You leapt into my arms
knocking me on balance
a phantom limb restored
To conclude National Poetry Month, I attended a workshop offered by the North Carolina Writers’ Network, lead by our state Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, entitled The Poet Witnesses: Writing Documentary Poetry.
For our writing prompt she shared a cool little five minute video called Color of Reality which I’ve embedded below and we were then invited to imagine the shadows of the dead men talking to their bodies. I incorporated the final Poetic Asides prompt as my title and I think it worked out.
Thanks for reading these thirty poems in thirty days!
It’s time for our fifth (and final) Two for Tuesday prompt of the month! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice!
I had hoped the paint
covering my skin
would grant protection
like an invisible cloak
or make me seem unthreatening
to those whose walk safe
down streets in their shining
Was it a matter of time
or was I just unlucky?
I just wish it didn’t take
so damn long to die
then I wouldn’t know
how many walked past
ignoring the red puddle
struggling for the gutter.
I guess invisibility only works
after you’re shot.
Twenty-nine down, one to go. I’m exhausted. Does it show?
For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) Again,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write your poem. Possible titles include: “Here We Go Again,” “On the Road Again,” “Stumped on What to Write Again,” and “Doing the Wrong Thing Again.”
Oh no, not again
“Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again.”
– Douglas Adams from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
What petunias think is a mystery.
They welcome the rain and sun,
in their way — simple machines
that consume, grow, reproduce.
Moths can fly but their primitive eyes
feel joy at the perilous flame
but more than enough become parents
so an early death doesn’t matter.
My complex mind composes poetry
yet is merely a fancy machine,
consuming wine, producing metaphor,
chasing bright dangerous women.
The water in the freezer doesn’t decide
when it’s cold enough. It just forms ice.
Same as the petunias, moths and I,
frozen in our nature.
For today’s prompt, write a remix poem. That is, remix one of your poems from earlier in the month. There are many ways to do this. Turn a free verse poem into a traditional form (using lines from the original poem). Or use erasure to cut down a long poem into a short one. Or expand a short poem into a longer version. Get creative with it.
The Four Freedoms (Revised and Amended)
I’m free to read my poems aloud
and you’re free not to listen.
I’ll encourage you to speak your mind
even though we won’t always agree.
I’m free to pray to any gods
I happen to find attractive
and I’ll defend your right to worship
even though I don’t believe.
But freedom requires sacrifice
not of blood on a battlefield
but in wealth to a society.
The hungry and naked are not free.
It’s no better being the fat cat,
afraid of losing his hoardings.
Let’s share so there’ll be loaves and fishes
for all and no one lives in anxiety.
Because I don’t want to be a rich man
living in an impoverished land.
(I revised my poem from Day 23. Is this version better or worse?)
For today’s prompt, pick a direction, make that the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. There are so many directions: north, south, up, down, left, right, over, under, etc. But there are also more specific directions like “Across the Way,” “Through the Woods,” and “Beyond the Clearing.” Or give directions like “Clean Your Room,” “Tie Your Shoes,” or “Get Over Here.”
To The Moon
There were men walking on the moon
when I was a boy, all bubbly
over Lost in Space and Star Trek
on a twelve inch black and white.
There have been eight Star Wars films
since a human last covered our whole planet
with his thumb and I sometimes wonder
if I’ll live long enough to see another.
(Man on the moon, of course. Star Wars IX
comes out at the end of the year.)
Back before Space 1999, I assumed
I’d be commuting like George Jetson
long before the fiftieth anniversary
of the Giant Leap for Mankind.
But we’re living somewhere between Mad Max
and Soylent Green, still stuck on an Earth
who’s slowly suffocating while we argue
over the temperature at which books catch fire.
For today’s prompt, write an evening poem. A poem about or during the night. Or take evening a completely different direction and think of evening the score or making things more even (or fair or whatever).
Even though I’ve been awake for eight hours,
my day doesn’t start until you knock at my door.
The sun casts red highlights in your back lit curls
and I beg for an evening poem as the sky fades.
I’ve done my time to keep the economy churning,
the wheels of progress spinning, the rats racing.
The world owes me a few hours to be productive
without being paid, creative without compensation,
to do my real work, in hopes of leaving a mark
more permanent than mere minutes in meetings.
Cuddle with me now. Whisper your inspiration.
Grant me an evening of music and wine
so I can lie content with you in my arms
and dream the dreams of a poet.
For today’s prompt, write an exile poem. Exile is a noun, a verb, and an American rock band from Richmond, Kentucky. A person, animal, or object can be exiled. But people and animals also exile others–or even exile themselves.
Lament of the Law-Abiding
I see my neighbors on the news.
They’re happy and ready to deport
anyone whose complexion is darker
than their sickly pale skin.
I’m all for reducing the ranks
of true Americans but I’d send
anyone who ends a sentence
with a preposition into exile.
Load them on buses and boats,
all those who can’t distinguish
their from they’re from there
or your from you’re.
But I’m well outnumbered,
last defender of a dying regime,
obeying the rules of grammar
in a lawless land.
For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Complete (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write your poem. Possible titles include: “Complete Best Day I Ever Had,” “Complete Guide to Writing Poems,” “Completely Wrong Way,” and “Completed Set.”
My favorite apiarist
gave me some honey,
now dissolving in my tea.
Collected from her hives,
it’s completely natural,
tastes sweet as a simile.
This mug from which I drink,
this computer upon which I write,
are both every bit as natural,
produced by the many hands of man
as honey is vomited from the mouths
of bees as it has for eons.
We’re all as natural as the air.
After all, what else is there?
Time for our fourth (but not final) Two for Tuesday of the month! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice!
“Freedom isn’t free”
or so I’ve heard.
It isn’t hungry either
nor is it fearful.
I encourage you speak out
even though I don’t agree.
I defend your worship
even though I don’t believe.
Be not afraid.
There’s no free lunch
but I’m happy to share.
For today’s prompt, write a correspondence poem. Maybe write a poem that would fit on a postcard or in a letter. Or write a poem about correspondence school. Or jump into newer forms of correspondence like e-mail or text messaging. Of course, not all correspondence is connected to communicating; sometimes one thing corresponds to another by being similar.
As a boy I wished I could mail
myself to exotic locations
like Dayton or south of the border:
Kentucky. My wanderlust was strong
even then as I explored atlases
with my imagination.
Flat Stanley was my avatar.
I sent him to my distant Hoosier
grandparents and my few far away
friends. Then I looked up the addresses
of city halls in New York, Miami, Seattle
and off he’d go, first class.
It wasn’t long before I tracked down
embassies in London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo.
His final trip was to McMurdo Station—
he never came back. Stanley was my scout
and I’ve followed undeterred in his razor
thin footsteps as a grown up, par avion.