Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Day 30: Farewell

Day 30: the last day of NaPo!

I can't believe it went by so fast and I am sad to see it over.

I will miss the daily prod of prompts, the motivation and self-discipline they inspired, the sheer delight at reading the variety of work produced by participants, the camaraderie therein, the daily gifts of poems in my inbox.  

But most of all, the best feeling engendered by NaPo is that poetry is fun!  Not something to be hesitant of, word-wobbly, worrying about its exactitude, but first and foremost, a delightful form of expression. And a magical and powerful one. 

Congratulations to one and all who took part!

Herein, I take a bow that I hope will bloom.   

NaPoWriMo 2014 Farewell 

Well that's it. Over. Farewell.
Finito. Finished. Finally. And 

No more Na-Po gung-ho go-to
penning of poems, daily prods
of prompts waving Eureka arms:

terzas, charms, lunes, all kinds
of rhyming tunes, sonnets, ruba'is
and honest-to-God fun. 

No more daily deliciousness
- or sometimes drivel.

No more nights of starry gladness,
mornings clear with the rooster call 
of the Muse.

Now we know that straw can be woven
into gold. And on a daily basis
if we true-try, not glide-by.

Busy bees filling the month with honey,
we have sipped the nectar
for future blooming.

Therefore, take a grandiose bow and bask 
in the golden glow of inspiration 

Ring-a-ring-a-rosy we didn't fall down;  
whoo-hoo! let these posies of poems
be our proud crowns.

Adios amigos! And let's not forget
this challenge was also a charm
to sparkle, smile, forget

all doubt - splurge
on inner inklings that lead
to wondrous word feats.    

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Day 29: News Stroy

Today's prompt is yesterday's: to take words from a news story and reassemble some or all of them (splice and dice, repeat if need) into a poem.

So I googled top stories of the day (trying to avoid the disastrous and tragic ones and steer towards something light-hearted) and couldn't resist this one from the NY Times about the debacle of the 'love-locked' bridges in Paris - whether they are a romantic expression beloved of the city or an eyesore and practical nuisance. 

Oh, and I decided to flip the theme too.

On Bridges in Paris, Clanking With Love

Bridges of melancholy
spanning forever
lock horror 
heartbroken proof
in people. 

Stage-set panels 
of battles 
love-locked hawkers'

Years sag
beneath the weight
of sacrifice, 
shadow gestures
clanking. Thousands 

of tossed names,
metallic tumor
of suffering

Monday, 28 April 2014

Day 28: 20 Questions, or Thereabouts...

I'm opting today for an earlier NaPo prompt I declined -  to write a poem composed entirely of questions. (Because that's where the Muse took me! And try as I might, I'm not feeling much love for the picking apart of news stories, which is today's prompt...)

This poem comes from one question that recently popped into my mind and that I can't get out.  Do you have the answer?


The Ones

When we find ‘the one’ -
that epic romantic grail end -
what happens I wonder

to the memory 
of all those other ones

The not-sures, the nearlys, 
all the lovely light-as-laughter

likes, not loves? 
The proverbial practice pancakes
that flew, then flopped?
Precursors to perfection,
the necessary understudy 

lessons in being 
of our own hearts -

where do they figure
in the grand scheme of fate?

Are they simply forgotten?

Like knowledge when an exam
is done? Dominoes knocked 
down to reveal
the last standing one,
the toppled like strewn 

soldiers left to die
in unmarked graves? 

Are they simply footnotes
to the final peace? 

A crass countdown? All their 

flairs and fares now 
irrelevant, redundant?
No more than an indifferent 
means to the enigmatic end?
Pointers on a map only
of temporary significance
to the treasure at hand?

Or are they secretly submerged
the one? Like a collage
of jigsaw pieces?
to complete a recipe? Tapers 

to light a bigger flame?  
Are they all predestined parts

of the final blueprint,
like Russian dolls
inwardly stacked?     
Too steady in numbers
to ever fall?

The last one, the only one

a bric-a-brac of befores
and never mores? 

A gain of losses? True
love not necessarily
new, but known,
just a bittersweet 

winding up win?

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Day 27: Poem from a Photograph

Today's prompt is to write a type of ekphrastic poem based on a one of the photographs chosen on the NaPo site. 

I chose this one. (And couldn't resist a caption poem as well.)

The Blame Game

Says the pumpkin to the skeleton: 
'Why didn't you take your chance 
when you had it? I could've been 
a carriage to the future, a dream 
machine - instead of the root
of all your frustration
sitting here useless
looking  at the bones 
of who you used to be.'

Says the skeleton to the pumpkin: 
'There, there, it was your 
regret that chewed away 
at my flesh  every day. 
Now hollowed out, I haunt
my own life.' 


Death waits for us always 
within reach: outside our door, 
on the porch step, in a lush garden 
on a spring day, its gaping grin
locked lovingly on our wordly cares. 
Death has no concept
of aesthetics or timing.

Death lurks in all those moments 
missed, chances that in a puff 
of hesitation are rotten pumpkins 
with jack'o' lantern teeth: 
all the better to eat you with. 
Death looms large and unforgiving 
behind their shadows.

Death chatters ecstatically 
with disaster, claims it 
as a comrade, a confidante,
together they work dastardly
to trick and treat us into either 
appreciation or apprehension. 
Death loves scare tactics. 

Death deals no spare cards; 
it doesn't compromise, or care
just wants us to be ready,
to have sucked the marrow 
from the bones of life and 
at the end be content enough
to call its bluff.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Day 26: Curtal

Today's prompt is to write a curtal sonnet, a shorter version of the traditional form with a 6-line stanza, 4-line stanza then a half a line ending. 

As for the iambic pentameter particular to sonnets - so far I have gotten through a degree in English literature, not to mention my writing career, without being on intimate terms with it - and don't intend to start now. Let the words fall where they may!

In Absentia 

Your absence has become a presence.
Not a lack or an ache, but an ever-there
malady, a surplus of shadow on days, a bruise 
that won't go away, a bank account cancelled
still charging by the day, a blank canvas 
centerpiece hung in the main room of my life.

It's there unawares, in a tethered stare, a hole
time falls into. Behind every word I write
it hovers as a ghostly agenda, a goon with a gun
demanding to remember an answer I forgot. 

A nothing that has become everything. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Day 25: Anaphora

Today's prompt is to write a poem that makes use of anaphora: a repetitive riff. 

My daily Awemanac book celebrated National Picnic Day a few days ago and gave a prompt to write a poem starting every line with 'picnic.' It was something I filed under the 'to-do' writing list, but now I'm thinking it will come in handy!


Picnic on this day,
on birdsong, sky and flowers newly sprung: 
bluebells, daisies, dandelions waving 
full-mast flags of petals in the wind,
on grass, its green irresistible urge,
the sprawl of Yeses, cool dew of the new
underfoot, on sun, honey poured sweetness,
sticky on fingers,  a feast for skin.
Picnic on truth, keep it always this way,
words as clear as water in sun. 
Picnic on air, the sea-breeze blowing 
its sea-stories, its salty riffs
clearing away daily dust, on seagulls soaring, 
wide wingspans of certainty.  
Picnic on delight, strawberries, newly ripe, 
shining on a blue plate, on coffee just poured, 
ambrosia aroma, here in the now.
Picnic on smiles, yours, my main course. 
Picnic on laughs, flitting around us like bees,
honeycomb interiors buzzing.
Picnic on time and its crumbs
as it goes by. 
Bring a basket to pack up, save and savour
all the remains. 
Picnic on this day. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Day 24: Masonry

Today's prompt is to write something on the topic of: masonry - walls, stone, arches, building etc. 

Eh?!!! was my first reaction to this one. No way am I writing about such a boring thing as walls! 

But as the day went on, no other inspiration came, apart from using a haiku I wrote the other day (but no, my NaPo moral guide said - that would be cheating, a poem a day is what they say!) By the end of the night, I was surprised to have a first line floating in my head. So decided to go with it. Then, I got another idea for another one - yes, another 2poem day! (Ah, the beauty of NaPo prompts, even when they seem 'Meh' they can turn out to be 'Yeah'!)

Defence Tactics

I've built a wall around my heart 
to keep intruders out. 
Built a wall from every brick 
of hurt, every heavy-hauled
pang of doubt, crushed mortar 
of hopes, plastered with pain,
an everlasting seal. 

Now flattery fingers won't find 
a hold, too high to climb 
for low agendas, too hard 
to soften against more blows,
too much work, too much time
for come-and-go take-at-wills,
trespassers, toughed out. 

Safe in this fortress of fortitude,
the best possible defence: 
only the worthy will pass. 
But still I wonder 
if the wrecking ball should come, 
whether I would fear 
or welcome it.

Mortgage Mire

Wolves huff and puff
and blow houses down. 
Little white fences gone, 
little dreams dashed, 
little pigs' cries
that go on
and on -
but the world is too big 
or deaf from destruction
to hear, too cunning
to care.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Day 23: Foreign Translation

Today's prompt is to translate a foreign language poem according to what you think the words mean...

I flicked through a volume of Charles Baudelaire, but found that I couldn't look at the French without translating it! Then same with Pablo Neruda's Spanish poems.  So I chose an Irish poem by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (at random) then, only one verse, with extremely bizarre results:

An Ollmháthair Mhór - Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Maighdean is máthair, a bhuime, a bhuama adamhaigh,
tálfaidh tú orainn leacht ciardhubh do bhainne cín;
brúchtfaidh tú deannach an bholcáin aníos ó do scornach;
rúscfaidh tú boladh an dóite ó íochtar do chroí. 

Oh My Other More

Morning is my other, a beam, a buoyancy always
talking to orange locked curtains or a bottled sun;
breakfast to dinner and balking instead of scorn;
rusty bolt of doubt inside cringes.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Day 22: Children's Poem

Today's prompt is to write a children's poem...


The carousel goes round 
and round 
the horses go up
the horses go down.

The carousel goes round 
and round
the horses dip
the horses dare. 

The carousel goes round 
and round
the horses smile
the horses  frown.

The carousel goes round
and round 
heads get dizzy
hearts get giddy.

The carousel goes round
and round
what is missed
will come again. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Day 21: New York School

Today's prompt is a cool one: write a poem in the style of the New York School of poets - poets like Frank O'Hara, John Ashberry, Kenneth Koch. In other words, seriously cool poets whose poems are raucous odes to life, full of energy and verve and eclectic use of language. Yay!

In an instance of serendipity I stumbled across this fab blog about New York before seeing this prompt: Spring Fling. All the wonderful photos there of the city in spring inspired this poem. And I very much had Frank O'Hara in mind when I wrote it.

Spring Fling NYC

The trees are brides on display today
beautiful blossomed arms full of posies 
bouqueted dreams that scatter blessings 
on the wind, petals please on 66th and 3rd.
Yellow cabs beeping like bees buzzing 
along 5th Avenue, people going to and fro 
all butterflied up and the hollering of horns 
too sweet Frankie boy, too loud
and irrevocably mine to believe;
the sun shining like in a Hopper painting
new light giving new life to jaded eyes,
the clustered clouds of cherry trees,
illustrious magnolias, magnificent overtures 
to steel sides conducting daydreams:
'if you make it here, you'll make it...' -
faces drinking in nectar skies and the tulips 
rapturous orange little lip flames dancing 
damn fine to traffic light cues and the days 
alive with energy and breathing, green gushing 
gusto mouthpiece of spring seeking world
(kiss me now!) Oh it's fine and dandy and dandy 
and fine to be alive on a spring morning 
in New York city, birds singing, bones singing,
bazuka the pain, goddamnit! Man, I'll be yours 
forever! And in Central Park the strawberry fields 
are sweet again, listen Mister, can you hear 
the dream? The flock of feathers? Two blocks 
and counting, Endymion, ephemeral. Damn Frankie, 
I'll love you forever!  It's you and me together, 
skipping life's glee, sailing the blue waters 
of sky from here on in, to the horizon baby
to the horizon, hands on hearts, souls bursting forth. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Day 20: To Tulips

I'm opting out of the prompt today... and going for something a little more Easterly in trying to describe these tulips sitting in front of me - as it's impossible to ignore them in all their Easter gorgeousness!:


They crave attention
candy-coloured as lollipops 
in a sweet shop 
inviting a lick
or pastel painted eggs 
on stems, Easter bonnets 
glinting in the sun,
true mascots of spring.

Everywhere, they are
carried in arms 
like newborns with bulbous, 
beautiful heads.
Petals like pursed lips
that will unfold 
into open mouths
declaring love. 

Look how they feast
on the newfound light, 
their green arms curved 
in happy curlicues
of delight.
And their full heads 
brimming cups
that runneth over.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Day 19: Seashell Stories

Today's prompt is to write a poem inspired by a seashell's name - a list of which are given on the offficial NaPo site. 

Seems I can't get away from the Easter theme just yet... And when I see the word 'Lazarus' I automatically associate it with Lapis Lazuli, that gorgeous blue gemstone, that seems like it contains a multitude of skies...

Lazarus Jewel Box

Look at all that blue
in the sky 
and tell me
that there is such a thing
as an ending, 
that there is such a thing
as death. 

Day 18: Ruba'i Rhyme

Today's prompt is to write a ruba'i - a 4 line stanza with an AABA rhyme scheme. Good Friday came in as inspiration today - all that strong symbolism, imagery, names. But, I still falter at the rhyme. I find it so constraining! I think this poem could go on more, but for now, here it is (with a very iffy rhyme on that last line...) 


We carve and carry our own crosses:
fear, pain, sorrow, all kinds of losses. 
Go bony-eyed, soul-scourged, skull-hearted
to the dark horizon, involuntarily hopeless.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Day 17: Senses

Today's prompt is to write a poem specifically describing something using at least 3 of the 5 senses. 

I love using the senses in description, I do it all the time, and especially mixing the senses - synesthesia. So I came up with three poems today! 

Holy Thursday

The day smells

of incense, a smoking
of holy scent
around its sides, marking 
a pious perimeter;
but tastes undeniably
of hot cross buns:
cinnamon and raisin-fat-sweet, 
sticky at the edges;
the side-by-side reality 

of gaping death
and chocolate decadence. 

Spring Sense

Birdsong in spring
sounds exactly
what butterflies
fluttering by
in the wink of an eye
look like. 

Cherry White

White cherry tree
fully bloomed,
a bouquet of bridal blossoms 
to be thrown, 
an orchestra rising
to a high aria, 
a fanfare of feelings
as eiderdown,
a wide opening smile
of springtime. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Day 16: Sweet Little Lies

Today's prompt is to write a 10 line poem in which each line is a lie. But isn't all poetry a lie to some extent, an imagining? As fiction is defined, 'a lie to show the truth.' 

I've been wanting to write about the pink moon for a while now. And this slipped into my mind when I sat down to today's prompt. 

Pink Moon

The moon turns on its own axis,
changes colour with every month, 
a different hue for every mood. 
There's a woman who lives there
her broken light a silver song
to serenade the earth, a distant love. 
And in April she blushes pink
with all those thoughts of love
that spring beams back, all the nectar
of hearts pink and full and open.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Day 15: Terza Rima

Oh I'm feeling the pinch now...! It's the halfway point today of the NaPo challenge, and now, the slump seems to have set in! 

Today's prompt is to write a terza, a 3-line rhyming (ABA scheme) poem. I'm not a fan of rhyme, but gave it a shot anyway, rhymed the first stanza, got stuck for ages at the next one, then gave up (after many attempts!) and left it unrhyming - and maybe unfinished too.


The day is as ripe as a peach.
But no mouths water.
We're scurvied beyond reach. 

All those juicy years gone to rot.
Now memories are maggots
that eat our insides.  

Monday, 14 April 2014

Day 14: Monday Moping

Today's prompt is to write a poem out of twenty questions, however random you like, with the last line not being one. Try as I might, I can't get anything substantial out of it. And besides, I'm too beat by Monday blues to try more. So I'll just write about that:


Monday comes on 
like a lump in the throat.
A mountain at morning,
molehill at night.

Its monotonous maw
opening in a yawn
to swallow life
Heart is a head 

still slumped
on Sunday's shoulders,
unwilling to rise.

Monday, on your marks, get set: No.
The whole week ahead
a marathon
I'm not yet prepared
to run.  

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Day 13: Kennings - Or Not

Today's prompt is to use a 'kenning' - a sort of coded compound word used in Norse mythology - for example 'sky-candle' meaning sun, 'battle-sweat' meaning blood - to inspire a poem. Or, come up with your own kenning to use in/inspire a poem.

Feeling too lazy (it is a Sunday) to invent a kenning (and besides, my attempts so far have all sounded too Lord-ofthe-Rings-like to me...), I googled them instead and all that battle vocabulary, especially the prolific mention of swords, got me to thinking about, well...this poem. (I thought of using 'battle-sweat' in it, ah, but then didn't. I prefer the direct approach!)


Swallow your hurt
like a sword, with the trained indifference
of a showman sword swallower.
(He does it to entertain, you do it to survive.) 
Feel its sharp point
pierce your heart to your gut -
but don't flinch. (Silver stops tears.) 
This feat, will put an end to fear. 

(But when you talk, don't have your words show its blade.)
(And when you smile, don't let your smiles bleed.)

Your scars will remain only
on the inside 
one day, the sword 
will be a strength
a weapon to wield in the soft tissue
of weakness.

Day 12: Replacement Poem(s)

Today’s prompt is to write a 'replacement' poem:
Pick a common noun for a physical thing, for example, “desk” or “hat” or “bear,” and then pick one for something intangible, like “love” or “memories” or “aspiration.” Then Google your tangible noun, and find some sentences using it. Now, replace that tangible noun in those sentences with your intangible noun, and use those sentences to create (or inspire) a poem. 

I enjoyed this prompt! I deliberated on a few different options but then went with 'coffee' and 'inspiration.' Then, when I was finished that, another popped into my head - 'joy' and 'lion' from a song title I saw named 'Joy is a Lion' - so had to include it too (What is it with these prompts always resulting in 2 poems??!)


Inspiration is a brewed beverage 
prepared from the seeds of an evergreen shrub.
Best planted with 20 seeds to every empty hole 
at the beginning of the rainy season  

to ensure the harvest of a 'robust' crop. 

Once brewed, inspiration may be served in a variety of ways:
shot, cup, steamed, sipped, or gulped straight.

Good quality inspiration has a full-bodied taste,
topped with a foamy crema, the bubbled trait 

of thoughts percolating to the surface. 

Inspiration has a stimulating effect on humans,
even known by some as a drug. Enjoy a cup at breakfast 
to kickstart the day; or multiple hits to keep you up all night, 
all jittery hands and chomping teeth. And for this reason, 
a much mentioned prop that accompanies art.

Nowadays, in going back to its Mecca roots, inspiration

is doled out daily, in rituals and routines, restaurants 
and rest times, its aroma an invitation too intense to ignore. 
And in today's world, metric million tonnes of it 
produced, and consumed.


Joy is a wild animal
that roams the plains
of our ordinary lives, always 

at the top of the food chain.
An icon for humanity
for thousands of years,
painted on caves, and hearts.
It has a reputation
for being elusive and lazy 

so often to be found basking, 
in late-afternoon sun.  

Joy has no natural predator -
except humans - who hunt it
for its golden stature,
shoot and kill and trade it in
for a cheap buck.
Despite that, joy always
trumps fear
and has the loudest roar
of all the big emotions. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Day 11: Wine + Love = Happy

Today's NaPo prompt is to write an Anacreontic poem -  'a sort of high-falutin’ drinking song' about wine-and-love, or love of wine.Two subjects dear to my heart! 

(Oh I couldn't decide between red wine and white for the subject-matter, so ended up doing one on each! Another 2-poem day :)

A Glass of Red

Red wine roulette rhyme
rushes warm, fills with fierce form
the gaping shrine of thirsty hours,
through the veins it soars
tickling truth into hilarious farce,
salsa dancing emotions 
into flame-licking fiends:
unguard, óle, be mine. 

A brazen beat for each devil
in each grape. Careful ain't
its grinning aim. Gushing heartbeats
pool in a glass, let this, my love, be 
our last. But the world's blood
whirls, swirls in our head, heady, 
hungry, hurtling for a sip. 

So let's raise a glass and drink
to this - the bliss of a kiss, a smile
stained on a lover's lips, 
the chink of glass against glass,
la joie de vivre of decanting dreams,
that have fermented, silently, slowly,
in our sober hearts. 

Chardonnay Evening

When the sun is spilling
from the late spring evening 
into a glass 
of chilled chardonnay
and reality relaxes 
refracting its light - 
each sip, cool, crisp, exact
of possibility;
the future, 
with everything it holds 
a gleaming gold grail
in our hands, enough 
to make us