NaPoWriMo 2021 #16 – Off the rhyming prompt

Today’s optional rhyming prompt
is just not my cup of tea.
All my poems used to rhyme
but at some point they stopped –
I freed myself from that
requirement when I could,
when I learned why it was
merely an optional prompt.
Now I lean towards fourteen lines,
these days, though I vary
the lines’ length. The main thing
is the telling of the story –
the pleasure of the text,
the deep love the words convey.

April 21, 2014 #NaPoWriMo14

#Twitterversary.
Five years twittering.
Post Baghdad-funk –
not even a week in Hawai’i
180 degrees away
could shake the sleepless nights –
and so I twittered;
pre-Damascus-buzz,
duty phoned – don’t answer calls
from that office the next time –
definitely needed-to-tweet period.
This is a poem.

January 31, 2014 #smallstones

Van Gogh’s repetitions:
dude must have been stoned –
painting that same postman
over & over & over again –

like Stein, repeating a phrase
repeatedly, each time with teensy
weensy alterations, a word portrait
of a Napoleon or a Picasso –

I have been known to write a poem
twice, three times, each time a little different,
four times if I really meant it –
so I know where Vince is coming from…

but I always get told to tighten
the top of my favorite ink bottle…

January 30, 2014 #smallstones

to capture the attention of the market,
we need something dramatic,
something that seizes its imagination:

then enslaves it, then anesthesizes it,
putting it in a deep sleep, the deep sleep
of brain death, the un-dead.

Then they will buy whatever we sell them.

The core product is fear – the actual
product is the security they think they prefer
to protect themselves from feeling the fear
they already bought –

the augmented product is all the images
we show them on the TV to make up
for the freedoms they lost, the birthright
they gave away, the un-born.

January 29, 2014 #smallstones

MegaBus
departing Washington
approaching Baltimore
en route to Philadelphia
dawn softly breaking
on the eastern horizon

muted green lights above each seat
not enough to read by
too much to sleep by
could it be kryptonite –
draining me
of all my super powers –
slowly?

January 28, 2014 #smallstones

Ray, pathway, today
Mandalay, DNA, Monterrey
Passion Play, Lady Day, protege
mayday, naysay, melee
dapple-gray, Santa Fe, rhymes with Ray

January 27, 2014 #smallstones

In Philadelphia I sense the spirit
of the Founder, his iconic image
everywhere, his ghost haunting
the back streets and alleyways
of this City of Brotherly Love –

always in awe of his foresight,
his vision, of the principles
which built this great nation:

and I am baffled –
we have fallen so short:
how the f— did we get it so wrong,
drive so far off track, so wrong?

January 26, 2014 #smallstones

It’s my favorite part of a concert:
the tuning of the instruments –
a cacophony of horns and strings
a single piano & light percussion –
warming up, tightening the bow
just so, sharpening the flats
of sound:

my favorite part.

Then the first violin walks in. And just
like a beehive where the queen
has been absent, the random buzz
of tuning stops and a calm descends
on the collective:

she strums a C-note & all join in.

January 25, 2014 #smallstones

Dvorak
not as pretty as Brahms
nor as majestic as Beethoven
nor as finely textured as Mozart –
but goddamned triumphant

a well-balanced, futuristic synthesis
of the rhythms of Native American dance
and the melodies of Negro Spirituals
and the bassline of joyous Bohemia –
a new world still is coming:
triumphant, indeed.

January 24, 2014 #smallstones

full days:
road trip to Westminster
(how I hate those six-lane highways!)
to meet new clients/outline new work –
locked up inside all Friday studying –
classes and work all day Saturday –
road trip to the City of Brotherly Love
Sunday for work and for poetry
(wonder how far is it from
the conference site to the Art Museum?) –
bus up at the crack of dawn,
(go MegaBus, and leave the driving to us!)
Amtrak back at midnight.

January 23, 2014 #smallstones

neighborhood public library patrons –

half wandering homeless:
seeking refuge from environmental elements,
seeking refuge from boredom/ignorance,

reading books –

half wandering retirees like me:
seeking refuge from boredom/ignorance,

reading books –

both have rights to public space

January 22, 2014 #smallstones

smooth white snowflakes coat
the algae build up inside
the glass fishbowl –
the crystal ball:

the head of the Beast is
drunk with malaria
from mechanical mosquitos –

standing water still stinks,
festers, breeds ten plagues –
green and brown scum stains
bleed through winter’s whiteness –

pure as driven snow,
sinking deep, deeper –
rotted to the core.

January 21, 2014 #smallstones

quick shave
with a dull electric razor –
preserve that just-got-back-
to-the-boat-at-the-crack-of-dawn-
from-a-late-night-in-a-liberty-port
look –
white whisker stubble…

look, no snow yet.
Everything closing down
this side of the river.
Polar vortex spinning in –
again…

January 20, 2014 #smallstones

Prose form:

There are all sorts of things that poetry experts will try to tell you, about stanzas and line length, about word choice and prosody. But most of the experts don’t even write poetry and have never felt the rush and surge of the creative process.  They have never truly “been in love.”  Real poets have told me, “just keep on writing.”  “You will find your voice and your path.”  That’s what I pass on. Try to write something everyday and keep it all together, in a journal, on a blog, or just in a word document.  Then, look back on it as it grows and you will see something truly beautiful, almost a mystical experience!

Stanza form:

There are all sorts of things
that poetry experts will try to tell you,
about stanzas and line length,
about word choice and prosody.

But most of the experts
don’t even write poetry
and have never felt the rush
and surge of the creative process.
They have never truly “been in love.”

Real poets have told me,
“just keep on writing.”
”You will find your voice
and your path.”
That’s what I pass on.

Try to write something everyday
and keep it all together,
in a journal, on a blog,
or just in a word document.

Then, look back on it as it grows
and you will see something truly beautiful,
almost a mystical experience!

January 19, 2014 #smallstones

Neighborhood watch

957 has two front doors
949 has four floors
925 has stores and stores
903 has a man who snores
825 is a house of whores
(college students, sophomores)
813 has two front doors
801 has three floors

January 17, 2014 #smallstones

be-bop
hip-hop
don’t stop
let it pop

words and notes
lines and quotes
antidotes
ships and boats
dreams and hopes

deeds that inspire
thoughts that catch fire
minds that inquire
hearts that desire

be-bop
hip-hop
don’t stop
reach the top

January 16, 2014 #smallstones

The same Spirit that haunts me, guides me –
same dude, although sometimes he shows up
in drag, wearing a wig, and lipstick –
talking ‘bout, “Will you light my cigarette?”

This same Spirit appears infrequently,
but just often enough to remind me
that he is both my rudder and my anchor.

He often warns me about the Muse
and her sisters. “Those women are no good,”
he says, “all that flattery and inspiration.”

The same Spirit used to frighten me when
I was a young pup. We are old friends now,
able to dismiss one another’s excesses.
It is, how shall we say, a mutual appreciation?

January 15, 2014 #smallstones

It’s a cold night in the bottom:
a deep fog has crept up on us
from the swamp below –
so thick the street lamps
look like little moons in the distance –

And my legs are tired, man,
my knees are aching so bad:
from walking too long –
too far – too late – too often –
to meet too many obligations –

But soon I’ll be home –
hot soup simmering on the stove –
a pair of loving arms awaits me:
to hold me and to listen to my story

January 14, 2014 #smallstones

class notes (found poetry)

the transformed, empowered mind….
(mystical processes)
…is capable of more possibilities….
(can transform our perception)
…than the ordinary mind…
(and thus grant us subtle abilities
that we previously did not possess)

January 13, 2014 #smallstones

meeting last night
at Starbucks
to plan our strategy

Gotta bust outta this old groove
and break out a new thing

here are the assignments:
M: logistics/space planning
A: evidence/artifacts
R: database aggregation
S: overall in charge

Maybe Sun Ra was right:

January 12, 2014 #smallstones

What if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and tomorrow – the tomorrow of our dreams –
is really yesterday, or the day before?

And what if time dislocates itself
from time to time, like water,
always seeking its own level?

And what if we live and love inside
a closed box, where freedom and justice
are just optical illusions,
dream-like holograms of hope?

And what if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and homeless shelters and prisons
our true condition, an accurate depiction
of our feeble, temporal existence?

And what if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and pure information our medium of exchange,
transmitted exclusively by a holy kiss?

January 11, 2014 #smallstones

black ice –
slipping and sliding
and stumbling and trembling
and smiling and grinning
and aiming and missing –

and slipping and sliding
and tripping and gliding
and aimlessly riding
and falling and falling
in love with Just ModPo

January 10, 2014 #smallstones

when a great poet/
griot/spirit passes on –
you can’t just go to bed
at the normal time,
as if nothing special happened,
as if the routine is the same,
the same old routine…

you gotta stay up late,
read his work out loud –
invoke his spirit,
let it come inside your house –
sip some scotch with it,
smoke some weed if you got some,
and take a pause,
and take a pause,
and take a pause…

January 9, 2014 #smallstones

“The Poet is a faker who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain of pain he feels in fact.”
-Pessoa

no need for an apology –
it was I who over-reacted:
obsessed with non-existent privacy –
trained with a double fiction:
never who I am,
never where I am,
always hiding the truth –
even from myself –
and mixing justifications –
until I lose the ability
to distinguish contrived reason
from complex reality –
but that phase of life is over:
and I need to break away.

January 8, 2014 #smallstones

when I write about Emily
behind the scenes I am thinking
about my sister Phillis,
kidnapped and brought
to Colonial America from Africa,
enslaved, she mastered English
and blossomed as a writer of verse.
She died a free woman, a poet,
but her husband destroyed all her work.
Chained to a bad husband
might be worse than slavery.