NaPoWriMo Day Seventeen

And now for our (optional) prompt. Today, I challenge you to write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form!


Could you stretch your golden body
along that colorfield?
If the outside world were quiet enough
to hear the brooks whisper to themselves,
if bamboo were not cut by the moonlight,
if the echo of your tongue
did not fill my mouth with silence
like the cavern where the wings
have just stopped beating,
I would spread you like a blanket
beneath my hands and squeeze the night
until it dripped the silver drops of morning.
I would drown in that rain
or just as gladly beach myself
upon the strand of your hair.

by m.j.smith

More importantly, here is a poem by Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) who inspired me to try to write poetry like this. And it’s come to my attention that a lot of people do not know Patchen, and that is just not acceptable. He was a poet of incredible breadth and depth:

Fall of the Evening Star by Kenneth Patchen

Speak softly; sun going down
Out of sight. Come near me now.

Dear dying fall of wings as birds
complain against the gathering dark . . .

Exaggerate the green blood in grass;
the music of leaves scraping space;

Multiply the stillness by one sound;
by one syllable of your name . . .

And all that is little is soon giant,
all that is rare grows in common beauty

To rest with my mouth on your mouth
as somewhere a star falls

And the earth takes it softly, in natural love . . .
Exactly as we take each other . . .
and go to sleep . . .

from First Will and Testament (New Directions 1939) and again in The Love Poems of Kenneth Patchen (City Lights Pocket Poets 1960).

“Patchen is one of America’s great poet-prophets. The range of his work holds the wildness of America’s productive energy and all the horror implicit in the need for self-destruction. His work continues [Walt] Whitman’s large and generous vision of the U.S.A., voiced with urgency. Patchen’s works reveal his effort to make sense of a people bent on destroying the human spirit and the planet, in true poet-prophet outreach, his work continues to forgive man just as Whitman would bind the wounds and heal the mad and maimed victims of America’s paradox.” (David Meltzer)


7 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day Seventeen

  1. Thank you for your lovely, stirring poem, and to the introduction to Patchen, as well.
    Congratulations on being featured today.
    (Your initials are the same as one of my daughter’s, so I pause when I see them.) 🙂

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