Phew! Here we are at the final day of PAD Challenge 2016. It’s certainly not an easy task to produce a poem each day. Kudos to all. A special thanks for all those who have liked poems and left comments on this blog. I so much appreciate your encouragement and insightful feedback. Till next year, happy writing!
Poem a day #30 is a response to prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: 1) Write a dead end poem and 2) try your hand at a translation. Below is my attempt at a poetic translation from Old English of the final scene of Beowulf.
Then the people of the Geats readied
for him a pyre on the earth. Not mean,
but hung with helmets, with battle
shields, with bright byrnies, just as he
had requested; then in its midst
the lamenting heroes laid the famed
chieftain, their beloved lord; then
on the barrow, the warriors began
to kindle the greatest funeral-fire:
wood-smoke arose, black above the heat
the roaring flames woven with weeping.
Swirling winds lay still, until hot
at its heart, the bone-house was broken.
Sad in their hearts, warriors bewailed
their grief, their liege-lord’s death.
So too a solitary Geat woman
with her hair bound up sorrowfully
sang a death dirge for Beowulf
said repeatedly she for herself
dreaded long days of lamentation
a great number of violent deaths
the terror of invading troops
humiliation and captivity.
Heaven swallowed the smoke.
I remember you perched
on a memorial bench, menthol
cigarette in hand or a fishing
rod that rarely caught.
Wide water flows at your back
the swans swimming upstream,
fighting with quiet grace, waves
wind-blown against them.
I remember laying down
flowers only to wonder how
this quiet town has gone silent
now that you’ve departed
in a gust that exploded color
raced bloodlines down silky
roads, and swished the trunks
of the tallest autumnal maples.
I remember how they populate
grace the Victorian park where
we often sat to cool, to calm
conversations that burned lips
caused my brain to smoke. Across
the street, the brick-faced factory
no longer fumes, remains as silent
as your white-shingled house.
Still, I can see you turn away
from those swans, snuff out
your cigarette with a huff,
ask me if it’s time to go.
Poem a day #28 is a response to prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: 1) Take the phrase “Important (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and 2) write a poem that tells a story backwards.
Towers of windows now wash
and soar across the Hudson.
Masons, as if for pharaohs,
bore cold and heat to erect
these pyramids from paper.
Printers waited to press all
keen architects penciled in
line by line, scribes rendering
a vision, elbowing in the new
from boardrooms. Once factories
and fisheries lined that shore,
coached out blue and shampoo,
squeezed up nets and toothpaste.
Boats and barge tugged only river
work under the blissful shadow
of flawless blue Manhattan sky.
I used to turn tail whenever the sun rose on chopping blocks, knives scraping
off until dawn all that I waited for but could not consume. I listened for little
sounds, the cacophony of snails, their shells tightly shellacked, then sewn in
to line my pockets, whole-hearted sweater stretched by knuckled fists to cover
spindly wrists. Still, I watched thistles bloom, then wrap around the ankles
of ponies, the tenderness of speed interrupted. Gasping for air, I usually bolted.
Everyone told me not to come
I did not want to hear
yet their warnings and then some
You are never too near
I told you not to come
You keep the secrets I most fear
yet I have traveled so far from
home for a only slight sight dear
of your walk amid sand and sun
I am never too near
Everyone told me not to run
I did not want to dear
yet my heart still beats your drum
the last thing you will hear
The last thing I will hear
Poem a day #25 is a response to prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: 1) write an exercise poem, and 2) write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it.
They’re killing our children
on bicycles, tough-mouthed
teamsters trawling tanks too tightly
between warehouse and sidewalk.
Roads travelled too fast for trouble
to take a holiday, while screeching
parents spent their trust on silence
until news packaged and delivered
braked at their doorstep, hacking
hedges that kept the street at bay.
There’s always a driver tapping
on the wheel to get it all done
whose now wrenching his heart
for a momentary lapse in time.
Poem a day #24 is a response to prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: 1) write a poem in which something is lost and then regained, and 2) write a “mix-and-match” poem in which you mingle fancy vocabulary with distinctly un-fancy words.
There’s a smell of undesirable
changes not unlike the tidal
waves that percolate
only to line my nostrils in wet
chalking salt. The world still sleeps
head in hand
perched always on an elbow
or face down on a table.
Snores are the only chatter,
hearts pumping a slow pace.
Jitters gone quiet, morning blahs
could remain all day.
With cracking lips I can’t speak:
my past and present drift.
I try to write through the din
as evening sidles by my table.
Fighting strangers talk in echoes
thoughts no one wants to hear.
Art, work, no charge
Whimpers of senses painted foggy
line by line: I feel done
now I consume the slow drip
of tea, wait for the electric pot
to boil with patience.