NaPoWriMo Day 22

Silver Won’t Grow on a Walnut Tree

Daughter of mine
listen to me
silver won’t grow
on a walnut tree

I have no gold
to give but pears,
no legacy but
your raven-black hair

You can buy the river
with the pearl of your song
The birds of the air
will all sing along

The King of Spain
wears jewels on his feet
but his ginger and
nutmeg taste no more sweet

So love hills of gold
and the bright jeweled sea
silver won’t grow
on a walnut tree

The prompt was to “take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens…”

I used my own impossible line…and then it stayed impossible. So it fails the prompt, but there it is.


Lost Notebook

This week – sometime, somewhere – I lost a composition notebook. Out of the 100 pages, I think about 30 were filled, front and back, with poems, stories, teaching notes, and journaling about my daily writing struggles, including a long examination of the history of nonsense poetry. Jot 100-Sheet Classic Black & White Composition Notebooks

When I discovered it was missing, I drove back to my workplace at a community college 60 miles away to retrace my steps. Some rooms were closed, some I slipped into through doors left unlocked, some I had keys for, but none had my notebook. I took the train back the next day to get into the rooms which had been locked, but still no luck.

I am not sure what upsets me more: losing all that work or the thought that someone is reading my embryonic and personal thoughts. I struggle with social anxiety disorder all the time anyway (so teaching was a great job choice, right?), and this kind of exposure really shakes me.

I guess I’ll bounce back from this. What choice do I have? But I just don’t feel like writing anymore. I think if I do, I will finally give in to technology and use a tablet with its password protection and cloud docs that save everything as you write. I will miss the texture and smell of paper and the smooth line of my Pilot G-2 pen. In this digital world of smart phones and texting and websites and blogs, the simple pen in hand always gave me a historic, even ancient, feeling of lineage with writers: Kerouac with pencil and composition books, Stephen King and his Waterman fountain pen, Mark Twain with his Conklin Crescent, the first self-filling fountain pen, and all the way back to Sophocles who wrote using a reed pen on papyrus.

It’s all a bit lofty and definitely silly, but the feeling was real. And I can keep writing that way at home, with notebooks that never leave the house. I wish I had a better memory so I could get back what was lost. All I can remember is one short poem, and this is an approximation at best:


each morning I am sealed
inside an aluminum can
vended thru the Oakland machine
top popped, I am poured out
into the job
until empty
then sealed up and shipped
back home
to be sold again


Last Day on Kauai

Side by side we swim with sea turtles following evening
tide away from land, our hands and feet unfit for ocean swells
thrash like fish reeled up into sudden sunlight. The turtles glide 
past, shells round as boulders yet light with squirming life
inside. The rocks near shore are worn to globes, poking
heads above water between waves as if almost-drowned statues
covered with green wigs of moss swaying in the currents.
You tire, unable to swim back or fight the waves
pushing you against rocks, pulling you to open sea.
Underwater, your hair floats like kelp around your face
as you sink. I wrap both your hands around my right leg
and swim us both to the beach while turtles glide against us
like cross traffic at rush hour each intent on reaching home.

A Man and a Woman and a Name Are One

The Man is Adamah is the red rock
The Woman Ḥawwāh lives upon it

Adamah: The Mouth is a guitar which plays itself
Ḥawwāh: The Mouth makes water from blood

Adamah: The Eyes are rivers running outside the forest
Ḥawwāh: The Eyes unlike virgins turn whiter with experience

Adamah: The Ears are foreign countries whose existence we learn of by word of mouth
Ḥawwāh: The Ears never repeat what they have heard

Adamah: The Neck is a road between unfriendly cities
Ḥawwāh: The Neck tilts to me for comfort, away in pride

Adamah: The Arms are wheat stalks ripening in the sun
Ḥawwāh: The Arms break themselves around love

Adamah: The Chest is a house for a dancing witch
Ḥawwāh: The Chest marries the green food of the earth

Adamah: The Hands are newborn chicks, fumbling and featherless
Ḥawwāh: The Hands stitch the gloves they hide in

Adamah: The Feet are old women, afraid to go out alone
Ḥawwāh: The Feet invent the paths that age them 

Adamah: The Hair is the sound of a man who’s lost his hat in the wind
Ḥawwāh: The Hair dies before its birth

Adamah: The Cock is a rooster crowing its own name in darkness hoping for an echo
Ḥawwāh: The Cock keeps quieter after daybreak

Adamah: The Cunt is a detour from doom
Ḥawwāh: The Cunt sings for generations