Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo 2019

Kid Again: NaPoWriMo 2019, Apr 22, 2019

There are more forms of art in the world than most people can list. Cooking may be an art in the right hands, or riding a horse or setting a table. Or flying a kite.

Kid Again.

From the still air near the beach,
it seems a miracle
that above us there are currents
strong enough to sail a kite.

The long-handled spool spins
between your loose-curled palms,
yet the kite curls lower
until you remember how
to reel it in a bit
and run, and let it go.

As you in the heat,

under Leon Redbone hat,
learn the tricks again
you haven’t needed since you were a kid,
you recognize, through some
adult amnesia,
the tug of the string
against your hands––that tactile memory––
and steer the beautiful sperm-shaped kite
with the longest tail

Yours unique above the two blue others.
Yours lotus-patterned with a spiraled tail
of purple, orange and yellow.

All afternoon, the seagulls and the pigeons
curve between the obstacles
of string and tail
as you rock your hand
to teach this drifter
how to execute a figure eight,
until a cooler wind,
blowing your shirt-back dry,
calls your attention
to the sunset,
and you start to reel your new toy in.

Still fighting that compulsion 
to let it go again
to the end of the string,
you dance the kite
on ever-shorter tether
as you take it for a walk
along the footpath
to the car,
by some association,


After Forgottenman read this poem, he told me a charming story about the last time he flew a kite. For the first time in history, when I said he should write a blog post on it, he actually did!!  You can find it HERE.

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem about another art form.

Dakota Rattlesnake Charm: NaPoWriMo 2019

Dakota Rattlesnake Charm

Wheat fields sough
like the evening skirt
of a city lady
with her train in the dirt.
The old side-winder
with diamond back
and his tail half out
and  his head in the stack.
The summer sun
glints off the gun
of the farmer
who slicked and hacked
to put the rattles
in his sack.
and tie them in his daughter’s hair
to  tell them fancymen  “beware,”
—the hack-a-sack man
who sold those nighties
turned small town girls
into aphrodites.
Drove their souls
to the city nights,
to men and music,
words and lights.
’til they pull her down,
uncoil her hair,
a sudden rattle,
and she’s not there!



For NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 20

NaPoWriMo 2019, Apr 19

Loving Thy Enemy


Don’t ever fictionalize
great heroic intimacies.

Just keep looking
major nemeses over,
proudly quieting
rash stabbing thoughts.

Under violent words,




Raw Savage Thoughts

Zealous young
xenophobic wanderers
veer under
the sun’s rays,
quitting promenades
over nomadic mesas.

Let’s keep jumping
into harsh green fields,
eternally delving closer
before age accents
belligerent crankiness.

Delicious effervescence
froths gushingly homeward
in jugulars,
keeping lymphatic matters
normal or palpitating,

raw savage thoughts.
Understanding vulcanizes
woman’s X-rated,
yearnful zest.


The NaPoWriMo prompt asked that we write a poem using the alphabet in sequence for either every word in the poem or for beginning of lines.

Footnote to the Revolution, Elegy for Napowrimo Apr 18, 2019

At two different times in the past year, I have suddenly had a flood of signs in one day that I should continue the book I started to write about my years in Ethiopia leading up to and during the first stages of the revolution that deposed Haile Selassie. Yesterday, the first was an email message from an Australian  woman I was traveling with at the time who said I must complete the book.  The second was a Facebook message from an  Ethiopian friend, showing me a photo of Andualem and I that had shown up on a Facebook page in a group (of almost 200,00 members) dealing with historical photos of Ethiopia. Everyone was speculating on who we were–this good-looking tall young Ethiopian man kissing a long-haired blonde caucasian woman. Who could they be? The third sign seems to be this prompt, so I’m sharing again this elegy I wrote after I learned of his death.

Footnote to the Revolution

The red clay from the cane field in your hair,
leaves pressed into my neck from lying in the tall stalks,
we heard in the trees
the movements of the shepherd
who had watched.
Later, at the Filowaha baths,
we washed ourselves from each other
and slept in a room
by the eucalyptus.
I would have wanted you more in that room
if I’d known about the bullet
already starting its trajectory through the minds
of men spending youth fresher than ours
in revolution.
I remember watching your shave
in the lobby barber shop,
your face mummied by the steaming towels.
I tasted bay rum afterwards
as we shared cappuccino.
Parked at the roadside near enough to hear our parting,
I imagine they drank katikala,
its bite sealing brotherhood
your blood would buy in the street
outside the Filowaha baths.



In 1973-74, I journeyed to and lived in Ethiopia. It was not my original intention to do any more than visit and pass through, but fate had a different plan in mind. I was first detained by violence, then by love. The Filowaha baths in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, were probably the equivalent of the “No Tell Motels” in Mexico, but for Andy and me, they were a place to be alone, to soak in hot water together and to make love with no listening ears. I guess that is what they were to everyone who visited, but there was nothing illicit in our relationship. We were both single and in what at the beginning we thought was a committed relationship that would end in marriage. His family had accepted this. My parents, thousands of miles away, had long ago given me the message that they did not want to know anything that, as my mother had stated, “would make them feel bad.” My sister knew, but they never did.

This poem actually chronicles two different visits to the Filowaha baths–one near the beginning of our relationship and the other our last night before I departed to fly back to the United States. On this second visit, we both knew we would probably never see each other again. Once again, we had figured out that the relationship wasn’t going to work, and our own feelings were complicated by the revolution that was already raging around us. We had both just spent a month in the hospital–Andu Alem recovering from the bullet that had gone all the way through his body as he defended me from a man whose intention was to kill me. Not able to return to my house, I had stayed in the hospital with him so we could both be guarded by his father’s soldiers.

Years later, when I made my first assemblage boxes, I made this music box that told the story I’d already told in the poem years before. The song it plays is “The Way We Were.” I’m now trying to tell the story a third time in a book. Now that I know the true ending to our story, I might have changed the poem, but I leave it as I once thought it was. There are many truths in our lives, according to which vantage point we are telling them from.  This story is as true as the very different story I will eventually tell, if I have the courage to face up to it. Please enlarge the photos go see the details which should be self-explanatory. The hand I sculpted out of clay. I photographed the assemblage box on the table where I had been rereading letters I’d written home from Ethiopia as well as letters Andualem and other friends living in Ethiopia had written me once I returned to the states.

Napowrimo prompt: write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.

Entreaty: NaPoWriMo 2019, Apr 17


I lie obscured behind a pot.
The pot is dry, but I am not.
Thanks to an active little doggy,
my usual state is chewed and soggy.
But, I should introduce y’all
to who I am—a small green ball.
And though I’m meant to just play tennis,
I fear I face a greater menace.

The antagonist of my sad story
is a Scottie dog named Morrie,
and though all humans find him cute,
his proclaimed merits I’ll refute.
If you’ll forgive a bit of kvetching,
I will explain—he’s fond of fetching.
Hour on hour, day after day,
he makes humans cast me away.

He  likes to fetch and chew and drool,
then toss me back into the pool
for whomever happens to be
taking a swim to rescue me
and throw me back down in the yard
so that hairy little card
can race back down to find where I
have been tossed down to and now lie.

I was once pristine—so green and soft—
perfectly planned for bounce and loft,
my lifetime planned and guaranteed
until she broke my seal and freed
me to what I was sure would be
the perfect gaming life for me.
But soon I was given pause
when I was seized between the jaws

of a leaping frenzied pup
who promptly tried to chew me up
and failing this, launched me into
the swimming pool’s warm watery blue.
I’ve lasted, now, three days or four.
It’s doubtful I can last for more.
For after days of constant chewing,
A ball’s not fit for sport or viewing.

Seams split and release air,
sink in the pool and languish there.
The only hope for my abiding
is if I can stay in hiding.
Please don’t reveal my little lair.
Help me preserve my seams and air.
For I will surely lose my bounce
if I’m exposed to one more pounce,

to one more bite or one more chew.
Please save my life. I’m begging you.
If you would simply pick me up
before I’m found by that damn pup,
and throw me over that far wall,
no one would know of it at all.
Perhaps some tennis buff would meet
me lying there upon the street.

He’d pick me up and take me where
I could be sailing through the air
racket to racket—kiss by kiss,
for surely I was made for this!!!
I’ve done my penance, served my time.
I’ve earned a life that’s more sublime.
So hear my plea and heed my call.
Bend down, pick up and throw the ball!!!



The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem from an unusual point of view.


Bucket Listless: NaPoWriMo 2019, Apr 16


Bucket Listless

Please don’t ever make me go back to Cancun.
If I never return there, I’ve visited too soon.
Don’t make me go to church again or listen to more rap.
Don’t make me go to bed at eight or take a daily nap.
I don’t want to do those things I don’t want to do.
Don’t make me look at animals trapped up in a zoo.

Brains are meant for keeping up farther in your head.
To have to eat the things I think with fills my mind with dread.
Don’t make me eat anything only adults eat:
liver, caviar, pate, kidneys or pigs’ feet.
All of those are parts of animals I’ve come to fear,
for none of them are meant to put in human mouths, my dear.

I think that I’ll live longer without jumping from above.
For bungee cords or parachutes I have no sort of love.
Even roller coasters present uncalled-for risk.
For me a walk upon the beach is adequately brisk.
Anything that’s bumpy, jerky, swooping, fast or twirly
makes me want to arrive late and go home really early.

Please don’t make me listen to those who rant and rave.
If I meet them in the street, I’ll merely nod and wave.
Let bores much given to monologues find another ear;
because those who never listen, I have no wish to hear.
Tea-partiers, loud mouths, bigots and folks in the elite
are on my list of strangers I do not need to meet.

I hope no radiation or chemotherapy
is ever necessary to make me cancer-free.
No machines to make me breathe and no dialysis.
As little poking, pushing, testing and analysis
as possible is what I wish for on my “do not” list.
Just let me go gently into that final mist.

I’ve grown to hate the overuse of “bucket list” as label
for what folks want to do before their death if they are able.
So please be more original in thinking what to call
that list of things that you most want to do before you fall.
For the thing that I don’t want as “I am” turns into “been”
Is to ever hear the phrase of “bucket list” again!


The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a poem using a list to defamiliarize the mundane. This poem fulfills part of that prescription.

Almost a Miracle (Monologue) NaPoWriMo, Apr 15, 2019


Almost a Miracle

I need to explain to you how it happened.
I know you don’t require it, but I need to tell you,
much as a good Catholic needs absolution from her priest or her god,
I need absolution from you.
It began with a simple mishap—the gas left on after cleaning the stove.
I do not remember this action,
yet it must have been me who left the dial turned not quite shut. 
A dark part of me, because with God as my witness, I do not remember doing so.

I did remember that every payday Saturday night when he came home reeling from the tavern, he went to turn on the striker to light his cigar.
If I had actually planned it, I could not have planned it better. 
My mother and the other children had gone to Talpa
for the four day pilgrimage to the virgin
and it was my night to stay with the children
of the people whose house I cleaned.
We did this weekly to afford them the chance
to be together with their friends,

away from their demanding children.
And it gave me an opportunity to avoid my father. 

To avoid the sound of his entrance at the front gate,

the heavy pounding of his boots upon the cobbles,
the creak of the front door and his slipping the bolt
so that I knew once again that I was in the prison of his making. 
His footsteps upon the tile stairs as I lay still, my lips moving in rapid prayers,
“Our Lord, dear lord, help him pass my door tonight. 
Help him to proceed past the doors of my sisters and my brothers
and let him move to visit my mother. 
Help him to relieve the cares of his week in her presence. 
Help it to be his wife who smells the tequila of his breath,
to taste the lime on his lips.
Help me on this night not to be the partner of his sin.”

Rare was the Saturday night when my prayer was heard.
But this night, perhaps I had answered my own prayer. 
Later on, the villagers would talk about the night they heard the boom—
saw the streaking image of a man run from the front door aflame
to run down the street screaming.
“Such a tragedy,” they would say,
“but how fortunate that his wife and children were not present.
God must have been watching,” they would say,
“but then to have blinked a moment.
It was almost a miracle,” they would say. “Almost.”


The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a dramatic monologue.