NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 9

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Thanks and shoutout to Dahiana Waszaj who made this image available for free on Unsplash.

Todays prompt asked us to write in a specific form—the nonet.

A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second has eight, and so on until you get to the last line, which has just one syllable.

Maybe this is the time you want to try your hand at poetry writing. The nonnet is a form that doesn’t have to rhyme, so for all of you not-into-rhyming friends, this is a great form.

I hope you choose to have some fun with writing today.

First

The birds warmed their feet on the long wire—
some thought about hot summer days,
others gossiped about how
Gini’s Gang was taking
over Town. I mean,
the absolute
nerve! Go! We
were here
first.

—cjpjordan

NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 7

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Thanks to Dylan LaPierre @drench777 for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

Today’s prompt was the challenge to write a poem that argues against, or somehow questions, a proverb or saying.

They say that “all cats are black at midnight,” but are they really? Surely some of them remain striped. And maybe there is an ill wind that blows some good. Perhaps that wind just has some mild dyspepsia. 

I chose a phrase from Emily Dickinson who had become my muse for this poetry writing month. It’s rather a metaphor than a proverb but that’s close enough for me today. I’m feeling the joy of tweaking a piece I wrote some time ago when Ryan was still living directly underneath the Brown Line “L” Train in Chicago.

when death comes

emily says dying is a wild night and a new road.
i say dying is sort of like walking too close to the rails
when the chicago “l” whizzes by--whooosh!
nowyouseeme.
nowyoudon’t.
dying tastes like a quiet color
in explosive rainbow proportions.
i hear the clacking coming,
i feel the rush of wind,
i touch the steamy air
just before that silver bullet train whizzes toward me.

i wonder if the actual moment of death feels
like being a rider on the train
watching the people stare
as i pass by them.

i wonder if death feels like new life.

i wonder if becalmanddie
would make a good slogan on a billboard
to advertise dying.

perhaps emily is right after all;
perhaps there should be a billboard sign
lit in blinking neon lights,
guiding the way home on the new road,
which just happens to pass a tad too close
to the Chicago l tracks—

whooosh!

—cjpjordan

(Global) NaPoWriMo 2022 Day One

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Thank you 🙌
And a shoutout to Kristina Flour who graciously allowed this photo to be used through Unsplash.

Today’s prompt is based on Robert Hass’s remarkable prose poem, “A Story About the Body.” The idea is to write my own prose poem that, whatever title I choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image. Here is my attempt.

For me, holding things in has been a way of life. The natural outcome of this internal action has been the external result of packing on the pounds.

I was never allowed to talk about anything negative, especially any sort of family issues in front of anyone else. And I learned that habit young.

Only recently have I learned to express myself in healthy ways, holding others accountable for their words and actions. Only recently have I been able to consistently begin to shed the weight of those secrets, and along with it, has come actual weight loss.

Fifty-two pounds, to be exact.

There is no more holding of secrets, and I don’t plan to pass this on to the next generation. It can stop with me.

Holding Secrets

“Sssh. Hush hush. Don’t say that. It’s taboo.” Only the perfect blush of color is allowed in our flawless family tree. No embolus of evil, no skeletons here. No binges of beer or illegitimate broods. No family feuds. “Sssh. Hush hush. Don’t say that. It’s taboo.” And so my story begins: I'm not allowed to show disappointment or speak pain into the air. “Surely it wasn’t quite that way. Anyway,it all happened yesterday.” I must move on. Get over it. Suck it in. Suck it up. So I suck up everything I can find until my body swells with the excess weight. My feet slow, my spirits droop, and even in my sluggish state, I hear her voice, “But don’t you dare spit it out.” So I shut my mouth—I suck it up like a Hoover vacuum, like the vortex of a tornado, like a slurpee through a straw, and all I'm left with is one colossal brain-freeze.

—cjpjordan

The Holiday Throwdown

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The Holiday Throwdown

My heart is full to the brim
of baking with the ancestors,
of cooking with the children;
throwing down laughter

with chutney and roasted salsa.
Ice clinks in glasses as we
sip apple rum and dip
our fries in cashew cream.

A healthy dose of family
with boisterous boys
and bellies full of burgers.
Horseplay and memories

sautéed until golden sweet.
We are channeling the past—
hands guided by the greats
and hearts rooted in love.

Cjpjordan


Partial Fam Photo. Missing our loved ones in Arizona.

Live With Gusto

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌
and a great big shoutout to Chilli Charlie

This particular writing challenge was to write a poem that stretches my comfort zone with line breaks. Well, this poem stretched my comfort level with many things.

At first I thought perhaps I’d write a poem with very long lines, or maybe one with very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two? Who knows what that might look like? I vacillated between all of these ideas.

Maybe breaking apart lines to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or creating a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought might be the way to go.

My method was to read several different poems, and then I began to write. Every poem and its process brings out some different part of myself. Even the story poems that are outside of my personal experience have a piece of me woven into them.

Before posting this poem, I was reading the story of a sweet friend who has deconstructed and reconstructed the faith and religion of her youth. I could totally connect with all that she shared.

For each one of us the process is different, but I hope for each one of you that you love and live near the edge of the world with gusto.

Dry Bones

She loved

near the edge of the world
with gusto
if not lunacy.
she chose unity
with herself.

She lost her vision
from living in the darkness—
the rose colored glasses
foggy from flashes
of light.

A ray of hope
in no man’s land
she teetered on the edge
of the cliff. The sedge
a sign

of her dry bones.
the moon rose
unbidden,
nearly hidden
by love.

She loved
wild and reckless—
in the light
no danger of flight—
I think.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Life In The Middle

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Thanks to Damian Patkowski @damianpatkowski for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/T-LfvX-7IVg

Watching the first episode of the Netflix Original “High on the Hog”, listening to the news stories of the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and reflecting on the documentary of the Holocaust in Hungary, my heart became weighted down.

The grief was real. And heavy.

But I know the importance of wading through the ugly parts of history. We must know where we’ve went been to know where we are going.

We remember the past, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Life In The Middle

A story has no beginning
and it has no end, which leaves me
living somewhere in the middle.
Though I’m not one who came before,

I’ve no breath without the exhale
of my ancestors. I come home
to the place they left; I hold on
so that place is not forgotten.

We must know where we have been,
and where we are in order to
understand where we are going;
if we choose to ignore the past,

we ignore a part of ourselves.
Light shines in the dark, and sunshine
chases away the dim shadows,
but where do the memories hide?

Where does the past leave the present?
In the stillness of the night skies,
there lives the anguish in our blood—
fragments of a lost memory.

If we don’t valorize the past,
who will? I’m not the beginning
of the story, and I am not
the end. I sit here with you in

this moment, knowing who we are,
understanding our connection,
convening with our ancestry—
and choosing never to forget.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Fair Chaps Beware

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Photo Credit: Carla Jeanne

Today’s challenge was to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. I had to begin with a photograph, and then find a poem in a language I didn’t know. My mission was to start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem was actually “about” my photograph.

I chose a poem in Irish (Gaelic) and used a photo I took at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. First is the poem in its original language, and following is my “translation”.

Faoi Chabáistí is Ríonacha 
By Celia de Fréine

In ionad bláthanna a bhronnadh ar a bhean
agus é i mbun tochmhairc,
d’fhrasaigh Risteard
bronntanais ar a máthair. I dtosach
tháinig na málaí plaisteacha, ansin na saic,
iad lán le glasraí a d'fhás sé féin
a is a athair.
Leasaithe go nádúrtha. Uiscithe faoi scáth
hoíche i rith an triomaigh.
Turnapaí ar aon mhéid le do chloigeann.
Prátaí Rí Éadbhard as ar deineadh
na sceallóga ba shúmhaire. Cabáistí
sách leathan le ceathrairíní a cheilt.
Ní raibh bean Risteaird ag súil le ceathrairíní –
iníon a leanbh sise, í tugtha go mór
do fhrithbhualadh na glúine, ar nós a máthar.

**************

Fair Chaps Beware

Over eons the base
of the bastions
blossomed, ageless
and immune to time

like a resilient band
of brothers. I searched
those majestic rolling plains
atop the pounding sea,

and under my gaze
their angel hair
frolicked in the wind.
Let no man go adventuring,

unless he find the path;
for high and wide
the tumultuous treachery
hidden below the churning sea.

Yes, pounding against
and pounding beneath,
the salacious sea sings
her song. Come, she sings,

lay your head on my chest.
No radiant beams shine
more resiliently than I,
she croons; from here,

I lovingly rise to greet
the moon. So lest you frivolous
and foolish be, go no more
near the edge of the sea.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What your favorite place to visit?

The Daughter

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

The prompt for today was to write a fourteener. Fourteeners can have any number of lines, but each line should have fourteen syllables. Traditionally, each line consists of seven iambic feet (i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, times seven). The fourteener was popular in 16th and 17th century England, where it was particular common in ballads.

My brain was tired and fourteens didn’t come easily today. Actually, not much came easily today; so instead, I wrote my fourteener in two lines of 8 and 6, and then I strung them together and shaped them into quatrains. Since the lines also equal fourteen, I’m going to call this a win.

It’s not exactly the prompt, but I still had fun writing it. The visuals were taken from my memories of traveling to places that looked just like this one in the picture.

The Daughter

The full moon watched from western sky as stars began to fade, 
and ghosts rose from the water smooth and danced within the glade. 
The wispy trails of dancing tails hung low beneath the trees 
and disappeared into the sun who smiled with rapturous ease. 

The glass that looked like honey comb glowed rosy in the light, 
the dawn breathed a collective breath preparing to ignite. 
For past and present intertwined to weave their tapestry—
a strand of golden thread shone through glinting with majesty.

And hope was whispered on the breeze so boisterous the mirth, 
the favored queen now labored hard anticipating birth. 
Just as morning broke into day the princess graced the land. 
born to rule with joy and wisdom— compassion now at hand. 

And so the kingdom all rejoiced with grateful dignity;
peace settled deep within their bones: Welcome sweet Charity. 

-A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

May your day be filled with anticipation, joy, and sweet charity.

The Red Maple

Photo Credit: Photo by Gorrin Bel on Unsplash

After talking with my poetry buddy today, I was challenged to write a tanka. The tanka is described as the form of poetry that comprised the majority of Japanese poetry from the ninth to the nineteenth century. In fact, several sources list it as possibly the central genre in Japanese literature. According to one website, the tanka has “prototypes in communal song, in oral literature dating back to the seventh century, or earlier.”

A tanka is structured much like a haiku with each line containing a certain number of syllables. There is no rhyming and no end punctuation used in this form, however, it does make use of a “pivot” or “turning point” line. The third line is the pivot that divides the tanka into two different sections that are joined in the middle in order to tell the whole story.

The syllable breakdown for the five lines looks like this: 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7

Lately I’ve really been pining for my red maple. It’s my favorite tree, and Monday it must come down. In full disclosure, this may not be my last Red-Maple-Inspired Poem. I will be pining the loss of it for years to come.

vast red towering
gnarled trunk with knotty whorls
a testimony
to holy righteous living
today we fell it

Short and bittersweet…

Mama‘s Big Day

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Today was my little mama’s 86th birthday. In the past we have celebrated Mother’s Day and her birthday all at one time. But this year, I felt like something different was in order.

So we had Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday, and today we picked up mama for cookout birthday dinner.

On the menu: 
BBQ cauliflower
Southern potato salad
Corn on the cob
Roasted Asparagus

An old fashioned menu for one sweet old gal.

But the real star of the show were the cookies we ordered from Kelsey—gorgeous AND delicious.

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Mama

Leaning on my momma
used to be comforting
as slipping into a good story
and hers were the best.

Like the time she took a train
across Czechoslovakia—
a wide eyed new bride
braving new worlds

shaking her fist at armed guards
who dared dump her suitcase;
changing a tire at 12,000 feet
even the Alps didn’t scare mama.

Now little mama leans on me—
her fragility a reckoning of age;
And so we measure this middle
in the luxury of not rushing

a season of priceless pause
washes over our time
and demands us to rest
in the beauty of now.


—a draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan