April 27, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 26: a haiku (senryu?)

I should have written this long ago — about 10 years ago, to be approximate. As is common with haiku/senryu, it’s untitled.

baby’s umbilical cord
drops off —
caught by the dog


April 15, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 14: Diagnosis for the Makers

Yesterday’s poem seems to have left me in a rhyming mood. I might end up with a sonnet or two before the month is over. This isn’t one.

Diagnosis for the Makers

Shelley was a cad.
Clare went mad.
Thomas drank, and so
did E.A. Poe.
Dickinson was a loner,
and Coleridge a stoner.
Villon went to jail.
Keats was frail.
Wordsworth was a bore;
Williams, a whore.
Shakespeare was greedy,
Plath too needy,
Millay tempestuous,
Byron incestuous,
Jeffers a hater,
and Pound a traitor.
Sketchy, all, in soul, heart or head
as I or you. But they’re dead;
what they carved from such rotten wood
lasts, and is good.

April 14, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 13: On the Crow

A deliberately bad poem (as opposed to my other bad poems).

On the Crow

(by Nathan Lummep)

There’s a bird whose song raises no cheer,
It’s likely to fill the hearer with fear;

With his inky plumes and strutting gait,
He makes people to shudder or hate;

For the crow of sinister form
Gobbles down dead things while they’re still warm.

His ghoulish diet and looks so dark
Make stern death seem even more stark.

Do not loathe the crow! For he
Only plays his role in ecology.

If crows, and maggots, and ants and such
Disdained all slain creatures to touch,

But left them to rot in the sun, then think
How every breeze would start to stink!

So if you meet a crow, kindly greet him.
(I wonder who, when he dies, will eat him?)


NaPoWriMo Day 12: Desire ghazal

A rather abstract one. I use a very loose definition of the ghazal verse form.

Desire Ghazal

The self is a vortex of desire,
self-fed, self-seeking, itself its one desire.

Escape from want, advise the sages,
confessing their own desire.

Who can view a beautiful woman or man
chastely, with no desire?

Purity: numb skin and dry tongue;
virtue withers without desire.

There is in each a thirst and a fountain,
the two bodies of desire.

A pond ringed round with blackbirds:
my soul among its desires.


NaPoWriMo 2011, day 11: Greta Van Winkle

I’ve been writing my poem-a-day, but haven’t kept up the blog posts. Time to play catch-up.

Greta (Mrs. Rip) Van Winkle

That lazy lout was no good in
or out of bed. No food
in the pantry, and seldom a log
in the fireplace, if you get my drift.
I can forgive a lot if that’s fine.
One day he says to me, I’m hungry,
like all I got to do is snap
my fingers to put beef on the board.
Me too, I says, what are you
going to do about it? The Lord
will provide, he says
in that way of his. I believe
if someone offered him a sack of gold
but said, You got to carry it home,
he’d ask for a twist of tobacco instead.
Give the Lord some help, I says,
go shoot some rabbit or something.
I can hear his belly growling,
the house is filthy, not that he cares,
the kids are crying from hunger,
and he grabs his gun and strolls out humming,
as happy as if he had sense.
A storm comes up after he leaves
and by night he still isn’t back and I think
Good, serves him right to sleep in the rain.
A nice brain fever can’t make him any worse.
Only he don’t come back, not for days
and not for weeks nor months neither.
After a while I stop waiting for him
and start waiting for me — to worry,
or miss him, or grieve, but I don’t.
I suppose the other ne’er-do-wells
down to the pub toast his memory now and then,
but the children hardly notice he’s gone.
Then the war comes and we all get busy,
and then the war leaves and we’re raising
a new country, and I’ve long since figured
my husband’s dead and start walking out
with a nice silversmith, my age but still
stands straight and has some heat
in the furnace, when of course old Rip
turns up, ambling down the path
like he’d just left. Has some poppycock tale
about going bowling and letting the time get away.
I take him back. I have to, or folks will talk.
But every time he goes out, I pray for rain.


April 12, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 10: Lesson learned

You are sorely missed, my friend.

Lesson learned

On the occasion of Phil Miller’s Memorial Tribute and Open Mic
Sunday April 10, 2011, Kansas City, Missouri

I said goodbye to a dear friend today,
but not for the last time. Whenever
I hear him say, “You need something here,”
“It’s not there yet,” “Every poem has to have
a turn, where’s the turn?”
it will be a fresh goodbye. Phil scoffed
at my ignorance of nature, my inability
to identify wildflowers or name more
than a few insects, which he put down
to my country origins, but he respected
my wide reading. We shared tastes
for Bjork and Blake, differed
on Henry James and Beethoven.
Now and then I’ll view a field or read
a book with his eyes, listen to music
with his ears, for another sharp goodbye.
I’m learning, not for the first time, the truth
he told in so many poems, that loss
is the one thing we keep,
that goodbyes do not end.


April 9, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 9: Sonnet from Mu, translated

The following is a fairly literal translation of yesterday’s sonnet from Mu. I have made no attempt to reproduce the rhyme scheme.

Get it while you can

The day grinds light’s gears down to nubs,
while we the remnant gum our minutes to savor the char,
and chews the peeling garb from nubile birches
into night’s thick paste of signs.
Under master’s eye little work of small
worth is ours, delegated to thew and khaibit;*
but when god sleeps his slaves may play
and booze with fellow grunts and ground and sky.
The moon crept naked into my room,
her hands a cool stream trickling over my skin;
we slept in River Idshabi’s icy bed,
mingling limbs and glints and undertows.
Morning came, and milkmaid Tulid rose from the sheets,
deity still shining from her pimpled skin.
— Ogbar biku Ozdil

* A term borrowed from Egyptian mythology, since English lacks a term; neither is the Egyptian word an exact fit, but it comes close. The people of Mu, like the Egyptians, postulated seven souls within each person. What’s meant here is a lower soul with little in the way of awareness, a sort of robot.

NaPoWriMo Day 8: A sonnet from Mu

The following sonnet from the lost continent of Mu is notable for many reasons, not the least being that the inhabitants of Mu apparently invented the petrarchan sonnet millennia before Petrarch.

Zhira Gambyrtha

Meswif aedluf ruhd ahndu luirm zokvort,
utminia kohtroo zdid utgantdob zao,
loed bidu vuzdel ahrintsav ypao
vazpilt sanvurd aedoi bero wort.
Ovdovon haet ugbinch witta pahndort
dahsh toobplaet, wom elret ihzwass tumao;
juhdtah tahn oofell pluhth adzbahl zellao
darrah wooltshib midzbuhg ehd rehtin port.
Dunverd ehrag zemhijle evnezgess,
hunnan ebrinnud chamzanto wasgid;
ohlrag zdahdcol dusshun hanucharess,
wuzdilt Idshabi zavag, uttir wasmid.
Riigtad Tulid harr ih hartseless,
sahr uhd aben ubulg antilimid.
— Ogbar biku Ozdil

Day 9: the translation!

NaPoWriMo Day 7: haiku, in the whole bean field

Another haiku.

in the whole bean field,
one robin; hanging
overhead, two hawks

April 6, 2011

NaPoWriMo Day 6: haiku, cloud-mottled sky

For today, a haiku-type thing — untitled, as is traditional with haiku.

cloud-mottled sky:
from dwarf pear blossoms,
a blue jay screams

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