6:30 A.M. Vicarious Pleasures
My day is a guest who arrives too early,
starting the party without me to the insistent drumbeat
of a distant all-night party not yet over.
Its music sketches a portrait of my distant past:
wild nights, the sharp bite of tequila,
casual passion draped across my back.
Kukla the girl cat’s clever claws push me from my bed.
Other than her insistent cries for desayuno,
this new day written across my life
comes with invisible directions.
It smells like fresh-blooming plumeria
and tastes like Nescafé with Coffee-Mate and stevia.
It is too tame, this safe life with so many hand-washings
that they rise to my tongue and foam as I speak to myself in the mirror,
keeping six feet of distance even with myself
as I wait for the arrival and my capture
by this distant threat creeping ever closer.
“Sangre de Cristo,” mutters Jesus the water vendor,
taking his own name in both vein and vain as he
reminds me to keep my distance—
La señora, no matter how generous a tipper, now a threat.
I sweep his footsteps from the doorway,
set them on fire and gather their ashes for a poem.
The birds sing their way into my verses,
as does the snake that lies coiled in my kitchen sink.
I taste the language of all of them,
real life as surreal as any dream—
this world a wasp nest,
each of us sealed up in our individual cell.
Without a life, I write one for myself.
You are invited to join it here on my sanitary screen.
Make your rejoinders more clever than Alexa’s or Siri’s,
so I can dispense with the both of them.
Imagine me touching your words I cannot hear,
and make them less sharp than what you might be feeling.
A stream of family music from below
flows up the mountainside to pool in my ears.
I breathe the perfume of that family.
I savor its taste—tamarind, lime and salt,
the homeyness of bland tortillas—
and hope they are kept safe there.
I’m combining six prompts today. The five word prompts today are clever, portrait, distant, capture and arrival. I’m combining them with the NaPoWriMo Day 5 prompt which includes 20 explicit directions. To read other poems written to this prompt, go HERE.
- Begin the poem with a metaphor.
- Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
- Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
- Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
- Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
- Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
- Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
- Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
- Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
- Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
- Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
- Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
- Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
- Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
- Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
- Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
- Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
- Use a phrase from a language other than English.
- Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
- Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.