Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo

Morrie’s Ball: NaPoWriMo–last day for 2020!

 


Morrie’s Ball

I throw the ball and throw the ball,
over my head in an arc to the garden downhill from the pool
where every midnight I do aerobic exercises and yoga,
trying to stem the freezing-up of joints,
the spreading of spare tires around the waist.

I am allergic to the sun,
and so these sometime-between-midnight-
and-3 a.m.-sessions in the pool

have come to be habit,
with both me and the small black shaggy dog
who leaves his bed in the doggie domain,
no matter how late I make the trip to the pool,
carrying his green tennis ball.

It is the latest in a long progression of balls
chewed to tatters until they are incapable of buoyancy
that sink to the pool bottom to be picked up by toes,
toed to hand, and thrown down again.
When they are replaced in the morning with a fresh ball,
he still searches for the old one,
like a child’s nigh nigh, grown valuable through use.

Again and again he drops the ball in the pool
and I interrupt every fifth repetition to throw the ball.
Like an automaton, he returns with precision,
then is off like a flash so fast
that sometimes he catches the ball I throw before it hits the ground.
This little dog, faithful in his returns,
sometimes jumps up on the grassy mound
I’ve made for him in a big flower pot by the pool,
chews the ball,
drops and catches it before it falls to the water,
drops and catches,
as though teasing me
the way houseguests might have teased him in the past with a false throw.

Or, sometimes he drops it on the grass,
noses it to the edge and then catches it before it falls.
Over and over, constructing his own games.
Then, bored or rested up from his countless runs,
he lofts the ball into the water precisely in front of me
and I pause in my front leg kicks
to resume my obligation.

But this night, he returns listless after the third throw.

“Go get the ball, Morrie,” I command, and he runs with less speed and vigor down the hill to the garden. I hear him checking out his favorite places,  but he does not return, and when I call him, finally, he returns, ball-less, jumps up on his mound and falls asleep.

He’s getting old, I think.
Hard to imagine this little ball of energy
as being anything but a pup.
He’ll bring it to me tomorrow, I think.
But tomorrow
and tomorrow
and tomorrow
brings no Morrie with a ball.

When I go down to the hammock the next day,
his enthusiastic leap up onto my stomach
is the same, his same insistence
that I rub his ears, his belly, his back.
But no ball proffered for a throw.
No Morrie returning again and again for more.

I am feeling the older for it,
like a mother who sees her last child
off to University or down the aisle, fully grown,
but I am reassured three days later,
when I arise from the hammock
to climb the incline up to the house
and see lodged firmly in the crotch of the plumeria tree
five feet off the ground: Morrie’s ball.

He sees me retrieve it
and runs enthusiastically up to the pool with me,
where I peel off my clothes
and descend like Venus into the pool,
arc my arm over,
and throw the ball.
He is back with it
before I get to the other end of the pool.
If they could see
through the dense foliage
that surrounds the pool,
what would the neighbors think
of this 72-year-old skinny dipping,
lofting a ball over her head
for her little dog
in broad daylight?

Morrie and I don’t care.

Happy Ending

The final NaPoWriMo challenge for 2020 is to write a poem about something that always returns.

 

Dogs and Cats, NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 29

IMG_3171DSCN1943

Dogs and Cats

Cats are more bendable, dogs more dependable.
Cats are more stretchable, dogs much more fetchable.
Dogs rip and tear and their kisses are wetter.
Cats donate hair to your favorite sweater.

Dogs howl at the moon and bark at the neighbors.
Curling and stretching the extent of the labors
of cats whereas dogs display energy plus––
harassing the mailman or chasing a bus.

Both species have four feet, fur and a tail,

fall into two classes: female and male,
and when there is breakage, neither is to blame.
But that’s the extent of the ways they’re the same.

For day 29 of NaPoWriMo 2020, we were to write a poem about our pets.

The Upstairs Room: NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 28

 

 

This is my older sister Patti and I in our oldest sister Betty’s room. Not the room next to it described below, but they both had dormers and the spread and curtains were the same–except mine had big yellow roses in place of checks. Her windows look out over the playground and elementary school across the street. Mine looked out on the road up to the high school.

The Upstairs Room

Through living room and dining room and kitchen to the mangle,
turn left and left again and then we’d have the stairs to wrangle.

The window in the upstairs hall streamed down shafts of light

sliced open by the balusters that overlooked the flight.

They created different angles at different times of day,
as though they were the playground where the sun had come to play.

Sometimes I climbed them slower at the end of day.

Sometimes I climbed them sleepily with toes feeling the way.

Often I went faster, avoiding Mom’s fly swatter
as she threatened more than swatted, this errant, sassing daughter.

Up the stairs and to the right—my dormered cheery room

with floor to ceiling windows that dispelled any gloom.

Between the angled dormers, meeting in a V,
was the room I always wanted, so that V spelled victory.

Linoleum I picked myself, bright green across the floor.

Soft yellow above it: ceiling, walls and door.

Flower-adorned bedspread—white with yellow roses.
Propped against its pillow shams, dolls in different poses.

A vanity with arms that spread to show the drawers inside

covered with a ruffled skirt that was my joy and pride.

It matched the tie-back curtains that matched the rose-decked bed.
It was the perfect dreamed-of room that danced inside my head.

Up there with my sisters, my nursery downstairs changed

into a brand new dining room with lots of chairs arranged

around a long wood table we used for holidays
beneath that upstairs window where I now sat and gazed

at high school boys returning from games of basketball

in the high school up the road, Doc Murphy out on call,

big kids playing ditch ’em or other kids on bikes,
teenagers with hot rods, toddlers pedaling trikes.

A sweet pea bush climbed up the wall and a trumpet vine,

trying to get up to share this room that I called mine.

Lonely sometimes upstairs in a night that never ends—
one sister still out at the dance, the other at her friend’s.

Robbers in the walls that daddy said were mice,

but they were robbers in my dreams, more than once or twice.

Scary noises in the street. Big boys walking by.
Wondering where folks really went when it came time to die.

Nice when my oldest sister finally came on home

and climbed in bed beside me so I was not alone.

“Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” she promised every time,
then fell asleep before my turn—that sneaky sister’s crime.

Other houses, other rooms. So many in my life.

As a teen, in college, as a lover, as a wife.

Every room was special but none quite like the first—
that big girl room that quenched a youngest sister’s thirst.

 

For NaPoWriMo today, the prompt was to write about a room from our past.

A “Do” Review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A “Do” Review

The sermon is boring, so with nothing to do
but stare at the preacher, I’m staring at you
and reviewing your haircut, here from behind.
I know I’m in church and so I should be kind,
but I notice the trim over one ear is higher,
and the top is so high that I can’t see the choir!
Bouffant is a style, my dear, that’s passé
unless you are Dolly or possibly gay,
and the color is glaring. It’s hurting my eyes.
You need a new stylist with subtler dyes.

Your split ends are shocking, but there’s a solution.
If you don’t pursue it, there’s no absolution
for sins of omission equal to these.
(It’s simply my sense of noblesse oblige
that leads me to share with you thoughts on your hair,
for when it comes to style, dear, there isn’t much there.)
I can give you the name of a salon I know
and it’s up to you if you want to go,
but if you choose not to, I’d advise that
you do us a favor and just wear a hat!

For NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 27, we are to write a review of something not normally
reviewed.

Life in the Time of Corona

IMG_9679

If you wonder why this poem is so long and strange, read the prompt at the very bottom and you’ll understand. Not my fault!!

Life in the Time of Corona

It is nothing
but an April morning.
The leg cramp awakened me before the roosters.
A hot shower dissolved the cramp and blasted me awake,
sputtering at first
with air from the unused pipes,
like a voice unused too long.

Isolation “friending” me, along with the dogs,
who were delighted with my longer attention.

Tap tap on the keys into a black morning.
The lonely staccato of dogs in the distance.
Descant of bird voices
and the percussion of the fighting cocks across the road,
the left stage bray of a donkey. 
This far up the hill,
their voices rise like heat,
precursors to the church bells that seem to be in a different time zone this morning.

6:59 and still they haven’t tried to recruit me.
They’ve been trying for 19 years.
The old woman at the christening, shocked when I say I’m not Catholic, moving away an inch or two,
side-eyeing me when I miss a beat at rising and sitting, 
sit in the pew as she kneels on the kneeling bar.

Arms sore from this flat-back typing,
I consider rising.
In bed since the cramp-induced hot shower,
hair damp,
hands like sandpaper from this
Coronavirus obsessive washing,
disinfecting.
My life washed free
of appointments
and friends,
except for trips down the hill to pick up masks,
leave off notes for the illustrations of the book that might get finished thanks to this enforced “Go to your room!” by Mother Nature.

She levels her guns at us, hoping we will listen and fall into line.
Only man creating his own rules.
The world dependent
on the right people making the rules.
There have not been enough right people,
the cuckoo taking over for the owls
and the rowdy mockingbirds taking up his call.  
He sticks his head from his house too often,
repeating the first thing in his head,
stammering like a Swiss clock that needs maintenance.

Bird language fills the very early dark morning air.
So I want to move to the hammock—
bare butt as I am.
Braving mosquitos
and the early morning awakening of my neighbors.
I imagine

welt marks from the knitted fabric of the hammock,
scratch marks from Morrie leaping into the hammock after me.
No. The time for nude swinging is twenty years past
and not probable even then.
So a long robe fills my imagination,
but I do not go.

My fingers beat tattoos on the keyboard,
searching for names for the bird dialogues I am hearing.
The trilling runs of a piccolo, bassoon of the downhill donkeys, discord of a dog’s three short barks and howl, running down the scale. My house is still asleep.
Water not yet gushing from the pipes into the pool,
hot and steaming in the cool morning air.

“Go back to sleep,” that part of my lazy brain directs.
“Do the assignment,” my dutiful persona contradicts.
It is rare that the dogs do not detect my thoughts and call for kibble
within seconds of my awakening and thinking of them.
They do not stir.
Traffic noise of trucks on the carretera a mile below.

I hang on this mountain,
depending on gravity
and my house’s firm foundations.
The hard rock that resists that sliding
down the mountainside where eight years ago
it came tumbling down on either side of my house,
leaving me safe.
Since then the penance has been
cracks in the wall by the stairs
leading down from my upstairs casita.

Twenty minutes already?
My story still untold, unlocated, even.
The dark being permeated by light.
Scarlet ribbons start to flow.
The sky as I open the drapes
flooding in to me
on early morning colors.
The pale puce of the morning sky to the north.
The whistle of the whistle bird. Chirp of the chirper,
Mexico crow of the rooster..
ER ere r er without the cockle and the doo.

Where is my family?
My animal alarm clocks?
The cats stay silent in their bed in the garage,
not demanding entrance.
The dogs, mere feet away, curled in the room I built for them.
How do I feel about this forced isolation?
A relief as sorts.
Permission to do what I’ve been adding to the list for the past year:

The mural painted around the front door?
After 11 years, Jesus called asking to do the job,
all of his other commissions cancelled
as gringos flooded back to the states
like rats deserting a sinking ship,
Yet, ironically, it
seems to be America that is sinking.

Mexico bobs along on the internet and phone calls of friends asking what I need. 
Yolanda, breaking into the house to clean after a month,
bans me to the studio while she does so.
Appears the next day to clean the studio,
telling me to stay in the house,
even though I have paid her for two months
and told her to stay home.
Said I would pay as long as
anyone but the president of the USA directs.
Using his words as a rapids to avoid
during this whole rush of directives,
demands,
questions,
contradictions.
The world is being deflected off its course
by a fool supported by bigger fools,
because they have to be smarter than him and yet let their pockets replace their brains and hearts.

The big dog awakens and strolls nonchalantly past my open drapes.
A higher-pitched donkey bray.
Birds quieting into a caesura.
Where are my woodpeckers,
my early morning alarm clocks?
Every day, they awaken me,
except for
when a stiffening and locking
somewhere in some limb awakens me first.
Both alarm clocks
from different sorts of limbs.

Fix the dishwasher
Make the peanut butter cookies you bought ingredients for a week ago
Finish typing up and formatting the storybook and get the illustration corrections to Isidro
Finish the Africa book
Finish the NaPoWriMo poem
Finish the prompt poem
Publish the flower prompt photo
Abandon my bed in search of hand lotion
Feed the animals
Thyroid pill
Half hour timer
Other pills and smoothie.

The time ran out five minutes ago, 
yet still I go on trying to meet all the directives.
That night on main street
in a small neighboring town in South Dakota.
Two cars pulled up driver’s window to driver’s window.
The chat.
The moving to one car.
The first kiss, ever, in this world.
The whole world changing. 
That one rebellious action
leading to a moving out into the world that never stopped.
Leading eventually to Mexico
and this morning following directions
into this avalanche of words.
Stones of unsorted sizes.
One layer covering the layer before it.
Instructions lost at the bottom of the pile.
I stop.
Ponder. 
Stop.

Yellow. Orange. Fuchsia.
My day reasserts itself.
I go back in search of it.
The weather outside is the ordinary  perfect April weather.
The weather inside is a hurricane of sneezes.
The plumeria is blooming.
My desk chair, my hammock and my pool
call out to me in that order.
Type.
Exercise.
Swing.

Anything
leaks
around
red
mornings

checking out
lazy
or
customary
kinesis.

STOP!!!!!

 

Below is the NaPoWriMo Day 25 prompt today that led to this poem, so don’t blame me. Phew:

A writing prompt toward the present tense, a meditation in everyday language, that makes room for small noticing and our most spacious perceptions.

For writing: please see the following suggestions and have them ready for a free write, selecting and using those that further your present tense engagement. Write for at least twenty minutes. You can return to this prompt and write through it numerous more times, to infinity.

  • Bring your perspective and verbs back to the present tense, even when addressing memory
  • Seek the “unforced flow of words”
  • Introduce all of the things that you might ordinarily deem incidental or too small for consideration
  • Include quoted speech (overheard, announced, in dialogue, as song lyrics)
  • Build your lines with associative accumulation (parataxis), move with your attentions
  • Introduce a swerve or observation that serves as interjection, non-sequitur
  • Include at least four colours
  • Animate the landscape or nearby object, imbue it with expressiveness of action or address
  • Include perceptions of the weather without, perceptions of weather within
  • Use a noun as verb that is typically not used that way (anthimeria): “white freaked with red”
  • Introduce the occasional 3- and 4-word sentence.
  • “Let’s make a list”: include a list of things you love
  • Did you remember to ask questions?
  • Include a hemistich line: a line made-up of two halves, of equivalent beats, hinged on a silent beat (caesura): “The world is all cut-outs then—and slip or step steadily down”

Keep writing: if you get stuck, begin again by penning a sentence that begins with the word “And…”

Keep writing: if you get stuck, repeat a word or phrase you wrote earlier and build

Keep writing: if you get stuck, perform an instant acrostic—look up and find a short word and use the letters from seeds to generate language (ex.: I performed an instant acrostic on the word “sky” to arrive at the phrase “said ‘Kill yesterday’”; see fragment of the poem drawn from “Mulberry Mess” in Red Juice below.

 

Bananas for Bananas

Papaya and banana smoothie blended with bran, almonds, Psyllium, ground flax seed, chia, green apple soy milk and ice. I’ve had a variation of this smoothie every morning for at least 25 years.

Bananas for Bananas

The ubiquitous banana is long and smooth and yellow—
subtly curving inward, its flavor round and mellow.
In the jungle you can find it in a monkey’s hand,
but when you find it in the market, Chiquita is its brand.

The denizen of smoothies , or dipped in chocolate,
with a banana in your mouth, you will not talk a lot.
You’ll chew and you will savor, perchance to moan and drool.
If you don’t like bananas, you’re a culinary fool.

You can find one that is yellow and pick it from the bunch,
add berries and papaya and savor it for lunch,
but a real banana purist just picks one out and peels it,
then gobbles it up fast before somebody steals it!

 

This is the state of my banana tree. About time to pick the bunch and hang it up to wait for them to finish ripening.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write about fruit.

Yoga and Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Time of Shelter in Place

IMG_7356

Yoga and Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Time of Shelter in Place

I   stands alone at stiff attention,         cooking to release her tension.
 S   does curls to contradict her             tendency toward getting thicker.
 O  shows effects of chocolate chips     on her tummy and her hips.
 L   just sits there in her hut                   trying to compress her butt.
 A   Hands on knees, head on floor,      “A” vows that she will binge no more.
 T   spreads her wings but cannot fly.   “Eating in Place” the reason why.
  I   folds her wings tight by her side.
 O   eats more cookies, growing wide.
 N   sits on butt in yoga pose.
       Each hand on floor behind her goes,
       feet raised up, point to the sky,
       resisting the effects of pie
       on tummy, waist and hips and thigh.

 

For NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 23, the prompt was: “to write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet, or perhaps, the letters that form a short word. Think about the shape of the letter(s), and use that as the take-off point for your poem.”

Contemplating the Letter “C”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                             The Letter “C”

Here’s to the letter “C” that marks what is in the middle.
Somewhere between “A” and “F,” it has been known to fiddle.
While “A” studies most diligently, “C” is bound to shirk.
It has a certain phobia regarding too much work.
It’s head and shoulders above “F” and far better than “D.”
Nobody ever flunked a course by maintaining a “C.”

And yet it calls no sound its own. It’s either “K” or “S.”
At birthday time,  we’re given kake and winning brings suksess.
We’re stopped dead in our trases. When we’re kissed, it’s a karess.
Why “C” has no sound of its own, not one of us kan guess.
When the sirkus komes to town, it’s happened onse or twise
that the krokodiles eskape. It isn’t very nise.

Townfolks run and skurry—skared as they kan be,
for katastrophes kan happen when krokodiles run free.
It isn’t too konvenient, as you kan klearly see
to be a kurly letter the likes of letter “C”
that’s firmly in the middle, with no sound of its own.
Does “C” dream of being “S” when it’s fully grown?

 

For NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 23, the prompt was:

“to write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet, or perhaps, the letters that form a short word. Think about the shape of the letter(s), and use that as the take-off point for your poem. ”

While I’m thinking of a new letter poem, I’m publishing this reblog of one I wrote that meets the prompt two years ago. As you ponder “C,” I’ll be Pondering the Possibilities of the Perfect other alPhabetic subject–maybe “P.”

Cyber Catastrophies: Sleep on It!!!! NaPoWriMo, Apr 22, 2020

Cyber Catastrophes

Irritated with your friend
and caring not whom you offend,
after you’ve had a bit to drink,
decide to tell her what you think?

Computer keyboard there in sight,
so you decide it’s time to write
an email, filled with words that rend.
You reel them off and click on “send.”

I cannot stress strongly enough
how much you’ll rue your rude rebuff.
It takes long years to make a friend
but one cruel quip for trust to end.

It’s hard to choke back how we feel,
but arguments on even keel
work better than a sharp retort
after you have had a snort.

So this is the advice I’d give.
It’s easier to just forgive
Than to retract one angry word
after it is seen or  heard.

If you can’t say something nice,
best you take this sage advice.
Before you go and leap on it,
grab a pillow and sleep on it.

For day 22 of NaPoWriMo 2020, we are to create a poem that reflects a well-known idiom. Mine is one my mother used to frequently say, “If you can’t say something nice, it’s best to say nothing at all.”

Speaking in Tongues: NaPowWrimo 2020, Day 21

 
For the NaPoWriMo prompt today, we were to find a poem written in another language we do not know and to write a poem according to what we thought it meant. Here is my translation of a poem by a poet from the Netherlands. Her original and a true translation follow.

Messages in Bottles

Messages they send out to the world in bottles
(those they think up as they stir their morning cups of chocolate)
—beware their dangers.
These messengers have hands that can slap you awake,
then abandon you as they return to the problems of the privileged rich.These parasites, dosed with their vitamin B, ride roughshod over their hosts.

They linger in their beautiful dreams of percentages,
profit on the hunger of the poor.
They see not your skeletons when they look in the mirror.
They do not see the hearts they have broken.
Once, surrounded by the stricken, they put their fingers in their ears
and pretended they were evangelists to the poor.
Then, their illusions shattered by going door-to-door, they slammed doors shut again.

Their messages in bottles are swift to flow away.
The ocean has no doors to slam in their faces.
And their heads bent in prayer will not open those doors they have closed.
The ballast their bottles carry does no good.
The hunger of the world has no stake in the good books they carry.
The mood of their verses is malevolent. The vows they swear
are words in a wind that has come too late.–Judy Dykstra-Brown, April 21, 2020
Below is the poem in its original language—the language  my grandparents and father grew up speaking. I know about 5 words in it–and the alphabet!

GROUND CONTROL

Meisje van botten en pezen praat een wereld
aan elkaar van ’s avonds drop en chocola
de rijst voor straks bewaren, dagelijks
een handje noten voor het slapen en alleen
geen kaas vanwege mogelijke huidproblemen.

Heeft het over parasieten, vitamine B, genetisch
aangejaagde schommelingen in haar percentages
vet op water. De honger heeft het laatste vlees
van haar skelet gegeten en nu lukt het niet meer
om haar vast te pakken zonder haar te breken.
Onze enveloppen met de stokken, potten pindakaas

en preken neemt ze met een glimlach in ontvangst en
spoelt ze daarna ongeopend door haar lievelings-wc.Meisje van botten en pezen zweeft bij ons vandaanen wij, gebonden door de zwaartekracht, kunnen alleen
nog van beneden naar haar roepen dat ze haar verloren
ballast altijd terug omhoog mag hijsen, dat het nooit
te laat is om het hongeren te staken, een buik te kweken
om moed in te verzamelen, een vrouw van gewicht
te worden en de wind de wind te laten.
                                                          —© 2018, Gerda Blees Uit: DwaallichtenUitgever:                                                                            Uitgeverij Podium, Amsterdam, 2018.

And here is a translation into English of the above poem. I did not read this translation until after I had written mine. Obviously!! But, it is interesting that the idea of hunger did come across, somehow, although my poem is in an expanded world context whereas her poem about anorexia is very personal. I prefer hers!

The prompt for NaPoWriMo 2020 day 21 was to find a poem written in another language that you do not know and to write a poem about what you think it says.