NaPoWriMo Day 27, 2022

Mass graves near Mariupol, April 2022
Photograph: Maxar Technologies/AFP/Getty Images

Today’s prompt challenges us “to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.” (Full NaPoWriMo post available here.)

I’ve had a couple of insanely busy days that sapped my energy and left no room for clear thinking. I started doubting the whole purpose of writing when not so far away people are dying terrible deaths and the killers have yet to be stopped. Now it looks like my tiny country of Moldova is being drawn into the conflict and Russia is threatening nuclear war. Are we still going to be here in a year? How do we go about our day knowing what’s happening in the Ukraine? Knowing that everything may end abruptly, like it did for the thousands of innocent victims of Putin’s war?

The duplex below grapples with similar questions that don’t really have an answer. Also below are my responses to the two prompts I missed yesterday and the day before. These are sad times. I don’t know how human beings can find redemption in the wake of unimaginable atrocities.

If You Stood Up, You Could See the Graves

Taming your fear, aren’t you? Silencing the cries?
What new brutality is winding you down?

          You’re wound down like a decrepit marionette.
          It’s raining fire in a land not far from here.

The land so far from here used to be home.
Now the path is overgrown with graves.

          What kind of graves appear out of the blue?
          No matter where you go, there they are.

No matter where you are, who are you?
You say someone is always crying anyway.

          You tune out the crying as you do music and rain. 
          But not fear. Not its clay tongue, slurping you whole.

You walk the ridge of its tongue on your knees, complicit.
Taming your fear, aren’t you. Silencing the cries.

NaPoWriMo Day 25: an aisling


Would you like to hold the wind
in your hands
, she asked, 
you of the much-touted sorrow?
She was taller than the blue 
pines dipping thirsty shadows
in the pond, her gaze doleful
in the diminishing glade.
Could you tame this cold
she asked. You, whose 
voice is but a blind root. 
I stood silent and leaned against 
thought. The pond spewed 
its last bluegill at my feet. Dry 
cattails shattered their heads. 
Could you keep it for me, she said. 
This wind is all I have left. 
And she drifted like gossamer 
silk through the no longer 
glade. Away, over stumps of blue 
pines by the once pond.

NaPoWriMo Day 26: Homeric simile

To a Reader

Borrow my breath. Lend me your pulse.
Barter your heartbeat for mine. 
This room we’re in, it is filled with air,
rarefied as if on Mount Olympus. 
It is the air at the end of someone’s exhale. 
It is air come from great depths
or great heights to enlighten the world,
as in, to set it on fire. This room
is the wine-dark sea, each of its mute
objects, a boat filled with longing. 
Look at this bed. How it misses my shape.
Look at this desk. It remembers
your touch. Look at our books. They hunger
for us, for the somnolent flesh
of our minds, the way sailors marooned 
on Helios’s island, slavered
at the sight of sun god’s cattle, and would
rather slaughter and eat, and incur
a god’s wrath, than waste away
in a desert, forgotten. Who are we to say no
to books? We have a long way to go
as we diminish and they grow sated behind us.
Borrow my breath. Lend me your pulse.
Barter your heartbeat for mine.

15 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day 27, 2022

Add yours

  1. I’m so sorry for your country, for the new graves, and for all of us. Poems are reactions to everything. They must be. We must be and go on until there is no more on to go. Your duplex shows this. Someone IS always crying. But we need to be told, and you did it. ❤ Much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The duplex packs a powerful punch. Those graves ought to haunt many who deny their existence or if they exist, they deserved it. And the aisling is lovely, drifts like a dryad through those blue pines.


      1. I’m getting so sick of the whataboutery around the Ukraine war. The people who justify their refusal to condemn Russia because Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, colonialism, USA etc etc. Meanwhile…

        Liked by 1 person

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