Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NaPoWriMo Day #8

Week one has come and gone!

Still reading the book of poetry by Shaughnessy.  I'm glad I'm reading lots of poetry, I think it's inspiring me to keep writing my own.  And it's nice to check all these authors/books I've been meaning to read from my to-do list.

I chose to write with the prompt at NaPoWriMo today.  I had a little bit of trouble getting started.  I'm so honest in my poetry...but to tell a lie?  I managed it!

The prompt went something like this:  today I challenge you to write a palinode. And what’s that? It’s a poem in which the poet retracts a statement made in an earlier poem. You could take that route or, if you don’t have an actual poetically-expressed statement you want to retract, maybe you could write a poem in which you explain your reasons for changing your mind about something. It could be anything from how you decided that you like anchovies after all to how you decided that annoying girl was actually cool enough that you married her.

The statement I retracted had to deal with how badly I hate the town for which I currently live.  Now, if you enjoy small towns and simple folks and hardcore religious rigmarole, a lack of art and zilch in the opportunity department then you might actually like living here.  As a matter of fact, if you want to go off the grid and try living a quiet life in the middle of nowhere, then you might find this a pleasant place to live.

However, for the young folk, for the smart kids, the poets and writers and artists.  For those of us who enjoy museums, art exhibits, poetry readings, film festivals, indie music, the hipster scene...well, then you'll probably end up hoarding books and getting drunk on iced coffee every evening (much like me).

I had an ex boyfriend (okay, he was more of a long-distance best friend, kindred soul type of thing), who traveled from Chicago to spend a week with me.  As he stood in the middle of historical downtown and looked around, he said (very seriously):  "I think I might have just stepped into the strangest place in the world.  This place looks like a town right out of The Twilight Zone."  And I guess if you've never really visited a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, it probably does!


Smalltown, Nowhere, USA

I lied when I said
I didn’t love mornings
Sleeping in a flat
Against the backdrop
Of this city.  After all,
These busy side streets are
Pillage for the poets’ pen,
And even if you’re tempted to
You can never sleep past ten:
Too much smoky noise from
Passing cars, all the tired
People so busy going nowhere,
The brake pop of school buses
Where grumpy kids await at curbs
With back-packs full of
Weekend papers, sleep still
Scratching the corners of
Their eyes, pebbles to later
Be swept aside by the promise
Of Movie Monday, and the
Crack cocaine effect of Kool-Aid.

At least no grouchy little ladies
With purple-knitted shoulder bags
Live beneath me, eagerly listening.
Instead, an arcade echoes the
Floorboard creak of my midnight steps
And even in the saddest ‘closed’
Of days when no balloons jump
And the birthday kids cease to scream,
Like clockwork, every twenty minutes
(if my apartment is quiet enough)
You hear the 80’s video game,
Pixelated ghost ever-swinging
His golf-club, but at least
He never ages, never marries either.
Doesn’t flip his newspaper
On angry Monday mornings,
Demanding extra cream for his coffee,
Extra chocolate for his cake.
But then if you’ve ever watched
The Twilight Zone, who knows
What strange worlds live inside
Those 16 bit telegraphic dream machines?

And whoever said
That only domesticated animals
Loiter the streets of any city
Must have lacked the gift of hearing.
They loom, ever present, like little
Black pieces of footed coal,
Gray specks atop building gutters,
The power line trophies:
Winter birds flying home,
Their memories full of Panasonic views
From the gulf of Florida
And Alabama Pelicans, old friends.
They sing to our closed windows
Every morning and I can’t imagine,
As I start the coffee and
Wipe down the buffet table,
Why any creature would return
To such a gray and dusty place:
the chipping brick of abandoned
Country porches, their rocking chairs
Of dead grandmothers forever silenced,
The two lonesome graveyards
With their peeling marble Jesus
Reaching outward for eons
With his hands still empty,
And the old stray dogs that bark
Incessantly, even hungrier than I,
Although we starve in separate ways.

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