My goal for this year: get in more than two poems in thirty days.
It’s important to set achievable goals with measured improvements over the period before. That’s what they tell me at my day job. And so it is with National Poetry Writing Month. Last year, two poems is all I could muster, because I kept getting distracted. I’m easily distracted.
This month, I hope to get out of the “start something new and then never follow through with it” thing that I tend to do. Of course, starting in late means I’m coming from behind, but that’s fine by me.
I like the chase.
Also, let’s just point to the two I actually did last year. I think both were triggered by prompts from the site linked above. I do love the idea of writing prompts, particularly within a shared group setting. It goes without saying that no two people will type the exact same thing from the same humble beginning. So, if you want to see the poem inspired by the song that was #1 on the day that I was born or the poem that was ostensibly about internet memes and the poetry of the 21st century, there you go.
And, with this post, we’re half-way towards my own personal goal. The prompt for today (well, yesterday):
Continuing with the theme of firsts, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that has the same first line as another poem.
I thought about doing a poem just made out of first lines of other poems, but then I just got distracted by reading poem after poem after poem. That’s what I do, when it comes to reading poetry. What I settled on, though, was poetry-as-therapy, and took my first line from Amiri Baraka’s Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note.
Don’t fret, dear friends. While I have been terribly, terribly depressed for a while, and while that plays into the poem, Baraka’s poem isn’t a cry for help, by any stretch. I mean, a twenty volume suicide note? Shit. I’d die of natural causes before I could bang out a twenty volume suicide note. His poem, though, focuses on the forward progression from the mundane repetitiveness of modern life to the small, hopeful wonders of it. I’m not sure where mine went, but it’s here.
Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
my alarm clock plays Jersey Joe Walcott
to my Joe Louis, as it knocks me out
of slumber but I counter, and punish
the snooze button for fourteen rounds.
Things have come to that.
And now, each night I sing in bars
to the same weary ears, fueled by the same
weary drinks and snide comments
accompanied to the clinking of glasses.
At least the songs change.
And then, each morning, the clock
requests a rematch. A bell rings.
The room smells not of stale water
but of sand and sun and sweat.
Joe Louis becomes Theogenes
turning his head to greet the day.