Today, as befits the final poem of NaPoWriMo, I challenge you to write a poem of farewell. It doesn’t have to be goodbye forever — like I said, NaPoWriMo will be back again next year. If you need a little inspiration, you might find some in perusing this selection of goodbye-and-good-luck poems from the Poetry Foundation website.
Saying goodbye is such an art.
an empty hollow
a heavy absence
the moment you tap
to dial a number
and realise he’s gone
the quiet wait for your commute
the empty train seat next to you
louder rumbles on the tracks
It leaves eternally missed moments.
But goodbyes can sometimes
For new surprises
New ways to walk
And see the mundane
teach us to gracefully
… for the search for the right questions is the first important task, or we’d never get to the best answers for ourselves. I owe two entries! But I don’t want to miss out on the grand finale fun so, I’ll have to write two then. NaPoWriMo to the rescue again (I know these are a little dated, but I’m having fun with them):
Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is a little something I’m calling “Twenty Questions.” The idea is to write a poem in which every sentence, except for the last one, is in the form of a question. That’s it! It can be as long or short as you like. The questions can be deep and philosophical (‘what is the meaning of life?’) or routine and practical (‘are you going to eat that?’). Or both!
Have you ever wondered if you were really capable of love? Are we simply born with different sized hearts? Why did we build a world where vulnerability = exploitability? How did kindness become a weakness, and love a liability? What happens to the tired and the broken? How does love find the shy and soft-spoken? Why is it that those who need love the most, starve most for it? Why is it that those who have everything simply get more of it? How do we know when we’re ready for anything? But, “if you’re not ready for love, how can you be ready for life?” For the un-twinned souls, what does tomorrow bring? When did we split our bodies from our hearts? When we change “too much”, at what point do we part? Why is it so bad to want to die? Who does the judging– the wretched left to cry? Where is meaning found in a fleeting existence? How did we manage to complicate this world this much? Why do we rip fish out of the sea and stick them into walls of cans? How do we make such elaborate things but starve of love in the dark? It’s ironic that the thing we need most can kill us and leave no mark.
From Day Nine of NaPoWriMo, because I’ve finally started gaining confidence and momentum! It’s late, I know, April’s almost over, but it’s been such fun.
Today’s prompt was suggested by Bruce Niedt. Here’s Bruce’s explanation: take any random song play list (from your iPod, CD player, favorite radio station, Pandora or Spotify , etc.) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.
Safe & Sound (Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars)
We Might Be Dead Tomorrow (SoKo)
Once Upon a Dream (from “Maleficent”) (Lana Del Rey)
When the Darkness Comes (Colbie Caillart)
Lost It All (Black Veil Brides)
When the darkness comes,
Don’t fret, it will be swift.
Shh, I’ll hold your hand, and
We’ll be safe and sound.
We’ve lost it all before
And nothing can touch us now.
Once upon a dream, we believed
In fairytales: good for the good;
No rest for the wicked.
So love with all your heart
When you have the rare chance,
For we might be dead tomorrow.
Digging back a bit into the NaPoWriMo days because I don’t feel like doing today’s prompt.
Anaphora is a literary term for the practice of repeating certain words or phrases at the beginning of multiple clauses or, in the case of a poem, multiple lines. The phrase “A time to,” as used in the third Chapter of Ecclesiastes, is a good example of anaphora. But you don’t have to be the Old Testament (or a Byrds song) to use anaphora. Allen Ginsberg used it in Howl, for example… I challenge you to write a poem that uses anaphora. Find a phrase, and stick with it — learn how far it can go.
We were the first on earth to wield the flame
We were the first dancers to music
We were the first to burn the past
To build a breathtaking future.
We were the first to compress time
We were the first to seize control
We were the first to make Her sick,
To build and kill Gods.
We were the first to know ourselves
We were the first to waste our lifeblood
We were the first to poison our children
To build ephemeral luxuries.
Will we be the first on earth to yield the flame,
The first to write our story, then set our book alight?
Right, now I owe three poems. So this Day Six NaPoWriMo prompt helped:
Today’s optional prompt is to write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem.
We went to the Rhine
And sat there with lunch, talking.
This was where I died.
My heart was brand-new
But my soul had been blended.
It was time to choose.
We are all dying-
What is a little haste, then,
To begin again?
I’m going back to one of the first NaPoWriMo quotes, from Day Three, because I think I missed out on the fun of this one:
I challenge you to write a charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme. It could be a charm against warts, or against traffic tickets. It could be a charm to bring love, or to bring free pizzas from your local radio station.
A Charm Against Ageing
A needle from a pine tree
A year-old Oreo cookie
UHT milk and freeze-dried spice
Sugar and all things nice
Hair of cat for its nine lives
Honey from Egyptian beehives
Gold from pirates plundered,
(Oh, yes, and E300…)
As these things never grow old
So may I be young, and never turn cold!
I think I’ll try the NaPoWriMo prompt for one of them, and do two tomorrow:
Peter Roberts has been participating in NaPoWriMo for several years now at his blog, Masonry Design. He has the charming and odd distinction of having only written poems about masonry. Today, I challenge you to do the same (for one day, at least), and to write a poem that features walls, bricks, stones, arches, or the like. If that sounds a bit hard, remember that one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems was about a wall.
Cold, high stone arches
Make a mute, ringing silence…
Profound silence that
Pulls the angelic voices up
And ringing to the skies
Like a bell…
Arches that send the wills
Of generations soaring.
Cold, stone walls
Infused with centuries of
Wishes, whispered prayers, wails,
Pleas, bargains, desperate cries…
Such old stone,
Layered with ages
Of swung frankincense and myrrh…
Soaring, sweeping pillars
Echo a thousand cantors,
Hum with a million shy voices…
Old, old stone
Pregnant with candle wax and flame
Of the Virgin Mary.