Friday, April 30, 2021

11 Goodbyes to Poetry Month 2021

Skyscrapers in New York City
As promised mid-month, here are the remaining 11 poems I've written during April (aka "National Poetry Month"), based on prompts from New Jersey poet Alicia Cook.

The first prompt was "those blue narrow streets." In the resulting poem, I declared myself Superman while walking to work.

I've listed the other prompts at the bottom of this post, and I've added a few notes for context.

Today's poem "Life Is Short" is, oddly, my favorite.

That, or yesterday's. The one with the penguins. 🐧

Working Class Hero

I follow my shadow

with the East River at my back

on a cloudless morning

after an evening rain.

I bound a skyscraper

in a reflection of still water

along these narrow blue streets.

I am Superman.


I Married Bugs Bunny

Gossamer in cellophane.

I was so excited to win

the prize at the boardwalk arcade

that both feet left the ground.

I was a lucky duck,

brought back to earth

by the gravity of your forbearing smile.

Mine, mine, all mine!


David Bowie mural in Jersey City

Eight Line Poem*

Is there life on Mars?

Life only exists where there's water,

in lakes hidden below the icy surface.

Here on earth,

it's a God-awful small affair.

Life only exists where we let it:

Take a look at the lawman

beating up the wrong guy.


Prayer nut exhibit at The Cloisters

Mysteries of the Rosary**

Each decade of my life,

I have stood in admiration

of a single prayer bead,

cloistered at The Met:

a high school field trip,

a very New York City date,

a visit with my children,

a visit alone,

a visit with my wife when our children had grown.

The intricately carved boxwood bead,

six centuries old,

opens to a triptych of Christ’s early life,

and shuts with his crucifixion.

Each decade of my life,

the display-case reflection of my aging face

mixes with this immutable art.

Each detail demands more reverence,

and I take a slower look.



Prepare for the stresses that will come.

I fear the lesson of Earth Day.

We have sacrificed our young.

The day, already late.

Prepare to be saved.

Youth will revolt. 

By God’s grace,





In honor of the birthday of the Bard,

I offer just this stanza and couplet.

From less than half a poet, my regards.

Less than half a sonnet to put up with.

So cheers to you! A writer's life is mad:

a cocktail of the good, and of the bad.


In a Spring Still Not Written Of (revised)

  (In homage to "In a Spring Still Not Written Of" by Robert Wallace, who died April 1999)

I have been pushed into something new:

this poem.

This poem is a cool, deep lake,

and I can’t swim.

I see you on the shore:

Calm, indifferent, cross-legged,

on elbows half-lying in the grass.

While I drown. 

I am flailing with words,

dwindling in the distance, 

unable to move or summon

the carelessly beautiful and young. 


Hyperrealistic sculpture of a couple

Prelude to a Kiss****

Look straight in her eyes. 

Silent, head and heart aligned. 

Keep a neutral spine. 

Lips poised, Euclidian curves. 

Let parallel lines converge. 


Our Song*****

I remember when we met:

your red hair,

the kindling flame,

and the smoke that rose. 

Lifting me like an olive branch.

I remember when we married:

the incense and cut flowers,

your mother's dress,

and our friends on the church steps.

You, my homeward dove.

I remember when we parted:

the ash in your hair,

the blended notes of burning violins,

and us, just us, suspended in time.

Dance me to the end of love.


Teddy bear in a purse

How I Imagine Santa’s Workshop******

I can drive there,

our old car warning of a baby on board.

The valets are penguins, of course.

And, once inside,

I am surrounded by pets

who have died:

the dogs, just as gullible;

all the ageless hamsters

I replaced on the sly.

The one and only Spy Cat,

hero of our made-up stories,

eyes me coldly, inscrutable to the last.

I tell them all,

“I have come to take you home.”

Ted, the talking bear, awaits our return.

In your bedroom, alone.


Life Is Short

In the month of April,

I wrote all these poems

for you.

Promise me you'll come back.


The other prompts

*- Inspired by David Bowie's song "Life on Mars" and written on the day of the Derek Chauvin verdict. On Bowie's album "Hunky Dory," the song "Eight Line Poem" leads into "Life on Mars." The image is a favorite mural in Jersey City.

**- When my wife and I recently visited The Cloisters museum in Manhattan, we realized we had the same favorite exhibit, which we've seen on display in the past. Read more about this extraordinary rosary bead.

***- Written on Earth Day, 4/22. A "nonet" is nine lines long. The first line is nine syllables, the next line eight, the next line seven, etc.

****- This is a "tanka," a haiku capped by two lines of seven syllables each at the end. This hyperrealistic sculpture is on display under a bridge at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

*****- This is another poem inspired by a song, Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love." Earlier this month, I also used lyrics from a Dylan song for another poem, so this completes my April 2021 music trilogy. 🙂

******- Inspired by a quote from Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown”: “There are a few years when you make almost all of your important memories. And then you spend the next few decades reliving them.”


That's all, folks!

The images here -- except this one -- are mine, mine, all mine!

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