30 poems in 30 days, mignon ariel king, National Poetry Month Challenge, Poetry

NaPoMo Poems: 20-30

30  Words Are Not All

Poetry is not everything.  It’s neither vacation
from reality nor vocation to keep a roof
overhead.  It will not patch that roof’s leaks
or repair broken relations or teach a teen
to make his bed.  Not everyone considers
it useful to hear or worthwhile to write.
Most, actually, do not.  Perhaps some day
when I am colder than ever and hungriest
for something tangible to digest, I will then
renounce poetry for a hot sandwich and a
soft, cozy blanket.  I do not think this is so.

29 “Rolling Stones Steal Show!”

They were the headliners who stole my glory,
which is especially rude since family rumor
has it that I wasn’t supposed to make it.
Too tiny, too weak?  More like, already bored.
Then I saw it, out of the corner of my left eye:
snow.  Oh, what a lovely world to be part of.
I wondered what it felt like, how it tasted, and
the smell.  What does cold white smell like?
Then again, I could just disappear, and know
the world as a perfect blank slate.  But, wait!
What was that?  Not another newborn whining,
not whirring incubators, not even the lovely hum
of my father’s heart as he held me close, got me
to drink from the bottle.  It was music.  Sweet!
Not just any sound blew the world’s mind, stealing
my tragic little deathbed scene.  It was Jagger.
It was Rock ‘n’ Roll!  It’s really why I’m here.

[Prompt: Write about the day you were born, from your perspective.]

28  What This Poem Will Do

[Removed 5/3/10]

27   “Don’t Tread on Me!”

We were just oddgirls trying to be
normal, but it was so exhausting.
Yet, I kept it up, up to 25-ish.
All my best college friend’s pals
thought I was weird, didn’t get
why she hung out with me at all,
hated that I hated arguing, didn’t
need to make a point all the time.
I ignored them when I couldn’t
smile or change the subject, mostly
sat in the livingroom at parties,
watching TV with the guys.  Then
we were on Mass Ave, going to see
Mapplethorpe at the ICA.  That
tedious girl who always said mean,
mean things laughed,  “I can’t wait
to stomp on that damned flag!!”
I stopped mid-step:  What flag?
“Old Glory!”  She laughed, with
a chorus of hee haws.  You’re
kidding, right?
They were
serious, and I wouldn’t budge,
didn’t care about being yelled at,
insulted, told about freedom
of speech.  I exercised mine:
Go straight to hell! stomping
away.  I never went back, and
nobody ever, ever mentioned
that day again.

[Prompt:  Write about the day you first knew who you are.]

26  Usually, It’s Buy One Get One Free

It works with laundry detergent,
maybe go with the original scent
knowing you can break loose
with lavendar spring some day.
And two kielbasas is almost
unimaginable decadence: turkey
for your health on Wednesday,
but Saturday is full, fatty beef
with sauerkraut and noodles
wafting through the hallways.
Yet, the perfect One, that sweet,
sensible man you deserve will
make you cry out loud for more
over a sunny Saturday clothesline.

[Prompt:  Write down the next thing you hear and build a poem around it]

25   Removed for submission

24   At the End of the Day

After the ghosts have gone, we must pick up
chairs with broken rungs, whiskey glass shattered
on the bar.  Then there’s the half-hinged door
to mend, slat by slat.  One cheats at cards
and digs his spurs into the floor, always gouging
the newest planks of wood.  How do they manage
to tear the curtains?  We’d tell them to keep out,
run them out of town, but they draw a crowd
that more than pays for the mess, and the girls
just love them.  That’s singing cowboys for you.

23  Hapless Evil

I could have been that muse that causes men
to tear their hair out, pound upon their chests.
I could have been a vampish heroine
who haunts ex-loves with my round, silky breasts.
Or, what about a gypsy, tramp, and thief
they’ll miss when I am led away for good?
I’d steal the gold out of their very teeth
but make them feel that I’m misunderstood.
Fair Circe would have built a shrine to me.
Mae West would say, “Now that’s my kinda broad.”
Black widows would find other industry,
while strippers slid off poles just to applaud.
Yet all this time the world was not spellbound…
Oh, silly me, this charm book’s upside down!
[Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!!]

22  Tree

I thank you, tree, for
tossing pink petals on me.
They smell mighty sweet.

How I agonize
that someone might chop you down
to make a journal.

Yet without your help,
no one would know what I mean.
I must write things down.

[I lost the prompt, something like write three haiku(s) that are connected to the same title/concept]

21 Possible Confusion

Am I “sad, feeling guilty, maybe anxious?”
The women in the drug ad look thrilled
to feed the dog and take out the trash
wearing mint-green blouses and pearl earrings.

Are they immune, I wonder, to spiders
in the garbage pail, ringworm in fur?
Usually they don’t have paid work,
so somehow manage to keep perfect house.

I’m mad, feel boredom, perhaps rage.
If I had  a job, I’d fire me.

[Prompt:  Use the five bolded words, in fewer than 20 lines.]

20  Quoth the Author?

Dear Diary,

They call me paranoid, then talk about my low birth, drinking, penchant for young girls in white death gowns. Yet every word I write gets snapped up, no matter how gorey, sadistic, self-loathing.  The cursed, hypocritical snobs!  I’d like walls, ceilings, chandeliers to fall on their foolish, mulish heads.  Being walled up to smother is too good for them.  Fiends, I say.  Fiends!  A pox on them all.  I would gladly die at 40 just to mock them forever as they try to equal my talent. Envy!  Envy!  But I grow weary.  It’s midnight, and quite dreary.



[Prompt: Pick a historical figure and write a diary entry from his/her perspective…]

30 poems in 30 days, mignon ariel king, Poetry

NaPoMo: Poems 15-19

19 These Are the Things You’ll Want to Take with You When You Leave Family Baggage Behind

1. Nephews who graduate from rubber dinosaurs to transforming robots; or who cook; or who joined the Marines.

2. Nieces who once collected clown dolls; or beat you at Scrabble; or threatened to bite the stupid out of a boy.

3. The only photo of all five of your brothers, semi-grown, at Franklin Park, coincidentally all dressed in blue and white.

4. The older sisters-in-law who loved being Black and loved you too despite your “flat face” and the freckles of dead White ancestry.

5. Your grandmother’s “Screw you!” spirit; and hand-crocheted doilies; and “Hurrah!  That’s where you belong!” when you got accepted to a women’s college for grad school.

6. The secret pie recipe, from a hand-typed cookbook some lady at work gave to Daddy before you were born.

7. 8 siblings, 1 cousin, two parents (“Simmer down back there!”), piled into the powder-blue station wagon on the way to a picnic–with hard-boiled eggs and the big red and white thermos with the little press spout.

8. Your father’s full laugh as he read poetry; or his half-lensed brow, wrinkled over astrology or Caesar.

9. The ribbons sent in cards even when it wasn’t your birthday, from your big sister at Pembroke College.

10.  Forgiveness for the relatives who inspired your parents to elope before your light-traveler life could begin.

18 May We Borrow One of Your Pens?

Silver spoons dangle from the metal rack
jangling after appetizer-whizzing waitstaff
while I try not to listen to a disturbing
poem.  The violence is sharpening
my mild mood as I peek past the paddle.
No beer.  I have coffee instead, watch
cream swizzles as my first shift of friends
has drizzled out of this “in case of rain”
indoor spot.  A rude stranger shreds
my nerves and resolve to enjoy myself,
but isn’t worth a good cussing out.
I relocate and am asked for a pen in a tone
suggesting stinginess on my part for coming
well-prepared.  I use the other pen to write,
since I have earned solitude in a crowd
and a break from the current, cheesy bard.

17  Manufactured Light

Removed for submission!

16  Riverside

The River is too far today, in the April raw
that gives home a bad reputation.  But the sky
feels mercy and brings water here, sprinkled
subtly on a Monet umbrella camouflaged by
the newly greening trees.  The walk produces
a bit of frost, but not the sort one hopes will
melt away soon.  This should be sad, so not
like Brighton, where the train stops seem
ill-named.  But just thinking of the reservoir,
Lake Street, riverside, inspires legs to move,
heart to pump, voice to spur itself, I think I can.
I know you will.  You can go home again.


[Prompt:  A toponym.  Don’t ask me; it’s complicated.
It’s a poem with the name of a place, blah, blah.
The name sorta has two meanings, blah, blah.
Ex. Shanghai n.; shanghai v.  Worse than word problems.]

15  Life Force

she carried
a quest
over her shoulder,
just a wishboned stick
to point at clumps
of earth during
extremely dry, mounded
moments ruled
by a desire to drink.
She never dug,
never even nudged
the tiniest stone.
That might remove
her purpose.
Besides, her mouth always
watered again.

30 poems in 30 days

NaPoMo 2010: Poems 8-14

13 and 14 are being held hostage somewhere in this computer.  I will attempt to ransom them eventually.
12  Dear Heidi, [Explanation From a Friend]
Yes, I could have said all this over ale and focaccia
at Papa Razzi’s, but it was more fun to talk books.
It’s simple: Take everything you know about me.
Now strip away poetry. Add haughty edicts that
retro passive resister sistahs like me should “know.”
Remove the belief that I might have an idea once
every now and again that has merit.  Assume “we
women” think and feel alike — or should.  Last,
remove my face from your sight for years, years,
and more years.  Now you are my blood sister.
How does it feel compared to truer kinship?
11 Unofficial Bewitchery
We piled in a car and went to Salem
–a punker, Ophelia, and the scarlet-
lipped woman Terminator.  Wax witches
pressed under papier mache stones
were scarier than the live hands
grabbing from the shadows.  I see
better in the dark.  We walked
through the famously gabled house,
bought pentacle penny keychains,
accepted mulled cider from wenches,
but the official witch never showed up.
I had to settle for amateurish attempts
at love, sipping tea made from calendula
while sleeping with a borrowed man.
[Prompt: Mid-summer — the time of year that calendula is picked by witches]
10   Well, that’s two !***% poems this week.  Sorry, won’t post.
Since there’s no poem today, I’ll use the space to say how much fun I had at Boston’s 10th Poetry Festival.  56 poets in two days.  Thank you to the open-mic audience!!  Harris Gardner, you rock!
9 That’s Italian!

Back in the days when, the baddest men
on Earth were Italian.  De Niro was
the godfather of baaad, and Travolta

da-aaanced!  Even in Dorchester, no one
blamed Athena, ebony goddess with
illegal curves, for loving a Ferzoco twin.

Slick-haired, thick-browed, golden tan.
He wasn’t White.  He was Italian.
So we middle-aged teachers lined up

on Hanover, drooling over pastel cookies,
thinking of that New Year’s Eve a closed
cafe re-opened for four sad undergrads.

The espresso machine was fired up,
tiramisu and chocolate thawed us out.
North Enders.  As good as they look!

[Prompt: Italian Americana]

8 Will appear here if/when I can fix the techno prob.

30 poems in 30 days, National Poetry Month Challenge

NaPoMo 2010: Poems 1-7

Yet again, I accept the challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days.  Here goes!

7  Stranger than Fiction

First, it’s annoying that the special report interrupts
a soap opera love scene, police chief lying with
gushing chest wound as the woman who dumped
his brother to return to true love leans over,

whispering she cannot live without….  Flashbacks
must be next, but then the music, the type that always
makes you miss the soothing tones of Peter Jennings.
Fire on Beacon Street.  Pre-sprinklered, 1896.

Then the real heroes show up, heavy black coats
disappearing into thick black smoke, midday sun
bouncing off shiny helmets.  Even the River closes.
Reporters stuck in Cambridge.  Who’s home now?

Students, future famous musicians of Mass Ave.
But the post-squelching-of-flame drama is up,
on the roof. Captured by news copters.  Six men
frantically pump a chest before the feed goes black.

[Prompt: Sex and Death]

6 Chef’s Hell

[For Gordon Ramsay]

Those blazing hissy fits are bettered by
his  British accent, poured over ice.
And they deserve it, the flaming fools who
store raw poultry with thawing meatloaf.

Nor should appetizers be tepid, much less
“hideous.”  Tongue-skewering is earned

by the sous man who wilts everything
he touches.  And head waiter’s burden
is to warm disgruntled diners with bread.
But the viewer only partly salivates over

the entree to be.  She returns again, again,
for each week brings the guarantee of fire.

5 Poetry Lover

As always, the woman pretends to sleep,
but he whispers promises in her ear, trails
his lying tongue down her hot neck as if
somehow he is doing her a favor quenching
a thirst he created.  He’s pretty good at what
he does, the bastard, but only intermittently.

Besides, his generosity is spread too thin.
Tomorrow, he’ll be with another woman,
or man.  Sex, height, weight, family history,
level of education–he has no boundaries
whatsoever.  Any warm vessel will do, any
mind eager to wrap around him once more.

[Prompt:  Give poetry a personality and show how you really feel about it.]

4  A Song of Apostrophe

I sing to you of the past and a woman who first came
to New England across fields of maize in buffalo hide
and furry moccasins: your grandmother‘s grandmother’s
grandmother, buffeted by Canada’s wind and the foolish lips

who wanted to doom you by cultivating your future
before your birth could be imagined.  You are the future,
generation of girl who will never know the Black woman too,
who came by ship to make sons, to join the daughters of that

Indian woman who traveled on foot.  Women breathed in
hell on this Great Spirit’s Earth, just so you could exist.
Hear me in your dreams, see me in your mirror, feel me
when your hand can finally turn every knob it touches.

[The prompt is from a line of a poem, bolded in the text.  It’s also a tip of the hat to my favorite work of Latin literature, Virgil’s Aeneid. I’m not sold on the title yet, but at least I did something with that goofy prompt.]

3 Death of a Writer

[Prompt: “Write what you fear.”]

I’m a novelist.  75.  I claim to retire every few years just to instill a sense
of panic in my fan base.  My life’s foundation is the stupidity of strangers.
The beach house invites sun, draws waves of adulation from clamdigger-

clad tourists, shocked to discover that the woman in white cotton tunic is
indeed me, strolling by barefoot and generous, flashing famous penholder
in the air.  I hate sun and sand, used to be a starving poet.  That was a life.

2 No Hedging Allowed  (Not sure what’s wrong with the formatting!)

[Prompt: Gall]

The utter gall of the blessed,

complaining of imperfection

in the absence of want.
Rampant weeds in a garden
are a sign of owning “Home.”

What to do?  What to do?
–Dandelion whine.  Or stew!

An absolute atrocity of excess,
whacking back the grass
to uproot natives for foreign shrub.
Too much preening of landscape
is a sign that one is lost.

Where to go?  Where to go?
–Just follow the signs!

1 Imperfect Ten

[Prompt: wrenched hearts]

I was toeing the edge, hanging ten
and ready to bounce, bounce, sail
into the air, splash into it with you.

Thank you for talking me down,
sparing the trouble of struggling
into racer-back gear just to get

drenched, with no coach to say
“Good job!  You gave your all.”
Nobody’s keeping score but me.