30 Poems in 30 Days

30 Poems in 30 Days
A Project for National Poetry Writing Month

Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 30 -- Remember

A Valley, Somehow, A Kind of Cup

footbridge and 
                   bats feasting
                                  in his halo
                                          of night bugs
                                                      and sodium light
a small river slides sideways into a bigger one
            late peaches and no moon, long pulls
                                                              on green bottles
                                                                      on cups of grief

        how did our skin feel against that hot dark

    how did we manage breath
                                                   at all
            what kind of poem will this be   
when we have forgotten what we were?   

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 29 Double Dactyl

How 'bout Another One?

Cuneiform acrobats
shaping up ziggurats
fabulous hatboxes
pinwheels and pearls

Syllable solitaire
cultivates lightning there
stirs up tornadic air
gives it a whorl

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 28 A Poem About Space

Dingle Hill Road

A dirt road slips itself into the space between
    a creek and a laurel-frilled cliff

A dirt road slips itself in below a dark summer
    canopy of spruce, maple, birch

The creek sidles up to the road with a slick

  & rocky summons
         to the dust

              in all of us.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 27 Nursery Rhyme

Too tired for much more than this:

For the Money
Some days you think you’ll do it
Some days you think you won’t
One day you think you want it

The next you know you don’t

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 26 An Elegy

Elegy, For What I Don't Remember

Memory, same as looking, changes the object
         of scrutiny.

I learned the principles of uncertainty in my physics
         for poets class

which I took because I couldn’t do the math and needed
         a change.

Everyone was doing it, Boethius, Heisenberg, the Beatles, such
         a cliché!

Now, I just want to get the shape of your eyes right, the taste of tobacco on
         your skin

which wine it was we drank with breakfast and
         which after

what it was I said, exactly, that I’m not sure made
         you cry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 25 Cento

Trying to Write a Love Poem

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled.
What else was I supposed to start with?

All bright light and black wings,
the paper slept but the night woke me up

and now over death-struck Paris
the shrine lies open to the sky.

I was filigree and flame.

Love! That red disease
deals -- one -- imperial -- thunderbolt

Why is the word yes so brief?

But I was made for this: listening:


Sources: Adrienne Rich, Paisley Rekdal, Dorianne Laux, Fanny Howe, Anna Akhmatova, H.D., Rita Dove, Anne Sexton, Emily Dickinson, Vera Pavlova, Jean Valentine

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 24 A Lipogram

Though the name of this form makes me think of liposuction and Tyler Durden's soap (ewww!), I tried it out anyway, as instructed, explicitly refraining from using a particular letter. Some lipogram poets ditch whole sections of the alphabet -- all vowels except one, for instance, or everything from K to P, or all the letters in a name.  Rookie that I am, I just eliminated one little vowel.  The letter I chose to strike from the roster was "i".


A haltered
on repeat
are you?

     Where are
     Altered thought?

On repeat
where are

         What now?
         on repeat.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 23 An Ekphrastic Poem

I recently got to see some of the pieces from The Phillips Collection at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.  A work by John Sloan, Six O'Clock, Winter, is the source for this poem.

Sloan's Pathos

No one sees the darkening sky at six o’clock winter
above the El, blue not-machine and bluer applique
of cloud. Correction: we do.    
                                                                  They do not, those
fleshy smudges at the bottom of the canvas whom we imagine
human and hurrying home to supper, glancing up at windows
yellowed against that familiar cusp of coming dark
bound to catch them, us.   


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 22 A Poem About A Plant in Honor of Earth Day

My Mother the Science Teacher
and Her Friend the Wild Carrot

It’s not magic; it’s capillary action
turning Queen Anne’s Lace blue. 

This has been another homemade
science lesson brought to you by 
your own mother, cut wildflowers and
Betty Crocker Food Coloring in a vase.

It works with daisies too.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 21 Hay(na)ku

Here are three little ones for today.  The hay(na)ku form is pretty simple: first line, one word; second line, two words; third line, three words.

sings anything:
finch, sparrow, cat

cloudy slipstream
sun yes      nope

honeybunch twice
she’s that sweet

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 20 A Travel Poem

Farewell Levon Helm! 

Where She Has Gone
Ashes of of laughter
the ghost is clear
why do the best things always disappear?
    --”Ophelia”  Written by Robbie Robertson,
           made famous by Levon Helm and The Band

Your topaz voice rode shotgun in my pickup truck when I ran away to join the cactus
that winter after the baby didn’t happen and he left me. Survival, the long and the all 
of it: Tucson Best Western bar on Christmas Eve, the gentleman’s club next door,
strippers and the not-an-axe-murderer-he-promised guy who escorted us drunk
to midnight mass, where we tongue kissed like acolytes and gave each other
the sign of peace. We were all hiding out for the holidays. When I broke open
my tent in Sonora, Coyotes brought their captives to the flaps, and I ransomed
them with G-chords and cassette tapes.  We went into town and got wasted
on creosote and rumble strips. After, at Reenie’s place in LA, that girl and I bashed
our way through every tune on Anthology, me on margarita, her on guitar, til I could
laugh (an ashy laugh) at the sad little ghost camping in my backpack, the one
who wouldn't disappear.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 19 Opposite Day

Opposite Day
On Opposite Day at Camp Wendy
the delight of Backwards Lunch
starting with the Dixie Cup ice cream
and flat balsa wood spoons was spoiled
by the Spam salad at the end.
One hundred little church campers
undone by such cruel food,
chopped potted “meat” & mayo,
could not be persuaded by tales
of children starving elsewhere
to touch the stuff.

Sent to our tents without supper
to meditate on children whose
lives were the very opposite of our
own well-fed, overprivileged ways
we broke out the contraband
candy and had a feast.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 18 Not a Lullaby

The prompt today was to write a lullaby, but I ended up with a dream/nightmare fragment instead.

Just Before Waking

And there he was on a hot bike, a loud bike, a blue and gold bike
striking out for the hinterlands, eternal winterlands, 24/7 sun.

Done, you’re done, worse than well, and no, you can’t come
son. That country eats up little ones; it’s packed with wolves

love, so stay here with your meditations in the tall grass
passing up another chance at spectacular demise.

Spies are anywhere, I’m telling ya, even so-called here
appearing nightly, looking like a younger version of you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 17 An Epistolary Poem

Dear Spring Night

     You and your starry bling, you and your mole sleek polymorphous spooning with flat
space and curvy earth.
     You and your posse of snuffling moonstruck skunks. Allow me to restate the problem: you
and your jasmined air.
     You and your chilly buds. You and your blue TV windows. You and your dauntless
weaving spiders.
     There's you and your possum paw prints, you and your mushrooms. You and your
AM radio bounce no one listens to anymore.
     Let's not forget you and your streetlights faking dawn. Let me remind you Mr. Big Shot.
You're just a temp.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 16 Something About the Sea

The Lost Sea
     Sweetwater, Tennessee

No one knows 
how large the largest
underground lake
in America might be.

One wet cavern room
opens to the next, again
again, another.

Once, a jaguar lost
himself on the Lost Sea
shore and left his bones
in the dark with
the cave fishes.

Once, I asked a friend:
if we can lose a whole sea
to blind trout and fossils
what can we ever keep?

Silly poet, she said.
The Lost Sea has been
right here the whole time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 15 A Parody

With Apologies to Emily

I felt a Foaming, in my Brain
Baristas to and fro
Kept frothing --  frothing -- till it seemed
That Steam was breaking through

And then they were all shouting
Doubles, triples, soy and skim --
My under-caffeinated mind -- gave out
And everything went Dim--

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 14 Fourteen Lines, Something Like a Sonnet

But it's not.  Just fourteen lines, based on a true story.

Today an Elephant

Today an elephant at Rural King
yes, in the parking lot a pachyderm
placid, matter of fact, maybe smiling,
kids climbing up and down his back in turn.
What’s a nice elephant like you doing
in a place like this American South,
where we buy our mason jars, gardening things
boots and ammo, baby chicks in horse troughs
under heat lamps, fuzzy, yellow, cheeping?
But here you are. A great, grey spectacle
among the house plants and gold Easter bunting
putting monster trucks to shame. Not baleful
at all as I’d expect you’d be, given
the circumstances, no, just bigger than.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 13 A Ghazal

This one is a late-night ghazal after another very long day. So, it's a short one.


We sat on the back porch drinking wine at dusk and waited for the bloom,
green hearts, these leaves, these long thin buds, waiting for the bloom.

Watch you said. It opens like a hand, like a dinner plate, like a pie
an ache grown fierce with lonely, waiting for the bloom.

Silver moths spun in the streetlight, whirring nightbirds in the hedge
planets dropped hints on the horizon, blue waiting for the bloom.

Like this you kept me still forever, dreaming flowers in the night,
eyes on the vine, the accordion bud, waiting for the bloom.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 12 - Translitic -- A Homophonic "Translation"

The spirit of the translitic is play. That's it, just play with language, take your chances, see what happens.  I feel like a toddler at the easel with fingerpaints when I write translitics.  Everything gets messy.  Here's a tiny, silly translitic based on an verse from a Danish poem, "Havenfornemmelser"  ("Gardensensibilities") by Ursula Andkjær, which I found on the Poetry International site.

Original Danish
Havefornemmelser  (Gardensensibilities) by Ursula Andkjær

navnene står på skilte/væksten er høj og tung i
haven står alting med navn/mæt med tilbageholdt åndedræt
og rasler

My Translitic
Haven for Nan Miller

novena star, passkey, fox den or hog tongue, ay,
haven star, all things well met, novena, mad tiller, bag holder and dread
hog wrestler