Friday, December 1, 2017

November Poem-a-Day: A Sampler

So I made it through another poem-a-day challenge in November and emerged with 39 new poems. I can't say they're all great, but it was good to write regularly again for a while after a long dry spell. There were days, like there always are during challenges like this, when it seems really forced to get something out, but as fellow poet and workshop maven Peter Murphy says, "Give yourself permission to write a shitty poem." I followed the annual November Chapbook Challenge that Robert Lee Brewer hosts at his Poetic Asides blog, and used his daily prompts. Sometimes for a little extra creative "juice" I went to the Sunday Whirl blog and used their weekly word bank of a dozen words. The object, according to Robert, is to have enough good poems at the end of the month to put together a chapbook, and if you wish you can submit a short manuscript to him to compete in a contest. He selects a winner, whose only prize ostensibly is bragging rights. but even if you don't win, you may have the makings of a viable and sell-able manuscript. It's harder if you don't have a coherent theme, which I don't think I did this year, but in 2013 I wrote a month's worth of baseball poems which turned into my most recent chapbook.

I already shared one of my November poems in a previous blog entry, so here are nine more of what I consider some of the better poems I wrote:

[Day 1: "New day" poem - also used word bank from Sunday Whirl blog (chime, pine, try, sigh, sky, shore, walk, mist, signal, pebble, limber, mimic)]
Clearing the Air

Today I'll shake my worries free, or try -
I'll limber up and briskly walk the shore,
the morning mist still breaking, and before
the sun rolls up to dominate the sky,
before the seagulls hail me with their cry,
I'll keep the pace, a mile from my front door.
Beneath my feet, the pebbles underscore
my rough escape, acknowledged with a sigh.
The gulls come back to mimic my despair,
to signal that this all will be in vain.
I disagree. Beneath a windblown pine
I vow this is the day I will repair
the damage done, turn back to ease the pain,
and like the wind, I'll gently ring the chime.

[Day 2: "Disguise" poem]
This Guy's Disguise

You won't find me in a beret
scribbling furiously in a French café,
or pondering in an ascot
with a quill pen and a raven mascot.
No, I move among you incognito.
That whining noise like a mosquito?
Those are my poems, buzzing near your ear.
So next time in a bar, look up from your beer -
that might be me, two stools down to your left,
or at the Home Depot, you might see me heft
a ceiling fan over my bony shoulder.
Do you picture me younger or older?
I could be that hot guy at the cocktail party
or an old geezer in the cheese shop, buying Havarti.
I move like smoke - I can disperse in a minute,
then suddenly there's  a poem, and surprise! - you're in it.

[Day 8: "Object" or "thing" poem]
Nail Pop

You little rebel,
poking your head above the floorboard,
who snagged my sock last week -
you're the cause of the hole in my sole.
Worse yet, you ripped the skin
on my wife's foot that same day. 
I took a hammer and a nail set punch
to you, banged you down subfloor
where you belong, only to find you
creeping  aboveground again the next day.
I drove you down again, sealed you in
with a spot of glue, but you were made
of stronger stuff, and popped up
like a prairie dog two days later.
This morning, you bit my sock again,
the last straw.  I grabbed a pair of pliers,
pulled you out like a bad tooth,
and plugged up your hole with wood filler.
Now no one knows you were ever there,
except now in your absence, the board,
a little looser, utters a ghostly squeak.

[Day 11: "Unlucky" poem]
Lucky at Cards...

It's time to ante up
before I cash in my chips.
I can't bluff through this anymore.
You're not fooled by the poker face.
You'll see me and call me
and I'll have to lay down my hand.
I'll be straight with you
before you flush out the truth.
I'm not the king of fidelity;
in fact I'm a real jack-off.
You are the queen of patience
but it hasn't always been aces with us.
You said if we are to remain a pair
then we have to raise the stakes.
I need to be all in, or in the end,
I'll lose to the house.

[Day 12: "Transformative" poem - also used word bank from The Sunday Whirl blog (clear, taunting, body, fury, test, war, mission, lesson, dirt, slide, pay, disbelief)]
What They Brought Home

There's no time for disbelief
when a body lies in front of you.

You tell yourself to keep it together
with each exploding cloud of blood and dirt.

You can't forget the mission
even with the Devil taunting you.

Every minute is a test
of how long you can withstand the fury.

Success is the clear objective,
survival is secondary.

Back home, you slide down every night
and the war invades your dreams.

The biggest lesson that you've learned
is that everybody pays.

[Day 15: Title "Stranger ______"]
Stranger Universe

Before the digital age, if you tuned your TV to somewhere between channels, it would show the faint hum of white noise or snow. One percent of that snow was actually made up of radiation left over by the Big Bang.  - Zeeya Merali, A Big Bang in a Little Room

A stranger universe could not be made
by man. It blows our minds that TV sets
could catch the particles that never fade,
that beamed out from Creation, cosmic jets
of energy and matter blowing out,
but also that we breathe the oxygen
that dinosaurs inhaled, and how about
the rain that pelts our heads, to think that when
Li Po or Charlemagne walked out in storms,
the same rain soaked them too.  And then it hits
us - everything's a cycle, taking forms
from molecules and subatomic bits,
to supernovas - all of which surprise
and show us nothing ever really dies. 

[Day 20: "What I learned" - also used word bank from The Sunday Whirl blog (monkeys, chop, relish, strap, sting, moon, fly, kiss, merge, shimmy, crime, sword]
What I Learned About a Barrel of Monkeys

Almost anything in the world is more fun.
From the moment Amazon delivered it,
they emerged and wreaked havoc on my house,
shimmying up the curtains,
mooning me from the top of the TV,
taking flying leaps from my chandelier,
mocking me with kissy faces.
One of them took my ceremonial sword
off the wall and began to chop up my coffee table.
I took off my belt to threaten them,
thinking they would fear the sting of the strap,
but then they pantsed me.
I need to call animal control
before I'm arrested for a crime.
I don't relish this situation at all.
Maybe I can sell my house with the listing,
"as is - pets included".

[Day 23: "preface" poem]

Let me just say before we begin
that we have a lot to be thankful for.
For instance, I'm thankful for the free turkey
we got with our $300 purchase at Giant.
I'm thankful that my wife didn't make me
peel more potatoes than I did,
and that the nieces, nephews and grandchildren -
No running in the living room, kids! -
haven't broken anything in the house yet.
Thank you Uncle Jerry for not talking politics
and limiting yourself to one beer before dinner.
Thank you Bob and Jennifer for another year
of your killer green bean casserole, 
and thanks to my sister Marie for smoking outside.
So let's take a moment to give thanks to God,
or Jehovah, Allah, Gaia, humanity,
the Flying Spaghetti Monster,
or whomever you feel responsible
for this wonderful feast.... Dig in!

[Day 26: "Shine" poem]
My Back Door Someday

I've been waiting for that bright sunshine to show up
and shine in my back door someday.
- Luther Allison

When we moved across the street
after so many years, the sun followed us there,
but it was an old friend in a new light.
Before, it greeted us in the breakfast nook,
streaming in the back window most mornings,
and beat on our front door after noon,
sometimes mercilessly in summer.
Now, in our new home, it comes opposite -
mornings, a warm smash of yellow light
through the picture window, a golden glow
in the back yard through the cedar trees
in the afternoon. When the light slants just right,
it beams straight through the kitchen door,
and when it leaves at twilight, it's graceful enough
not to slam the screen.