Not That Again, He Said

He had grown thinner.
Hirsute legs, and bony wrists.
How does he manage his life?
You’d tried asking a question,
and he’d muttered sulkily.

Is there something like
inoculation against maternal
showy feelings? It’s as if
life there is finished,
and one looks on as at
some pageant.

How does one feel except
likely self-approbation?
Oh, a son grown. The strenuous
physicality of it over; now
a reed thin air in which
you drew deep breaths.

Prompt:

Hey guys I’d just come to the end of a book and it’s like coming to the end of the road. In Alice Munro’s stories, typically you get a sense of a full life lived. The characters’ fates are intertwined, and really you get a sense of how their lives were by the persons whom they settle down with and the persons who had crossed their paths and then leave. And the strange twists of fate that meet some characters. You get a sense of poignancy when a partner dies, for instance, or when a daughter abandons a mother. Like all the props changed, know what I mean, and you become a different person almost. Transformation…that’s what life is about. So that’s what your poem’s about.

Seeking God

So much godliness, you’d thought,
would have calmed us down,
turned us to the Lord’s Prayer,
a certain sparkling, abstaining
from sticky horror or
the lion in the lair.

That iron-clad, you’d said,
it’d have moved us up a notch,
a gain in evolution–still what
does it mean, I had to ask, when
all is a feeling, an unshaken belief
in doing the right thing.

And rightness lies about in
a few words of prayer? We’d keep
watering the garden, playing hose.
Careful in the arrangement of rooms,
assailed by doubt, sticking our
necks out, seeing the rainbow.

Prompt:

It’s been a while. My mind’s focusing elsewhere obviously. Yet I do return. Why? For clarity, for discovery, for connecting. Is that what writing does? Does writing serve that kind of purpose? Yes obviously. It clarifies the mud, even if the proposal is …mud itself. Yes. If you’re not muddy you’re not being real. If you’re downright dogmatic, you’re…a stick in the mud. But clarity is a wonderful thing, is it not? Like for days, for years, for decades you’re stuck in some quagmire, and then one day you feel lucid, and the sun is sparkling. It’s a little exaggerated perhaps, but maybe you’re discerning what I’m talking about. And writing? Perhaps it’s a bit like that. That’s something for your poem to address.

Keep Tuning In

I don’t know if you’d call it
a fruiting, that surge of bliss
that made exquisite sense.
Our love, what had become of
all the rickety stuff?
What made us scowl at
each other, did that
diminish us at all?

Perhaps love calls for us
to be broad-minded, don’t
take lies to heart,
that inept ticker that’d
sucked up to a whisper,
or to nothing, a wariness,
a dubious cry. Regardless,
keep tuning in.

Prompt:

So what has been obsessing you these days? Surely there is something you’re obsessed with? Like what do you keep thinking about? I confess, I have a new obsession with instagram stories. It’s kind of like following different characters as they go about their daily lives. The locations are all over the globe. So there’s Iceland, Paris, London, etc etc…and these stories unfold as things happen. Is it a waste of time you ask? You can of course answer it both ways. But I like that the stories take place elsewhere, and you get to see intimately what these characters see and experience, even if it’s just an instagram moment. I was just talking about stories in the last prompt and these seem to be the real, undramatic stories that happen everyday to everyday people. Cinematic in their own way. So like say, you’revisiting a new place, how would you document it in your poem? Or if you’re at home, what kind of moments do have you in a day?

We, The Witnesses

I’m fine without it
but grew green-faced again,
a cavernous hollow,
needed the euphoria
which came with words
echoing through trees.

You’d given me a reprieve,
so mild and common,
and now I’ve returned to
making marginalia, account for
(what do I call this)
nameless, wispy things.

All the storying that goes on,
in whatever form it took,
piling up as posts, appearing
as praise, or grievance,
pouring with light every
time you looked.

Prompt:

So I took my mind off poetry for a bit. It’s like a reprieve. The pressure’s off, isn’t it, till it’s back on. Back on? Who says? What gives this inner compulsion to write fiction? What gives, you tell me. Is it like having to say what you’re thinking or feeling, in a story form? Check out this quote: โ€œAfter nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.โ€ โ€• Philip Pullman. Think about storying in your poem.

Sun Dance

I woke up to an orange sky
tasselled with clouds.
Drumming up, the heart made
a reluctant lurch toward
an invisible line. To love
and honor, is that it? Our work then
is to interpret, to teach the heart not
to be invulnerable, stiff as board,
watch the daily signs which are
a customary prayer–call me
ridiculous, pathetic, but
this is my sun dance,
I felt it back then but had to ask,
what’s the name of the place anyway.

Prompt:

May 13 was the centennial celebration of Fatima. Three shepherd children had seen the apparition of Mary in the spring of 1917, whom they called Fatima, and received three prophecies. They then saw her a couple more times, a total of six, between then and 13 October 1917. On 13 October, a large crowd had gathered at the Cova da Iria, in Fatima, Portugal, and witnessed a sun dance.

“According to accounts, after a period of rain, the dark clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth before zig-zagging back to its normal position. Witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became “suddenly and completely dry, as well as the wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling” (Wikipedia)

On 13 May 2017, Pope Francis canonized two of the children, Jacinta and Francisco. They died at age 9 and 10 respectively. The third child, Lucia, lived till age 97.

In your poem, reference the supernatural. You might want to use the words provided by The Sunday Whirl.

What Were You Thinking?

You thought things would stay that way forever,
was that naive? The only things we’d change
would be clothes. And the writing, it would go on,
would it not, and if that got waterlogged,
we’d barely had to move, let the earth soak,
the sun would come shining the strange colors,
we wouldn’t be morose–it’s one of those days–
and would not be stymied by fog or anything.

If there’re days when you’re feeling bloated,
you’d ride it out, or maybe at the end of the day
what we’re left with was a matter of pride–
when the call came you never wavered, had stayed
conscientious. Things do not stay the same,
that’s really something. One day you’d be paying
attention, another you’d be all balled up, and
then the next, you’d be gone in a heartbeat.

Prompt:

Hey you guys, how do you write? Do you do research, for instance, or do you wait for some kind of trigger? Do you extemporise? I do that a lot. Maybe it’s all of the above. I was just watching Ellen DeGeneres do it.

And decided to do a “thinking out loud” poem. It’s kind of being naked in your thoughts. And aren’t we humans interested in that, “what were you thinking?” Do you dare think out loud?

Who’s All Ears Now?

You said something
which annoyed me.
I said something then
regretted it right away.
So we stayed quiet.
The antenna stayed down.

So still it’s yawn-inducing.
Like meditating monks.
Whoosh went the wind
rustling corn. In the woods
an owl hooted till morn.
To each an assignment.

Being downright pissed
we waited, the world unfathomable
yet real as snakes, hollow
as bamboo. If you asked me,
I’d channel my soul blurring
dream and reality.

Prompt:

If you’ve lived long enough you might notice your own karma. Who do you attract? What patterns of relationships did you go through? It’s as the saying goes, if you do not learn from history you’re doomed to repeat it. So it’s an endless cycle. When you shift, the universe also shifts. In Buddhist terms, it’s called samsara. To be released from samsara is the ultimate spiritual goal. It’s the state of nirvana. Pure bliss, pure emptiness–wahoo! I’m too steeped in stuff to even aspire to such a state, or even think such a state desirable. It’s too ethereal for me. But shifts are possible. It is desirable to shift to another level of reality. That’s what dreaming does. What art does. Do that in a poem.

In Summer’s Radiance

Aren’t words beacons, I asked,
giving meaning and direction,
like pulling on a mustard
top, in summer’s radiance,
with moistened breath so
there’s to be no mold?

You had agreed right off
the bat, hadn’t you, even
arranged the leafy surroundings,
so why, from time to time, do you
retract your snail’s head
as if fast asleep?

You’re headed toward
the gravestones, of course,
to the well-kept lawn,
the frangipani’s fragrance at
dusk, the murmuring wind.
No argument there.

Prompt:

May is a turning point, like the universe is doing a balletic performance and you’re truly astounded. Well it’s kind of like that for me. Which only goes to show, what?…grace and beauty, the leaps and bounds of a beating heart, the sanguineness that comes with the belief that everything’s going to be alright even though the universe is trippy as hell. So what is your point of view? Tell me now. In a poem of course.

All Abuzz

An eerie silence amidst the buzz.
Buzz as in insects? You asked.
Something boisterous,
you wouldn’t want to stuff
in your pocket.

Isn’t it sublime too?
Yes but heartbreakingly
common. Guess I’m the gloomy
elephant in the room.
You laughed.

End of winter and we’re
marooned on grass.

Prompt:

Helloo my dearrs. I was just reading about the evil prospect of Trumpcare–pray it doesn’t come to pass. Anyway I was just reading something in a book that went like this: “Each of us had, to a greater or lesser degree, resolved to live according to his or her own system. If another person’s way of thinking was too different from mine, it made me mad; too close and I got sad. That’s all there was to it.” (Haruki Murakami, Pinball, 1973). I don’t really get the second part. Maybe because the system of thinking is one that would make one all lugubrious, like why are we here, or why must we work so hard, or something like that. But I think the greatest feeling one can get surely is that there’s some pattern to life, a meaning imprinted in our souls. So what are the seeds planted in yours, or what seeds have you planted, and are they bearing fruit? Think about that in a poem, will ya?

The Muse

All the ruminating had led me
to you borne not of reason,
of faded ancient folklore.
Time stopped, had learned it
could not anymore, one could
leaf through, and that’s all.

What are you rooting for now
that time is dead and gone?
Out of love would you scissor
grass, or leave them wild? To
parts unknown with callused
feet, a lightened load.

Boundless silence broke.

Prompt:

Day 30. Wow, means the end right? Are endings sweet or sad, I wonder? We all like to finish well I suppose. All’s well that ends well? You know what an ending means. It means that you’ve completed a journey. And the destination is somewhat of a non-event is it? I remember how I would work on a massive project and everyone would just coalesce together to get shit down, so much stuff to do and an end goal, but once the end goal was achieved, the sense of ending comes when there’s nothing left to do and everyone disappears. In that way endings are kind of disappointing. Would you rather be journeying or ending? But as they say, in all things there’s an entrance and an exit. You just got to enter some other door, you know. Robert wanted us to use the phrase, “The Blank-Insert Anything Here”, in a poem. He really means “The End”, we know that, but I’d rather you insert anything else but “The End”.