Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 NaPoWriMo 30/30 Challenge Recap


  • The first April I've written a poem a day every day without missing a day in a few years.
  • Made this blog's 250th post.
  • Welcomed this blog's 14,000th view.
  • Deepened friendships with other poets sharing during the month.
  • Got some new material I didn't like, got some new material I did.
Looking forward:
  • Intending to start editing more and drafting less.
  • Intending to submit to some journals.
  • Have a goal to acquire 100 rejection letters - so far I have 3, so only 97 more to go!
Thank you everyone who read.  Thank you even more those who commented.  Communication and support mean so much to me.  Thanks most to those who also wrote that I got to read.  I'm so full from this past month.  So much love.  Thank you all.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

30/30: this time it's personal and it's naked and it's ugly.

And it's prose.  Whoops.

I'm feeling extremely restless.  Something about spending an entire day expecting to learn at any minute that any number of people I hold very dear had died.  Something about this ovulation being extra cat-in-heat-like.  Something about too much introspection and existential thought.  Something about I love a man on the other side of a globe and what am I even stringing him along for if I will probably just let him down by going to bed with someone and never live near him anyway.  An open relationship in theory and in practice are different animals.  A past lover asked if I wanted to get down.  I wanted to get down.  I went to see him.  It was fun and it was fine but how will the man I love be after I tell him?  And I left still feeling cat-in-heat-like.  I wanted to go to any bar and go to bed with the first person who made eye contact.  I wanted a stranger to slap me full across the face and tell me horrible things about myself.  I went home and wrote a tender poem about my love then spent my whole dream fucking strangers who said yes.  So instead I drive too fast after school down rural highways and the wind is too cold because I don't have a jacket and it hurts my skin and I like it.  And a car in front of me is kicking up dust and it's stinging my skin and I like it.  I follow the car down roads I wouldn't otherwise have taken because I want the stinging to keep stinging.  And the cold and the sting is making me tear up and I like it because I have an excuse to shed tears and a reason for them I can name.  I'm driving too fast and I'm fantasizing about leaping off and flying for a few seconds.  I hold the accelerator down until it will go no faster and dream about brick walls.  And what am I even doing staying up too late every night and I just want to sleep all day and why am I going to work what does this work mean for me for my future what is a future do I even want one?  What is living for and can't I just sleep under an overpass and start drunk fights with strangers and get my teeth knocked out?  Why do I feel like shit and why do I want someone something to make me feel like shit?  Because then I'd have an actual reason for feeling this way that I cannot otherwise name?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

29/30: Last Kiss Rehearsal

Lights up, low, on a stage.
Long benches, some people seated
here and there, some with bags.
No talking.  Enter, stage left,
the couple, young
but not too young, race
unimportant, but he
should be bearded and her hair
should be long.  Make them
the same height.  Make them stand
too close while she negotiates the purchase
of a one-way ticket in a foreign language, but he's
the one with the backpack.  She hands him
the ticket and they move to a bench.

They have not spoken to each other yet.

She opens
a small plastic shopping bag,
pulls out leftover pizza.
They eat in silence
but hold hands
on top of his knee.  They are

conspicuous in the way
that they are avoiding
looking anywhere else
but those hands.  Like they know
what it means.  Off stage we hear
a long bell, an announcement, and the hands
fall apart.  The couple stands.  The onlookers
look on as we remember

the gun in the first act, when she declared
her categorical opposition
to public displays and we watch as
without hesitation her arms are now
around his neck and she's kissing him kissing
him kissing him like those kisses could speak
every word she just chased
with the pizza.
She pushes the rest of it in the shopping bag
into his hands.  As he goes to board,
we watch in awe, wondering
how long one person
can go without blinking.  He rounds
the corner.
Lights down.


Monday, April 28, 2014

28/30: tornado season in arkansas again

today tornadoes danced
like dervishes across my homeland
while i on the opposite side of this globe
tried to teach
holding my fragile heart tenderly
between my teeth, live streaming newscasts
of nightmares between classes what a unique
feeling of powerlessness it is
to watch a death toll rise in time
with the barometer
unthreading my veins to tie a knot
for each prayer.
i am so tall but this inseam
is not long enough to carry me there.
what good is this wingspan
if i cannot reach
my dozen loves.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

27/30: prompts include writing a letter, using birdsong, among others.

Dear Andrea:

Things are good here.  The weather
has gone hot again, and the rains
should start back up soon.  My new job
is hard and I love it; two of my students
have now written poems.  Isn’t that
some kind of particular magic?  There are birds
that I listen to every night; I’ve been trying
to place their call.  One sound, one high
syllable just now, then again, and again
time to time and if I stand on my apartment
rooftop I can hear it echoing

                                                across town.  I haven’t
managed to actually see one of these birds.
I read yesterday an idea that a teacher
cannot really teach, that the student must learn
on their own, that all the teacher can do
is encourage the learning.  If that’s true, two
of my students have managed to learn
to write poems all on their own
and I’ve never seen a one of these birds.
Their call ends in an E-sound.  One night
I decided it was THREE.  THREE.  THREE.

I think about what I’m learning here, and who,
if anyone, is my teacher.  I go up
to the roof to escape the subtropical heat
if it is not raining and look out
at every sleeping window and marvel at the lives
they all contain.  One day soon a student
will give me a third poem, then a fourth
and I want to say I have taught children
to read but surely I only helped them

to learn.  What a precise alchemy it is,
and I watch as their little eyes solve
the squiggles, as their tiny mouths move
and all the right sounds come out and in
the night I reach out for these birds I cannot name
and I grasp them and tie my worries to their
little bird feet and let go, learning to watch them fly

FREE.  FREE.  FREE.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

26/30: And you thought I was gonna go all month without writing about my mom.

When my mother dies
I will plant her body
inside my belly, safe
to grow again.  I will deliver

her back to life.  I will deliver

someone
who has never hated me.
Not even once.

Friday, April 25, 2014

25/30: Anaphora

YOU:

got me distracted
driving, got me daydreaming
at work and at rest, got me hating everything
I eat for tasting not one drop like you.
got me popping pens in my mouth
while I'm trying to write, at an angle
like that could invoke your girth,
got me missing the slick of you, saying
your name three times in the mirror like
it could make you appear.  got me staying up late
replaying memories then sleeping in trying
to hold on to dreams.  got me exclamation
mark.  got me restless interrobang.  got me hungry
ellipses.  got me aching like a high schooler
at 2:59 on Friday, got me afraid of what this means,
then relaxing into fear like an opening bud.
got me like a hobo listening to a whistling train, got me ready
like ramen craving falls of boiling water,
got me all sandy beach and you foaming waves.
got me crossing my legs to keep out my dancing hands.
got me tuned and soundchecked, got me kneeling,
head proud, hands folded, wide eyes open tight
and a stomach just as big, ready, praying, flag mouth
unfurled, that you will come on by
and get me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

24/30: in this forest

Someone in my Facebook news feed referred to his pain in passing as a forest.  So I went all the way there.  He was speaking mostly about chronic physical pain, I channeled mental illness.

In this forest the tree trunks are wide
as nightmares.  In this forest I try
to walk through but my feet stick
in the muck and the branches are all arms
with a raven's grip.  In this forest
the wildfire moss soaks up all sounds,
even ones I imagine, a silence
so thick it's blinding, and now I've lost
all sense of direction.  The canopy becomes
its own night sky, no sunlight for so long
I've forgotten how it feels on the skin
and can't care.  The muck begins
to resemble the warmest of beds, and in
this forest I lie down, held by so many
ravens' arms.  Gravequiet moss
for a blanket and a night too black
for stars.  I open my mouth to yawn
and out sprouts a sapling, growing faster
than any bad dream.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

23/30: How to hold your horses

ONE WEEK LEFT Y'ALL
---------------------------

We are, after all, talking
about an animal measured
in "hands," measured
from the ground up to the place
where neck meets shoulders, called
a magical word: the "withers."
Hands and more you'll need, teeth,
bridles, bits, reigns, this frothing herd
is rearing to race but you

have to hold them.
Back.
Weave your fingers
into their manes, take the reigns
between your lips, bite down hard.
Think on lakes and let the calm
trickle down your hands and in
through their hides.  Less grip
and more stable until it's time

to let
go.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

22/30: instructions for moving to the other side of the world

First, get rid
of every
piece
of furniture.
The bed you shared
with your now ex-spouse.
The pressboard DIY bookshelves
that have survived seven moves
and long term outdoor storage.
Your grandmother's piano.
The coffee table you and your friends
glued naked women to, cut
from nudie magazines.
You can only take two suitcases.
All Furniture Must Go.
Then the books.  Oh, You,
librarian's daughter, don't let
me hear it.
Well, okay.
But you can't keep more
than five boxes, alright?
OKAY FINE, ex-chef,
and five boxes of kitchen stuff,
but those clothes?  C'mon.  After you try,
unsuccessfully to make a buck
two separate consignment shops,
stop by the thrift store and let it all go
free.  Now it's time to pack
two suitcases, neither of which
may outweigh fifty pounds.
Shoes.  At a lady's size twelve,
Taiwan will not help you.  Clothes.
At five foot eleven inches, you'll be shit
out of luck over there.  Only books
on writing poetry, teaching English,
or learning Mandarin.  No more than twelve.
Okay, thirteen.  The bear you've slept with
since you were two weeks old.  Your
fifth international journey will be
his first.  Make it gentle.  Your e-book
will hold a library as well.  The camera
is necessary, as is the vibrator and the anti-
depressants.  Take one thing you know
you will leave behind.  Take one thing
that reminds you of home.  Take
yourself
to the airport and take inventory
of everything you're leaving behind.