Can you believe that it’s already November? I’m amazed at how quickly 2017 has flown by. As we head into the downhill part of the year, I’ve been so busy at work and with grad school that I haven’t had time to write as much as I’d like to. My writing has been confined to my capstone project, assignments for my playwriting class, and describing a lot of graphs and charts for a statistics textbook. So–not exactly the types of things I want to work on.
Needless to say, I’ve been in need of a brain break for a while! So back in October, one of the poets who spoke at Hutchmoot mentioned Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Challenge for the month of November. Basically what happens is you write a poem each day based on whatever prompt Brewer posts. Normally this kind of thing would scare me, but as I’ve written over the last five days I’ve been reminded just how much I really love to write poetry. Even in five days, the ten minutes or so I’ve been able to scratch out of my schedule to write have become a sort of creative lifeline.
So, naturally, I thought, why not take this one scary challenge and make it even scarier by posting the results to the blog? EEK! I know Halloween was last week, but this is scary stuff we’re talking about! I’ve decided to share my 30 poems with you as a way to hold myself accountable to actually writing 30 new poems in a month. They aren’t super polished, and I haven’t had a chance to revise them a million times, but that might be a good thing. You’ll be able to tell which prompts resonated with me and which ones were quick ten-minute poems. The prompt is what you’ll see in bold, and then my poem’s title (if there is one) will be right below that.
I hope you enjoy them, and if you decide to write your own poems this month, I’d love to read them! Share the link in the comments so I can check it out. If you’d like to participate, you can find all the prompts here, at the Writer’s Digest site. Just scroll down to the box labelled “What’s New” to find each day’s prompt.
Day 1: New Day
This morning the sky was a flat rainbow—
all the colors of visible light
stretched tight from East to West.
The sun, not risen but rising
made the golden edge of things
visible to the waking world.
It sounds poetic to say
that I paused on the overpass
to lift up my eyes,
but it was only because of the stoplight
that I noticed the river of men passing below
and the dark acre of clouds waiting above.
Day 2: Disguise
Teaching Fahrenheit to Freshmen
“There are two Mildreds,”
“One who is so bewildered
by her lack of life,
by her empty spirit,
that her fingers scratch the bottoms of pill bottles
in an unwitting cry for help.
She is unmoored, but she is real.”
“The other Mildred floats above herself
in a medicated sea of noise.
She silences any thought that might bring
or any remembrance of her self—
the girl she abandoned and left to drown
in the dark well of her subconscious.”
“And so,” I say, “Aren’t we all like Mildred?
replacing our needs with screens
and our lacks with noise?”
Some of them look up and nod,
but many are playing sudoku,
or tending their virtual gardens,
or studying for AP Government,
and I wonder what Clarisse McClellan would say
if she floated by in her white dress.
Day 3: Triangle
I followed the moon to work this morning and almost understood
why the wise men followed the star.
How could they not be drawn to such otherness?
When I saw it, my hand twitched towards the radio dial
because everyone knows you see things clearly
in the quiet. And when I inhaled,
I followed the moon to a field of clover
where there were no meetings
or grade books or lesson plans to write.
I stood in the soft light and tried
to chart a course between who I am
and who I imagine myself to be.
In the space of my exhale, I followed the moon
to a dark coastline where it asked nothing
of me but silence and demanded nothing
of me but attention, so I bent my eyes to the water
and saw the orange reflection hovering there,
like the Spirit of God at the edge of time.
One breath came and went
while my right foot sat heavy on the brake,
and my fingers balanced on the edge of the steering wheel.
One breath came and went
before I remembered the obligations and duties
that lay stretched out before me, mile after mile.
So I drove on in the hope
of letting the moon guide me to work
and to the morning,
and to all the rapid thinking that traces back
the moonbeam to the moon
and the sunbeam to the sun.
But I only caught a glimpse of its fullness
behind the last billboard before the highway,
where I lost track of it completely
and traded the expanse of heaven
for the light of counterfeit moons
we make with our own hands.
Day 4: Whosoever ___________
Whosoever distributes popcorn to trick-or-treaters
should know that you will be mocked
by tenth graders who hope for full-size Kit-Kats.
It doesn’t matter that you
have your own movie-theatre popcorn machine
that churns out tubs of the stuff,
or that you carefully filled paper bags
with delicious kernels of hot, salty, air-popped corn.
Your gift to the neighborhood will be tossed
into the kitchen trash can,
the paper bag a spreading grease stain,
kernels spilling out to float
in an ocean of crinkled wrappers
and those strawberry hard candies
Day 5: Self Destruct
I wake to a riot of countdown timers
and bombs of ingenious design,
to the drone of a movie villain monologuing
somewhere in the back of my mind.
I shake off the heavy ropes of sleep
and step toward the ledge where I know
the bomb is waiting to explode,
if my tired steps are slow.
I make hurried searches of cords and wires,
the buttons designed to confuse
until I find one labelled self-destruct,
or is it labelled snooze?
Thanks for sticking through to the end of this post. I hope you enjoyed some or all of these poems! Let me know in the comments which is your favorite. My favorites this week were Day 2 (Disguise) and Day 4 (Whosever___). I’ll be back next Sunday (hopefully) with seven more to share.