Category Archives: #NaPoWriMo

An Elegy for a Beloved Friend

On May 6 I posted about a poem I wrote for a friend who recently passed away. I had written the poem during #napowrimo. Today I am sharing the poem with you. I don’t plan to send it out. Writing it was the most important experience.

However, it has been shared with others. It turns out her husband loved it and published it as the poem for the pamphlet at Nancy’s Celebration of life. The title refers to Nancy’s way of saying goodbye, whether in person or on phone or by email. And for cards and gifts she used to wish “light and love.”

You Are Loved

 

We were sketches

you colored in with

your box of Crayolas

You were the model

we studied for vision

You were a guidebook

we the letters in line

You were music we

turned up on the dash

You were a disciple

You were the doyen

You were walks with

trees and caterpillars

You were the one

whose arms reached

around the universe

and whispered in one

word sentences because

each one was enough

light

love

###

Live this life in light and with love. No comments please.

I’ll see you next week.

 

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The Outlier’s Tail: Part 4 of The Caterbuddy Tails

You can call me the Outlier because I refuse to be seen as just another one of the clowder. (You’ve heard of a murder of crows or a pack of dogs? A group of cats is a clowder, but this group stuff goes against my grain).

After breakfast I go to the bedroom hallway for a nap because the other cats stay in the kitchen. And when everyone else is watching television or reading books in the evening, more often than not I can be found in the hall, too. That’s where Mom keeps an old deacon’s bench her dad gave her, and I like to lie there.

My mom and dad never call me outlier. They call me Sloopy Anne or Sloops or Pretty Girl Princess. They aren’t very evolved when it comes to cat genders. Before I go any further I will tell you that I don’t consider myself an outlier with my hooman parents–just with the cats. If I could live with Mom and Dad without any other cats, I would be lying in bed with them and wouldn’t get out of their laps.

I got this way about other cats because of my life experiences. The first years of my life sucked so bad I don’t want to talk about them.

When I was three I was picked up by animal control. They don’t really have room for cats, and I heard some scary talk, but a lady from Home Fur Good no-kill shelter swooped in and gave me a freedom ride to that shelter. Woot! But all was not well. It was ok, but not good. You see, they thought I was pretty and ready to go to Petsmart to get adopted, but I got really scared. And I have a BIG independent streak. Plus I’m smart, so you can’t fool me about things. So I put up a lil bit of a fuss. Just sayin’.

Petsmart, although I heard they are usually really good to strays and rescues, said I could NEVER come there again.

This is where things began to go wrong again.

The cat roaming room at the shelter is full of . . . cats. Big cats, little cats. And people, in and out all day long. You can hear the dogs barking right in the next room. I was scared. They made me live in a cage for months because they thought I was skittish.

When Mom and Dad started volunteering at the shelter I was in the cage. That bothered Mom, and she started a campaign to get me out. In the meantime, her old cat Mac died and she adopted Kana. KANA, the one from the cage next to me. NOT ME. Part of me will never forgive her for that.

I had already been at the shelter for over a year at that point (though Mom didn’t realize it yet).

They let me out of the cage, but I was scared and annoyed so I spent a lot of time in a soft little cave bed.

Mom and Dad played with me when they came to take care of the cats, but time clicked on and I had to go in the nasty little hospital room because of ringworm. The cage was very small. And the room was dark and right next to the room with the BIG dogs.

A few weeks after I got out of the “infirmary” and when I had been at the shelter TWO STINKEN YEARS a big male cat chased me up on the high boards in the roaming room. He was bothering me, and I was more scared than usual.

When the tech came into the room, Mom and Dad reported his bad behavior. And the tech said, “Oh, that Slupe [that was my name then], she’s a BITER.”

Mom and Dad looked at each other in shock. They knew I didn’t bite.

The next morning the director of the shelter came to me and said, “You’re getting a new home.” A few hours later, Mom came and put me into a kennel and took me home.

For a month I stayed in my new hooman sister’s old bedroom, and Mom would let me lie on her chest so I could feel her heart beating. Then I entered the rest of the house and met my new fur roommates. I don’t really think of them as my siblings, but as transient beings in my life.

Tiger sleeps with Mom and Dad at night, but once she’s gone, I plan to be the one in there. I was here before Perry, so I have the right. I want to be that one special cat who gets to be with my parents without any other cats around.

One more important fact about me: I LOVE MY DAD. He never grabs me for brushing, teeth brushing, or vet appointments. He lets me rub on his feet and sandals. He reaches down to pet me, and I love that. We are best friends.

I love my mom, too, but I am wary of her grabbing me. Sometimes she takes me in her room and lets me lie on her chest. She sings, “I love you, and you love me,” our signature song. And I love that. But I never know what she wants, so I try to run off if I see her hand coming near me.

Therefore, I am a Daddy’s girl. Through and through.

###

Note from Sloopy Anne’s Mom: Sloopy Anne might prefer to live in a home without other cats, but she does remarkably well with the others. She never fights with them, and she is even decent to Tiger (remember “The Bitch’s Tail“), her lookalike little calico female. That she wasn’t adopted for two full years at the shelter is because she needed to be put front and center for a moment of her life. As the shelter has grown in volunteers and experience, the cats now get moved along much faster except for cats that really do have some sort of an issue (like Tanman and Louise, the laundry room cats, who are doing so well in their new home, by the way!). No cat is left behind–there is an emphasis on each and every one.

One more thing: Sloopy Anne doesn’t realize this because she doesn’t get that close to other cats, but her fur is very unusual. It is much thicker than other cat fur, but still very very soft. And when she goes to the vet or gets her nails clipped she is always very charming and beloved. A very special girl.

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The End of NaPoWriMo 2019 and My Subsequent Collapse

OK, well, I didn’t exactly collapse. But it was tough.

The last two poems, for days 29 and 30, were:

  • Meditation on Choler
  • You Are Loved

The very last poem was a tribute to a friend who passed away–a poem that I had promised to her husband for her memorial service. Not sure he even wants it (I haven’t given it to him yet), but she was a fan of my poetry from the very beginning. She was such a good friend that she was a fan of anything I did. Nancy was 18 years older than me and her oldest child was my age. But age meant nothing to her, and I was in college when our friendship solidified into what it would remain. She accomplished a lot in her life, moving through stages of wildness and compromise, always reaching toward a form of enlightenment. I knew I couldn’t write a poem that she deserved, but I did my best, and that would have made her happy.

Mom has gone home, and the rest of my company is now gone. It was 11.5 months of people living here, visiting, etc. This Highly Sensitive introvert can’t take another minute.

The funny thing is that Nancy was an extrovert to my introvert, but that never stopped us both from having fun.

One (sample) memory from my 20s was of us partying at a showing of Reefer Madness. She dressed as Harpo Marx, and I was Carmen Miranda (you can see that carnivalesque switching of roles, right?). I am pretty sure we ended up getting kicked out of the movie for being too loud. Not blaming here, but she had a very boisterous, contagious laugh.

I called Nancy’s poem “You Are Loved” because she always ended every conversation, even every email, by saying “remember you are loved.”

I have lots of poem drafts to go through and revise. I keep thinking NaPoWriMo should be in the summer or fall. If you write all April and revise all May, sendouts in June is a great example of poor timing since a lot of journals shut down submissions for the summer.

Have a wonderful week and remember: you are loved.

***

Spring Arizona during the day:

The bottom one is just budding.

Spring Arizona at night:

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Four Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

This week I produced drafts of these poems:

  • At the bottom of the drawer
  • This is What It’s Like
  • Rondeau of the Tone-Deaf
  • Getting Along Without You
  • Empty Words
  • The Bad Daughter Walk
  • First Kiss

For those of you who have read my weekly updates about NaPoWriMo this year, all I will say is another crap week.

Two days left. Then my company will be gone, too. That’s when I collapse.

The other day the gardener had a bit of a scare. He found a pile of sawdust under a dead tree and an oleander bush. The sawdust had not been there two days before.

Looking up, he saw more sawdust.

The immediate thought was termites, of course. The tree is very close to the house, and termites are a common menace in Arizona.

While the gardener was calling the pest guy, I saw another menace acting crazy near me. It was a BIG bee acting like it was mating with another bee–or was it dying? I didn’t want to get too close.

It turns out that this bee is a male carpenter bee. Males can be gold or black, while females are black. It is their mating season, and guess what they do in mating season? Bore into dead wood and oleanders and create sawdust. I didn’t need to worry about this guy; the males have no stingers!

I’ll leave you with a little Perry relaxation.

He loves to climb onto of me and rub his face all over mine and then turn around and curl up in my arms! He also licks as much as a dog (unfortunately). Here he is as Vlad!

And here he is watching his daddy’s garden inhabitants.

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Three Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

Arizona Ocotillo April 2019

This week I produced drafts of these poems:

  • Poetry is a Big Noise
  • Behold the Needle
  • Notre Dame
  • That Not Nothing That Is
  • Golden Ode
  • Elegy
  • What I’d Like to Breathe In

I thought last week was difficult but this one was more so. To cap off the week, I took Mom to the ER because she didn’t feel well. Other than minor stuff, she was actually fine, but I think she’s getting a little stressed being away from home. Mainly, she had two problems both related to being dehydrated.

Arizona is very dry at this time of year, and she is from Michigan. I warned her and warned her to drink a lot of water. But she didn’t.

That learning experience cost us all a day (and the next for me because the fluorescents are a trigger for my complicated migraines) and Medicare et al a lot of money. But if I hadn’t taken her, we all would have worried.

Because I had to rush through my poem drafts, who knows if there is anything there or not. I’ll take a look at them later on.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter, Passover, or whatever spring celebration you choose.

Perry is dreaming about you ;)!

 

 

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Two Weeks of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

I kept going this week and produced drafts of these poems:

  • Playing Word with Adrienne Rich
  • Nearest Animal Shelter
  • Dis-Ease
  • Out of the Cradle
  • Travel
  • To Keep Things from Working
  • Meeting the Relatives

It was a tough week because I had to travel for work and still keep up with a poem a day . . . .

As another important component of NAPOWRIMO, I pulled out the old poetry anthology I liked to teach from and started rereading from the beginning.

These poets might seem old school today, but without these poets we wouldn’t have the poetry we have today–written by women OR men.

The first poet showcased in this book is Lola Ridge. She’s rarely read today, unfortunately. When she was a little girl she moved from Ireland to New Zealand and Australia, and then as an adult, she moved to the United States, possibly to escape a horrific marriage. She was a feminist and an activist. You can read her bio here. Her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems, is important for its very modern-like treatment of immigrant life 100 years ago–specifically Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of NYC. This is the phenomenal section of the title poem that is anthologized in the book:

II

I room at Sodos’ – in the little green room that was Bennie’s –
With Sadie
And her old father and her mother,
Who is not so old and wears her own hair.

Old Sodos no longer makes saddles.
He has forgotten how.
He has forgotten most things – even Bennie who stays away
and sends wine on holidays –
And he does not like Sadie’s mother
Who hides God’s candles,
Nor Sadie
Whose young pagan breath puts out the light –
That should burn always,
Like Aaron’s before the Lord.

Time spins like a crazy dial in his brain,
And night by night
I see the love-gesture of his arm
In its green-greasy coat-sleeve
Circling the Book,
And the candles gleaming starkly
On the blotched-paper whiteness of his face,
Like a miswritten psalm…
Night by night
I hear his lifted praise,
Like a broken whinnying
Before the Lord’s shut gate.

Sadie dresses in black.
She has black-wet hair full of cold lights
And a fine-drawn face, too white.
All day the power machines
Drone in her ears…
All day the fine dust flies
Till throats are parched and itch
And the heat – like a kept corpse –
Fouls to the last corner.

Then – when needles move more slowly on the cloth
And sweaty fingers slacken
And hair falls in damp wisps over the eyes –
Sped by some power within,
Sadie quivers like a rod…
A thin black piston flying,
One with her machine.

She – who stabs the piece-work with her bitter eye
And bids the girls: “Slow down –
You’ll have him cutting us again!”
She – fiery static atom,
Held in place by the fierce pressure all about –
Speeds up the driven wheels
And biting steel – that twice
Has nipped her to the bone.

Nights, she reads
Those books that have most unset thought,
New-poured and malleable,
To which her thought
Leaps fusing at white heat,
Or spits her fire out in some dim manger of a hall,
Or at a protest meeting on the Square,
Her lit eyes kindling the mob…
Or dances madly at a festival.
Each dawn finds her a little whiter,
Though up and keyed to the long day,
Alert, yet weary… like a bird
That all night long has beat about a light.

The Gentile lover, that she charms and shrews,
Is one more pebble in the pack
For Sadie’s mother,
Who greets him with her narrowed eyes
That hold some welcome back.
“What’s to be done?” she’ll say,
“When Sadie wants she takes…
Better than Bennie with his Christian woman…
A man is not so like,
If they should fight,
To call her Jew…”

Yet when she lies in bed
And the soft babble of their talk comes to her
And the silences…
I know she never sleeps
Till the keen draught blowing up the empty hall
Edges through her transom
And she hears his foot on the first stairs.

Sarah and Anna live on the floor above.
Sarah is swarthy and ill-dressed.
Life for her has no ritual.
She would break an ideal like an egg for the winged thing at the core.
Her mind is hard and brilliant and cutting like an acetylene torch.
If any impurities drift there, they must be burnt up as in a clear flame.
It is droll that she should work in a pants factory.
– Yet where else… tousled and collar awry at her olive throat.
Besides her hands are unkempt.
With English… and everything… there is so little time.
She reads without bias –
Doubting clamorously –
Psychology, plays, science, philosophies –
Those giant flowers that have bloomed and withered, scattering their seed…
– And out of this young forcing soil what growth may come –
what amazing blossomings.

Anna is different.
One is always aware of Anna, and the young men turn their heads
to look at her.
She has the appeal of a folk-song
And her cheap clothes are always in rhythm.
When the strike was on she gave half her pay.
She would give anything – save the praise that is hers
And the love of her lyric body.

But Sarah’s desire covets nothing apart.
She would share all things…
Even her lover.

This narrative poem shares as much as a short story in more concise language that vibrates the heart and nerves at the same time.

What you read here is part 2 of a 9 part poem. Although NaPoWriMo wouldn’t be a good time to try it, writing a very long poem like “The Ghetto” would be fun to try if the subject is epic enough. Not a lot of places to get it published, but it could be its own chapbook, I suppose. But what about readers–do readers like to read super long poems?

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One Week of NAPOWRIMO 2019 Accomplished!

How convenient that NaPoWriMo starts on April 1, that April 1 was a Monday this year, and that I blog on Mondays. This way my posts can neatly sum up the previous week. I feel so organized!!!

I wrote the equivalent of a poem (draft) a day, although I wrote two on one day because there was a day I knew I could not write anything. To me this is acceptable. I still get the same number poems at the end of the month, and I am not ignoring something important like family over for birthdays and holidays.

Here are the (working?) titles of the poems I have so far:

  • Super Bloom
  • Maybe It Was Spring
  • I Want to be Irish
  • My Say
  • Noah and the Middle School Marching Band
  • Never a Bride
  • Javelina Life Rules

I haven’t even checked in with the NaPoWriMo site because I am having a great time using the prompts in Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet, which is her first craft book and one I hadn’t really taken advantage of before. I find her prompts to be of the type I need: they come at poem creation from at least two angles, if not more. Being told to write a poem about purple often isn’t enough for me. I like more WRITING CONSTRAINTS.

When I look at the list of poems above, I see that there are repeats in subjects for me. For instance, “Super Bloom” has echoes of “Super Nova” in Doll God. They are completely different poems, but I could write a paper comparing and contrasting the two poems. Noah and Lazarus are in here, and I’ve worked with them before. (Of course, Noah is one of my obsessions. I have a sculpture of Noah releasing the dove that I dream about and a tiny Day of the Dead Noah shadow box).

Are you participating in NaPoWriMo? If so, how are you doing? I’d love to hear!

Other subject: the other day I posted a question on Twitter. I want to know if other poets save drafts of their poems as they revise. It had suddenly occurred to me that this is important to think about. I’ve never given it any thought and, in fact, destroy all my earlier drafts as fast as I move on. You might say I do it obsessively! I’m embarrassed of the earlier drafts and want to forget they ever happened. Then one day I read that a poet looked at one of her old drafts. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA? And I remembered how much time I put into studying the earlier drafts of some of Sylvia Plath’s poems when I was writing academically.

That’s when I thought to myself that we can choose to save our drafts or not. Or have some kind of system about it. Instead, I have been operating solely on emotion, ripping and shredding gleefully. And my computer operates palimpsestically (hahaha, as if that’s a word) and cleaner. Sometimes there is no trace at all of what came before.

Not sure if I’ll change, but I’d like to think it through. What about you? Do you save old drafts? Of poetry? Of prose?

Is there value in saving them?

And let’s not forget Noah. What are your “obsessions”?

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Pick Up Your Pen–It’s April 1 and the Start of NAPOWRIMO 2019!

Last year was a successful NAPOWRIMO for me, so I plan to participate again. Last week I pulled together my poetry prompt and craft books and scrounged around on Google for more prompts. Now I am ready to WRITE POEMS. How about you?!

Click the image to get to the NaPoWriMo site.  Checkitout.

There are other places to post what you write (if you prefer not to submit to journals), too, but I am not posting any of those because I don’t have time to really research and recommend. But put in the search words NAPOWRIMO and “poetry prompts” and look for sites where you can find prompts and even submit your own poems.

Happy writing to all!

In the spirit of poetry prompts, I’ll share with you a pic I took in search of Superbloom in Arizona. Not as successful as I would have liked, but how much joy did I need to find?!

The gardener and I took Mom way out to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. On the way, the roadside was in bloom with a pretty palette of wildflowers, but the gardener wouldn’t stop for photos (as usual). Then when we got near the towns of Superior, Miami, and Globe, the golden poppies were thick along the side of the roads and parking lots. Oddly, I couldn’t see any blossoms on the surrounding hills. But I guess the roadside had a lot more water.

Above is Ayer Lake at the Arboretum, and the photo below is one of the views from inside the park.

What a great place to hike or even leisurely walk.  There are trees and plants from Australia and China, as well as Arizona native vegetation.

For dinner, we went to The Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix. In the ten years I’ve lived here, the only time I ever was on the property was a business thingie to hear Janet Napolitano speak when she was still governor. I had a feeling that chicken dinner wasn’t a proper example of the restaurant food at this gorgeous resort. So we went to the very fancy pizza and burger (and more) restaurant, Frank & Albert’s, for dinner. After dinner we walked around the lobby. Look at this beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass.

Then we walked outside and toured the entertainment and pool areas.

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This and That

My poem “Why We Wait for Rain” was published this past week by Red River Review. You can read it here: WHY WE WAIT FOR RAIN. The poem came about because Arizona has a very dry climate (usually), and the smell of rain just about does me in. It’s the creosote, just so you know.

I’m usually so lax about my submission process, including record-keeping and goals. But this year, as you might recall, I have set a goal for myself. This publication is the third one so far (although one of the others published five poems, I am counting publications, not pieces), and there is another one that will be published near the end of this month.

I had a lovely package to open the other day. Sheila Morris’ latest book, Four Ticket Ride, with a beautiful inscription and . . . wait for it, my name in the dedications! Made me so happy I could have cried if I wasn’t smiling. Read about it on Sheila’s blog here. I can’t wait to read it! Click the book image to purchase through Amazon.

Guess what’s coming up in March April?! NAPOWRIMO

Who is with me? Let’s write a poem a day, starting March April 1! I did it last year, and I felt quite productive! Of course, this year I will have company. That might cut into my productivity. Merril, a big thank you to you who pointed out my error. I won’t have as MUCH company in April (I think) as in March so actually April should be better for NAPOWRIMO.

This is a tangent, but the gardener and I bought some new flowers for the yard.

Cyclamen

Make it a lovely week, my dears.

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