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
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
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.
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!
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.
I tripped today on a thread I thought I had lost; it stretched
Across the floor white on whiter – thinnest of obstacles.
Under my shoe it slid like existentialism
Smooth but troubling freedom of choice in a soup of
meaninglessness – ideas, politics, philosophy.
By the time I saw it, the end had frayed and split apart
Too many threads to hold together the strongest of seams.
“write a fourteener. Fourteeners can be have any number of lines, but each line should have fourteen syllables…”
Once, I imagined stretching myself out
in the dust and rock
at the hem of her red velvet dress.
Hands behind my neck,
Elbows stuck out like tomahawk blades —
I knew I would see the dance of
the shimmery beads she wove into hair
so blue, so black
I would plummet with vertigo into
endless strands of braid.
She was so fine, and so right, this Night in the Desert
that she stuck like caliche in a breeze
to every memory and every dream
of untouchable tomorrows
that decades later
I believe I can reach up
and wind dimmed urban Leonids around me
against November’s “garish sun.”
“take your gaze upward, and write a poem about the stars”
With apologies to The Bard; One of my favorite speeches from R + J. ‘-)