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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.  I was struck by a sinfonetta of bird conversation as I leaned out my window before breakfast on this gorgeous spring morning.  Where do they sleep, anyway, and can one species really speak to another?  What would they say to me if they could? It got me going with the idea for this poem.  

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,
like a 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
parent-t0-child conversation,
"You can play after breakfast."

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 tambura (stringed instrument of a certain kind)  or virtual one in the form of a small, electronic 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.
      n.b.  Performance vv notation, vv strict vv improvisation....

Just a Note on the Tambura
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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day Fourteen: The Match, a san san

Day fourteen calls for a san san, three terms or images written three times in different combinations or grammatical terms.  (Hmmm, talk about getting your teeth into it...this one is meaty!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The end rhyme scheme is to be :  a                                                                                                                                                                 b
Without reason to delay                                                                            a
Her feet dragged upon the floor                                                                b
on her way to the meeting room.                                                              d
'Who would be there today? '                                                                    e
With her hand poised at the door.                                                             d
Her future bridegroom might be there
Would they have to search some more,
or was a wedding in the air?
Let's call it 'The Match', a pun on the word for something that ignites a flame, as well as being the term for a proposed spouse chosen from a match-making visit, when one party to a marriage proposal comes to meet the prospective bride, as is still usual in India.  My san san poem, and many marriages arranged this way, might not be very poetic, but the rhyme scheme fits.

I couldn't find much on the 'net telling much else about the san san.  There was a Chinese poet who wrote poems to a courtesan with a name like that...

As I see it, the san san is a(n easier?) kind of triolet, which in turn is said at to be a French form originating in the thirteenth century. Then again, they say it started by an eighteenth century Benedictine monk named Patrick Carey who wrote devotionals in triolets--eight line poems with only five lines (two of them repeating) and only two end-rhymes.  Now THAT would be a challenge...
for another day!

NaPoWriMo 2016 Days Thirteen and Fifteen: Look in the Mirror

Addressing two days' challenges in one: Day fifteen's challenge is to write a poem in a doubles form, with doubles (interpret as you like: mirror, repetition, couplet, typical pairs, twins...) of some kind. Hm, I'm going to combine two challenges here and write some doubles as the form for day thirteen's challenge, which was to write fortune cookie sayings: statements or questions and their antitheses or parallels.  Each saying is a one line poem.

Walk between the raindrops - if your shoe fits.

Everything's turning green - But I hope that's not you.

It's not paid for yet if your shoes squeak, or if the stairs squeak.

Flowers bloom in a glass globe, earth lights up in a lightning strobe.

Why try to save a trinket or two, you won't be taking any with you.

Don't wait for inspiration, when it's time, it'll find you.

An optimist always finds hope. Pessimists have trouble recognizing it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 12: Table of Contents Poem

Napowrimo's challenge for day twelve is to write a poem based on the table of contents of a book, any book, on my shelf.  One example that I saw appeared to make the t of c serve as a list of subject headings for realities (parameters, events, identity) of one's own, or common, life/ves.  Let's try something like that. (self-edit: preceding sentence is unnecessarily wordy)

The book I take from my shelf is one about writing.  A Big Bite of the World, Children's Creative Writing, by Claudia Lewis, who, I believe, was the, or at least a,  kiddie-lit teacher from my grad school days  The book has sat on my shelf for years. Every once in awhile, I've taken it down and glanced through, seeking some gem of wisdom that I hadn't noticed before. It is so anecdotal,  I've had  'trouble seeing the trees for the woods.'  Or is it a matter of 'can't see the woods for the trees?' In either case, every time, I sigh and put it back; nothing catches my interest, nothing delights or informs.

I am preparing to teach a workshop for parents who want to help little children learn to write; I have successfully carried out a number of writing lessons with kindergarten and first graders, in classrooms in the past.  Perhaps taking a closer look at the table of contents of A Big Bite of the World might offer fresh insight.  Let me delve further, in hopes of finding out more useful tips and clues from the author, not to mention mining the t of c for today's poem.

Alas, afraid of infringing upon author's rights, I do not copy the table of contents here, but let me tell you, it is a rich one:  titles, headings, virtual word clouds (remember, this book was published in 1979!).  I feel like I've hit the jackpot.  And, after this exercise, I am eager to read the whole book again, this time finding useful tips and clues for that workshop!

What Children Mean
by Shirley Smith Franklin

What is this thing called creative writing?
Isn't it every form of expression,
created new as we open our mouths
put pen to paper, power up computers?
Children are naturally inventive,
their curious questions search for concepts,
playfully describe patterns of thought,
invoke movement and repetition,
while recording sound, color, action,
making poetry of their daily world.

Older adult reality perspective
dwells on repetition of characters,
repetition of situations,
repetition of experiences,
repetition of new beginnings.
Rich repetition of reflections,
discovers new self awareness,
engages new maturity, poetry
moving beyond half-magic worlds,
searching for a symbolic, final word.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016 Catching up: Day 20: A Kenning Poem (and then some)

The past weeks' poems, (a bit behind, are we?), will now  begin to appear, in random order, interspersed with more dates going forward.  I hope I can catch up, but then, who's to say I have to? Ha! One of the joys of retirement ... time to write. Sometimes!

Day twenty's challenge is to write a kenning poem, using a riddle-like metaphors, semantic constructions said to derive from Norse sagas.  But, if my limited Finnish experience guides me correctly, this is still a common way to construct and express nouns in Finnish conversational language.

It's a riddle to me how the days pass and notes toward poems for days twelve through nineteen are still in disarray, notes scattered throughout my house and the week.  Will they find their way back to the blog? Bear with me if they appear in random order in 'The Last Page..', as I trust they will.  My kenning today is a wry comment in that spirit, without apology.  After all, it's spring!

The Truant
                 by Shirley Smith Franklin
Face faker
late waker
fun maker
rule breaker
leave taker
cookie baker
mud caker
clear laker
leaf raker

Any excuse, to skip out of class!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Napowrimo 2016, Day Eleven: Short Meditation Upon Abstraction

This morning I am determined to write.  I have caught up on all the poem prompts through yesterday.

Today's challenge/prompt is 'to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does. ...[ I'm blown away by the power of  the seemingly simple 'surprise' ending to this James Wright Poem... which the prompt writer quotes as a model for the effect.] An abstract, philosophical statement, closing ... a poem ... otherwise intensely focused on physical, sensory details.'

Ah!  A challenge I can really get my teeth into.  The model is an instructive inspiration. 

8:22 p.m.  My mental 'teeth' are still 'chewing on it.'...
4:20 day twelve...just finished.

The Spice Cabinet
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Six shelves still can't contain all my spices
(you never know which one you might need),
in bottles, boxes, in canisters and jars.
Cinnamon sticks warm from Indian sun,
peppers like Mexican, African flags
fiery red, dark green, emphatic, ground black.
Dried fenugreek, sassafras dust, gumbo file',  
cumin, Hungarian paprika. Full-bodied,
sweat-odored asafetida contained
in double containers lest umbrage offend.
Beloved/hated impertinent garlic;
its cousin ginger first sharpens, then recedes.
Occasional, celebratory spices:
dried flowers of mace, star anise, saffron gold,
white, green, long, black, round, cardamon's varied forms.
Light skinned coriander pods, purple
pomegranate seeds, ebony cloves
cradled in the embrace of a cross.
Stalwarts up front: salt, baking soda and powder.
In corners and behind all these, in the back,
odd containers yield old fashioned flavors, 
memories in the cabinet of my life.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Napowrimo 2016, Day ten: Poem on the Spines of Books

That's right, the challenge is to write a poem using the names of books on my shelf.  I happen to choose the one with devotional and self-help literature...will the result be devotional or profane?

Untouchable Spring, a Poem on the Spines of Books
by Shirley Smith Franklin

The dawning
Birds, trees of Minnesota
Survival of the fittest

Nature watch
Celebration of discipline
Search for intimacy with God

Women of faith
Tell it slant
Twenty three great stories

New choices in natural healing
Guide to self care
The heart of the matter

Coming home
Eating God
The heart of the matter

Sunday, April 10, 2016

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day 9: Afraid to Write

The challenge : to write a poem containing a line I'm afraid, for some reason, to write.

by Shirley Smith Franklin

Why am I afraid to write the last line;
my old friends, would they have found it a crime?
He played the piano with such delight
that one would remember in later years
whenever a radio performance
ignited the memory, matched the joy.
He'd found me on facebook, evidently
had read the "Twenty Five Things About Me"
I had entered at my daughter's request.
'Sounds the same as ever,' he'd commented,
as though, but even though we'd not, just met.
Then his spouse evidently read it too.
She wrote, 'The wife is always last to know.'
I told the irony to my daughter
who insisted I had to unfriend him.
After a month, I complied.  But I cried.

NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 8: Again, a flower

Again, a Flower
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Palm Sunday week is gray.
Gray drags on, nearly every day,
for the next two weeks.
'Must buy flowers' I write,
on three different grocery lists
scattered in my kitchen.
Drive intentionally
to a store with flowers first
thing you see, entering the door.
'Buy Three,' Teresa says,
'One to gift, one to sell,
to earn, one for your soul.'
But, selfishly, I skip
straight to the bunch for my soul,
tall daffodils, yellow and bright.
Hmm, where will I put them, at home?
My conscience gets the best of me
At the cash register.
I find my self behind
one like a downtrodden woman.
'I'd like you to have these,'
springs, unbidden, from my lips,
along with an inner lift,
as she takes them, speechless,
walks wonderingly away,
leaving flowers in my soul.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Napowrimo 2016, Day Seven: A Tritina

Vsevelod Nekrasov is the featured poet-in-translation.  His minimalist poems are like mini-raps on passing thoughts.  'Wonder how they are received in his native Russia.

Day seven, Gloria Gonsalves challenges us to write a tritina, a 'shorter cousin to the sestina, involving three, three-line stanzas, and a final concluding line. Three 'end words' are used to conclude the lines of each stanza, in a set pattern of ABC, CAB, BCA, and all three end words appear together in the final line.  Does that mean together-together, or together as being somewhere in the last line?  I'll have to wait and see how they present themselves!  n.b. tbr!!

Time Lapse Replay
a tritina by Shirley Smith Franklin

Three pictures on the wall,
my two children in all,
one of them short, one tall.

In the first, she is tall,
and the next, near a wall
they smile at me, that's all.

In the last one of all
they're both dancing, he's tall:
my grown children, my wall.

NaPoWriMo 2016, Day Six: A Food Poem

Day six's featured international poet is Ma Ei, a Burmese woman, whose line tells it like it is:  "on the days I write no poetry, my mind gets polluted." * Writing, distilling words into poems, is an exercise in clarity, necessary for mental health, for sure!  

So today the Napowrimo prompt is to write something involving food.  Let me try to write five food-based aphorisms. Meals served, in company, with pride and care, nourish more than the body.

You can make a meal from leftovers, meat, pasta, veggies, salad and all, 

you can make leftovers from a meal, alone, in company, or while making a call,
meals are always in season, summer winter or fall.

Leftovers from a meal, meat, pasta, salad and all, become new meals

Man does not live by bread alone, woman does not exist merely to please. (Ooh, that stings.)

How I love the lowly potato, rooted and grown underground,

under cover of deceptively green, bug attracting foliage.
If it survives, potato needs to be dug and washed, 
its eyes squinting every which way, against light of day,
yielding at last its its comfortable, comforting heat, so
deceptive you will forget, forgive, the pain of your labors.

The lowly potato is my favorite veg.

Over all other veggies it has a fair edge.
How underground it grows until ready,
sunshine infusing it with vitamin C.

* As if in answer to Ei's quote, I remember Julia Cameron's advice to write something, anything, first thing in the morning, as an exercise in 'sweeping' the mind.'  OK, well enough.  Let the day begin,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Napowrimo 2016 Day Five: Flower hiding in a poem: Incorporating the name of a seed variety in a poem.

Today's challenge is to incorporate the name of a seed variety in a poem (they even included seed catalogs to give us ideas.) I'll try to work a flower into this one, a flower my husband brought home from market in hopes of simulating spring this chilly April morning...Please comment and tell me if you can FIND the flower in this poem,  and what you think it is.

As sunset casts its rosy glow
across the silent
my voice goes out in song,
Please Lord, if you please, may my
love come back to me.
As the twilight turns to
night love birds begin to repeat,
tell again words to that old  song.


                                  ANSWER KEY to Hidden Flower
                                                                   by Shirley Smith Franklin

                                                                  A(Z )sunset casts its rosy glow
                                                                  Across the
                                                                  Lea, my voice goes out in song,
                                                                  Please, Lord, if you please, may my
                                                                  love come back to me.
                                                                 As the twilight turns to
                                                                  night, love birds begin to repeat,
                                                                  tell again words to that old song.

Ooh, this will need some tweaking to make it sing, while maintaining the flower spelling...

Napowrimo 2016 Day Four: Why March is the cruelest month

March, 2016
Today's challenge is " to write a poem in which you explore what you think is the cruelest month, and why."

The Cruelist Month
by Shirley Smith Franklin

March, cruelest month of all,
histrionic about-face
poverty stricken next to fall,
when colors advance and night
fades sooner but gradually, 
unlike March, unpredictable, 
reckless with warmth, sunshine, cold,
endlessly threatening squall,
calling forth picnic sunshine
and reneging after all,
blustering into the party,
blasting in cold from the hall.

But this is still the way of the world.
April is coming, the flowers sing.
To everything there is a season, 
so let frivolous March have its fling.

[This poem is a little disappointing...or can it be redeemed?  March itself 
really can be disappointing...It is, this year! In my past experience, 
not many poems get written during this changeable (changeling?) season...
Lordwilling I'll rise to the challenge of a poem a day, not just in March
but  in perpetuity, that is, as long as He gives me utterance  Meanwhile.  
I will work with this poem till I get March's personality right!    

April 10th:  It's been revised!  Did you notice?   But I think it still lacks pizazz.  Do you?             

Napowrimo 2016, Day Three: Poem as Fan Letter to Pekka Kuusisto

Dear, and after one evening,
I say so advisedly,
Pekka, pronouncing both k's
the way Finnish people do,
as though relishing the name
like the opportunity
to relish your performance
fresh and new, anticipating
up coming performances
before even half of this one
before performance itself,
before you opened your mouth,
spoke in unassuming tones,
though not as unassuming
as your unassuming encore,
your black garb not completely
though almost formless nor cliche'.
Those slender shoes, or
were they leather stockings
slipped into the air as you,
dervish or spritely turned
and leaped to the music,
playing and peering into
the first violinist's eyes,
only you were the first
violinist, conductor,
and sprite, leaning, leaping,
the first section breathless,
not breaking but driving
a forward intensity
building, ebbing, while
a brand new kind of mozart
filled with innuendo heartfelt,
second act dance. My
heartfelt thank you to you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Napowrimo 2016 Day 2 challenge: Write a family poem

Exercise, "The Family"
by Shirley Amith Franklin

The family, the family
oh where has it gone,
parents departed,
brothers have flown.
The sister I craved
never appeared,
Children once cherished
never are near.
But cherish them all
I will, never fear,
we're joined at the hip
and the spirit is clear.
I love you dear family
too much to relate,
you may debate)
so haste I to say
before it's too late,
I love you family,
warts, moles and all--
more than this drivel
pretends to recall.
However distant
it's never to late
for true confession:
family, you're great.      Note: Not very happy with this one...the idea has potential, but the poem uses
          S.S. F.                  trite expressions, culminating in the last lame line...

Friday, April 1, 2016

NaPoWriiMo 2016, National Poetry Writing Month, Day One: Two Lunes

I'm anxious as I record these first words on my commitment to NaPoWriMo's challenge to write a poem a day, to their prompt or my ow liking.  There's so much other work already piled up on the desk, too many other things to do.  I get distracted and overstay at the keyboard.  Can I do this?

My answer: is this start.  All I can do is try.  Excuse the drivel, folks, if it comes to that.  I'm in it for the exercise.  If anything develops further, that will be a bonus. Like practicing a discipline.  Like learning how and what other authors write (each prompt includes another participant's blog and an international writer whose work appears by translation in look up...exposure to the art, artists of the pen.

Today's challenge is to "write a lune... a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count.
There’s also a variant based on word-count, instead of syllable count, where the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again. "

Okay, I can be looney for a bit.  (It's past midnight, technically day two, as I write this)...

Or lune-y, as the case may be.  Here are my NaPoWriMo beginnings.

Lune #1:    Chamber orchestra

                   Avant garde
                   Music's before time.                 (We'd heard Pekka Kuusisto for the first time tonight.)

Lune #2:   Writing for me means caution

                   Get enough sleep
                   To be in the moment.             (Technically, Lune #2 meets both parts of the challenge.)