POEM FIFTEEN

NaPoWriMo prompt is followed by my poem of the fifteenth day, the halfway point in this invitation to write from an unusual prompt.

Halfway There

on APRIL 15, 2013

Hello, everyone. Today marks the halfway point of NaPoWriMo. I hope your writing is going well!

Our featured link for the day is the Adademy of American Poets’ portal on poetic schools and movements. Don’t know your Russian Acmeists from your Imagists or Metaphysicals? This page will help you sort it all out.

Our featured participant’s blog is Lips and daggers, where Libby Loucks is working on a series of 14-word poems — often she posts four or five a day! It’s sort of like NaPoWriMo Plus.

And now our (again — totally optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a pantun. Not a pantoum— though they are related. The pantun is a traditional Malay form, a style of which was later adapted into French and then English as the pantoum. A pantun consists of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection. Here’s an example:

I planted sweet-basil in mid-field.
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.
*

The associative leap from the first couplet to the second allows for a great deal of surprise and also helps give the poems are very mysterious and lyrical quality. Try your hand at just one quatrain, or a bunch of them, and see how you do!

* It’s been pointed out that the example doesn’t rhyme, and its syllable count is suspect. All I can say is that it is a translation from a poem in Malay. A transliteration of the original is below–

Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.

As you can see, in the original, the abab rhyme is present, and the syllable count is right. Our translator appears to have been more concerned with substance than style! At any rate, I apologize for any confusion.

POEM FIFTEEN

2013.4.15

 Image

Art:  John William Waterhouse

1849-1917

I planted sweet roses along the trellis.

Overgrown, they hang heavy with bees.

I sought but am not sought, jealous.

I am lost as night birds sing, on my knees.

Copyright 2013

C.J. Prince

POEM FOURTEEN

NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, offers this prompt for our first two weeks in April, 2013:

Our featured link for the day is From the Fishouse, an online audio archive of readings by emerging poets.

Our featured participant’s blog is Matt Walker, where the poem for Day 11 makes leaps and turns that recreate the thought process, the process of coming together and fading away.

And now, our prompt. Today’s should be fun — I hope. I challenge you to write a persona poem — that is, a poem in the voice of a particular person who isn’t you. But I’d like you to choose a very particular kind of person. How about a poem in the voice of a superhero (or a supervillain)? Comic book characters are very much like mythological characters — they tend to embody big-picture values or personality traits. Good or bad. Loyal or disloyal! (Heck — some comic book characters are mythologial characters — think of Thor). And like mythological characters, superheroes and supervillains let us tap into deep-seated cultural tropes. So go for it. Whether you identify with Batman, Robin or – gulp – the Joker, let’s hear your poems in another voice. Happy writing!

Image

Image source:  Wikipedia

ISIS

I am your sister, your mother, your brother,

your father, your cousin.

Yet you forget me.

 

Wrap your arms around a sycamore.

Breathe the bark.

Let the patterns

 

ride along your meridians.

Remember my magic.

For when you are dismembered,

 

I recreate you in the waters of the Nile,

blow breath and desire into your hollow

places, sprinkle you with rainbow wings.

 

I am before Mary.  I taught Eve

to explore.  I come from the ancients,

the gods and goddesses of beyond

 

your recall.  Do not question.

I am with you always,

tattooed in your DNA.

 

When you forget me,

I am still there.

I am still here,

 

in your aura,

in the flight of the hawk

that catches your eye.

 

I am Isis

with wings that embrace

the earth sphere.

 

When you are lost,

I will find you.

Call on me.

Copyright 2013

C.J. Prince

Christmas at the Smalls

 

 

“Excuse me, please, but I’m lost.” I glance up and down the dock at Squalicum Harbor with its little floating sidewalks leading to sail boats, dingys and motor boats of various sizes, colors and conditions.

“I see you’re busy pulling crabs out of that boat. Looks like you stored them on ice but…oh, my, look, they’re alive.”

Alive, alive ho

singing cockles and mussels,

alive, alive ho

Ho ho ho, usually a phony holiday sound now dredges up a twinkle from distant memory of visiting the Smalls at Christmas time where nothing is phony. The time of year when the family visited neighbors, a cardboard box filled with mason jars of chili sauce wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with red bows wedged between my brother and me in the back seat of the old Ford. Mom would chop and cut and stir and can chili sauce in late summer, a task I’d avoid and was also forbidden to explore. I’d help wrap and tie bows in early December.

They’re just up the canyon from us but we have to drive around. Sally Small answers the door, her smile ever ready and welcoming. She’s wearing a new dress she just made and jokes about hemming it quickly with safety pins. They’re all so friendly. Mom doesn’t sew and we don’t have company too often. I don’t think we’re so friendly. Mom always tells Jehovah’s Witnesses that she’s Catholic. She says it scares them away.

Sally moves a mound of clean laundry on the couch so we can sit. She serves warm cookies to us kids. The adults talk and have cocktails, some concoction of holiday cheer. They have six children so there is lots of activity, voices, running up and down hallways. My brother and I are under the watchful eye of our parents, the admoniton to “behave yourselves” still ringing in our ears. We’re dressed up like church even though it’s a foggy day and our Easter clothes are too tight now.

The adults sip, banter and joke. Ward gets out his guitar, a magical instrument, the first one I’ve ever seen. He’s smiling and I’m no longer trying to behave. I’m just sitting there while the adults have another drink. He strums the strings. The music pauses the chaos of kids and adults. Like the Pied Piper, Ward’s guitar strings call his kids from back bedrooms. They lounge on the floor, sprawl over the back of the sofa, settle in. He sings a Christmas song and everyone joins in. Whatever else is happening in the world, in that moment, I’m happy and so amazed at this beaming man and his magical guitar. Sally refills the tall glasses and ice cubes clink as they all sip.

Ward sings “Sweet Molly Malone”. I’ve never heard it but begin to learn the words that day and any other time I went to their house and he sings.

In Dublins fair city, where the girls are so pretty,
I once met a girl called sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow, through the streets broad and narrow,
Crying cockles and mussels` Alive alive oh

Alive alive oh,
Alive alive oh
Crying cockles and mussels,
Alive alive oh.

She wheeled her wheelbarrow through the streets broad and narrow,
Just like her mother and father before
And they wheeled their wheel barrow,
through the streets broad and narrow,
crying cockles and mussels alive alive oh

I sing it to the dogs this morning as I mop the floor and unexpected memories float to the surface.