oulipost/napowrimo 28: shrink’s wife

In an odd case of synchronicity, NaPoWriMo’s prompt today was to use text from a newspaper; so naturally, without even trying, I am cramming this together with my offering for Oulipost today (a melting snowball), creating the unholy beast known as the NaPOuliPoWriMoSt. The good thing about this unholy beast is that it was pretty light on my brain today, which I needed, because I wrote a golddurn triptych poem for Poetic Asides today about some heavy emotional stuff, plus a piece for workshop. Which catapults me, by some kind of count, into the nineties (in terms of number of April drafts). Ughhhh.

But, something wonderful is that NaPo also featured CSHS Quarterly on their site! There’s still nine hours left to submit for the Alchemies issue; better late than never, eh?

Fun facts about this poem’s source (an interview with the owner of a new Montreal-style bagel shop here in NYC) include the fact that “all-hands-on-deck” was in there, as was “eye-to-eye”, which I shamelessly carved up. I tried to keep the words in the order they appeared, but I was desperate to have honey-water in there, so I messed with it a bit.

Shrink’s Wife, a Local Poet, Assesses Hubby’s Methods

observations problematic.
beautiful together.
Certain things:
eye – to – I.

poem-a-thon 26: evasive maneuvers

To counterbalance the heavy one from before, here’s a somewhat lighthearted one (although it was a very awkward time to live through) about certain, um, indiscretions of my youth. NaPoWriMo asked for curtal sonnets, which I haven’t written in a dog’s age. I tried to stay pretty iambic, and keep Manley Hopkins’ preferred rhyme scheme, while trademarking it with a bit of irreverence and cheekiness that I feel he lacks. Have at it.

Evasive Maneuvers

I visited the basement late at night,
sleepwalking down the stairs to the computer
    for fifteen minutes of blue video.
I’d memorized the name of all the sites
my fumbling preferred: the digital looter
    of dial-up hardbodies with sound turned low.
My girlfriend always asked why I was so tired.
There was only so long I could elude her
    before the Reveal– how I did, I don’t know.
As a lover, I was champion; as a liar,
    just so-so.

oulipost 17: food cart veterans

Good thing, given my state, that the Oulipost prompt today was a relatively simple one: to haiku-ize three sentences from an article. I plucked a write-up of some of the Easter fare options in NYC, found my sentences, trimmed them to the (ugh) 5-7-5 format what’s standard for such things in English, and ended up with an amusing little pun in the title reflecting the two kinds of fare on offer at this phantom market:

Food Cart Veterans Explore Deconstruction

Vendors at market:
sour cherry, millefeuille with cream;
an alphabet brunch.

But then, because I never miss the opportunity to flex my Japanese a bit, I bastardized it into this, where some of the words have changed and some of the compounds (especially the last) would probably raise an eyebrow for the native speakers. But I think “ume” can be a seasonal word (though not sure which one: summer?), the images are pretty stand-alone, and I like the contrast between the second and third lines. So I’d consider it at least an honest attempt, and I believe I conserved the syllable structure in Japanese. Anyway, here you go:


ichi-dai ni
ume to dorayaki

(at the fair-tables
sour plums and custard pastries
an alphabet meal)

poem-a-thon 12: hope is a solid block of wax

Gads, I have to leave comments on people’s blogs for the Big Poetry Giveaway, don’t I? I’m coming guys, I promise! And to those who have left their names on the drawing for mine: your names will be in the hat. (Seriously, I’m kicking around the idea of actually pulling names from a fedora.)

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to do a “replacement” exercise, taking found text, and replacing all instances of a common concrete noun with an abstract noun. Taking inspiration from the example post, I too went to Wikipedia, and surfed a couple articles on candles, which I replaced with hope. In the spirit of Wikipedia, I edited some of them, slightly, back and forth, several times, before the final draft. And it turned out unexpectedly cheeky and funny in places, if a little stilted in its voice.

But it definitely is not within my theme that I’m trying to do for this set of poems, resonating with the Poem-a-Thon theme. Must orbit back!

Hope is a Solid Block of Wax

For most of recorded history, hope was
tallow and beeswax.

The earliest known hope originated in China;
hope did not appear in Europe or the Middle East
until sometime after. From this point, hope
became more of a decorative item.
In the developed world today, hope is used
mainly for its aesthetic value.

Various devices have been invented to
hold hope, from simple tabletop hope holders,
to elaborate chandeliers. In this case,
hope that is slightly too wide will not fit in
the holder, and hope that is slightly too narrow
will wobble.

Hope is used as a symbol
of the light of reason or rationality.
Hope followers are often deliberately heavy
or ‘weighted’, to ensure they move down.
Hope followers are often found
in churches.

Hope works by capillary action.
Hope and hope accessories pose a risk
to property and people.

For hope to burn, a heat source (commonly
a naked flame) is used. Hope burns completely
in four hours. The stumps from burned hope
can be saved and melted down
to make new hope.

poem-a-thon 10: an advertisement

Well, dang, I’ve been featured on NaPoWriMo today! Thanks for the shout-out, y’all… it warms the cockles of my wee heart. And moreover, I’m equally warmed by the fact that I managed to crank out four poems this afternoon (three of them elsewhere), which means I’ve just got one post to occupy time after workshop tonight. To anyone stopping by here for the first time: I hope you will stay and hang out a while, and enjoy yourselves!

The prompt today is to do an advertisement, which became the simple title here because I couldn’t think of anything else. Tessa and I often have entire conversations to the structure of the Burma Shave doggerel, so it put me in a bit of a cheeky mood, but I went with more of a whimsical Kay Ryan take on safe sex. Make of it what you will, it was my last-ditch end-of-the-afternoon piece, and I am headed out for a few hours. (Oulipost poem for the day to follow later…)

And while I’m preaching, if you want to support charity through poetry, please donate donate donate and I’ll write you a poem!

An Advertisement

At this time, it’s wise
to mention some facts
and figures regarding
abstention: namely,
its failures vis-a-vis
human biology.
What happens, will
happen. A sensible
boy or girl first
unwraps and unfurls
that filmy rubber cap,
rather than open doors
behind which the matter
is scorched with rashes
and sores. Despite
what people may say,
you could spend
ready cash in worse
ways. At the doc’s,
form a line: look for
the pharmaceutical box
with the suitable size
for $3.99.

Trimming the Tree

Goofy little things here for a Monday evening. We Write Poems wanted a “kaleidoscope” poem gathering source material of different kinds and spinning it into a response of some kind. So, here was my process: I decided to do a response poem to a few questions from poems by Kay Ryan (a… Kay-leidoscope, if you will? groan), which were:

It isn’t ever / all green thought / in green shade, is it?
Is it just winter / or is this worse?
Is it unkind / to hope / some will / eat others, / is it uncaring?
It’s a / matter of moisture, / isn’t it?

These are from “Duck”, “Winter Fear”, “Herring”, and “The Late Worm”, respectively. So then I tried to do some subtle allusions that would “answer” the little rhetorical questions from those poems, in the same kind of elliptical and pithy way that Ms. Ryan herself does, and which I so emulate. (But I think after this little exercise, I need to be done with imitation for a little while.) And then lastly, I think the image of a spiderweb spangled by Christmas lights makes for a nice little kaleidoscopic image, no?

Trimming the Tree

A spider, cornered
by the thousand lights,
must make do with
a smaller net; or,
now in the house’s heat,
she may yet crawl
out to the space where
branch meets wall.
Should moth or centipede
cross her path,
we will avert our faces;
we’ve heard this season
is for giving even
enemies a place
to drink their fill, and
to breathe in.


Who’s up for a goofy poem about legs! Really, this is a work-release relief poem, just something silly I needed to write to recover from a long week. And since dVerse is suggesting we go back to old prompts, I decided to work with the anaphora one (since I don’t think I really made an effort for that one). A guy did walk into the cafe with some mighty fine legs, and so I thought, what if I just tried to get the word “leg(s)” into every line? The rest of him was nice, too. But the legs were to die for. If I wasn’t just trying to have some fun, I’d probably try and piece apart some of the societal glimmers in here. Oh well.


A man walks into the cafe on a Pair Of Legs.
These are the kind of legs that demand metaphor:
legs drifting in like the masts of capsized ships,
legs like walnut saplings in the churchyard.
What is it about a pair of legs that enchants a person?
Or any body part: for he also has arms, knuckles,
upper lip, cropped nape, but it’s the legs that get me.
His legs resist like longbows. Running shorts show
one bronze, fresh-mowed leg with Hebrew tracery
tattooed round the thigh. What’s “nice legs”
in Hebrew? How do you compliment a stranger’s legs
without sounding strange? I know the legs of women
are up for constant debate, the apparition of their legs
traded on the commodities market by leg-men
whistling as they dig the street, knowing good legs
and thinking they’ve something to prove. Legs, though,
have never inspired me until These Legs. I was never
a vulgar leg-admirer hooting at the passerby.
Can one man worship the legs of another, lay kisses
on the saintly knees? And why couldn’t legs be
that once-in-a-lifetime quality? Well-legged can mean
marriageable. Good legs make men dependable,
worldly, and these legs could be wandering monuments,
sculptural as they are. I feel I am discovering legs
for the first time. I’m seeing legs, legs, suddenly
I am judging everyone by the curve of their legs,
sitting here shaking at the injustice of subpar legs,
of overgrown and shapeless legs milling about
this man with Dead Sea Legs as he stands, stretches,
pays for his coffee, scratches his one tattooed leg,
that alphabet leg!, flexing and spinning him away
like a gyroscope, out the door, his Legs gone and him
gone with them.