Monday, April 16, 2018

April Poetry Month: The Ides of April -- A Kiss-ing Game, A Dream Vocabulary, And Every Villain to His Island

We're halfway through National Poetry Writing Month's challenge to write a new poem every day of the month. I think I'd rather play outdoors today in this first full month of spring, but, oh yeah, it's storming. So here goes. 

4.16 The Prompt: "...write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up (sort of like Calvinball)."
            [The Rules of My Game: The players, at least four, form a diamond in an open space. Depending on how vigorously you're willing to play, you need a large room or, better, an outdoor space that accommodates a fair amount of jumping about. Supply a large bag of a favorite candy that comes in small, discrete pieces like M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, or Kisses. Actually the large Kisses make an easier, less challenging game than the double M's. Stand about four feet from the player on your left or right. Toss a candy toward that player's mouth. If nay (or 'he or she') catches it, the thrower gets one point and the catcher gets two.
Eat the candy unless you're on intimate terms with the next player in which case you may choose to take it out of your mouth and throw it to that person. The players take a step backwards after each round of play, so the game gets harder.]
         Catch the Candy: A Kiss-ing Game  

I throw you a Kiss
You catch it between your sweet lips, good lass.
Who am I? The phys ed teacher?
Not the health teacher, who teaches 'healthy eating,' given all this candy.
The Lit Teacher, then, in which case I accompany the throw with a light quotation, say,
"Had we but world enough and time..."

You, two points up, face the player on your right, Jock,
likely lad, but a soft round nose
not quite the face for.
You throw -- not badly --
but jub-a-bub, tongue-flicking, Jock dropping the ball --
I mean Kiss; er, well, 'attempt.'
"Needs a bigger mouth!" someone calls out.
"Nose got in the way!" Laughter.

Jock picks damn spot off the ground,
prepares to toss, but nay squeals -- that's Gigli --
"It's dirty! 'smatter you? Get a new one!"
New Kiss procured. Old one cast off to Jock's dog
Rowdy, who's in like Flynn, executing the terrier's aerial flip'n'grab.
"Two points for Rowdy!"
Irked, upstaged by his mutt,
"Tut-tut, Jock," Teach nags, as Jock flips off
a high one at poor eager Gigli,
who backs quick, nearly stumbles,
caught and righted by a coupla' bywatchers,
gigglies all around!, as the Kiss bounces off her curly mop.

"One more toss to complete the round," scorekeeper calls,
snotty little Rego, track manager, good at figgers.
"Only points so far to Teach and You --
and You're head." You nod indifference.
Gigli airs an easy toss -- only four feet off, remember --
but Teach muffs it: "To err is human..." No one completes.

All commanded to take 'a good step' back.
"They that have power to hurt and will do none,"
Teach pontificates, and tosses, underhand, a softball pitch
as to a girl.
And You, best athlete in the bunch,
adjust the angle of your pretty mug and snatch it fair:
between the teeth! -- "Bonus points awarded!" --

Best person too,
closing the distance between nay and lit'ul Jock
impresses face sideway against his mouth
(watch out for the nose when you come in for the snog!)
and plants the Kiss between his teeth.

Full marks all around!  

4.15 The prompt: "...[write] a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves)."

My response: Sounds like more of a story-telling prompt, than a poetry assignment. Many poets (including Napowrimo, at times) apparently believe poems can simply be very short stories. I may be one of them.

Crimes Against the People

For his crimes against the people of a bizarre continental nation
called The USer, Ichibod Malheur Naxon was sentenced to permanent exile
on the otherwise unpopulated island of Salterrior
He soon shaped things up...
Drew a flag on a rag
and upped it on a dying palm
all the while playing 'Hail to the Jefe'
on his phone until the battery wore out,
then condemned to humming with what was left of his voice
after the operation in which the box was removed.
If only he had been 'left to his own devices,'
but they took his devices way: his Xbox, his IPad, his computer wristwatch, the famous tape-reorder, his automatic
wind-up nightingale, his life-sized plastic doll with voice-control droid features, his house-alarm
with two-way radio ('I see you there hiding in the bushes'),
his wall-monitor consisting of 32 individual screens,
on which appeared images of former acquaintances, colleagues, guard dogs, downtrodden enemies, and other people's children
dispatched to the Wart House to cheerfully greet the then-great man...
who, collectively, long provided a satisfying peer milieu,

and whose absence reduced the one-time Thirty-Seven to a bracing solitude
in which the former headman of his nation sought the company of stray birds,
limping to a spot of land in the measureless sea, exhausted, off-course,
bereft of their own winged family and friends.
The chastened Ichabod kept them alive, spooning drops of his own limited water ration
with razor-clam shells into their beaks,
these herringbones, goolibles, fortress-birds, and ambi-tossers
swept by stray gales, those rogue waves of the atmosphere,
that poisoned their innate direction-finders
and wore them out in endless holding patterns
He comforted those who would not recover,
nursed others back to health on a diet of well-masticated jellied shrimp,
waved goodbye to them (with soupcon of self-maculated salt)
when they took up once more the winged burden of circumpolar flight,
asking of fate only the gift of a more permanent companion,
however limited in the arts of empathy

Ichabod knew his days were numbered,
Even the gentle waves of his respectful ocean rose higher up on the shelf
each full moon,
and the island's single spring was developing a salty tang
Then one day a message was dropped by a flyover from what looked more like
a mechanical bird than a product of the USer AirForce
A para-shot tube! A message! A mercy!
Yet on opening, the worst
of all possible fates:
"Prepare to Welcome Forty-Five!"

Energized to a fury of his old self,
a sharpening of clam shells,
cutting stakes of bamboo,
gathering a load of driftwood for the fire...
Aged and weakened, grief-ravaged to a splinter of humanity,
Ichibod Malheur Naxon still knew how best to serve
a rival.

4.14 The prompt: "...Write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things: Teacup, Hammer, Seagull, Ballet slipper, Shark, Wobbly table, Dentist, Rowboat..."
For my effort, I chose 'wobbly table.'

Everyone Is Having Those Dreams

I know I'm in a bad way when I have the
Wobbly table dream
Four is the stable number
Tables, chairs, beds, portable heaters
and useful creatures like horses, cows, sheep and (the marginally useful) dogs and cats
all have four legs.
Human beings by comparison are inherently unstable, tipsy, unreasonably vertical, 
arrogant, supercilious, always getting above themselves.
Let's put our cards on the table.
Whoops... they slid right off: Must be a wobbly table
Last night I dreamed
that a stranger moved in and began complaining about the town,
the color scheme was unattractive.
I protested. Told him how much planting I have done to brighten up the scene
He pointed to a dense collection of juxtaposed yards and square little houses
and said "There should be a road through that."
I felt the table begin to wobble beneath me
That's what you get, I scolded myself, for sleeping on a table.
It exposes you to criticism
Carve me up, I thought, and let everyone get a big hunk
I felt the ground shift under my feet
Then I was in the heart of town
(same town? who knows)
trying to find the stores or cafes that used to be there
The carpet too was moving under me

Those four legs need to be level,
as in the four pillars of -- what? -- I don't know, you make the call
Consult your own tabla rasa, as I consider mine
An even keel?
A solid foundation ?
I guess not.
In this house everything rolls slowly from the from the front door to the back,
the kitchen to the bedroom
I too sometimes find myself sliding toward the backyard
My big toe and half an ankle protruding through a window
That's what happens when you have a wobbly table
You stay up too late
... and have the weirdest dreams.

Here's what NaPoWriMo has to say for itself: