Thursday, April 15, 2021

Midway Through Poetry Month, 2021

Snowfall at night in the suburbs
A front-porch American flag amid the snowflakes, see "Rispetto."

11 down, 11 to go.

On a lark, I decided to commit to a writing a poem a day on this, National Poetry Month, following prompts posted by New Jersey poet Alicia Cook.

As she explained on Instagram, her 22 prompts for April (one for each weekday; weekends off) are based on things top athlete @tommy_rivs has said. As Alicia notes, "Tommy is fighting for his life, and his wife... is writing about it in the most heartbreaking and captivating way."

The first two prompts were: 4/1- "Not Today"; 4/2 - "Don't Get Dead."

On the second week, I decided to mash up Alicia's prompts with a five-day challenge at the Shut Up & Write! site: 4/5 - "Grand Canyon in the Dark," using a SU&W Mad Lib-style structure; 4/6 - "Some Runners Are Jerks," in the form of a quatrain about "your grandmother's hands"; 4/7 - "Ever Since I was Little," as an acrostic on the topic of temptation; 4/8 - "Set up your Fortress," in the form of a villanelle; and 4/9: "Bob Dylan Lyrics," in the form of a tanka.

On this, the third week, I'm mercifully back to following only Alicia's prompts. The need to write something every day has also prompted me to explore different types of short-form poetry (the cinquain and rispetto): 4/12 - "Reverence"; 4/13 - "Be as Quiet as Possible"; 4/14 - "Until Next Time"; and 4/15 - "Whispers Before Screams."

Below is what I written so far, along with a few photos. I will try to write another 11 prompted poems this month. I'll see you on the other side.


Not Today

Last night was hell.

In bed, reaching out to you,

I felt the fingers of my left hand

sliced with paper cuts,

one by one.

When I woke, you weren’t there.

Our bed was bloodless;

my hand, whole.


“Not today,”

I grasped in time.

“Not today.”


Haiku, the Movie

Life lessons from "Speed."

A bomb is made to explode.

Your job? Don't get dead.


(What's in a Name?)

Clueless Bob,

Who has never been to the Grand Canyon,

Loves Nancy,

Whose heart is the Grand Canyon in the dark

And whose skin crawls when I write poems about her.

I cheer when I finish a poem.

And cry when I start a poem.

There is nothing I want more than to write a poem Nancy loves.

But I cannot fathom her heart. Signed,

Clueless Bob


(Doggerel at Short Notice Is My Specialty)

“Some runners are jerks,” my grandmother said.

Her hands still withered; while others are dead.

It’s useless to judge, I thought in reply.

Some flowers are weeds; some oceans are dry.


Statue of Psyche and Cupid at The Met in NYC


Demons have tempted me

Ever since I was little

Silently shifting shape

Intangibly, by degree, year after year

Reimagining your face



A Writer’s Villanelle

Set up your fortress.

Sing words that never die.

A poem can be your chorus.

Think of the angels and aurochs,

the refuge that art provides.

Set up your fortress.

Our only immortality is what we express.

Our silence, suicide.

A poem can be your chorus.

Defend what you profess.

Protect what you certify.

Set up your fortress.

Treasure the inviolableness

that durable pigments supply.

A poem can be your chorus.

We cannot keep what we possess,

but what we write can survive.

Set up your fortress.

A poem can be your chorus.


Simple Twist of Fate

A bridal bouquet,

suspended midair, destined

to land in your arms.

You don’t need a weatherman

to know which way the wind blows.


Cemetery, with New York in the distance


With every graveyard

we pass in our car,

my young daughters hold their breath.

Behind me,

in the back seat,

I hear their exaggerated gulps of air.

In the consequential silence,

I hold my own breath,

out of respect

for both the dead and the living.


A Good Boy

I was taught to be 

as quiet as possible.

And so I am.

With one exception:

I scream when I write.


Stars over a parking lot in Teaneck NJ
A parking lot in Teaneck, NJ


The earth,

"Until next time."

The moon, "Another Month."

Meanwhile, stars glimpse eternity,

then die.



The whispers of snowflakes become screams at night.

It’s the sound of accumulated power.

They’ve obliterated every star in sight.

Their fury grows more intense by the hour.

Together, they herald a magical time:

Flattened landscapes, the grace of consonant rhyme.

Remnants of this storm will echo undeterred.

The whispers of snowflakes demand to be heard.

Attached here is a collection of other poems and images, "Greetings From 2020."

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