#397: Poem on April 24, 2021

Photo by Cindy Gustafson on Pexels.com

Poem on April 24

A man has been crushed
to death by a butterfly
he had been hunting in
Zimbabwe last Friday.
Theunis Botha was
hunting a group of butterflies
on an insect reserve with clients
when the party accidentally
stumbled upon a breeding
flutter in Good Luck Farm
near Hwange National Park. 
It is reported that three
of the startled winged creatures
charged the poachers,
prompting Mr Bothas to
fire at them before he was
taken by surprise by a fourth
butterfly who charged the hunters
from the side. The monarch
lifted Mr Bothas up off
the ground with her proboscis
before a fellow hunter shot at the bug,
causing her to fall and crush
the 51-year-old beneath her.
The South African man was
reportedly a renowned hunter
who specialized in targeting
ants and spiders and ran his own
“big bug safari” hunting trips. 
Mr Bothas had been in
business for nearly 35 years
with four branches in South Africa.
He leaves behind five children.

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#396: Poem on April 23, 2021

Poem on April 23

You’re goddamn right
I was saving those plums
for breakfast.

That’s why I put
them in the icebox–
for safe, cold-keeping.
Do I have to put
my name on shit
in this household?

I’m glad
you enjoyed them
because, this is
just to say,
I have given
all your chocolate
to the neighbor kids.

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#395: Poem on April 22, 2021

On April 16 of 2020 I wrote a poem about turntables. I even used this image as an illustration. Having forgotten about that poem, as one does, I set out today to write another poem about turntables–a little bit in keeping with today’s prompt from Napowrimo to write a poem in which an object becomes a symbol for a place or a time. I wrote this poem this evening, and then I thought to myself, I know I’ve got a good image in my media library I could use for this poem, and then when I found the image, I thought to myself, wow, I’ve probably written about this subject before. Lo and behold, April 16 of 2020 I wrote about turntables. I just almost typed a quip about feeling like a broken record. I’m so glad I stopped myself. Anyway, here’s another poem about one of my favorite past times.

Poem on April 22

Here it is: the turntable.
Even after the 90 minute
hi-fidelity blank cassette tape
made it possible to listen
to a full album without
having to flip sides,
the turntable was still
ubiquitous. Our pirate
activities entailed borrowing
albums from friends, placing
the needle down on to the
record, waiting a second
or so after the initial plosive
plop for the stylus to
nestle into the groove,
then, quickly, so as not
to truncate the first notes
of the first song, we pushed
play and record at the same
time on our cassette decks.
Every once in a while,
we’d have to take a second
pass, but after some practice,
we got pretty good at timing
things just so. These were
the glorious 70’s and 80’s
of childhood and early
adulthood, when 45 minutes
of continuous play was
as good as it got, and the
occasional pop or snap
from the vinyl was immortalized
the same way for
every playback, forever,
or until the tape went stale
or the machine chewed it up.
The turntable has made
a stunning comeback
in the last inning, and I’ve
caught the bug once again,
having sold all of my records
moving into the 90’s, replaced
every record with a compact
disc, and now, finding myself
replacing compact discs
with new records. I’ve come,
as they say, full circle, back
to myself, almost a second
childhood, where I’d love
nothing more than for a friend
to sit down with me to listen
to a record, which used to be,
and could be again,
a real thing.

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#394: Poem on April 21, 2021

I don’t even know how to describe this next thing. The Napowrimo website does it best. It’s a poem inspired somewhat by a famous childhood nursery rhyme by an anonymous author (“There was a man of double deed?”) and ends up being simply an exercise in repeating the last part of a line in the next line. Actually, that’s not it at all. That’s what I did. And I stole some lyrics from Prince. The task was to write using repetitive set-ups. It was surprisingly difficult to do. Rules were broken. But nobody was hurt, not even the dogs. I think I’ve inadvertently written a different kind of poem. I think it has a name. Does anybody know it? I don’t know what I’m doing today.

Poem on April 21

The neighbor kids
play on the mound of dirt
while the neighbor two houses down
plays reggae music in the afternoon.
In the afternoon I take a well-deserved
nap in the hammock .
In the hammock I swing,
take 10 minutes to snooze.
To snooze, to dream of birds.
To dream of birds and to wake up
under oak trees full of birds.
Of birds, I’d like to know
what kind of bird is making that sound,
that coo coo song. That coo coo song
sounds like doves crying.
Maybe I’m just too demanding.
Maybe I’m just like my father.
I get up, come in for dinner,
just as the dogs are playing
that same old shit song:
let’s escape into the neighborhood.

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#393: Poem on April 20, 2021

The suggestion from Napowrimo today is to write a sijo, a traditional Korean form. It’s like a haiku, only wider. It’s a wide-load haiku. Lines can be as long as about 16 syllables. And it has a kind of magical relationship with the sonnet, I’m told, in that it’s kind of a discussion with twist at the end. I don’t know why I chose this photo to accompany the poem. I felt like the tone was correct even though the subject matter is unrelated. There are some cool images on the new “free image” library in WordPress. News to me. Enjoy!

Poem for April 20

Three quarters of the way through, eight months of staring at a screen.

It feels like I have been talking to myself all year long.

My students, like ghosts; I see their shadows and sometimes hear their voices.

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#392: Poem on April 19, 2021

April 19 must be Catharsis Day. Today’s prompt from Napowrimo was to write a rant. So I took the opportunity to get some stuff off my chest. It felt good. Don’t worry about me; I went over the top–you know–for effect. I went full-on grumpy old man. I had a good time. I recommend it for everybody.

Poem on April 19

And another thing!
I sit outside for ten minutes
And I’ve got these stupid little
Bugs all over my shirt.
Meanwhile the dog keeps
Digging holes in the yard
And the neighbor lady
Keeps yelling at her barkers
And I’d much rather hear
Their barking than her yelling
And her grandchildren are
Playing in a big mound of dirt.
Why do people throw
Their garbage in the ditch?
Don’t people know there’s a
Speed limit on this fucking street?
And every time I hear one of
Those engines that sound like
Helicopters or a billion lawn mowers
I just want to scream bloody murder.
No, you can’t hook up a goddamn
Gasoline burning engine to your
Stupid bicycle. They’re called pedals! 
Am I just supposed to say yes now
Every time a student asks for something?
Yes, you can turn this assignment in
Three months late. Sure, yes, it’s okay
That you haven’t attended a single class
The entire quarter–because I can make time
To look at your late work
During the next quarter when I’ll have
Another ninety new students.
I’m so done with this, people keep
Saying, and I’m thinking, no, you’re not!
Or rather, it doesn’t really matter
That you feel done with this; whatever this is
Will still be going on whether you like it
Or not until it stops. Stupid auto-capitalization
At the front of every new line! What century
Is this? And I call tech support for some
Ugly shadowing on my laptop display, and
It turns out my battery is swelling like
a hard sponge or a cancerous growth.
And I send the computer to Apple and they
Replace the battery but there’s still this
Ugly shadow shit going on because the two
Problems had nothing in common and now I’ll
Have to send it out again for another repair!
Damn it, don’t throw your needles in my yard!
And now Morrissey’s angry at The Simpsons
And that one Russian guy is at death’s door
And don’t get me started about guns and Qanon
And that congressman with an enormous head
Who’s in trouble for sex-trafficing a minor
And that Jim Jordan guy who thinks wearing a
Mask is a violation of his civil liberties. I’d love
To violate that guy’s civil liberties. Let me at him.
My skin is super dry and I itch all over. Where’s the
God forsaken moisturizer in this house? And what’s
Up with these ugly spots on my arms? Work with me,
People! If it ain’t one thing it’s another stupid thing.  

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#391: Poem on April 18, 2021

Today’s suggestion from Napowrimo is to write a poem based on or inspired by a chapter title from a book called Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan G. Wooldridge. The Look Inside feature from Amazon gives us a peek on to the contents page and it contains a surprising and evocative list of starting points, a table of contents so good that you really want to read the book. I’ve not heard of this text before, which seems to be a kind of inspirational tool for would-be-poets, à la Bird By Bird, or Writing Down the Bones, or any number of “how-to” books about writing–not so much a craft study as a kind of self-help genre designed for writers who are not writing and who need purely generative sustenance. Running a little bit low on energy this evening, I found a title I liked from this contents page, and, while it made me think of a whole host of things to write about, it really all came down to this haiku.

Poem on April 18

Please don’t understand
that what I most want to say
I’m afraid to say.

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#390: Poem on April 17, 2021

Poem on April 17

“Daddy always looked to the moon.
He claimed it as his own.”
I wrote those lyrics 20 years
ago for a song we recorded,
only loosely about my dad
about 10 years before he died.
Those two lines, though,
we’re an accurate portrayal;
Not that my father really
believed the moon was his,
but somewhere along the line,
because he loved it so much, he
probably just said something
like, “There’s my moon,” and
it caught on, so that every time
a family member, especially
my mother, who cherished her
husband, saw the moon, a good
full one, they’d say, there’s
daddy’s moon, or there’s
Glennie’s moon. As a child,
I fancied that my father’s
possession of the big rock
in the sky was literal, that as
a young man he constructed
it somehow and then just got
a really tall ladder to find
its perfect placement. In my
mind’s eye I can still see
that fantasy as if it were a
real one. At the very least
I will continue to think about
my dad every time I see the moon,
mythologizing my father,
keeping him present and
very much still alive as the
years pass and I try not to forget
what he smelled like,
the sound of his voice.

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#389: Poem on April 16, 2021

Poem on April 16

Our task today is to write a Skeltonic
but I don’t mean, when I say, to be ironic
that I’m glad our plague wasn’t bubonic;
it was bad enough, our case was chronic
and I think I’m supposed to keep up this sonic
rhyme scheme until I run out, subatomic,
of words that sound like a mixer, a tonic.
I guess it’s okay, half way, to sound moronic
on day 16 of 30 of this poetic catatonic
but I don’t know how long I can stay on it
because I can feel a cheat coming on, shit.

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#388: Poem on April 15, 2021

Shirley

Poem on April 15

My mother talked to herself.
I remember listening in
from the hallway as she’d go on
and on as she was doing some
chore or another in her bedroom,
putting clothes away, tidying up,
dusting, cleaning the bathroom.
I rarely could make out what she
was saying, but mostly I could tell
it was serious. She took these
conversations very seriously.
I think what she was doing was
rehearsing conversations she’d
like to have, or weighing particular
decisions, talking her way through
various outcomes, or taking both
sides of the issue, exploring options.
She was her own devil’s advocate.
Was she ever caught in the act?
I think she was. I seem to remember
crossing her path in one of these
moments where she would be speaking
to no one in particular and I would
look at her kind of funny. There was
no self-consciousness about it.
She wasn’t embarrassed. She didn’t
apologize. And perhaps I looked at her
only kind of funny, because even as
a young boy, I knew it was something
we had in common. As a child, my older
siblings already out of the house,
my play was full of speech
to no one in particular, and today,
when I’m doing the dishes,
tidying up, cleaning the bathroom,
mowing the lawn, or just sitting
around, I will speak to no one
in particular, and almost always,
no one in particular will respond.

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