#401: Poem on April 28, 2021

Including today, there are three more days left of National Poetry Writing Month. I’ve made it this far and I haven’t missed a day. In previous years, while I always made it to 30, sometimes I would have to cheat a little and publish two poems in a single day. I cheated not a single time this month. The month is not over yet, I know, but I think my chances of finishing without a cheat are strong. The force is with me, the poetry force, that is. Other things, they seem to be against me, but not poetry. Today’s prompt, you ask? It’s a good one; although, as I write this little preamble, I have not yet written the poem and do not know that it will be successful. There’s something about that. You can’t always write well to a prompt just because you like it. The perfect exemplar of this assignment is found, I think, in the song that inspired the meme above: “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads. I’ve used this graphic to illustrate a poem before–but that thing was a totally different animal. The optional prompt for today–write a poem inspired by or consisting of questions, answers optional. Here goes.

Poem on April 28

You may ask yourself,

Yep, I’m already done with that. I got one line but no questions and no poem. Let’s try again.

Poem on April 28

You may ask yourself,

I see the problem. If I take the first line from the song, it immediately invokes nothing else but those lyrics. I have to begin differently.

Poem on April 28

You may ask me,

No! Now all I can think about is that most brilliant and favorite of William Stafford poems: “Some time when the river is ice, ask me/ mistakes I have made.”

Fourth time is the charm.

Poem on April 28

I often ask myself questions.
I am a master self-interrogator.
Often, it’s something like this:
What were you thinking?
But more often, my questions
tend toward the what if.
What would happen, let’s say.
Another old favorite is the weighing
of options and consequences:
If that, then this? Or this, then that?
I ask questions of others, as well,
at least in my mind, and sometimes
speaking out loud and alone,
as in a car, or a boat, or in a crowd:
Are you absolutely kidding me?
In what universe does that make sense?
Yesterday, I spoke directly to a screen
on which Tucker Carlson was yammering
a stream of mouth vomit about how
putting a mask on a child was abuse.
Are you an absolute idiot? Rhetorical.
And in my fury over his imbecilic ilk
and the machine that allows it
to spew its garbage into receptive ears,
I attempt once again to turn inward:
Why so angry? Will deep breathing help?
What kinds of choices or words make
the difference? And then again, back out:
Can I borrow fifty bucks?
I don’t need the money but I thought
it would be interesting to hear your answer.
It’s always interesting to hear the answers
to our questions. Rarely, say the wise,
is it useful.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: