Day 29: The Remodel

cabin4At POETRYisEVERYTHING, for Day 29 of National Poetry Month, Chris Jarmick assigned a house remodel poem. He also made some lovely, encouraging comments about the challenge to write a poem a day this month, for instance:

“And if you’ve paid a little more attention to poetry during our month long sharing of prompts and writing —thank you… I know good things will come of it.”

Because of Chris, I also have become a subscriber at Elsewhere in the Rain (the link should take you to a post that includes a list of poetic terms),  which I highly recommend.

So here is my poem. Er, draft of a poem. May good things come to you.

I’m not sure why, but I have been thinking
about how death reorganizes us.
I don’t mean anything simple, no cleaning out of closets,

it’s more than donating the old suits
and scuffed shoes to Good Will,
throwing out the years of National Geographics

and Good Housekeeping. Something more primal,
more like remodeling, tearing out closets,
breaking out a window to add a cupola

or a deck, making the kitchen brighter,
expanding the bathroom to make room for a tub.
It isn’t our own death that does all this hammering

at the stays of existence. Other peoples’ deaths,
or whatever that category of event
that wakes us, that insists we see

the necessity of a wicker chair under a skylight.
Don’t wait to call the carpenters until things are dire,
until the time is more expedient–

Your own death will arrive one midnight and then your house
will be a small room, smaller than this one
in which you sit and write.  You can promise

to write, but no letters arrive from the dead.
There’s no desk there and the ink
in your lucky pen dries up after the first millennium.

Day 20: Seeing Differently

The assignment today is to write about a family photograph. As it is also Easter, I thought I’d share an Easter photo from my childhood. My parents took one of us every year — from when there were three kids, to the time my older brother left home. About.

Okay…so I went searching for Easter photos and couldn’t find one with the baskets and all (often taken outside). But here’s a picture of me with my mom and sisters. I’m thinking that the smaller pic is me at about 9, the age at which I got glasses. Where are the glasses? Well, read my response to the assignment below. Looking at it, I found my brain going in a completely different direction than Easter. Or maybe not. Isn’t Lent (culminating in Easter) all about seeing differently? 


What She Doesn’t See

My mother saw that I needed glasses before anyone else did.
I always had my nose

in a book. Dad thought the books
were all right, but for heaven’s sake, turn on a light.

I wonder now what I was afraid to see,
what made me out of four siblings and my clear-sighted parents

the one person with specs. Oh, too bad, 
Mom told me when I got my first pair,

Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.

Did I care? Didn’t I keep trying to fall
through the lines and into the story, 

and, by contrast, out of mine? But, why?


Day 13: Emily Dickinson

The Formidable Emily

Today’s poem — or attempt at a poem — is an homage to Emily Dickinson.  Emily as mother…of my fourteen year old?

Here’s her original:

I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it’s true —
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe —

The Eyes glaze once — and that is Death —
Impossible to feign
The Beads upon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

And mine:

She likes a look of Agony,
It’s the truest look she knows —
The boys that text
My girl, no likelihood to throw —

Her eyes roll up — I guess that’s No —
Cooperation not her fight
And the purple highlights in her hair
So gorgeous in a snit.


Smiley face here.  (Remember, it doesn’t have to be good.)

Day 11 / 30 Poems in 30 Days

Fritillary butterfly. Photo taken by Beatriz Moisset.

Here’s the prompt for today’s poem from POETRYisEVERYTHING:

“A poet’s autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote.”
― Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Welcome to Day 11 of the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge. One third of the challenge and poetry month is behind us now. If you are just getting started I hope you’ll set a goal to write 20 poems in the next 20 days.


Prompt: Use 4 or more of these words in a poem: 1. euphonious (pleasing to the ear); 2. mise en abyme (French meez-ahn-ah-beem –placed in an abyss ); 3. prurient –( an unwanted arousal or interest in sex (or violence or?) an itch, craving); 4. anodyne (unlikely to offend or upset anyone); 5. antipodes (diametrically opposite sides of the earth as in Australia to U.S.); 6. fritillaries (butterlies that are usually orange with black spots on the upper sides of the wings and silver spooted on the underside of the hind wing; also Scarlet and White wildflowers in the NorthWest).

Your poem should be a minimum of 4 lines and include at least 4 of these words. Have at it!


Remember, your poem doesn’t have to be perfect. Here’s mine.

I have been in love with words all my life —
my father reading aloud Emily Dickinson and Rudyard Kipling,
Christina Rossetti and William Wordsworth from our
big book of verse. Sitting in the scabby pew
in church, running my finger under the euphonious syllables
of Old Testament cities, those antipodes of ours,
beautiful names though not always difficult:
Jericho and Babel and Ninevah.
I loved even my cousins’ repertoire
of cuss words that brought on our prurient giggles
at the way they hammered and bludgeoned
through their jokes. Much later, in college,
I fell into the abyss of words, the dark side
of “creative writing” that the scholars scorned.
Naming my daughters — I won’t speak
of the joy diving among the possibilities gave me.
There is no anodyne, no placebo to smooth over this love,
no tautology to explain it —
I am in love with the words, multi-syllabic, short,
vivid and dull, all of them dancing like fritillaries
amid the flowers — phlox and tidytips and fireweed,
columbine, heal-all, shooting star —
whose names themselves are words I have loved.

I have a feeling that this could either be much longer or much  shorter. It’s interesting, in any case, to type it up and share it. I’ll let it (and the other poems this month) sit a while, and then I’ll return to them to see what else they may have to say to me.