NaPoWriMo, Day 4: Five Stages

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Prompt: “And now for our (optional) daily prompt. Our craft resource today focuses on the use of concrete nouns and specific details, using the idea of “putting a dog in it.” Today, we challenge you to write a poem that is about something abstract – perhaps an ideal like “beauty” or “justice,” but which discusses or describes that abstraction in the form of relentlessly concrete nouns. Adjectives are fine too! For example, you could have a poem about sadness that describes that emotion as “a rowboat tethered with fishing line to a willow that leans over a pond. Rainwater collects in the bottom, and mosquito eggs.” Concrete details like those can draw the reader in and let them imagine the real world where your abstract ideal or feeling happens. Happy writing!”


Five Stages



Grief has no room in this house,
she said. Leave it at the door.
Tie it to the fence. Let it whimper
and slobber away from my table.
I cannot feed one more hunger.
When night comes, you may
feed it your children, if you wish.
The door slammed shut, the windows
closed to slits, like wary eyes.

Days later, we walked through
the ruins. Nothing left, not even
a scrap of food. Her body was hunched
over her table, as if to protect its bounty.
Crows had picked everything clean.
Crows had picked her eyes clean;
sparrows and thrushes took off
with strands of her hair.
She was finally generous.


In the morning, the meadow
bleeds light. Buried
under the soil, the sacred
roots, the secret conversations.
Germinate, tuber, rhizome.
Stem, tendril, bract, corolla.
Heads thrown upward,
as if plants could cup
the whole sky in their mouths.
Some things don’t take root,
no matter how deeply buried.
Forgive us our trespasses
as we carve a path,
the flowers’ red throats
snapping under our feet.


The sunset still falls like a blade
over the sea, cutting deep
into its heaving belly. It brings
out a half-born moon, red
as a sleepless eye. I count
my days without you
by that dumb blinking.

Each breath is a hatchet.
In its wake, birds fall
from the sky, folding their wings
in acceptance. It’s easy to splinter
one’s breastbone. Tomorrow
will have to begin on this
threshold, where a shadow
carves amnesia like stale bread.


The path is overgrown with statues,
images of a myriad states of sorrow.
Multiple eyes, all closed.
Multiple hands, all claw-like.
There’s a gate at the end,
where the grass grows faster
than your advancing footsteps.
Have I mentioned the twilight?
It’s almost too late.
Hurry, step out of this body,
its frozen, forgotten expression
already turning to stone.


You’ve never known it
unless you talked to Melissa.
She has a way of painting things blue.
Put a stone in your pocket, she says.
Its familiar edges smoothed down
by a thousand grasps. Its weight
lighter with each passing day.

I hold mine in my palm.
I marvel at the lines on its skin.
Where it ends, I end.

2 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo, Day 4: Five Stages

Add yours

  1. A terrific masterpiece, Romana! You are truly a queen of speaking in images, so beautifully that even the tough lines to swallow become medicine for the longing heart. Thank you for giving voice to your soul and bringing so much light into this world.

    Liked by 1 person

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