Tag Archives: April Fools Day

#286: When Easter Falls on April Fools Day

Jesus-with-a-basketball

The first poem
of the month
has a provocative
title, and suggests,
provocatively,
that Jesus was
joking. He made
us think he was
dead and then
rose again on
the third day,
the first day
of April, to
shoot hoops
with his friends.
Most everyone was
totally fished in.
You would be.
But of course,
the day we
celebrate Easter,
if we celebrate
Easter, is arbitrary
and changes every
year depending on
some mysterious
force in the calendar
universe, which,
in and of itself,
is a kind of April Fools
joke. Jesus was not
born on December
the twenty-fifth
and he did not rise
from the grave on
April the first.
No one really knows
when he was born
or when he rose
from the grave–
and for this and
for a bunch of other
stuff, he has been
laughing at us
for a very long time now.

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Gearing Up for NaPoWriMo 2018

napofeature1

In six days I will embark once again (for the fifth year in a row!) on the endeavor to write a poem a day each day for the entire month of April. Won’t you join me? I will post every single one of these things, the good, the bad, and the ugly, right here up in this blog site.

What might you expect? For starters, a poem a day for 30 days. In four years I have never once failed to produce one. On one or two occasions, I may have missed a single day and then produced two on the following day, but that was rare. But you never know what life will throw you in the middle of a forced creativity event. To date, life’s been good to me so far–for writing poetry in April.

What might these poems be about? The subject matter will likely vary widely, but I have noticed, in years past, that my subject matter often comes from whatever the cruel month of April brings, and typically includes the stuff I am most consumed with during these 30 days. Last year I wrote poems about the Whole 30 diet because I was on it. The year before last, performing as Lord Capulet in a community theater production of Romeo and Juliet, I found myself writing poems about acting, about Shakespeare, about the characters in the play. And in previous years, the subject matter came from my classroom and was often bubbling around what I was teaching and what was happening with my charges. I’ve got a few Gatsby poems. Some poems about the ancient Chinese masters. At least one poem about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This April, my students are reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Death of a Salesman, and Frankenstein. So it would be highly irregular if those works did not show up somewhere in the poems, and, given those titles, it would be odd if the poems were not likewise on the morbid side. Don’t worry. I’m really not a morbid writer by nature. Not really. What’s morbid in my work might be backed with a healthy dose of humor. Unless I’m being serious about something, which often happens. Given the year we’ve had, socially, politically, culturally, I could see some seriousness seeping through.

But sometimes I am desperate for material, and thus desperate, I will depend on the daily prompts from www.napowrimo.net. A fantastic website, by the way. I go there every day to see the prompt, even if I don’t use it. And if not for subject matter ideas, I’ll go there to learn about new types of poems. The website often prompts us to use a formal structure of some kind–which, for me, is super cool–because I am not a formalist. I find it challenging and good for me sometimes to follow the confines of a formal structure, so you’ll see those crop up from time to time.

Will these poems be any good? That remains to be seen. I don’t find myself to be a very good judge of my own poems, but I can tell you that, as a result of my first four years of participating in National Poetry Writing Month, I have found enough material to compile a book-length manuscript with which I am pretty darn pleased. Maybe I’m doing something right. I hope to revise and finish that manuscript this summer and perhaps a book will come of it.

To close here, I’d like to ask of you, dear reader, a favor. I would invite you to feel at liberty to send requests. Sure, send me a request. You want a poem about bumble bees? Send me a request. You want a sonnet about blueberry muffins? Send me a request. You want a political poem about our Orange guy? I’ll give it a try. No guarantees, but I think it might ad a little fun to the proceedings if readers could participate in some way. What do you think? Let me know. Send requests through the comments and we’ll give it a whirl. That’s the best we can do. Otherwise, see you on April Fool’s Day!  Seriously.

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#1: April Fools

What follows is the first poem of thirty I plan to write to celebrate National Poetry Month, a poem for every day in April.  Let’s begin, appropriately enough, with a poem about the significance of April the first, a strange little holiday if there ever was one.  The composition part went pretty smoothly, but here’s a word to the wise: formatting poetry in WordPress is like hammering nails into wood with a toothbrush.  Hope you enjoy.

April Fools

I

I just broke my arm in ten places
and I will never play the drums again.
I just got word from my doctor
that I’m pregnant or something.
Your mom called to say that
her house burned down.
There’s a gunman in the store.

These things are not funny.
The last thing I want is to be
frightened or grieved as a gag.
If for a moment I fall for your trickery
I will be angry at you
for a very long time,
maybe even until the first
of April next year.
That’s a long time, sucker.
Don’t try to turn me into
one of your
April Fools.

II

I’ve got some bad news, she says.
I’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I have three months to live, tops.

I’ve got some bad news for you, he says.
You’re an asshole.
Only an asshole would make such a joke,
such a cruel, mean-spirited,
manipulative, stupid joke.

It’s not a joke, she says.

It just happens to be the first of April.
I could have waited, I suppose,
to tell you. I could have waited
until the second day of the month.
This just seemed important somehow,
like it couldn’t wait, urgent even,
although I’m not sure why.
It wouldn’t change anything
if you were to know one day later,
except for the fact that you’d have
one less day to grieve,
but maybe that’d be a good thing.
Come to think of it,
I’m almost sorry I told you
at all.  I could have saved you
three months of grieving
and the anger you felt just now
because you thought I was fooling.

III

What really happened is that
my wife sent me a text
as she was leaving the house and
because I am rarely close
to my phone, I didn’t see the text.

She said, did you get my text?
And I said, no.
There’s a dead squirrel
in the driveway, she said,
and that is not a joke.

So I went outside and
shoveled up the dead squirrel,
already stiff, a really big animal.
Because our dog is too old
and slow to catch and kill squirrels,
this one had probably
fallen from one of our oaks
because he was playing
and lost his balance
or just because he was fat.
I pretended to say a prayer
in Latin and I tossed him into a bag,
and even though I didn’t want
the garbage to smell,
I thought better of tying off
his little body wrap
and I placed him gently
on the bottom of the rubbish bin.

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