The final prompt was based on a prompt written by Jacqueline Saphra, and featured in this group of prompts published back in 2015 by The Poetry Society of the U.K. This prompt challenged me to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place.
The first thought I had was going to grandma’s house. It was the longest drive I ever experienced as a child and seemed to take forever. But our drive to grandma’s found us on freeways and driving through cities and that just wasn’t where my imagination was going.
I imagined a life with a southern mamaw living deep in the swampy, mysterious woods— a mamaw who bean a boar broadside with her 22 and still cook up the best biscuits and gravy you ever ate.
The person closest to the “Mamaw” of this poem was the Granny of my dear friend Edwin. One spring break my college roommate and I joined Edwin as he headed down to Tennesee to visit his granny.
Granny was pretty amazing. It was the first time I ever shot a 22 and also the first time I ever saw a grandma chewing tobacco on the back porch. I only ever met her that one time, but she made a lasting impression on me.
Even though this poem is completely fictictious, it touches on grief and loss and memory in a way that I connect with on a deep level. Perhaps you will, too.
Mamaw and I,
we were close, you know;
we hung together like clothes on the line.
we were like a pair of matching socks
waiting for our next new pair of shoes.
Getting to Mamaw’s house
entailed many a hurdle.
Oh the adventure of it!
We’d hop in our old chevy truck
and pick up Trail Ridge Road
just east of the swampland.
After what seemed
a month long drive,
we’d begin to see
the low sandy ridges and marshland.
Oh the musty scent of wetlands!
Mamaw had taught me
all the names of the trees
and as we passed by,
I would recite their names aloud—
bald cypress, black gum, the giant tupelo,
and the weeping willows reaching
to caress the roof of our car.
Oh the melody of their names!
The roads got bumpier
and the woods grew thicker—
the ground grew wetter
and the vines and overgrowth
took over the whole road sometimes.
By evening, we let the stars guide
as they twinkled and pointed the way.
Oh the sky went on forever!
Finally we would arrive,
to the long winding driveway
just as the blackness of night
reached its brilliant peak.
Mamaw would come out
wiping her hands on her apron
and smiling broadly.
Oh the scent of wood stove and coffee!
Mamaw and I
would spend our time together
enjoying the breeze
from the front porch
while we shucked beans.
Mamaw would talk forever
about nothing and everything.
Oh the glow of her rosy-cheeked smile!
But that fresh breeze called life,
sometimes it freezes us solid, you know—
I miss her so,
especially on those days
when soft breezes blow.
It was so much easier
to hang on the line with her by my side.
Oh the joy of her company!
Some days I feel
there’s no protection
from the storms,
no opinion offered
whether or not it was asked for,
no safety in the swell of her full skirt.
It’s hard, you know.
Oh so hard to go on when she’s gone!
-A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
I’d love to read the story of one of your best memories. If you want to share, drop it in the comment section below.
The prompt for today is called “in the window.” Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be a childhood neighbor’s workshop or a window looking into an alien spaceship. What do I see? What’s going on? The challenge was to write a poem describing what I see.
Too often I look at someone or some situation and think I know. In fact, the longer I peer into it, the more certain I become that I know exactly what is going on when actually I am looking through a distorted lens.
I cast no blame on the distorted lens, the truth is we all see through different levels of distortion. All we need to realize is that perhaps we will never be able to see perfectly clearly. And it is ok.
It is difficult to see through murky waters and walk away with clarity of vision.
You see the waters, they muck up our view and leave us wondering if our eyes can truly see.
What if our perception is really misperception? What if the slow-moving river holds terror in her depths?
It is difficult, you see, to see clearly through water refracting light— it bends before our eyes.
Our anamorphic view sees a glorious treasure hidden in the jade depths where crocodiles swim.
The prompt for today was to write a poem that poses a series of questions. I didn’t mean for this to end up to be such a serious poem, but somehow it did. Poems tend to write themselves, and they also tend to not be “controllable”; it’s just the way of writing. What’s inside comes out whether we want it to or not.
So many situations are full of moments that most outsiders will never see. We never really know the full life experiences of another person even if we think we know them well. Each person and their life experiences are completely unique to them. No one else on the planet can understand 100% what another person feels, even identical twins or the closest of siblings.
But I can tell you this. Even if you cannot possibly know all the burdens another person carries, you can choose to sit with them in their story. I know from firsthand experience of friends sitting with me, it IS possible.
Most people just want a pair of ears connected to a heart that is truly listening. Most people just want to be heard. So this poem is a good reminder for us to listen to others carefully and respond with empathy when they share.
How Can This Be True
How can this be true?
It is, trust me.
But how is is possible now for her to keep that secret for twenty years? It’s possible.
You mean she didn’t even tell per parents?
It’s possible, mom.
But why not? Why wouldn’t she tell her own parents?
It’s complicated. Shame and guilt are complicated emotions, mom.
Still, how how is this possibly true? I wonder what her motives are.
It’s possible, mom, that her only motive is to finally speak the truth.
Did you see her on television? She must love attention. Why didn’t she seek to take care of this earlier in private?
Sexual abuse is complex, mom. When you speak out, people don’t believe you. The victim is victimized all over again.
Did you see her face? I don’t believe her. She looked like she was making it all up. She looked crushed, mom. Absolutely crushed.
And here I am still asking why? Why would she not tell her parents?
Ianswer, but only in my head this time, what’s the point in trying to explain? So I jut out my chin and hold my head a little higher as I answer only to myself -- “Because she can’t go through the grief twice, mom. She just can’t.” The voice in my head becomes stronger now-- “Because I can’t go through the grief twice; I just can’t go through the grief twice, mom.”
Why don’t women tell? Because no one will believe them. No one will believe me. Not even my own mother.
--A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Let me know how what you are writing during this National Poetry Writing Month. Drop me a message in the comments section below.
Today’s prompt finally arrived, tardy but timeless. The challenge was to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
The entries are very vivid – so I selected the word aftersome, which intrigued me in its own way. You will find the definition in the hyperlink. Reading the definition may help you understand the poem.
While I was trying to climb the rope in gym class or wanting to sing that duet with Charles Randall, the trajectory of my life shifted and turned through the universe.
One bizarre sequence of events or one little misstep would have brought me through a different portal—down a different path in that yellow wood.
Feckless Fate tweaking my future without a thought about what I really want— from one split second to another every movement orchestrated by some master plan.
Aftersome accidents altering my elsewhere, choosing my here and now—and all the while I am a player and a puppet falling down my own rabbit hole.
—A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
If you enjoyed my extra poem today, please comment in the section below. May you shine like the stars in your dreams tonight.
A strange thing happened this morning. My poetry buddy messaged me and said, “Theres no prompt for today, what shall we do?”
Immediately I pulled up NaPoWriMo and sound he was right.
In this climate of global pandemic, I truly hope that the person who gives the prompts is healthy and well. I’m sending all my positivity and prayer for good health his/her way today.
This year marks my eighth year of participating in NaPoWriMo, and in all those years, I have never experienced a day without a prompt. My buddy laid down the challenge of writing a triolet today (no, not “toilet”, autocorrect).
A triolet is a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth.
Sounds like some weird crazy poetry torture device, doesn’t it?
Well, I finished off my coffee and found this helpful cheat chart.
Triolet Lines: 1. A 2. B 3. a Rhymes with 1st line. 4. A identical to 1st line. 5. a Rhymes with 1st line. 6. b Rhymes with 2nd line. 7. A Identical to 1st line. 8. B Identical to 2nd line.
Armed with this information and another cup of Roast House coffee, I penned this triolet. It seemed very fitting of our first potentially 80 degree day after a long bleak winter.
Face the sun and there’s no shadow like all the good sunflowers do. Upturned face in aureate glow face the sun and there’s no shadow. when glory blooms in the meadow, those feelings of goodness ensue; face the sun and there’s no shadow like all the good sunflowers do.
—A draft Triolet by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
If you enjoyed my little venture, please comment in the section below. Wishing you a face full of sunshine today.
With the prompt today I was challenged you to write a parody on a poem already written by another poet. I figured go big or go home, so I chose Emily Dickinson and her poem, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”.
Besides being fun, it was a challenge to mirror her tone, rhyme scheme, and form. So friends, tell your lies…and shout them out!
Here is Emily's original (beautiful) version:
Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind B
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
--by Emily Dickinson
And here is my parody poem about telling lies. Tell all your lies and shout them out — Tell all your lies and shout them out — Wearing your crooked smile We cannot bear the truth, you know And your tall tales beguile As light will blind most tender eyes Deceit will blind the heart And faults that burn fiery and fierce Fracture and tear apart —
- A Draft Parody Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
The prompt for today was to write an “occasional” poem—a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion.
So I decided to write about a few memorable occasions. Welcome a few of my favorite memories.
Magic of Moments
I will never forget the magic of his arrival, relating not so much to the nature of life, but to the heart of love itself— a powerful catapult a dance of irrevocable joy, an electrifying connection, an explosion of love.
Like the day I saw her come my way, unfettered and underestimated, free wheeling and free thinking, unbound by convention without an ounce of pretension.
Like the moment when a thousand meteors exploded in the august sky, when wispy green fairies twirled their skirts behind the northern lights.
Like when the hawk spread his wings above our heads, leading the way into the flaming birch forest.
How can anyone not believe in magic— the humdrum, mundane everyday magic of life?
—- A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Let me know your favorite moments in the comments below.
Today’s prompt was a fun one. I had to find a factual article about an animal. I needed to go through the article and replace the name of the animal with something else and then rearrange and edit into a poem.
I chose an article in National Geography on sandhill cranes and replaced “sandhill crane”with “middle schooler”.
Middle School and More
The sound that signals spring more than any other sound is the rattling, staccato calls of gangly middle schoolers
winging their way into class. Sitting shivering amid the chickweed, dandelion greens, and residual remains
of sedge grasses, I find them listening intently to gossip as only pre-teens can do. I notice how they call
to each other with a kind of guttural growling texture like a spoon raking rhythmically over a metal washboard.
Spring brings all varieties to the yard—the trumpeters, the secretive, the seasoned by siblings, the happy-go-lucky.
But the true spring showstopper is the middle schooler who jogs across the schoolyard, wraps his arms around me and says, “Love you, mom.”
—A Draft Poem for my own Little Wonder with love from Mama
Let me know what you think in the comments below. 🤗
We rebelled against the southwestern wind, the cold northern front, and Santa Claus;
he was NOT the reason for the season, after all.
Somehow we believed our lives were better as we drank in dogma between sips of sherbet punch at the potluck.
We were rebels with a cause, after all.
We were on the journey with Jesus and the Gospel coalition, traveling together, celebrating dedications (instead of baptisms), ordinances (instead of sacraments), and knowing that our way was The Way to life everlasting: Sola gratia, Sola fide, and Sola scriptura.
O sole mio! We were enlightened with the truth after all.
We wore one piece bathing suits as a sign of purity and culottes down to our knees to hide any immodesty. We didn’t go to dances or play with playing cards, and under no circumstances whatsoever did we curse.
We knew such things were of the devil, after all.
Everything changed the day I actually met the southwestern wind, with the rays of the sun shining like hair from her head. I had been fearful really, of seeing things through her eyes. But we sat under the cork tree smelling the flowers and talking until the dawn joined us for coffee, and the rooster crowed.
In that moment I stopped rebelling, and started believing in Santa Claus.
—A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Every poem is a journey. Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed mine.