Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

Day 16, NaPoWriMo 2020

This is not an actual dream but a series of images that came to mind as I was reading poems other people had written about their dreams.


At the beginning of the dream
I stand at the end of the pier.
A light north breeze blows steady
so the leaves on the cottonwoods
flap like church fans and whisper

among themselves. The water
ripples dark and translucent, a sheet
of shifting obsidian flakes. No boats
or cottages or people or other piers
are there; I am alone with the lake.

In the middle of the dream I drift
above the deepest part in that green
rowboat with the wooden oars,
the lake so clear I see the bottom
criss-crossed by large torpedo

shapes some hundred feet below.
Smaller fish glide or dart through
the intervening space, every shade
of green with flashes of gold
and silver, turquoise and emerald.

In the end of the dream I float
just below the surface and watch
the slow undulation of seaweed
in distant shallows. Minnows
nibble at the hairs on my arms

and legs, tickling. My face
breaks the surface and I take
deep, slow breaths before I sink
a few feet and jack-knife
toward the bottom.


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50


Days 14 and 15, NaPoWriMo 2020

This came from a prompt in the April 2020 issue of Diane Lockward’s poetry newsletter.


It doesn’t matter what
herbal supplements you take
or if you don’t believe the news
reports or believe in the absolute power
of God or burn sage every day or feel
sure someone is concealing
important information;

It doesn’t matter that
you wash your hands religiously
every 10 minutes or have 10 packages
of toilet paper from Costco (30 rolls each)
or drink 100 proof alcohol or live in the Arctic
or eat 12 cloves of garlic every day
or flush your sinuses with saline;

It doesn’t matter who
you think is doing a great job
leading or exercising appropriate
power or not or if you have gone
to a summer home in the Adirondacks
or hold a seat in the Senate
or haven’t left your house;

The virus is no respecter of persons
nor powers nor wealth in any degree
nor what any of us knows or believes
to be true because it is only a protein
molecule that mutates living cells
it encounters and it cannot
nor does not care.


This came from the Day 14 prompt on the SLCC Community Writing Center Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CommunityWritingCenter/


You look
great. This won’t hurt
a bit. You’ll feel
a little
pinch. I mailed it
yesterday. I can’t
where that came
from. Traffic
was insane. My alarm
didn’t go off. It’s
I haven’t got
a pen. I never
carry cash. I didn’t
see that
coming. I swear
I touched
nothing. Nobody
told me. It’ll be
fine. I’ve got it
under control. No need
to panic.


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Day 13, NaPoWriMo 2020

I wept this morning as crews cut down two large, beautiful, and perfectly healthy sweetgum trees in my neighbor’s yard.

Grief upon grief

Every day I wake to sounds of carnage: nerve-grating
whine of chainsaw, gut-churning growl of woodchipper,
people removing trees like a small child plucks dandelion
blossoms. But trees are not dandelions; their roots

intertwine and share the soil with countless species
of animals, plants, bacteria, fungi; their crowns feed
and house birds, squirrels, insects, and shade our homes
from summer’s glare. They anchor our landscapes, absorb

water from our roofs and driveways, and filter the air
we breathe. They delight our eyes with varied shape
and shade of limb and leaf, our ears with rustle and moan
of windsong. They outlive us, if we leave them

to their ancient work. Isn’t there already too much
dying in the world during this terrible time?

2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Days 11 and 12, NaPoWriMo2020

Crossword puzzles can be an odd kind of inspiration…

Words to the yy

cc the day
the epicures say

ii on the prize
most coaches advise

uu it or lose it
when learning the musette


This came from a prompt in Diane Lockward’s poetry newsletter of March 1, 2019.

Irrational belief

Choose a superstition for your own
poem. Feel free to select something

not on the list. Who gave you
this warning, and what will happen

if you ignore it? Imagine breaking
the taboo. Meditate on what follows

your failure to listen. Now bring in
the joy of defying this directive

without consequence. Write
until you surprise yourself.


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Days 9 and 10, NaPoWriMo 2020

Thanks to my Gauntlet-mate Eileen Rush for the prompt that led to this poem.

Self-portrait as a trivet

in a child’s hands I went from cool
slab of shapeless clay to thick
disk, ornamented with patterned
impressions of fork and crayon and pen
cap, then painted a bright favorite
orange, sealed with glaze, and made
firm and finally useful by prolonged
exposure to intense heat


This is what I imagined my daughter was thinking last weekend.

Third week of online college classes from home

What is it with parents
and cleaning? Today
mine are washing the patio
furniture like Jesus himself
is coming over for a cookout.


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Days 7 and 8, NaPoWriMo 2020

This is a derangement. ‘Nuff said.

Ox-eyed Does and a Pair of Morons
after John Ashbery

You is poem, the you beside down softly me set. Has poem the attitude
different or adopted, have there aren’t you then and level?
Your one eye doing into me, tease to only exist, you think. I more
than once played have been. Typewriters of chatter and steam

get to know you before, and ended open proof without days. August-long,
these greys of division. Thin as patterned rolls, dream a thing
outside, deeper, able to play. Consider I but said yes actually, we’ll play
into them a system, bringing things together. What is a level plain

that cannot, and yours be toward it? Because sad is poem, other: each miss
you miss it miss. You have, don’t you – but it has you fidget to pretend
or window a look. You taking it at look-level, planned variation
on language with a concerned poem, this.


This one speaks for itself.


Today I need a lot of help
writing. With other things
as well – lots of other things
— but today the writing has me
stymied  stumped  stupefied
stonewalled  stalled  stultified
flustered  filibustered  flummoxed
baffled  bewildered befuddled
bedeviled  blockaded  bamboozled
dizzy  dumbfounded  discombobulated
in other words,
I got nuthin’.

2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Days 5 and 6, NaPoWriMo 2020

The tricky thing about writing a poem every day is that you’re not able to devote the same amount of time each day to the task. This is all the more true during a pandemic.

When I Heard the Publish’d Poet
(after Walt Whitman)

When I heard the publish’d poet,
when the degrees and publication credits were listed in her bio,
when I saw the programs and credentials that proved her accomplishments,
when I listening heard the poet interviewed where she spoke with much authority,
how soon I felt weary and small,
till later in my room I pulled out my notebook,
in the mystic quiet of the night, and began to write,
my own voice alone without qualification.


On those days, you have to be able to let go of your expectations, especially of yourself. Imitation is both the sincerest form of flattery and a time-honored form of practice.

I read
(after Adrienne Rich)

because I am the last to leave the office
building, having emptied all the rubbish
bins and hoovered and mopped
the floors…because the customer is always
right and my break isn’t long enough
to leave the store…because the dryer
hasn’t finished so I can’t yet fold
towels and empty the washer and begin
the next load…because it’s a short
distance between stops…because the news
is never good, on television or in examination
rooms…because it has not been assigned…

because the necessary alphabet looms
thick…because I am short and life is too thirsty…
because you want to know what keeps me
reading…because I am torn and returned
and refused…because nothing is left
on this strip of ready land


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Day 4, NaPoWriMo 2020

Today’s poem came from the prompt at the NaPoWriMo website:


Excerpts from the night shift

In one dream we are seated on chairs
in a circle. We pass an object between us
and speak. When it’s my turn I feel
electrified and words pour molten
from my mouth. When it’s my turn
I feel spotlit and my tongue dries
to the roof of my mouth.

In another dream a woman is a surgeon
and a musician and a friend. She checks
my face beneath the cold pack and says
the swelling is almost gone so I am free
to leave as well. I still feel unsteady
but someone else is driving. Already I can
breathe more easily.


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Day 3, NaPoWriMo 2020

Derived from an essay by Robert Ballard in the October 2014 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.


The bottom of the ocean

is not what some imagine: a giant bathtub
filled with mud—boring, flat, dark.

Most of it is unmapped; the far side of the moon
is known more intimately than three

quarters of the planetary surface on which we live.
Beneath the oceans lie the largest mountain

range on earth, rifts that make the Grand Canyon
seem like a scratch, vertical cliffs

three miles high. If you threw a giant blanket
over a table set for a dinner party, you would know

more about that meal than satellites
or surface sonar will ever tell us about

the bottom of the ocean.

2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

Day 2, NaPoWriMo 2020

I wish I had a photo of She Who inspired this poem, but the link below will take you to a wonderful site where you can learn all about her.


Lady Cardinal

I have been fooled by the demure
utility of your muted plumage, the warm
taupe that blends with every shade of tree
bark, the ruddy hints at crest, wing, and tail
that perfect your camouflage.

Today you alit outside my window
and sang a sweet, piercing song I’ve heard
since childhood but didn’t know
was yours because I had only ever traced it
to the gaudier of your kind.

Later I watched you tirelessly assault
a different window, denying the rival
you imagined any claim to the territory
and carmine mate you had secured.

Now when I hear those distinctive
clear notes, I will look beyond the flash
of red for you, fierce and lyrical
lady, hidden in plain sight.

2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50