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NaPoWriMo 2017

April 1, 2017

This is my plan

(based on Kay Ryan)

This is my plan
brilliant and bold
called for the times
of fire we hold

high crimes burst
common sense disappears
confusion’s the scheme
only the forest is seer

secrets and delusions
mysteries and lies
descend into chaos
the king seeks the prize

twisting and turning
the noose ever slow
keep tightening the screws
till the gallows explodes


April 2, 2017

NaPoWriMo prompt: Write a poem inspired by, or in the form of, a recipe.

Ingredients for a Bad Hair Day

One tired 62-year-old woman
refusing a 4 am feeding
to the ancient Tuxedo cat
who decorates the Oriental rug with his hairball

Two vain attempts
at using almond and coconut flour
to make a gluten-free zucchini bread
that looks more like pudding

Three days of unreliable cable access
missing client deadlines
and Melissa McCarthy on SNL
playing Sean Spicer

Four Idaho potatoes
from the 99-cent bin at the QFC
one of which will be the black sheep
ruining your Sunday hash



Prompt: Write an elegy – a poem that mourns or honors someone dead or something gone by.

You once told the cat to go play in traffic.
She did and we found her dead in the street the next day.
I don’t know why you thought that was funny when you told the story years later.
What kind of person would say something like that?

You let them kill the boxers
For trying to protect us when they jumped through the screen door and nipped at the mailman.
I wish you had fought the courts on that.
What kind of person would let something like that happen?

I know you weren’t a coward
Because you said you were the “bomb man” during the war
And lied about your age to enlist in the army.
What that was like for an 18-year-old who’d never been outside of Brooklyn?

You said you didn’t believe in God or the soul
And that when you die that’s it.
What do you think about that now?


April 4, 2017

Prompt: Write a poem with a secret, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly.

He swooped in to subvert the powerful
to rescue the defenseless
we waited for the rallying cry of the faithful
instead heard something far more menacing
saw a dangerous vision
one that would return time and again
disregarding human law
committing war crimes
jailing any opponents

We were unaware of the hallmarks
the power to fix things
constrained by strong institutions
providing an essential defense
against those who would undermine those institutions
those with the temerity to
throw hurdles in the way
quickly felt the searing heat

Consider the ongoing feud
the repeated questioning
the impartiality and motives of judges
the attacking of jurists
who ruled against him

A culmination of trends years in the making
no sense of place among the institutions
violating ancient norms without thought
rejecting civility
this is no force for change
but only a wrecking ball


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Prompt:  In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, write a poem that is based in the natural world.

I don’t know this Mary Oliver
or the plants she gave a scholar
I heard it wilted the next day
and the horses ate the hay

Then I heard she bought a cat
not the one that had a hat
it cried and pooped and clawed the couch
and for that you know I’ll vouch

The landscape that I heard she painted
the one they say is truly tainted
blue and green and red and gold
at the auction it quickly sold

I have no more to say on this
off I go with one quick kiss


April 6, 2017

Prompt: a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view.

Windy City

Look at them all
swaying together
like football fans at a stadium
first left and then right,
up and then down
in agreement
or not
sometimes swirling in confusion
but always in unison

And talking incessantly
whispering among themselves
nodding yes, I see
or no, you’re wrong
sometimes vehemently
and sometimes bowing down
to a neighbor
careful not to bend too much
lest they fall over
and are silenced forever


April 7, 2017

Prompt: Write a poem about luck and fortuitousness from a list of words and thoughts.

The troll on the deck was wearing the emerald ring he had picked up after a little girl had lost it at her aunt’s house.

After making a mad dash to pick up the little girl’s ring, the heartless troll drank sweet tea from the cup he found in the creek that the heron had left behind when he moved north back in 1972.

When the heron returned after the wars to find the troll in his creek, he yelled and put up a fuss, then looked under the couch to make sure the staff he had hidden there with the $20 emergency money from the QFC was still there.

The little girl cried when she wrote about losing the ring in her college journal, the same book in which she would pour her anxieties about her secret crush.

The ring would come in handy now.

So would the troll with his staff.

And the heron in the creek.


April 8, 2017

Prompt: Write a poem that relies on repetition.

I am a famous attorney who has committed perjury.
I am a famous bartender who cannot drink.
I am a famous cook with a gastric bypass.
I am a famous dentist with no front teeth.
I am a famous editor with no red pencil.
I am a famous fire fighter with third-degree burns.
I am a famous graphic designer with no paper.
I am a famous hair stylist with no hair.
I am a famous interior designer with no furniture.
I am a famous jeweler with no diamonds.
I am a famous key holder with no locks or doors.
I am a famous librarian with no books.
I am a famous mechanic with no car.
I am a famous nurse with no patience.
I am a famous optician who cannot see.
I am a famous painter who is color-blind.
I am a famous quality manager with no common sense.
I am a famous real estate agent with no house.
I am a famous singer with no voice.
I am a famous teacher with no students.
I am a famous undertaker with no body.
I am a famous violinist with a tin ear.
I am a famous writer who has no words.
I am a famous x-ray technician who can see right through you.
I am a famous yoga instructor with no muscles.
I am a famous zoo keeper with no animals.


April 9, 2017

Prompt: Write a nine-stanza poem.

A Lai

Here comes the full moon
That makes many croon
With pain
I sing a sad tune
I learned from a loon
In Spain
Drift like a balloon
Filled with six baboons
All lame


April 10, 2017

Prompt: Write a portrait poem about someone.

Picture me, a ballerina,
someone who likes to twirl like a child ’til I’m dizzy
someone who loves a large stage and wearing pink tutus
a person who wants to keep dancing when I’m 90
and needs to travel around the world
a woman who remembers what it was like to have nothing
and wishes her neighbor’s dog would stop barking at night
Picture me, a tired ballerina.


April 11, 2017

Prompt: Write a Bop poem.

It may be the politics
or it may be the season
although it’s spring and I should be happy
or maybe it’s that I just don’t care anymore
and need more sleep
or a foreign vacation

Playing fantastic tricks before heaven

I’m supposed to be working
or finding work
or doing the marketing game
by going to networking meetings
and passing my card around
as if that were going to do anything
when you don’t know what you
want to do in the first place

Playing fantastic tricks before heaven

I don’t even want to be doing this
even though I’m supposed to
because why
because I’m trying to be creative
when I’m not
and never have been

Playing fantastic tricks before heaven


April 12, 2017

Prompt (KRA):  Write down words from page 29 of any book. (Words were used in order.)

It is impossible to offend me
in the company of my mother
who will argue with your golden words
I remember behaving like a little girl
catastrophe ensuing from any mere criticism
friends discussing the latest gossip
until they were the color of confusion


April 13, 2017

In the middle of the yellow noontime sun
In the garden where the cicadas hum

Looking high and low for the only one
Planted there as a favorite son

They closed the gate not to be undone
The vile serpent would not run

It took only a moment, the instant stunned
We found ourselves without a gun

And into the kitchen we proceeded to run
He opened to door holding hot cross buns

Such yummy food sure looked like fun
We watched and counted buns for everyone

Then out of the window as we begun
A bird came by seeking a Sally Lunn

He threw a stone with a red blowgun
leaving us there to make up puns


April 14, 2017

Prompt: Write a clerihew

Eleanor Roosevelt
forced to wear a hat of felt 
caused a fuss at the UN
with her electric shock pen


April 15, 2017

Prompt: Write a poem that reflects the nature of being in the middle of something

The middle child
knows how to talk louder be noticed

can get away with more things
learns to negotiate
becomes a creative problem-solver
sees both sides and knows how to mediate
develops talents the older and younger don’t have to.
learns to be independent at a young age
feels no need to conform
believes in principles and seeks justice
is more open-minded
can keep a secret
has stronger bonds of friendship
and will outlive all the others


April 16, 2017

Prompt: Write a poem in the form of a letter

Dear Time
I really want you to do nothing
just stop
you’re doing too much
taking up too much of yourself
using yourself up
wasting yourself on nonsense
and busywork
not taking enough of yourself
for yourself’
you fly like an arrow
without so much as a by your leave
you think you can heal all wounds
but you are an illusion


April 17, 2017

Prompt (KRA): Write a poem that includes these words: bamboozled, bloodlust, bibliography. Have the title include one of these words: contradiction, constellation, cranberry

A Contradiction in Terms

Each writer must decide, must call into question
whether it would be too costly
to be concerned about specific matters
some purists consider an in-depth analysis
is the optimistic direction
even if you learn that your manuscript has been rejected
you may suspect that the truth is not being told
that you are being bamboozled
you always knew that this job had a steep learning curve
and Americans may also be able to say
absolutely, completely, and firmly
that it is hereditary


April 18, 2017

Prompt (KRA): Write a poem about something small that is only 5 lines long.

See the small bird in the spring
at the feeder beats his wings
Mr. Squirrel wants all the food
and to get it must be shrewd
up he jumps onto the rail
with his furry wicked tail
climbing up the metal bar
he slips and falls, did not get far


April 19, 2017

Prompt: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-371

Women’s suffrage
women’s suffering
why do they sound so alike?
Is it so difficult to imagine
that women who can
birth a baby
cook your meals
clean your clothes, and
maintain a house without your help
as well as run companies
heal the sick and
raise money for the poor
can also be trusted with the vote?
After all
men have made a right mess of things
slaughtering innocent people
raping women
ramming religion down people’s throats
burning down (and blowing up) cities and towns
bringing down the economy with greed, and
generally making life difficult for everyone with your privilege.
Why should we trust *you* with the vote?
Clearly we can’t.


April 20, 2017

Found poem from a really bad art review

The exhibition
a silent manifestation
a social contract
traced our material culture
with its tactile eye
sensed our untamed intimacy
more than a framed work
or an installation

books invited interactions
and found objects
decorative patterns
local specificity
and art as a lingua franca
unreadable but familiar
like embroidery
ordinary in a household

an encounter with a holy sheet
layers upon layers
the result of punctured marks
with a reference to tradition
suggest an active mode
with its braille-like markings
the practice of repetitions
the dialectic tensions
between artisan and art
an expression of collective memory
a poetic utterance of time


April 21, 2017

Prompt: Lines from a radio show

And now for a few interstitial announcements:
she was a hot mess
a tool on a fishing boat
I have been on a lot of fishing trips
with an anchoress
(from the Greek “one who has withdrawn”)
this religious recluse
with the right answer on her cap
living walled up in a small cell
we expected it to be a place to be tied up
or the hollow bone at the edge of a bird’s wingtip
would she see the writing?


April 22, 2017

Prompt: More lines from a radio show

As you approach a light source
putting your eye right up to the TV screen
a very small source of very little light
nothing worth watching
once you’re close enough
moving closer doesn’t make it any brighter
which doesn’t typically happen
there are so many reasons why you should not do this
in Mexico, people might know the answer.


April 23, 2017

Prompt: Write a haiku

Deep dark is the night
The birds have been sung to sleep
Where is my pillow?


April 24, 2017

More haiku

Here late in the day
With the sky growing so gray
I can’t wait for May


April 25, 2017

Another haiku

Heron swims in creek
Marching slowly in the deep
Fleeing gracefully


April 26, 2017

Prompt:  Archaeology poem. What would someone 5 centuries from now think of one of our normal objects?

This thing, this block of wood
that seems to have a pair
Do you clap them together?
I have seen these before.
They seem to come in different shapes and sizes
but always polar opposites
Sometimes they have a vertical part—
perhaps to keep it standing up?
Whatever could they mean?
And these piles of dust that lie between them
all perfect rectangles
Don’t disturb them
they may be something important
or were something important
We’ll have to analyze this dust
figure out why these blocks of wood and metal survived
but the rest didn’t
Perhaps they were burned on purpose
in some ancient rite
We may never know.


April 27, 2017

Prompt (KRA):  Make a poem of 10 metaphors

Living in a house of cards
he said she was the apple of his eye
pearls of wisdom poured from his mouth
but each blade of grass was a tiny bayonet
she was fishing in troubled waters.
while it rained cats and dogs
swimming on a roller coaster of emotion
and eventually drowning in a sea of grief.
he said laughter was the music of the soul
but time was the true thief


April 28, 2017

Prompt:  Write a poem using Skeltonic verse

Time for dinner
be a winner
roasting eggplant
they said I can’t
watching a game show
cooking is going slow
stomach is rumbling
my head is tumbling
cat is sleeping
instead of leaping
it’s almost May
for this hurrah!


April 29, 2017

Prompt: “Why Claire left…”

Claire left

because there was a spider on the wall
and they were out of milk
no one else would go to the market
so she walked out the door
without a scarf
cursing the wind all the way
down the street
the four blocks
to the Piggly-Wiggly
her least-favorite store
because it smelled funny
as if someone had used too much bleach
she’d always wondered if some had landed on the fruit
so she never bought fruit there
but the milk was okay
even though she preferred whole fat
but her fat brother had to have 1%
sometimes life just isn’t fair.


April 30, 2017

Prompt: List the three most inconvenient things that happened to you today. Now write a poem about at least one of them.

Sunday is not a day for traffic
so why is there a line on this normally empty road?
it’s making me late to breakfast
and I’m starving
Main Street is all torn up
what the hell is going on
is the restaurant even open?
making me later
The restaurant is crowded
screaming children
do you really need to bring them here?
And the table in the middle of the room
when we usually sit on the side
makes us feel exposed
and we’re not sure why
what’s the feng shui here?
Dreaming of an egg white omelette
with spinach and mushrooms
and lots of potatoes
I’ll stop bitching now

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