll like us more than spinish!
May we suggest a favorite wine―a Chardonnay will suit,
and we know you'll be content, 'cos grape's your favorite fruit!
So raise a toast to us wee sprouts, enjoying a revival,
and cook a bunch of us (with bacon) for your friends' arrival!



[Day 23: Write a "conspiracy" poem; write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan.]

The Gravity Plot

 
The Earth conspires
to make things weigh
a little more each year.
This spring I hefted
a 40-pound bag
of Weed and Feed
and it was heavier
than ever before.
My mower, too,
pushes slower
these days,
uphill both ways.
Someone  turned up
the gravity dial, I'm sure.
Soon I won't be able
to lift out of my couch,
but only slouch and sag
like a 200-pound bag.



[Day 26: Write a "love" and/or "anti-love" poem.]

Positively in Love
 
to say I love you, I keep my distance―
no touch, no kiss, a masked smile,
but you can see my eyes



[Day 27: Write a "remix" poem (remixing or repurposing poetry you wrote earlier this month); write a "duplex sonnet" (a form createed by poet Jericho Brown).]

Homecoming
 
The moon is out looking for trouble
and everyone's here....
―Elbow, "Open Arms"
 
You woke this morning―you were not on fire.
You need no ladder to climb out the window.
 
            You leave a window open, bring a backpack.
            The conductor asks to see your ticket home.
 
Back home they've unfurled the colored banners,
They've strung and tested all the colored lights.
 
            When you arrive a little late, the lights are on,
            The moon is rising in three-quarter time,
 
They sing a song the moon would know by heart,
And hoist a brew to youthey spill some foam.
 
            The night careens along on foam and moonshine,
            You sing through open windows till they close.
 
You need no ladder to climb in the window―
You wake this morning and you're not on fire.

 

[Honorable Mentions:
Underemployed (Day 5)
Bruce the Bear (Day 8)
Pathetique (Day 9)
"When she finishes..." (senryu) (Day 10)
The Relative Worth of Jeff Bezos (Day 11)
How to Know Today Will Be AMAZING (Day 13)
Ode to a Slug (Day 22)
Aisling (Day 25)
The Clearance (Day 26)]








PAD April 2022: Another One in the Books

 Once again, I've survived another April of writing a poem or more a day, despite a mild week-long case of COVID, and my total for this year (counting an "early bird" poem for NaPoWriMo on March 31) was 37 poems. As usual, most of them (19) were free verse, but almost half were in some form or other. I wrote three light verses, two kimos, two hay(na)ku strings, two nonets (incuding a double nonet), a "tanka prose" (like a haibun), a senryu, a curtal sonnet, a "duplex" sonnet, a cento of sorts, a concrete poem, a glosa, a "Wordle" poem, an another mostly rhymed verse in anapestic meter. Six of the poems I wrote this month became part of my "Elbow Project" (poems inspired by the music and lyrics of the rock band Elbow). Also, Maureen Thorson of NaPoWriMo featured my Day 20 poem, "Brussels Sprouts Make Their Case"on her blog - a nice honor!

It was a big month for me publication-wise, too. My first full-length poetry collection, The Bungalow of Colorful Aging, continues to generate interest and good reviews, including a verbal seal of approval from my poet friend Jane Hirshfield, who loved it!  (See the link to the right for info on how to get a copy.) Also my poem "A White Piano in Kharkiv" was published in the Poet Magazine anthology Poetry for Ukraine, for which all profits are going to the organization Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. Here is the link. Finally, I have another new book, a chapbook entitled Knit Our Broken Bones, published by Maverick Duck Press. It's a series of "hay(na)ku sonnets" - short, mostly rhymed verse on topics from COVID to the 2020 presidential election to love, pets, storms, music, etc. You can order fom the publisher here, or contact me privately for how to get an autographed author's copy.

I'll be back soon with my "top ten" favorite poems of April 2022.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

PAD Day 30: Limping Across the Finish Line

 Today's prompts from Write Better Poetry and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write a "cento" (a poem composed completely of the lines or words of other poet's poems), and (2) write a "moving on" poem.  

As much fun as the Poem-a-day challenge can be, sometimes the last few days can feel like a slog. I did have a lot going on these last couple of days, and consequently much less time to write. A cento can be a daunting project, but Maureen gave us permission, so to speak, to write a shorter one, so I took her at her word. This poem is an offshoot of my "Elbow Project": The lines alternate between actual lyrics of songs by the rock band Elbow, and lines of poems I wrote in response to some of those songs. (So I did take some liberty with the definition of "cento" in that I used some of my own previous lines.) Some of these original poems were written this month, and some before that. (I began my project in earnest in February.) After the poem are annotations to the source of each line.

Weathered  Heart
 
Your real face is the easiest to find,
And now I know what every step is for.
Cue the flowers, cue the birds.
The violets explode inside me when I meet your eyes―
let your mystery kill me, your scar and tattoo.
I saw you try and stop the sunset on your own.
You sing a song the moon would know by heart,
and my heart, there defrosting in a gaze.
You pulled me from the snow, home with my heart in tow,
when the blizzard blossom blew,
home by breakfast, home by morning.
One day a year like this would see me right.
 
Original poems:
Line 1: "To Scale" (March 2022)
Line 3: "Hay(na)ku (Six Words)" (March 2022)
Line 5: "How to Die Happy" (April 13)
Line 7: "Homecoming" (April 27)
Line 9: "Road Service" (April 28)
Line 11: "Looking in the Rearview" (April 6)
 
Elbow Lyrics:
Line 2: "Mirrorball"
Line 4: "Starlings"
Line 6: "Kindling"
Line 8: "Magnificent, She Says"
Line 10: "This Blue World"
Line 12: "One Day Like This"


As far as the "moving on" prompt - well, it's almost 2 a.m. on May 1, and this about all I've got left:


Next Stop...

My old train leaves the station
with a full head of steam,
a firebox hot with inspiration,
a smokestack puffing dreams.


Friday, April 29, 2022

PAD Day 29: A Very Short Fairy Tale

 Today's dual prompts from Write Better Poetry and NaPoWriMo: (1)Write a poem with the title "The Last _________", and (2) as inspired by "Sleeping Beauty," write a poem musing on gifts you received at birth and a "curse" you have had to live with throughout your life. I didn't follow the second prompt exactly--instead I used Sleeeping Beauty as a more direct inspiration to write my own "flash fairy tale." I used one of my favorite forms, the hay(na)ku, to write a fairy tale of exactly 48 words.

The Last Baby Gifts


Faeries
gave presents
to the princess

on
the occasion
of her birth

the 
last two
opened in celebration

each
quite different
from the other

opening
the first
box left her

blessed
to always
tell the truth

opening
the second
box left her

cursed
to always
tell the truth


Thursday, April 28, 2022

PAD Day 28: Stuck in Concrete

 Today's dual prompts from NaPoWriMo and Write Better Poetry: (1) Write a "concrete" poem,and (2) write a "sight" poem. Well, concrete poems are, by definition, "sight" poems. Unfortunately, I am notoriously poor at concrete poems. HTML is not my friend. Here's my rather sad attempt at it anyway - it's supposed to be a flat tire. (And in a stroke of serendipity, the hole in the middle of the tire suggests a heart.)

    Road Service
 
                                                                  the
                                                        highway's rough
                                            enough without more hazards,
                                           but lately I can't seem to swerve―
                                      look out for                             what waits
                                     around the                                 curve/my life                                                      has sprung                                a leak today
                                         but I sent an                          APB your way 
                                           'cos you have                   got so  much
                                           in reserve, you're        my straightaway,
                                             you're my Triple-A/when I'm flat and
                                          floundering, you're the light of day, so I wait
                                        at the shoulder, trying not to feel colder, and you
                                     pull me from the snow, home with my heart in tow 









Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Day 27: Welcome Home

 Todays' dual prompts from Write Better Poetry and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write a "remix" poem, and (2) write a poem in the form of a "duplex sonnet," created by poet Jericho Brown. Maureen Thorson of NaPoWriMo describes it this way: 

Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first. 

(There appears to be no specific rule for rhyme or meter, but I used unrhymed iambic pentameter, a.k.a. blank verse, for this one.)

In the past, when I've done Robert's "remix" prompt. I took the last lines from several of the poems I had written in April and strung them together to make a coherent new poem. This time, instead, I took a slight variation on one of my better first lines of this month, ("When you woke up this morning/you were not on fire...." from my day 13 poem, "How to Know Today Will Be AMAZING") and used it as the first and last line of this new poem. I also decided to make this another part of my "Elbow Project,"where I write songs based on the music and lyrics of the British rock band Elbow. Their song "Open Arms" is an uplifting tune about a homecoming, and it has a lilting, carnival-type sound to it, like a party. (Today just happens to be my birthday, by the way, and there is no party planned for today, but the one I imagine here would be nice.) Anyway, I hope this works as a "duplex sonnet" and as a poem that sets a tone.


Homecoming
 
The moon is out looking for trouble
and everyone's here....
―Elbow, "Open Arms"
 
You woke this morning―you were not on fire.
You need no ladder to climb out the window.
 
            You leave a window open, bring a backpack.
            The conductor asks to see your ticket home.
 
Back home they've unfurled the colored banners,
They've strung and tested all the colored lights.
 
            When you arrive a little late, the lights are on,
            The moon is rising in three-quarter time,
 
They sing a song the moon would know by heart,
And hoist a brew to youthey spill some foam.
 
            The night careens along on foam and moonshine,
            You sing through open windows till they close.
 
You need no ladder to climb in the window―
You wake this morning and you're not on fire.