Writing the Unspeakable

Congratulations to Yun Wei for moderating “Writing the Unspeakable”, a panel discussion among Asian-American women writers and poets. A timely, profoundly moving and insightful event, erasing taboos and courageously exposing abuse.

As always, Yun Wei brings her brilliant poetry and art of communication to necessary, urgent causes.

An important event with feminine voices celebrating the power of the word to raise awareness and change our world!

Thank you and congratulations to Yun Wei and to IWWG!

2021 NaPoWriMo April 30 Spring facial, after friend’s directions


Today’s (optional) prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place.

Spring facial, after friend’s directions

“You’ll love the beautician’s new center,” she said.

Striking, brand new, at the end of town, right where the cobblestones stop,
after roundabout, crossroads, traffic lights,

block of buildings, mushroomed overnight,
where caramel-colored cows once grazed
and plum trees quietly bloomed,

erasure made way for macadam boom,
relentless advance, no chance of respite,
busy barricades across no-name street.

Straight thru, she said, then sharp right,
can’t miss, grey cement, clear glass face,
center at number 4, Orchid the name.

Where to park? Trapped by roadwork, dazed by intrepid renewal game, or
head into setting sun, eyes blind,

when center gleams. Owner unfazed,
had sensed mainstream dream,
moved, modernized, determined to find

radical remake, fancy inventories,
for tweaking selves into shining shape,
no lurching back to plum memories.

* * *

And now for our final (still optional!) prompt. Today’s prompt is based on a prompt written by Jacqueline Saphra, and featured in this group of prompts published back in 2015 by The Poetry Society of the U.K. This prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.

Happy writing!

2021 NaPoWriMo April 28 When the whys get in your eyes


Our prompt today (optional, as always), is to write a poem that poses a series of questions. (For detailed prompt, see below.)
When the whys
get in your eyes

Why are you holding a knife
in your hand? Portends no good. Looks life-threatening.

To make an incision!

Why? To make a decision, you need a knife? There’s no strife.

Your question is rife with misunderstanding. I said: incision, to do some grafting.

Why a decision to do drafting? I do a lot of that. It’s a craft. Why…

You’re daft. It’s simple: I’m going to make a cut.

Why cut? What? Whom? Up or off? We’re here by a tree. Do the bees bother you? Follow them to their hive, find sweet honey and we’ll thrive.

You’re way off. Well, not quite. Because, right, it’s about the tree.

Why do you want to cut the tree down? I see you frown. That, clown, will be rough: your knife isn’t big enough!

Enough! Enough. You’re making it tough.

Why? You make me laugh. What is it that you want to cut? Or is it all nothing more than a bluff?

Enough! Cut it out! I can take no more! For heaven’s sake, shut up!
Cut!

* * *

Our prompt today (optional, as always), is to write a poem that poses a series of questions. The questions could be a mix of the serious (“What is the meaning of life?”) and humorous (“What’s the deal with cats knocking things off tables?”), the interruptive (“Could you repeat that?”) and the conversational (“Are those peanuts? Can I have some?”). You can choose to answer them – or just let the questions keep building up, creating a poem that asks the reader to come up with their own answer(s).

Happy writing!



2021 NaPoWriMo April 29 See-Through Musings


And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one is called “in the window.” (For detailed prompt, see below.)


See-Through Musings

two-faced
single-minded
see-through

who en earth am I
a multiple no one

impartial
pervasive
inconspicuous

I seem no thing yet
I can be a killer wall

unchanging
utilitarian
hurricane-proof

I am the intermediary
let you sell yourself

transparent
immobile
ever ready

warning I may switch
mirror you

* * *

And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one is called “in the window.” Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be your childhood neighbor’s workshop, or a window looking into an alien spaceship. Maybe a window looking into a witch’s gingerbread cottage, or Lord Nelson’s cabin aboard the H.M.S. Victory. What do you see? What’s going on?

Happy writing!

2021 NaPoWriMo April 27 A Cocktail



Prompt: Write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Describe a haunting feeling that you have. (Agnostesia) (Detailed prompt below.)

A cocktail

A cocktail
of cacophonous feelings
not in concert

what am I doing here
like a brick lost by
the wayside

restless
in search of light
like a fluttering moth

impatient
like dandelion after a
spring shower

half-hearted
like a keychain
thrown thru the window
to let friend in

rebellious
like weed sprouting
between flagstones

expansive
like a painting of
valley and mountains

powerless
like a wingless bird
fallen from its nest

at peace
like a lit Japanese
paper lamp

free-floating
like fragrance of
jasmine

feeling all of this I
wonder what holds it
together

* * *
In today’s (optional) prompt, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The entries are very vivid – maybe too vivid! But perhaps one of the sorrows will strike a chord with you, or even get you thinking about defining an in-between, minor, haunting feeling that you have, and that does not yet have a name.

2021 NaPoWriMo April 25 Flash of Light I, II


Our prompt for today (optional, as always) is to write an “occasional” poem. What’s that? Well, it’s a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion. Maybe a discovery. A Eureka moment.

(Detailed prompt below.)

Flash of Light I


Sometimes
books tell you
things you can’t
believe


such as there’s a
source of light
within
a tall tale you
don’t take in


if you did, you’d feel
like a thief
stealing
a silver spoon
not yours


yet leave a desire
to explore enquire
fired
by a dreamlike
gleam


sometime
on a grey day
minding no one
nothing
no thoughts


you sit
on a weather-
smoothed rock
soft breeze
soothing scent
of rosemary
thyme
buzzing
bumblebee


soles sense
soft ground
eyes closed
nothing no one
you sit breathe


when
your lids
your forehead
feel the touch
of light
the sun’s out!
you open
your eyes


grey sky
nothing no one
no sun


doubt
your senses
daydream
fantasy
never mind
relax
who cares


again
this time
so bright
it’s true
sun’s breaking
through


grey day
nothing no one
no sun


third time round
flash
calls back
what sometime
you read


poetic
soothing
sayings

* * *

Flash Of Light II


So what’s the light
you tout
about?


The new sheen
does it mean
mind-window
clean?


Less fumbling
and stumbling
no more
happenstance?


Zest to share
a happy
stance?


A vow to be
alive
no strife
no regret?


A reset
an upgrade
a bigger bet?


Candor
compassion
renewed romance
effervescent
dance with life?


Ok then.
Sit down.
Relax.
Breathe.

* * *


Our prompt for today (optional, as always) is to write an “occasional” poem. What’s that? Well, it’s a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion. This past January, lots of people who usually don’t encounter poetry got a dose when Amanda Gorman read a poem at President Biden’s inauguration. And then she followed it up with a poem at the Superbowl (not traditionally an event associated with verse!) The poem you write can be for an occasion in the past or the future, one important to you and your family (a wedding, a birth) or for an occasion in the public eye (the Olympics, perhaps?).

Or a moment of discovery. Eureka!

Happy writing!

2021 NaPoWriMo April 24 Guugu Yimithirr, Understood


Today’s (optional) prompt is a fun one. Find a factual article about an animal. Replace the name of the animal with something else. Rearrange and edit into a poem. (See detailed prompt below.)

Article: Wikipedia. Freely adapted.(Animal, see below.)



Guugu Yimithirr, Understood

Commandeered by James Cook,
the Endeavour was beached 7 weeks due to heavy leaks,
shook by a collision
with an off-course “understanding”, reports Cook, agog,
in his onboard log.

The word “understanding”,
in Guugu Yimithirr, depicts
an “understanding”, eastern grey, recorded in 1770, strictly in May, centuries ago, thanks
to a diary of Sir Joseph Banks, delivered, as he lay low,
on the banks of the River Endeavour.

As Cook and Banks
explored surroundings
they happened, confounded,
on their first “understanding”.

A native, not to blame,
asked for the creature’s name,
replied “understanding”,
the local Guugu Yimithirr phrase
meaning “I don’t understand”,
(which was the case),
which Cook understood
and sensibly took
to be the name.

The story makes plain,
why “understanding”, not in vain,
is a distinct, sought-after pet,
though some, reluctant to bet,
think the creature’s on the brink
of becoming extinct.

(You guessed it: a kangaroo.)

* * *


A Wikipedia article or something from National Geographic would do nicely – just make sure it repeats the name of the animal a lot. Now, go back through the text and replace the name of the animal with something else – it could be something very abstract, like “sadness” or “my heart,” or something more concrete, like “the streetlight outside my window that won’t stop blinking.” You should wind up with some very funny and even touching combinations, which you can then rearrange and edit into a poem.

Happy writing!