Day 5 of NaPoWriMo

In one of those interesting synchronicity moments that sometimes happen (when one pays attention), my husband came home yesterday with a story he heard on Radio Lab, about a fake bus stop created in front of the Benrath Senior Center in Dusseldorf, Germany. It really hit me where I live, and I hope some of you will enjoy it, too. (The link will take you to a page, but it has an audio link.)

Today I almost jumped ship from POETRYisEVERYTHING. (I don’t like to write in forms! At least not when it’s someone else’s idea.) But then I realized that my resistance was probably a signal that I should give it a chance. So, thanks, Chris, for the nudge.

PROMPT for April 5th 2014 : Write a Septolet or better yet TWO
Septolets (sep toe lays): An informal Word Septolet and formal Syllable Septolet (that’s two poems, then, both very, very short — go to POETRYisEVERYTHING to see the full instructions). I took the title of the first (and subject) from the bus stop Radio Lab story. On the second septolet I cheated on the syllable count. It felt good.

The Loss of Memory is the Problem, and Also the Solution

Door closed,
The red bowl
Disappears. Mom scolds us:

“One more thing
You girls


April Fifth

(the neighbor says).
One week of beauty–

A month of


Day 4: Sort of a Momentous Day

This morning — around 10:00 — I went to Staples and printed out my novel manuscript. I meant to take it home and give it to my beloved (he’s my final proofreader), but instead I went to Barnes & Noble and started reading. I have been reading all day! It’s good, I think it’s good. But I also finally — FINALLY — figured out my character Hannah and how she contrasts (and doesn’t merely mirror) the main character. So I had lots of little changes. And I’m almost all the way through. I’m so happy!

Luckily (in terms of my poetry goals), early this morning I spent some time with day 4’s NaPoWriMo assignment from POETRY IS EVERYTHING. I haven’t returned to it to try to make it better, and as it is almost 9 p.m. and I’m exhausted, I’m just going to post it, as is.  Shitty first draft.

I hope that you’re writing, too. Even just scribbling. It’s all good.

PROMPT for April 4th 2014: Bus Stop

Think about a bus stop. You might write about the place, or make observations about people at the Bus Stop. Does it have a specific meaning you might want to try and convey? Can you imagine a Bus Stop experience (realistic or not) that would inspire a poem? Write it.

For another prompt or challenge be sure to check out Maureen Thorsen’s NaPoWriMo site where you’ll find prompts, challenges, comments, and information on all things NaPoWriMo.

Riding the Bus

An early bottle (4 a.m.), then an hour
on the dissertation. Mornings
I left the house in the dark
before my babies woke,
drove to the bus stop and stood in line
with the other commuters. Mounted the steps,
found a seat. I liked to sit by a window,
lean my head against it, close
my eyes. I smelled of milk,
of the ammonia of the diaper pail.

At 11:30, my class taught, office hour kept, an hour (more)
of writing, I was on the bus again,
reading tomorrow’s lesson and student papers.
At the bus stop, my husband waited, babies
buckled into the back seat
of the station wagon. He took my car
and left for his teaching job. I drove our daughters home,
unbuckled, unzipped. Diapers changed,
lunch doled out, naptime beckoning.

Housework beckoned, too. Kitchen to clean,
laundry (always diapers). I could have spent
those two hours of slumber
grading papers, or writing—
the unbiddable mountain of pages calling.

It was not unlike waiting in line at the bus stop–
what does one do but what the others do?
Inspired by the closed eyes of my drowsing babies,
the little fists propped against their mouths,
I folded, too. I crawled into my bed,
curled into a ball. I smelled of milk
and ammonia. I slept.

30 Poems in 30 Days

Today’s exercise, again, comes from Chris Jarmick:

Find four random words and use them in your poem.

Pick up the book you are currently reading, (or the magazine/book near you) and turn to page 101 (or the first page after 101 that has several paragraphs of text). Write down the 20th and 27th word from the top of the page. Then, count back from the last word on the page and write down the 10th and 18th word from the end of the page. (Note: if any of these words are an article like the or and, use the next word.)

These four words MUST be used in the poem you create.

Your poem should have a minimum of 4 lines. It can be much longer than 4 lines if you want.

It took me a few tries to find a book that worked. I kept coming up with words like the and were and isn’t. I would go to the next word (as Chris suggests) and find idea, additionally, in some ways…Finally, in Steward O’Nan’s The Odds, I came up with MAYBE, NUMB, FIREWORKS, and SPUN.

A Spiritual Journey

Maybe it wasn’t my best idea,
leaving the retreat to hike alone,
then missing the labyrinth entirely
and going up the mountain,
into the forest.

A damp day
though the rain had finally stopped.
The big firs wore green gloves
of moss. The forest stream
was skin-numbing cold.

My fall from grace came later,
on the lawn just above the lodge,
almost back for lunch,
almost time to pack the car
and go home.

Wet grass, a slip,
a sound like a twig being snapped
and snapped again. I’ve walked off
twisted ankles before,
no big deal, I would walk off this one, too.

Fireworks at each step.

I never found the labyrinth.
Late that evening, leg propped on pillows,
ice balanced on top,
an exquisite pain. How else
to describe it? Language spiraling

away from me, spinning, spun.

By the way, if you want your prompts earlier, Chris posts each on the evening before. I usually read it, make a few notes, and have time for things to compost before I write. He also links to other sites that you can explore.

And as a bonus, click HERE to watch Billy Collins reading “Aimless Love,” the title poem of his new book, and a thing of beauty. Thanks for reading!