Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #329, Theme: You Should

For once, I was able to craft a poem the same day the prompt was issued.  This will be the last Wednesday prompt until December.  In November, there will be a Poem-A-Day (PAD) challenge that is dedicated to collecting material for a chapbook manuscript, and I am all in.  My goal will be to write shorter poems (which will definitely be a challenge for me).

The definition of the word “chapbook” has always eluded me, and so I looked it up and found this out:  Stephen King wrote a few parts of an early draft of The Plant and sent them out as chapbooks to his friends, instead of Christmas cards, in 1982, 1983, and 1985. Philtrum Press produced just three installments before the story was shelved, and the original editions have been hotly sought-after collector’s items.

I think that was a pretty neat idea, but since I’ve already planned all my holiday gifts this year, I am going to do this next year.  My family and I always do Christmas photo cards, so a poetry chapbook will simply be a fun addition to that.  I wrote a nursery rhyme (and framed it) for a friend of mine who’d had her sixth child, and her delighted response really gave me confidence that even friends who aren’t writers can appreciate your work.  Her reaction honestly meant more to me than winning a writing contest, because that is what writing is about to me–sharing and adding to one’s life in a positive way through words.

The PAD challenge is totally free (even though you win exposure, not cash), so that is HUGE when it comes to Writer’s Digest, who charges exorbitant fees to enter most of their contests.  Considering NaNoWriMo is also in November (and my Creative Writing prof wants us to participate), it’s going to be an even larger challenge, but if I have time to watch movies with my husband, I have time to do this.

Here’s the link if you’re interested in participating in the challenge:  http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2015-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-guidelines

And here is my poem that is not meant to be controversial in any way.

You Should…You Should Not

You should make the bacon,
not burn it.

You should bring home the bread,
not eat too much of it.

You should never put ketchup on a hot dog,
or a relish on a burger.

You should not put all your Easter eggs in one basket,
or eat a regifted fruitcake.

One should and should not do a lot of things,
and the wisdom is knowing the difference.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #328, Theme: Movie-Inspired Poem

This was one of the easier poems I had to write, because it is based on what I believe is the greatest, most inspirational and captivating film ever made (the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma selected it in 2008 as the second-best film of all time, only behind “Citizen Kane”).  It is so like something I would write, and I have written works with themes (usually Mormon) of extreme religiosity resonating throughout.  The film is flawless, and I hope this poem inspires you to check it out.

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The Little Lambs of Moundsville, West Virginia

John and Pearl—
a disciple,
a gem of the ocean.
Decisive,
trusting.

The sins of their father fall to them
like the filthy lucre he stole,
his body swaying in the still air.
The little doll of Pearl
carries his costly secret
like an illegitimate child.

The blood smell from the money
brought Preacher Harry Powell—
the devil in the flesh—
to their Moundsville farmhouse.
A death tax collector,
a fallen Angel of Death,
a Grim Reaper that sows deceit.

The smells of fried chicken,
sweet potatoes,
cornbread,
and apple cobbler
fortifies the children on their journey
to the Wherever.

The children tire,
the nocturnal melodies like a lullaby,
but they must keep running,
keep rowing,
until they cannot.

From the loft of a barn,
John watches this black sheep
ride his horse in search of
the lost lambs with the loot.
He never sleeps.

The day dawn breaks,
and it is time to run again.
Floating adrift in a boat,
a savior in a dress,
greedy for love,
takes the children,
for they are like treasures
from a sunken ship.
Only she can see their worth.
Her name is Rachel,
but John will come to think of her as Bithiah,
for Bithiah drew Moses out of the water.

John and Pearl,
children of thieves,
of murderers,
of Willa the Weak,
are brought to live with three girls:
Ruby, Mary, and Clary.
It is the home of the Lost and Found.

Then, like a crow,
scouting out a cornfield,
it returns with the scrawl on its talons,
but Rachel’s bullet pierces the creature,
and the demon is exorcised from his body.
All of the children are safe.

This simple Rachel speaks of God and His Son,
the candlelight bathing the faces of the little lambs,
waxing innocent as the moon;
the lost lamb named John
turns away and into the night,
the screen from the door like a veil,
a wall separating him from the words of the black book.

He has heard this story before,
but it is different,
and he hears it told with love—
the way it was meant to be told.

Bless all the little children,
for it was a little child who led them,
they who believed,
to the truth of the wolf that had pulled the wool over their eyes—
blinded by plain words done up fancy.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #327, Theme: Watching the World Go By

Some people believe social media has made us less social.  I believe it’s made us more distracted (I know I would get more writing done without it, even though promoting ourselves and our work on social media is expected).  I have since made for myself a “social media schedule” to keep myself from wiling away hours I could be writing, doing a craft with my daughter, trying a new recipe, etc.  I’m not sure what my eventual goal is, but at least no more than an hour a day total.  I’m not much of a TV watcher (it stays off most of the day when my husband is gone, and it is annoying, not to mention distracting, as background noise), but if no more than two hours of screen time is recommended for children, why not for adults?

I’ve been writing several poems dealing with technology lately, because even though I love the technology that “gives me a voice” for my writing (I don’t have to wait for a publisher to share my work with the world), I also see it as being a time thief.

Not every day will be a nice one–go out and enjoy the ones that are.  The more you do this, the more you will have something worth writing about.

Windows

From the windows of my soul,
I watch the world go by—
my eyelids like shutters
that close during a storm,
blocking out all the unpleasantness.

I check out at the supermarket,
the cashier sneaking glances at her cell
as if it’s a secret lover,
while the bagboy tries to decipher the clock—
the kind with hands that move
rather than numbers that blink.

I hand the check to the cashier
who squints at my neat script
as if it’s scrawl on a prescription,
and I leave the store,
having not uttered a word.

It was at Granddad’s funeral
that an old acquaintance showed up,
and stood right by me.
His name was engraved on my brain,
embedded in the wrinkles of my cerebrum—
a labyrinth of memories and knowledge.

When they came looking for me.
it was as if I was invisible,
as if I was less than glass.
It was as if I had never even been there.
Forty-three people,
mourning my friend,
and I, in black against the snow,
was like a lump of coal.

Though I tread with a slow gait,
through this valley of flickering screens,
it is like I am on fast forward,
for I am but a blur who disappears.
My presence is felt the same
as my absence.

I create my first account to stay relevant.
I search for a friend,
I articulate a thought,
the keys tapping like shoes on the sidewalks
of the information superhighway.
I am heard by someone far away,
but I know if I was there,
I would disappear again
because whatever is going on elsewhere,
is always more exciting than what is going on here,
no matter where here is.

I saw you the other day.
I had friended you,
and you looked right through me.
It was the first time we had met,
and when I unfriended you,
it was as if it had all never happened.

On Words and Colors

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A dictionary is to a writer
what a palette is to an artist.
We learn to use these new colors,
be they against a blank canvas,
a blank screen,
or a blank sheet of paper,
through passionate practice.
Coloring and writing between the lines
with shades of colors and subtext—
the hand and mind of a true artist of either discipline,
knows how to use both in the way
that delights or enlightens not just the creator,
but the recipient.

Creative Writing Prompt: Make Something Interesting

So I’ve been taking “Creative Writing 101” at the college for about a month now, and I’m learning new things as much as my imagination is being stretched in new ways.  One of our “journal entries” this week was to make something we do every day more interesting, or turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary day.  I chose to “keep it real”, as the Millennials would say (though I may be using that phraseology wrong, and I say this as “one of them”).

I chose to talk about my daughter, who is a great source of inspiration, and came up with a sort of how-to article.  Motherhood isn’t always fun (there’s just no way to put a bow on a poopy diaper and call it a present), but there are many ways to make bath time, feeding time, etc., more fun.  I chose feeding time because it’s my favorite time of the day.

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Feeding your child can become very routine, but there are seven ways I’ve found to make feeding my daughter more of an experience for the both of us.  (By the way, it’s often easier to throw them into the bath afterward than try to keep them clean while eating.)

1. Feed your child new things (experiment with different kinds of fruits and vegetables) on a regular basis.  However, don’t be a picky eater yourself, because if she doesn’t like that four-dollar wad of goat cheese wrapped with cranberries and apricots that the Publix employee described as “tangy”, then you are stuck with it.  If you are always experimenting with new foods, you’re always teaching them new words (I clap out the syllables for long words, like avocado), colors, tastes, textures, and shapes, making feeding time more interesting for the both of you.

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2. Make up a silly song for each food they eat—it helps them remember.  Every time I feed her a peanut butter sandwich, I sing a little ditty I made up, extolling the virtues of plain PB&B (peanut butter and bread; we never have jelly).

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3. Let them get as messy as they want before a bath.  (Mine loves avocadoes, and they’re great for the skin, too.)  It actually is easier to just throw them in the bath to play than try to wipe them down.

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4. If you’re feeding your child dry cereal, put a piece on each one of your eyes and then pitch forward, so it looks like your eyes are falling out.  It just might make them laugh!

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5. Let them help you prepare (or watch you prepare) the food.  It may take a little longer, but everything takes longer with kids.  Do a little dance and clap or turn on the radio.  Let them rock out with a whisk and a pot or pan.

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6. Eat together.  Eating isn’t just a nutritional function, but a social one.  Let them experiment by tasting your food, as well.

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7. Learn sign language.  It’s a fun and great way to stretch your memory muscles, gain added dexterity in your hands, and teach your child objects, emotions, etc.

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On Books

Open book

Books are little things that lead to big experiences:
They open minds and doors,
they let you live large,
even while of meager means.
You open a book,
you open up a whole world,
wider than you could ever have imagined.
The words on a page
are like a roadmap to discovery,
but the spaces,
that reading between the lines–
that is where the imagination goes to work.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #326, Theme: Spooky

So “Perfect Sense” is one of my favorite movies.  Though it is classified as a science fiction, I also think of it as a psychological horror (so much better than the gory kind).  I have often thought of this film as poetic, and so I wrote it as a poem from my perspective (or how I would live out the end of my Earth life, knowing these calamities were to come).

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The Evening the We the World Ended

My eyes feast upon the book—
the colors and the contrasts,
the cursive with the curlicues,
the lines and the shadows.
I gaze outside through the open window,
a breath of wind parting the sheer curtains
to reveal the soul inside the outside:
tangerine, ruby, and violet—
a fruit, a rock, a flower—
all weapons in the right light.
The light diminishes,
the barometer is going kablooey.
I reach behind me to turn on the lamp,
but my eyes are wide open
when everything goes dark.

My ears feast on the sounds of music,
the fluid art of language,
the happiness in laughter,
the clinking of a spoon against a teacup,
ice in a glass.
“I Love Lucy” is on,
and I can hear humor and humanity—
the very lightness of being.
It is a comfort.
I feel the flickers on my face,
bathing me in the golden glow of black and white.
I can smell the honeysuckle outside my window,
remembering the bead of dew on the tip of my tongue.
We are our memories.
And then everything goes silent.

My nose feasts on the aromas of fresh-picked fruit,
of flowers, a lemon cake cooling on the counter;
of the smell of green tea soap after a shower.
I can smell the rain I know is coming down,
the salt from the ocean,
the mist that is like a dewy shroud.
Fecund, fresh.
I lick my lips, trace them with my finger.
The Earth is more alive than we are.
I turn my face to the scarf my mother left that last day,
expecting the powdery, floral scent of White Shoulders.
I inhale,
but the fragrance is gone,
and without smell,
memory fades.

My tongue feasts on the crispness of a Honeycrisp apple,
the light crunch of a raw cashew,
the creamy, savory mouthfeel of fontina,
the subtle sweetness of dark chocolate,
the slight bitterness of espresso with steamed milk and agave nectar.
I want the chewiness of something—
a bread.
I’ve always made meals of varying temperatures,
tastes,
textures.
I reach my way to the kitchen on bare feet,
the tiles cold now,
but it is my last chance.
I find the focaccia.
I chew, but the taste is gone.

My touch feasts on the softness of my baby’s unblemished cheek,
my baby, now quiet,
now still,
not understanding,
but accepting all the same.
I reach for the glass of water,
letting the coolness of it glide over my hands,
I let you enfold us,
you the head,
I the heart,
my fingers threading through the fine, blond hair on your arms.
I delight in the warm whisper that tickles my ear that can no longer hear,
and I know I am not alone.
I can feel the moonbeams being placed over my eyes like daisies,
and then not at all.

A worldwide phenomenon,
a rapturing of all our senses—
a rapid metamorphosis.
We lie in beds,
sit in chairs,
wait, pray, sleep for the inevitable—
a moment of silence stretched into eternity.
We are a stopped clock with no face,
huddled together with those we love most,
having found each other by scrambling in the dark still night,
awaiting the last of the plagues.

We know not whether our eyes are open or closed,
whether it is hot or cold,
but I know you are near,
and there is no pain.
Just consciousness.