I borrowed this from Green Thumb: Adventures in Southern California because there is exactly zero chance I could have ever gotten this shot. Gorgeous. Could have been my very own Chenchito. Click on the photo to see more great shots like this one.
After a time wandering
the asphalt labyrinth
songs of the pastures
promising peace and quiet
simplicity and beauty — a melody
inducing amnesia, erasing
mosquitos, ticks, thorns, flies,
snakes, fleas, burrs, chiggers
But one desert moonless morn’,
a breeze slides across my skin.
As the sun flirts with the night sky,
I recognize a certain flick
on a wire overhead.
His notes dance around the pole,
slide down among the pebbles
and over the driveway
into my feet and hands
before he stretches his wings —
streaked with concrete white —
into the eastern sky.
True story. Obviously, I’ve messed with the “pastoral” concept quite a bit here, but as my students might say, “it’s valid.”
The prompt: “Today is Earth Day, so I would like to challenge you to write a “pastoral” poem. Traditionally, pastoral poems involved various shepherdesses and shepherds talking about love and fields, but yours can really just be a poem that engages with nature. One great way of going about this is simply to take a look outside your window, or take a walk around a local park. What’s happening in the yard and the trees? What’s blooming and what’s taking flight?”
I had no idea how these would look once posted, but in the preview at least they are legible and nearly as cool as they look on my work table. I couldn’t choose, so I’m including both. Now I’m only short 3 in 30 days.
“And Echo” is taken from an unknown page in Khaled Hosseini’s _And the Mountains Echoed_ and “It ended” is taken from Martin Zusak’s _The Book Thief_ (which my sophomores and I are reading). I always love erasure / blackout poetry. I’m fascinated by the way ideas entirely unrelated to the original text jump out. ~LD
I started out with so many questions
that my defensive answer to every comment,
every query, every concern and every puzzle
was, “I know.”
I went along inventing truths,
axioms and freedoms
to pull out of my locker,
my book bag,
Until I figured out
the one thing
The Prompt: “write a poem that states the things you know. For example, “The sky is blue” or “Pizza is my favorite food” or “The world’s smallest squid is Parateuthis tunicata. Each line can be a separate statement, or you can run them together. The things you “know” of course, might be facts, or they might be a little bit more like beliefs. Hopefully, this prompt will let your poem be grounded in specific facts, while also providing room for more abstract themes and ideas.”
Surely someone has already written this? Or maybe I was the only brown-haired, blue-eyed know-it-all who got a clue really late in life? Fun idea. ~LD
[a small series of landays]
Do you think I have forgotten how
sunglasses can be given, and taken, just for fun?
menudo’s chile steam won’t disguise
the traveller I am, and nomad you’d like to be
we are no Frida and Diego
throwing knives and punches under Aztec moonlit stars
nevertheless our poetry shines
intimately stitching verse quilts, against winter cold.
Do you think I have forgotten how
mangoes feel when ripe? Flesh and bone, bitter and sweetness.
The Prompt: “write a landay. Landays are 22-syllable couplets, generally rhyming. The form comes from Afghanistan, where women often use it in verses that range from the sly and humorous to the deeply sardonic and melancholy. Check out this long investigative article on landays for a fascinating look into a form of poetry often composed in secret, and rarely written down. You could try to write a single landay – a hard-hitting couplet that shares some secret (or unspoken) truth, or you could try to write a poem that strings multiple landays together like stanzas (maybe something akin to a syllabic ghazal?)”
I urge you to take the time to read the long investigative article mentioned above. Accompanied by many photos and verbal vignettes, it is an unmissable piece of literary journalism.
I write today in honor of a fellow writer and friend with whom I share a fascination for Mexican culture and cuisine, as well as language in general and poetics in particular. ~LD
borrowed from urgentrehab.co.uk
Each day you have looked down
at the toes of your shiny black shoes –
each year a bit longer –
against the barro tiles
of the hallway floor.
Moving from one end of the building
to the other, year after year,
step after step,
black against red terra cotta;
Eight million steps and fourteen years.
Side by side and face to face
with old acquaintances and new.
Upstairs and down, in doors and out
with “Hurry! Hurry!
I can’t wait” in your voice,
all over your skin.
Rung after rung climbing over
holding hands, clumsy
first kisses, lasting loves, and sudden ruptures.
The glisten on those shoes has protected
and walked with you on the path
of this opening gambit
Leading to a portal inscribed
in elegant bold font:
Go Forth, now, without trepidation
and create excellence.
The Prompt: “write a poem that involves an urgent journey and an important message.”
A kind of cheesy one for “my” kids (h.s. seniors) who are all suffering with the impending changes in their lives. NOT the official letter of farewell. ~LD
How equal do we want
boys [who] don’t wanna get makeup on their lips?
Kids who are more than hoop-jumpers,
Life could be significantly better:
Smooth with one hiccup –
we are breaking the law.
Land on a comet;
you don’t have to feel guilty when it’s homemade.
Not everyone sees it:
Archeologists of the Internet.
The Prompt: a “social media”-style poem.
To compose this bit, I snagged a bunch of headlines and posts from twitter, google+, Facebook, my blog roll, and even Pinterest that I thought were interesting. I kept the best bytes and separated them by line, though no line is a complete headline (except the title) or even line from a post; each line is from only one source. This came together something like found poetry. The only alterations I made were deletions, and the bracketed addition. Only the last line is my own, though the organization and apparent “topic” kind of found its way organically.
I’ve been woefully absent in the return to class from a delicious break for Holy week and and Easter week. I may or may not be able to backtrack through the four missing prompts / days of poems. We’ll see how the essay grading progresses. ‘-) Hope you had fun with this one; I did!
Camel suede elbow patches
Freckled with rain(drops)
Long black umbrella marking
A back beat in the
Cadence of your stride.
At my table
Of the awning is dimly veiled
By beads, slow and languorous
With impending summer
Steam rises from
This mug, tangoing with smoke
From the cigarette I’m not smoking
But I lit when you took shape
Out of the clouds
At the end of the block.
Facts stale enouGH
In Just inK
Quiescent in its ReSisTance
Under Vigil, Waiting for eXamination
facts unchecked can Yield Zeal.
I didn’t do any of things suggested, just something vaguely alphabetical. = ) I hope you had fun reading.
The prompt: “…write an abecedarian poem – a poem with a structure derived from the alphabet. There are a couple of ways of doing this. You could write a poem of 26 words, in which each word begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. You could write a poem of 26 lines, where each line begins with a successive letter. Or finally, if you’d prefer to narrow your focus, perhaps you could write a poem which focuses on a few letters, using words that repeat them.”
Today’s prompt: “write a visual poem. If that’s not specific enough, perhaps you can try your hand at a calligram? That’s a poem or other text in which the words are arranged into a specific shape or image. You might find inspiration in the famous calligrams written by Guillaume Apollinaire. And a word to the wise — the best way to cope with today’s exercise may well be to abandon your keyboard, and sit down with paper and pen (and maybe crayons or colored pencils or markers!)”
I thought on this for a while this morning and early afternoon, then resorted to using a giant mandala I’ve been working on for a while (ahem…years) and magnetic poetry. I don’t really feel like these words are mine, but I didn’t find them anywhere else (thank you, Google). Perhaps it’s something I heard someone say once? In any event, I’m benevolently stealing them.
One reason I did this analog instead of digital style is my technology skills sometimes just frustrate the inspiration right out of me, which also explains why the photo I’m including is so small. I’m a little bummed because it actually looks pretty cool on my dining room table.
Ne’er too late, they say
I’ll borrow students’ kids to spoil
though it be one day.
The prompt: “write a palinode. And what’s that? It’s a poem in which the poet retracts a statement made in an earlier poem.”
The poem I deny (sort of) here is “Not a Breeder”