Truths Lie As Extraordinary As Grass

Rain kept me in watching bougainvilleas.
Tap water’s ice cold, not as chillin’ as cold
elsewhere. We’re finished, with what?
Bare mood sunning in one’s own bastion.

Poem drowns old beliefs. I’d watched them gasp.
Cheap as you’d say. They’re dirt, beliefs,
mounds of them. The rain, unstoppable!
Truths lie as extraordinary as grass.

I’d been rock solid, haven’t I, as someone
who’d served out of the system so you’d
believe, believe and believe all that stored
ammunition like gold within hummocky love.

Prompt:

I’d just read a very thoughtful essay by a student from Trumpland. I get it. Last evening I’d watched a documentary about Trumpland. Down to Ku Klux Klan beliefs about white supremacy, it’s about beliefs isn’t it? I believe therefore I am. Everyone’s beliefs are differently shaped by their geography and circumstance. At the end of the day it’s all about survival isn’t it? Like the student who wrote the essay I hope for a middle path. Extremists on both sides of the divide represent their truths. Truths are more complicated than that. Just like the white woman who doesn’t get the women’s march, which grew so epic yesterday, is it because she is speaking from a position of privilege? Having grown up in a sanctuary, how would she know the other’s truth? Society fought for women’s rights back then, but those rights continue to be violated and is it so wrong that women, in solidarity, refuse to be silenced? If you remain in silence, then you’re complicit. Didn’t someone say that poetry doesn’t simplify these truths? Be glad for poetry–it gets a bad rap, and continue to be berated for its uselessness in a world that privileges economic truths above all else. Write about your truth, sure, but then know that it’s not somebody else’s truth. So what is truth, friends and frenemies?

I dreamed of a rocky wilderness

Aren’t we all solicitous of America?
What surge of pride?
I dreamed of a rocky wilderness.

A Republican America,
and we all grew querulous,
yet purified in office, may you be,

with a briefcase full to
match that swagger, and stand tall,
America, diverse and all.

Prompt:

I woke up to watch the live streaming of Trump’s inauguration. I wish you well, America. What sort of values will you espouse? Write about it maybe. Oh the dignity of that office, and how Trump will carry it, the world watching in bated breath. Holding it holding it holding it.

In the courtyard her lover skulked

She settled for a smug silence.
In the courtyard her lover skulked.
The deities grew treacherous.

What sort of penance is this,
she wondered. She had grown into
what she was.

God I can’t go back to where
I’d been. She sat there thinking
listening to pigeons.

Prompt:

Hello there, still sharpening your word skills? I guess if I’m a character I’d be falling into love with wordsmiths. With words we invent a world. With words we perform rites of ceremony, of magic, of declaration. With words we woo. With words we regularize what is at hand. “Trump’s America”! That’s at hand. Anyway you go make up a world with words in a poem. That’s what you do right? Do it right.

Tessa, Margot’s A Dancer

Margot was aloof and of course
contemptuous. When we didn’t make
those quick, sharp moves,
she’d rolled her eyes.
She’d tried, snorted.

Oh, we are the worm in her apple!

At night she’d lay down smoking
one cigarette after another and
looking at the tin foil moon;
steeled herself thinking
Jesus loves you.

She’d been through lean rigors.
Saving herself up for romance?
Whatever it was she did feel,
forever inviolate.
Singed by dreams.

Prompt:

So what were your happiest times? My son asked me. Think back and you’d find that those were the periods of new growth. Then usually that came with some disappointments. It’s as if once you’ve gained something you’d also lose a couple other things. Or perhaps it were those years when the future seemed full of promise and you were swanning around carefree and all. But you’d changed when, for instance, you fell in love. To be enthralled with another is perhaps one of those happiest times. Then when you’d gotten to the hard bits, had your heart broken, or whatever it was, you’d figure out the various ways in which you can be happy under your own skin, with whoever you’re with, however your heart dances. Perhaps you’d like to write about real happiness–what’s your theory on that?

Tessa, My Sweet Georgia

Perhaps in a past life I’d been
fresh-smelling, favored
by the universe. Georgia sure was.
She was and she was.
Expensively dressed, wild hair,
swollen lips.

But thinking gives us all
a familiar dread. Like Wordsworth
who’d dreamt up his immortality ode,
we’d aroused within a kind of shine,
and said with rebuke to all bad things
like hard labor and squalor, and even its
converse, idleness, lack of purpose–

I’m Georgia, and why do I even have to
put up with it: I’ll be prodigious
and I’d be getting ahead.

Prompt: “Magic is everywhere if only we’d knew where to look.” I read this quote/thought this morning. It’s one of those gentle reminders. It’s also the reason why we’re poets. We look and we look, don’t we? So here’s a relevant quote from Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, which I’d first came across in my lit geek uni days:

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.”

Ponder upon it and come up with some magic, will ya?

Tessa, She’s Not Getting Ahead

She’d turned tart, stiff in her
dancing, a pliancy lost in some turn
–of course he’d sensed it.

She’d asked him to cut the grass
in her lawn, but he’d sent someone.
She’d yelled, scram!

And the pact’s broken.

Prompt:

Hey there, peeps! It’s Day 3 of 2017 and I’ve just had the pleasure of reading an exquisite story (Alice Munro, “Oh, What Avails”). Why is it so? What sort of analogy to use? A master storyteller peels off layer after layer finally to reveal the pattern of an entire life, or rather, lives, as a single life is inevitably entwined with other lives, isn’t it so? If you’re an author thinking about character, you’d do best if you mark out a single affliction for that character. And then you weave it so that the story is about how the character deals with it. There’re simply too many examples (Hamlet, Faustus, Humbert in Lolita, etc etc) so I would not want to cloud your mind. But do not let the secret out till towards the end, then you’d have blown the reader’s mind. The way you let it out is not to really let it all out. Is that enough of a prompt?

Tessa, Happy New Year

Matilda–with an Aussie twang?–
wore white canvas shoes taking
long quick strides gliding by.
She has quite decent manners,
gave a sly offhand smile.
One of her laces came off, so
she’d bent down saying oh shoot.

Her mother, not one who’s lax,
would say something, voicing out
a moot point, like why don’t you
ask him yourself, and so I did, straight
from the horse’s mouth, like she said.
He’s taking his time about it,
is what she meant.

And the one who’s smitten by tragedy,
she managed to thwart it off so
good-naturedly we all couldn’t have
loved her more. We stood up to peer
out of the window, at fireworks
bracing the new year. Oh what
a difference a year makes.

Could it be none of this is important
presently yet all of it will be?
His father walking the house
sprinkling holy water and the son
and fiance following with cloth.
As for Matilda, we wondered will it be
the same boy at the end of the year.

Prompt:

I don’t know about you but I feel optimistic about the new year. Maybe I’m just a die-hard optimist and feel amazing at a new beginning. You know there’s going to be challenges and hard knocks somewhere down the road, but those are for your new growth. One of the things I did today, the first day of 2017, is to write down all the ‘moments’ of 2016 –whether it be travel, something work-related, or personal events–and I’ve come to see that it has laid a new kind of foundation for me. There were highs and lows, and a whole lot of humdrum. Yet it just takes a change, however big or small, to set a new path. So your prompt is to do some sort of reflection of your place in the world.