29 April 2010

April Poem A Day Challenge Day 29

My least favorite of phrases coupled with my least favorite of prompts, the title phrase poem. Talk about an uphill battle. "And suddenly, I lost interest…" is the only phrase that came immediately to mind. But I was determined not to accept defeat so close to the end of the month.

Poetic Asides: For today's prompt, I want you to take the phrase "And Suddenly (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Some examples: "And suddenly we were lost," "And suddenly over," "And suddenly banana," "And suddenly sudden," "And suddenly the poem I was writing turned into a killer robot," etc.

"And suddenly" feels gimmicky, which is probably why I had a hard time with it. Also, the word suddenly, in poetry, represents a failure to communicate urgency properly to me. It feels sloppy.

Okay, initial kicking and screaming over, I venture forth into actually writing a poem.

"And Suddenly Episcopalian"
"And Suddenly The Chicken Crossed The Road"
"And Suddenly Pancakes"
"And Suddenly Priscilla Remembered A Previous Engagement"
"And Suddenly Time Lurched Sidewards"

Yes, I overachieved and wrote several very short, pretty silly poems that are mostly title. That's one way of pushing yourself past a prompt you don't like. Refuse to take it seriously. For the record, "And Suddenly Pancakes" was a direct quote from the Muse. I imagine it was meant to be a blistering rebuttal on the current state of proper nutrition for Muses in general and one in specific, but instead the poem turned left and hid itself under a waterfall of maple syrup. Or it was just a reminder to eat at IHOP next time I'm in Casper. . .

Lost in the Forest
by Amy Gerstler

I’d given up hope. Hadn’t eaten in three
days. Resigned to being wolf meat ...
when, unbelievably, I found myself in
a clearing. Two goats with bells
round their necks stared at me:
their pupils like coin slots
in piggy banks. I could have gotten
the truth out of those two,
if goats spoke. I saw leeks
and radishes planted in rows;
wash billowing on a clothesline ...
and the innocuous-looking cottage
in the woods with its lapping tongue
of a welcome mat slurped me in.

In the kitchen, a woman so old her sex
is barely discernible pours a glass
of fraudulent milk. I’m so hungry
my hand shakes. But what is this liquid?
“Drink up, sweetheart,” she says,
and as I wipe the white mustache
off with the back of my hand:
“Atta girl.” Have I stumbled
into the clutches of St. Somebody?
Who can tell. “You’ll find I prevail here
in my own little kingdom,” she says as
she leads me upstairs—her bony grip
on my arm a proclamation of ownership,
as though I've always been hers.

by Ron Koertge

said she didn't know anything about ovens
so the witch crawled in to show her
and Bam! went the big door.

The she strolled out to the shed where
her brother was fattening, knocked down
a wall and lifted him high in the air.

Not long after the adventure in the forest
Gretal married so she could live happily.
Her husband was soft as Hansel. Her
husband liked to eat. He like to see
her in the oven with the pies and cakes.

Ever after was the size of a kitchen.
Gretel remembered when times were better.
She laughed out loud when the witch
popped like a weenie.

"Gretel! Stop fooling around and fix
my dinner."

"There's something wrong with this oven,"
she says, her eyes bright as treasure.
"Can you come here a minute?"

Writing in the Afterlife
by Billy Collins

I imagined the atmosphere would be clear,
shot with pristine light,
not this sulphurous haze,
the air ionized as before a thunderstorm.

Many have pictured a river here,
but no one mentioned all the boats,
their benches crowded with naked passengers,
each bent over a writing tablet.

I knew I would not always be a child
with a model train and a model tunnel,
and I knew I would not live forever,
jumping all day through the hoop of myself.

I had heard about the journey to the other side
and the clink of the final coin
in the leather purse of the man holding the oar,
but how could anyone have guessed

that as soon as we arrived
we would be asked to describe this place
and to include as much detail as possible—
not just the water, he insists,

rather the oily, fathomless, rat-happy water,
not simply the shackles, but the rusty,
iron, ankle-shredding shackles—
and that our next assignment would be

to jot down, off the tops of our heads,
our thoughts and feelings about being dead,
not really an assignment,
the man rotating the oar keeps telling us—

think of it more as an exercise, he groans,
think of writing as a process,
a never-ending, infernal process,
and now the boats have become jammed together,

bow against stern, stern locked to bow,
and not a thing is moving, only our diligent pens.


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