"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

After all

Day Thirty: It's the last day, and also opposite day. Today's prompt is to try rewriting a poem with as many opposite words/phrases as possible. I chose Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon, by Li Po.

Away from the dead petals, myriad bottles of liquor.
There are many others here, and we pour it together.

Lowering our glasses, we curse the feeble sun,
and avoiding our reflections makes fewer enemies,

though the sun has always understood liquor,
and reflection seems to ever be one step ahead.

An irrelevant age bereft of sun and reflection,
we've lost a sadness that won't extract winter:

We mourn, and the sun stays still as death;
we sleep, and our reflections stitch back together.

Drunk, we're apart and miserable. Sober,
we grapple together in a shared distraction:

Separates for now, we're stayed and worried
and are missing anew in a small world's nearness.

I'd like to thank the folks at NaPoWriMo.net for another year of great prompts and other inspirations. Also, if you're looking for more, check with my friends at Roadmaps to Nowhere and I Bought the Flood. They've been on the poetry train with me all month, with excellent results.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Geographer, Kites

Monday, April 29, 2013

The thorns in our side

Day Twenty-Nine: International poem! Well, sort of. It's a poem with a splash of another language.

At last, the spring.
Windows flash open
and the houses are black holes;
the trees bend and the swarms rally
as they are pulled by a curious breeze.
"Dove รจ la rosa?" it asks,
its inflection child-like and
its accent difficult to understand.

At a touch the world vibrates,
any more pressure and it cracks,
l'abisso, the way to the old hell.
The breeze is a vehicle only,
something to carry the past out
and the future forward,
replacements up as ranks fall,
gunshot and spent queries.

There is no answer in the dark
(long anticipated, to be fair),
and the last twitch of current
before the moon lulls it to sleep,
trapped in la notte della presa,
is an instinct, wild,
quick as the brush of dead lips
and a failure to understand.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Maps & Atlases, Pigeon

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nature vs. Nature

Day Twenty-Eight: I used an idea from one of the featured blogs (this one) to use a wordle for inspiration. Here's what I picked:

The Mother has offered us a cure,
something tried and certain
to keep us from outdoing ourselves.
"On the ninth day," she rumbles,
"time itself will unwind and be
as a snake in the grass - the animal
waiting at the warming threshold
of your safe place - slight as a sigh."
For this danger we arm ourselves,
but no swords or arrows - a task,
a thing to keep our minds busy,
a way to saturate the brain with
the most intimate of all nonsense.
It is a bandage for the skeptical
and, as always, they rip it off;
the might of paranoia has long been
the choicest side dish, served raw.
The Mother dies a slow death,
her last breath a crumbling mountain
and the dusty bellow of control
as it is relinquished to the bold.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Andrew Bird, Imitosis

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The night became intimate

Day Twenty-Seven: Tried the prompt, but it didn't work.

At once the world was gone -
it erased itself, a wisp of smoke
exhaled and inhaled with a cough
and a slight discharge of blood.

Adrift in the vast blankness of space,
we see colors - the deepest and truest
of every classic hue - and in time,
the population floats asleep, in dreams.

Before the sun can rise once more
it must first set, but the moon rebels,
a shot of teenage angst extrapolated
on an interstellar scale - so they sleep on.

She sealed the passage of time quietly,
a breathless whisper that dissolved to vapor
in the strength of the vacuum, a faint wish,
back-lit by starlight and still an empty prize.

Her kiss is not always the beginning or end -
it can also be the middle, a stopping point
between the day your known world ends
and the night, when mysteries take hold.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Menomena, Pique

Friday, April 26, 2013

Drea           d

Day Twenty-Six: Write an "erasure" of another poem. I've chosen Poe's Dreamland.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule-
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE- out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters- lone and dead,-
Their still waters- still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,-
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,-
By the mountains- near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,-
By the grey woods,- by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp-
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,-
By each spot the most unholy-
In each nook most melancholy-
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past-
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by-
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
'Tis a peaceful, soothing region-
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not- dare not openly view it!
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringed lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

Playing on Spotify at this very moment:
Wilco, Jesus, etc.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Day Twenty-Five: No prompt today, either. Just not feelin' it.

The world is busy.
There's a crowd.
A man is dying inside it.
His family circles him, faces salty with grief.
Around them, the crowd buzzes.
There are businessmen on cell phones.
There are students weighed down by books.
There are underwear models wearing complete outfits.
They walk and they run and they stumble in high heels,
but they do not glance at the family.
They do not pay their respects to the dying man,
nor to the family begging silently for compassion.
This goes on for hours.
At the end of the day, when the sun falls and the world darkens,
a young man joins the crowd.
He is apprehensive.
He tries to keep pace with his constituents, but is often slow
and they become unhappy with him.
He issues an unending apology.
As he passes the family, the young man slows and then stops.
The family looks up, relieved to be able to share their sadness.
But the young man gives a sympathetic shake of his head
and then moves on.
The family is alone again.
They wonder and cry aloud, "Why us? Why us?"
They pray to a deity and they ask him to explain himself.
The man has died.
The crowd buzzes on.
The world is busy.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The New Pornographers, Falling Through Your Clothes

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cherry blossoms

Day Twenty-Four: No prompt today.

It has sprung, and the petals
are all memories of times before
(how many...pointer, middle...)
when I've made the same mistake.
They fall and flutter like snow,
awash in a cold as stark as winter.
"No regrets!" the others champion,
and I wonder how unrealistic
the rest of their lives must be.

I lie with the shades up,
sunlight slanting through the pane
to my forehead, and I wonder -
no, I am hoping, wishing
that this window was sharper,
a magnifying glass, and this ray
would burn a hole through my skull
to eradicate the part of my brain
that let things end the way they did.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Broken Social Scene, Sweetest Kill

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Obfuscate or consecrate

Day Twenty-Three: Write a triolet. Or in this case, a TRIO of TRIOLETS. Please hold your applause.

The world spins faster upside down,
so we'll hang on as best we can,
even consider skipping town.
The world spins faster upside down,
makes us feel as though we may drown
and sets fire to many a plan.
The world spins faster upside down,
so we'll hang on as best we can.

A scowl is set upon the brow
of those who'd built this place to last.
They worked the fabric well, but now
a scowl is set upon the brow,
a foreman left to wonder how
ambition left him so outclassed.
A scowl is set upon the brow
of those who'd built this place to last.

Tomorrow brings a better day,
stacked to succeed, the force of will.
The governor is made to say,
"Tomorrow brings a better day,"
though he, at night, will kneel to pray.
Such syllables, they taste of swill.
Tomorrow brings a better day,
stacked to succeed the force of will.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Avalanches, Since I Left You

Monday, April 22, 2013


Day Twenty-Two: The prompt is to write a poem in keeping with Earth Day, but for some reason all I came up with was about the world ending.

The world
has never been so small
as in that moment,
long forewarned,
when the sun stops moving.

It is all one,
heat and cold,
mirrors of emptiness
and, in a touch of empathy,
mirrors are windows.

As grass is fire,
so is the urge of a species
that has had it good
since an ape stood upright -
violent and pure.

To the last,
they make a bad thing worse,
trampled and trampling,
overrun with instinct
and the tools to act.

For once, it is true,
even as the sands run clean -
nature takes over
and as it pushes its boundaries,
the animals are in control.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
TV On the Radio, Young Liars

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things will happen to you

Day Twenty-One: Rewrite Frank O'Hara's Lines for the Fortune Cookies.

The camera will stop, but you will continue to act.

Yes, your dreams of becoming a professional athlete are still dead.

Sunday will not be the best day for you; wait until Wednesday.

Your daydreams will seem as truth - you will find your truths lacking.

Despite what that girl at work tells you, you do NOT look good in brown.

Be wary of flattering situations - you are a closet egomaniac.

You have become too smug for your own good.

You will experience a period of great anguish at some point this week.

Congratulations! [Name of Favorite Sports Team] will win the title this year.

Spend more time knitting. Knitting soothes the soul.

All of your uproar over politics will get you nowhere unless you run for office.

Consider a career in wedding planning, despite your distaste for weddings.

Therapy is not the answer. Scotch is.

Before running, be sure to ponder the mysteries of the universe.

Enjoy a good filet mignon this week. They're on sale.

Your mother-in-law will find your paintball obsession unsettling.

It has been said that you will fail at a great task. This is only partially true.

You will find great relief in the words of a frenemy.

Do not trust anyone who uses the word "frenemy" seriously.

To last in this business, you may need to actually do what your boss says.

Upon waking, your first thought will be of Gerard Butler. Do not ask why.

Drink Pepsi®.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Sly and the Family Stone, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The svelte non-pareil

Day Twenty: Write using at least five of the words on the list provided (it's in the link). I used a few more than five, I think.

A ghost of the past absconds to Paris,
the lure of cheese and bread too much to bear,

his brain a generator, buzzing proud
to load artillery, a rising curl.

He would squander a lifetime of worries,
time spent far upwind from his deepest dreams,

the strands of his future made willowy,
draped thin as his cut and salted ego,

but at the farthest end of owl's sight,
he would find no corporeal homestead.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Tame Impala, Elephant

Friday, April 19, 2013

On collateral damage

Day Nineteen: Not following the prompt. I'm rebellious. DEAL WITH IT.

If a tree
falls in the forest,
what is crushed
beneath it?

Amid the plume
of black dirt and
bits of leaves,
is there not also life
that seeps, trembling,
from the crumpled bark?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Band, Up On Cripple Creek

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mist and shadow

Day Eighteen: I'm doing a spin on the actual prompt (which is to write a poem beginning and ending with the same word) and trying a circular poem, one that ends and then rolls back into itself. Get it? Spin?

these morning hours
bring us no new peace.
There are only bloated lies
blurred and buried,
just the tops peeking out
while the rest lurk
and wait, hungrily,
feverishly, to spear the hull.
And neither is there new life,
just safe, weary rumblings
made by the dead,
as the dead have earned them,
asleep and alive within and
breeding malice simply because

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Radiohead, The Tourist

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kindly leave

Day Seventeen: Write a poem of greeting.

In many
are often
for those
groups are
happy to
see. In
this case,
that is
by our
Nice of
you to
show up.
Aren't you

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Deerhunter, Earthquake

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wake up younger

Day Sixteen: I tried to follow the prompt but my brain was not working the right way for a translation poem. So, here's what I did instead.

It's the hollow note
before the song begins
and the players move,
a stone-dry reminder -
like a bad joke
made in bad taste
by a bad man.

It's the last chirp
in the new forest
as the hammer strikes
and the powder lights,
words in flight
dying slowly,
piercing clouds.

It's the sharpened knife
descending, devilish,
begging your forgiveness
for its master's many ills -
lonely at night
and, mostly,
feeling misused.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Middle Brother, Middle Brother

Monday, April 15, 2013


Day Fifteen: I missed days thirteen and fourteen, but at this particular moment I feel no urge whatsoever to catch up. There isn't much left to say, I imagine, so I'll just give what thoughts I have. 

I know what it is, what
makes them do this. It's
seeps in and dominates
their thoughts, runs their
lives, feeds their hunger
and tears apart the remnants
of whatever self-worth is left.
We are all capable of violence.
In the end, it's a matter of
who decides to let their
get the better of them, lets
their past impede on our
futures. It's a matter of who
decides to act on that
and who decides that they're
strong enough to fight on.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Say it like you mean it

Day Twelve: Not using the exact prompt, but following their link and taking inspiration from one of Charles Bernstein's poetry experiments.

all the
forms of body
language, the disapproving sigh
is, without doubt, the worst
and most uncomfortable reaction when you've
just told someone you love who you
really are, because the next acknowledgement will inevitably
be one of absolute derision, one that means you
are now forgotten, even though you're still standing right there.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Fleet Foxes, The Shrine/An Argument

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A brief interlude

Day Eleven: Write a tanka, or a series of them.

The beasts are blissful,
neck-deep in the sweet morsels
of the new morning.
The road to the edge of the
world is very long, indeed.

Their long necks slope up
to reach something beautiful,
put themselves at risk.
The jingle of pocket change
brings unwanted visitors.

A slow revival
prolongs the pain - brass droppings
fail to drown the screams.
Heaven is a grand ideal
and an even better con.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Dodos, Sleep

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Something with shine

Day Ten: No prompt for me, today.

The flight patterns
of falling stars
resemble the discarded
peels of bananas,
both in shape
and in the fact
that there is a good chance
you may slip.

Now a pile of books,
half-stacked as they
plummet to hardwood,
by the man
melting in his suit.
The product of a wish
or of old fruit?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Mos Def, Got

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Street sense

Day Nine: Write a noir-inspired poem.

There's nothing that can't
be turned on its head
in this city - nothing that is
above the pull of the dirty
and the desperate. How
to deny the depth of its
charm, then? How to reach
outside the confines borne
on the opaque comfort
of obscurity? How indeed!
But it is worth asking, if not
to rescue ourselves from the
grit and steam, then to keep
from rolling any further down
into the grime of the gutter.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Circa Survive, Stop the Car

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eternal, more or less

Day Eight: Write an ottava rima.

In snow there is no pleasure but the past,
cold memory and wasted tones of truth.
To see beyond the winter's hold at last
takes only the warm hope that comes with youth.
The shadow of antiquity is vast -
uncompromising and, at best, uncouth.
But visions of the future hold a hope:
a rescue and a way back up the slope.

Playing on Spotify at this very moment:
Good Old War, Coney Island

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Time is linear

Day Seven: Write a poem in which each line is a single, declarative sentence except the last, which is a question.

Only parts of the world go dark at night.
This is a relatively recent discovery.
It is widely known that science moves quickly.
There are many who express concern over this.
In the music of progress, some notes are out of tune.
Geniuses have deemed this problem "uncorrectable."
The people have taken to using flashlights.
They have accepted this as a temporary solution.
In Sydney, they are pointing and laughing.
In Japan, they are gripped by bouts of insomnia.
The time difference is seldom accounted for.
In the morning, scientists wonder at the confusion.
To what do we owe the pleasure?

Playing on Spotify at this very moment:
Blind Pilot, Oviedo

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Days of old

Day Six: Write a valediction (a poem of farewell).

Peace be with
the way we used to live,
the way we opined
and, most of all,
the way we carried
and split ourselves.

The very best riddance
to all amendments
we made to our character
and other things
we need never have done,
if not for human nature.

We're better off without
certain bright flowers,
pollen spread like disease
and complexity reduced
to formula - more ways
to ward off the inevitable.

Playing on Spotify at this very moment:
Pepper Rabbit, Older Brother

Friday, April 5, 2013

Better than static

Day Five: Write a cinquain.

To some,
bolts of lightning
are little else besides
expenditures of energy.
Not true.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Saosin, Seven Years

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Irregular apocalypse

Day Four: Write a poem with a title drawn from one of the spaceship names in Scottish sci-fi writer Iain M. Banks' "Culture" series.

In the beginning
there was logos,
a reason, but it was not a god.
It was a man.

He was of the people,
only occasionally by them
and never for them.

He was a flash of light
and the sharp tinge
of brass, horns blowing
in alarm and fury.

He was all information,
a slurry of misleading
soundbites and curses
mixed by the editor's hand.

The masses saw him
and knew not whether
to expect salvation or death,
whether to fly a white flag
or to sew a new one,
something buoyant and
of courageous conviction.
But they did know
what he stood for,
what would certainly follow.
They built themselves
fortresses, shields, things
to keep the sun
from burning them alive.

But they were wrong.
He landed and it was
silence, air that smelled
of steel and slick blood.
And then it was the
age-old battle -
speed versus power -
and everything was waking up.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Brand New, Not the Sun

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hello? Yes, this is brain

Day Three: No prompt for me today...just going to wing it.

I've been recalling smells, lately.
Understandable, I suppose,
given my nostalgic nature
and the well-documented kinship
between memory and scent.

At first it is only a thought,
like something I once left behind.
But it transforms, semi-permanent,
and registers just for a moment
as a flash of the olfactory system.

And now I wonder, nervously:
Is it possible that there really is
a fresh batch of pancakes nearby?
Or, in an unconsciously sad moment,
am I merely remembering a better time?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Coheed and Cambria, The Willing Well I: Fuel For the Feeding End

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's a trap!

Day Two: Write a poem that tells a lie.

I'm planning a vacation.
It will be something exotic,
something potentially life-changing.
The kind of unbelievable experience
you end up creating a Flickr account for.
I think it will be a trip to Mars.
I'm definitely going to invite you
since we're still such close friends.
It all might sound a bit far-fetched,
or perhaps you are wondering
about the depth of my sanity.
You might be right to do so
but above all else, you should know
that I am being honest with you.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Nine Inch Nails, Only

Monday, April 1, 2013

The uptake

Day One: Write a poem that has the same first line as another poem. I've used the first line from Babel (the voices) by Jessica Beyer.

There is, as you know, only one story.
It's the one that begins and ends
in the same place - a loud darkness
bereft of genius. But not all science
is gone here. There is a good thought
somewhere between the Higgs Boson
and the decision to stay up too late
watching reruns of Adam West Batman.  

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Foo Fighters, Everlong (acoustic)