Local photographer and friend, Erin Whitson, is displaying his work throughout May at Shades of Brown Coffee & Art in Tulsa. His show is called Tango Marron. You’ll have to come check it out to figure out why it’s a brown tango. I might dance with you.
This Friday, May 4th he is hosting an opening reception from 7-?. He has asked Mercy Teague and me to give a poetry reading starting at 8. The reception details are here.
Mercy Gallagher Teague is a performing poet from Tulsa. She was the Tulsa City-County Library’s 2006 Unpublished Poetry Prize Winner, and was published in Write Bloody Publishing’s The Good Things About America in 2008. She’s been a featured reader at Heller Theater and the Southwest Conference on Literature and Christianity. She can be found at myspace.com/mgtpoetry and youtube.com/user/mgtpoetry.
Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. This is the first time I’ve participated in a writing challenge like this, and a challenge it has been. Whether or not any draft I’ve written this month is worth further development remains to be seen, but even if none is, I think that the practice will yield only positive results in a more general sense.
The last prompt is “write a fade away poem. I’ll let you decide how to interpret what a fade away poem might cover.”
“Death, an Echo”
As I stand at the edge
of his open grave, I hear
his voice from within and
know that he ceases not.
Yesterday’s prompt was delayed because I spent my free time yesterday working on poems for a contest submission that had to be postmarked today (I got it to the post office at about 4pm). The prompt is “take a favorite line or image from an earlier poem this month and re-work it into a new poem. This is a fun exercise that I’ve used to successfully write new poems in the past.”
I’ve also used this method previously. Sometimes a line or idea just doesn’t belong where it was originally placed. I’ve decided to rework a concept from Day 13, correspondence. This correspondence is quite different than the one in that poem.
The first letter is awkward. Materializing
through scribbles the framework of conversation.
Often stumbling, like learning to dance with a
new partner. The reply trades leading role and
adds new steps. Reply step reply step.
Today’s prompt is “write a problem poem. The poem could be about a problem the narrator is suffering through, or someone else’s problem. Or a math problem.”
I feel like having some fun with this prompt. My wife and I have been watching a lot of Star Trek lately (we’re beginning Season 4 of Voyager presently), which has me thinking about interstellar travel and the problem of e=mc^2. Star Trek, of course, solves this problem with warp drive, which creates a bubble that warps space time. Other science fiction concepts defeat the light speed barrier in other ways.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about my older daughter’s approaching 4th birthday. Our closest star (other than Sol) is 4.24 light years away, so today I’ll start a draft of a scientific birthday poem. It may not be my most literary work, but here is what I have so far.
You turn 4 today, and soon
the light from Proxima Centauri
that shined that June day
you arrived will itself arrive.
I don’t know if your generation
will travel there, via rocket or
warp drive, but you should
always reach higher, always
look beyond, always break limits.
Day 27, April PAD is on the home stretch. Since April has been a time of high production, I think May will be time for intensive editing. I feel good about several drafts I’ve written this month, so those may enter my personal cannon. There are some throwaways, too, but even so, this month has provided good practice and improved my writing habits. I need to do some selection and editing before the end of April, though, because Monday is the deadline for The 34th Nimrod Literary Awards contest. Are there any poems I’ve posted this month you would suggest for entry?
In other news, I have a reading coming up on May 4th at Shades of Brown Coffee and Art. My friend, Erin Whitson, is displaying photography throughout May at Shades and has asked Mercy Teague and me to read at his Opening Reception. Here are the details.
Without further ado, the 27th prompt is “take the phrase “The Trouble Is (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of the poem, and then, write the poem. Example titles may include: “The Trouble Is You,” “The Trouble Is Figuring Out How to End This Poem,” or “The Trouble Is What I’m Always Finding.”
“The Trouble is Within”
Blame, cast like stones against the body
of an adulteress, instead of at the source.
Lust forms within. Lust for power. Lust for
gold. Lust extolling self above others.
If we truly desire peace, prosperity, equality,
respect. If we truly truly desire good–out there,
externally, we must seek it first inside.
The Day 26 April PAD Challenge prompt is “write an animal poem. The poem can be about an animal, just reference an animal, or well, however you’d like to handle writing an animal poem.”
I’ve decided to take a straightforward approach with this one and write a haiku about a wolf. Why a wolf, you may well ask. Randall is derived from the Germanic name Randolf, which means “wolf shield.” Commentary I’ve read suggests that the name either signifies the shield wolf in a pack, which leads and protects the pack, or one who is shielded by wolves. Both interpretations seem pretty badass to me. I have a wolf tattoo on my upper left arm (pictured below the poem), the first in a tattoo series I’m doing for each of my names. I have ideas for my middle name and surname, but those shall remain secret until I have enough disposable income to get the tattoos.
standing mountain wolf
calling the lonely moon in
the dead dead night
The prompt for Day 25 of the April PAD Challenge is “write a poem about a sport. Pick any sport you want. And yes, feel free to bend and stretch the rules as far as you wish.”
I chose tennis, the sport that destroyed the cartilage in my knees.
Force does not originate within the arm
as it swings racquet toward ball, even
the tensed leg muscles springing into
the serve. It comes from within the
heart. Connection does not occur between
strings, ball, and opponent’s return. The
cheering or booing from the sides mean
nothing. Just the moment.
The April PAD Day 24 prompt is “the final Two-for-Tuesday prompt of the month, which means we’re faced with these two options:
Write a love poem.
Write an anti-love poem.”
Poets are generally expected to produce love poems (Thanks a lot, Mr. Shakespeare!), but I have terrible difficulty expressing the topic. I do feel good about this draft, though.
Love is an act
I remember walking
through the art-lined halls of the Philbrook
on our first date, the feel of my oar piercing
Table Rock Lake as I paddled our canoe to
the pebbled coast where I knelt for your hand,
how our eyes met the instant before the minister
urged our altar kiss, how your lips still feel
so soft as they envelope mine.
I’ve finally caught up! I hope I can stay on pace for the final week of April PAD. Today’s prompt is “write a morning poem. The poem can be about the morning, take place during the morning, or however you want to work the morning in.”
Why not have a little fun with Donne? Maybe I’ll spend more time with this rough parody later to make it a bit more sophisticated.
“A Valediction Forbidding Morning”
Ask not for whom the alarm clock tolls,
it tolls for thee. Morning has not been forbade
and again approaches swiftly like a flea
intent to steal our blood, mixing it into one.
Batter my heart with caffeine, so none will die.