Poetry Hiatus Unintentional

Hiatus: It Happens

I didn’t mean to take a hiatus. It just happened. The kids have started more extracurricular activities; my wife’s job has had a number of late nights; I had been sleeping poorly. I’ve not mentioned it, but I use a CPAP device to sleep. My mask had gotten worn and the filter needed changing so the machine wasn’t working properly. I knew I was keeping my wife awake so I reverted back to sleeping on the couch for long stretches. Which leads to bad sleep. And typically a few hours on the couch, a few hours in bed, which is not a full night of rest. We’ve sorted that out and I’m sleeping again.

As we rush into March and the month of birthdays (myself and both my kids) I didn’t want to fall further behind. I have last week’s poem written (it’s actually the one that’s in this post) and this week’s written (it’ll go up on Friday) and then I’ll get on track for next week. We’ll have another vote coming up and if it’s only Thom and I who vote, then hopefully the two of us agree.

The larger point is, take care of yourself. If you aren’t getting rest your work, your life, will suffer. You might be driven to write every day. But you also might need to take some time off. Don’t get to the point like I did where my body forced a break. I’m enjoying writing poems every week this year but I can’t make myself sick doing it.

Speaking of poetry, I’m a big fan of Nancy Hightower‘s poetry and she has an excellent book of poems out right now called The Acolyte. I published a few poems of Nancy’s in Electric Velocipede so I may have a bit of a bias but I’m ok with that.

My Prompt for Next Week

Just like last time I had my kids pick the prompt cards from the Storymatic for me. My daughter selected the situation cards (the first two prompts) and my son selected the character cards (the last two prompts). I’m excited for this week. Not that the prompts haven’t been fun before but these are really evocative to me.

  • Homeless person
  • Owner of a hot air balloon
  • The overheard remark
  • Bounced check

Seriously, how great are those? I’m having the kids pick every time from here on out.

My Poem from Last Week

One roll of film
Filled with wonder and beauty
Proof that he was the artist

For missing one step
That was not his fault
Others took his accolades

From former colleagues and peers
His life’s work
Used flashbulb dead

Neither happenstance or unwanted
Happier than ever
Since the decision to be alone

Not even the postal service knocks
His perfect solitude
Ruined like an opened darkroom door

An envelope and a small package
Signature required
Conversation optional

To receive past due honors
Apologies for old transgressions
In the package a roll of film

Selection Is In and a New Poem

Not much of a selection (Photo of Empty bread shelf at supermarket by Maksym Kozlenko from Wikimedia Commons)The Selection is In

There were two paltry votes (one of which was made by me!) to make a selection of which poem I’ll revise for an end-of-the-year collection. Thank goodness they were for the same poem or I’d have to flip a coin. No matter, we’ll do better next time I’m sure.

Our selection was from week three, the poem about the guest taxidermist. Obviously I’m fine with the choice since it was the one I voted for. When I revise the poem I’ll talk about the process and try to articulate why I select different words and phrases.

My Prompt for Next Week

This week for something different I had my kids pick the prompt cards from the Storymatic for me. My daughter selected the character cards (the first two prompts) and my son selected the situation cards (the last two prompts). I’m excited for this week. Not that the prompts haven’t been fun before but these are really evocative to me.

  • Trespasser
  • Recluse
  • Undeveloped roll of film
  • Long awaited invitation

My Poem from Last Week

All of the Children Are Grown Up

Yesterday Bobby was the servant
We made him get us lemonade and snacks
Under the hot sun
He spent the afternoon spritzing a cool mist
And adjusting umbrellas to block the blaze

Ours moms just watched
As they haggled
Over items priced for a quarter or less
Which they no longer wanted
But felt some value could be had

Today I am the servant
Making Kool Aid (grape)
With too much sugar
The twins like to feel grit between their teeth
Inside I missed the incident outside

Some baseball cards went missing
Aiden, one of the twins, calls Bobby a thief
Alyssa, the other twin, calls for a full investigation
The cards are sitting next to me
On the table were Aiden put them

I transition from comfort to heat
Drinks and cards on my tray
Innocently I ask if they are Aiden’s
Must have forgotten them inside
The twins look mollified and drink in silence

I whisper to Bobby that he’s now in my debt
To be collected at some future date
Announce to the group that I am the host
As it’s not appropriate to have servants these days

(Photo Empty bread shelf at supermarket by Maksym Kozlenko from Wikimedia Commons)

Discipline is Lacking or Why This Week’s Poem is Late

The journal I write my poetry long hand. Is that's not discipline, I don't know what is!

I Lack Discipline So the Poem is Late

I used to have discipline. At one time in my life I worked full time as a computer programmer in Manhattan. I also published a small but critically acclaimed speculative fiction magazine. On top of that I earned a Masters in Library Science. I completed the degree in three semesters plus one summer. I was working full time and going to school full time. I never fell behind in my reading, I was never late on assignments. I responded to story submissions and published two issues of Electric Velocipede each  year.

But lately I’ve had trouble motivating myself after I get done with the work day and do my share of the family duties/fun. Most nights I’m all alone by 10:30p. Plenty of time to get a few hours of writing/editing in and then off to bed for a full night’s sleep. What tends to happen is that I cannot create enough inertia to get off the couch and there is where I fall asleep for a very uncomfortable nap.

Which means I basically take two naps each night instead of one solid sleep. It’s not good.

This week all that poor sleep really caught up to me. During the day, during the evening, I’ve had trouble focusing. I’ve been fighting headaches. I feel exhausted all the time. My brain is trying to make me take care of my body and get some darn rest. My brain needs me to be more disciplined about sleep.

I’m not a good one for rest. I often say “Sleep is for the weak.” At this point in my life I have to admit that I am weak. I need sleep. I need rest. This week’s poem is done and now I have two days to get another done.

I can do it. I know I can. It just takes discipline.

My Prompt for Next Week

  • Servant
  • Subject of an investigation
  • Garage sale
  • Debt

My Poem from Last Week

In the unending quest for perfection
Time off isn’t a reward
It’s just stress with a view of the beach
Harder to be away
Only to return
Face the pants on fire pretender
Who made a shambles in your absence

Promises like shattered bones
The pain starts long before the break can be seen
The usurper sits on a throne of lies
Familial connections like an angry carapace
Preventing any chance of redemption

Best hope is a Pyrrhic victory
Your fading scars serve as a reminder
Battles are rarely worth fighting
To stay behind your desk
Only to wither and be forgotten

Revise? Which Poem? You Decide!

Revise (original image found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/2756494307)Help Me Decide Which Poem to Revise

I’m behind on the new poem this week so I’ll take advantage of that to create a post so you can vote on which poem to revise. We’re looking at the poems written in January so we have four of them. To help you out, here are links to their posts:

I’ll take whichever of these poems has the most votes and revise it for a showcase in December. I’ll take some time to talk through the process of how I revised the poem and why I made the choices I did. The poll will be open until about midnight my time on Friday February 5, 2016.

Please note that the ‘titles’ of the poems are derived from the Storymatic prompt cards I draw. Whichever of these poems I revise will get a more formal title. I should probably do an entire post on titles although much of my experience is as a reader/editor and not so much as an author. For me, I always think of the title of a poem (and often a short story) as the first line of the piece. It can change the meaning of the poem and certainly should enhance your reading of it.

I always think of the Green Day song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” which gets played a lot as a positive piece I think mostly because of the chorus which states “I hope you have the time of your life.” However, when taken in context of the title of the song it’s a sarcastic remark because the protagonist of the song actually hopes for the opposite. But, as these things go, people hear what they want and now the song is a staple of proms everywhere.

The Poll

Which poem should I revise for the end of the year? (links above)

  • Week Three: Guest Taxidermist (100%, 2 Votes)
  • Week One: Aging Clown (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Week Two: Dropout Singer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Week Four: Scholar Bully (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Image from Flickr user Nic McPhee used under a Creative Commons license