Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reflections on NaPoWriMo '13

It's hard to know how I feel about the end of NaPoWriMo, because I'm still not entirely sure why I decided to commit to it.  It was sort of a lark.  My aunt was doing it, and so I thought, why not me too?  But I've never felt like I truly had the soul of a poet.  To be honest, I still don't.  There's a certain sensetivity of words and beauty, a certain deep cutting truth that I don't think I possess.   Mostly, though, I'm not infatuated with poetry.  My first love is stories.

That said, even if I don't feel like a "poet," I do have a little more faith in my ability to write poetry.  In truth, I'm only a little surprised I made it through the month, but I'm astonished that most of my poems had enough internal integrity not to collapse on themselves like an under-baked souffle.   Now at the month's end, I have thirty little poems, like crisp new calling cards.  That's something, right?

NaPoWriMo #30: Storm

The storm leaves
on giant bat wings.

It flies blind
over mountain and farm
with thunderous flaps
and suddenly stops.

--April 30, 2013
Prompt: Choose a poem and re-write it by putting in as many opposite words as you can.  


by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on

Monday, April 29, 2013

NaPoWriMo #29: Four Seasons with Japanese


Para-para, para-para
Raindrops sprinkle pink sakura
Petals overflow the gutter


Kira-kira, kira-kira
Sun hits lake and shines like glitter
On stones matsu needles gather


Para-para, para-para
Crimson leaves blow hither-thither
From momiji, shadows scatter


Chira-chira, chira-chira
Snowflakes hit the ground and wither
Ume's budding, I wait eager

--April 29, 2013
Prompt: Write a poem incorporating at least 5 words in a different language.  (I, of course, picked Japanese.)

Japanese Glossary
Para-para: The sound of a light rain or of leaves dropping
Sakura: Cherry
Kira-kira: Light shining off a reflective surface
Matsu: Pine
Momiji: Maple
Chira-chira: The sound of snow lightly falling
Ume: Plum

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: The Skull of Truth

Title: The Skull of Truth
Author: Bruce Coville
Genre: Children's Middle Grade Reader, (Sub)Urban Fantasy


Charlie Eggleston, known as a liar to friends and family alike, is already having a bad day.  His beloved swamp will soon be paved over, he's being chased by bullies, and he's about to be latetor another uncomfortable family dinner.   But when he stumbles into Mr. Elive's magic shop and steals the Skull of Truth, things go from bad to worse.  The wise-cracking skull curses those around him into telling the truth--starting with Charlie!


The cover of the book promises a lot more magic and adventure than are actually in it.  Although the Skull of Truth is important as both a character and a catalyst, the bulk of the plot has to do with untangling a bunch of real-world issues, which include environmentalism versus job creation, the secrets families keep, childhood cancer, etc.  Most importantly, the book examines the many faces of honesty: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Bruce Coville does a great job of showing the complexity of feelings and never paints any issue as black-or-white, good-or-bad.  And yet all the problems are handled with deftness, maturity, and grace.

A child reading this review would probably conclude that the book is boring.  But that's not true.  I found it compelling, and I read it all the way through without putting it down once.  Most of it is clear, not overly wordy, with good characters, constant conflict, and a nicely tied-up ending.  I liked it.  But the fantasy was not as strong as expected, which was a slight let-down.  The very end got abstract.  The setting was murky, it was hard to see what was going on, and the allegory was pretty thick.  Overall, it was a solid book, but not the best Bruce Coville has to offer.

Rant (Spoiler Alert)

The first Bruce Coville book I ever read was The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed.  I think I got it as a present.  I remember that the title and the illustration did not particularly impress me.  I must have been around ten or so, old enough to start devouring chapter books on my own, but still young enough that my mom would read to me before bed.  Somehow, she chose this one and started to read it.

I was hooked after the first chapter.  That was unfortunate, because I kept asking for more and my mom kept falling asleep.  At last, I wrenched the book from her hands and finished it myself.  That same night, I think.  It taught me an important lesson: NEVER read books before bedtime.  You will not sleep!

After that, Bruce Coville became one of my favorite authors.  I read whatever books he wrote that I could get a hold of, but as these were the days before amazon.com really took off, my selection was limited to what I could order on scholastic, what I could buy at Walden's or B. Dalton, and what I could dig up at the library.

Interestingly, I had never heard of the Skull of Truth until I happened upon it at the library bookshop, some twenty years later.  I volunteer at the bookstore every Thursday, which means I get first scan at the books.  When I saw it was Bruce Coville, I snatched it up.  This was partially out of nostalgia, partially because I wanted a book that was quick to read and satisfying.

It was that.  But I must say, the experience of reading Bruce Coville as a kid and the experience of reading him as an adult is very different.  When I was a child, reading was simple.  If the story was good, I kept reading.  If it was bad, I stopped reading.  Books were feelings, not thoughts.  I felt excited or I felt bored.

Now, two decades later, my mind has been so stuffed with education, I can't stop analyzing a story if I try.  The first thing I noticed was the set-up: swamp about to be destroyed--that would have to be stopped by the end of the book; bullies chasing Charlie--that provided the first tangible point of conflict; have to be home for dinner--that provides a deadline, imbues the story with a sense of urgency.

I also noticed a lot of "grown-up" issues being set up: the swamp being paved over to set up an industrial park, the uncle with a close roommate, the friend who had been sick for months and was now returning to school bald.  On the one hand, I felt in awe of Bruce Coville for handling such hot-button topics in a fantasy children's book.  On the other hand, the conflicts were starting to pile up and I had no idea how they'd be resolved.

Beautifully, as it turned out.  One, two, three, all the problems were confronted and resolved.  This was the point in which the analytical part of my brain shut off, and I just started to enjoy myself.  When the book ended, my overwhelming feeling was to sigh happily and marvel at the beautiful simplicity.

Simplicity.  Funny.  As an adult, I value the simple more than I ever did as a child.  As a child, simple would cause me to wrinkle my nose in disgust.  Simple meant predictable.  Simple with boring.  And, as a child, I would have never thought to call Bruce Coville's books simple.  Because, to a child, they're not simple.  To a child, they're complex.

A paradox.  Perhaps.

The points of conflicts, the themes, the underlying emotions are not simple.  But how they're presented and how they're dealt with contain notes of grace.  Little time is wasted on unnecessary worry or angst.  The bad thing happens, the character reacts.  The solution is simple and oft times symbolic, creating maximum impact for the least amount of fuss.  As soon as the issue is resolved, the character moves on.

For example, Charlie's friend Gilbert, who has clearly been undergoing chemotherapy, arrives at school bald.  Gilbert asks Charlie how he looks.  Charlie, under the truth-curse, replies, "I think it looks totally doofy.  And I hope to god it never happens to me."  Gilbert is hurt.  The children ostracize Charlie, the adults guilt him.

Charlie gets angry with the skull and feels guilty and uncertain, but knows he has to do something.  He consults with wise adults.  He apologizes to Gilbert.  As he talks to him and starts to empathize, he comes up with an idea.  Charlie shaves his head.  He saves his friendship with Gilbert.  Others shave their heads to show their support.  The story moves on.

Earlier this week, I read in Tia Nevitt's blog about how reading different genres can help writers work on different elements of their craft.  For instance, fantasy teaches world-building, mystery teaches plot, romance teaches visceral pov, etc.  Though not listed, I believe that children's literature teaches simplicity.

Simplicity, I believe, is something that fantasy writers in particular should work on.  And yes, I do include myself in that category.  My automatic instinct is to make things more and more complicated, believing somehow that it makes the story more interesting.  It is only lately that I've begun to look hard at the benefits of doing a simple thing really well.  It's frightening because without all that razzle-dazzle noise, you no longer have a means of distracting the audience.

Either it's interesting or boring.

Anyway, this rant has gotten very personal, but let me return to the Skull of Truth and point out a few glaring problems, which, while they don't really bug me that much, I do feel inclined to point out.  First of all, there's a lot of "something wicked this way comes" foreshadowing at the start of the book.  The skull all but shivers at the coming doom and the shopkeeper alludes to a mysterious danger.  As it turns out, all this comes to nothing.  And I do mean nothing.

The true climax of the book is the city meeting over the swamp.  That has it all: cunning plots, the gathering of allies, twists, acts of courage, confrontation, and, as to be expected, the revelation of truth.  After that, it's all down-hill.  The resolution of the skull is pure anti-climax.  The author basically uses an allegorical character to expound on the nature of truth.  It's surprisingly abstract and also really hard to visualize.  If not for the illustration, I'm pretty sure I'd have no idea what was going on.

That aside, I really did enjoy the book.  It made me feel refreshed and thoughtful, as a good book should.  I may criticize books, but I always tip my hat when I come across authors who can do what I still aspire to.  So I tip my hat to Bruce Coville.  And I hope one day, I'll be able to master the paradox of complexity and simplicity as deftly as he does.

NaPoWriMo # 28: Rosemary Bread, Lavender Tea

Rosemary bread, Lavender tea
Juniper soup, Lemon candy.
The vittles of witches, oh what a treat.
But they are not good for a mortal to eat.

Rosemary bread, Rosemary bread
Baked by the good witch of Scarpetta Breeze.
Just one big bite will make your head light.
Your cheeks will swell up as though stung by mad bees.

Lavender tea, Lavender tea
Brewed by the good witch of Viola Cay.
One mild sip will make your nose drip
You'll walk in a daze in the moonlight of May.

Juniper Soup, Juniper Soup
Stewed by the good witch of Forrester's Thorn.
One smacking slurp will cause you to burp.
Your belly will roil like waves in a storm.

Lemon Candy, Lemon Candy
Made by the good witch of Sunny Day's Cough
One little suck will make your heart buck
You'll run so fast both your legs will fall off.

Rosemary bread, Lavender tea
Juniper soup, Lemon candy.
The vittles of witches, oh what a treat.
But they are not good for a mortal to eat.

--April 28, 2013
Prompt: A poem based on color.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

NaPoWriMo #27: Writing Excuses

The faeries hid my pens away
And so I cannot write today.

Pixies all my pencils stole,
Hoarded them like they were gold.

And if, by chance, I found a spare
It'd do me little good I fear.

The only sharpener I own
Was smashed by dwarves upon a stone.

Should I then my finger cut
And write this poem in my own blood?

But it were useless, too, I think.
My notebook's eaten by a Sphinx,

Who left me but the metal wire.
And all the elf-lads did conspire

To tear my loose leaf, one by one,
Until their wretched work was done.

And while I flapped around the room
To save my paper from its doom,

The shine of my computer screen
Attracted the hobgoblins' greed.

They took it, plus my best keyboard.
They dragged my mouse out by its cord.

Harpies in my printer nest.
A dragon has burned down my desk.

I wish to leave but can't go far.
A giant skateboards on my car.

Burdened with these pests and blights
How can a poet hope to write?

Brownies stomp upon my head.
I think I'll read a book instead.

--April 27, 2013
Prompt: Pick a common saying and search the Internet for ideas.  (I didn't like this prompt, so I didn't write it.)

Weekly Update: 4-27-13

I officially ended my run at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) yesterday with a grand total of 57207 words.  That means I finished approximately 7000 words and 5 days ahead of schedule.  Intellectually, I was pretty satisfied with the work I'd done.  But I was so drained.  I didn't want to celebrate.  I wanted to sprawl on the couch and watch T.V. until it rotted out of my brain.

This week had not been nice to me.  Maybe I worked too hard last week or something, but this week I crashed.  I got a bad case of insomnia on Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, and partially on Wednesday night.  I felt mildly depressed for a good half a week.  I'd let chores and other tasks pile, but I had no discipline to spare.  And my sinuses were haywire.

Gradually, though, things are getting back to normal.  My insomnia and depression has passed and the sun has returned (literally, as it was cloudy all week).  I got some good reading done yesterday, having finished Bruce Coville's The Skull of Truth.  If I can get some writing an corrspondence done this weekend, I'll be in good shape.

Friday, April 26, 2013

NaPoWriMo #26: In a Churchyard

the knell of parting day
to darkness

Now fades        
solemn stillness
where droning
drowsy tinklings lull

a mouldering heap
for ever laid
The rude sleep

For them no more    
her evening
the envied kiss 

mock their
homely destiny          
with a smile
the poor

boast of 
the grave
the fleeting breath
the silent dust

Some heart   
might have 

the spoils of time
And froze
The applause of  
o'er smiling

Their lot forbade
their crimes confined
wade through slaughter 
And shut the gates of mercy

The struggling pangs       
the blushes of shame
the flame
the madding strife
the cool sequestered vale of
noiseless tenor
these bones
still erected

the unlettered muse
many a holy text
to die
the parting soul
pious drops the closing eye
Ev'n from the tomb 
Ev'n in our ashes 

mindful of the unhonoured dead
their artless tale
by lonely
kindred spirit
the peep of dawn
the dews
meet the sun 
at the foot of yonder nodding beech  

--April 26, 2013
Prompt: An eraser poem.  (Pick a famous poems and erase words or even whole stanzas from it, until it becomes your own.)  Taken from Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NaPoWriMo #25: Hair-of-Gold

A tale of woe I've yet to tell
To you, oh reader fair,
Of a child brought to doom.
The tragedy's her hair.

Golden curls sprang from her head--
Real gold!--fine, smooth, and pure.
A couple clippings from her scalp
Could any thing procure.

Good fortune, yes, it seems to be.
Ah, but luck's a curse.
To a such a girl as Hair-of-Gold
Wealth never has done worse.

Though given all she'd ever want
She never could be pleased.
She threw out meat a tad too tough
As if it were diseased.

She wouldn't eat a blackened pie
Or drink water less than cold.
Perfection only she required.
When she was eight years old,

Tales reached her ears of Faerie Realm
Where everything was good.
This place of magic, it was said,
Lay in the Darkened Wood.

Her neighbors told her it was bad
And begged her not to stray.
But Curls-of-Gold was sick of them
And so she would not stay.

She thought she'd rule the Faerie Realm.
She thought she'd be their queen.
And so she left! By human eyes
She never more was seen.

For she got lost.  The forest dimmed.
Her belly growled.  She floundered.
She'd only missed a single meal,
But quickly hunger found her.

Now, the end of Locks-of-Gold
I tell you with despair.
While wishing for some porridge,
She got eaten by a bear.

--April 8, 2013
Prompt: a Ballard.  (I wrote this early this month, and it works.  Plus, you don't go assigning ballards on a Thursday.  You just don't.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NaPoWriMo #24: Rebecca


rebecca lang
ReBEcca LANg
re ANG bE Lcca
LANg acCebEr
lANG accebER
CA be RE
REBEcca Lang

rebecca dawn lang
reBeccA Dawn GAnL
rebecCA Dawn
Ca lANg CEbeR

rebecca dawn isako lang
dawN isakO
dawN isakO ACcEber
dawN isakO re ANG bE Lcca
dawN isakO REBEcca Lang
dawN isakO Ca lANg CEbeR
gNal Okasi Nawd accEber
Isako rebecCa dAwN


--April 24, 2013
Prompt: Use only the letters in your name to write an autobiographical poem.  (Thank goodness I have four names.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NaPoWriMo #23: Grey Clouds

Today I want to be alone.
Grey clouds hang on the brow of May.
An old dog gnaws upon its bone.
Today I want to be alone.
And ponder feelings of my own.
I wish the birds would go away.
Today I want to be alone.
Grey clouds hang on the brow of May.

--April 23, 2013

Prompt: A triolet: an eight-lined poem in iambic tretamenter (eight syllables). The first, fourth, and seventh line are identical.  The second and last line are identical.  The rhyme scheme should go ABaAabAB.

Monday, April 22, 2013

NaPoWriMo #22: Vegetable Garden

Spring's green tendrils bring to mind
Veggies from another time
Once in orange clay pots grown
A supermarket for my home:
Cherry tomatoes on the vine
Spitting juice, all warm and fine;
Basil with its fragrance sweet;
Purple eggplant full of meat;
Small zucchini's yellow flowers
Grow up soon, I count the hours.
Alas for me, these plants are gone.
Empty pots stand all alone.
All that care has gone to waste.
My garden I no longer taste.

--April 22, 2013
Prompt: In honor of earth Day, write about nature.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NaPoWriMo #21: Fairy Tale Fortune Cookies

You will be declared fairest of them all.  Don't get too attached.

Queen and Princess alike will beg you for a favor.  Decline them.

Taking in a snow-white maid will incur considerable trouble.  Reconsider.

For the love of God, DON'T take presents from strangers!

Like this cookie, glass coffins hold wonderful surprises.

You will be forgotten, grow dusty, and shatter.  Sorry, brother.  Fortune was not on your side.

--April 21, 2013
Prompt: Re-write Frank O'Hara's "Lines from a Fortune Cookie."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Update: 4/20/13

Caring for my cancer-stricken Grandma was less difficult than watching my mother cry.  I don't know why that is.  Except when she's in pain, my grandma seems cheerful and relaxed, albeit lazy.  My mother's emotions seem more intense.  I can't imagine losing a parent myself.  Or dying.  I find myself observing closely, storing memories for a day (hopefully far in the future) when I may have to crack them open for my own benefit.  In the meantime, I try to be as comforting and accomodating as I can be.

Miraculously, I kept afloat of my writing.  I completed my poems for the week and added 15,000 words to the rough draft of my second novel.  I wrote whenever my grandma napped or any other sliver of time I could find.  My writing went slow, but it went.  I'm grateful for that.

I'm surprised I've been able to churn out so many poems.  In college I could hardly write a poem a week.  I'd delve deep into my soul, and after two weeks, my soul would run dry.  But this month, I found a way around it.  I just don't write about myself.  I make up stories or jot down observations or play with language--but I don't cut a vein and drain my life's blood onto the page.  Why should I?  That's not the kind of story I want to write.

Three weeks into NaNoWriMo, and most of my March Brainstorming Notes are now useless.  The story turned while writing.  The plot went wild on me.  I don't consider it a bad thing.  I like it when stories get a mind of their own.  I like it when they go in unexpected ways.  Oddly, when this happens, I see all sorts of interesting connections start tying together.  The story seems to know where it's going, even if I don't.  I hope that's the case.  I have one week left to write up an ending.  Let's hope the muse continues to follow me.

NaPoWriMo #20: Owl and Mermaid

Owl passing o'er waves
Spied Mermaid laying in a cove.
Fins glistened like wet seaweed,
Hair as sweet and black as clove.

Owl fell in love with Mermaid.
When she swam for open sea,
Owl followed on the salt breeze,
Screeching love so earnestly.

Mermaid dove under the dark waves.
Owl circled from above.
Though he could not enter her world,
Still he crooned his songs of love.

Wings gave way, and Owl dropped.
Mermaid's head broke the surface.
As he fell, her arms reached out.
She cradled Owl to her chest.

Though parted by the sky and sea,
They kept a love that could not be.

Always Owl stayed near Mermaid,
Flew the ocean, hunted fish.
Mermaid caught him when he wearied.
Both together were at peace.

Until one day a gale seized Owl,
Blew him far from Mermaid's side.
Feathers torn, he cried for Mermaid,
Sinking into salt-filled tide.

Mermaid wept and searched for Owl
All throughout the ocean grim.
Then one night the ghost of Owl
Came to Mermaid in her dream.

He spoke to her of the dark water
Where his broken body lay.
Mermaid swam but could not find it.
Fish had gnawed his bones away.

In the sand lay one black feather.
Mermaid wore it in her hair.
Worlds united, Owl's spirit
Followed Mermaid everywhere.

Though parted now by death and life,
They kept their love against all strife.

--April 20, 2013
Prompt: Choose 5 words from a list and write a poem with them.  I chose: Owl, Clove, Seaweed, Salt, and Ghost

Friday, April 19, 2013

NaPoWriMo #19: Seeking Juliet

Seeking Juliet.
Beauty bloomed of thirteen years.
Must love knives, poison.

--April 19, 2013
Prompt: a personal ad.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NaPoWriMo #18: Bad Days Come

days come
like flies, one
following another.  A swarm
of small annoyances, constantly buzzing
headaches.  Bad days come
and I want
sleep so

--April 18, 2013
Prompt: Begin and end with the same word.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NaPoWriMo #17: Good Morning, Chloe!

Good morning! Yes, it seems to be,
When joyfully greeted by a puppy,
Who leaps like a carp on top of my lap
And, ignoring the keyboard's tap, tap, tap,
She licks my fingers, one by one,
muffing my efforts to write this poem.
So I pet her ears and she snuggles in deep,
and just when I think she's fallen asleep,
Up! She springs lightly and bids me to play,
though I've barely yawned last night's sleep away.
Good morning!  Yes, it seems to be:
Laughing while chasing a peppy puppy.

--April 17, 2013
Prompt: a poem of greeting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NaPoWriMo #16: Dragon (Fake Translation Poem)


Rumors stolen from a sleeping poet.
The sky passes slowly.

She lies in patient slumber.
She dreams of drowned rowans.

Literary ambitions grow wild.
The worm chews at deft delicacy.

Precision turns shaky.
Haikus cannot be helmed.

Problems arise
And so does the dragon.

Heart's truth
Whored by opium.

Worm's Victory. Originality's Widow.
Pyres made of coffee.

--April 16, 2013
Prompt: Find a poem in a language you don't know and write a fake translation of it.

Actual Poem

Ewa Lipska

Lubię panią pisze do mnie dwudziestoletni poeta.
Początkujący cieśla słów.

Jego list pachnie tarcicą.
Jego muza drzemie jeszcze w różanym drewnie.

W literackim tartaku ambitny hałas.
Czeladnicy okładają łatwowierny język fornirem.

Przycinają nieśmiałe sklejki zdań.
Wystrugane heblem haiku.

Problemy zaczynają się
z wbitą w pamięć drzazgą.

Trudno ją wyjąć
jeszcze trudniej opisać.

Lecą wióry. Ogryzki aniołów.
Pył do samego nieba.

Ewa Lipska

I like you, a twenty-year-old poet writes to me.
A beginning carpenter of words.

His letter smells of lumber.
His muse still sleeps in rosewood.

Ambitious noise in a literary sawmill.
Apprentices veneering a gullible tongue.

They cut to size the shy plywood of sentences.
A haiku whittled with a plane.

Problems begin
with a splinter lodged in memory.

It is hard to remove
much harder to describe.

Wood shavings fly. The apple cores of angels.
Dust up to the heavens.

Monday, April 15, 2013

NaPoWriMo #15: Still Lovely is the Dying Rose

Still lovely is the dying rose.
Old petals grow a deeper red.
Grandma, face stilled by sleep's repose,
Lies cat-like curled upon her bed.

--April 15, 2013

Prompt: A Pantun, a Malay poem with four lines, abab rhyme scheme, and 8-12 syllables per rhyme.  The first two lines and the second two lines should not have a logical, straight-forward connection.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NaPoWriMo #14: The Stepmother's Tale

Why should I grant an interview
To one who chides me on my sin
And revels in my current squalor
As you heap judgement on my kin?

For my abuse of Princess Ella,
Call me wicked.  I'll forgive.
But if you dare to call my daughters
That unsightly adjective

I will fly into a rage
And box your ears full with my broom.
Cinders fall upon your face
As I eject you from my home.

But speak to me as once I was:
a noble woman filled with pride
Who loved a captain foreigner
And sailed the ocean by his side.

Two lovely daughters I bore him
And no one called them hideous.
In far lands their dark complexions
Were considered quite beauteous.

Alas, for them, my husband died.
Bereaved, I married his first mate.
The fortunes my love willed to me
Twice doubled his modest estate.

And yet upon our wedding night
His true nature was shown.
He made my daughters servants
In their very own home.

When they cleaned the fireplace,
He said, "Does it not suit them
For who can see the ashes
Smeared upon their swarthy skin?"

Three years they toiled, 'til his death.
I watched helpless all the while.
My daughters bore his mocking
and forgot how to smile.

After his death, the chimney
Still needed to be swept.
Time had come for justice.
Rose-white Ella paid the debt.

Innocent of wrong, perhaps,
But she could not disguise,
The lightness of her figure
Nor the laughter in her eyes.

Three girls suffered the same fate,
Only one wins the reward.
The plain ones live as paupers
While the beauty gets the lord.

I won't send my apologies
To her or any other.
To my own daughters I regret
They had so poor a mother.

--April 14, 2013
Prompt: Persona poem.  (Write from the point of view of a larger-than-life character.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NaPoWriMo #13: Walking the Dog in 5 Haikus

Lupine from Father's
garden.  Yellow blossoms rise
like bricks of butter.

Saturday sprinklers.
Pitbull canters through wet grass.
Paw prints seem so small

Pebbles cannot form
a garden.  It may be art,
but gardens must live.

Dandelion stems
rule the yard.  It makes me think
of sad-eyed children.

A thirsty puppy
gulps down water. Bi-bi-bi birds
sing in my back yard.

--April 13, 2013
Prompt: Take a walk and write your observations into a poem.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekly Update: 4-12-13

I guess some things don't go as you plan.  When I wrote up my schedule for the spring, I didn't plan on my grandma being diagnosed with terminal cancer.  But that's what happened.  This is the time for me to take a close look at my life and figure out what has to change.  Writing accounts for only a small portion of that change.

This week is spring vacation for my school.  At the beginning, I planned to use the extra time to get work done, namely to continue with NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo as planned and to try and sneak in another draft of my chapter.  I also had some social engagements.  As everyone does, I tried to schedule in too much during my vacation time and got stressed out.  Then my mom called and asked me to come home.

My grandma was in surgery.  She got out of the hospital on Thursday.  I arrived Wednesday night.  Now spring breaks are not well coordinated, so although I'm on break now, my mother and my aunt (who both work as aids) are not.  They had to take time off work.  At the same time, my grandma is being admitted into hospice.  I was there to keep Grandma company and help out.

They asked me to take off next week to help take care of my grandma, as she recovers from surgery and adjusts to these end-of-life changes.  Since my work is spotty at best, I agreed.  I'm not quite sure how next week will go, but I'll deal with it when it comes.

As for my writing, well, I stayed on track Monday through Wednesday, not so much on Thursday and Friday--for obvious reasons.  I'm struggling to do NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo.  If I keep up with those, it will be a miracle.  All other writing is currently on hiatus.  Whatever gets done gets done.

NaPoWriMo #12: Two Flowers

I sigh to see a violet
Solitary iris
Standing still and quiet
In a pool of twilight.

But when I glance at scarlet flax,
Black-centered, dancing,
Stems blown back,
I don't know why it makes me laugh.

--April 4, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NaPoWriMo #11: Childhood Home

In the morning hush,
the garden appears faded,
like the couch cushions.
I wait to visit Grandma
in the hospital, alone.

--April 11, 2013
Prompt: A tanka, a Japanese poem with 5-7-5-7-7 syllables.  It should have a surprise at the end.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NaPoWriMo #10: Monarchs

When I see your skinny legs
Poking from your gaudy robes
My belly roils like scrambled eggs.
I want to scream and run.

You taste nectar with your toe
Oh, how you disgust me.
You can't travel alone, no, no.
You bring along your family.

Others praise your noble grace
I just see fragility.
Corpse lie in every place
Waiting to surprise me.

Why do people who display
Your dead body under glass
Always look to me and say,
"Becky, you're one strange lass!"

--April 10, 2013
Prompt: An Un-Love Poem.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep hatred/ disgust for butterflies, especially Monarch Butterflies.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NaPoWriMo #9: Dance, Princess, Dance

Dance, princess, dance
Under starlit canopies:
Golden trunks, silver leaves.
Clover made of amethyst.

Twirl, princess, twirl.
Scent of peaches, apples red,
Cherries resting in their bed.
Wine-filled goblets set in pearl.

Lurch, princess, lurch
Near a pool, but don't look in
If you dare not see your sin.
Revel only in your mirth.

Pant, princess, pant.
Snake-filled branches, rotting fruit,
Demons gnashing teeth at you.
Spells you cannot disenchant.

Fall, princess, fall
to your pillow, sleep's your friend.
We will find you soon again.
Tattered slippers fill the hall.

--April 8, 2013
Prompt: Noir.  This is a fantasy poem, but I think it has a Noir undertone.  I wrote it last night.

Monday, April 8, 2013

NaPoWriMo #8: Time for Bed

The elves in my head give me nothing but dread
when they pound their wee hammers in frolicsome knells
upon their brass gongs.  They beat drums made of lead
and subject me to torments of ten thousand hells
'til I wave my white flag and retreat into bed.
Then the songs of their noise start to conjure up spells.
Gossamer faeries spring up from the deep.
and dance all night long with the elves while I sleep.

--April 8, 2013
Prompt: Ottava rima--an eight-line poem with a rhyme scheme of ab ab ab cc.  Traditionally it's supposed to be in iambic pentameter, but I had trouble enough with the rhymes!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

NaPoWriMo #7: Turtle in a Tank

I see black squares painted on your belly.  
I see you glide unburdened by your shell.
I wonder how you grew so small.
An age ago you swam with dinosaurs.
You gave piggyback rides to shipwrecked sailors.
Now you fit inside my pocket.
What is freedom to a turtle in a tank?

--April 7, 2013
Prompt: Every line is a single, declarative sentence, except the last one, which is a question.

Note: I got through the first week of NaPoWriMo!  I'm rather surprised.  I didn't expect to be able to write poetry everyday.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekly Update: 4/6/13

These past few days, I've been feeling slightly depressed.  It's a soft and lingering sadness, a shadow that hangs over my heart.  I think it comes of overmining my ideas.  I love to write, but sometimes when I write too much, I feel drained of emotions, a little empty.  I think the worst part is putting your whole heart into something and wondering whether any of it will be read, appreciated, cherished.  You hope for it, but realistically you know that most of what you write will languish in obscurity.  You wonder what's the point.

I got another rejection this week.  #20, I think.  Maybe that's the cause of all this angst.

Anyway, this month, I began Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo.  In essence, I write 15,000 words a week and a poem a day.  So far, that's been going fine, but so far I haven't had a lot of substituting jobs.  Next week is vacation, so I should be okay.  It's the last two weeks that trouble me.

I feel--as I always feel--that I should have gotten more accomplished this week.  I've been disorganized lately, and I haven't kept track of my hours.  Again.

NaPoWriMo #6: Little Wrinkled Thing

Little wrinkled thing,
peach-soft, coated
in slime. You
draw air from
my lungs.  You
cry for attention.
Don't you know,
little wrinkled thing,
the world wants
to kill you?
They'll gnaw you.
They'll scratch you.
They'll eat you
up.  Don't worry.
I'll give you
my skin.  Until
you're big enough
to take their
beatings, I'll bleed
for you, my
little wrinkled thing.
So many things.
I must decide
who to protect
and who to

--April 6, 2013
Prompt: Say Goodbye in a Poem.  (I did not do this. Instead, I found myself musing on ideas and how easily they are killed by criticism.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

NaPoWriMo #5: The Fault of Spring

Is it
the fault of spring
that warm days drive men to
war, that cherry petals fall on

--April 5, 2013

Prompt: Write a cinquain, a five stanza poem with 2, 4, 6, 8 and 2 syllables, with an even number of stressed and unstressed sylables.  (I'm not sure I got that part right.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo #4: What Makes April a Cruel Month

What makes April a cruel month
is her insistence
on veiling forgotten nests
with white cotton puffs
of freckled cherry blossoms.

--April 4, 2013
Prompt: Use a name of an Iain M. Banks spaceship (ie, Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill) as a title of the poem.  But this didn't inspire me, so I just wrote my own poem.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NaPoWriMo #3: Silly Shanty

The first time I swam in the ocean,
I got swallowed by a whale.
She brought me to the very bottom,
And that's where I begin this tale.

I met with Poseidon and his daughters.
They didn't like the sight of me.
So they shooed me to a desert isle
with a single coconut tree.

I had no companions save for Ginger,
my pretty little calico cat.
But one day a coconut fell from the tree,
and my pretty little Ginger went splat.

Pirates sailed to my island.
They were searching for lost gold.
But I stole their ship while they dug and dug
And I left them out in the cold.

I sailed to Tahiti and New Zealand.
And then to the island of Japan.
A samurai showed me how to use a sword,
but I missed and sliced open a man.

His family swore to have their vengeance.
They slew me and stuck me on a pole.
My soul slipped down into Hades,
Where Cerebus devoured me whole.

Saint Peter came to read my misdeeds.
He told me I'd done so very wrong.
He asked me what I regretted the most,
And I said, "Ever writing down this song."

--April 3, 2013
Prompt: A Sea Shanty (A rhymed, rythmic song of the sea)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NaPoWriMo #2: Mermaid's Melody

I have swallowed tears of whales
and choked on bones of jellyfish
to walk with Lover hand-in-hand
on white shores made of dried stardust.

I have sung a song of love
in coral woodlands, vast and deep
"Come back to me," my mother cries.
I hear her voice yet in my sleep.

I have sailed a silver ballroom
in a green dress soft as moss
to witness Lover pluck a kiss
from a strange maid's lips of rose.

I have sung a song of love
in lonely dungeons, dark and deep.
"Come back to me," my lover cries.
I hear his voice yet in my sleep.

I have combed the salty dewdrops,
scarlet blood, from out my hair,
just to keep in Lover's chest
the knife carved of my mother's pearl.

--April 2, 2013
Prompt: A poem that tells a lie

Monday, April 1, 2013

NaPoWriMo #1: Epitaph on an Artist

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after.
He sought it in low-countries where men turned their head.
But when he met the beast, it would not yield.
So he wrestled with it until blood
Was wrung from his veins, until
Tears dripped down his face, and Defeat
Graciously accepted him.
Children stare at the scars on his body,
Eyes bright with wonder.

--April 1, 2013

Prompt: Use the first line of a famous poem to write your own poem.
Poem Used: "Epitaph on a Tyrant" by W.H. Auden

Introduction to NaPoWriMo

April is National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo.  So, I'm going to try something a bit different.  This month, I'm going to write and post all my poems on this blog.  Now bear in mind that I'm not really a poet and my material isn't polished.  For me this is an experiement in endurance and brevity.

For more information on NaPoWriMo go to www.napowrimo.net

Happy April.