NaPoWriMo Day 4, 2022

Spring snow (April 1, Pully, Switzerland)

Slowly coming out of hibernation, but will try to catch up with the missed prompts throughout the month. Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a poem . . . in the form of a poetry prompt. If that sounds silly, well, maybe it is! But it’s not without precedent. The poet Mathias Svalina has been writing surrealist prompt-poems for quite a while, posting them to Instagram. You can find examples here, and here, and here.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I remember writing a similar piece in 2018 in anticipation of a month filled with poetry. Here it is. I love its mood and its hope. And here’s a darker take on today’s prompt, possibly influenced by the carnage wrecked upon the world by a power-hungry tyrant. It’s hard to find that earlier self in what I just wrote. I borrowed Mathias Svalina’s closing line.

Interrogation Techniques

  1. First you take the meaning out of a word
  2. by shaking it vigorously
  3. until it begins to foam at the mouth.
  4. Hold the sieve of your head gently by the ears
  5. so the foam spreads
  6. evenly over the desert of thought.
  7. One word can go a long way
  8. to raising out of nothing a shimmering oasis
  9. with a caravan picking its way through the dunes
  10. toward it or, in your case, toward
  11. a prison fortress. Commandeer your worst
  12. fears as desert prison guards.
  13. Promise them your firstborn
  14. word. Pay them nothing. Hunger
  15. will only make them more vicious.
  16. Keep the word off balance at all times.
  17. Booze helps, but have you tried hobbling
  18. yourself? Hurling your body
  19. repeatedly against a cliché? Playing loud
  20. regrets for 72 hours straight
  21. while propping your eyes open with toothpicks?
  22. Initiate friendly interrogation
  23. when the word is sleep-deprived.
  24. One way to do it is by chewing
  25. on its fingernails all the way down
  26. to the wrist. If your prisoner is manacled,
  27. you may want to keep the hand
  28. whole. Chew down
  29. to the first knuckle instead.
  30. Be forceful and direct. Don’t beat
  31. around the bush. Words are terrified
  32. of precision. It helps to have an array of truth-
  33. extracting instruments at the ready.
  34. Bone saws and pliers and drills. Watch
  35. for the blanched-face syndrome–you’re close
  36. to a false confession. Listen
  37. and disbelieve. Wait for the first wave
  38. of sickness to pass.
  39. The second. The third.
  40. In that stink-filled room, when you ask
  41. for the word’s name
  42. and it cannot speak,
  43. silence
  44. is the poem.

17 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day 4, 2022

Add yours

  1. Ohh, wow! Welcome to April poems, Romana. I see you’re well rested. 🙂

    I read your 2018 poem just now, after this one. Isn’t it amazing what time and events have done to us all? Where is this cheerfulness from your last line in the old poem? It’s so beautiful that it almost makes me cry.

    And this one… where before poems were made, now there is silence that is the poem… Still, so good to read you again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Manja—for these kind words and for sharing my earlier piece widely. I’ve been trying to find my youthful cheerfulness—not that I’ve ever been overly cheerful, but I’m inevitably affected by what’s going on in the world. I keep telling myself and others that for everything there’s a season and joy may yet find us when we expect it the least.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good gracious, do you see how naive I am? To be overcome at your Number Two when there was so much more to be had? Well, you got me good. And I loved it. Spectacular. Such dynamite. Thanks for making me roll tonight. You rock and I bless you. Good night. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I gotta tell you already. I started to read. And at step two I had to stop !!!! Gosh you made me laugh with verve like a mad woman at Two. Husband came to see if I was ok. Gosh you’re funny. Thank you.
    That’s all I can say. Gotta go read the other FORTY TWO other steps. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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