Month: April 2012

Coming Full Circle

A bit late, but here it is, the very last poem for this year’s NaPoWriMo. It was fun while it lasted, so I decided to take on the last official prompt as a sort of homage to the project:

Today’s prompt asks you to write a poem incorporating at least three “I remember” statements. This invocation of memory seems a fitting way to end our month together.

So there you go.

Remember

It was pouring with words of wisdom
No one was paying attention to
Because it had become a routine,
Almost. I remember that our most
Shameful desires were looking for
Each other in the dark, dreading
Collision. Your hands were colder
Than mine for once, but my teeth
Had become sharper than yours.
I remember that people were
Looking at us, strangers with clever
Maps, but none of them offered
Their assistance. We were soaked
To the marrow in wisdom by now,
Still we kept using our umbrellas
As walking-sticks. I remember
That you tried to steal some
Granny’s semi-feral cat, but
It bit you hard and you almost
Fainted. I suppose it was a
Stratagem to gain my compassion.
It’s fine, though. I, too, pretended
To cry, when it was just wet
Words melting my kohl into
Unseemly, sticky streams. We
Kept walking for a while,
But where we got to in the
End, I can’t seem to remember.

“The Whalers” by Vincent Hui

Of Bath-tubs and Card Games

photograph by Anna Morosini

I thought that for once I’d be able to do the NaPoWriMo challenge without missing a day, but apparently I was too quick to judge. So today I had to make up for yesterday, as well. I don’t really mind it, though, it seems that a day’s break from writing poetry did wonders for my lyrical garrulity.

The prompt for day 28 was great and very permissive, so I really took to it

Today’s challenge is to write a poem of space. Perhaps you could write about the contrast between the snug confines of a shell and the airy majesty of opera houses. What about a cavern? — it is both airy and oppressive — a vast pocket deep underground! Or you could write about the spaces of your memories — the space formed under the table with its big tablecloth, which was your playhouse and fort when you were a child. (I myself spent happy hours in the space formed beneath two large bushes in the backyard). Thinking about the emotional aspects of space give me the same kind of feeling of inversion and surprise as looking at an optical illusion — here I was, not noticing all of these currents of feeling, but wow! There they are.

So here’s what came out of that challenge:

Ocean

I feel like a specimen –
folded into an origami crane
in the bath-tub,
not yet too wet, but waiting for the water level
to rise, slowly, hypnotised
by its creeping pace.
The scarred white of
the enamel marks every
one of my kicks, every on
of my struggles with the
scalding jets of water.
Closing my eyes, I can feel
an unnatural ocean,
where I am the sole inhabitant.

And for today, I decided to try and write a pentina, for the second time in my life (the first time I tried writing one was for last year’s NaPoWriMo). My fascination with faces, playing cards, tarot cards and eerie light has resurfaced one more on this occasion. Well, I suppose this one will be an odd read, if nothing else (the final envoi is a bit off as well, but never mind for now).

Phosphorescence

You taught me the meaning of phosphorescence
One evening, as we were playing cards;
You shuffled them easily and without delay,
As though you were born to deal carton faces
To delusional, ambrosia-sipping players.

You and I used to be such terrific players,
Laughing recklessly, our hands aglow with the phosphorescence
Of a fake moon, staring into each other’s faces,
Like children lost into their game of cards,
Unperturbed by the bus or train or tram service delay.

You taught me that sometimes it was best to delay
The final blow, meant to shake off the other players.
You were always too good at reading signs in those cards,
And I was bewitched by your unearthly phosphorescence.
At the end of the day, I liked to compare our faces.

They had always seemed so alike, yet so different, our faces,
Between your and my smile there was a slight delay,
A sort of momentary lag, the result of my weaker phosphorescence.
This was customary between different ranks of players,
Reluctantly disputing their monopoly over the cards.

You taught me the rules and the cheats of the cards,
All written plainly on their pink carton faces,
Reflected so often on the faces of the overzealous players.
But even with the well-calculated pass delay,
I was never able to learn the secret of your phosphorescence.

The phosphorescence you shed on the cards
Dictated the delay in the faces of the players.

“Gunslinger Woman” by Fung Chin Pang aka Cellar

A Matter of Standing Face to Face…

On day 27 of the writing challenge I was in the mood to write a pantoum, as I haven’t done this in a very long time. And I made full use of my long-standing obsession with faces.

Faces

Flickering faces
So old and worn
Can at times be spotted
In the winding river.

So old and worn,
They all look alike
In the winding river,
Stony and smooth.

They all look alike,
But their eyes sparkle oddly,
Stony and smooth
Though they may be.

But their eyes sparkle oddly,
Fixed and lifeless
Though they may be,
Looking always straight back at me.

“Prey and Predator” by Ryuko Azuma

Not-Quite-Mourning

The prompt for NaPoWriMo today was absolutely brilliant:

For today, I challenge you to write an elegy. Classically, an elegy is a poem written in response to someone’s death, a poem of mourning and remembrance. Your elegy can be about a specific person, a group of people, a pet, a plant, even an idea.

I love elegies, so here’s some spontaneous combustion in poetic form:

Meditation on a Makeshift Floor

I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl
~ Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scar Tissue

I must have been absent –
minded when you fell
through the cracks in our
makeshift floor. I don’t know.
All I know is – when I
snapped back into it
you had evaporated,
leaving nothing but
some of your sarcasm
behind. I wonder if
you found your way
to the angels or if
they got lost and stumbled
upon you, bitter and
resigned. Either way,
it must have been
quite something: I can imagine
the dangerous curiosity their
faces betrayed and the
devilish glint in the corner
of your eye. Quite plainly,
I see you have taken
your leave forever, and yet
I carry on breathing,
in the hope that
when you get bored in heaven
you will send some of that
nectar my way – preferably
in a tin-plated steel can.

Some for the City

Well, it’s late again, but better late than never. It’s day 24 of NaPoWriMo and I’ve just reached the end of one notebook. I’m feeling slightly proud of myself.

The City

Faintly, the smell of self-deception
Seeping through, and the subway
Tunnels invite us in to partake
From the sacrament of the city.
Lighted candles lead the way for
The rats when the pigeons fall asleep
In the dungeons. We carry on over
Interlacing lines, drunk on heartaches
And the shifting shadows of our city.

A Gruesome Fairground

So… I’m afraid a gruesome, eerie, unpolished rondeau will have to do for today. That’s all I could come up with.

Carousel

The dancers going round and round,
Etched on a carousel of sound;
They would unfold their battered skin
With every skid and every spin,
But to the fairground they are bound.

For every game of lost and found
One dancer’s tethered to the ground
And in the ever-growing din
Its feet are cut.

By day their golden hair is wound
Around the neck of the play-hound
Until the beast would grit and grin
Absorbed into the raging spin
And on a growing, moon-bathed mound
Its feet are cut.