2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 12

As much as I like the image, I went with the text prompt for my final poem of this year’s half-marathon.

Thirty years ago this summertime
I was watching Total Recall
on laserdisc while eating
some Snickers ice cream bars
after coming back
from Shibuya
and trying
to keep
cool.

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 11

Went with the text prompt for Hour 11. Not my favorite, but this is what I got.

In her pretend forest ranger fantasy
she wore periwinkle gumboots
and yellow ribbons

Every afternoon she’d dance
between the skyscraper trees
and skip past squirrel-run storefronts
on her way home to have sourdough toast
with a marmalade spread

Along the way, the clouds would rain glitter
so by the time she got home she’d be sparkly
and ready for sleep

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 10

As much as I like the image, I went with the text prompt for Hour 10.

In keeping with the season
we shall observe the ritual
as we have done for many years now
long enough that the practice
from which we turned away
has become unfamiliar
as though it were taking place
in a land where we do not share language

By coincidence, there are sacrements
familiar to those who observe
that we also enjoy—
but this is a function of place
not of loyalty or belief

Where we and the faithful both partake
to strengthen bonds and cement covenants
they do so for closeness and revelry
while we do so for distance and indifference—
because it’s only a game, isn’t it

We’ll all get to see the commercials
for the next six months

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 9

Using the text prompt to engage in some silliness for Hour 9.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
because to make an omelette, you’ve gotta break a few eggs
and that’s only going to throw off your tally

You’ve gotta walk and don’t look back
because you won’t see where you’re going
and the people you run into will knock you out

Measure twice, cut once
How else are you going to confirm
that you cut to the right length?

Curiosity killed the cat—
there was always something
really wrong with that guy

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

is the wrong question—
the right question is
Why would you create a descriptive name for something
that doesn’t actually describe what the thing does?

Whoever came up with
it ain’t over until the fat lady sings
should have been given a Nobel Prize
because that person discovered the secret of eternal life:
no opera!

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 8

For Hour 8, I went with the text prompt.

Our Hero sets out
on a quest
and has a series of wacky adventures
until we get to the end of the book

But I’ve forgotten how it ends

Usually, I forget bits that happen
in the middle
with all that plot happening
it’s hard to keep track of details

But they say the journey is the thing

So here I am
the forgetful reader
remembering either how the story goes
or how the story ends

Douglas Adams once said
of his famous 42 as the answer
to the question of life, the universe, and everything
that we can know the question
or we can know the answer
but we don’t get to know both

I understand now

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 7

I opted for a different take on the text prompt.

The question has been raised:
N or Mal?

Well, mal is bad—
but then Mal can be a pal
(ask the Beatles)
getting the word out
and getting things done

and without it
a polar bear is just an ani

(Annie, are you okay?)

Plus I’m not sure
we want to live
under a new nor

So that leaves N

N has become a symbol
for one of the worst words

I don’t even like to say
the word meaning ‘slight annoyance’
that sounds a lot like it

On the other hand
we’d run into a lot of trouble
without N

(Or, should I say
we’d ru i to a lot of trouble)

Names would start leaking vowels
all over the place
turning us into bleating creatures

A certain conjunction
would become the new beer commercial
(or we’d all sound like we had stuffy noses)

And an annoying noncommittal grunt of assent
would become nothing more than exhaling

I’m thinking we’re going to continue
to need both

Such a question!

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 6

For Hour 6, I used both text and visual prompts.

Wipe clean a spot
on the foggy window
to see what the morning has brought

Ignore the treacly soundtrack
leaking from the headphones
of the person in the next seat

I hear there’s a park
that’s perfect for strolling
just a few blocks from the station

Let your thoughts meander
until then

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 5

My Hour 5 poem uses both text and image prompts.

The time capsule is an old standby
in the popular imagination—
a hunt for buried treasure
a promise of revisiting innocence
an antidote to the popular complaint

The time capsule is an ever-evolving proposition
in forms much different from what we imagine

Life is filled with repositories of time passed
from the lamp on the table to the bottle on the floor
framed pictures hanging on the wall
objects that produce sound, image
stories we keep on shelves

Yesterday I picked up a penny from the pavement

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 4

For Hour 4, I used both the text and visual prompts. The first line of this poem comes from the last line of the 1984 English translation (by Michael Henry Heim) of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below
the faintest of echoes dissipating into the clouds
hovering above the treetops

Silence swallowed everything else

You’d never know that anyone had been here
had you not been present to feel the emptiness yourself

Any scratchings that survive
will one day be as faint as those echoes
until erosion finishes the job

26 June 2021

2021 Poetry Marathon, Hour 3

For Hour 3, I used both text and visual prompts.

I’d recognize that bridge anywhere
I don’t remember where it is
but it’s the one they always show whenever they talk about that park

I’d recognize that bridge anywhere
I don’t remember where it is
but it’s the one that looks like Graffiti Bridge after 30 years of unchecked foliage growth

I’d recognize that bridge anywhere
I don’t remember where it is
but it’s the one you always have to say you recognize because everyone knows that bridge

I’d recognize that bridge anywhere
if I’d ever seen it before

But I haven’t
so I’ll have to concentrate on the woman in the magenta dress
stalking the two people having a conversation on the bridge

26 June 2021

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