Challenge: Begin your poem with “I don’t have anything to say about …” and end it with “ … but in any case that’s how I feel.”
To Dad in Dreams:
I don’t have anything to say about the way you appear ---
out of a pile of strange hoarded stuff, the flotsam of your
life and death --- smiling, as if you never left us,
first hiding in cheap beer and paranoia, then sliding
into a permanent state of erasure. You appear and take up
living as if it’s completely natural. “It was a mistake,” you say.
“I wasn’t dead but only sleeping, deeply sleeping,” your smile
shy, inviting, where in life it was sly, and vaguely biting.
Here in dream’s many rooms you don’t say too much, but
hang at my elbows, persistent, shadow protection, part of the
crew. I expect you to step back up to the podium, to issue more
ultimatums, but in this resurrection you prefer silence.
I should love you now that you’ve been burned clean of living,
your angry striving, your agitated anxieties, your small hates.
Instead I’m filled with liquid indifference, and only worry
that you will follow me back to reality, stand in my bedroom
like Bartleby, watch me dress. I’m still afraid of you. I know I
should forgive you, finally, but in any case that’s how I feel.
Challenge: Include a bird. Be sure to identify the bird by species.
When I came out of the meeting, late afternoon, Friday,
the sun had decided to warm up the parking lot,
as if to underline “the weekend!” and increase the rise
of freedom's light making my skin thin and loose.
Still, I couldn’t get into my car and go, not when two robins
twittered in the budding tree just yards away, bobbing
back and forth on bare branches, flashing me their
bulging red bellies, fluttering and fidgeting like tiny soul
containers overfilled, harbingers, signals of something mighty
coming. I tried to sneak up on them, tried to hold my phone just
so, to frame them in a photo, to capture their promise in my
machine. But of course they flew, voices trailing back on
the warming air, scolding, celebrating, saying fool fool
looktoyourself and gogogo pursueyourown release ---
Challenge: use random rhyme and refrain
A Pair of Ducks
"April is the cruelest month," says old TS, and yes,
it tends to disappoint, anointing us with snow/rain/pain
and filling the yard with hard white pellets of cosmic
despair, with a soggy puddle going pond, dark water
signifying frigid erasure. Even my hairs, worming
into my head, feel, at the skull, frozen. Cooly cruel.
I remember when a pair of ducks once visited, sifting
through the wet wreckage, drifting on the odd pond,
paddling it with invisible feet. Indifferent, casually cruel,
it's a month of broken promise, imperfect resurrection,
mundane depression and dejection, rejection, gray skies
and dull eyes, the echoes of dead white guys like Eliot
telling me how to survive in hollow voices from poetic
tombs, when in life they were doomed, dabbling like
that long gone mallard dipping its beak into dead water
against a dying neighbor's rusty fence... It's early, now,
and far too late, as cruel skies slide up, golden red
with frigid day one sun. The month has hardly begun
and already I feel ancient, dusty, irrelevant. Done.
Tomorrow is the day to write my first official April poem.
Today in Poetry Workshop, 4 young poets shared their poems — and all 4 of them really reached out from the page to grab their readers/listeners by the eyes, ears and hearts. I’ve seen so much growth in them since the start of the semester. They’re turning what’s inside outward, throwing poems up like lifelines to the rest of us, like something for us to hold onto.
It reminds me that I think of poems as prayers, as mindful reconnections to what matters, as the embodiment of the love and light that we forget surrounds us. Is us.