Nonpareil (for NaPoWriMo, Day 20)

O, bilious quahog!
O, my willowy owl.

You curl, an elusive
ghost, twice around

the miraculous cowbird
of my mercurial heart.

In seaweed, in salt, we squander,
we abscond with an afternoon.

We eat it whole, like a truffle.
It melts slowly, like a nonpareil.

I lied: My heart is no cowbird, not
miraculous. It is a dunderhead,

a generator of ego, a cyclops.
But it only has eye for you.



NaPoWriMo, Day 20 prompt: Write a poem using at least five from a list of certain words. I’m going to make you click to find out which ones, but I will tell you that I used 21 of them,


Shoe Seeks Sock (for NaPoWriMo, Day 19)

Hi there! I’m a loafer, but I can be a little sneaky, too.
Are you tired of sitting around in your drawers? Well,
I’m ready to come out of the closet. I’m brown, tanned,
but I don’t care what color you are. Are you soft and thick?
It doesn’t matter to me what you’re made of. Just want
someone to be with—let’s take a long walk, hit the town
and go dancing, or lie together someplace dark. I should
mention that I have a partner. If you do, too, that’s
even better. Let’s get on our feet and go places.



NaPoWriMo, Day 19 prompt: Write a personal ad.


In the Brine (for NaPoWriMo, Day 18)

Pickles are like blazing stars,
small punches of flavor.

I don’t care whether they are
white-streaked and crisp

or yellow-green and floppy.
Both have their merits.

My mother went through a phase
of making bread-and-butter pickles

in a big Tupperware container.
I didn’t appreciate them then—

they tasted too much like cucumbers.
Cucumbers, I don’t like. Just pickles.

At McDonald’s, which I am supposed
to revile and not hold in any fondness,

my father used to pick the pickles off
his Quarter Pounder. I would put them

on my cheeseburger. Even now,
I will eye any piles of cast-off

pickles, though it’s rare that I’ll ask,
“Are you going to eat those?”

(But sometimes I will.) They are not
necessary, and yet few things seem

less optional to me
than pickles.



NaPoWriMo, Day 18 prompt: Write a poem that begins and ends with the same word.


Joke: I Can Owe You the Casbah (for NaPoWriMo, Day 16)

Your pot of soup, Minute Turkey Pimento,
sullies my oily medicine. Croon a tune of
valor, minus crooning on Jericho.
(Joke’s on me, my Rasta Mullasta.)
My hanky seeks any low vista, linty. I am
a hoyden, your pet teen; just cure it, this
sanest hurt I feel. My oily hair. I am your
automaton, your Conestoga wagon.
Tick it off. Have a view. Is it that I owe you
New Orleans? I lay my cone, Two Oaks Sue.
Joke: I can owe you Japan, sure can walk
you there. But our house? Cooking?
Melting? Joke: I can owe you the casbah.
My hanky seeks a pillow’s view.


NaPoWriMo, Day 16 prompt: Write a poem that attempts to phonetically translate another poem that is written in a language you don’t understand.Here is the poem I used. It’s in Finnish, and it’s by Olli Heikkonen. I’ll post a link at Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. Check that out, if you haven’t already! It’s a big sharefest that happens every Tuesday p.m.


Chicagoans (for NaPoWriMo, Day 15)

Monk parakeets, green, with grubby baby faces
swing on a birdfeeder in our neighbor’s backyard.
How is it that people live in other places
and think, “Life in the big city must be so hard”?



NaPoWriMo, Day 15 prompt: Write a pantun, a poem with four-line stanzas, with an a-b-a-b rhyme scheme, where each line has 8-12 syllables and the second two lines take a departure from the first two. Got that?


Powers (for NaPoWriMo, Day 14)

“Wonder Twin powers activate,”
I whispered, and then I yelled,
I screamed, over and over, but
Zan could no longer hear me.

We didn’t know we could die.
It had never happened before.
The doctors never knew what
it was, exactly: a heart attack,

a stroke, or just some fatal
mismatch between our bodies
and Earth. None of them came,
the Super Friends, and Gleek

had long since died, of mange
and fatty liver, neither of which
we could cure with any form
of water or animal. I’m alone

now. My powers were never
all that great, to be honest,
and now they’re good for
nothing. Without Zan, I am

only half here, only half alive.
I own a comic book store. I grew
out my hair, but most days,
I pull it back to show my ears.

I don’t know if anyone notices,
but no one ever says, “Jayna,
is that you?” I never hear my
name at all anymore, or our

signature phrase. No one ever
liked us much, anyway; Zan and I
aren’t real heroes, were invented
only for the cartoon, people say,

as if any of us can help the way
we were born. Sometimes I talk
to Zan when I’m lonely and when
there are no customers. I invent

a problem, other than this one
that can never be solved. I call
out a form: “Polar bear!” I can
hear him shout his: “Iceberg!”

But I know it’s just my mind—
and the door of the shop,
rattling in its frame. Even if he
could speak to me, somehow,

it would still be worthless,
I would still be powerless,
not able to activate myself
until he and I can touch.

NaPoWriMo, Day 14 prompt: Write in the persona of a superhero or supervillain.


On Broadway (for NaPoWriMo, Day 13)

You could buy a full-cap wig or
get a weeve, or your ears pierced,
where there’s a barber on duty.

In the window at Rainbow is
the blank, naked white torso
of a child awaiting clothes.

Iyanze Bolat West African Flair
is right next door to Thai Uptown,
fufu competing with papaya salad.

City Sports sells Adidas of every
color and description; a pair or two
might change your life forever.

At Gigio’s, try number 22 out of
the top 25 pizzas in Chicago. If you’re
handicapped, knock on the window.

Cross the slanted street to the Wilson
station, on gang turf. Say hello to the man
who pauses his mop to let you pass.




NaPoWriMo, Day 13 prompt: Take a walk and write about what you see.


Butterfly (for NaPoWriMo, Day 12)

You were not mean, exactly,
but you were petty, and sometimes
this is all that’s required; a certain
businesslike adherence to rules
and procedure is enough to shut
the door when a world, a life
has narrowed down to this one
sharp point. I couldn’t have a
butterfly needle, you said,
because my veins were big,
and butterfly needles are for
small veins, and there wouldn’t be
enough suction for it to go quickly,
and you weren’t about to wait ten
minutes for my blood to fill the vial.
I’m sure I became a little wild then.
I’m sure you saw the rough edges
of panic that I cover pretty well
with politeness and with
numbing cream. I called it what
it was, then, a phobia. You walked
out, without a word or a glance. (Isn’t
there anything that scares you?) You
should know that Tara scoffed when
I told her what you’d said. You should
know that she threw away your vial
and big needle, now unsterile and
unneeded. You should know that
I loved her, would have given her
more blood if she’d asked me to.
By the way, it only took a minute
or so to fill the new vial, even with
the butterfly needle. Tara was
quick, and she was kind;
sometimes this is all
that’s required.



NaPoWriMo, Day 12 prompt: Write a poem that consists of things you’d like to say to a particular person but never would.