Thursday, April 06, 2023

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 5: Lullaby

Today's prompt...hit a little too close to home. I still don't know if I should have posted this or not, mostly because I'm not happy with it, but also because it's...sensitive subject matter. Here is it anyway. 

Prompt: Finally, here’s our (optional) prompt for the day. Begin by reading Charles Simic’s poem “The Melon.” It would be easy to call the poem dark, but as they say, if you didn’t have darkness, you wouldn’t know what light is. Or vice versa. The poem illuminates the juxtaposition between grief and joy, sorrow and reprieve. For today’s challenge, write a poem in which laughter comes at what might otherwise seem an inappropriate moment – or one that the poem invites the reader to think of as inappropriate.


The roses outside the window
dip and judder like the rise and fall
of her voice as she sings Rosie, Rosie
Ring a ring of Rosies, a pocketful of
Posies, deft hands smoothing the folds
of the white lawn christening dress her sister
embroidered with scarlet rosebuds on the
hem and bodice, bright as blood.
Rosie my darling you'll look beautiful
she croons. Her smile is a white flag
crisp as the dress she readies
for the daughter she will birth 
tomorrow -
a mother who will age and fade
with the years like falling petals
and her child (27 weeks, stillborn)
who never will. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 3: Complex Conjugates

For once today I didn't feel as if I was about to die from trying to poem, which is good! The prompt was actually rather enjoyable, which is also good (after translating some of the worst-written webnovel chapters in the world, my brain has ceased to function in any capacity except as a pile of quivering tapioca goop.)

PromptFind a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite.

The poem I decided to modify was Vijay Seshadri's beautifully-written "Imaginary Number." I almost feel bad I modified it, because it's really such a wonderful piece! I had to look up mathematical terms (it's been ages since I touched any advanced math) but I count that as 'fascinating research.'

Imaginary Number
Vijay Seshadri
The mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
is not big and is not small.
Big and small are
comparative categories, and to what
could the mountain that remains when the universe is destroyed
be compared?
Consciousness observes and is appeased.
The soul scrambles across the screes.
The soul,
like the square root of minus 1,
is an impossibility that has its uses.


And here is mine!

Complex Conjugates

   The mountain that vanishes when the universe is reborn
is not microscopic and is not megalithic.
Microscopic and megalithic are
not comparative collectives, and to what
could the mountain that vanishes when the universe is reborn
be compared?
The subconscious closes its eyes, unappeased.
The body sloths under the rock shards and broken pebbles.
The body,
unlike the perfect square of 1,
is a possibility that is perfectly useless here.

Monday, April 03, 2023

NaPoWriMo Day 2: Love Song of the Modern Scientist Fascinated By Alchemy

I ended up with a migraine last night after finishing the last performance of five symphonic rock shows my community choir was doing last week, so I finished the poem today instead. I'm late, but at least I tried?

Prompt: Pick words from a given list, write a question for each word, then a one-line answer, and arrange the answers into a poem.


Where the Oracle spreads her wings
As high as Jupiter arcs over Mars
Night's softness and menace distilled.
One eye blind to the world and third eye for you
This is the sound of my heart cracking.
You potassium-blowdart into my heart-water
Together we are powerful: a caustic base.
Must I store you in rice to keep your scent eternal?
Your invisible bone-fingers stop my mouth
Crucifix-crimson terminal clusters like alveolae.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 1: A Treatise on Adulteration of Food and Culinary Poisons

I have no idea if I'll make it through this year's NaPoWriMo or not, given last year's utter failure to do so thanks to Covid. But I'll give it a shot since I promised my amazing friend Gloria that I would try! I am so rusty though. not the greatest anything; I cringe reading it, but it's a start?

PromptTake a look through Public Domain Review’s article on “The Art of Book Covers.” Some of the featured covers are beautiful. Some are distressing. Some are just plain weird (I’m looking at you, “Mr Sweet Potatoes”). With any luck, one or more of these will catch your fancy, and open your mind to some poetic insights.


From Merriam-Webster's dictionary:
Adulterate: adul· ter· ate / ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt 
Transitive verb: To corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition
of a foreign or inferior substance or element
Especially: to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable
with less valuable or inert ingredients
A drop here. A drop there.
A word here. A word there.
Summer-swinging pink-ribbon girl, now adult
Feeding on food laced with arsenic words. She's a humming bird
Drawing poisoned nectar from flowers
Planted in toxic soil. She's vintage brandy
Adulterated with cheap-liquor lies drop by drop
Until she believes she is water.
(Adulterate: To corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition
of a foreign or inferior substance or element)

She looks in the mirror with no fight left
Survival instincts forced dormant.
A steady diet of gaslighting and toxic words
Keeps her believing she's an inferior element
The adulterated adult, damaged goods
A corrupted, debased, impure failure.
(Adulterate, also: to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable
with less valuable or inert ingredients)
The art of culinary poison isn't hard. 
All it takes is the right food, the right time
A drop here. A drop there.
A word here. A word there

Friday, April 01, 2022

NaPoWriMo 2022: Day 1 - The Things She Left Behind

Prompt: The idea is to write your own prose poem that, whatever title you choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image.

I don't know if I'll be able to finish out this NaPo, since post-Covid recovery fatigue is all too real, but I guess I'll try. Rusty, out of practice, but anyway.


Caffeine. Ca-ffeine. Ca-ca-ca-caff-ei-ne. Ca-ca-ca-co-phe-ine. Ca-ca-ca-ca-co-pho-neme. Tension headache. Clamour. The noise in my head rings like the muted brr-brr-brr of the old red telephone in the childhood house where lived the child who dreamed the castle who feared the dark who became the I that now lives in the bomb shelter inside my head that I built. Phone. Ca-co-phone. Ca-co-pho-ny. Did my grandmother hear the same, watching the world with hooded eyes, sunken into herself by the mutant cells that would eventually mutate her life away? Ca-co-pho-ny. Ca-co-pho-ney. She had an eye for the real, for the phoney. Quality gemstones, quality food, quality people – she saw. She knew.

Did she know the day I combed out her kitten-soft white hair would be the last time I saw her in her own bed, before cancer caged her in the hospital? The day the text message came, the evening of that 3-hour taxi ride home after work as night fell over the world and curtained her eyes, she defied the darkness just long enough so I could say goodbye. She waited. She knew I would come. When I was thirteen, she told me, "You have phoenix lobes – your earlobes are wide. Earrings will look good on you." I wore her love like earrings, an invisible adornment - private, precious, secret. Something only she and I could see. In that dark still antiseptic room with only my father in attendance, her ghost-fingers brushed my ears as I slept dreamlessly in a distant bed – a last farewell as her spirit evaporated like mist in the dawn. For a moment, the cacophony in my head ceases, stilled by the gentle sway of unseen earrings.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 14: Swallow

Prompt:  Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name. 

I've spent years grappling with the ambivalence I feel about my given name. In my family, my grandfather was the one who named all the grandchildren, and I was the oldest grandchild so perhaps it was a big occasion for him too - naming his first grandchild. He gave me many things but I often forget that he gave me my name as well, and for that, I'm trying to learn to love it after spending years hating it. In Chinese culture, swallows are symbolic of feminine grace and beauty; it's a common character in girls' names. In the Chinese zodiac, the year of the ox comes before the year of the tiger - and I was born smack in the middle of the transition, just before the new year.

Day 14:  Swallow

no one thought to ask my grandfather
why his first instinct
was to name me for a bird
a swallow
impatient child my grandmother said
born on the cusp of the old year
fading grey-golden into the new
the ox, halfway metamorphosized
into the tiger
perhaps my grandfather
wished to soften my fierce edges
deflect the stubborn anger that would rage lifelong
at a name dissected for laughs by classmates
mispronounced and ridiculed
it’s pronounced ‘Sook’
no  it isn’t you suck you suck you suck
hahahaha you suck
Suk Yin
it means kind graceful swallow my aunt told me
there is no kindness in children’s playground jeers
no grace in the clumsy shame
that sets your name on fire and burns it to ash
the taste of it chalk and bile
on your small bitten tongue
on overseas official forms we are told to write
given name middle name family name
but my given name is unacceptable
it can’t be two words dear
either you hyphenate it or run it together
or else separate it into given name and middle name
my college degrees
bear a name that is mine yet not-mine
a hyphen that is not on my passport
nor my birth certificate
a hypen’s difference that brands me an imposter
i hold degrees i cannot use
because i cannot prove that the person in them is me
that it is not some clone who lived my life
wore my face slipped into my skin
i i i i
into short soundbytes
my name reinvented
easier to pronounce
easier to remember
while the rest of me
erases itself 
my name is two words
two characters
two facets in one body
i will not hyphenate them
shackle them to the earth
when my grandfather
set space between them
wide as the heavens
so i could be free to fly

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 6: Players

PromptGo to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.

Today, writing is impossible with the influx of work. Even if it's hideously unsatisfactory, this is as good as it's going to get.

Phrase: But hope sustains. It can be exploited. 
'A Time Of Torment', John Connolly


Her father played the stock market and the market
Had the last laugh - played him instead
Right into the grave. To the last
He believed it would smile on him again.
She, filial daughter, carries on his legacy
Plays the stock market called love
Eyes on the ticker-tape - up, down, buy, sell.
Market crashes. Market plays her
Just like it did her father. Like him
She believes it will smile on her again.
These stocks - sweet words, passion-promises
They won’t fail. If not this time
Maybe the next.