Don’t

Today is the last day of April! I love the adrenaline of poeming in April, always a little jittery, not sure I can pull anything out of the old noggin. But oy, am I ever glad when it’s done. I imagine it feels a little like finishing a marathon, though I wouldn’t know anything about that. Today’s Tuesday double prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Stop/Don’t Stop poem.

Don’t. Don’t do it.
Don’t wait for the right time,
for some sublime exacting moment,
for the torment of inaction
to fracture your momentum.

Jump right into the story. Don’t stop
planning, plotting, dreaming.
Your days of glory seem so distant,
but this is the instant you must engage.

Step onto the stage. Stop waiting,
stop negating your own power.
It’s your hour. The curtain’s rising.
Surprise us all.

Not Totally Random


Today’s Prompt is to make a poem titled “__(Blank)__ Again.” This month, I haven’t worked particularly hard at pushing myself outside my poetic comfort zone. Today, I generated a collection of random words on the internet and told myself I had to use a certain number of them in a poem.

The Plot Oozes Again

Does it matter if these words come
from a random spouter of words
on the internet, or if they derive from
some capricious fountain in my head?

Or perhaps I’ll choose every fifth word
from our clumsy correspondence.
There, for instance, I had to strew
a sneaky adjective among my thoughts.
It modifies my meaning, subdues my ideas,
and severs my intentions. Perfect poetry,
the obfuscation (my word) of sense.

Which of these words are mine?
Which are yours? And which,
when we consider the luxuriant input
of the internet, are the fantastic tickets
of the random realm? The plot oozes,
the smoggy street is cloistered in cobweb,
and something has gone, chortling, off the rails.

Directions: How Not to Have a Revolution

How Not to Have a Revolution

The elephant went rogue in the forest,
stepping on the ant hills,
destroying everything for the sheer pleasure of destruction.

The ants began to mobilize.
They organized a thousand little Armies of Resistance,
each with powerful leaders and Solid Plans.

Here is a Truth:
There were enough ants in the forest
to carry that old elephant away.
All their united strength and energy
could have saved the forest.

Instead, things went south
pretty much from the beginning.
The ants could not check their tribalism.
They were suspicious of all outsiders,
even (particularly) among their own kind.

On the ruined mounds of their separate anthills
they began to call, not for the removal of the elephant,
but for the annihilation of enemy tribes.
Only when enemy tribes were dealt with
would it be possible to remove the elephant, they said.

By the time the ants had dealt with their own internal battles,
the elephant had won the day,
and the forest was utterly destroyed.

(Today’s Prompt from Poetic Asides was to write a Directions Poem.)

Exile

Exile is the theme of today’s Poetic Asides Prompt:

There are bubbles of belonging inside these spaces of separation,
places where true soul contact lies, and understanding lives.
It gives the exile a chance to feel connected, even in the crowd
of loud and angry judges who seek to cut away the sinners
from the inner group of those who belong, the righteous ones.

I’m done with trying to seek favor with the hoarders of grace
who place the ancient blood rules and regulations above
the call of love. I’ve chosen my exile and it only remains
to name the spaces where the outcasts can gather together,
our Cafes of Emigres, where grace and mercy are served with the tea.

Baiting the Hook

Today’s Poetic Asides Prompt is to write a poem titled “Complete (____).” I’m going to take a little bit of liberty.

The Compleat Poet

Bait your hook with a juicy image,
the wriggling worm of a story,
something you’ve pulled
from the muddy garden plot
of an ancient dream,
or from underneath the rock
of a hidden memory.

Your elements are tabula rasa and type.
Sounds and silences.
Language and lore.

Walk along the stream-bank
every morning at dawn,
so you can learn how the mist
rises above the waters
just before the fish start leaping.

Learn their habits,
their secret hiding places,
their favorite words and phrases.
Bring them the most succulent morsels.

Tease your line across the surface,
dipping down with quick
and tantalizing strokes.
Cultivate patience.

Carry your treasures home in a pail,
or scrawled in a notebook or napkin.
Learn to cook them fresh.

Shackles

Oh dear. It’s getting late, and I have been grading or reading all day. The prompt is a two-fer: Write a Free/Not Free Poem.

I wear these papers like shackles,
dragging the ankles of my brain
into a constant state of bondage.

Teachers develop a seventh sense,
an awareness, always, of the piles
that wait in a bag or on a table,

so even when I walk in the sunlight
or finish the novel I have been reading,
the shackles of inadequacy hold me down.

Will You Answer the Call of Love?

A shadow is a kind of reflection.

Today’s Prompt is to write a correspondence poem. Mine will be about the elemental correspondences with the cardinal directions.

In the east, the birds are singing the day awake,
the breezes whisper through the branches,
and all the bells are ringing.
Inspiration flies in on golden wings.
Weave, spin, and cut the threads
with a two-edged blade of finest silver.
What is being born in you?

To the south, the sun is burning,
and that which came to you as woven light
begins to kindle and flame up.
Life force surges all around you,
and you feel your own fires rising.
Nurture the burning within you.
What is calling you to dance?

In the west, the creeks and brooks
tumble over stones and sand and clay,
on their way to rivers and bays and oceans.
Now is the time to listen to your heart,
to flow with the feelings that stream
through you and around you.
What is the message of your heart?

To the north, the wolves are howling,
where caves are hidden in the boulders.
The roots of things travel fathoms deep,
and earth is a solid base for your footsteps.
Your body is your home, and you must tend it,
listening for echoes from within the earth herself.
What holds and supports you?

Move to the center and feel the spirit swirling,
the place where wind and flame,
water and stone meet and quicken,
where animating breath meets life force,
where heart meets head, and stone becomes flesh,
and the Beloved calls you to Become.
Will you answer the call of Love?

In the Doorway of Lost Hopes

Today’s prompt is to write a sketch poem. Most of my poetry is sketches anyway, imagistic moments, a few lines of spiderweb, a dash of color, touch of light.

Crouching in the doorway
of your lost hopes,
you raise your head.
Morning sun dazzles your eyes
in a wash of gold and green.
Someone’s rooster crows
in the distance,
and a thousand little birds
bring the garden alive.

And then your name,
there in the too-bright light:
an egg, a seed,
planted in the soil
of your confusion, your grief.

Wake up! Do not try
to touch the heart of it.
Not yet.
Breathe it in.
Let it grow within you.
Now go and speak your truth
to those who will listen.

Ritual for Inhabiting the Darkness

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, the poetry prompt is to write about darkness.

Ritual for Inhabiting the Darkness

I.
Stand in the doorway.
Let the light stream in over your shoulders.
See your shadow.
Breathe into the stillness that awaits you..

II.
Leave the the lighted rooms behind you.
Walk forward onto the trail
which your own shadow has laid out before you,
until you have left the light so far behind you
that it is only a memory of light.

III.
Listen to the breathing of the darkness.
Become a seed in the waiting soil of the dark.
Feel how the darkness holds the pulsing life within you.

IV.
Wait.

V.
Crack open.
Expand into the darkness.
Send your roots down.
Send your twining tendrils upward.
Grow.