The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Archive for November 2015

Abandoned Poems pt.5

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As a poet, it’s good to be in the habits or both playing with sound devices and subverting expectations.  As for the latter, Charles Simic provides an excellent example in his amusing imagist poem that appeared in last spring’s Paris Review:


Children’s fingerprints
On a frozen window

Of a small schoolhouse.
An empire, I read somewhere,

Maintains itself through
The cruelty of its prisons.

(I just pasted that from The Paris Review website; oddly, those weren’t the stanza breaks that appeared in the print version of the poem.)

I’m no Simic, but I do know the value of poetic practice.  Sometimes that’s all you get with certain prompts from the Poem-a-Day Challenge.  That’s all I got from “Write an explanation poem” last November 16, but I was grateful to bring myself to the experience of playing with both sound and subverted expectations at the same time.  This one went through quite a few drafts.

Beyond Explanation
Things should be as plain as
the nose in your pants,
or the nose of a plane.
You should hear this
clear as a beluga.
It should be as clear as
a static transmission.
Do I need to draw
you a pickaninny?
You’ll get it, Event Shirley.
This above all else:
To thine own self be truculent.
That’s probably the quinteenth
time you’ve heard that.
Don’t worry–pretty soon
you’ll get itch.

Written by seeker70

November 20, 2015 at 1:00 am

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Abandoned Poems pt.4

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The Poem-a-Day prompt last November 27 was “Write an appreciative poem.”  No surprise that I wrote about running—it’s one of the first things to jump in my head each time I handle a prompt.  I didn’t feel like fighting it this time, so I let it flow and decided to deal later with whatever came out.  It was a Thursday, which is a typical workout day for me.  Most likely, I had been out for a run that morning, had read the prompt ahead of time, and was writing it throughout my morning workout routine.

This one never made it out of prose form.

You appreciate the great mystery of your legs.  You don’t know how the bones and muscles and sinews are all patched together.  You have no idea what architects laid the highways of nerves and vessels; you don’t know of the cloverleafs and interchanges or ow they are negotiated.  You only know that they were built to last.  And you thank evolution each time the gun cracks and you’re off, still in the race after all these years, still on your legs, still holding off the day when the highway is closed to everything but the traffic of nostalgia.

Written by seeker70

November 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm

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Abandoned Poems pt.3

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The PAD prompt last November 14 was “Write a follow poem.”  I happened to be on a Northwestern fan bus on the way to the Wildcats’ epic upset of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, that morning and was far too occupied with talking to the folks around me and sipping Jameson to permit much work on poetry, so this one was scratched out real quick and never revisited.  I put some margin notes in to remind myself to find some rhymes amongst the name of holy texts.

Funny how my disdain for organized religion came out on my way to a prominent Catholic university.

A Brief Lesson in Concision
The Bible
The Koran
The Talmud
Mein Kampf
all can be reduced
to this:

The option is yours.

Written by seeker70

November 10, 2015 at 12:01 am

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Abandoned Poems pt.2

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The prompt last November 8 was “Write a blind poem.”  If there was one thing I learned early on during my first attempt at the PAD Challenge, it was to trust my first instinct.  That first instinct was “Stevie Wonder.”  My drafting and revising process was pretty furious that day as I kept coming back to the notion of using Stevie Wonder in a poem.  When I looked back at my journal from last year, I found seven versions of the poem before I got around to typing it.  There’s heavy wordplay in this one, especially double entendre; it’s a guilty pleasure of mine that probably keeps my poetry from reaching another level.  Still, I had fun.  I ended up going someplace naughty, and it was fun getting there.

In Concert
He muses late this morning
that keyboards wail under
Stevie Wonder’s nimble
fingers, each making the right
move at the right moment
despite never seeing where
they’re going—and wow!

He thinks he can play you
the same way, so you make
your pajamas into a blindfold
and lead him by the hand
to the execution.

Written by seeker70

November 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm

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The Poem-a-Day Challenge is Back / Abandoned Poems

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I’ve been looking forward to November—not for the turkey and football, nor for the frost soon to crystallize the grass each morning, nor for the denuded trees and short days.  Rather, November marks the return of the Poem-a-Day Challenge organized by Robert Lee Brewer over at Writer’s Digest.  He posts a prompt each day of the month, and the challenge is to produce a poem.  If you’re keenly interested, you can carry the challenge over into the New Year and submit a chapbook for him to judge.  All of this is the poet’s backlash against NaNoWriMo (and really, why should novelists get so much exposure?!)

I mentioned this last year, having stumbled upon it unexpectedly early in November.  I instinctively clung to it, even early on when I had to work on two prompts a day.  An interesting assortment of crazy things happened, the most notable of which was that I found all kinds of time to write in little nooks and crannies throughout the day that I would have otherwise ignored.  I created some effective organizational philosophies to keep my work and brain in order, and managed to stomp the balls of my inner critic who would otherwise be whispering really?  you’re going to write that?  what the hell’s your problem?  And those are the nicest things he says day in and day out.

I ended up with a bunch of junk I never revisited after scratching out some initial thoughts, but I also ended up with a fistful of middlin’ poems that I abandoned but can bust out any time and keep working on.  Best of all, I ended up with a decent amount of poems that I did keep working on and am envisioning as a part of a chapbook.  If I sift out the junk, my output during the PAD Challenge last year equaled what I did the rest of the year.  Given all this, I’m a believer in what can happen during the PAD Challenge for someone who is mental enough undertake it and stick doggedly to it.

I got to thinking about the abandoned poems from last year and decided re-purpose them here.  Some of them are inspired attempts that didn’t fit the theme I went with last year, some are playful, and some are still stuck in prose form.  So if you’re reading this post and the serial to follow, I’m open to suggestions.  I’ll post throughout the month.


This first one came from the November 19 prompt “Write an Excuse Poem.”  I took it to the extremes with the cliche opening line, but knowing that I was working with cliche from the start meant that I needed to subvert expectations.  I tried that with the final line, but it may have been too much of an attempt at cutesy wordplay.  Cutesy or not, practice counts for a lot.

Just Desserts
Excuse me for breathing
down your neck—
I have no choice
given the position
you’ve got us in,
and even though this
is thoroughly your fault,
I don’t expect
an apology.
You won’t go there.
This is no imposition
to me, really; I enjoy
doing my job, so
you’ll just have to deal
with my hot breath
down your neck.
Your soft, slender neck.

Written by seeker70

November 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

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