Saturday, April 30, 2016



April 30th. Last day of the month, which means this daily poetry thing has once more come to an end. I didn't manage to post anything the last two days. Getting home home at almost the end of April meant a scurry to get Income Tax stuff together, and I'm happy to say that happened and as of yesterday it's all done, signed, and filed! Yesterday I took my mom to see my son/her grandson play music at one of the seniors' places in Nelson. Once again, the job jar is full to the brim.

Jesse Lee, showing his grandmother, Daisy, how his Chadwick folding bass comes apart.
He's a lot faster at packing it up than he was when he first got it!

I did get into trying yesterday's Found Poetry Review prompt that had us setting words to music, as it were. I produced the word bank, but had trouble figuring out how to properly put them on the staff. It was to be called Dirty Diaper Days. Aren't you sorry I didn't finish it? Love the idea, though. 

Today's FPR prompt is from Douglas Luman. It has to do with culling words that are associated with a familiar (to the writer) phone number. I used the first 7-digit one we got after the party line went extinct, over 50 years ago, I guess. Hadn't thought of it in years. Funny how the brain stores things. (It just occurred to me I could have accessed three more letters had I used the area code that was part of the number at that time, when British Columbia only had one, 604. Now we're in 250 land, and that's the one I used.)

So, to get today's poem I first figured out which letters I could use and started jotting down words that can be made from them. Then I reread the prompt, realized there was more to it and went to Project Gutenberg, found an introduction to a book about Leonardo DaVinci, pasted said text into a nifty little website for playing with words in an Oulipian (Oulipoean?) way called Applied Poetics, and applied the phone number to that, which gave me more words I hadn't thought of. Out of all that came the following. I think just three of the words I used (jape; wrens; jacks) weren't in the Applied Poetics list, but I've never been particularly good at following instructions to the letter so here's my poem.

Jacks of all…

Dear reader, we are sore losers.
We ask for power, express words backwards,
crowd seasons, mend messes.

Sons of masks and wrens,
we open flaskS for sorel and roses,
a red jewel, a brown roof; fancy!

No orders so reckless,
no references, no books—
we cry fowl for modern laws.

A sense of work affords or closes
necessary cases of well planned spaces.

Name’s a jape; been sold for nada, zero.

Now, a big round of applause to everyone who read, who wrote, and who laid down these incredibly thought-provoking prompts over the past month. I've participated in NPM many times, but this is the first time I've attempted doing found poems and I have to admit, I'm kind of hooked! So thanks, all. Here's to poetry, wherever we may find it!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Back on track, a little. Am about to rush off to Nelson to see a grandkid in a play, but meanwhile...

Found Poetry Review's Greg Santos has a few choices as prompts today. I'm going with the "Table of Contents" poem. The first book I found that actually has a TOC is Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace. Atwood doesn't much go for articles in her titles so I've added a few. And a few other words as well. Her titles are in italics. Here goes.

The Acquired Essence of Grace

The jagged edge of the knife,
bumps in a rocky road,
all of it what you put up with until you get home,
find the puss in the corner, waiting loudly
for food, attention, food, out, in, food—
a sort of young man's fancy when it comes down to it,
you never think about the eventual broken dishes,
shards from which you keep in a secret drawer 
which makes as much sense as putting up a snake fence
to keep out the fox and geese whose hearts and gizzards
would line the periphery.
When the lady of the lake vanishes
beneath the falling timbers of Solomon's temple, 
you know it's too late, somebody's opened Pandora's box,
the letter X is etched into your forehead
(you'll recall the jagged edge'd knife)
and what was once a wasteland is given over
to the tree of paradise, resplendent in its green spring coat.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016



Dear god, I just got today's poems done and already the prompts are up for mañana! NaPoWriMo for tomorrow: Which, henceforth, shall be referred to as "today".

"Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea chanties!), in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response. (Think: Can I get an amen?, to which the response is AMEN!.). You might think of the response as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used. Here’s a sea chanty example:

Haul on the bowline, our bully ship’s a rolling,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!
Haul on the bowline, Kitty is my darlin’,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!
Haul on the bowline, Kitty lives in Liverpool,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul! 
The call can be longer than the response, or vice versa. But think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience."

I expect it will take me until mañana to figure out what I'm doing with this one!
And, mañana it is! In fact, it's after 11PM. Today we drove home to the Kootenays from Vancouver. It's just shy of an eight hour drive. I then had to get Income Tax stuff ready to take to the person who does it mañana. And now I'm ready to write my poem for the day! It shall be written right here on screen. There shall be little or no editing. It shall likely not be very good. But here goes. (And I'm done, and I can't figure out why it's spacing funny and I don't care, I'm tired and I'm going to bed!)

Gonna Get Home Today

Start out early, pack up the car,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Golden Ears Bridge looks pretty in the sun,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today

Big ol' Fraser River is a muddy one, for sure,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Grab a cup of coffee at Hope's Blue Moose,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Sleep all the way through the winding Hope-Princeton,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Hardly any traffic, hip hip hooray,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Everything, everywhere, green, green green!
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Cows near Midway got lots of babies,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Coast into Castlegar right around six,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.

Yard looks fine, got flowers everywhere,
Driving through the mountains, gonna get home today.


Monday, April 25, 2016



I have to admit translation poems are not my favourite thing. Perhaps its because I have twice attempted to learn at least the rudiments of another language and am sorry I can't carry on a conversation in either one. But in the spirit of Poetry Month, I'll try this again. 

The prompt: Found Poetry Review Day # 25 is from Nancy Chen Wong. The idea is to find a poem written in a language you don't know, read it aloud as best you can and imagine what it might mean based on how it sounds.

I found the poem I'm using here after a Google search for poems first in Swedish, then in Lithuanian...

  • Sound out the poem and “translate” it based on what you hear. A couple of methods you can use to sound out the poem are:
    • To sound out the poem aloud by yourself. This might be doable if the alphabet being used is something you can sort-of recognize.
    • And/or use Google Translate ( ): Paste in a line or phrase or word of the poem in its original language. Select the language to be translated if Google doesn’t recognize it. Once the language has been detected, a little speaker icon should appear below the text you pasted in. Click the speaker icon and Google voice will read what you entered back to you.
Of course, your translation won’t be exact—getting words anywhere near the ballpark of what you think you hear is good.
This is a tiny poem in Lithuanian by whom I have no idea. I found it here. But it's late and I'm desperate for a short poem to play with and by a bunch of mental links you probably don't need to know I've come up with this.


Here's the Lithuanian poem:

Kai tave pamačiau... 

Iškart įsimylėjau 
Ir tavo mėlynas akis 
Į širdį įsidėjau 

If I may have your permission
this is similar to
how you said you'd never steal a kiss
without seriously asking

What does this picture have to do with the poem? It is for my friend Dalia Naujokaitis who died a year ago when I was in La Manzanilla and the day I found out I walked to the end of the beach to Boca where there's a cave and in that cave there are memorials to people who have crossed over and last year and this I have brought offerings in remembrance of my Lithuanian friend, Dalia who I met when I was still very young and who taught me to say "shit bug" in Lithuanian and that it was fine for girls to hug each other. 

Goddamn cancer.




Day #25 for Na/GloPoWriPo as National Poetry Month draws to a close. Today's prompt suggests we take a line from someone else's poem and riff a poem off that. I'm going to dive into some old blog posts of mine and find a poem and pull a line and ... we have a winner! I'm starting with a line from the long poem that makes up Susan Andrews Grace's book, Philosopher at the Skin Edge of Being

Life Shuffles By

A snail shell stripped to beauty, 
a rosebud on the cusp of opening, 
a tongue about to speak— 
the ruts and seams of 


shuffles by, old and obscure 
prop up the brash and new,
or vice versa, heads shaken,
someone frowns, echoes warn
/inform what lies 

                   /are told




This filling in an erasure poem is Day 24's prompt from Found Poetry Review. I know it's a day late, but I was out all day running around Vancouver making visits yesterday and was a little too tired to get it done when I got home.

I accidentally borrowed an erasure poem that appeared on this very site a couple of days ago as part of Day 21's prompt, found via a Google search. I took a screen shot of the erasure, converted it to a jpg so I could put it here, and only when I looked it up to get the link did I realize it was from here. I didn't read the original text from which it was taken. So thanks, NaPoWriMo! My poem's below the erasure. The words in bold are from the source poem. How I wound up in a cemetery is anyone's guess. 

What You Are Now

I grew up thinking it
impossible there were thorns 
on all the roses that every spring burst forth, 
a great expanse of lavish blooms.
The white, the crimson, the tiny pink ones 
someone left in a heap on the ground
I picked up to take to the cemetery
first time I visited you there,
the utter loveliness of the still, green slope 
surrounded by trees that will hold your spirit
through the ages, more than ever the ground could, 
your friends pale, wrapped in newly discovered grief, 
this gatherinmy chosen familysilent, sombre.
You are the roots of trees, 
the aromatic bark, the sturdy boughs, 
the rose and its simple thorn, 
 sure I am of this as I am of anything
as I stand here, bereft, wondering 
what inspired yoto leave this way,
what I, what any of us, 
could have said to make you stay.


Saturday, April 23, 2016



I'm back in the Impromptu prompt saddle over at Found Poetry Review after reentry into the Land of the North yesterday. I didn't do the last two FPR prompts as they promised to be time-consuming and when one is packing up after three and a half months away one lacks time. Yesterday we flew from Manzanillo to Calgary to Vancouver, where I'm happily holed up at my best old friend since the sixtie's place. I am reminded that travel is exhausting even as it's exhilarating.

The poem I've come up with (thanks to landing on wiki articles that ranged from someone who had something to do with car racing to pro-life priests) made little sense to me at first. But at the same time, I could literally feel my brain attempting to sort out the leaps from article to article, line to line. The hardest part was figuring out who the poem was for (part of the prompt requirements). Which teacher was the narrator having a conversation with? I finally decided it's for George Bowering, the first person to tell me about Oulipo in a week-long class I took with him at the Victoria School of Writing back in 2005. 

Victoria School of Writing, 2005
That class, as much as anything, can be credited with leading me to doing these poetry prompts. Since then, I've published a chapbook for him, Los Pájaros de Tenacatita, and will be publishing a new one this fall. 

A year ago George had a cardiac arrest outside the library (you couldn't make this up!) near where he lives in Vancouver. He was in a coma for two weeks. I visited him in the hospital when I was coming back from Mexico. He's kind like the Energizer Bunny in that he keeps on ticking. He's still publishing books, writes every day, and he loves to beat my husband at crib.

Today's most interesting prompt, from Daniel Levin Becker, is called a Petit Récapitul Portatif and goes like this:

The récapitul is a fixed poetic form created by Jacques Jouet in 2010. Its fully fledged form is a little long for our purposes,* so we’ll use its truncated version, the petit récapitul portatif:
1. The poem consists of 10 lines total, in a 3-3-3-1 stanza distribution.
2. Each line is 9 syllables long. No meter is required.
3. The lines do not rhyme.
4. After each three-line stanza comes a list, in parentheses, of three words taken from one of each of the lines in the preceding stanza.
5. The poem is dated and addressed to a specific person (someone you know or someone you don’t).
Here’s how we’ll use it:
6. This link will direct you to a Wikipedia article in English, chosen at random. (You can also click on the fifth link down on the lefthand toolbar of any article.)
7. The first line in your poem will correspond to the first random article you see, the second to the second, and so on for all ten lines.
7a. You may replace up to two of your random articles with either a new random article or an article one click away from the original.
8. You may interpret “correspond to” however you choose. You can quote the article, paraphrase it, comment on it, take impressionistic inspiration from it, or what have you. 
9. You may open ten random articles at once and plan out the content of your PRP, though still observing the order in which you opened them; you may also complete each line of the poem before allowing yourself to open the next article.
10. If you so choose, hyperlink each line—or the list word taken from it—to the corresponding article.

April 23, 2016

(teacher; morning; suit)

(station; bog; beauty)

(remains; opera; show)