April is a fast-moving month with, nevertheless, a lot of days. I've been trying to write a new poem each, though letting myself get behind and then catching up by writing three in one day. I have mixed feelings about coming to the end. I'll miss these prompts from National Poetry Writing Month, weird as they sometimes are. And now I won't have my daily excuse to put off whatever else I'm supposed to be doing. Goodbye April, it's been good to know you.
Here are the last four, including some of the weirdest and silliest.
4.30 The Prompt: "Write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird."
Response: Here's the fun fact I discovered: "Officially, the longest war in history was between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly, which lasted from 1651 to 1986. There were no casualties." This is both weird and (trust me) largely trivial. How can you have a 'war' against a few islands off the coast of Cornwall? Anyone born in the UK will think I'm just an American boob, but I have never heard of The Isles of Scilly and the name just drives me --- silly. There is an explanation for this doddering 'fake' war (you can find a short version here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Hundred_and_Thirty_Five_Years%27_War), but it's not a very good explanation, so I ended up doing what I was afraid of all along -- just being silly.
The Longest Bore
There once was an island called Scilly
The name of which simply is silly
When you open a window
or look at the door,
All you see is an over-puffed war.
The people all dress up like clowns
And make the most mocking of sounds
When the Dutchmen arrived,
thinking to thrive
They were met by "Hey Downy-down-downs!"
When the Norse sailed to the isles Scyllingjar
The sillies hoped they wouldn't get far
But they came under attack
by Swein, Erik, and Jack
It's tale you can keep in a jar.
In the days of old King Cnut
No Englishmen gave them a hoot
Till their navy was wrecked
By a storm out of Brecht
And incorporation followed 'Sweet toot'!
It came in the late Civil War
The Dutchmen King Charles did abhor
His fleet skulked in Scilly,
knocking Dutch trade willy-nilly,
And the Netherlands let out a roar
Now here is a jig and a romp
The Dutch sent an admiral named Tromp
He started a war
lasting three centuries and more --
So take care what you start
When you select an old fart
who's lacking both brain and a heart --
And everyone shouts, "What a bore!"
4.29 The Prompt: "We’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way."
My response: Trying to write like Sylvia Plath sets the bar pretty high. Here's the poem I chose to "engage," which she wrote in the month of April.
"Among the Narcissi" by Sylvia PlathSpry, wry, and gray as these March sticks,
Percy bows, in his blue peajacket, among the narcissi.
He is recuperating from something on the lung.
The narcissi, too, are bowing to some big thing:
It rattles their stars on the green hill where Percy
Nurses the hardship of his stitches, and walks and walks.
There is a dignity to this; there is a formality-
The flowers vivid as bandages, and the man mending.
They bow and stand: they suffer such attacks!
And the octogenarian loves the little flocks.
He is quite blue; the terrible wind tries his breathing.
The narcissi look up like children, quickly and whitely.
My poem attempts to respond by borrowing Plath's theme and placing it in another setting. Once again, flowers figure.
Sick with the ick of a knife-probed stomach
He paces the sidewalk in dead-legged swoon
Immune to the flowers of May and April.
Nameless they crawl to the bones of the curbside,
With low expectations of June
He's Barrett, an esopha-guy, a man of many organs.
Inside his gut the tests find no bargains,
And the surgeon says 'No more.'
He complains he's lost his appetite
And pretends to walk to the store.
Curbside orphans, I guess you'd call them
Not a rose, he knows, in this spotty patch,
A place where smiling dogs will maul them.
"Get yourself an old mutt," they tell him,
Something else to worry about.
Sick with the kick of the late prognosis,
He takes what the endless sidewalk yields.
Flowers, again -- is it that time of year?
He turns off the news, the weather, the fear,
And wears the well-worn pavement out.
4.28 The Prompt: "We challenge you today to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. If you need some inspiration, why not check out some images of vintage postcards?"
Greetings, Bro, From the Land of Sunshine
Wish you were here!
Wow, this whole state is mostly water,
interrupted by squares of reclaimed land,
with the water pumped into inland channels!
Only the fish (and lizards -- and gators!) know Florida!
Many fine latest-trend restaurants in walking distance
past huge puddles shining in streetlights, bubbling up at high tide
between new construction.
Come on in! The water is spectacular!
Old nor'easter roiling the ocean into horizontal Niagara,
all the jellyfish pounded to pieces.
I am in a state! All wet, or lying around in the sun, or both.
You won't recognize me!
Babe & me are on the trail of Ponce de Leon
and won't return until we are years younger
(and probably still drying off). Ha!
The High Priestess
"She is really the Secret Church,
The House which is of God and Man."*
Where do we find this Secret Church?
Not on Sunday morning,
when we linger long at breakfast,
over two Sunday papers
with many renditions of the inner church such as
Sur-real Estate,Sports fronted with Living Section stories
about the nuances of mothering while
defending tennis titles, accompanied by
Big Glamour Shot
... And some complicated breakfast cookery
like Cream of Wheat
But She is the moon,
so perhaps when we stroll the garden
in the cool of the evening
under the sky of the little-known universe
and -- in the perfect half-light
of the marriage of daylight and nightlight --
the face of the moon is the serene
and beautiful mother
of the Temple of the High Priestess,
"the mystic temple"
wherein one hears wisdom and birdsong
and see the colors of the "flowing, gauzy mantle"
of the veil of shimmering radiance
(plus, of course, the birdsong)
She is the Shekinah of the morning commute,
the four-dimensional pattern of
interlocking bus lines,
and battered rails,
that lead to a swift and painless commute to
a City Near You
or a hegira of all too common complications,
interruptions, general dispensations of routine
She is the "Daughter of the Stars,"
not that day-timey life-waster starring yesterday's heroines
plus unfrocked abusers,
but those flaming gas giants
that turn the desert
into the Elevated Transcendental Supernal
Garden of Evenings
where we end our evening strolls
back in the Temple of Ordinary Evenings in
Your Home Town,
inscribed by Higher Law, and Picayune Law,
and the in-dwelling bliss
of the blessed kingdom
of ancient days,
*from "Pictorial Key to the Tarot"
For the whole story on naprowrimo see: