What Poem Is This?

The future be filled with
blanks and absences.
I imagined so. That wouldn’t
be too odd. The world
being diminished.

She’d be plucking weeds.
Living a life of gratitude.
Well I tried to tell you
about it. Till you got
riled up. It’d be

irrevocable–it’d be
a secret to the grave, then
the sun shaking out
uncontrollable rays,
painting the stones.

Prompt:

So guys we’re indeed drawing to a close. In about a week, the Spring/Summer 2017 issue will be all wrapped up. Next Friday 25 August to be exact. I’ve been waiting for this day. The bar’s closing up. Don’t ask me what happens next. I’m thinking of those vintage places–so many–whose occupants are mostly dead and well, you know. Are you sad? Nah. Maybe just a little. I’d need a little time to reflect. At least we’ll be thought of as vintage. No seriously I’ll keep doing these prompts. I like doing them. You can still send in poems, prompted or otherwise, to the journal. It’d be like a free and easy tour. Kind of. Of course you can always submit to other places, more legit ones maybe? I don’t know. You decide for yourself. I did say I’d be putting out poetry collections. But that’d be taking place at a much slower pace. So yes if you’ve got 30 poems and I like them all, then yeah. Collections, guys. Stay prompted. For today write about something that has a sense of an ending.

Are You In Love?

O Love, you’re ostentatious,
have brought disorder.
It’s high-handedness
that’s your carriage,
or a drunken gait–wait,
have you been lying?

I’ve heard you spoken of
in high-pitched volumes
and low serious voices–
love and hope it is that’s
made everything pale,
all full of gale.

In truth are you stalling or
stalking, leaving streaks
in turn, of loss and luck?
Why do we believe you’re
so damn competent when
full of renunciation?

Aren’t you the real mirror?
Of self a savior.

Prompt:

Love is always a good idea, isn’t it? I’ve been reading stories about love and it’s always about illusions. It’s a kind of obsession that is ultimately illusory. What is true love but real love? And that’s about not having any illusions. It’s about pain rather than excitement. Real love is painful. It is kind of like thinking about the other person’s mortality, and your own, and then dealing with each other in tenderness about it. It’s about emotional support. It’s never about physical ecstasy, although that seemed to be a selling point. Think about the idea of the labor of love.

The Infinity Room

I stepped into the sparkling
jeweled room–second time round–
spun for 20 seconds, felt
groggy, splendid,
delirious as stars.

The moon’s waxing.

We looked at each other,
comradely, became emboldened–
O Rose! To be enthralled is to
love; to love is not to be
deceitful or negligent.

What’s stewing secretly?

And if poetry should leave me?
Woe is me–could I ever not want it?
I’d become overly gregarious, smacked of
middle class degeneracy. O what use
indeed, my Rose without poetry!

Let the stars surpass.

Prompt:

Time flies. Soon I’ll be wrapping up our Spring/Summer 2017 issue. It’ll be our final thematic edition. As they say, I’m taking a sabbatical. I could still be writing poems and prompts though, if you’d like this sort of thing. We’ll see. As Cyndi Lauper sings,

“And once we start the meter clicks
And it goes running all through the night
Until it ends, there is no end.”

I’m aware that it’s not entirely natural to write at will to prompts. So if you don’t do prompts then you can still send in your newly written poems. We’re starry eyed and we like it that way, right? I could always put those under the unprompted section. Anyway for today, write about the stars.

O Tessa, That Girl!

She’s icy yet demure.
Scrub that. Tattooed with roses,
so she’s a rock chick.
Cat-like, a base mesmerizing voice,
and the things she breathed–
makeup, travel, art–imbued by
a kind of superior knowledge.

The important thing in life
being tenacity, so you’ve
set goals. How flamboyant,
you thought. Not to be irresponsible
but inspiring. Even to be radical.
And to constantly be out there
and all in–can anybody tell?

Prompt:

Who’s your role model? There’re plenty of famous cliched ones but maybe someone you know or follow. Maybe it’s someone you follow on YouTube? Maybe it’s someone who come across as unpretentious, even self-deprecating (not self-aggrandizing)–what? You tell me. What makes a person a role model? There’re so many people who put themselves out there in social media these days so who do you follow, why do you follow them. What about the people who are constantly travelling and then posting on Instagram or whatever? I mean, one day the guy is in Lebanon and the next he’s in the Maldives and then Italy and what-have-you. I think, hmmm, could he be in some kind of Faustian deal? For today, write about a character in social media.

C’est N’est Pas Une Pipe

I can be sloppy. Or voluptuous.
Or given to worship. Whatever is
that would make me ordinary,
social, mild. I wouldn’t write, be
mutinous, wouldn’t rhapsodize,
wouldn’t be pompous, overarching.

Would I be less then, dessicated,
steeped in fog? Would I be of
better use? Would you love me
any less? Dispersed into wind,
would my soul sink? Wouldn’t I
not be cheap, imitative?

You’d not draw the veil but
wear it. C’est n’est pas une pipe.
Wouldn’t you rather be stuffing
tobacco into a wooden pipe?
That’s how scented, the weed gets
into you and you’d truly snort.

Prompt:

rene-magritte-this-is-not-a-pipe-1929-300x210

 

You must be familiar with René Magritte’s C’est n’est pas une pipe. Means “this is not a pipe”. What he meant is it’s a representation. But isn’t the drawing so realistic? Yet it is not a pipe in real life. It is really a symbolic thing, not a real thing. But isn’t language itself symbolic? Is it then not real? Because it’s abstract? Where does real authority come from then? Why does language behave as a real construct then? We already know how arbitrary it is. Yet we need to name things for them to exist for us, don’t we? Don’t we? So that being so, is the world really a construct? That we can deconstruct? What does this say to you? What about poetry? Isn’t it a kind of thinking in images? Perhaps reality is a pipe dream after all. *snort*

What Remains

What’s at the core
remains as residue,
hard as teeth.

If memory drains away,
then what remains?
A face? A name?

One grows dull,
and the other leafy
with distant songs.

Prompt:

I felt ill yesterday for no rhyme or reason. Maybe it’s all the junk food I’ve been eating. It was a kind of nausea that presages death, that’s how it was. All I wanted was sleep. But I’ve come back from the dead now. Good as new. Maybe. I slept through the entire National Day parade. Reminds me of the time it happened during Christmas and I slept through the entire Christmas party. Not good. So guys, try to eat healthily ok? For today, write about illness.

Is That Fiction?

A loaf of bread?
She looked at him coldly.
It’s barely enough to feed–
she started, then stopped
thinking about the Bible,
that rebuke of small faith.

A largesse awaits surely.
She married him anyway.
Something egged her on but
did she refuse all deception?
All that slyness,
how do you feel now?

Years later she went to
a faith healer. But she’d
barely spoken to him.
There’s an impertinence in
questioning what happened.
Sometimes time will placate.

Prompt:

I’ve been making up these prompts, you know that. Often they come to me as I type out my thoughts. And sometimes do not have a clue what my thoughts are, until they’re set down. Aren’t thoughts amorphous and then through the magic of writing they take on a definite form? Aren’t poems also like that? And then what about received thought? You know, like what the Bible says. If you live your life by the book then wouldn’t your thoughts be shaped by the book. Yes? Yes. Then if you believe in another book, you have different thoughts. So which book do you live by? It matters terribly. As for me I live by the book of fiction. You know, fiction. You make things up but they’re as real as you think they are. Surely fiction has to seem real or it’ll blow its own cover. So what’s fiction and what’s real? For today, write a fictional poem.

On Visiting A Yayoi Kusama Exhibition

Damnably you’re breathing hard.
In a stormy paralysis.
No purgatory worse than
the way mind rambles in
doubt allayed by nothing.
Is she the right kind of woman?

Safety lay here of course.
Anywhere else could be glorious
but baroque–does one fit at all?
The rubble of mirror balls
at one’s feet. Ah life!
Gaudy, kitschy works too.

Are those worm-like, nauseating
truths creeping along? Are you
the snake woman? The protuberances
distort yet brought you back to
to art, let you whirl inside
a rainbow, a veritable storm.

Prompt:

Ha! You’ve got 2-3 weeks left to submit. It’s interesting to see how the Spring/Summer 2017 edition is shaping up. For me at least, it’s always interesting to not know and then to find out. That’s what pushes us along, sometimes even helps us push the envelope in our quest for artistic expression. One artist who’s done that is Yayoi Kusama. She was very much a child of the 60s generation, when she was based in New York. She painted dots on nude bodies as a form of anti-war protest and as part of sexual liberation. You can get a feel of her work here. So her work is psychedelic, trippy. So for today, write about some trippy art, will you?

Did I Dream That?

Maybe you’re not the only one
thinking this is one epic,
delirious artifice.
Frankly it’s not unlike
a fixation, unnerving to others,
so much troubled waters.

The dreams that find me
seemed real but on waking,
facetious. Like tasting some
fake grapefruit. Yet there’s
a real current, flying
there light as pollen.

Prompt:

A friend of mine said to me the other day, life seems surreal. And I’m just floating, like cardboard or something. Okay I’m paraphrasing. I suppose one gets that feeling when one feels out of sync. So maybe one isn’t in sync because one is syncing with something else, out of this world? Another world? What world is that? Is that fictional? Perhaps you’ve felt at variance with this ‘real’ world. Because this world seems to be very linear. But really the world isn’t about a straight line. What? From cradle to coffin? It’s loopy as hell. Iterative. So for today, write about dream-like things.

That Too Was Where I Spent My Youth

I thought of someone–googled,
brought up a few articles
from yesteryear. Where I fit
in the puzzle, I see it
now. The jungle, my dear,
had hidden animals
–I’m one of them.

You’d remember a full-blooded
person, wouldn’t you, by
details of appearance–
the side parting, like
a toupée–quidnunc as some
cougar stalking the newsroom,
the buzz in the air.

The still familiar voice.
Lay down your grudges–none.
Only good nervous looks
in every direction.
Little did I know then
so much hurly burly,
then the book slammed shut.

Prompt:

Back in the 80s, the digital revolution was just showing its teeth. We hardly knew then that the World Wide Web would revolutionize everything. When you think about it we were using pagers–oh my god–beep beep beep and I would run to a phone to call back my editor. And I would be dictating words to a secretary. These days no way–one could just type up and send the words on their way. I knew a guy who was at that forefront then–he’s a digital technology editor, and I’d just rolled my eyes at his geek speak. I guess he’s a pretty smart guy and I be that dumb blonde. The world may be full of shenanigans then but one hardly hears of it except by word of mouth and there’s no such thing as social media. So for today, write about your digital life. You have one don’t you?