Day 26 – poem about not asking your mother for ideas

Cat Nap Over a Starry Night CROP

Late at night, and no poem written, I foolhardily ask my mother for a noun, verb & adjective. The resulting cat, spinning & fluffy do little to inspire. Immediately I regretted asking. My first off-the-cuff effort took only 10 seconds.

     the fluffy cat
     did not sit
     on the mat
     instead spent
     her time
     spinning

After 45 minutes of trying other things, I had nothing so quickly whipped up… It could get better next draft. (Couldn’t it?)

fluffy spinning cat

i knew the cat was not
from the same universe
as me almost as soon
as she showed up
on my mat

now i’m not normally
a cat fan but this one
was so fluffy i nearly
forgave it its
felinity

which is, of course,
the very worst thing
you can do to any cat
intergalactic
or not

she slowly smiled until
she disappeared
teeth last, popped back
climbed with all claws
up my thigh

dematerialised with a ping
returned sitting on
the window sill, squeaked
in a high pitched voice
& sent me to asleep

as i start to drift off
the stars start spinning
she pulls out a red balloon
& floats away up
into the sky

& curls up for a catnap
in the crescent moon

 

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Day 21 – poem about the dark

milky_way_panorama_by_bobby01-d48thle

Visits to my parents’ farm during New Moons have always been mystical. I like walking over land I cannot quite see. Beautiful blackness in all directions. Only the frail light of starlight millions of years old to guide my way (hell, that’s good, why isn’t that in the pome? haha).

I’m not satisfied with the last lines, but as I only started this an hour or so ago, I’m running out of time & will just have to let it stay as is for now.

source

i believe very little
but i truly believe
every human soul
should experience
true country dark
every 100 days, minimum

somewhere far from
a light polluted city
when the moon is in
recovery mode, & the earth
reflects back the black
birth of the universe

only alone in the vast absence
& endlessly reverberating silence
we find how much dark matters

Day 20 – All the Games, All at Once

Today was Day 3 of my Poet’s Residence (yep, already 3/4 of the way through it) & it was a wonderful day. When I arrived there was already someone waiting to start (Christine), and within a minute Kim arrived (I had spoken to him last week & he came back to participate this week). Within an hour, both had written quite lovely poems. Kim said he will post his on his blog. I hope he does & if so, I will link to it.

Neither Christine or Kim could stay for the whole session, but overall I had five people in today, including my friend & fellow poet Sarah Radford, who whipped off a wonderful poem based on the Last Line (Gone) of one of the books Kim chose (“bleed like me” was the line.) Kim also wrote a great poem using that prompt. My “bleed like me” poem, however, needs further work before I’ll share it.

The day ended with another new arrival, Rohan – who created in under an hour, a very sparse, elegant landscape poem which he also promised to put on his blog.

I also wrote a poem I was extreeeeeeeeeemmmmllllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyy pleased with (tentatively called lift, the title’s the main thing that needs tweaking). I’m not sharing that one day here, but will read it next week during the performance phase of my final day.

But here’s the one I will share. It was made by combining the games Judging a Book By Its Cover, Last Line (Gone) & even, First Line to End It.

game of thorns

to live a life — where you are happy — more often — than you are not — where the jagged thorns — don’t puncture skin — too often — where your world is framed — by bramble — hidden away — in a castle — long ago abandoned — by disney — where the darkness — reflects — where stars salt the sky — where the cold — is sharper than sleep — where the zig zag path — always leads — to the crescent moon — & where — ‘once upon a time’ — actually meant something

thorn closeup CROP

Games played with the cover, first line & last line of Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan (reworking of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale). Last line: “And that really is all anyone can hope for” & first line: “once upon a time”.

Day 19 – Photocopy of a photocopy of Dante

Another day of Last Line (Gone). Yesterday was fun & easy. Rules: use last line of book as first line of poem, then once complete, remove it [Optional extra: let book’s title influence the mood of the poem]. Again, stream-of-conscious, fast, fun & very little editing.

After tonight’s excellent Lee Marvin Reading, fellow poet & friend Thom Sullivan & I, sat on some public furniture & chatted about the poeting caboodle. He mentioned (again) Australian poet, John Kinsella as someone whose (best) work interests him. He’s suggested I should read him several times now, oops … & every time I’ve promised myself that when I get home, I’d remember to take out my only book of Kinsella’s (Divine Comedy: Journeys through a regional geography) & check it out.

Tonight, at last, I remembered. (Well, to take it out. In reality, I only “checked out” the last couple of pages.) Today’s last line is taken from that collection.

semidivine comedy

we hoped we would — instead — we rushed apart — like breaking glass — like the coffee cup — tipping over your phone — notebook — collection of poetry you were carrying — it’s been that kind of day — road blocks — crime scene tape — bureaucratic pedantry — bureaucratic banality — bureaucratic pettiness — always had trouble spelling bureaucracy — even after spellcheck figured out — what i was trying to type — still get it wrong — the word as irritating — as the construct — it represents — a day spent rushing — trying to catch up to itself — sort itself out — wondering where you went — whether you’d be back — another heart — left behind — another story — incomplete — a homeless guy — with a worse tale — doesn’t even know a joke — but can rail — against the system — give him money — realise — life can be a starlit canto — if you let it

semdivcomCROP

LAST LINE: grow inseparable.

Day 18 – Genesises & Apocalypses

New Game today. This one is called Last Line (Gone). Gotta admit, I’m a bit happy about it too. Games which involve titles or other writers’ words are really hard to construct. Far easier to have something less literal as your trigger.

So for this Game, the name kind of says it all. Take the last line of a book, use it as the first line of your poem, then once the poem/pome is complete, remove the first line. Too easy. & a lot more liberating. Different style to many posted this month: written very stream-of-consciously & with minimal editing. I also tried to let the book’s title influence the mood of the poem somehow.

Today’s last line is taken from a crime novel I’m reading ATM, The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning (second in a very fun short series about Denver cop turned bookseller, Cliff Janeway). & so …

wake

knowing everyone’s about — to be crushed — the weight of stars — tumble down — slash the sky — fall upon the ocean — boil it dry — steam drown the air — fall upon the desert — raise dust — fill lungs — the cough of life

adam was made of earth — eve of his rib — why didn’t god — just make her — of more earth —  surely rib-theft — was unnecessary — & if he only stole one — why aren’t our ribcages — lopsided — many things make no sense — if you question — deeply — some things — just make none

the first — of many apocalypses — a rain of fire — the book of days — the days of the screen — when poets rule the earth — pleasant fantasy — or metaphors gone wild — plato banished poets — fearful of mimesis — imitation is evil — dangerous influence — what would he know —  we try not to laugh

if only he’d banned — reality TV — or rabid evangelists — from his republic — instead — we might take him — more seriously

wakeCROP

LAST LINE: In the yard behind the store i look at the black sky & wonder what books tomorrow will bring. [stanza 1 started by phrase: ‘i look at the black sky’; stanza 2 by: ‘in the yard’; & stanza 3 by: ‘tomorrow will bring.’]

Day 14 – Second New Game, still learning the rules

Being a new week (after second Poet in Residence session yesterday), means I start a new game (actually I’ll be playing a couple this week).

This one I’m still kinda making up as I go along (it’s a test run for next week) & it harks back to the Title Poem of week one, I’m calling it Gossip: which means – Choosing a book, opening it randomly several times, picking out phrases, words, images, ideas … then assembling them to make a poem. I have chosen a phrase from: the first & last pages (1 & 378), every 50 pages (50, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350), & 5 random pages (55, 173, 221, 292 & 292, yes I opened it to the same page twice)

I’ve done a couple of test runs today & it’s certainly easier than Title Poem was. More fun too, cos there’s more choice & you can choose ‘clues’ to help give the book away. Can you guess the identity of the book? Today’s is, admittedly, pretty easy …

shirley of verdant verandahs

it was a terrible temptation
an irresistible temptation
so much superfluous flesh

the dark secrets of pool
& cascade soft mingling
of fireshine & shadow

the sunshine fell down
the sunshine of a 100 summers
through the misty blue air

but my ambition in life
is to go down the shore road
beyond the bend in the road

beyond the wind & stars & fireflies
till i can forget all about you
your drinking of raspberry cordial

& how one of your roses fell
out of your hair which i
picked up & put in my pocket

Verdant CLOSEUP

Note: the order the lines appear in are pages: 173, 200, 55, 1, 292, 100, 292, 350, 300, 50, 378, 221, 150, 250

 

 

 

Day 10 – Celestial Motions

Today was always going to be about this topic, given it is 4 months since one of my best mates died. I’ve tried half a dozen times to write about this loss (as well as other recent & ongoing ones) without much success. This comes closest so far …

nebula

& so . in a way . we all die young .
younger than we’d like . even if
we live to a hundred and twenty .
younger than our loved ones want
too . too long lost . in that aching
chasm . that distance between
stars that is all that’s left . when
there is nothing of you . left . except
a wisp . a tear . an echo of laughter .
a hair . a sigh . a gasp . a stifled
sob . an aimless wandering from
room to room . trying to remember
where you are . where you went . & why

cone CROP

NOTE: cover is from Tracy K. Smith’s lovely collection, Life on Mars. It is imaginatively titled: ‘Cone Nebula Close Up’ (I think in part because it is a Close Up of the Cone Nebula).

NOTE 2: I know ‘technically’ this poem may not really Ekphrastic in the strictest sense of the word, but is definitely an emotional response to the image.