Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prompt #277 – National Poetry Month


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
 
– Robert Frost

It’s April again—where I live, the daffodils are in bloom, hyacinths have broken ground, and there are leaf buds on the lilacs. In addition to our natural world “rites of spring,” National Poetry Month begins today—a month-long celebration of poets and poetry.

Established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month begins on April 1st and runs through April 30th.  This month-long "event" is held every April “to widen the attention of individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern.” During April, poets, poetry lovers, publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, and schools throughout the US celebrate poetry.

One of the challenges of NPM is to read and/or write a poem every day. So ... in the spirit of the observance, as I’ve done for the past several years, I offer you inspiration words/phrases and related poems for each of April’s thirty days.

This year, I’ve selected poems by poets whom I call friends—poets I know personally, have read with, spent time with, and respect. Links to the poems appear beneath each day in April after the inspiration words and the titles and poets’ names. You may wish to read, write, or do both. If you choose to write, be sure to extend the inspiration and travel away from the example poems. You’re not bound to any content or subject matter in the example poems—only the inspiration itself and however loosely you wish to interpret it.

Tips:

1. Don’t feel compelled to match your content or style to the examples—in fact, do just the opposite and make your poems as different as you possibly can. The inspiration titles and the example poems are only intended to trigger some poetry-spark that’s unique to you, to guide your thinking a little—don’t let them enter too deeply into your poems, don’t let their content become your content.

2. Let your reactions to the inspiration phrases and poems surprise you. Begin with no expectations, and let your poems take you where they want to go.

3. Give the topics your own spin, twist and turn them, let the phrases trigger personal responses: pin down your ghosts, identify your frailties, build bridges and cross rivers, take chances!

4. Keep in mind that writing a poem a day doesn’t mean you have to “finish” each poem immediately. You can write a draft each day and set your drafts aside to work on later.

5. Whatever you do this month, find some time (a little or a lot) to enjoy some poetry!


As always, your sharing is welcome, 
so please don't be shy about posting your thoughts and poems as comments!

Regular prompts will resume on April 29th.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful and poetry-filled April!

Happy National Poetry Month!



April 1
Inspiration: Music
Example: “The Risk of Listening to Brahms” by Michael T. Young

April 2
Inspiration: The Tree of Life
Example: “Tree of Life” by Gail Fishman Gerwin

April 3
Inspiration: Through the Lens
Example: “The Lens of Fire” by Penny Harter

April 4
Inspiration: For the Love of …
Example: “For the Love of Avocados” by Diane Lockward

April 5
Inspiration: Finding Our Way
Example: “You Are My GPS” by Linda Radice

April 6
Inspiration: Seasons
Example: “I Hate to See October Go” by Laine Sutton Johnson

April 7
Inspiration: Parental Memories
Example: “Breakfront” by Bob Rosenbloom

April 8
Inspiration: Oz and Other Mythical Places
Example: “The Yellow Brick Road” By Donna Baier Stein

April 9
Inspiration: Wilderness
Example: “Let There Be a Wilderness” by R. G. Rader

April 10
Inspiration: A Place Remembered
Example: “Morning at the Elizabeth Arch” by Joe Weil

April 11
Inspiration: Loss & Grief
Example: “Grief” by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

April 12
Inspiration: Vacancies
Example: “Vacancy” by Tony Gruenewald

April 13
Inspiration: Reflections 
Example: “I Have a Theory about Reflection” by  Renée Ashley

April 14
Inspiration: Yes or No
Example: “Yes” by Catherine Doty

April 15
Inspiration: Teaching
Example: “Dream teaching” by Edwin Romond

April 16
Inspiration: Newspapers
Example: “The Star-Ledger” by B.J. Ward

April 17
Inspiration: Age
Example: “The Age” by Emily Vogel

April 18
Inspiration: Husbands & Wives
Example: “Once My Husband” by Priscilla Orr

April 19
Inspiration: What I Wanted
Example: “Thanksgiving” by Martin Jude Farawell

April 20
Inspiration: Silences
Example: “Silence” by David Crews

April 21
Inspiration: Fire
Example: “Built Fire” by Charlie Bondhus

April 22
Inspiration: Memorials
Example: “Trains: The Memorial” by Deborah LaVeglia

April 23
Inspiration: Seeing
Example: “How I Took That Picture” by Basil Rouskas

April 24
Inspiration: Evolution
Example: “Evolution” by Jessica de Koninck

April 25
Inspiration: Being Alive
Example: “The Grand Fugue” by Peter E. Murphy

April 26
Inspiration: People
Example: “Colored People” by Charles H. Johnson

April 27
Inspiration: Revelations
Example: “Revelation” by Charlotte Mandel

April 28
Inspiration: Streets as Metaphors
Example: “River Road, East Paterson” by Nancy Lubarsky

April 29
Inspiration: Rain (April Showers)
Example: “Things We Do and Don’t Say of the Rain” by Robert Carnevale (scroll down to poem)

April 30
Inspiration: Stillness
Example: “Still” by John McDermott (scroll down to poem)


 

138 comments:


  1. Michael T. Young’s poem reminded me of the challenges of becoming an adult, separating from parents, firing a gun, taking a bus to nowhere: All attempts for establishing personal credos and discovering what are the “big” and “true” things in life.

    It reminded me of my unsuccessful attempt to connect with my physically exhausted father
    by introducing him to an “artsy” movie in the after work hours.



    BRAHMS AT AN OPEN AIR CONCERT

    It was the night
    I introduced father to Brahms
    in an open air theatre

    under the Attic air
    in a half mooned sky
    to find out

    culture couldn’t keep
    his calloused fingers
    awake… I cut his

    snoring arpeggios
    short and we walked home,
    each to his own music.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. HOORAY! It's National Poetry Month in America and Basil is back!

      I'm so delighted to read your poem, Basil, and thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you'll post more!!!!

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    2. Nice poem, Basil. Glad you were inspired by Adele's prompt.

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    3. Basil, I love this poem and remember it from our workshop group. Those "snoring arpeggios" — brilliant. Thanks so much for sharing with us here on the blog. And ... welcome back. You've always been an important part of NPM!

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    1. Such a crafty weaving of powerful sound images in a short poem!
      Sailing ship, blind man in the street and night counterpoint of Brahms music.

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    3. Wonderful, Lewis! Some very well-thought and well-crafted imagery. It's so good to have you sharing with us again!

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    1. Very nice, Lewis! Great twist at the end. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  4. What a dapper gentleman-- yet the deception-loaded dismount cautions us to watch our wallet. I liked that poem very much.

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  5. April 2

    Gail Fishman Gerwin’s poem TREE OF LIFE documents the trauma of moving to a new place and contrasts it with the safety of a permanent home, especially one just built.

    In January of 2017 I moved from New Jersey to California, so I am still in the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stage for every decision we made about family and personal things we needed to leave behind.



    THE MOVE WEST

    It snows out. She shows me
    old books and family ware
    strewn in between

    pack boxes around us. Her
    carpal-tunneled hands hold
    things from shelves we just sold.

    I ponder which family
    photos to keep for
    our move west,

    and at our age, it feels
    we’ve just started to
    flow into the dust of time.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Beautiful, Basil! Thank you again for sharing a poem! Moving across the country has to be a major challenge, especially when we're not young. I wish you and Tamara all good things and a long, wonderful life in your new home.

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    3. Beautiful, Basil! You capture the essence of making a major move later in life. I'm assuming your poem is based on fact and hope that you are prospering in your new home.

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  6. April 3

    And the prompt is “The Lens of Fire” by Penny Harter

    In Penny Harter’s poem the images and symbols are primordial. They connect us with forces of nature (sun, light, heat, fire) which, with time’s passing, shape, damage, and sculpt permanently our uniqueness. They give us pain, redemption, joy and wisdom. The interwoven mystery of all these were my inspiration for these lines.


    FROM A PALM READING

    Veins,
    Serrations
    Brown edges of a tree leaf

    Blood
    Cross cuts
    Fire remnants


    Sun giveth
    Time taketh away
    My palm reader knows only the future


    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Basil, A wonderful "assessment" of Penny's poem and a wonderfully inspired poem of your own! Thank you for sharing it!

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    3. Again, Basil, bravo! So glad you're back!

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    1. Nice surprise in the final line!! Interesting how the word "fire" produces so different results depending on the context (our viewpoint)

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    3. What a unique and truly creative idea, Lewis! It's wonderfully amazing how a single word can become the spark that ignites a poem. Thank you for sharing!

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    4. Well done, Lewis! I'm trying to keep up with comments and may miss some, but I'm reading all of the poems! My thanks to you for posting your very creative words.

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    1. Well done, Lewis! I love that Diane's words, "the broken pieces" were an inspiration to you! Thank you again for sharing with us!

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    2. Happy to know that my words led to your own poem.

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    3. Diane Lockward, your poems and your Crafty Poet books have inspired many! Linguini, avocados ...

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  9. April 4

    Prompt: For the Love of Avocados, by Diane Lockward.

    The poet with a subtle finesse captures the arc of a relationship. I see a mother separate from her son. After years of being away, he comes back. Changed. Adult. Capable of sustaining his life. The softness of the avocado plays ball with the hardness of the knife. The unskilled youth shows new mastery skills. The poet plays ball between describing textures, colors, skins, and then suggesting symbols (reunion, admiration, pride, and love.)

    I took a different path, to a Mexican resort:

    Avocado pulp in the bowls
    Mariachis begin to play
    We order more tequila


    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Another good one, Basil! You have a real gift for saying a lot in as few words as possible.

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    3. Lovely response to my poem, Basil--your interpretation and your own poem.

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    1. I was reliving Stanley Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY when reading your poem, Lewis.
      And then the intro of the stray horse. What a dismount!!! "In time for tea"

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    2. I agree with Basil, "What a dismount." Well done!

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  11. April 5

    I can still see Linda reading her poem at one of our workshops. Soft, understated with grateful reflection, cherishing her husband’s guidance to bring her home… Bless her memory.

    THE ROAD HOME

    The rain cleared the fog and I am
    in a dark sky stretch, past a
    turn I should have made.

    I am lost, but

    the North star illuminates —
    and puts me back on the
    road home.


    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Basil, yes, may Linda's memory be blessed and may she rest in peace. This poem of hers is a signature piece for which she'll be remembered by those who heard her read it. I read your poem, Basil, as a kind of tribute to Linda: the dark stretch of her illness, and then her going home. One wonderful thing about special poetry is that there's room for the reader to enter and experience the poem in his or her own way. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I know Linda would have loved it.

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    1. Lewis, Wonderful Haiku-ish quality in this farming scene.

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  13. April 6

    And the prompt is I Hate to See October Go
    by Laine Sutton Johnson

    A poem rich in symbols and feeling: Seasons and cycles, personification of October into a woman, poetic license to chase her, visuals of disrobing trees, the enjoyment of late adult life before old age moves in…


    IN OCTOBER

    In forests,
    when trees
    drop their dry leaves,

    and waves erase
    footprints of broken up
    lovers on empty beaches,

    this is the month
    when hikers take paths
    to be with friends who left for

    lands of silent
    snow, scented with
    rebirth vows from daffodils below.


    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Lewis,
      I also have the pleasure of reading your poetry. Where is home for you?

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  14. April 7

    Today’s prompt is the poem Breakfront by Bob Rosenbloom
    offered as an inspiration for parental memories.

    I had the pleasure of seeing Bob read this poem. With the sharpness of a photographer’s camera, he captures all the objects (from furniture to baseball cards) in the room where his mother prayed. He records the back and forward motion of his mother’s prayer ritual and confirms with his lines the transformation of a simple room into a sacred temple. A mother’s love of her faith and commitment to her family is the kind of India ink that no passage of time can erase.

    The poem inspired a parental memory for me after I recently watched a 40 year old film transferred to a DVD.

    THE CRUELEST

    Mother walks down the stairs of our country home,
    laughs mocking moves of a belly dancer.
    Father laughs with her as he looks at the camera of his

    visiting son from America. Cameras are the cruelest of inventions
    — reduce our past happiness to fading grains
    in the dust of time.






    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Well done, Basil and Lewis! It's always interesting to read a bit of background on the poems, and I thank you both for including your "poem histories".

      Bob Rosenbloom, your poem is stunning – an amazing look at love and faith. Your mom would be very proud of this poem! I keep re-reading it. Bravo to you!

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    1. What a lovely way to remember your mom, Lewis! You certainly make wonderful collages of words.

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  16. April 8

    Today’s prompt is the poem “The Yellow Brick Road” By Donna Baier Stein
    offered as an inspiration for Oz and Other Mythical Places. I recently read Donna’s novel The Silver Barron’s Wife and enjoyed her rich language which, in my opinion, is a great marriage of Poetry and Fiction.

    Her poem triggered the following lines:

    HEROES STORIES

    Myth is the fuel of hope
    kindling youth’s fires
    burning past our bedtimes

    when dreamland’s yellow
    brick road confirms
    myth is the fuel of hope

    and parents tell
    pillow-side stories
    burning past our bedtimes.

    Invincible knights
    fight for land and kin for
    myth is the fuel of hope

    and when castles begin to tumble
    heroes die on bedroom comforters
    burning past our bedtimes.

    Near us, on crenelations between
    us and the enemies
    myth is the fuel of hope
    burning past our bedtimes.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Hey, Basil, you're a day early, but what a great beautifully imaged poem. I love the line, "myth is the fuel of hope." Keep em coming, my friend.

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  17. This is so enjoyable! I love reading the inspiration poems and the comments. I'm not a very accomplished poet, so I won't post anything myself, but I'm grateful to those who do.

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    2. Ditto about others offering their inspirations to the blog. This is a safe place in my opinion... Not judgmental at all

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    1. Lewis,
      I like your evocative poem. Mystery, love, flower, secrets all suggested in just 5 lines!

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  20. Such a surprise dismount!

    High level craft in these lines:

    "and the sun's glow through
    the bullet-riddled farmhouse, and the trees
    above which a white drift
    of smoke as if in surrender— "

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  21. April 9
    Inspiration: Wilderness
    “Let There Be a Wilderness” by R. G. Rader

    Wilderness implies unpredictability, out of control conditions, turmoil, and conflict. On the other end, too much order and an excessive compliance with established rules followed mindlessly leads to boredom, to a life of no bold creation.

    Predictability is the worst sin of a poem. So, learning to live without full control and taking risks and new roads in art and life is essential to change, growth and excitement.

    Not taking risks (not accepting wilderness and adversity as part of a full life) leads to stagnation, paralysis and a desire to excessively control self and others.

    R. G. Rader’s poem inspired these lines:


    RISKS TAKEN

    So, love, show me your claws
    bring wilderness to our home.

    Hand glide lessons complete,
    drives to the launch point,
    mounts his gear,
    and jumps off the cliff.

    Lines rehearsed,
    stills the knots in her stomach,
    and walks to the
    raising curtain.

    So, love, show me your claws
    bring wilderness to our home,

    start a fight the moment
    “same old, same old” shows
    his tired face
    at our doorstep.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. How subtly drawn connections... How original lines: "how hard can it be to tear up the doctors prescription..."

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  23. April 10
    Inspiration: A Place Remembered
    Today’s prompt: “Morning at the Elizabeth Arch” by Joe Weil

    I moved to Santa Monica, CA about three months ago. Beautiful place, blue skies, palm trees and sandy beaches. Sadly though, too many homeless and mentally ill people. The winos in Joe Weil’s poem triggered these lines:



    MORNING IN OUR SEASIDE TOWN

    Grass still wet
    coffee shops set up tables
    a homeless man looks in his bag

    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Thanks Lewis.
      I also am making a focused effort to capture critical details in a few words as possible. Difficult to do, but what a satisfaction when I get it. The less in poetry is more...

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  24. April 11

    Today’s prompt is Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s poem “Grief”

    How masterfully she blends the past with the present, the dream with reality and the grief with gratefulness!

    Here is a poem of mine inspired by grief.




    WHO DIED THAT DAY

    We buried you
    next to father
    that day

    in a shaded grave
    between cypress-trees and
    the cemetery white wall.

    And I don’t know who
    was worse off
    that evening —

    you, far away from
    your birthplace
    in Mani,

    or I
    on the plane
    back to America.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. I am against capital punishment and I read anything about that subject with a lot of emotional charge.
      Having said that, I think your powerful poem is one of the most impactful ones I have ever read on that issue.

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  26. What a great response to the prompts and the poems that readers are posting! I can barely keep up, but I'm enjoying it all (and so are my students)!

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  27. April 12

    Tony Gruenewald’s powerful poem “Vacancy” is the prompt on Adele’s blog: The death of a lodging business because of the relocation of a highway.

    Very emotionally charged issue about the impact of new technology on lives of people. Small town manufacturing, coal mining, automation of repetitive tasks, green eye-shade accountants, are all affected by it.

    And those who can change or run business with some new service or twist will survive. Others who can’t or won’t, will die a slow death complaining about the Chinese worker who stole their jobs.

    I recently moved into a west coast city with horrendous traffic problems: Los Angeles. Uber and Lyft use is booming.

    Against that backdrop, you can imagine the shape of the taxi business here. It was this that served as the inspiration for my poem.



    TAXI TAXI

    For hours they sit idle in the driver’s seat
    playing games on the I-phones,
    devices that kill their business.

    Few years back at the airports
    customers bribed dispatchers
    to get a taxi, but those were the good times.

    Now, taxis lost their case in court to keep
    the Ubies out. They try to earn a living with those
    who can’t learn software or can’t afford smart phones.



    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Lewis,
      You got my curiosity teased.
      Basil

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  29. April 13

    Avoidance of predictability recipes: Allow the mind to play, to run wild, or try and record your dreams early in the morning after you’ve woken up.

    Both Renée Ashley’s poem (Reflection prompter for the day) and Lewis Oakwood’s response, a slice of theatrical act (I can’t wait to see the next scene) are good examples of how to be unpredictable, funny, unorthodox, and provocative.

    Here’s a poem of mine that sprang out of my dreamland:


    OUTSIDER’S DREAM

    Ralph Billerman hosts another event.
    Men and women drink water with lime,
    ponder process issues, debate group dynamics.

    They describe
    models of leadership,
    give convincing examples.

    I, as usual, float between groups —
    observe, listen, but don’t speak.
    I’ve got something to say, but doubt they’ll listen.

    No one comes over for a conversation.
    I’ve stopped counting the years I’ve felt old,
    but I still hope for a conversation, or a touch on the shoulder

    leading to it.



    Basil Rouskas

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    2. Really beautifully expressed, Basil. I know that feeling of being an "outsider" and hoping for a "touch on the shoulder." Well done!

      P.S. I'm reading comments every day, I promise! But ... please forgive me for not commenting on every comment and every poem.

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    3. Adele,
      I think this is Okay. You put so much effort in making the blog a rich resource for poetry. You shouldn't have to respond to each individual entry. My wish is that more people share more comments or make more entries; that would create a more diverse forum. A thought not shared is a thought that did not see the light of the day.

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    1. Strong emotions. Uncertain who she is, but the torture she suffers intense. Could be a mother, a heroine of a play, a symbol of a country in war... Who knows? I like that uncertainty

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    2. I agree with Basil — strong emotions, and I really like the mystery of who the woman might be.

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    1. Related to your lines:

      To a notebook of penciled poems,
      and of dozens of pages
      of fragments-reminders—

      ...This is the normal state of affairs for the poet's desk — isn't it?

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  32. April 14

    The prompt poem for today is Catherine Doty’s poem “Yes”

    Is this poem about a patient in a hospital, the erotic invitation of a lover, the painful arthritic episode of an old woman or a happy baby waking up in his crib? Who knows?

    It reminded me of a poem I once wrote about an ill but dignified old woman who lived alone:


    NIGHT DAMAGES

    Wrinkles on her face got deeper —
    the bare limbs of her soul
    thirst for water
    to cleanse past sins.

    In the mornings she ponders
    to stay in bed, or rise
    to face more
    night damages to her life.



    Basil Rouskas

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  33. April 14

    The prompt poem for today is Catherine Doty’s poem “Yes”

    Is this poem about a patient in a hospital, the erotic invitation of a lover, the painful arthritic episode of an old woman or a happy baby waking up in his crib? Who knows?

    It reminded me of a poem I once wrote about an ill but dignified old woman who lived alone:


    NIGHT DAMAGES

    Wrinkles on her face got deeper —
    the bare limbs of her soul
    thirst for water
    to cleanse past sins.

    In the mornings she ponders
    to stay in bed, or rise
    to face more
    night damages to her life.



    Basil Rouskas

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  34. April 15

    The prompt poem is “Dream Teaching” by Edwin Romond.

    I read it several times, with more joy each time. A good poet is like a new places gatekeeper - he transports you convincingly to places you’ve never been. Although I have not ever taught high school English, I was reminded of phrases teacher-friends of mine often use, down to the details “of calling in sick today” or cafeteria scenes “…at lunch the grouchy food lady discovers smiling and sneaks me an extra meatball.”

    Another strength of this poem, I found, is the imperceptible crafty use of audio devices. For example, in the last stanza I enjoyed the repeating “ch” sounds: “I check the weather…” “stretching like dominoes…” I pick up my chalk…” “ ask me to teach them…”

    Such a funny, witty poem that blends dream and reality.



    THE END OF CLASSES

    The students exit classrooms
    fill hallways to buses and
    an old teacher rakes his fingers

    through his hair.
    Tomorrow another day,
    another lesson plan.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. What a beautiful imagery and dismount!

      "Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable and the handle of a blue silk parasol..."

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  36. April 16 and B J Ward’s poem “Star Ledger” is the prompt.

    My dad’s job demanded lots of manual labor and excessive hours to manage his dairy business. It limited his family time and increased my guilt for not helping him more. So, B J Ward’s poem speaks to me directly.


    MAKING YOGURT

    Bare breasted, my father and I
    just boiled the milk and
    done pouring it in the yogurt cups.

    We drip with sweat
    and he looks at the floor:
    “Forty years” he says

    “I’ve done this forty years”
    he says again, gaze fixed on the floor.
    I gently take the brush from his hand

    and set the exhaust fan faster.
    We make eye contact.
    I scrape the vat.



    Basil Rouskas

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  37. April 16 and B J Ward’s poem “Star Ledger” is the prompt.

    My dad’s job demanded lots of manual labor and excessive hours to manage his dairy business. It limited his family time and increased my guilt for not helping him more. So, B J Ward’s poem speaks to me directly.


    MAKING YOGURT

    Bare breasted, my father and I
    just boiled the milk and
    done pouring it in the yogurt cups.

    We drip with sweat
    and he looks at the floor:
    “Forty years” he says

    “I’ve done this forty years”
    he says again, gaze fixed on the floor.
    I gently take the brush from his hand

    and set the exhaust fan faster.
    We make eye contact.
    I scrape the vat.



    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Lewis,
      This poem intrigues me! Quite a succession of visual and audio images connected with a distant train approaching. Violence, screaming, frightened black birds...and a mother crying. Very well crafted, original poem.

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. What an interesting experimentation/play Lewis!

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  41. April 17

    Emily Vogel’s poem “Age” is today’s prompt.

    Surrealistic,unpredictable, disconnected and open to so many interpretations: Is “age” synonymous to “epoch?” Or is it a season in a person’s life. Is the poet’s position that an event becomes part of an age when the right narrative gets attached? Or is it describing the creative process of an artist??

    These haiku-ish lines popped in my head:

    SCENES FROM A KITCHEN

    A jar full of broken pencils at the table’s south east corner
    Grandma’s knitted shawl hangs from my neck
    and a cat meows by the kitchen door.

    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Lewis,
      I think this is a good example of your ability to create powerful scenes with few words.
      Basil

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  43. April 18 and the prompt is Priscilla Orr’s poem “Once my Husband.” Few poems express the aging of two people who care(d) for each other with such a gracefulness and subtlety.

    This an evocative poem, full of images so familiar, yet illusive. Priscilla Orr “nails” them: “ I nearly burn my tongue on the latte…” or “lilies ablaze on the one, a cane on the other…”

    I took two lines from her poem, modified them slightly, and recast them in a villanelle.


    SUBURBAN LIVES

    And I still remember fragments from people
    we knew, places we lived
    in our suburban homes.

    Fall leaves turned orange
    but longer days returned
    and I still remember fragments from people,

    once neighbors,
    with morning coffee wafting
    in our suburban homes.

    The basketball hoops now rusty
    and the garage doors need paint
    and I still remember fragments from people

    who kept fresh the
    white picket fences
    in our suburban homes.

    Now, the broods eased into retirement
    in succession of seasons’ greetings cards
    and I still remember fragments from people
    in our suburban homes.

    Basil Rouskas

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  44. There's a lot of richness in these poems. What a delight to read them and to be inspired by them.

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  45. April 19, 2017 and today’s prompt is
    “Thanksgiving” by Martin Jude Farawell

    A symphony of blue ridges, mountain forests subtly blended with reflectons of a man about his life and pursuits.

    The poem led me to borrow landscapes in the Pocono, Kittatinny and NJ where I lived more than 20 years, before I moved to California.

    EAST WEST

    Normally sun swept,
    in blue skies

    and Pacific air,
    the west coast town

    I moved to four months ago
    from New Jersey

    does Thai Chi this morning
    in a mat of fog

    like the grey clouds do between
    Pocono and Kittatinny.

    And I touch the wet wintery
    barks of ash and oak

    near my old Black River
    home and see images

    of the lonely old man
    I used to meet on my walks.



    Basil Rouskas

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    1. Beautifully written, Basil! You've captured the feeling perfectly! Another journey, maybe another book? Thank you for all your sharing this month!

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    1. This is a fun exercise for me as well. It feels like a pleasant problem solving with (often) surprising results.

      In your poem, I like the device of "highly explosive" and then 5 lines later a deafening "BOOM"

      Basil

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  47. It is April 20 and today’s prompt is SILENCE by David Crews.

    I used the exercise Lewis Oakwood described in yesterday’s post:

    I picked the words “my mother,” “little boy vs. little girl,” “dark wood,” and “footprint” from David Crews’ poem.

    I then wrote these selected words on a piece of paper, looked at them for a few minutes and then I wrote this haiku-like poem:


    DAWN SILENCE

    The forest footprint
    stops at Black River’s southern bend.
    The sun is about to rise and I miss mother.

    Basil Rouskas

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    1. This is perfection, Basil. Thanks for all the sharing this month!

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  48. It is April 21 and Charlie Bondhus’ ekphrastic poem “Built Fire” is the prompt for the day.

    Unique in selection of subject, this poem seems to incorporate a series of opposites:

    Crossed slats (Opposite-directions)
    Painted-Weathered pieces of wood
    On the inside - On the outside
    Aflame - Extinct

    For the poet, all these “cryptic” symbols joined in a visual unit held together by FIRE. For me CAUTION seemed to emerge. Caution for a life in which the fire (maybe passion?) burns out leaving a sense of an unfinished, incomplete arc. The words of an old guru come out as an ominous life advice.



    CAUTION

    Beware, my son,
    of the flame extinct
    before its time

    Don’t heed my words, son,
    and in time you shall be
    a frustrated arsonist.


    Basil Rouskas

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  49. What a wonderful idea -- something for every day of National Poetry Month! Thank you!

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  50. April 22 and Deborah LaVeglia’s “Trains:  The Memorial” is the prompt.

    This poem is a grieving memorial of a childhood loss. In every line the reader feels the deep, unhealed, pain of the poet, so many years after the accident.

    Trains for some reason have a strong emotional gravity pull for me. Families part on platforms. Soldiers go to war from train platforms. Lovers return after long absences. The departing train whistles blend all passengers’ emotions into a distinct symbol of something ominous about to happen. Train stations are the funnels where the personal turns collective.


    THE TRAIN PLATFORM

    This April Friday I’ve come again
    to the platform we parted

    because of words you say you
    did not mean but couldn’t undo

    although to take them
    back I tried

    but the hurt still there
    and we now are with others.



    Basil Rouskas

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  51. April 22 and Deborah LaVeglia’s “Trains:  The Memorial” is the prompt.

    This poem is a grieving memorial of a childhood loss. In every line the reader feels the deep, unhealed, pain of the poet, so many years after the accident.

    Trains for some reason have a strong emotional gravity pull for me. Families part on platforms. Soldiers go to war from train platforms. Lovers return after long absences. The departing train whistles blend all passengers’ emotions into a distinct symbol of something ominous about to happen. Train stations are the funnels where the personal turns collective.


    THE TRAIN PLATFORM

    This April Friday I’ve come again
    to the platform we parted

    because of words you say you
    did not mean but couldn’t undo

    although to take them
    back I tried

    but the hurt still there
    and we now are with others.



    Basil Rouskas

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  52. April 24 and the prompt poem is “Evolution” by Jessica de Koninck. I find this poem an exemplification of the high craft: To say so many things in so few words and images. To say it in a subtle way without simplifying it, without relying on slogans of pollyanna futures. This is an elegy of a loss. She’s learned to breathe, to survive, but the hurt is still there.


    STREAMS

    This morning I walk the path by the narrow stream
    where we parted

    I have learned to come here from other directions
    but you still

    immerse me in your
    stream



    Basil Rouskas

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  53. So many beautiful poems to read and remember! Thank you for this, Adele!

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  54. It is April 25 and today’s prompt is Peter E. Murphy’s poem “Grand Fugue.”
    By the device of fugue, the blending of two or more themes, Murphy creates a dreamy, anesthetic universe of surrealistic images. In this poem pairs of death/life, illness/health, harmony/atonality, order/anarchy, and gratitude/anger play havoc in each other’s domain. And, despite the dizzying movement of hard to take images, the poem ends in celebration of a million songs and being alive.

    Surrealism has always been intriguing for me. The blending of opposites, the disregard of laws of physics or time and the sheer freedom of creating and exploring. Most dreams fall in that category. So, here is one poem that originated in one of my dreams. It is dated from quite a few years ago, when I was pondering career choices.


    TEA LEAVES
    We walk towards the Olympic stadium. No friends or family. The group, mostly women, speaks English. Dressed like hippies from the sixties, they behave that way. We join hands and form a dancing line. We cross the street. Traffic stops. We are singing songs of revolt. We continue to walk, dance and chant. Then I am in a shop, the crowds no longer with me. It is tea shop. It is run by two women in their late thirties. I don’t know who told me, they have advanced degrees. They answer clients’ tea questions woven with witty conversations. I am wondering to myself why they would work here with so much higher education, but I don’t ask the question. It makes sense they do what they want and damn the common sense. At peace with the explanation, I wake up.

    Basil Rouskas

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  55. Today is April 26 and the prompt poem is “Colored People” by Charles H. Johnson. I see it as a multidimensional poem that touches on many themes. The transitional velocity of a neighborhood is one that triggered me the most, when years ago a total stranger drove into my yard, by Black River in Long Valley, NJ looking unsuccessfully to make “reconnections" with people, homes, ponds, trees from his childhood neighborhood of 50+ years. I had written a poem about the encounter.
    Here it is:


    THE MULTIETHNIC WEAVE

    Black River Circa 2010


    In his 70‘s, he pulls his car
    into my driveway on this
    sticky-skin Sunday afternoon.
    I’ve done my yard weeding,
    and I am about to swim.

    He parks and asks
    about Mrs. Fritzl
    and other fishing folk
    along the river. He now lives in
    Chatham (ran a newspaper there)

    and he remembers family names
    of tumbling brick chimneys
    and fieldstone boundaries of
    this extinct bungalow
    community of 60 years back.

    But I ponder sixty years forward:
    A Spanish speaking father
    (weekend archaeologist)
    will bring his kids
    to these lands
    where developers haven’t
    yet touched Hacklebarney Park.
    He’ll still see NO TRESPASS
    signs and tell his kids
    about the Lenape Indians’

    battles with the white man.
    He’ll miss the history of this house—
    my Greek name as the 3rd owner;
    he’ll miss Havana’s top architect’s
    name who designed it in the 70’s

    (running from Castro) as a gift
    to his daughter. He’ll also miss
    the Bolivian contractor’s homemade
    sign “HECHO POR THOMAS”
    low on the NorthWest post of my bridge.

    And he will never learn about the old Norwegian who lived on above
    Pottersville Falls and in his early years
    did business in South East Europe —
    just north of my homeland borders.



    Basil Rouskas

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  56. I'm just loving the posted poems and all the wonderful poems posted by Basil Rouskas. Wonderful sharing. Thank you!

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  57. Today is April 27 and “Revelation” by Charlotte Mandel is the prompt. The poem speaks to someone (no longer alive) who touched others’ lives with his/her ability to open their eyes to see things anew in the visual beauty of nature.

    I dedicate these lines below to all teachers, mentors, leaders, parents, and friends who have the gift to open our eyes and inspire us to set worthwhile goals, though at times unreachable.


    PRAYER TO SEE THE INVISIBLE

    The best books,
    wrote Orwell,
    are those that tell us
    something we know

    but I think best roads are
    those that point us
    where we can
    not go.

    May I inherit your fresh
    eyes to see my
    invisible
    stars.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. One of your best, Basil! Thank you for all the sharing!

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    2. Kudos to Basil for all the wonderful poems. I remember his work from previous years.

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  58. Today is April 28 and Nancy Lubarsky’s poem “River Road, East Paterson” is the prompt. As Adele’s inspiration phrase suggests streets are metaphorical in nature. They could be directions of our lives at a certain age, or signals of a memory from early family life, or the story telling of a school incident, etc. It is a physical world. It is memories loaded with emotions. I read someplace that even prisoners have positive emotions for their cells: It is the physicality of an environment that gets connected with us and therefore becomes a channel of associations, a safe place where we can remember a universe of physical symbols loaded with emotions.

    For me, having been raised in Athens, Greece, the old neighborhood streets are the playground where childhood dramas are still staged, replayed and re-interpreted. I am attaching one below:



    OUR FIRST HOUSE

    Condemned for occupancy
    in a neighborhood bombed
    by guerrilla artillery,
    she still stands — a two story stucco —

    our home in the war years.
    Inheritance battles in Athens
    courts keep the spider webs in
    and the bulldozers out.

    I go there when I revisit
    the homeland. I turn
    into the narrow street and
    struggle keeping my eyes dry.

    In the drizzle, I turn on the
    windshield wipers and gaze at
    her tired two-story frame
    next to the Megalophon family home.

    One of the brothers became
    a doctor — that much I remember.
    Their basement tenant,
    the ghost of a lonely slow woman

    in her fifties, approaches me
    with half the neighborhood cats
    trailing her in the back yard.
    A dying palm tree still upright,

    the trunk an exclamation point
    under the pierced roof of a shed —
    remains of artillery strikes on the German
    Kommandantur building next door.

    I park the rental car
    and walk the narrow
    street. On the second floor
    the gendarme (our tenant)

    still plays the violin.
    Mrs. K’s dogs growl
    at me when they figure out
    I am not their Ulysses.


    Basil Rouskas

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    1. This is a deeply moving and beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing it with us, Basil. The "dismount" is superb!

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