Tag Archives: Napowrimo 2017

Regular Poem: i always try

10 Apr

i always try
to see the full moon
catch its light
and mystery
memorize its rise and fall
note any weird thing
about it

jupiter is supposed to be close
but i’m so bad at astronomy
my naked eyes
are more naked than eyes
can discern only the most obvious
venus is usually easy
mars if he’s pointed out to me

it’s not dark enough
to find jupiter
just yet
i could probably
read another chapter of my book
in the dying light
but i’m not doing that

i’m peering
at the moon’s pink halo
in the still periwinkle sky
wishing i could cajole the telescope
in my possession
(it’s not mine but it’s at my house
and that counts for something)
into showing me things

i fantasize
about taking it onto my roof
knowing how to use it
telling myself stories
about the stars
piping maria callas
into the night
and dreaming in the dew

Regular Poem: nothing to say

9 Apr

i don’t even have
anything to say about it

it’s all clawing its way out
violent and heaving
vomitting ideas and sounds
the dog of me
returning and returning
to that vomit

the metaphors
are condensation on a glass
the similes
like a magician’s scarves
seemingly infinite

but i’m just broke and broken
pissed off and pissed on

daydreaming about destruction
and escape
fights i can win
minds i can lose
skins i can shed
towns i can skip

no specifics just blurs
through streaked mascara
and streaks of blurred lipstick
my hair leaves
as i drive away
with my top down

Regular Poem: People I Used to Write Poetry About

8 Apr

i don’t mean to rile myself up
(i always mean to rile myself up
even when i don’t mean to
i’m a choleric
but i sometimes wonder
where she works
whether she forces everyone
to call her doctor
a thousand other things
about that current distant life
of that former distant person
i knew only
well enough
to rile me

a thousand other things
and a thousand other people
and nine hundred of each

Regular Poem: On This Edition of Hangover, Migraine, or That Weird Illness That’s Going Around at Work

8 Apr

It’s the worst game show
for so many reasons.

For one,
all of them can turn into each other–
so many similar causes and effects and symptoms is what
makes the game worth playing,
after all–
at any moment
under the right circumstances
under the right wrong moon
like a werewolf
who can transition at will
at the small price
of her sanity.
Even if you have the right answer
it could be the wrong answer
the next second.

For two,
it’s so depressing
buzzing in–
and the buzzer
hurts your ears and
and knowing that
you’ve at least partially or probably fully
caused it yourself
and whatever it is
may or may not dissipate
before you do something
that might cause the next thing
or force the current thing
into being the next thing.

And for three,
even if
by some miracle
you guess exactly right
in exactly the right instant
lock in your answer
make your final jeopardy wager
and you win,

you do not win.
Everyone loses this game.
Even the house.
Especially the house.

Regular Poem: Guys and …?

6 Apr

she says
we don’t call grown men
so we shouldn’t call
grown women
and her argument is sound
and my feminist hackles
are rising with hers
growing in the same field
fertilized by the same
but before i can elizabeth cady stanton
myself into a frenzy
i realize

i do call grown men boys
but more often
or most often

because man is too weighty for many
i encounter

i try then to think of analogous terms
for females
and they’re mostly
to me
but sometimes
hardly ever chicks
once in a while

“this girl i know”
might be someone my age or younger
“this gal i know”
indeterminate, but sticks in the back of my mouth, i probably owe her money
“this lady i know”
someone awesome: probably
outspoken with a thousand brooches and can pull off gauchos or
a homicide lieutenant or
plays piano like a dream
“this woman i know”
that’s so clinical
dripping with disdain

“this boy i know”
could be anybody, probably cute
“this dude i know”
could be anybody, probably stupid
“this guy i know”
could be anybody, neutral
“this man i know”
sounds dirty to me
like i’m stealing somebody’s husband

now let’s play with modifiers and modes,
connotations and maybe some annotations

“good girl”
she teaches sunday school, bakes
cupcakes for the fire department, does
the Right Thing
any age lawful good
“bad girl”
smokes, drinks, carouses, sasses
red lipstick and stilettos
any age chaotic neutral
“good woman”
a good girl but even more noble
and self-sacrificing
makes your teeth ache and your heart clench
(i know one and i don’t know
whether i want to hug her straight to death
embrace her so tightly and then kill us both with my longsword
tristan and isolde style
stare lovingly at her
until she catches me
and then rib her about something
so she knows i’m still me
instead of the drooling sycophant
i become when i think too much
about how wonderful she is)
“bad woman” and “bad lady”
femme fatale, lurking
in black and white tableaus
ready for murder and seduction and fraud
“good gal”
fun to party with, straight shooter
maybe a western sharpshooter in fact

“good boy”
see good girl
“bad boy”
see bad girl
“good man”
probably a dad or a deacon or both
“bad man”
see bad woman
“good guy”
generic male who is generally conscientious,
listens and talks thoughtfully,
“bad guy”
opposite of good guy, also manipulative
maybe sinister
“good dude”
like a good guy but kind of dumb
“bad dude”
like a bad guy but kind of dumb

maybe all
these connotations
are colored by my own
internalized mysogyny
i don’t see
on the silver screen of my mind
a girl
as excusively a child
and therefore
devalue the women i call girls
because i myself am a girl
to myself
in a lot of contexts
and sometimes a woman
sometimes a lady
sometimes a gal
and sometimes a lot of other words
i try not to use
because i don’t philosophically agree
with gendered insults

but i also don’t
see boy
as exclusively a child
and a lot of other people don’t

maybe i listen to too much county western music
where everybody’s
the boys around here
and good old boys

far be it from me
to suggest
country western music
is anywhere near as progessive
as this lady thinks everything
ought to be

(“this lady”
someone respectable but to be disagreed with)

and also far be it from me
to suggest
shares my dialect
and singular sensibilities

and there’s the crux
of the problem

when that guy says girl in reference to a grown woman
he probably means something different
and thinks something different
than that man who says girl in reference to a grown woman
who means something different
than that lady who says girl in reference to a grown woman

so we’re back
to her argument
that we ought not do it
but we’re also back to my argument
of individual responsibility
and we’re back to the perennial argument
about language

and how it evolves
and influences

i’d like to do a study
of the usage of girl
in other languages

but i’m too much of a dude

Regular Poem: Attention to Task

5 Apr

Ever since I heard it
it’s been sabotaging me.
I’ll paraphrase
so it can sabotage you, too:

“You’re happiest
when you’re
totally in the moment,
thinking only
about the task at hand,
no matter the task,
even if you hate the task
or it is a boring task.
Fantasies are unhelpful,
deleterious even
to mental well-being
and quality
of both work and play.
Science shows
day dreamers are sad,

And it made so much sense
and was so maddening.

And now

(The other day I was cooking–
softening butter, measuring baking soda, turning on a lamp
so I could see if my dough was lumpy,
and there it was.
I thought of that jerk of a program on NPR
and then instead of immediately refocusing on the clumps of brown sugar
I immediately was daydreaming–
like not even a fun daydream,
just imagining myself in the grocery store, which aisles I needed to go down
to buy the items I needed
and I was so mad at that jerk of an NPR program
and that jerk of a me
for remembering it)

even in those acute, strange moments
when I am completely focused,
I jump in and out of them,
watch myself
heckle myself
curse the sabateur–
who is both that program
and myself.

And it’s so stupid.
I’ll day dream if I damn well please
but then again
is it damn well pleasing at all?
I don’t even know anymore.
I ought to go back to listening
to classic country in my car
instead of NPR.
I mean, either way
I’m listening to and thinking
about something other than driving.

Regular Poem: Rage Meringue

4 Apr

It doesn’t take much
to work myself into a lather
beat those egg whites
until it’s all tiny bubbles
and then
stiff peaks–
no substance
just feeling
and elbow grease
and wrathful foam–

take just one pinch
of cream of tartar
just one intrusive thought
and just beat it
into a froth–
from nothing
comes something
pretty and petty
and vile.

That heavy cream never stood a chance–
it’s whipped
and on top of a pie
in no time–
voluminous, bountiful,
messy and perfect
and terrible.

There’s no such thing
as too many cooks
in this kitchen.
The more biceps
to stir up pots
the merrier
(or angrier,
as it were).

Before you know it
it’s not even
a cooking metaphor

you’re in all black
on a motorcycle
in the dead of night
a bottle of kerosene in your saddlebag
and a Zippo in your pocket
laughing and crying
and screaming
over your rumbling exhaust
ready to torch a building
and wind up south of the border
the knife in your boot
itching for release.

The ingredients are there.
The recipe is there.
The chef is more volatile
than that kerosene
(which is less volatile than gasoline but still probably shouldn’t be that near a motor).

The only thing
keeping that rage meringue
from setting up

is the sheer will
to separate those egg whites
freeze them for a better recipe later
discard them

Nobody actually needs
And especially not
rage meringue.

Regular Poem: The Day They Sell That Sailboat

3 Apr

The day they sell that sailboat
I’m gone.

I’m missing all my turns and heading
straight south until the road ends and then
taking another road

driving and driving
until I’m out of gas and then
just running
until I’m out
of air.

I’m collapsing in a field
five blocks from
my abandoned vehicle
and lying there

I have the energy
to scream

and scream until
I don’t have the energy.

The day they sell that sailboat
I’m out.

I’m knocking over a convenience store
fleeing in a stolen Cutlass
Thelma and Louise-ing it
through the Southwest.

The day they sell that sailboat
I’m off.

I track the buyer
and seduce and abandon him
take that sailboat sailing
somewhere it’s never sailed before.
Forwarding address:
catch us if you can.

The day they sell that sailboat
I’m done.

I’m done with that fantasy
Too bad.
Babe would’ve loved that sailboat.

Regular Poem: Secret Tuxedo

2 Apr

I call her Babe.

Not as a nickname, term of endearment,
that’s her name.
The kind of name
people don’t even have anymore
probably never had
outside of bad girls
in ’30s gangster flicks, the kind
of woman who carries a different pistol
to match every shade of lipstick, the kind
of woman who sasses the mayor not knowing he’s the mayor
but doesn’t apologize when she finds out. The kind
of woman who claims she was driving the getaway car at the bank heist
to appease her abusive beau
but really
she masterminded the whole enchilada
and laughs as her gang gets
sent up the river without her
and she ends up on the arm of the police commissioner
in furs drinking champagne.

Yes, that’s her name.
Every time
I go in the room
where she resides–
so elegant, so feisty, so
ready to cheat at baccarat
and abscond with the duke’s rubies–
I say,

“Hiya, Babe.”
and wink,
caress her lapel if I’ve got an extra minute.

I don’t care
that she’ll probably
implicate me in a crime,
manipulate me into giving her my inheritance,
ruin me.
For now,
we’re in love, and I’m her willing dupe.

“Hiya, Babe,” I say.
She winks back.

She’s trying to get me to take her out.

“Hiya, Babe,” I say.
She runs her tongue over her teeth.

One of these days I will take her out.
I don’t know how,
but she’ll convince me,
and I’ll think of something.

Regular Poem: The Fifth Annual National Poetry Writing Month

1 Apr

just because
a lot
in five years
doesn’t mean
a lot

a lot
is like a natural grassland
changes are made
upon it
but always at the edges
and in the cracks
big bluestem bunches
and breaks through

a car lot
for example
can be several bad restaurants
and another car lot
a parkour place
before all businesses
fail successively
and before long
people are parking cars there
in the now abdandoned lot
with for sale
written in shoe polish
on the windshield

a lot
that tries to change
but ultimately doesn’t

but a lot can
and does
but also doesn’t

i can’t live a day
five years ago
just to check
compare and contrast
it’d be a waste
of a percectly good time machine

point is
if all these poems
feel like the same poems
they probably are
thoughts well lived in
gently used
test driven
and parked back
on the same old lot

Book 'Em, Jan O

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