Day 26:

Prompt: “Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? The object or site of study could be anything from a “World’s Best Grandpa” coffee mug to a Pizza Hut, from a Pokemon poster to a cellphone.”

Note: Once again, I’ve taken liberties with the prompt. It’s hard to imagine a distant future for humans with the direction the world has taken, so I’ve imagined a future without humans. On a tangential note, I’m having fun with couplets.

 

Into the Night

The clouds are at their most beautiful
when they pour over a damaged world.

It’s strange how days can turn into nights
and back again when no one is watching.

Love is less than a memory
in that context, yet clouds don’t know it.

Memoryless, they ride the open sky. The earth
below them is a body barren of flesh.

The space above—infinite and forbidden.

Day 25: Fish Out of Fishbowl

Prompt: “In 1958, the philosopher/critic Gaston Bachelard wrote a book called The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.”

 

Note: I didn’t quite follow the prompt. Instead of exploring a small place, I explored what might happen when that place ceases to exist.

 

Fish Out of Fishbowl

They say you grow bigger when there are
no invisible walls to keep you inside.

They never tell you what happens
when the glass breaks, the giant child

who dropped your home on the floor
watching with interest the helpless

flopping, the tail hitting unfamiliar ground,
the mouth opening and closing, a silent plea.

Day 24: Here Be Dragons

Prompt: “Today, I challenge you to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!”

Note: Finally caught up–whew! For today’s prompt, I looked at three different images and combined them into one loony poem.

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Here Be Dragons

Each evening the lion torments his violin
in front of an open window. It’s awful.
How can we ask him to stop when we, too,
have blown our flutes to smithereens?
Our tired mouths rest their teeth
on the carpet. A dozen lazy eyes follow
its warp and woof through thickets
of nonsensical text. What we love most
are the twisted adventures of armor-clad
dragons. They chase away snails,
proudly carry the lethal, double-horned
heads back to their dens, feasting on slime
well into the morning. Dragons can
truly do anything. Forget the virginal
maidens, whose maidenheads are
as much of a myth as our own existence.
We never eat the maidens. Too skinny,
too whiny, too dull. We’re strangely
unpopular wherever it is that they breed
maidens like flies. But here, on these pages,
where some bleary-eyed monk has poured
the best years of his life, we uncoil
our scaled, burnished bodies, spread
these gorgeous wings, their leather
and sinew catching the eye of some
minor poet, and we fly.

Day 23: Looking at Jars in the Pantry

Prompt: “Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above. A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.”

 

Looking at Jars in the Pantry

Life’s
labeled harvest:
‘love’… ‘fear’… ‘loss’…
Some tags faint with
age.

‘Youth’—
a blink.
When did we
grow so old and
why?

Time’s
short, stunted.
A randy clown
breathing down my neck
faster.

‘Anger’—
dark liquor.
Hide it up high,
way out of reach.
Maybe.

‘Angst’
will mostly
whet your palate.
Each day, a new
flavor!

‘Sorrow’—
coarse, brittle
like hay, unless
you happen to like
hay.

‘Joy’—
small doses!
It’s quite potent,
but tends to fade
away.

‘Need’—
got plenty.
No more, please.
Thank you so much,
indeed.

Day 22: On the Prairie Side of Things

Prompt: “In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales. Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.”

Note: This prompt about killed me. I’m seriously behind, but here’s an attempt at a georgic. I don’t think I’ll ever want to write in hexameter again.

On the Prairie Side of Things

This hand that holds the trowel, a yellow glove to hide
thick-knuckled, restless fingers—you know it’s yours.
Yours, also, the kneeling knobby knees, the narrow
feet in muddy crocs, the loosened skin holding it all
together—who knows however long? A waterfall
of flesh and bone hurtling toward the ground.

The tired earth can only hold so many.
The hole you dug looks deep enough to fit the roots.
You drape them gently over the mound of soil,
one palm cradling the flower’s head as it once did
your sleeping child’s. How many years ago? And why
can you not stop remembering, forgetting?

You wish you a dug a hole as far as China
for all the things you wanted to forget. Soil
would pour into the gaps between the roots; water
would drown the slightest shadow of a thought.
And just like that you know why people bury
what they have lost, the things they wish stayed buried.

Beneath earth’s crust, transparent bodies borrow
a lack of purpose with blind hands. Those who recall
the burden of old lives must learn that memory
can only hold so much. They may have wrestled
storms once, tattered sails of a lost ship. Now they run
like thoughtless clouds over the prairie of death.

The rose is blooming in new soil. How joyful this
nameless gift of being nothing and everything.
Under our feet, there’s tremendous affection
to be found. On the prairie side of things, love
must be grass bleached in the sun, forever cradling
the rows of sleeping children forgotten in the field.

Day 21: Fitting Room

Prompt: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a coworker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material.”

Fitting Room

That girl he’s with now, you know
she’s a skank. You’re so much
better off without him. You’re by far
prettier, smarter, kinder. This one
looks great on you. Can you get me
a six? Wait, bring me an eight, too.

She gives him what he wants. They
might get hitched. She’s ready to have
his babies. You don’t really think
he’s gonna marry her, do you? If he does,
they deserve each other. Think
of your freedom. It’s the best feeling.

You can date anybody you want now.
You can sleep with anybody you want now.
Yeah girl, walk on the wild side. Show him
you don’t care. I really don’t. Good.
Try this one—it brings out the blue
in your eyes. Retail therapy. Wohoo!

Day 20: Shuffleboard (Exercise in Listening)

Prompt: “Today, I challenge you to write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game. Your poem could invoke chess or baseball, hopscotch or canasta, Monopoly or jai alai. The choice is yours!”

 

Shuffleboard

aim for this one
there you go, 40 points
this one, this one, this will give you a high score

come on, doofus
good job
that’s a good score—three each, that’s sixty

what was your score? 74?
you came a long way from 27
leave it, no cheating

go girl
well, you see? my goodness, you guys learn fast
there they come

you need to turn it up a little
bye bye miss American pie
drive the chevy to the levy

there you go, one more
wow
50 points

saw you dancing
it’s this one you want to aim for
out of luck

the day the music died
aim for my finger
there you go

now it doesn’t matter anymore, just make points
as many as you can
come on

king and queen
james dean
that’s 61, that’s a good score

are you sure?
this is not about having fun, this is serious business
you’re obstructing the player

concentrate
you’re in my space
I was here before

you’re beyond help
so, that’s 20, 26, 34, 36
well, I can’t always be perfect

that’s not going to work out
quiet, subtle
you look like you wanna kill us

my arms are getting tired
it wasn’t that bad
what are you aiming for?

you can do it
come on, hit it, the 2 and the 4
my goodness, what a deafening silence