Category Archives: Poems about families

NaPoWriMo, Day 3: In the Market

I had a reading to go to this morning, where I read both “At 67” and “Once Upon a Lime in Mexico,” but you heard them both here first!  “At 67” will also be published in Ojo del Lago, Mexico’s largest English Language newspaper/magazine, which is both in print and online.  Before I left at 9:30 for the reading, I got part of today’s blog post finished and I completed it in the Walmart parking lot, where I’d gone to do a bit of shopping.  Dreading the stop-and-go Semana Santa traffic, I decided to finish it so it would be ready for posting when I got home,  which it is and I am!!!  So, here goes.

I’ve been trying to combine the NaPoWriMo and the WordPress prompts each day. The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a “fourteener” poem where each line consists of seven iambic feet (i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, times seven.) This form is also called a ballad.

No topic was given, so I took a WordPress Prompt and went to a friend’s book and turned to page 11 and took the 11th word, which was “Should,”  and started a poem entitled “She Should.”  I later changed the title and the first line, so the words that started the poem no longer are part of it. The purpose of a prompt is to start, not serve as an end-all. So, here is my ballad.  Please let me know what you think.

In the Market

Her mother tells her not to talk to strangers in the streets–
to count on all her kin to provide everyone she meets.
But this man has such lovely eyes, so what could be the harm?
And she’s not often left to stray this far from father’s farm.
When he walks by, she gives a smile and looks him in the eye.
He looks away, but his shy smile still gives away the guy.
She drops her basket, but he still continues on his way.
It’s only then that she decides that this one must be gay.

The store where she is going is not so very far,
and yet she takes the longest way that leads there from her car.
Although it should be blocks away, instead it is two miles.
She only has this route and back to practice all her wiles.
Whenever gentlemen of note meet her questing glance,
Her winsome smile becomes a grin, her walk becomes a prance.
Some of the men seem to be shocked. The others move away.
She’s sure it is just married men she meets this market day.

But finally, one man in plaid does not avoid her glance.
She smiles at him invitingly, afraid she’ll lose her chance.
She sees him turn as she walks by and follow in her wake.
It seems she’s finally hooked one. It was a piece of cake.
When she arrives and goes into the store, he follows her.
It’s just so he can meet her, of this she’s fairly sure.
Aisle after aisle she meets his gaze by boldly looking up
while he pretends he’s looking for food on which to sup.

Pork and beans he passes up, chili and green beans.
He adjusts his shoulders and hitches up his jeans.
She knows that he’s not used to this. He’s not so debonair.
He will not meet her flirty glance or even her bold stare;
and yet she sees him peeking when it seems that she’s not looking.
It’s clear enough to her that something’s definitely cooking.
She’s been around the livestock so she knows the signs and causes,
yet a bull just gets right to it and a rooster never pauses.

The action quickens in the aisle where the bread shelves start.
She finally takes the upper hand and swerves into his cart.
The metal baskets scrape and crash and make an awful din.
She does not mind that people gawk. She finally has an in!
He blushes when she talks to him, and she is sure he nearly
takes her hand and flirts as he says, “Pardon,” very clearly.
He turns and walks her down the aisle. It is a date, almost.
Side by side they stroll until parted by a post

that splits the aisle in two and makes them part, then join again.
Though she is small and portly, and he is tall and thin,
they make a handsome couple. She can see their wedding stills.
She will pick the gown and flowers. He will pay the bills.
When they approach the registers, he tells her to go first.
They chat as the checker works. It almost seems rehearsed.

He asks about her family and certainly seems rapt.
The lives of mother, father, brother, sister clearly mapped.
Details others might find boring are engagingly related
and all the while his pupils stay entirely dilated.
He puts his thumb right through a peach, then grabs up a red apple,
and tells her that he’s noticed her in front of him in chapel,
sitting by her sister and wearing a blue hat.
Her sister’s hat was yellow.  He is sure of that.

When she asks him home to supper, he says, “Yes,” in nothing flat.
He talks to all her relatives and even holds the cat.
When her annoying sister talks and talks and talks,
he responds politely–he never even balks.
He finally admits that he’s engineered their meeting,
but still the news of it does not set her heart to beating.
Now it is family legend, the story of this mister,
with an unexpected ending. He was there to meet her sister!

 https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/three-letter-words/

Near

Near

My father went from obscurity to a sort of small renown.
He worked hard as a rancher and the mayor of our town.
He met my mother at a dance in her sister’s borrowed gown–
both of them lonely visitors to a faraway strange town.
I’ve thought about it often since we laid him down.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I write it down?

Many a calf he helped to birth and many a field he’s mown.
Avoided his mother if he could–long-suffering aged crone.
Not many highways traveled,nor many airwaves flown.
He died in his angry daughter’s arms–the two of them alone.
I’ve thought of it often till regrets have turned into a drone.

His eyes were always looking further over yon.
Over a ripening field of wheat or over a fresh-mowed lawn.
Working, often, until dark and up again at dawn.
A man of camaraderie and wit and brains and brawn.

He liked to tell a story and sing a rousing tune.
Stand on the porch at midnight to piss under the moon.
He gave me a turquoise ring, a baby rabbit and a coon.

Now that he’s very gone away.  Now that I’m very grown,
I know my flesh is of his flesh. My bone is of his bone.

And I wish that I’d asked more questions. That we’d both been less alone.

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The form of this poem is one consisting of six stanzas, the first with 6 lines and each thereafter one less line.  Each line in each stanza rhymes with all the other lines in that stanza and each stanza’s rhyme is a near rhyme to the last. The name of this form is Sylvestrian Near Rhyme and since “Near” describes both the theme and form of my poem, it is also the name of the poem.  And yes, I did make up the form!  I’d love it if poets given to rhyming and meter would attempt the form and send me the results as comments or a link to this blog.

Update: Here is Sam Rappaz’s response to my challenge.

The Prompt: Fireside Chat—What person whom you don’t know very well in real life — it could be a blogger whose writing you enjoy, a friend you just recently made, etc. — would you like to have over for a long chat in which they tell you their life story?