2021 NaPoWriMo April 21
And now for our (optional) prompt. Have you ever heard or read the nursery rhyme, “There was a man of double deed?”
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that like this one, uses lines that have a repetitive set-up. (See detailed prompt below)
Why is it I, human, must wear a mask to constantly cover my mouth?
Is it that I devour life, hour after hour, never content, hungry for more? Sounds uncouth.
Is it that space isn’t enough to make room for all, black and white, prose and poetry, hawk and dove?
Is it that I need what’s distant, superfluous, absurd? Exotic food, extras galore? Is that right?
Is it that my greed got EverGiven squeezed stuck in the Suez canal? Far away, why give a fuck? Shrug shoulders, like it’s banal.
Is it that I forgot to be gracious, say grace for what nature will endlessly grow, ripen and lavish?
Is it that, grinning, I brandish whitened, capped teeth, signal rapacious aggression?
Is it that I moodily purse my lips, wonder about botox and repulping tips, a modish obsession?
Is it that I tell lies (all white, of course) without so much as a swallow, a gulp?
Is it that, irreverent, I yawn and gape, flout my ignorance like a zoo-weary ape?
Is it that words flowing from my mouth have lost meaning and depth, can’t tell north from south?
Is it that what I exhale is sick and putrid, a stale, old tale?
Is it that a gale must prevail to free me from hiding behind a tiresome mask?
Is it that a Herculean task of stable-clearing awaits that leaves me aghast?
Is it that I forgot the meaning of breath, the command switch between life and death, once equal to soul?
Is it that I must repent, remedy, amend? Perhaps cajole? Once more walk barefoot on glowing coal?
Is it that there’s at least one consolation: I’m not alone?
Is it that we’re all, humans, in this together? That we’ve zoomed our way out of exasperation, that together we struggle for liberation?
Is it that a flash of understanding prompts a feeling of relief, elation?
Is it that I, we all, need to assume our power? Like emerging umbrellaless, drenched, refreshed, from a crazy April shower?
Is it that this is a beginning?
Life’s new, fragrant, surprise flower?
* * *
and: Freshly-Laid Egg
Thought there’s a mouse
In the henhouse off course
Thought that would be fun
The chickens on the run
Thought mouse would take off
To the full moon over Rangoon
Thought of settling on a star
Some near-by, some far
Thought of hens far away
Of return to earth any day
Thought first tank up on light
Travel through cosmic night
Thought of hens’ welcome back
Found all well on track
Thought became a freshly-laid egg
* * *
Here is the detailed prompt. Have you ever heard or read the nursery rhyme, “There was a man of double deed?” It’s quite creepy! A lot of its effectiveness can be traced back to how, after the first couplet, the lines all begin with the same two phrases (either “When the . . .” or “Twas like,”). The way that these phrases resolve gets more and more bizarre over the course of the poem, giving it a headlong, inevitable feeling.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that, like this one, uses lines that have a repetitive set-up. Here’s an example I came up with after seeing this video of . . . a bucket of owls.
Several owls can fill a bucket.
Several buckets can fill a wheelbarrow.
Several wheelbarrows can fill a truckbed.
Several truckbeds can fill a song.
Several songs can fill a head.
Several heads can fill a bucket.
Several buckets filled with heads and owls
Sing plaintive verse all night long.
2021 NaPoWriMo April 21