April Warning: Poetry Showers Will Be Golden

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Misc
Tags: ,

Expect the level of crap on the Internet to surge exponentially as the 30/30 challenge – a genre-based circle jerk that tasks each participating poet with the penning of 30 poems in the 30 days of April – kicks off National Poetry Month this April Fool’s Day. Sadly, this is not a joke. Or it is, and everyone laughing along is choking on self-celebrating sips of their own ejaculate tipped from flowery or phallic flutes. Fun with metaphors aside, I’ve always been 50/50 on the 30/30.

Writing, and especially the writing of poetry, has been and always will be a masturbatory exercise for most. Regardless of the why, the what, while not necessarily done for the purpose of doing so, either produces a momentary euphoria or a sense of self actualization/fulfillment. So why not attempt to get off 30 days in a row? To this end, the 30/30 is good exercise. After all, the practice of writing is just that, and the more one writes the better one’s writing will become (supposedly). At the very least, practice gets the writer into a decently motivated creative rhythm that will result in better poems being created later on or will contribute to raw material for later refinement/crafting.

On the other hand, one horrible aspect of the 30/30, much like any writing exercise, is that anything produced is done so under faux pressure. False impetus, as far as I’m concerned, will always reap weak results. Also, writers’ muses acting much like children will rebel against forced action via either standoffishness or giving the bare minimum (like writing about not being able to write). This brings me to the other horrible aspect of the 30/30: the deluge of such splooge on otherwise good poets’ blogs. Sure, there may be good poems, ideas, lines, etc. written during the challenge, but the majority of it should either be sandwiched between spiraled notebook cover blinders or buried in Word files and never allowed to see the light of someone else’s screen.

Since I’ve never written a decent poem in my life, I don’t consider the forthcoming inundation of my barely existent readership to be much of a change from the usual. So consider yourselves warned: I’m attempting the 30/30 this year. God help your eyes and, if possible, refrain from sending my muse flowers. She’s fickle, and I can’t live without her.

  1. Ink says:

    #1 (The Long Walk Home)

    Something so short
    as a cramping foot
    causes pause in the race.
    Slow car betrays fast lane;
    aggravation passes –
    raised fists, frothy mouths.

    Once at rest, parked,
    the hobble home.
    That evening’s rain, ice.
    Umbrella safely sheltered
    in hallway closet.
    Labored and compensatory steps,
    alternating toward door.
    Determined drops
    take advantage,
    pelt skin with cold Spring.

    Each step reminiscent:
    passing cars, taillights –red and crisp
    until vanishing just over
    highway horizon –
    stoplights on exponentially expanding road,
    matadors continually backing away
    from their bulls’ locked stares.

    Crippled foot bluffs accelerator
    a few more miles.
    Fuel aplenty until next gas station.
    Fate, be kind.
    Provide rest stop signs
    and pity those without their glasses.

    • Ink says:

      #2 (A Warning)

      Before my mother
      brings out the 3 x 5 ½ in. glossies,
      I want you to know that,
      when I was little,
      not quite the master of my own mind,
      I used to wrestle my father,
      attack him every chance I could –
      bear-hug his leg,
      beat his workshirted chest,
      and try to twist his arms behind his back
      by grappling his massive fingers –
      all with a huge grin and toddler’s laughter…
      and I was naked.

      Before I hit 2,
      there were only as many things I loved:
      dangling in the breeze
      and trying to beat up pop.
      Both were daily experiences,
      random as a mid-conversation sneeze,
      and it never mattered who was in the audience.

      So next time you notice my bulwark –
      creating facts to win an argument,
      refusing to change out of my comfy shoes
      to meet your parents,
      or screaming my face red to Nirvana –
      I want you to know that it’s just me
      beating on my chest,
      attacking the thigh of the monster in front of me,
      puffing up as big as I can,
      because I never learned to like the feel of clothes,
      and have had to compensate for everything that,
      unlike those pictures my mom is now handing you,
      has failed to develop properly.

      • Ink says:

        #3 (Pick Up Line – A Love Story)

        One lengthy strand
        of your thick black hair,
        for at least one solid minute,
        danced with the stream of my urine
        inspired by the 3 pints of IPA it took
        to work up the courage to nod
        in your general direction
        when you first came through
        the bar’s only egress.

        My next order was water.

        By that repeated determination,
        and the divine intervention
        of your weak bladder,
        our fates were intertwined.

        Don’t worry;
        I did not pick the hair
        out of the bowl.
        I did not scrapbook it
        opposite the page of my
        Sinead O’Ex
        or dotingly craft it
        into a hypnotic swirl.

        But at that minute
        and every recurring moment,
        you, or at least I,
        was becoming aligned
        towards our acclimation of evacuation.

        So don’t worry;
        I am not stalking you.
        I haven’t set my phone’s alarm
        to coincide with your forward flow,
        nor do I repeatedly look
        for the vacant depression
        in your barstool.

        I just wonder how many times
        “excuse me” uttered politely
        in the tight lavatory hallway
        will pass for convention
        before recognized as confession.

  2. Ink says:

    #4 (Seashell)

    From the mouth of a shell
    of an abandoned boardwalk café
    whose upended chairs
    centerpieced table tops
    to build a fence before the ocean,
    I heard the water whisper loneliness
    with a salty mist that wet my ear
    like a forsaken secret.

    I sat with it a while,
    the view, parted only by blinks,
    yelled with semi-solid stare –
    my footprints on the wooden planks.
    Embarrassed, I looked down
    and heard the reply:
    footprints in the sand,
    paw prints beside,
    accusations to my dry, unsandy soles.

    Again it whispered,
    this time to a passing car
    2 blocks away,
    the prayer choking on emissions
    like a season,
    the waves repeatedly clasping the shore,
    rolling its knuckles
    then convincing itself
    to come back home.

  3. Ink says:

    #5 (Sixteen Years Gone)

    One mountain of recycled wine bottles.
    Two hands wrinkled
    from washing sticky shot glasses.
    Four dishwasher rack rows
    burdened with constantly circulated stemware.
    Eight reddish-brown spots
    remembered by the beige carpet
    stretch between kitchen counter
    and living room chair.

    Sixteen years gone,
    and the countless –
    number of times
    I didn’t even think to count –
    warnings of your waved finger,
    every furrow on your brow
    dug by surprise and worry,
    doled bits of advice
    from the ex-wife and mother
    of an alcoholic,
    turned out to be right
    every single second
    before my first glass was ever filled
    and rings true with every popped cork
    wax seal break,
    bottlecap pry,
    and cap twist.

  4. Ink says:

    #6 (Thinking MFA? Consider these alternatives:)

    Visit your local public library,
    read like you’ve paid $50,000 to do so.
    Don’t stop
    until you’ve got your money’s worth
    in 25¢ late fees
    from hoarding favourites
    you re-read long past
    post-renewal due dates.

    Become an alcoholic.
    If you need instructions,
    read Bukowski or Li-Po.
    If you can’t down 18 whiskeys
    in an evening,
    don’t fret;
    like any invention,
    it takes time to build up
    tolerance for the slow,
    self destruction
    required for falling years of neuron fencing
    to reach and burn down the barn
    so you can see the moon.

    Pour your heart into vessel, longing.
    Pass it among as many as will accept it.
    Praise their handling.
    When someone breaks it,
    study the pieces.
    Describe them like Rorschach test.
    When done, use glue
    but not for reconstruction.
    Adhere islands and continents alike
    wherever they’ve fallen,
    wet-vac your ocean
    complete with sediment,
    buy another vase,
    wring the sponge into it,
    and start again.

  5. Ink says:


    Her chest: a vacuum framed
    by valley of open arms, shadowed
    by heavy breasts, formed
    by frequent collapse –
    planets held, crushed,
    swallowed, digested,
    then passed to the infinite sewer
    of unexplored space
    where others fish, swim.

  6. Ink says:

    #8 (Emulation of a Heartbeat)

    The justification for leaving ticking clocks
    next to temporarily abandoned pups
    is the emulation of a heartbeat,
    a trick we pray will recall
    the tick taken for granted
    in a mother’s presence.

    His mother left the TV on.
    Eighties sitcoms served family values
    to a sponge
    who soaked up laugh tracks and life lessons
    for a solid 6 years
    with key latched around his neck.

    Changing channels
    never switched perspective.

    When there were no friends
    with which to play
    football or base runners or tag,
    fiction kept him company
    until flesh-and-blood
    trudged through creaky door.

    She’d sigh with relief
    that he’d fixed his own dinner
    and didn’t burn down
    the triple-mortgaged house
    before heading to bed herself,
    never turning off the TV
    but setting the alarm to wake her
    in time to get to work
    the next morning.

  7. Ink says:

    #9 (Poetry Assessment)

    By the transitive property
    and creative accounting,
    each book of poetry should be valued
    in the thousands of dollars.

    The proof:
    If 1 picture = 1,000 words
    and 1 poem = 1 picture,
    keeping in mind that even mediocre art
    sells for around $300
    and that there are generally 50 to 100 poems
    hanging between frames of front and back covers,
    then 50 x $300 = $1,500.

    But poets are kind.
    They know there is more to life than money,
    that their art requires time to appreciate.
    So their union issues deep discounts,
    coupon code: time = money,
    bringing books down to a paltry $5 to $15.
    And yet you still debate the purchase.

  8. Ink says:

    #10 (Tight Quarter Company)

    Old man dips his elbow in my coffee.
    His Alzheimer’s turns it to tea.
    He’s steeping his experience
    to flavor my morning caffeine rush
    with flakes of senior seasoning.

    “We used to make up with work,
    he said,
    “Even non-workdays were work.
    Family was work.
    House was work…”

    “Talking is work,”
    I told him.

    The old man took his appendage
    out of my mug
    and ordered a fresh round
    into the teen waitress’s perky ass
    like a drive-thru window.

    We toasted new mugs
    with one silent, mutual nod each.
    The geezer pounded it
    like a shot of Jameson
    on a bitter winter’s night.

    I never saw him
    after the ambulance
    took his screaming throat
    out the front door.

    I imagine the Emergency Room
    sees a lot of him,
    that his family visits often,
    trying to maintain the illusion
    that his room is an amusement park
    where the they’ll ride all the coasters,
    play all the rigged games,
    until someone throws the master switch
    and the lights
    and the music

  9. Ink says:

    #11 (Ode to My Heart (Preface to the Attack))

    Because dexterity is only adored
    from confines of splints,
    uneasy doorknob grips,
    clumsy manipulation of objects;

    Because the relative numbness of skin
    is appreciated only after
    the bloody exposure
    of underlying layers
    stolen by passing argument
    with abrasive stretch of concrete
    or invading edges,
    cunning stealth of steel
    and inconspicuous paper;

    Because sanity only enters
    consciousness minds
    woken at 3 am
    by police
    who’ve wrangled the silver-haired somnambulant
    who’d forgotten the name of the face on his driver’s license
    that lists your address,
    or when all your students, classmates lie dead,
    and the wispy trail of cordite
    makes you look like you were breathing fire
    in tomorrow’s papers;

    I offer these acknowledgements
    as preemptive appreciation
    for the squishy, chest-hugged, hydraulic engine
    behind my all;
    that which made sure
    blood flowed from every cut and break
    while still feeding every other cell in need,
    made possible the expansion and contraction
    of dilapidated lungs,
    worked with body and mind working against itself
    just so I could curse it –
    feel the pain of every severed and serrated nerve,
    labor against the hampering of every intention,
    and scarf down bacon cheeseburgers
    like abused prescription medication
    for happiness.

  10. Ink says:

    #12 (Do Museums Still Need Objects*)

    Do museums still need objects
    when we can steal the soul
    of subjects entombed in glass,
    distribute digitized artifacts
    without regard to barrier ropes,
    slight Do Not signs
    by fingering multi-Touch monitors?

    History already takes up too much room,
    stretches out over millennia
    given in good faith by our ancestors.
    We have no choice but to grant its request
    to take our eternity of leftovers –
    table scraps purveyed by time’s persistence,
    mankind’s inability to clean up after itself.

    But must we deprive our future of parking spaces
    for malls, high-rises, and self-storage facilities,
    when all of history can fit onto terabyte drives,
    sized to fit tweed coat pockets;
    be converted and translated
    for all to understand;
    backed-up in case originals crumble?

    Why subject archeologists’ crews to curses
    with the carving of cratered wounds
    hemorrhaging dust across international trade routes,
    when we can radiocarbon date history
    while it sleeps in its own bed,
    take invasive pictures and share them over the Internet,
    and ruin any chance of them getting reelected?

    *a book by Steven Conn

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