Monthly Archives: April 2013

Time Temporal (Final Day––Day 30––Of NaPoWriMo)

The prompt on this last day of National Poetry Month is to find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. I chose Sonnet 18 by Shakespeare.

Time Temporal

by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Shall I contrast thee to a winter’s night?
Thou art less lovely and more tempestuous.
The lack of wind doth still November’s empty stalks,
Oe’r which the winter hath too long a power.
Sometimes the too-cold moon hides ‘neath the clouds.
Then rarely doth it’s pitted face shine forth;
And dark from dark can sometimes rise,
Spurred on by fate or providence’s static plan.
But thy short winter shall soon pass away,
Restore to thee the homeliness of death.
Nor shall that birth that brought you forth to light
Still claim thee when temporal time shall stop thy growth.
As men lose breath and eyes lose sight,
So dies this poem, and draws thee with it to thy grave.

Sonnet 18

by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Foreign Tongues (Day 29 of NaPoWriMo)

Our prompt today is to write a poem that includes at least 5 words in a foreign language.

Foreign Tongues

When I was a child, I thought as a child.
In short, I didn’t think.
My faulty reasonings were piled
like dishes in a sink.

I was different, didn’t sync
with the rest of my childhood herd.
(Even at five, I was on the brink
of being a little nerd.)

While other children responded to
“What do you want to be?”
with “Cowboy! Teacher!” (right on cue),
these answers weren’t me.

When it came to having career talks,
I fear I was a purist.
My answer was less orthodox.
My aim? To be a tourist!!

I thought tourists then to be
a sort of gypsy pack.
Jobless, they were wild and free,
their luggage on their back.

Or in their cars, packed front and back,
traveling evermore––
a footloose, wandering, feckless pack
unsettled to the core.

I saw them passing on the road
just one block south of where
my family hunched in their abode
year after passing year.

I had to wait for 19 years
to earn my traveling shoes––
to assuage my parents’ groundless fears,
abate their travel blues.

I took off on a sailing ship
to visit foreign lands.
When foreign words evaded lip,
I merely used my hands!

Back home, the English seemed to me
common––sorta dowdy.
Instead of “Moshi, moshi”
I had to murmur, “Howdy.”

As soon as school was over,
I hopped upon a plane.
I’d pass my life a rover.
Inertia was inane!

I packed up my regalia
with neither tear nor sob
to head out to Australia
for my first teaching job.

I thought that English I would teach.
It was our common tongue.
Enunciation would I teach.
Oh Lord, I was so young!

My first day there, I heard the word
“Did-ja-‘ave-a guh-die-mite?”
I found it all to be absurd.
They were joking. Right?

Don’t come the raw prahn on my, mite”
was next to meet my ear.
What foreign language did they cite?
It puzzled me, I fear.

I rode, I walked, I sailed the seas
and ended up in Bali.
Said my “Terimakasih’s”
And then, “Selamat Pagi.”

My move to Africa was one
that some folks found quixotic,
but “amasaganalu
was a word I found exotic.

After two years, I went home.
Wyoming was the next
place that I agreed to roam,
though I was sorely vexed.

For though the words were all the same
I’d learned at my mom’s knee––
(I’m sure that I was all to blame)
they all seemed Greek to me!

California was where I hung
my hat for many-a-year.
There Español was half the tongue
that fell upon my ear.

I liked its cadence, liked its ring.
The words ran fluid and
their foreignness was just my thing
in this bilingual land.

So Mexico is where I’m bound.
I’ve reasons numbering cien.
The main one is, I like the sound
of “Que la via bien.”

Yellow (Day 28 of NaPoWriMo)

Day 28 The prompt today was to write a poem about a color.

Yellow

You were so red, so white.
So much of you was blue.
Yellow is what I missed in you—
that brilliant optimism—
that power of the sun.
There was that black in you
that cancelled it out.
You were the artist who understood color the most.
That color created by the union of yellow and black, you knew.

Your white hair, confined in a pony tail
or streaming down your back
in your wild man look
prompted strangers to ask
if you were a shaman,
or declare you to be one.

That red that flamed out from your work,
subtly put there even in places where it had no
logical purpose for being.
That red tried to make things right.

All of us who knew you
knew the blue.
It was the background color of all of your days.
It was the blanket in which we wrapped ourselves at night,
trying to be close,
but always always divided
by blue.

For fifteen years,
I believed that one day I’d bring you to yellow.
There were splashes of it, surely,
throughout our lives together.
You on the stage, reading your heart,
me in the audience, recognizing
all the colors from within you—even yellow.

Finding the pictures you had taken of me
at the art show, looking at your work—
those pictures taken even before we ever met.
I discovered, after you’d passed,
that you had recognized
me even then, when I thought
I was the only one
angling for a meeting—
sure of my need to know those secret parts of you
that I will never know
now that you have given yourself
to the black
or blue
or red
or even to the white.

Whatever your ever after
has delivered you to.

A new life later,
I am suffused
by my own canvas
of memories of you—
every other pigment
splashed against
a vivid background
of yellow.

Beholding Beauty (Day 27 of NaPoWriMo)

The prompt was to think of a proverb or axiom, to Google it and write a poem inspired by
what you read about that phrase. I chose, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Beholding Beauty

You are more beautiful than you think you are,
but we don’t tell you because
it is such a pleasure to see you unaware of it,
doing everyday things in such graceful ways.

You are the Burmese cat, stepping high
over the small sculptures
on the wall where he is fed,
his tail curving into a delicate hook.

You are vibrating leaves on the hibiscus tree
adding the contrast of green
to the one exquisite yellow bloom
with its fuchsia sunset middle.

You are a child whose violet eyes
open wider to each wonder––innocent,
never knowing yourself to be more beautiful
than what you observe.

You are music, harmonious, played
on the spur-of-the-moment with no rehearsal,
fingerpaints on the wall in an incredibly wild pattern
that could not have been planned.

You are the gourmet meal
made of leftovers from the fridge,
the wonderful costume gathered
from hangers at the thrift store.

You have a beauty
you were not born to––
one that is an amalgam
of every choice you make in life.

Beauty is in the eye
of the beholder, many say,
but it is impossible to imagine
a beholder who couldn’t see it in you.

A Whitman Sampler (Day 26 of NaPoWriMo)

WhitmanSamplerThe prompt for today was to select a very long poem and to distill words from it to create another poem. I chose Song of Myself by Walt Whitman.

Borrowed Song

Houses and rooms full of shelves
are crowded with myself
and know it and like it.

Undisguised and naked, I am mad for the smoke of my own breath–––
my respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the
passing of blood and air through my lungs,
the sound of the belch’d words of my voice
loos’d to the song of me rising
from bed and meeting the sun.

Read me and you shall possess the origin of all poems:
the sun and your self.
I have heard the talk of my sweet soul––proof of the equanimity
of things silent and hearty and clean,
and I am satisfied.

A loving bed-fellow withdraws, leaving me baskets of
the latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies,
authors old and new, and love.
But they are not Me.
I stand amused and looking with side-curved head,
curious what will come next,

I witness and wait.
I believe in you.

Loaf with me on the grass.
I want the lull.
I like
how we lay––your head upon me––my brother, sister, lover, child.

What is remembrance
but the beautiful uncut hair of graves?
I wish I could die luckier,
new-wash’d and not contain’d between my hat and boots.
I am not earth. I am as immortal and fathomless as myself,
sweet-heart and old maid, lips that have smiled,
eyes that are the begetters of children.

I see the little one in its cradle,
the bushy hill,
the corpse on the granite floor.
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
exclamations of women who buried speech.
I mind the resonance of them.
I come and I depart, roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

Alone,
far in the wilds and mountains, amazed, my eyes settle in my boots
and you should have been with us that day I saw the marriage
of awkwardness and lonesome––dancing and laughing along the beach,
their bodies an unseen temple.

The sun fallsand I do not stop there.

What you express in your eyes seems to me more
than all the print I have read in my life.
I believe and acknowledge the look like an invitation––
Listening close, find its purposes.
I see in them and myself the same old law.

I can eat and sleep with them and hark to the musical rain,
the one-year wife, recovering and happy.
I am old and young, foolish and wise.

Prodigal, you have given me love — therefore I to you give
unspeakable passionate love. I behold your crooked inviting fingers.
I too am of all phases that sleep in each others’ arms.
I am not the poet of virtue. I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
I find a balance. There is no better than it and now.
I believe in seeing, hearing, feeling,
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kiss’d, mortal I have ever
touch’d, it shall be you.
I dote on myself, the air tastes good to my palate.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach.
Speech is the twin of my vision. With the hush of my lips, I wholly confound the skeptic.

Now I will do nothing but listen,

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of
flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals.
I hear the sound I love––the sound of the human voice.
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of waves,
I lose my breath.

I talk wildly, I have lost my wits..
All truths wait in all things,

Down a lane or along the beach,
my right and left arms round the sides of two friends,
and I in the middle; voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure,
Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,

It is time to explain myself.
I am the teacher .
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.
I act as the tongue of you,
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen’d.
The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my voice.
The young mother and old mother comprehend me,
each hour of the twenty-four I find letters dropt in the street,
and I leave them where they are, for I know that
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
I hear you whispering there O stars,O suns — O grass of graves.
If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
The past and present wilt. I have emptied them.

Who wishes to walk with me?
not a bit tamed, untranslatable,
I depart as air,
bequeath myself to the grass.
If you want me again, look for me.
Missing me one place, search another.
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.

The Ballad of Poor Molly (Day 25 of NaPoWrimo)

Our prompt today was to write a ballad—a narrative poem worthy of being set to music with a rhyme scheme of ABAB and alternating 8 and 6 syllable iambic lines. Here is mine.

The Ballad of Poor Molly

Poor Molly Smith was lonely sure
on every weekend night.
No lover had she to insure
an end to her sad plight.

She’d read of match.com and then
eHarmony and others.
No more would she be chickless hen
if she could have her druthers.

She took her keyboard in her hand
to find a true love there,
for sparsely was the household manned
of this poor maiden fair.

She put her name upon a site
and waited for some word.
A day went by and then a night,
but nothing had she heard.

Her profile words were erudite,
written with such care.
Everything was done just right,
yet no man found she there.

She started blogging all day long,
“liked” members’ every word;
but still something was very wrong.
She found it all absurd.

Other women found true love
On OkCupid, but
no pierced heart, no cooing dove
released her from her rut.

She sought her profile to imbue
and stretched the truth, I fear.
Her hair turned blonde, her bust size grew,
her beauty knew no peer.

She found a picture of some tart
both sexy, tanned and toned.
Perhaps it wasn’t really smart,
but soon a suitor phoned.

They made a date to meet for drinks,
then she began to worry.
Her hair had all these ugly kinks,
her upper lip was furry.

Her height was five-foot-four, not eight,
her dress size twelve, not six.
How could she show up for this date?
Poor Mol was in a fix.

She read his profile once again:
handsome, rich and funny.
She felt a surge of pure chagrin.
He’d humor, looks and money?

She printed up his profile pic
and pinned it to her couch.
His skin was bronzed, his muscles thick,
while she was flabby. Ouch!

She took a bottle to her hair
And died it light as flax,
bought heels as high as she could dare
and tummy-control slacks.

She ran three miles or more that day
(or she more likely walked);
and thought about what she would say
If her new suitor balked.

Could medication swell one out
for twenty pounds or more?
Would he accept without a doubt
This apologetic lore?

The time grew short. She bathed and fussed
and straightened out her hair.
Her body girdled, squeezed and trussed––
to sit she didn’t dare.

She’d take a bus and spend the ride
standing in the aisle.
The acid churning her inside
was turning into bile.

She grabbed her purse and locked the door
and sprinted for the bus.
Her girdle crawled an inch or more.
It made her want to cuss.

She tugged it down, got on the bus
and tried to stand erect.
One way out of all this muss
would be to have a wreck!

The driver drove with extra care
to take her to her meal.
Yet when she wobbled down the stair,
she broke one three-inch heel.

By then her hair had kinked again,
her girdle slowly rose.
She had peroxide on her chin
and also on her nose.

She almost left, gave in to doubt;
but then she stopped to think.
Her curiosity won out.
She’d stay for just one drink.

She saw him just as soon as she
had entered in the door.
He was tall and golly, gee
was handsome, fit and more!

She ducked into the ladies room
to tame her crazy hair
and contemplate upcoming doom.
What an unlikely pair!

Then gathered all her courage up
and went to meet her fate.
She’d have a drink, forget the sup
and end this nightmare date.

She walked right up and tapped his arm
and said his name,”Dupree?”
And when he turned, his look was warm,
but he said, “That isn’t me.”

She felt a touch upon her hair
and turned to find out who
or what had deigned to touch her where
she’d recently changed hue.

A little man about her height,
really cute, but chubby, too,
was chuckling with all his might
and looking at her shoe.

“What in heaven happened to you?”
he asked, and then he snatched
and snapped the heel right off her shoe
so both of her heels matched.

“My name’s Dupree,” he said, “You’re you.
I’d know you anywhere.
You’re tall and slim, your eyes are blue,
your hair is straight and fair.

I hope you’re not too mad at my
prevaricating way.
I’m really not too bad a guy
no matter what they say.

I know I stretched the truth a bit.
Not all I say is true,
but how else would I find a fit
with such a babe as you?”

She went into the ladies room
and slipped out of her girdle.
The date foreseen with dread and gloom
was not the foretold hurdle.

They ate four courses, then one more.
They laughed and traded quips.
He drove her home right to her door
and kissed her on the lips!

Now Molly’s nest is feathered.
Of chicks, she numbers three.
And Dupree is firmly tethered
with Molly on his knee.