In the hallway I heard him tell her
he didn’t like the pillows on their hotel bed.
“They’re all too hard. You know I like
one softer I can smush they way I want.”
I can understand how someone could be
so picky about their most intimate companion
with whom they share their bed.
Your pillow, will cradle your sleepy head,
catch your sobs and dry your tears
like a mother’s lap does for its child.
You can hug it as you would someone
you wish was there with you,
accepting and returning your warmth.
It can be the launchpad of dreams,
whether you’re asleep or awake,
soaring above you, maybe just out of reach,
or just floating there all night keeping
you awake like a dripping faucet.
It’s probably no coincidence I sleep
with two pillows. One for my head,
while I hold the other in my arms.
They console, accept and embrace me.
We’ve come to fit each other, though not
because I smushed them. Gently, like muses,
they’ve helped shape lofty thoughts,
often of you, that I might write tomorrow.
Or they support me while I push and lift
those thoughts almost all night long,
so you and I can wake next to them come morning.
For Day 21 of NaPoWriMo, A poem inspired by an overheard conversation and also with a one-word title about its subject.
I remember those nights
that edged into day where
I’d sit, pencil in hand,
pondering how to overcome
that day’s opponent…
every night, every day, too.
Obsession and fear kept me
drawing up new tactics that might
steal a victory once the clock
started running. Should we press
from tip-off to buzzer, trying
to impose our weak will to turn
them aside from our goal?
No, that’s a task too difficult
to accomplish one-on-one. Inevitably,
we’d opt for a passive defense,
hoping to shield and slow them from
getting inside. But that merely
prolonged the inevitable, just like
every other time. I’d crawl off
to bed, resigned to another defeat
in this seemingly endless season
of losses. It’s record was 365-0 and
I couldn’t take the losing anymore.
It was then I admitted, pride be damned,
I’d ask for help. Even I couldn’t beat
Day 20’s NaPoWriMo poem, combining prompts for a task poem and one incorporating terms from a sport or game. After thirty years of coaching basketball, I knew more than enough jargon. After more than thirty years of the fruitless task of trying to beat depression by myself, I finally took on some assistant coaches. Still don’t win all the games, but my record’s improving all the time.
The wild bramble bush has defeated me for years,
defending itself with twisted wire vines and thorns
like wildcat claws. It’s stalks and branches
laughed off mere garden shears and sorely tested
the metal mettle of long-handled pruners.
It tries disguising its natural malevolence
with dainty pink blossoms come spring and summer,
as well as musical accompaniment from humming
honey bee acolytes.
This year the gloves came off when I pulled
my leather gloves on, fighting claws with
the teeth of a chainsaw. With chain whining and
motor roaring winnowed the suburban Maginot Line
down by its flanks, nearly to its side-hill foundation.
I then called an immediate cease-fire.
There, deep within the once-impregnable, are
two entrance holes into the den of an animal
who felt the need for the jagged protection
of my bushy bête noire for its newborn own.
That’s when this ruthless flora-felling homeowner
was himself hewn down by my own nature as
pater familias. I’ve gone soft in my old age.
Even semi-merciless backyard generals have families.
I can always wait to finish after Father’s Day.
An extra poem for Day 19 of NaPoWriMo. The true story of how this suburban Genghis was conned by some varmints (along with his own soft heart and cowardice — those holes are BIG) to show quarter to the foe that’s blooded me for seven years.
Age can be a terrible thing, what it can do
to a man’s body and mind that he once thought
invulnerable to the degradation of disease
and his own misuse over time.
But along comes the day when his shoes
become too far away to tie and the chasm
so great between the desire to remember and
the clear view of actual recall, it renders
memory nothing more than a museum ravaged
by the temblors of time. Now the picture
I hung of you is not much more than a frame
surrounding empty desire, one I must fill
or you’ll finally be lost to me forever.
And so I scour this shattered space for bits
of the ancient and arcane. With pieces of lapis
set in shards of Delft blue glass I fashion
your eyes, with flaxen threads of fine
Irish linen and crushed Etruscan alabaster
I formed your face, and with countless strands
of gold and brown silk, your hair. It’s an
imperfect portrait, true. Though, created
from treasured bits of my life and the echoing
music of your voice, I once again can hang
my invaluable memory of priceless you.
For Day 19 of NaPoWriMo, a piece made of the combined prompts of Writers Digest and NaPoWriMo.net — a memory poem and a creation poem. I like to think of this as my imaginary life imitating their art.
What’s it like to be the lightning?
To have the power to set someone afire?
Tell me what it feels like to burn
somebody down, their emotions a pyre?
What’s it like to look into the eyes
of another and watch them smolder?
When they inevitably burst into flame
do you feel all the bolder?
Do you want to know what it’s like
to be the tinder to your spark?
How it feels when someone can ignite
your heart with a look on a lark?
It’s painful, scarring me with sorrow
and I’d let you torch all over again tomorrow.
An extra poem for NaPoWriMo — or for any other day, I guess. Just because it came along I could catch it. Or it caught me.
It was just another sunny spring Sunday afternoon, the kind where the wind sings its celebratory air, when I found her curled up in her own special chair. She wore headphones holding back wind’s hymn from her ears, on her cheek I saw tracks of her tears. “What’re you doing?” I asked, with the hard-earned knowledge never to tell a woman not to cry. She looked up with red eyes and said “We’re going to die.” I figured this was another of those things I secretly termed “femotions,” — cathartic expressions of feminine emotions — I now understood not to try damming or I’d be damned, you see, as just another male whose feelings ran the gamut from A to B. “Yep, we’re all somewhere along that path. Can I help?” I asked. Perhaps I could make her feel better if I took on her task. “Yes,” she said, and opened her fist, within which I found crumpled a smudged page titled “Funeral Playlist.” “You let me handle this,” I replied, because I’d already begun one for when I died. I never thought this morbid, collecting songs for the grieving, reminding us of loved ones our sides forever leaving. But what I wrote, like that uplifting breeze, came swiftly as I penned titles with ease. And they didn’t echo much of sadness nor strife. With memories wistful, soon I turned over her own fistful, a soundtrack celebrating the love of my life.
For Day 18 of NaPoWriMo, I combined prompts again. A Life and/or Death poem and a poem using neologisms. A neologism is a word made from combining two existing words (like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. This piece is a cobbled together thing, but the sentiment is one I think about a lot because I’ve already begun making up my all-too-soon to be in rotation ultimate playlist.
Night holds her mysteries close,
within the folds of her velvet cloak.
This is the garment in which she intends
to wrap you, to transform you into
another of her secret children she holds
so snug you can hear her heartbeat.
Perhaps you’ve perceived her wordless
poem in iambic meter, the soft something
that goes buh-bump buh-bump in night,
as you enfold yourself within her embrace,
full of hope to escape the blinding realities
of day, where you’re but a speck of dust
among its billions of souls, rather than
night’s only child there in your bed.
Alone, even if you’re lying close enough
to another you can hear their version
of night’s mysterious limping lullaby.
Buh-bump, buh-bump, buh-bump, until you’re
a castaway floating alone in the soft, black
embrace of another of night’s passages
Day 17’s NaPoWriMo poem, in the form of a nocturne, a musical composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound.