I laid with the secret monster.
So sorrowful it was. Offhand, I tried
saying something, but it was woolly.
It looked back with hazel eyes.
Oh if a look could be tyrannical,
speak indescribable loss, violent and
sweet. Then it sagged on the ground
and so I laid hands on it like
a priest–an incantation took place.
And slowly, the creature spewed out
the poison. Drop by drop. So purged.
In the early morning light, we rose
with the cauldron, didn’t think
it had mattered that much.
Prompt: Yippee. Funnily enough, I did get here haphazardly, ending poetry month with Writers Digest Day 29 Prompt (to write a haphazard poem), thanks to a technical glitch which meant I only got the prompt today. I suppose the poem itself isn’t that haphazard. The process sure is. I had no effing idea what I will write and then the poem just wrote itself. So is the poetic process haphazard or what? You just got to write and find out for yourself. Then when you’re done, and only when you’re done, you’re allowed to pat yourself and go have a cup of tea with cake.
I shall be reticent, about dead corpses
–tautologous, outrageous–but isn’t it true,
that you’ll be dead as a doornail
or a dodo and and I shall put on
sunglasses none the wiser, watching
the closing credits at the end saying
The End–the end of taxes, whooppee…
and bills but we’d be none the wiser
about such an important event.
What, you hardly call a death
a catastrophe? Why, because people drop
dead like flies everyday? They fly to
heaven, invisible, that’s all. We,
the living, left to make copies of
death certificates, staple them to
a lost folder, stare at the pictures
hoard, lift damn heavy suitcases,
all ceremonious as ants.
Prompt: What’s important, peeps? Peeps are important. Peeps make you happy. Peeps have their unique history. Peeps make the world go round. Well, the Writers Digest Day 28 prompt is to use the word “Important” followed by another word, in the title. So there you go, peeps. Answer the question. What’s important, peeps? I’ve been trying but cannot reach the site. Perhaps it’s too bombarded by poets. But that’s the least important of our concerns, at least for now. The issue will resolve itself tomorrow and then it’ll be of no importance at all.
Coda: Just managed to get onto the site. Writers Digest Day 30 Prompt is to write a dead end poem. Oh am I the prescient one–felt like I had already written the poem answering Day 28’s prompt. Oh well. And I just found out what the Day 29 Prompt is so I’ll get cracking on it.
I tried to sound a rhapsodic note.
It fell like a star, like a flare,
like a cross upon a cathedral,
like a bell. And I felt sprightly.
Even swaggering, a bit aloof.
I’m not here to disparage anyone.
After all it’s all fiction,
apparitions. And me, I’m just
a secretary following the boss,
producing prodigious poems.
The day you took off, I’ll be
bewildered, too lost.
Prompt: Are you guys all too aware that April is coming to a close? Is it like two days away, the end of poeming, the end of poetry love, the end of the road? For those of you who are comatose, or would rather be doing something else productive, or unproductive, you don’t know what you’re missing till it’s missing. Don’t say I didn’t say. Get your secretary to make a note. Writers Digest Day 27 prompt is to write a take off poem. Read “take off” in any way you want. Take off your clothes. Take off your masks. Take off to another place. You know, just bloody take off. And if you’re the secretary, do not take off.
You listened–orbiting toward the dark,
capering, light on shadow,
as the music played on, abstract,
souls doing a medley, coz
that’s what we do best,
The hooded man stayed in the background.
In our waltz, I looked behind, saw him out
of the corner of my eye.
Then saw you drinking to excess.
All our masks came off
in the glimmer of dreams.
Prompt: Recently I had a fall-out with a friend. There’s such a sense of betrayal when that happens. In a way it’s like the mask came off. Plopped out of its own accord like a glass eye. What I saw was not to be spoken of. It came to me that this person is trying to be perfect, and seeing flaws in every damn person. All the while pretending to be a friend. Anyway there’s absolutely nothing I can do, except to move away. Or be sucked into a horrible web. There’s such anti-love in all of this I know. I wish she’d learn to love herself and others as they are. As antidote I’m writing a love poem. It’s Writers Digest Day 26 Prompt, to either do a love or anti-love poem.
This about the time we’re going downhill.
Trying to be politic, civil,
to cover up what rebuke resides,
to discuss rumors, to basically go
to the boondocks, running up and down,
marching even, like soldiers, or
orators having a kind of field day
twisting anecdotes, singing elegies.
We’re old enough for erasure.
Soliloquys are for the Hamlets
and so, when everyone dies, let’s hear it
for Fortinbras, man of battle, rattling armor,
undithering, victorious, ascending throne.
But poor poets, who make nothing happen
(to quote Auden), charge up that hill,
hoist the flag, to change minds.
Change–it’s what’s needed–war of
words–to get us to the next place.
Prompt: Poetry is an exercise. War is an exercise. I’m trying to compare the two, as to which role each is assigned. It’s really a difference between speech and action isn’t it? Unless of course, you’re trying to blend, in which case you get to the “war of words”. I’m not sure if it’s a very successful thread. It’s all in accordance with Writers Digest Day 25 Prompt, which is to write an exercise poem. Read ‘exercise’ in whichever way you want. Well, at least I tried.
Photo by Tom Chambers via Magpie Tales
The fruit punch was spiked.
So we all got drunk. And leering.
We sharpened our comments,
jabbed about. Perhaps one cannot
be a genius about imaginary things.
But even in our absent-mindedness,
I could remember the deer,
poised on a table sniffing
a gold-plated flower, maybe
I’ve lost my thread. Regained
puny sense. Brown-haired girl
waiting for her momma. No, it was
a thought. And then it was real.
Even real–when you try to peel off
those layers–you find nothing.
Prompt: I got this surreal image from Magpie Tales and thought, why not? It’s got a dream-like quality. Then I thought, how to tie this to the Writers Digest Day 24 Prompt, which is to write about something lost then regained. Haven’t you had the experience of trying to follow a thread, and then it got broken off, leaving you wondering? What the fuck was I thinking? What the fuck was she thinking? When that got too boring, then you just make stuff up. Whatever. Because it’s probably–too much and nothing. Just like the dream I had last night which made no sense whatever when I awoke but made absolute sense while it was happening, and was even somewhat pleasurable while it lasted.
Writing again–we worship at the shrine,
that of language, which can be anything:
grieving, singing, imagining, embroidering
some other self, more feral, creaturely.
You’d see her looking back at you, slipping
on red shoes, walking to a coffeeshop,
kissing the wolf man. Why? Because, I answer,
that’s what Real Love wants. That’s why
she’s singing, full of benevolence.
Because we’re maudlin, full of terror,
lying, nuts, culpable, disfigured, still
vibrating, we’re oft dressed in tantalising
raiment–like the woman in black shoes
overbearing in presence, mechanical.
The poem then strips that away, smear the
Unreal–let the shrill, trite woman take
off her black shoes. The world smiles
beatific, and true. Because there’s still
the woman in the red shoes. Wolf man’s
nowhere to be seen. Oh oh she’s grieving.
Prompt: Write a poem in which footwear is featured. That’s Writers Digest Day 23 Prompt. I like it. Of course, I have a pair of red shoes. Of course, this is a made-up story. Of course poems are stories. Poems can be anything and so they are a mirror. Of course, I am a soon to be owner of a silver mirror inlaid with diamante and pearls. But whether you’re writing the poem or not, that’s a question mark.
A cornucopia of dreams. Inside,
a cavernous dark. Except our nature,
being there, makes certain of always
getting into the grip of something.
Aren’t we all psychosomatic, bent
on collaborating in truth?
She’s searched everywhere when
all the while it’s within–an erected
monument. All the threads in books,
art, music, events want to explain
the glorious enigma slant-eyed.
A true ecstatic embraces myth.
Prompt: I don’t know about you, but I’m getting all bleary-eyed about poetry. Too much poeming. There’s a kind of rigidity to it. That’s the trouble. When you’re giving in to the structure of this kind of thing, it’s almost too late to give up now that you’re nearly at the end. Not that the world would effing care. But you kind of do. There, it’s your nature to care if you’re a toiling poet. We see stars all the time don’t we? We’re all starry-eyed. I almost forgot the Writers Digest Day 22 prompt. It is to use the word “star” and follow it with a suffix or word.
I make little inept noises.
Those that turn wrecks into bird metaphors.
It’s how I interrogate the universe,
turn weeping into a sweeping off on clawed
feet–jumping off from a cliff with
the heft of wings, dark hair trailing
as in some Chagall painting.
What are these bird sacs for, anyway?
To be Emily Dickinson’s shadow whispering
a song of august hope. For so brittle are we,
and submerged, that when we open our mouths,
it shall be as wind. Oh gold-fluted wings!
Eagle eyes trained on horizon
assailing with bold voice.
Prompt: Bird metaphor? Ha, could you use that in a poem? My poem veered towards Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, for the Writers Digest Day 21 Prompt is to communicate in some way with another poem. I want a bird song, okay?
Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
by Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Her face’s all wrung out, twisted mouth.
And in between what she’s told,
I gathered up proofs of what?
Chastened. We’re thrumming, attentive,
respectful, while the worm crept
into our lymphatic cells.
It’s possible to say too much.
What do I know, being so fey, and drawn
into what’s said–harpy-voiced woman
assuming a pleasant, warm side,
climbs up a pedestal, wearing pearls
and a crown, wearing me down.
Prompt: I’m in a slightly defiant mood. Why should I carry on this poem a day business, you tell me. Maybe I should just leave off it rather than say way too much? My poem, of course, is about a woman who says way too much. Refrain from that, please. At least in your poem. I mean, for instance you mean to say the universe is mysterious, mind-boggling, conspiring to send you curveballs, or that people are seeming, endlessly cyclical, neurotic, scheming, unrepentant, absolutely inflated and going to die. How do you plan to say all that? Can you say all that while leaving everything unsaid? If you’re giving up on this, then I don’t blame you. Writers Digest Day 20 Prompt asks to write a poem of what goes unsaid.