Tuesday, April 19, 2011

continuing conversation

Yes, it's still raining
or raining again.
It stopped long enough
for me to go to the girl's father's house
to scrub down her bathroom
and make up her bed,
a favor to him, to her, to myself.

The right-hand flowerbed is a marsh.

(thunder sounds)
(no, it is an engine)

The pink and blue hyacinths
I didn't plant
seem about to float down the hill
of my yard, to fall into the storm sewer,
to travel to Malta
or Istanbul.

I remember now
why I'm thinking about my father.
It's nearing that time of year
when we took his last cruise.

(I am wrong. It isn't an engine. It is thunder.)

I'm filled with a beautiful melancholy
that feeds into a poem-in-progress.

Miles Davis plays on my iTunes.
Tone will shift in a minute.
Shuffle, shuffle.

It's nearly time to retrieve my tired teen
from the high school.
We should go for that ordered scan,
but fuck all, I just don't have the energy
to fight a waiting room
to get confirmation that her back is healthy.

Maybe tomorrow.
Maybe not.

I change my mind again
sort of
about school/not school/where school/why school/purpose.

It's all about the poetry. That's what I need to remember.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pocket poems & mulling over a grad school program

National Poetry Month celebrations continue all over the place. Today is Poem in Your Pocket day.

I'm carrying two poems today, one in my left back pocket (the Jane Kenyon), one in my right (the Naomi Nye):

Potato


In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
on one end. The rest would have been

redeemable. In the yellow garbage pail
it became the consort of coffee grounds,
banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
where steaming scraps and leaves
return, like bodies over time, to earth.

When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
unfailingly, as if to revile me –

looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling. It seemed to grow
until I might have made shepherd’s pie
for a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.


Jane Kenyon


Hidden


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
sigh
the little sucked in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.


Naomi Shihab Nye
(from Fuel, BOA Editions Ltd., 1998)



*

Yesterday evening, I limped through a conference call with the director and the admissions counselor for Goddard College's master of arts in individualized studies. I've been considering an emphasis in Transformative Language Arts, one of several possible concentrations. I think eight of us, maybe nine, participated. I did ask a question that I've had since I first discovered this program. I already knew the answer it turns out. I'm drawn to this program, but I don't think I belong there, not yet, maybe not ever, but damn, there's just something about the place and the people who work/teach there.

Ruth Farmer is the program director, and she spoke to us about the residencies, shared some projects current students and alumni have produced (produced is the wrong word), answered questions. She has the most beautiful speaking voice, and I fell in love with her instantly.

I know what I want to do (sort of), but I don't know what I want to study. Three or four of the people participating seemed already to be working on projects and were looking for a program that would allow them to continue or expand or shift what they were doing while also getting that degree. They seemed so academic.

I'm so not academic.

I've been out of school for decades. I don't know how to research in the academic sense. I have no idea what theories I would be examining. Honestly, I don't really know what that means. (Epistemology is a beautiful word, and I do know what it means, but not what it means to me in connection to my life, to poetry, to my child, to our future, to ... whatever. Epistemology is a word Ruth Farmer spoke last night, a word I've read in so many of the posts connected with Goddard students, professors, graduates. Knowledge. I have so little, well, when it comes to academics. Life knowledge? Eh. I have what I have, and it's not like anyone else's knowledge.)

Must think.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

scatter

The wind is picking up again, gusting against the house.
I want to go for a walk, a quick one, to return some DVDs, to feel the terrible wind toss my terrible hair.
My Girl is off with friends relaxing. She has misplaced her wallet (it will turn up. these things always do). Her friend bounced into my house and said, "I want to plant flowers with you! I plant flowers every year."
My garden isn't a garden. It's three terrible beds, terrible as the terrible wind, not yet filled with weeds. But the weeds will happen.
I think I can finish those essays by Friday.
Correction: I know I can finish those essays by Friday.
Will I?
I won't know until Friday.
Friday, the Girl and I are going to a Teen Improv show.
Well, we are both going but not together.
Sitting through improv with one's mother is probably almost as bad as watching the sex scenes in Black Swan with one's mother.
I will detach myself from Girl and her friends and find my improv teacher.
(I love her. She's opening me up to a whole new me. This class is my secret gift to myself. I have told very few people who know me in person that I'm taking it.)
Saturday, the Girl will suffer through five hours of ACT testing.
Sunday, she will/we will pack for the band trip next week to Disney.
Her Daddy will come by to gather her suitcase to take to the school for storage and loading while I am off to make an ass of myself in the class I so love, so love, so love.
Monday she leaves us until Saturday.
I know I will fret.
She is glad I didn't want to chaperone. Freedom. She won't have time to miss us, and that pleases me.
I feel like I'm entering a new phase.
I will be able to enter it fully if I can shatter some bad patterns that don't do me any good.
I can shatter the patterns.
Will I?
There is lust in this wind. It hungers for something.
My body hungers for movement.
It's time to walk.

Monday, April 4, 2011

spoken word poetry

.

Tell me a story
about raindrops and thunder,
about Parmesan cheese and sandcastles.
While you are talking,
pour me a glass of something room temperature
and menstrual blood red,
something stomped out of mixed blood grapes.

I will eat your story
with a teaspoon,
bite by bite,
too quickly to remember
the protagonist’s name.

Was it Harry? Was it Sylvia?
Was he 47 or she 22?
Did Sylvia dance or did she whisper poetic monologues
to the back row of the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas?

My mother was once 5,
my father once 17.
She was older by five and a half years,
died five and a half years before he died.
They are the same age now.

Inside the raindrops and thunder story,
I wear a black vest with a sterling silver gecko pin
attached to the paisley lapel.

I used to be pretty
until I grew wise.
Now my silver hair shimmers
like that ridge-backed gecko.

I speak this poem that is not a poem
aloud as I type, watch black words
soil white screen. I’m a dismal drip
until you look into my small, brown eyes
and realize that I like nothing better
than deep, gut-busting laughter
even as the wind attacks my shingles.




(note: this is only "spoken word" poetry because I wrote this poem aloud, typed the words I was saying as I said them, composed it directly from mouth to screen. (no editing))

the one where I write about parenting

This morning, my Girl was looking over her history notes while she ate her cereal. She got an extra hour of sleep because she had a doctor's appointment, just a check up (A+ on the check up except for a tiny, possible curvature of her spine that the nurse practitioner said could be, but probably isn't, very mild scoliosis. We'll get her a scan later this week. It is not a big deal. Yeesh. What a digression), so she was looking particularly perky.

We talked about grades a little bit. I don't know her exact grade-point average, but but it's higher than a 4.0. Her good friend Little A has a 4.5 grade-point average.

"I tell her she's a genius," my Girl said, "and she says, 'It's not that hard. What's hard about getting all A's?'"

My Girl admits she's an overachiever and also admits that although her daddy and I love and encourage A's, she strives because she chooses to strive, works hard for her grades, wants to be the best, though she thinks she can't be the best because unlike her lovely friend Little A, she actually has to study.

Her history teacher is a great teacher. He tries to teach the kids the stories of history in a dynamic and interesting way. He's tough. He's a hard grader. On a recent quiz, he took a half point off my girl's score because he said she left out a word. "He said I didn't use enough adjectives to describe the situation. I mean, yeesh! It was one word. 'Half a point, Mr. M?' I said. 'Come on'!" In other words, she didn't get 100 percent. She got a 96.

"You kids are too worried about your grades," he told his students when they complained.

"It's the school's fault and the teachers' faults that we care so much about grades," my Girl said. "They've taught us to want all A's, especially the honors kids. What do they expect?"

I've heard my Girl admit that she loves Mr. M even when she's really angry with him for some ridiculous (in her eyes) assignment that forces her to learn a topic from hair to toenails. She admits that she likes to learn.

In French I, her classmates are not her usual peer group, not all honors kids. She doesn't know them very well so she is as quiet as the teacher allows her to be. Mr. French is hilarious. He's an out there sort of guy, and truly likes high school kids.

Last week, all week, my Girl said, "he didn't teach us anything." But she laughed. "He said there was a bat in his house, and he couldn't sleep. He had to call one of his friends to help him get it out. He said he screamed like a little girl and ran into things, like walls, while he was trying to get away from the bat."

I was howling with laughter at this point and wished I'd been in the classroom while Mr. French was describing his bat night.

"He said, 'I don't feel like teaching you anything today. I feel like crap. Just do whatever you want.' I hate it when he does that because I don't know those people and don't have anything to say to them. I just sit there and stare at the clock. That's why I hate school. It's a big waste of my time if he's not going to teach us. But I think he's funny, and he's usually a good teacher."

She told me her friends get on her in first period when they have a lull during Algebra II and she starts writing out her French vocabulary cards for the weekly quiz she'll have on Wednesday.

"They get really mad at me and say, 'Just stop, Girl, would you stop?' But I can't because I panic."

I promise you, I'm no Amy Chua, no "Tiger Mom." Little A's mom would be closer to that than I would be (Little A is half Chinese, half Vietnamese). There's proof on this blog that not only do I allow my Girl to go to sleepovers, we have them at my house weekly. Not only is she allowed extracurricular activities, but she spends seven extra hours each week in the fall rehearsing for marching band, which takes time away from studying, which means she gets a little less sleep.

I'm not a "Tiger Mom" hater, though. I think my own mother could have been that kind of mother if she'd had more energy, felt better physically, if we'd moved around less, if her children had been less, well, blatantly rebellious and what she called "fitty."

Even though I'm not a "Tiger Mom," I'm a raising a child who works her skinny little ass off (20th percentile in weight, 25th in height. I didn't know they still did the percentile thing for teenagers) because she wants to. I do know that part of her wanting this has to do with us, her parents. We want her to excel. We want her to get "A"s. We want her always to do her best.

We also want her to be happy, to learn to navigate social situations, to relax, to play.

I doubt Amy Chua would think much of my parenting, but suspect she would rather admire my kid.

Here's what I think about parenting: How one parents is a choice and is really only that parent's business, unless a parent is abusing her child (and I don't believe Ms. Chua is/was any more than I believe my mother and father abused me for refusing to let me join the cast of a local community theatre's production of Helen Keller when I was in eighth-grade - my mother was worried about my grades, which, truth be told, were slipping because I. just. didn't. give. a. shit.).

I guess Amy Chua did make her parenting our business when the excerpt from her book ran in the Washington Post. Still, the book is a memoir, not a anti-Dr. Spock sort of parenting guide. Maybe she would think she's a superior parent to me, but that's all right. I'm not interested in any kind of Mothering Olympics. I know I'm a good mother (except when I think my Girl's father thinks I'm a bad mother. He has never said out loud that he thinks I'm a bad mother. It's my projection of what I think he thinks of me oozing out sometimes).

(note: I have not read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I might be horrified at what the author writes when I do get around to reading it. It's overdue at the local public library, and I've forbidden myself from buying any more books until I manage to get paid for work I do.)

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld (I think she's the older of the two daughters) recently received her Harvard acceptance, which is why she is in the news and why this is on my mind. Good for her! You know? She loves her mother and appreciates how her mother raised her.

I'm fairly sure that part of the reason I'm more easy going than my parents were is that I sometimes felt a little suffocated and wished that I could venture out into more activities. Ah, but here's another truth. I was shy and gawky and dorky and completely certain that I was idiot, ugly, untalented and not appealing enough to be welcome in any kind of "club."

I'm laughing very hard now. I don't think of myself that way now. Now? I'm attempting to turn from an underachiever into a post-middle-aged overachiever, and part of striving to become whatever the hell I want to become involves not. giving. a. shit. but in a completely different way from my childhood indifference. I no longer seem to care what people think. (or care less than I used to)

My Girl is raising herself almost as much as we are raising her. She knows exactly who she is, knows that sometimes she lets peer pressure dictate her behavior and activities, knows that ultimately, she'll become what she wants to become partly because we've allowed her to be what she already is.

I don't know if that made any sense.

*

I wrote this directly into the window again without composing it ahead of time. It took forever (45 minutes?), but there are a lot of words here.

Now I'm going to try to write 500 words on a specific topic I keep avoiding.

*

Dang. I accidentally published this post before I proofed it. Ooh, baby alliteration! published post proof

(proof positive I'm positively, pathologically nuts)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

poem making

(Note: Started writing this yesterday, Saturday, in the evening. Finished it after noon on Sunday.)


(4/2/11)

I have been making a poem today. I started making the poem yesterday, but fell into a ditch or something, read a book or something, watched a bad film, talked for a few minutes with my daughter and her friend, fell asleep at 1 a.m. with a living room light on low just in case the girls, both still afraid of the dark at 16 and 18, needed to come downstairs.

Just now as I began writing this post about poem making, I heard a rustling in the bathroom, caught my kitty dining on a plastic bag, which he surely intended to barf up on my bed at 2 a.m. I scooped him up and looked into his black masked face.

"You're a bad kitty, but you're pretty," I said. He placed a paw against my mouth. Shut up, lady, and let me eat bag!

"Your claws are sharp, kitty. I should have clipped them a couple of weeks ago. Pretty kitty."

It takes me all of 45 seconds to clip all four sets of claws. The cat barely has time to work up a good growl. He is already over the trauma, lurks behind my desk chair, stares into the back of my head in an attempt to use feline ESP to herd me into the bedroom where he can lie on my feet all night.

I can't go to bed, of course. My Girl is out again, and I need to pick her up at midnight.

You can call these things distractions if you want, but they are part of my poem making rhythm, have been since my daughter was a baby, though the pulse is different now.

(I sound like an ass, don't I? Oh well.)

I intended the poem to be lighthearted, was going to call it "Quick Bread," researched bananas. How many are usually in a bunch? Is the banana really the perfect food? How long does it take a banana to get too ripe?

Like my Greek mother (who would growl at me for calling her Greek since she considered herself American with parents who happened to be Greek immigrants), I am a bit superstitious. I sometimes think that when I talk about a poem-in-progress (or novel-in-progress) out loud before I've truly started it, I curse the piece, the piece dies. I fail.

But I don't know. I think it's funny that the friends on Facebook who caught me writing a poem about bananas (because I advertised it in a status update. I really hate Facebook) teased me and reminded me that bananas are phallic symbols. My daughter covered her ears when I told her my friends were teasing me.

"They were reminding me in silly ways that bananas are shaped like...."

"Don't say it!"

"...sorry, I have to. Like penises."

Poor kid. To have such a mother.

I'm a persistent little poet wannabe and couldn't give in or give up. So I started typing:

The thing about bananas…

Those bunches of six or eight bananas
I encounter at Kroger, piled up like a mountain
of curved, yellow fangs,
intimidate me.
I thought this was because my daughter and I
rarely eat our way through a bunch
before the bananas morph from yellow-green
to lemon-yellow to soft brown to spotted black,
like pissed off leopards with sweetly rank body odor.



I got that far, and then my Girl told me she was hungry, needed to eat before I took her to her friend's. We fixed homemade nachos (which I shared).

*

Text from my Girl.

It's 11:40. I'll be leaving soon to pick her up.

*

I picked at a few lines about losing bananas on top of my refrigerator and discovering them when they were beyond "over-ripe" and were simply petrified. Picked at lines about other "perfect" foods like blueberries and broccoli and kale.

There are no good lines in that section. Kale is not sexy, at least not when I sit it next to bananas. And I'm afraid broccoli, healthy though it is, reminds me of the college boyfriend who should have been The One except that kissing him was, for me, like kissing broccoli. So now you know I don't like broccoli.

Because of the goofy exchange on Facebook, I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, subconsciously, it is the banana's shape that intimidates me. I mean, seriously, it's been a long time since I've seen a naked penis in person. I don't know if I'd remember what to do with one should one suddenly become available to me.

(Oh, really, now! The kitty was right. I should shut up.)

*

I have to leave to pick up daughter.

I'll be back to fall into the next stage.

*

12:29 a.m.

Back.

Trying to find my way back into this.

I am too tired and scattered. I'll start again tomorrow with this same post just because this feels like what I want to be doing here. Scattered posting.

*

(4/3/11) It's now Sunday, noon.

We have errands to run, my Girl and I. I want to let this topic go before I have to quit again.

I was going to apologize for writing this all directly into the window instead of composing offline, but, hell, what does it matter, really?

So. Yesterday. Banana poem (damn. The Girl has turned off the shower water. She is on a mission, so I have maybe seven minutes before it's my turn to shower. I should have finished this early this morning but didn't want to turn on my computer).

I've discovered that if I sit with something long enough, it sometimes turns into something completely different from what it started out to be. This is usually a lovely thing.

I don't have a complete poem, but I have a start on something because of where I went after I found an article on bananas and kidneys (really. I went that far). Because bananas are high in potassium, it's dangerous for people who are in kidney failure to eat them.

In 1995, my father went into renal failure related to a muscle disorder he had called McArdles disease. I'll write this in inverted pyramid style as if I'm in a Reporting 101 class. He did not die from kidney failure, but, man, it was close. My siblings and I agreed that since I did not work outside the home, my baby daughter and I would fly from Ohio to Texas to help him out, to take care of him as he went through dialysis, to be with him until his kidneys started functioning again. That's the back story. This is where I went yesterday after researching and thinking and laughing about bananas:

This poem that isn’t a poem is growing out of conversation and dream and joke and memory. Remember when Daddy’s kidneys failed and you flew "home" to take care of him? Remember you were making him dinner your first night there, before you had a chance to go to the store? He didn't have much food in the house. Bananas, two extra large eggs, a little cheese. You were so tired from traveling, from picking him up at the hospital, from taking care of your then not-quite-1-year-old Girl that you accidentally cracked one of the two eggs into the sink instead of the bowl for beating. You watched it slide down the drain into the disposal. Remember what you thought? You thought about how a banana would have made your ailing father feel so full. You thought about how it might have killed him.


*

There is something in there, but it's sad. It will not be a poem about quick break, though it could start that way. Or maybe writing through this process has killed the poem completely. Ah. Who knows?

I don't really know what this is today, this post. I knew what it was yesterday, but I am a different person today. The parts don't fit together well. Doesn't matter. It's not like anyone is paying me to write here or grading me on my dreadful composition.

that's enough now.

The one where I write about life and mention poetry at the end

It's 10:36 a.m. My Girl is at Winter Percussion, which is exactly what it sounds like it would be: a "club" filled with kids who love to play, want to play, can't help but play various percussion instruments. "Rhythm is my life!" (nod to Love, Actually) Our band booster president mentors the group, though he started the group last year before he was president. He's a gifted drummer himself, loves the kids who love him. He's also quietly hilarious.

This morning, the parking lot behind the high school kind of reminded me of a crowded amusement park, lots of enormous rides, too many people for too small a space. I drive a Honda Civic, and in this little city filled with SUVs, I sometimes feel the way I used to feel when I was young and went kicker dancing with my friends (not that I actually danced). All those tall cowboys in their size 12 boots made me feel rather small and crushable. I don't know what's going on today at the school. Baseball maybe? People looked angry, though that could be the weather. I'm telling myself that this gray crush of rain is all part of spring in southeast Ohio. Thirty-eight degrees is not cold (right? RIGHT?).

"Crush" seems to be my word of the day.

Kitty crushed my legs while I slept last night.

Allergies crushed lungs (wheeze).

Worried thoughts crushed dreams.

Patio light crushed sleep.

Sleep slipped under the bed.

My daughter's friend stayed the night. She wasn't going to. "My mom would kill me if I stayed over again," she said. Somehow I knew that wasn't true (her mama likes and trust me, I think). She and my Girl watched movies too late and then talked and talked, soft murmurs I couldn't really hear any more than I hear my daughter's iPod playing every other night she is here.

I love this friend as if she were at least a niece, if not more. She and I have a friendship that started because of my Girl but is building into something separate. I'll miss her when Boot Camp swallows her up this summer (::sob::).

I think I will lose my Girl to another friend this evening, though they may come here, instead.

Spontaneity.

Flexibility.

Stretch.

Shrink.

Pare.

Parse.

Spare.

*

I got into a silly conversation on Twitter (no, if you know me in real life, you can't have my Twitter name) with some lovely women yesterday that led me to the thought that I wanted to write a poem about banana nut bread. Because I'm slightly obsessive, I decided I needed to research bananas.

I didn't get far. I posted on my damned Facebook status that I seemed to be researching bananas and watched a conversation devolve into a really bad (but kind of hilarious) stand up comedy routine involving dream imagery, slippery slopes, even Adam and Eve. Or maybe it was more like improv.

I sort of lost the urge to write that poem in the massive mess of humor.

Maybe another day.

Today's poem? I don't know yet. I don't know if there will be one. Maybe today is the poem. Maybe my cat sleeping on my feet is the poem. Maybe my daughter's pink dyed hair is the poem. Maybe the poem is rain. Maybe my offering a different friend a ride a few hundred yards from parking lot to band room door is the poem.

Maybe my graying eyebrows are seven poems.

Maybe the poem is in my wonky left eye, my left hip that cracks, my muffin top. Maybe it's in my neighbor's voice on the porch, her love of Foreigner at 3 a.m., the ruined carpet wadded up in front of her garage.

That's enough now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

performance anxiety (and yay! It's National Poetry Month!) Prompt One? (at bottom of page)

slipped up and started writing in private
as if I were writing public
so I write this in public
as if I were writing in private
(breath)
which means
I can write badly
if bad writing is what falls
off my finger tips
as I type through the rest
of this sunny/cloudy/cool/warming
morning.

*

A few days ago, I was trying to shovel out my poor, disaster of a bedroom, which, much like this study, has become a storage room. In my study, it's stacks of various papers ranging from bills to mutual fund statements to file folders full of poems in progress or things I share when I give the occasional (for free these days - sigh) poetry workshop. My bedroom suffers from random articles of clothing or bits of linen with no mates. I've piled things in laundry baskets because this little house where I've lived for nearly seven years doesn't have enough room for all my stuff.

OK, that's not true. I'm just messy and disorganized and seem to find other things to do when I probably ought to be putting away the laundry I wash and fold.

(Aside: It just occurred to me that I've never lived in a single house as long as I've lived in this one, not since I was born, not even those twelve years I lived in Temple, Texas. There's a poem in this, I'm sure. Maybe I will write that poem this month. Maybe I will write it later today.)

I emptied out an old laundry basket that held clothes I meant to donate, rackets from some kind of swimming pool game I don't remember buying and don't think we ever used, a set of credit cards from an account I forgot I have and never activated, a birthday card from 2004, an old "don't kidnap my daughter" ID card, a couple of her old stuffed toys, and a small slip of paper about the size of an index card.

The paper intrigued me. I always hope I'll stumble across some stranger's secret letter to a lover tucked between the pages of a library book, but I rarely discover more than a bookmark made from a JC Penney's ad. I flattened the little bit of paper on top of my thigh and laughed. Of course I'm not going to find some stranger's secret correspondence in my laundry basket, but this was almost as good. It was a poem I'd typed out, printed off, cut to a tiny size, folded up and tucked into the back pocket of my jeans a few years ago on Poem in Your Pocket Day (on April 14 this year in case you were wondering).

This poem is sort of like a secret love letter.

The Lights in the Hallway

The lights in the hallway
Have been out a long time.
I clasp her,
Terrified by the roundness of the earth
And its apples and the voluptuous rings
Of poplar trees, the secret Africas,
The children they give us.
She is slim enough.
Her knee feels like the face
Of a surprised lioness
Nursing the lost children
Of a gazelle by pure accident
in that body I long for,
The Gabon poets gaze for hours
Between boughs towards heaven, their noble faces
Too secret to weep.
How do I know what color her hair is? I float among
Lonely animals, longing
For the red spider who is God.

James Wright
(from Above the River: The Complete Poems, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1992))

*

I like to keep my books in pristine condition, though I'm easing up on that "like" because my daughter manhandles her books, and I'd rather her read and bend spines and dogear pages than not read. My James Wright collection is loved so much that I've cracked the spine. Not on purpose, of course, just from use.

*

A bunch of sites out there offer daily prompts for National Poetry Month. I know I won't write a poem a day, 30 poems. I'll write a lot of poetry this month, though, partly because I'll read a lot of poetry, and that always inspires to me to write, partly because I always write a lot of poetry. I want to write a poem soon that has a line I love as much as James Wright's "...longing/For the red spider who is God." I think, "My Girl would like that line, would like the idea of God being a spider."

She is fond of me as eccentric poet-mommy, but I think sometimes rolls her eyes when I start to go off. My babbling helps her to concentrate, I think. She knows she doesn't have to listen to me when I babble the way she doesn't have to listen to reruns of Family Guy she has playing quietly on the television when she does homework.

I've gotten distracted.

I think I will steal a prompt from myself from last year (that I probably subconsciously borrowed from someone else and my apologies if that's so) that I made up for the first day of national poetry month.....

No. I'll make up a new one. What the heck?

This is silly, but here you go:

Dive into your email inbox (unless you're the kind of person who deletes messages as soon as you read them, and then I can't help you). Click on the sixth email from the top. Highlight the first sentence in the email and copy it into a file or write it down on a scrap of paper (you can cheat. If the first sentence doesn't appeal to you, use the second or the third. Who will know?). Use that sentence in a poem. Can be the first sentence of the poem, somewhere in the middle, the title, the last line.

So you'll know, my sentence is, "Greetings from Guatemala." I seriously have THE coolest friends.

(If you don't like the above prompt and want one from me, though you can probably find better prompts from real teachers and better poets, here is last year's:

In celebration of the first day of National Poetry Month, write a “first” poem, a poem about the first time you did something or saw something, maybe think of this as a "never before poem." You can write about the usual – first kiss, first love, first word, step, concert. Or you can write about something a little less expected. I started to write about the first time I visited/lived in a country where I didn’t speak the language. And the first time I tasted liver. (happened the same week))


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ps - I thought about participating in Script Frenzy, which begins today, but I'm getting weary of these monthly challenges. I can pound out 50,000 words in November and sort of reflect daily on my year in December. National Poetry Month isn't about production for me; it's about celebration of this thing I love more than ... well, sex or even coffee. Als0, I haven't written a script since before 2000. I've forgotten how to do it.