NaPoWriMo Day 11: Bop Poem

Here’s our (optional) prompt for the day: the Bop. The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain.

Unfinished

The notebook on my
night stand is full
of fragments, like
this poem I write
while you sleep
half uncovered

The night is deep, I watch you sleep

You snore
gently enough to
wake the cat
at your feet. I
watch your side
rise and fall, scribble
these thoughts
barely coherent

The night is deep, I watch you sleep

I set the notebook
and pencil by the novel
I’ll read tomorrow
crawl under the comforter
Beside you I’m whole
unlike this unfinished verse

The night is deep, I watch you sleep

 

–Scott Rhoades

NaPoWriMo Day Nine: Nine-Line Poem

Prompt: Because today is the ninth day of NaPoWriMo, I’d like to challenge you to write a nine-line poem. Although the fourteen-line sonnet is often considered the “baseline” form of verse in English, Sir Edmund Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene using a nine-line form of his own devising, and poetry in other languages (French, most particularly) has always taken advantage of nine-line forms. You can find information of various ways of organizing rhyme schemes, meters, etcetera for nine-line works here. And of course, you can always eschew such conventions entirely, and opt to be a free-verse nine-line poet.

Aphrodite

danced naked on sea foam,
called.
How could
I resist:
she
a white-armed
goddess,
I a man
doomed.

 

–Scott Rhoades

NaPoWriMo Day 7: Fortuitous Poem

Finally, our prompt for the day (optional as always) comes to us from Elizabeth Boquet of Oaks to Acorns. In keeping with the fact that it’s the seventh day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo, Elizabeth and I challenge you to write a poem about luck and fortuitousness. For inspiration, take a look at Charles Simic’s “The Betrothal” and Stephen Dunn’s “The Arm”. Need something more? Perhaps these instructions from Elizabeth will get you going!

Create the following lists:

1. List 1 – 3 random objects. (Smaller tends to be better.)
2. List 1 – 3 random but specific locations. (Think in the cookie jar, or under my seat…)
3. List 1 – 2 objects you’ve lost and a few notes on their back-story.
4. List 1- 2 objects you’ve found and few notes on their back-story.

Now, choosing an object from List 1, a location from List 2, and connect them in a poem with ideas from Lists 3 & 4 and Voilà! A fortuitous poem! As an example of a finished “fortuitous” poem, here is Elizabeth’s own “State of Grace”.

Found Poem

   It’s like
  that
     used bar
    of soap
   I
  found in
     the junk
    drawer

      Sometimes
  you just find
    stuff
 where
   you least
     expect

How did that
   pen
  from Grandma’s
    real estate company
   I lost
  so long ago
     I forgot
   I ever had it
  end up
   in the same
  box
    as
  the little stuffed
      long-legged
        blue monkey
  Mary
    sent me
  one day when I was
     working in Nuremberg
Just ’cause?

            Sometimes
   you find
      what
  you thought was gone
                forever
    where you don’t expect it.

    Like when
I
     found
you
   again.

 

–Scott Rhoades

 

NaPoWriMo Day Six: Points of View

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. You don’t need to have thirteen ways of looking at something – just a few will do!

Baseball

Any baseball is beautiful. No other small package comes as close to the ideal design and utility. It is a perfect object for a man’s hand. Pick it up and it instantly suggests its purpose; it is meant to be thrown a considerable distance – thrown hard and with precision.

Roger Angell

 

The first time you see it,
a bunch of guys
in tight pajamas
stand around
for three or four hours.
Most of the time
they fail
to hit a little ball
with a stick.
If they somehow manage,
a guy in the other PJs
jogs a few steps to catch it.
So it goes
for months
never-ending.

But watch a while.
A constant mind game.
Crafty athletes
master several difficult
skills;
most sports need
one or or two.
Action near-constant
when you know how to look.
Track players through
ups and downs
of a challenging,
nail-biting
season.

One day
the game is a poem,
a chess match.
That split-finger
should have been
a circle change.
The precious agony of
another late inning
symphony of small ball.
The season: delicious torture
far too short
leads to a
                     long,
            dark,
   cold,
empty
winter spent
waiting
for next year.

 
–Scott Rhoades

NaPoWriMo Day Five: Nature

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt:

I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

Calaveras Mourns

They say this tree sprouted
when 
saints
preached
Caesar Augustus
reigned
Caligula still
unborn

Two millennia
the wood reddened
thickened
beyond twenty feet
height unmeasured
when topped long ago
trunk carved first
by fire, lightning
then

Manifest Destiny
cut the obscene hole
the tunnel
misused
for photos  

It was Sunday afternoon
2017 a few days old.
The ravaged trunk
unable
to withstand 
any longer
rain and wind

This giant
touched heaven
now scattered
broken
new dirt to
nourish saplings
like the the saints
and emperors
of her youth

 

–Scott Rhoades

NaPoWriMo Day Four: Enigma – A Poem with a Secret

Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo:

Today I’d like you to take some inspiration from Elgar and write a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. The poem should function as a sort of riddle, but not necessarily a riddle of the “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” variety. You could choose a word, for example, “yellow,” and make everything in the poem something yellow, but never actually allude to their color. Or perhaps you could closely describe a famous physical location or person without ever mentioning what or who it actually is.

My response:

Enlightenment

This beacon a temple
where Italy 
meets China
separated by dreams
of 
the Perla River Valley
in Kerouac’s passage
of words

I must choose when I enter
Do I take the steep
steps down to the
basement of knowledge
browse the main room or
climb the long wooden
stair to the summit
where a woman sits
on the floor with Ginsberg
near a young man waltzing
with Roethke’s father

This time I adopt
Rexroth and Stegner
then drop by Molinari’s
for the Renzo Special
I’ll eat while reading
The Bad Old Days
in the shadow
of Peter and Paul
watching a techie
throw a ball
to his labradoodle

 
–Scott Rhoades

NaPoWriMo Day Three: Elegy

 

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt:

“Today I’d like to challenge you to write an elegy – a poem that mourns or honors someone dead or something gone by. And I’d like to ask you to center the elegy on an unusual fact about the person or thing being mourned.”

The Quilt

A wooden frame in her living
room, f
ingers work tirelessly
to quilt scraps of raw material
dissimilar blocks formed
into one work, cherished
for generations

This quilter didn’t brag
Her work practical
necessary for warmth
a masterpiece
of humility

Except that one quilt
She displayed it
with satisfaction unconcealed

Her parents and siblings
the batting, backed by nieces and nephews
aunts, uncles, cousins to the nth degree
The top an endless blanket
of children, grandchildren
great- and great-great-grandchildren

Even acquaintances far from
the center bring warmth to this comforter
She always sewed beautiful borders

Her patchwork of athletes
teachers, musicians, actors
writers, artists, woodworkers
mechanics and 
chefs,
all different, unique blocks
unified by untiring hands

When Grandma makes a quilt
it stays made.
Look ahead ten generations
you’ll see her craft
in this ever-expanding
quilt of her greatest pride

–Scott Rhoades

 

NaPoWriMo Day Two: Recipe Poem

I just found about the National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) site, which celebrates National Poetry Month with a prompt for a poem every day. Because I just found out about it, I’m going to cheat today with a poem I wrote a while ago. The prompt is for a poem based on a recipe so, of course, I have to go with this one.

Sonnet for Soup

What, soup, art thou yet by none consumed?
Thy trough still clean, thou waitest to be sipped.
Unseasoned vestal flesh, of late full bloomed,
Prepare, repast, to finally be lipped.
The parsnip, firm, for moisty comfort yearns
To slowly these crisp cabbage leaves unpeel;
Hot ‘twixt my twigs alights a spark and burns,
For in sweet heat our fruits shall blended feel.
Whilst hung’ring flame doth tongue this warme’d pot,
My hands behind the barn do pluck the field;
Thy cauldron simm’reth, boileth, overwrought,
Persist must I, insist that chill doth yield.
When in thy broth my ladle dips with glee,
Then soup once supped no longer soup shall be.

–Scott Rhoades