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Thursday, April 19, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 18: A Lullaby

Rocking Chair Lullaby

Sweet baby-you,                   (affetuoso)
please me immensely.

You make me smile,
smile all the while
even while sleeping.

Now is the day
gone far away,
shadows are creeping.

What's done is done,
tell every one
they are forgiven.

Then, think of you,
what did you do:
You're also forgiven.

So close your eyes,
dream paradise,
while you are sleeping.

please me immensely.

Honey-bunch, you
sweet- ba - by - you, 
sleep now -- in - tense - ly...  ( poco a poco Rallentando)

NaPoWriMo Day 17: An Epistolary

Today's challenge is to write a poem in the form of a letter to an inanimate object, including a song lyric, historical fact, odd adjective/noun combination, a fruit, a neighborhood street, and a measure of distance.

Dear Time,

How are you, dear friend? I've heard you've done a lot of flying lately.
I've always been here, but where are you?

You always seem to be flying away somewhere mysterious. Some would say I abuse you. How is this possible? Goodness knows, I've tried to behave wisely with regard to you, but, to tell the truth, I'm forever, well, often, blowing bubbles. Like, when visiting the centuries-old astronomical observatory, Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, I'm fascinated by the ochre shapes of the place as much or more than their accuracy in reflecting the time and the season. And then I have to admit, Oh, it's time to go?...But I haven't read the inscriptions yet...etc.

Do you suppose it's deliberate distraction? Can't be...that's an oxymoron anyway,
I think. There you go again...'I think'...I think thinking distracts me. When I'm trying to leave my house, I keep thinking of one thing or another that I could/should do first, and suddenly it's time to be where I'm supposed to be, and I haven't left yet. Same thing from room to room. Same thing from topic to topic in a conversation.

I really appreciate the times you've laid out a timeline or schedule for me, like the day I had to remember to bring the smoked turkey and grape salad for the potluck at Nancy's place a couple of blocks down and two houses over, on Venus Avenue. Even though I haven't always 'come through', to being on time, it helps, and keeps me in touch with the goal...I do try.

At any rate, Time, I've told you a little about how I feel. I hope you are okay with that. I hope that we can continue this dialogue sometime in the future. I need all of you that I can get. I hope to see you soon!

Love, Shirley

The Good Ol' Gals (NaPoWriMo Day Sixteen)

The Good Ol' Gals Meet Again

Hey gals, it's time to meet once again,
bring your hot dish, family photos,
and, if they're willing, your men.

Remember the days in the old college dorm,
where the entrance at curfew was often a swarm
of friends and young lovers keeping each other warm?

Later, in the lounge, long after ten,
taking breaks from study or sleep,
we would exercise, laugh, and gossip again.

Where did you go, what did he say,
what did she reply then?
And who got engaged at the end of the day?

Now it's children and recipes, and grandchildren, who
pre-occupy our gossip, our activities too. Oh,
Girl friends, it's hard to imagine life without you!

NaPoWriMo Days Fourteen and Fifteen

Let's see whether fourteen makes it to the's supposed to be a sonnet, and it's still a work-in-progress.

So you don't have to hold your breath, here's day fifteen's poem, the prompt being 'a silly parody.' I've chosen a folk song that my dad sang from time to time. It was supposedly written by a bum during the depression, and it's already a parody, so this is a parody of a parody. The 'original' "Hallelujah I'm a Bum" lyrics, found on-line, had thirteen verses, of which three were repeats.

Hallelujah I'm a Reject

Oh, why don't I write like MFA's do?
How the heck can I write when distracted by you??

chorus: Hallelujah! I'm a reject, Hallelujah amen,
Hallelujah! give us some feedback, and revive us again.

Oh, I love my computer, my computer loves me,
But word processing leaves me baffled and angry. cho:

Well, springtime is late, snow is still on the ground,
Away from the library, I'm sad and housebound. cho:

Oh why don't you spend all the money you earn?
If I ever earned any, my pockets would burn. cho:

Oh, I like my peer group, their comments are fine,
Some have their work published, but not me and mine. cho:

I'm not taken seriously, 'cause I'm just a hack,
With little in print yet, I seriously lack. cho:

I went to a reading to try th'open mike,
but before my turn came, the place declared a strike. cho:

I went to a workshop, I wrote something fine,
But after their feedback, alone I am cryin'. cho:

Oh why can't I just have a byline or two?
I'll keep trying, keep writing, and I will show you. cho:

Whenever I get all the money I should earn,
The editor will be broke and to work he must turn. cho:

I'd stay in my room, put a lock on the door;
but my family says they want to see me some more. cho:

I went to a editor, and I asked for advice;
The editor said,"Writer, just chill on the ice." cho:

When summer arrives, we'll all feel so fine,
We'll admit we are rejects, and study online. cho:

Friday, April 13, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 13

You may be mystified unless you read this edited version of NaPoWriMo's description of "our prompt today...write a old Persian form of poetry [in] couplets. Traditionally, the two lines of the first couplet end with the same word or phrase [which is then] used to end the second line of each succeeding couplet. All of the lines are supposed to be of about the same length [but with] no formal meter or syllable count. If...super traditional/technical, the last couplet [refers] to the name, or...some...allusion. obligation for the various couplets to have...anything to do with one another. ...each couplet [is almost a self-contained poem.] The unity of the poem as a whole doesn’t derive from narrative logic, so much as from the repeated refrain that ends each couplet."

At My Desk in April

Just outside my window sway branches of birch trees.
I am distracted by the swaying of birch trees.

The morning is gray but April buds are yellow,
drooping, prolific, from the branches of birch trees.

Robert told us writers there would be days like this,
that we could do worse than be swingers of birch trees.

My thoughts are prolific, to-do list - horrific,
but this morning's thoughts are pre-empted by birch trees.

He's in the kitchen, he won't know how I'm stuck here,
with so much to do, yet telling you of birch trees.

Neither my brothers nor I confessed to the crime.
Each had to bring his own switch; mine came from birch trees.

But, wait! I am enlightened, and not besmirched, by
the whiteness and yellowness of spring birch trees.

Shirley is finally at work--Robert, you were right,
She could do worse than be a singer of birch trees.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

P.S. to Day Twelve

Several attempts in my previous blog entry failed to record the Poetry International Organization website provided by NaPoWriMo, so I hope you can extrapolate it from this sentence. It has an interactive list of links to many countries and some of their contemporary poetry, which you may enjoy exploring.

Day Twelve, a homophonic translation

Today's prompt, as I understand it, is not to translate a poem, but to write what only the sounds of the words seem to say in English. Using the link to provided by NaPoWriMo, I chose a Finnish author because of heredity and a teeny tad of familiarity with Finnish, and the poet Sirkka Turkka simply because I have a relative named Sirkka.
With apologies to both Sirkkas, I came up with my own creation based only on the suggestion of sounds and guessed meanings of faintly familiar words. Only after writing will I go back and read the website translation of ST's poem. Here goes....
[Later: Sirkka's poem, "Tähdet ovat taas kuin itkuinen balladi," turned out to be a lot darker, according to its English translation, than I would have liked to write, so I am glad for what I wrote after all.]

Aiti Sang of a Summer Evening

That was not a thoughtless ballad, the one about evening.
Mother's voice joined the mourning dove's alleluias
as sun departed, bidding it return tomorrow,
thankful for yard and garden at peace, so very much
in tune with the evening scene were her songs.
Not that all evenings were clarity; sometimes fog and smoke,
as when father lit his pipe, expanded on the cooling air.
Ask yourself:  Where you were last night? Did you enjoy,
did you travel, did you read, and remember without regret?
Whether with cup of ice cream or a flute of wine, it doesn't matter.
I don't require an explanation of where or what or why.
I have no wish to view the guest register, or ask the waiter
whether you still insisted on real butter for your bread.
Such ordinary questions arise and tend to answer themselves.
The only peace I desire of an evening is to remain at your side,
to eat or drink, or simply to sink in your arms, mellowing,
like the setting sun.

by Shirley Smith Franklin

Friday, April 6, 2012

Days Four yet to come, and Day Five

Day four was to be based on a musical form...that one is still to come!

Day Five was to be about a sport and/or an opening, a first. I'll write, instead, about
waiting, despite obstacles, until the time is right...

Times Like This

by Shirley Franklin

Amavaasam, night of the dark
of the moon.
Anticipate darkness,
enter the real darkness,
do nothing new for some time.
The dark night will lighten, soon.

Indians take a different attitude
toward unanticipated
arrivals and departures.
Fate aur fait arrive and depart.
Whichever, oh, so true. But
fate, inauspicious, can be capricious

So just wait for some more time, they say,
we can talk, they say, and have tea.
This too will certainly pass.
Mother said there'd be times like this.
So talk, and let the time pass.
You could do worse than a cup of tea.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 3: Epithalamium

Today, a poem about a wedding. The form, epithalamium, dating back at least to Catullus (get thee to a reference, to read about this ancient Greek!) Classically, addressed to the bride. Modernly, about 'the whole wedding experience.' That should be easy enough, since we are less than a year away past one family wedding, another imminent. (postscript 1: Now I have written, but despair at having more generalities than details, more prose than poetry. Ah, but that's the fun of NaPoWriMo, the whole process is fuel for further writing.) (postcript 2, Day 4: And thus I have edited it, as it reads now:

by Shirley Franklin

Now there's a mouthful for you.
So you're the young woman who has stolen our son's heart. Slender and small, gracious to the core, spunky, and smart. I can see why he likes you, loves you, fell in love with you the moment you met, moment of amazing grace, at the wedding reception of his sister's friend.
I braced my mother's heart, prepared for bouts of jealousy, but none occurred. Only that surprising chill as he exclaimed, "Mom! See that girl over there...Isn't she the most beautiful girl in the world?? I'm going over to talk to her..." A shiver whisked down my spine. I looked, but couldn't as yet discern you, one among a bright, laughing cluster of young women and men across the room. All looked beautiful, to aging me. But I shivered with - what?, because I knew, this time, that his words rang true.
Soon you came, laughing, together, toward me. "Guess what, she says you know her parents!" Also true. Unwittingly, an old friendship was renewed. Though we heard little for a year or two, there remained the possibility of you. Protective parents, we all doubted. We pouted. But to no avail. You were on a trajectory toward a family of your own. Gradually you became more real to us, your unexpectedly husky voice urging, 'Let me do the dishes,' cheering our children on in a marathon, joining us on our senior neighborhood walks, travelling, returning, sharing your hopes and dreams.
A friend to our son, patient keeper of the dream, still, you waited til your studies were complete, waited til both families, finally, had to agree. Amidst joy and jobs, trips at home and abroad, to relatives, to each other, you were on a trajectory toward a family of your own. Listening, explaining, helping, suggesting, laughing, reminding. I watched, and saw it was true. I saw grace and joy, peace and contentment, mutual concern.
Your wedding was a fairy tale, colorful blur of conviviality and celebration. Sunshine, God, our families, friends...all blessed you and rejoiced in your joy. A wedding, with all its ceremony, ritual, angst and joy may be over in a week or a day, but the real heartbeat of wedding is a commitment that will not always be easy to keep. Participants and guests, tired, happy, breathless, all go away. We share for moments, with luck, years, the treasures of son and daughter in law, daughter and son in law, and pray that they will cherish each other after we move on; that their commitment to family, a life together, that the treasure continue, we pray.
So you're the young woman who has stolen our son's heart. It would be hard not to love you. We can see why our son loves you, fell in love with you the moment you met. We like you, we love you too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 2

There was an extra prompt, to write a 'triolet' (eight lines, ABaAabAB), which I combined with the second day's prompt, to write a poem inspired by the earliest popular song you remember...One of them was "The Blue Skirt Waltz," set to a Bohemian tune adapted by Frankie Yankovich, who was known as the waltz and polka king. It's only one of the many songs mother sang along with the radio when I was young...I want to expand on that theme and this personal memory in future writing...
This one does not evidence the pathos of the juxtaposition of the song, the dance, and the as-yet unannounced event.

Skirting the Blues
a memory, in triolet
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Come back, blue lady come back, don’t be blue any more.
Mom sang with the radio, while I was sick in bed.
I’d watched my parents twirl the living room o’er.
Come back, blue lady, come back, don’t be blue any more.
To me, a child, the waltz was a bouyant score,
we were all unaware that an uncle had just died.
Come back, blue lady, come back, don’t be blue any more.
Mom sang with the radio, while I was sick in bed.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 1

April is NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, a challenge to write a poem a day. Here are my first ‘scratchings.’ Today’s prompt was to explore the theme of ‘carpe diem.’ Today I also learned that 'hosanna' means 'save us,' not 'alleluia,' as has been widely presumed.

Palm/AprilFool's/Sun/day by Shirley Smith Franklin

Winter was very mild this year, once or twice storms,
later, brief morning dustings; nothing ever stayed.
Noon sun beamed, early buds swelled.
Usually buried, or at least dormant, by March,
tiny spears of green had silently reappeared.
Still, each day’s dawn was cold, as usual.
Winter had been extremely mild; dared we expect
such early spring? Temperatures rose, runners
donned their shorts, or their short shorts,
buying into the season, ready or not.
Winter had been so mild, returning birds sang almost
tentatively, calling forth April with nervous chuckles,
lest the cold return in jest.
Today, children followed their parents to church,
processed with the choir, waved palms, cried hosanna.
Later, they ran out to play.
It can be spring if you want it to be,
like the lone, chilly tulip, its scarlet cup
bending to catch up a moment of sunshine,
or the scarlet cardinal, finally convinced,
spilling over with bubbling joy.