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Saturday, April 30, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 22: for the Birds

For today, a writer named Gloria Gonsalves challenges us all to write a poem that can be construed as being about Earth Day.

If Birds Could Talk
        Shirley Smith Franklin

'Heard one bird sing
as I leaned out the window,
something more like a 'tuk-tuk'
rejoined by another, 'teedleedl.'
followed by noise of still a third,
spoon cast into a cup.

Hoarse rasp of crow;
Tuk-tuk, and teedl-, spoon, cup!.
A piercing, metallic cry
slices through conversation.
Silence reigns for an interval;
pierce and cry fly away.

A little bit stronger now,
from orchestral hideaways
the rasp returns, condescending,
while tuk, teedl-, spoon resume
their usual conversation.
You can play after breakfast.

I was struck by the symphonic kind of bird conversation as I actually leaned out my window this morning.  Where do they sleep, anyway, and can one species really speak to another?  What would they say to me if they could? There seems to be direct association between dreams and/or real life sensory impressions, like this mornings's birds, which I think lend clues to living.  'Would that I would stay  grounded, refer back to them every day, in hopes of unlocking their meaning...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day Twenty One: Just a Note

Day twenty-one and counting, inching closer to closing the gap between date and NaPoWriMo entry.
Not that it matters when every day invites its own poem, NaPoWriMo challenge or not.  The prompt to be disciplined,  and 'just do it,' is the thing.

Today's prompt is to write a poem in the voice of a minor character from a fairy tale or myth.  While that sounds fun, the idea that pops immediately into my mind speaks in the voice of a musical note, the one a musician plays, the one printed on the page of begin to speak here goes:

SInce last night when I attended a gala including several items of South Indian (Carnatic) music, my thoughts are still dwelling on contrasts between carnatic music and our relatively tame western music, traditionally served up in rhythms that are multiples of twos and/or threes.  Carnatic music has a veritable library of ragas, defined patterns of ascending and descending parameters for every different season and occasion, and usually accompanied by a real tambur (stringed instrument of a certain kind)  or virtual one in the form of a small, eletronic music box, to keep up a background ostinato consisting of three notes for do-so-and -the next highest do (in India called saa, paa, saa.)  The 'voice' in this poem is a single note considering her past and present, and decides that her role is to do what she can and does do well, that is, play just one note as well as she can.

Just a Note         n.b.  Performance vv notation, vv strict vv improvisation....
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Here I am again, just humming along
with saaa, paaaa and a saaaa at the octave,
ostinato to an Asian raga.

I remember days, the British empire,
in whose days I knew my relative place,
when music was of a simple design.

There were lullabies, marches and dances
where I played a predictable pattern.
Cadenzas weren't really all that fancy.

But since the Brits have gone away, bless them,
and I don't mean I want them back to stay,
I miss their music's order.  The concert

Of raga and alankar perplex me,
the alaps of ragas confuse me,
I lose myself in their complexity.

Let me find content in this simple role,
anchoring a singer's meditation
anchoring the alpana of her soul.

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day Twenty: A Kenning, A, Life

Today's assignment:  describe a person with only kennings. This person is a composite of lives past, present, and future, of young Indian entrepreneurs and professionals I know.  Enjoy!

Kenning: A Life

Early waker,
fast dancer,
fact checker,
risk taker,
startup tech-er,
late waker,
career maker,
leave taker,
all night waker,
And so on,
and so forth
til, finally,
deal breaker.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Napowrimo 2016 Day Nineteen: In Haste

In Haste
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
'time to write another NaPoWriMo poem.
Your house is on fire, your children have flown,
ideas I dreamed had fled by the dawn.
Like 'the cat's in the cradle,' a game made of string,
as soon as it took shape, it didn't mean a thing.
Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
I'll have to take a raincheck on today's poem.

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day EIghteen: The Sounds of Home

Today's NaPoWriMo assignment is to write a poem incorporating the sounds of home.  I am sobered by the difficulty of this assignment:

So much is silence.
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Father's at work, left before I am awake.
My brothers were off to school before me.
I shiver into chilly clothes, chilly
because we live up north. Mother, always busy,
already in the sewing room, kisses me good-by.
I must've eaten something for breakfast,
but... fade into the scene behind our house...I'm
skipping, the radio tune of 'The Musical Clock'
rings in my ears as I pass the neighbor's house.
This dark brick house, now dark, once might have been
ever ready to host or shelter as need be,
now never visited, never entered, no such need.
The neighbor herself, lonely, old, sitting alone,
on a folding metal chair in her back yard, was
scraping long hairs that grew from the backs of her hands.
'Why are you doing that, doesn't it hurt?' I asked.
'Because it won't look nice,' her reply.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 17: According to the Dictionary

Today's NaPoWriMo challenge is " to find, either on your shelves or online, a specialized dictionary. This could be, for example, a dictionary of nautical terms, or woodworking terms, or geology terms. Anything, really, so long as it’s not a standard dictionary! Now write a poem that incorporates at least ten words from your specialized source."  Hm, thanks napowrimo, this will get me out of my too--long-sitting habit, but what is the dictionary.  I don't think of one offhand, but, off the chair we go...the 'we' being hyperbole, or authorial preeminence, I suppose....
Ach, hier ist ein: a slender little GERMAN VEST POCKET DICTIONARY published by Random House--remember them?-- in 1959 and 67, containing forty thousand words.  My ten, plucked out at random, are:                            wieder, adv, again; back, in return                                                                                                               Morgendammerung, -en, n.f. dawn
                                                                eintrittt, -e, m, entrance
                                                                rennen, -, n.nt, race
                                                                weltweit, adj, world-wide

Trusting that 'race' in this case is a noun, my brain sets off toward a poem with the first five words.  Obviously my  fifty-plus years' lack of practice, after two mediocre years of college German, reveal a certain lack of Deutsch vocabulary and grammatical skills.  Yikes. Corrections welcome! But it was fun to try.

Morgendammerung ist wieder zukommen,
und die weltweit rennen diesen tag musst wieder eintritt machen. 
Wohin hast du gehen?
Wilst du wieder kommen?
Wann du wieder komst,
Dann hast treue Morgendammerung 
im ganze weltweit kommen treue..

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Sixteen: Almanac Poem

An interesting exercise to rev up the poetic juices today:   'fill out, in no more than five minutes, (an) “Almanac Questionnaire,” which solicits concrete details about a specific place (real or imagined). Then write a poem incorporating or based on one or more of your answers.' Well.
The exercise generates lots of topics but, for days, no poem is forthcoming.  I let it sit a few days, and finally decide to put pen to paper (all right, fingers to keyboard) and trust what emerges.
Today I offer this, incorporating one of the  answers: Can you guess what the prompt was?  The word I chose to respond?

by Shirley Smith Franklin

Taller than a five year old 
Lean to and fro garages
Thief River Falls alley
Not yet paved in the forties
In her summer vacation
They become playtime allies
Princesses, full pink skirts
They've lost their heads in the dance
Their world turned upside down.

--------------n.b. the NaPoWriMo daily pages this year present a treasure trove of poetry from around the world, translated into English, one poet and links to her or his work per day. "Today's poet in translation is Somalia’s Maxamed Ibraaahim Warsame Hadraawi, a longtime advocate for Somalian independence and peace. " [NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 16] . The link, ( his name,includes a lovely extended poem, an elegant paean dedicated to Mother.  It's one 
of those masterful renderings that unintentionally humbles the makers of other mommy poems in least me and mine, for sure.