Bluejay

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Bluejay, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″x24″, Lex Leonard

Bluejay

Today is a spiral day the anger and the fear and the hopelessness all coming at once but organized one right after the other they greet me as i open my eyes and start my day i try to organize them for my brain and all they want is each one to be the first in line without exception impertinent little bastards impolite and quite pushy i get mad at the dog i am sharpe with my partner i am angry at myself for the dirty floor and the piles of stuff cluttering from a few weeks ago attempt at clearing out the clutter another failure my office my sacred space for meditating that must be clutter free i am at odds with myself because of those impish grins pushing to be first and most important and what they fucking don’t understand what i can’t seem to make them fucking understand is that they are not important enough to make me feel like shit and i breathe and listen to the birds and write this on watercolor paper to paint on when i am finished to bring healing and i hear the bluejay singing like i have never heard before he is happy at the bird feeder alone right now because all we can get is the cheap seed and the birds are spoiled and don’t like it and it is spring and there are other sources so it is his alone and when this is all over we will always buy the good stuff because that is what is important right now

 

 

Author’s Note:

The days spiral. Today is not such a good day. So it is to the canvas I go with my words. And then paint. Thank the Universe for Intentional Creativity.

From NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) is inspired by Kaschock’s use of space to organize her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Resurrection

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My mother forbade us to walk backwards.
That is how the dead walk, she would say.
Anne Carson bot @carsonbot

 

Do they walk backwards to redo
Do they bump into us on purpose to feel us one more time
Do they do this to stay here and not move on

Or maybe it is our wish
That we could say it over, more nicely a second time around
That we could touch them just once more
That we want them to stay, stay, stay,
With us, not to leave, go away, never kiss us again

Death is keenly at our doorstep
It is not a game of words or politics
Nor a time to blame
Death’s hand is waiting
We need to acknowledge its presence

I will plant two small trees
that were on the sale table
after Christmas, drying needles,
spindly branches, tiny enough to hold one in each palm

A bit of water and light
hope and care, time
it’s always about time
now spring stands at the threshold

I will plant them instead of taking Death’s invitation
I will plant them deep into her nourishing soil
roots to stretch in room to grow
air and sweet breeze to strengthen limbs
promise and hope 

Yes, that’s what I’ll do

 

Author’s Note:

From the folks at NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

Today’s poetry resource is a series of twitter accounts that tweet phrases from different poets’ work. The Sylvia Plath Bot, as you might expect, tweets snippets of Plath. @PercyBotShelley tweets Shelley, @ruefle_exe tweets bits of Mary Ruefle’s poems, and @carsonbot and @sikenpoems send into the world small fragments of the work of Anne Carson and Richard Siken.

And if you’re feeling puckish, perhaps you might enjoy (or enjoy the act of not-enjoying) the “poems” created by @VogonB. If you’ve ever read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you may remember the Vogons as the aggressive aliens who, in addition to destroying the Earth, have an unpleasant habit of reading their poetry – known as the third worst in the entire universe – to their victims.

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) asks you to peruse the work of one or more of these twitter bots, and use a line or two, or a phrase or even a word that stands out to you, as the seed for your own poem. Need an example? Well, there’s actually quite a respectable lineage of poems that start with a line by another poet, such as this poem by Robert Duncan, or this one by Lisa Robertson.

The Hermit

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SPACE 26 February 2020

The space of my desk holds the card
The one that keeps appearing
The one nudging me to rest, burrow,
Go within
A small yet infinite space 

Earth has acquired
a brand new moon
that’s about the size of a car

Truth, a primary pilgrimage
Lit by the simplest of Light
Discernible in dark, no obvious borders
Small enough for a few steps at a time
A time for slowing, introspection 

Our new moon is probably between
1.9 and 3.5 metres across,
making it no match for Earth’s primary moon.

I am an elliptical orbit
Swooping unbalanced
Reaching for certainty
Knowing grace is in the unknowing
Resting and going
Coming back again

It circles our planet
about once every 47 days
on a wide, oval-shaped orbit
that mostly swoops
far outside the larger moon’s path.

I am not stable here planted
Tulips rise
There will be snow and ice
Rabbits delight in buds
Old growth hides snake
All within our orbits
Bumping into one another
Our right relation

The orbit isn’t stable,
so eventually 2020 CD3
will be flung away from Earth.

Will I gently step
When the veils opens
or be flung from this crust

I think I shall choose the flinging

 

Author’s Note:

This is Day Seven of the National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month challenge of writing a new poem every day.

The Hermit continues to visit me. Often. I need to heed his advice. So melding the optional prompt and his presence gives me words to share today.

And I will have to use the iron rain story, too, sometime. That is just too good a prompt to pass up.

From the folks at NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

And speaking of news, today our prompt (optional, of course) is another oldie-but-goodie: a poem based on a news article. Frankly, I understand why you might be avoiding the news lately, but this is a good opportunity to find some “weird” and poetical news stories for inspiration. A few potential candidates:

Earth Has Acquired a Brand New Moon That’s About the Size of a Car,”

Ohio Man Seeks World Record with Beer-Only Lent Diet

Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’ May Be Restoring Colombia’s Ecosystem

Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron

Being

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Being

It is not by self we fly

Each to us a gift
One of fur and claw, a fisherbeing
One of beak and wing, a flyingbeing
One of beauty and strength, a motherbeing
One of roots and leaves, a respirebeing
One of song and nest,  a reflectionbeing

Together we take flight

 

 

Author’s note:

Birds, flying, roots of trees on which birds nest…these images from Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights were the inspiration today. Lovely, really.

From the NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo folks:

Today’s (optional) prompt is ekphrastic in nature – but rather particular! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymous Bosch’s famous (and famously bizarre) triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Whether you take the position of a twelve-legged clam, a narwhal with a cocktail olive speared on its horn, a man using an owl as a pool toy, or a backgammon board being carried through a crowd by a fish wearing a tambourine on its head, I hope that you find the experience deliriously amusing. And if the thought of speaking in the voice of a porcupine-as-painted-by-a-man-who-never-saw-one leaves you cold, perhaps you might write from the viewpoint of Bosch himself? Very little is known about him, so there’s plenty of room for invention, embroidery, and imagination.

Peter from St. Petersburg

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The day rolled on
unfolding like the toilet paper
he dropped and couldn’t catch

But he knew he could get it wound
back around without anyone noticing
perfection was his way of being
all of his expeditions capped
themselves in excellence

His slender fingers, smooth and agile
gentled the paper back around
he made no sound
no patterns noticed, no crumpled edges
it was perfection, done

His nose drank in the thick coffee scented air
awaiting his return
he licked his lips, remembering her brew
instead, only salt flavor
from his morning run

His name was Peter
oddly enough
Peter was from St.Petersburg
they met yesterday

Opening the door
the air was fresh
linen and dryer sheets
churning round and around

He forgot
just like the day
to replace the roll
so carefully wound, he returned
to complete his agency

TP never looked so good,
he was proud
he was certain
she would never learn
of his transgression

But once a roll unrolls and rolls
there is no returning to perfection, ever
there will always be telltale signs
scars and scabs, wounds

When are we leaving?
I have a plane to catch later tonight?
He thought Tiger didn’t remember
A child playing with her emotions
she had already ordered the Uber

A modern chariot of escape
for both of them

The TP roll was a brick in his hand
something to throw at her
but it wouldn’t hurt
just frighten, then
he could leave

He could walk out the door
fly home, instead of seats
narrow, too close, no room
yes fly, Peter wanted to fly

Tiger wouldn’t know
miss his departure
unaware of his grace in takeoff
her loss

He will land with ease
and be free of her
cheap toilet paper
too thin, see through

She dropped the viperous coffee pot
losing what small promise of conversation
she had in balance

She would make him leave
Peter from St. Petersburg
telling him it was all his fault
unrolling the facts
not able to take them back

Drbroye utro.
Da, was all she answered.

The coffee shouted
from cracks and corners
seeped and puddled
Leave. Just leave now,
Peter from St. Petersburg.
You are not welcome here.

And Peter from St. Petersburg
rolled out the door.

Author’s Note:

This is what happens when you write after midnight. Of course, toilet paper is on most everyone’s mind in this odd time in our lives.

The prompt from the NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo folks today, or should I say yesterday, was ridiculous in the most delightful way.

I simply went down the list and wrote to each prompt with as just a ridiculous story. Each stanza goes with each prompt in order (except for the name prompt which I used earlier in the poem.) But I like the last two stanzas.

Yes, I do.

Our (optional) prompt for today is one that we have used in past years, but which I love to come back to, because it so often takes me to new and unusual places, and results in fantastic poems. It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Dreams

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Dreams, Photograph with PicMonkey, Lex Leonard

The hands have passed twelve i have music in my ears not to wake him twinkle lights in my window because they make me happy and i see the black only one porch light lit it is quiet deadly quiet as one may imagine no cars few planes the wind and i think about those dying as i sit in my privileged cocoon wondering if i will be next regardless of my care and caution and i am sad at the beauty that is lost to this world and maybe She is shaking us off slapping us across the face to make us finally listen to stop and just be be who we are revel in just the basics foot bare to earth wind across my face the birds, oh, the birds, and it will go away and we will have learned from it i hope but i ache for the beauty that was possible and will never be and i want to reach out and touch each one and let them know they are loved and they were enough and they brought beauty just by being and i want to touch those remaining and tell them the same tell you the same in my sadness and privilege in my being why did we ever think we couldn’t that it was hopeless that we weren’t enough we’ve missed the beauty we are and we have been given may this time show us look for the helpers look for the beauty let others see you take off your shoes and walk outside breathe deeply celebrate the little things every day always and know you are loved and you are enough and

i love you

 

 

Author’s Note:

I was up after midnight last night, or, is it today. The prompt for today is about dreams. I wrote this as I looked out this window with deep sorrow in my heart. I can’t find the right words. I see silver linings of what we can be, finally realize who we are and what is important and how to proceed from here. Yet, the loss takes away my breath.

I shall leave this here, although it was not a dream. I feel as though we are living in a dream, if we learn. A nightmare, if we don’t.

From the NaPoGloPoWriMo Folks:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from our gently odd resources, and asks you to write a poem based on an image from a dream. We don’t always remember our dreams, but images or ideas from them often stick with us for a very long time. I definitely have some nightmares I haven’t been able to forget, but I’ve also witnessed very lovely things in dreams (like snow falling on a flood-lit field bordered by fir trees, as seen through a plate glass window in a very warm and inviting kitchen). Need an example of a poem rooted in dream-based imagery? Try this one by Michael Collier.

Kitchen Exoskeleton

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Kitchen Exoskeleton, Photograph with PicMonkey, Lex Leonard

I start, I see the primal
hear the bridal roar in denial
a vaginal entrance we all make
to end up here together 

Kitchen vision driven into me
locked with Lycian masks
everywhere I strain to see your faces 

But there is an economy
like a dovekie pitter-patter
an audible homily telling me
what’s right and what may not matter 

In my elemental life, what I
resemble and reassemble

with pencil marks on paper white 

Where coffee rings the page
embodies stroppy space
taking over the gentle poppy
from my brush 

A sweetly water-colored specimen
medicine for the artist
adrenaline
leaving only
my exquisite exoskeleton

Author’s Note:

Day Three of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo

At the last breath I made it. These days are odd in what we do now. Schedules fade into something lifted easily away in breath. I made it, though, I’m here before midnight.

Today’s prompt:

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) asks you to make use of our resource for the day. First, make a list of ten words. You can generate this list however you’d like – pull a book  off the shelf and find ten words you like, name ten things you can see from where you’re sitting, etc. Now, for each word, use Rhymezone to identify two to four similar-sounding or rhyming words. For example, if my word is “salt,” my similar words might be “belt,” “silt,” “sailed,” and “sell-out.”

Once you’ve assembled your complete list, work on writing a poem using your new “word bank.” You don’t have to use every word, of course, but try to play as much with sound as possible, repeating  sounds and echoing back to others using your rhyming and similar words.

I see her in the distance…

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With one hand free we walk
he pulls and tugs, sniffs and wanders
I touch down off the stoop
careful not to stumble
pulling back on his leash
a safety bar for me
in balance with him

A few steps on scratchy
grey-to-match-the-day sidewalk

right turn around the corner of the house
down the driveway
then a quick left
and we are free

I see her in the distance
Mothertree
as he pulls and zig zags from sniff to sniff
she on top of the hill
waiting for us

First we must cross emptied streets
quiet in their distancing

We maneuver around dip of open space
spindly arms of buff bowing to earth
in honor of sprightly green pushing up,
frosted blue this fine April day

Past the stand of trees
blackened branches cradling bird nests
soon to be filled
then up the hill toward her

Upon arrival we see
her sap flows again
from a old wound partially healed over
but only partially
she allows an opening
a way for me to know she is alive
and well and ready for spring

Author’s Note:

from NaPoWriMo:

“Our (optional) prompt for the day takes a leaf from Schuyler’s book, as it were, and asks you to write a poem about a specific place —  a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there. Little details like this can really help the reader imagine not only the place, but its mood – and can take your poem to weird and wild places.”

Social distancing is our way now to show our love, honor every being of this Earth.

 

April 1st: Grace

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Birds were my alarm this morning
Teasing me to open my eyes
Take my first breath
Gentle myself in their call

Without judgement or demand
Their delight lightened my spiral
Changing its course
Leading me into the grace of this day

Author’s Note:

Day 1: NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo

Hello, friends! This is my first poem for National Poetry Month.

Today’s prompt is “to write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life.” It is always optional to use the prompt and I never know if I meet the criteria. And I really don’t worry about that very much anyway. I write what makes me happy and I hope that is what you do also.

If you can, please visit the site. They share some fun resources – a metaphor generator which is quite unique and I couldn’t really grasp any of the rather weird metaphors. I might try again later when I’m in a more playful mood. Oy. And they shared a link to an Emily Dickinson poem as an example of using a metaphor. Wellllll, I won’t lie. I had to Google a commentary on the poem to understand it. Then I realized how obvious it was. There is NO judgement here on myself. It’s all about learning. 🙂 

I have a few friends who are being VERY brave and are humoring me this month. I have such sweet and wonderful friends. They have agreed to jump in and try writing poetry. They are amazing writers but don’t write poetry. They are going to give it a try. BRAVO!!

So I thought I would share one process I do sometimes. Poetry is about the essence of a thought. I see poetry as writing pared down into exact words, not too many and not too few. It is not over descriptive using flowery words. It is about your voice. The one inside your head that is precise and brings images to mind. 

I always have a movie running inside my head as I write. If I am writing a story, I write what I see. If I am writing a poem, I’ve done this long enough that I can edit the imagery into less words for my poem.

So I challenge my friends who are reluctant poets to start with a simple narrative. Then take away the unnecessary words. Especially words like “the” or “and”. Pare it down to just a beautiful image – even if it is not a specifically beautiful image.

Here is my example of my narrative and then the poem. I really didn’t end up taking away words from the narrative. But I gathered the essence of what I wanted to say. The narrative was the movie. The poem, my review. See what you think. 

So here is my process today:

Metaphor: Birds are my alarm clock

I didn’t set my alarm clock last night before I went to bed. It was late and I was feeling the spiral of these days taking me deeper. I thought I should sleep in. It was the birds I heard call me awake this morning. Not the beep, beep, beep of the red eyed glowing demon pushing me out of my warm cocoon.

This morning the birds were my alarm clock. They were a symphony of delight. Gentle in their call. In joy I gave gratitude to all that surrounds me that I may not pay attention to or acknowledge. This is the day of moving into wonder and grace given to me without judgement or me needing to prove my worth. This is the day I step into grace.

 

 

Hope

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Hope. acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, Lex Leonard

Sky opened to cede its tiny mandalas of ice blessing all below

Beet and cabbage paused, tomato and corn stilled

Is this the most remarkable thing you have ever seen

Laden morsels alight melting in summer’s heat
Most of them drying under sun’s guidance
intense in their purpose to bring relief
from season’s hymn

Vegetables sigh, give thanks, and resume

 

Author’s Note:

Our writing group was to bring a prompt, a line from a book.  I found this line from Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume the perfect one for me to use. It was not my prompt, but now I will read the book.

The beet is the most intense of vegetables.
from Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

The time given to write was twenty minutes. I took the line and wrote it down the page. I then wrote my poem beginning each line with the word from the prompt. Of course, through editing, things get changed around a bit. moved around, deleted and refined. You can still see remnants of the prompt. Thank you, Tom Robbins, for the inspiration.

And my painting, Hope, sprung from the poem.