Poem-a-Day Retrospective

Another April has come and gone, and so has the Poem-a-Day Challenge. This is the second year in a row that I have participated in Writer’s Digest‘s challenge, and for the second year in a row, I have succeeded in writing 30 poems in 30 days. Here and there I missed a day, but all misses were made up before the challenge ended.

The PAD challenge prompts the habit of daily writing. I find it much easier to complete this challenge than the November NaNoWriMo challenge; I am not sure why this is. With the NaNoWriMo challenge, you build on one idea, expanding and clarifying it. That would seem, on the face of it, easier than creating something entirely new each day. Yet, for me, it has not been. I have not successfully completed a NaNoWriMo, but the PAD challenge, I have accepted and met these past two years.

Each day facing a new prompt can be daunting. There were days when I mulled over the prompt all day, trying to get a handle on where to go with it. There were definitely days when I was not 100% happy with the resulting poem. Yet, there were days when I finished and was truly proud of my poem. Interestingly, my feelings about a particular poem were not always in line with its play on the blog (and Facebook). What I do know is that I will revisit these poems in the future. The habit of writing one a day and the necessity of publishing it to the blog (and the challenge site) immediately results in the occasional publishing of drafts. Some of these situations and ideas will be revisited.

Now the challenge is to keep the momentum of April moving forward. I may not, okay I will not, be able to sustain a poem a day for the rest of the year, but I need to keep the writing going. I do wonder how Emily Dickinson managed it. She wrote approximately 1,800 poems in her lifetime, some years averaging a poem a day for the whole year. That is an incredible output.

I don’t claim to be as insightful or prolific as Emily Dickinson, but I did find the process of writing poetry engendered more poetry writing. As the month moved on, I found my thinking stimulated, my creativity sparked. That doesn’t mean that some of the later poems weren’t difficult to get started  (or finished), but it does mean that my mind was ready to meet the challenge. I look forward to more writing of all types this year–and to the PAD challenge again next year. I hope you’ll join me!

PAD 30: Dead End

Today is the last day of the poem a day challenge for April 2016. What a month it’s been! The prompt today is to write a dead end poem.

Dead End

We reached a dead end
On our hike through the woods
Meandering paths amidst
Majestic pines and verdant ferns,
Led us across brooks and streams
Balancing rock to rock,
Sometimes relying on a handy stick
Or each other’s hand,
Other times simply hoping not to slip.
Up hills we trekked, and mountains,
Across heaths and peaks,
Down again into the vales.
And now, an impasse–
We are stopped by nature,
Perhaps our own natures,
So we must backtrack to where
We can once again see our way
And walk hand in hand
Into the clearing.

PAD 29: Haphazard

Yesterday there was a problem with the Writer’s Digest site,  and I couldn’t get the prompt. Today,  I found out it was to write a haphzard poem.

Haphazard

Anytime he didn’t understand her,
He called her haphazard.
Her kind of organization baffled him
And so,  he tried to fix it,
Fix her,  with gifts of file cabinets and desk accessories,
Drawer organizers and shoe racks.
But she was stifled in his rigid boundaries and,
Could not think, could not write,
So she threw away the sock separators  and in boxes,
Painted stars on her fingers
And let the creativity flow out of her.

PAD 28: Important?

Today’s prompt is “Important (blank).”  I filled in the blank with a mere question mark. What is truly important in this world? And how do we know with all the voices competing for our attention. Look inside.

 

Important?

 

The news blares; the headlines screams,

Everyone tells you what to believe

Everyone tells you what is important.

How do you decide what is what?

Talking heads,

Political pundits,

Politicians of every stripe.

But on the micro level too, there are

Parents

Teachers

Pastors

Friends

 

Listen carefully,

Take their teachings,

Then hear your heart,

Know the way,

You will find

What is truly

Important.

PAD 26: How Do I Describe Our Love?

Tuesday’s prompt was another two-fer: write a love poem or an anti-love poem. Here’s one for my love.

How Do I Describe Our Love?

I need a new metaphor for love.
The old ones have either been
Done to perfection or
Hackneyed to death.
How do I describe our love?
The comfort and the excitement,
The surety it’s there,  even when we disagree,
How do I describe our love?
The unspoken understanding,
The voiced words of love,
Even the misunderstandings and how we work our way out of them.
How do I describe our love?
The way your hand finds mine under the covers
And our fingers intertwine
When you come home late from a long day of driving.

PAD 27: Take Off

Today’s prompt is to take off. Write a poem about any kind of take off.

Take Off

 

One artist mimics another,

Copies the masters to learn the trade.

Masterful imitation earns the appellation “in the style of”

A well-done model is an homage

But, claim it as one’s own and

It’s a forgery, and criminal,

A poorly done piece is a knock-off,

And most take-offs fail as travesty.

PAD 12: Serious Decision: Stay or Go?

I am finally making up for missing April 12th. The prompt is to write a serious poem or a silly poem. I think from the title you can tell that I went with serious.

Serious Decision: Stay or Go?

 

There is an exhilaration in a challenge,

But also a joy in the familiar.

 

A 4 handicap doesn’t give up golf

And take up tennis instead, but

A duffer may.

Or he may not. He may

Take lessons, keep practicing, getting

Better, little by little.

Yet, the 4 handicapper may

Switch courses, try a new

Venue and renew his excitement.

Or, perhaps he simply buys a new club

To create a different test in the known environment.

 

How much change is necessary

To keep the seasoned from becoming banal?

PAD 25: Exercise Your Right

Today’s prompt is to write an exercise poem. It could be any kind of exercise: physical,  mental, etc. Here I combine two different types in a simile. Enjoy. And as Nike days,  “Just do it.”

Exercise Your Right

Like the cardio and crunches we know we should do,
So many of us don’t do it.
And soon only the real fanatics control the machines
While the neophytes and lapsed participants
Are embarrassed and ashamed to enter,
Thinking they don’t know enough
About what needs their attention,
Thinking that what they do doesn’t really matter,
Thinking that they’ll get there next time,  and
As a nation we grow flabby
And distended
Til the radicals think the only solution
Is to cut away the excess,
Minimize choice,
And ostracized the weak.
Don’t let that happen:
Vote.

PAD 24: Lost and Found

Today’s prompt is to write about something lost and found.

I lost my equilibrium
Waiting for you.
No call, no apology,
Just the expectation
That I would wait
And wouldn’t mind.

I put on a good face,
Smiled, and raised a glass of wine,
But my balance is still
Teetering between forgetting
The incident or the friendship.

I lost my equilibrium,
But I found my anger,
And until I can lose the latter,
I cannot regain the former.
And that I must do for myself.

PAD 22: Star Song

I missed yesterday’s poem. It was a long day at work, followed by a long night with friends. But, here I am to make it up. The prompt is to take the phrase “Star (Blank),” and fill in the blank. This is the title to the poem. Go. I was still mourning Prince as I wrote this poem, I think, though the tribute is less direct than Thursday’s poem.

Star Song

 

A new light glows

In the sky tonight.

The sun sets and

The sky reflects

Purples, raspberry, and mauve,

And the heavens reverberate

With the trepidation of the spheres

As this innovative entity joins

The ethereal, euphonious ensemble.

 

The day ends, but

The song never stops.

That, he left with us.