2021 National Poetry Writing Month Anthology
of mostly ekphrastic poems
- an anthology by Geoff White, B.Ed.
A Heap of Broken Images
Inspired by The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot
"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water. "
Piet Mondrian, l'arbre rouge, 1908
1. A Ghostly NaPo's Eve
1. A Ghostly NaPo's Eve Shreds of epitherium lay strewn upon the ground, translucent tendrils of demon spirits. Open crypts yawned where year-dead muses re-born at the end of March, burst forth to terrorize innocent poets and wanna-be versifiers tempted by a NaPo morn to take up the quill. They would rue the day. Spirits of the day, from years passed, eager for mayhem, cast about for a vein to suck inspiration from the brain of any unsuspecting scribe: a layperson or member of the tribe who, unprepared for the drudge, thinks just to coin some phrases on the day, raise up beauty from the sludge of abstraction, forced rhyme and cliche - the quotidian products of the fray. Though they know it not, the month to come that lies supine, welcoming to some, holds traps and pitfalls hidden in the grime and mire of the midden. All there remained were bones and scraps left behind when last year's battle sounds abated, the refuse of a befuddled, wasted mind, whose creative urge was used up, one addle-pated writer less to scribble in hopes to find... what? another thirty poems? Fat chance! But the lions of March have vanished; fresh green tendrils again emerge. The slaughter of last year's debacle adumbrated seems not so bad, not all was in vain. Mellow breezes blowing over the Starnbergersee continually surprise us. To breed lilacs, stir again blood chilled by winter, is the goal, to engender new birth and finally, to tame the muse.
2. Snow Joke
Four meters of a fluffy white drift, blown into the gully, rise and curl like a ghostly wave, a perfect tube. Fields all around swallow sound. Only the flumpf of clumps falling from branches breaks the stillness. Roads will be plowed, sidewalks scraped; all the noises of a clean-up will ensue. For now, a sublime silence reigns.
3. Whisper Location
3. Whisper Location Echoes of our footsteps return from the cave walls and we four sound like a crowd of theater-goers on the sidewalks of 42nd street. Water, trickling from hidden fissures, gurgles down the walls, drips from stalactites, leaves rhino-horn stalagmites, and emerges from the adit. Air flows from the cave mouth in an ethereal sigh. Its fluctuations, an exhalation, seem like a lament, mutterings of stories from years gone by.
4. The Return of NaPo
4. The Return of NaPo Last May I retired all the tools of the trade that sired the poems and conceits that made April such a fruitful, dreadful month amid the plague, but only for a year, and now the rage to sing songs of places, persons, plants rhymes, verses, limericks and rants that left my readers all aghast has risen up once more from the past. I am home from Mexico and now reside by lakes and a forested mountainside. The wind is cold, the peaks are white and sere; "Oh, to be in England now that Spring is there!"** --- **ref. Home-Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning "Oh, to be in England Now that April's there,"
5. Kitty Litter
5. Kitty Litter Some string, loose lint balled from being batted, a ragged stuffy, a rubber band, an empty basket with a pillow shaped by her furry body, are all that's left, except in my heart, where still there is joy from incessant purring, the ghost of a tickle on my shin where she rubbed me daily and sandpaper kisses on my chin.
6. Voyage to the Bottom of the World
6. Voyage to the Bottom of the World From the Greenwich observer's point of view in verdant England, perched atop, dead-center of the globe, he looked out across the South-Downs and saw our ship diving south, blown by following winds disappearing over the belly of the Eurocentric world, down, down, to the nether regions, out of sight. Each day passed, our sextant showed the North Star falling Into the sea behind as we neared the edge. It was inevitable that we would plummet into the void unless by some magic we could sail upside down, stuck like flies to the underside of the world, in darkness, endlessly falling. We had long passed the equator and sailed in uncharted waters, under new constellations and if our navigation failed we faced serious deliberations. To go on, or turn back amidst monstrous sea ice, the ship meandered this way and that to find the safest route, a strange device. I stood against the rail thinking of my life, Hawks-Heath Common, Virginia Woolf, and the unpainted bird on the open sea. Standing white-knuckled on the steel as the ship pitched and yawed, my eyes stung from frozen spindrift, and I spied the long range of ice-white cliffs. It wasn't Dover.
7. Ice Storm limerick
7. Ice Storm limerick An ice storm is not the usual form; blizzard and lightning is the norm with downed power lines and loss of all kinds, it's a regular brute of a storm.
8. Daybreak The hard, cold, edge of dawn scraped at my sleepy cocoon that warded off the day; it rubbed raw my nerves, and soon my drowsiness was worn away.
9. Mezcal In these agave fields, I've been for three years in a row, and they grow, and grow. We need to wait this much to harvest, dig valuable roots such as pineapple, bake them in the oven for at least a week. All will wander for a week or two. Then connect a real moonshine machine and voila! From this beautiful agave will emerge a brew, fragrant with a taste of smoked mezcal. If Master Mezcalero isn't on strike, he will add worms, chicken or marijuana to the drink. Interested yet? Well, come to Oaxaca. Here you will learn everything about mezcal and that's not tequila, mind. Tasting is guaranteed.
10. Good Vibrations
10. Good Vibrations It has been a good year for round sounds and pounds. Dawgs and sound. Sound dogs, hound dogs, it's been a good year all round, Without exaggeration: reverberation sans perturbation. "It's all about that sound: his master's voice, those droopy ears,"** sneaker squeak, ground sounds, round ball, Tacko Fall. Sharp amplification echoing from the hardwood. New sensations of limited durations, sudden, abrupt, a revelation hardly understood, but a profound sound must be good. ** found poem, in the words of good friend Ethan
11. Running High
11. Running High I had one of those runs today... the ones that keep me coming back. I felt all the feels during the run... powerful, but humble and grateful. Physically, spiritually, mentally sharp. Throughout my run, I thought about the stresses in my life. I felt confident that I could handle whatever comes. Why can't I feel that way all the time? The air was cool. I was breathing steadily, surrounded by nature, and a runner's high... Not every run feels like that, but the ones that do remind me of why I love to run.** **inspired by good friend Sharon
12. The Red Bicycle
12. The Red Bicycle Almost nothing turns on the red bicycle parked, under a cloudless sky across from the white lights. Rusted it is, far from the bike I once knew. I saw it, your smile, right then helpless I was, and I knew a ruined wreck, It was forever a milestone now passed.
13. Celine They took her brother in a fit of madness and her mentor, spouse and lover, all in a single week, Whence came this sadness, and still her soul will find the fire. Her talent, all that's left of her life - a way to carry on, just a burning desire. Show us the rage! Show us the rage! as she struts across the stage, opens her eyes to take a look before she writes another page in the great Canadian songbook! The throng demands her best; all their love, hopes, dreams they give her, all that a minstrel could ever want, and after all that, wow, does she deliver! ** Okay, so the Feb 23rd, 2016 show in Las Vegas was the first show following the death of her husband and her brother two days later. When Celine hit that final E flat in the chorus, the effect was so powerful it stopped the show. The crowd went wild at her emotionality and she was unable to sing, or even speak for several minutes, while they gave her the standing O. Can you say, catharsis? The performance is on Youtube at Celine 2-23-2016
14. Forget Me
14. Forget Me I will not be missed, nor remembered; no one, years hence, shall look up from his pint and muse or remark whatever happened to old what's-his-face? When my corpse iies rotted and dismembered by time and tectonic shifts, shook up by quakes or buried deep in the dark domains of demons in their darkest space, when life's fires' fuels have become embered, when the Great Librarian has torn the book up, I will not have a statue in the park. My forgotten visage will no gallery grace. So let's forget we ever loved, or had a kiss; shed the memory of whatever lusty spark once drove us to the heights of bliss. Let me to the shadows of forgetfulness embark.
15. Bourgeoisie Epitomized
15. Bourgeoisie Epitomized A cabin in Tuscany with shuttered windows, and doors with sagging hinges, bore testimony to a marriage badly made, and a family of narcissists. She was irremediably shallow, shackled with meagre depths of feeling, coupled with a lack of imagination. Pettiness was her modus operandi, her raison d'etre. Each morning she awoke only thinking of how to re-organize the world into a better place for her to live in. He dressed well, a nascent Beau Brummel, and spent his waking hours seeking someone who could explain the dailies to him. Let's go to Brighton, he said. We'll eat currant-tart, and live in chintz and salt-water. All who saw them thought them to be a lovely couple; together they looked well, but in private, their life was Hell. Not a violent one, but one of a slow death. Conversation was impossible. They had much to say but all of it banal. They behaved as if every moment were the interval between cocktails and the announcement that dinner was served. Only at bedtime had they something to do: congress. Grand-mama wanted babies, heirs. And the lovemaking was adequate, something to make the day worthwhile, memorable even, as long as he didn't muss her hair.
16. Tempus Regrets
16. Tempus Regrets You give me pause, nineteen years I think have come and gone since I joined the cause. It led to drink, and dames, and song; some verse, of course. And crits soon came along, tho' writing verse of late has slowed, but once a year now, I tread the boards, glad to re-acquaint myself with fellow bards, exchange a greeting, and pen a strophe, reminisce, loiter, then don my hat and disappear. So sad, I've got naught else to say. If I mumbled lost regrets that'd be a very long day. Too many know the debt I owe or ought to pay, so I'd rather not, life's just that way.
17. Death Death ye are reproved, the poet has heaped his scorn upon ye, pathetic wretch, thou ridiculous whim, and thou art scotched, the poet's words torn from life, scabrous, but belonging to Him. No way that this brief passage thru the void however joyful, sad, triumphal, brutish or short could be apportioned to as fractious, or annoyed a demon such as thou, however ye might exhort and rail for us to cower and adumbrate the score to account for ten years and three score, as if 'twas all we had to show, but know ye not what's in store? Forever after this mortal coil is shuffled off, we'll sup on manna, exult to trumpet's clarion call, sitteth on God's right hand, bathe in His Glory. So, Death, thy direness, calumny and the pall of sadness are naught but dross; that's the story.
18. Haiku The world awaits your latest angst: unembellished poetic pictures.
19. Spring Invites
19. Spring Invites It would be fine to recline on a pillow by the willow, to dine on the pine boards of the picnic table, if you're able: al fresco. If you care for the air of the time, to take wine after nine, I would find it agreeable. Je crois l'air du temps c'est tres agreeable, n'est ce pas? Mais si vous n'aimez pas l'idee au printemps, or if you're unable, - then simply decline.
20. Dancing Queen
20. Dancing Queen Lying abed, propped up on pillows stacked three deep Sipping coffee too hot to drink, I think. I meditate on Honan Chapel in far off Cork, not fully kitted until the eve of the war. ABBA lyrics pick at the scabs of memory mini-skirts, Mary Quant, platform boots, Op Art, disco at Manchester's Tiffany's, the Irish problem, the pill, leisure suits. What has the Dancing Queen got to do with a kirk in Cork? That's where she goes to pray for forgiveness after her display. In her shame, it's a place to appease for the tease she's become. Young and sweet Only seventeen It was all in fun, but she was no nun An' after a' that she's a mum. It’s a crying shame she's to take the blame just for the joy of meeting a boy. But with mosaic floors, fine enamels and nineteen stained glass windows, Saint Finbarr's is the place to purge the disgrace. At The Lyceum, dancing wildly to funk and pop is sinful, it's all about where you find your ecstasy - swaying to the hymns at Honan is not. That's not teen spirit I smell, it's hypocrisy.
21. KupuKupu On a road winding up from the lowland heat stands a man where the road became too steep, He tests the thickness of the soil with a stick. "Only a little bit higher," he says. We abandoned the jeep. Here, in Sulawesi only, lives the peacock swallowtail. It is a treacherous thing to seek where every handhold and step begins a small mudslide. Not far from the peak, along this narrow path, is where the Blumei abide With wings of black velvet, on each, a stripe of peacock blue-green Its splendor rivals anything that lives; Its equal seldom seen. For capturing this prize Jasmin can feed his baby on rice; yet the best mesmerize collectors who'll pay the top price.
22. Bantimurung Water Park
22. Bantimurung Water Park Great cones and towers of rock rise and lean over the landscape at the park. Among the largest karst formations in the world, it is visible from miles around. Shaped when limestone and soil was washed away, larger than western hoodoos, they stand not on guard, but in welcome to tourists seeking thrills at the water park and butterflies on the slopes above. The market sells trinkets and souvenirs and displays hundreds of insects for sale; half of them are protected species, The butterflies not the baseball caps. "Kupukupukupukupu!" cry the hawkers. "Butterflies! Stunning specimens for you to take home. What a prize!" The takeaway is simple: enough junk food to make you sick, the mother of all sunburns, and beauty on a stick.
23. Between the Wars
23. Between the Wars Is this the dead land, of dull roots, memory and desire, out of which lilacs are bred? A land of canals and bards and churchyards where the dead inspire odes? The Victorian straitjacket or perhaps corset, had to give way and when it did, the organs reset novel movement became possible, new life. Dionysian change emerged, fashion evolved, forgetting strife. Creative juices burbled anew and Eliot’s despair seems deranged. A post-apocalyptic revival driven by those who were too young too afraid to fight, frenetically embraced life to forget the privation of the Great War, and in their lust and frivolity, they denied that it could happen again just twenty years on. The band played and the flappers danced on.
24. Modern Arts
24. Modern Arts A land of tradition, travesty, rebellion, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Oscar Wilde is no wasteland. From Bernie Taupin and Sir Elton John, that wild child, alone, we have learned that a rough beginning is no limitation and from the fab four of Liverpool, John, Paul, George and Ringo who wrote of yellow submarines. Such a strange vibration, from even humble beginnings, with hard work and some luck - bingo!
25. Awakening Enticed from slumber by the steam-gurgle of the coffee shrine in the kitchen, - the steam phase of the auto-brew cycle, that most welcome of alarm clocks, I am summoned from that nether-world, the undiscovered country, a lesser one of a thousand shocks that flesh is heir to. Die in your dreams and you may never see the light of day, or so I'm told. The whistle-hiss of water droplets hitting the hot plate, the shift-clunk of the pot, then the sloshing pour of the morning brew are the final sounds before that first satisfying sip. And during the window gaze at the leafy dew, I cradle the cup, easing myself into the day, and the near-burning of the lip is just part of the resurrection. Now, why is it that coffee always smells Better than it tastes?
26. Piano Practice
26. Piano Practice The young boy sat motionless, watching the fly on the keyboard. His hands were poised above the keys to the opening chord of his practice piece but he did not play. His fingertips lightly touched the keys without depressing them. He wanted not to disturb the fly. The air was still and warm in the studio and the late morning sun shone in through the half-shaded window. The roller blind was pulled down and the sunlight glowed through the aged paper. As he stared at the fly, it began to move. In his mind the dark, hairy fly on the ivory keys had become a wolf traversing a snowy waste. It paused as if sniffing the bitter wind from the north, searching for scents of reindeer, elk, anything it might eat. In the vast, white, open landscape the wolf seemed so alone. He sensed that it was very hungry. His stomach rumbled in sympathy with the wolf. A tear welled in his eye and spilled down his cheek. Just then the door opened, and the wolf was gone. His mother called to him, "Are you finished? It's time for lunch." He closed the lid on the keyboard and followed her out.
27. Why I do it
27. Why I do it Running is a daily compulsion, as I wrote above, you may do it for health or maybe just for love. Its all about the feeling of the street beneath your feet and every breath you take that makes your heart beat like a frantic drummer in your chest. It makes the blood surge in your breast as if to burst as you crest the hill and emerge full of zest into the world of fresh air sunshine and the rest; exhilaration is everywhere. Running is simply the best.
28. The Meaning of Cities
28. The Meaning of Cities I. New York I find no joy in New York city, it has no views, just endless storeyed caves, corrupt and friable, the tenements warehouse despair. Violent and vibrant, it throbs and sighs, gasping from subway vents, cold, dirty, bleak. The river only removes the sludge, a sewer surging seawards. II. Beijing Sour air etches misery on every edifice, devoid of soul and spirit, purged by communism, every monstrous building a mausoleum housing dead ideas and fallen emperors, any lingering majesty hidden behind massive doors.
29. Cosmic Enigma
29. Cosmic Enigma Two hundred billion stars, give or take, comprise The Milky Way, an average sort of galaxy as these things go, and yet, perhaps because of a tiny rock circling a trivial sun, memorable. If we knew how life begins we could say what the odds are of it occurring elsewhere, but we don't.
30. De-Mused Mine was not Euterpe, but a distant second cousin one of many such, perhaps a couple dozen, a wicked, cajoling, taskmaster from the start whose relentless determination seemed sans heart. From dawn to dusk she/he nagged me, even as I dreamed Write! Write! Worthless scribe! Pretender! he/she screamed. I wrote but oft contemplated how to end her/ him, the hermaphrodite muse of variable gender. Then, late last night I found the tiny body sprawled lifeless on a cushion in the study. I felt a pang of sorrow and not a little sadness where earlier in the month I had expected gladness at the thought of the tempestuous sprite's demise forgetting how vital he/she was to my enterprise. I'd had moments hoping for her/him to relent and now my diminutive, darling muse is spent. Sleeping Hermaphroditus, by Bernini at the Louvre
2020 Anthology found here: 2020 NaPoWriMo
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