Tag Archives: Taylor Mali's Metaphor Dice

#436: One More (I Promise, the Last) Metaphor Dice Poem on April 28, 2022

poetry. sacrosanct. midwife.

Thirty days has the cruelest month
and thirty days in a row for nine years
during April I have written a poem.
I try and mostly fail to communicate
to my students the worth of such a thing,
poetry in and of itself, yes, let alone
writing one every day for thirty days,
but they don’t quite buy it.
I think they see it as a kind of madness.
They’re not wrong. There is something
obsessive about it, and maybe
masochistic, although, for me,
rarely is pain part of the equation.
It might be described as a kind of addiction,
but the high is nominal, a fleeting feeling
that, yes, after all, I have written another poem.
Whoop dee doo. It’s something else.
Almost devotional, religious, but more
than that, there is this ecstatic notion
that the endeavor has birthed some
essential part of me that wants to live:
poetry, the sacrosanct midwife
to every creative impulse within.

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#435: A Metaphor Dice Concrete Poem for April 28, 2022

I intended this month to write a poem inspired by Taylor Mali’s metaphor dice that would be suitable for submission to The Golden Die Contest, the deadline for which is two days away. This isn’t it. This isn’t the one, neither is the earlier one I wrote this month. But I’ve been sitting on this roll for some time (I am, well worn, thunderstorm), and I was intrigued by today’s prompt at NaPoWriMo to write a concrete poem, a poem that has a shape that represents its subject matter. If you know anything about the word processing software that is part of the WordPress blog toolkit, you would know that it’s nigh impossible, outside of simply centering text, to manipulate words on the “page” into any kind of shape. So–the concrete poem, if I were to write one, would have to be done the old fashioned way–with pen and paper. I did not have time today to make it pretty–so here is the image of my sloppy composition on notebook paper, and below I will include the text of the poem, woefully, formatted in the way of a traditional poem–very unlike concrete.

The outline I have drawn here of the image – that’s kind of cheating.

A Well-worn Thunderstorm

I am a well-worn thunderstorm,
tossing
my
lightning
bolts
gently
to the expectant earth, already
bored with my fireworks.

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#412: A Poem from Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice on April 8, 2022

My soul is an
unruly wasteland,
which is to say that
it’s always in trouble,
always digging
through the wreckage, 
always searching for
greener pastures,
unsatisfied, hungry,
desperately reaching
for a mirage of
cool, clear water.

A Note on Today’s Poem: The assignment from Napowrimo today was to write an alter-ego poem. I passed on that particular prompt in favor of a poem from Taylor Mali’s metaphor dice, writing metaphor poems today along with my 10th grade students. I realize now, though, that this IS in fact an alter-ego poem, as it really does not represent in the least my normal outlook and attitude about things. As a person who aspires to be “soulful,” whatever that means, I would not likely describe my soul as being at all like a wasteland. But of course–there are always moments, right, and our alter-egos, rather than some kind of superhero or alternative and yet positive version of ourselves, tend to be rather shadowy, I’d say. Which brings me to the main reason for wanting to compose a little note here at the end.

I was having a conversation with a colleague about teaching the concept of “speaker” in the study of poetry. The concept is explained like this: the speaker is the one who speaks in the poem and we can’t assume that speaker is the poet. And that’s true, especially when a poet invents a persona through which to “speak.” Robert Browning has never murdered his girlfriend by strangling her with her hair. We can be pretty certain about that. Porphyria’s lover is a character, an invention, an artifice. But: can we EVER say that the speaker in a poem is in actual fact an autobiographical representation of the poet? I think we can. Seamus Heaney’s poems come to mind–in particular the poems from Death of a Naturalist. The speaker in “Midterm Break” is unmistakably Heaney as he tells the story of the day on which his four year old brother was killed by a car. And, at the same time–I think of Stafford’s comment in an interview that there are things he’s written in his poems that he wouldn’t stand by in real life–for example, a poem that characterizes his parents in a way that is not especially “true” in his experience. So–the conclusion I reach, and one of the things I love about poetry, is that the concept of the speaker, the particular choice the poet makes about the voice that emerges from the text, is one of infinite possibility and for the reader or listener, a line of inquiry that might be full of pitfalls!

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