Tower of Vanity

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I am Petrosinella
and (through no fault of my own)
I am locked in a Babel tower
Waiting for a redeemer.

Several noblemen visit o’er the course of time,
promising freedom,
but stealing wine
and dissolving.

The last to come looks uncomfortably right through me,
wordlessly pronouncing my complicity.
He makes me cross
so I throw him from the lofty window
to his death below.

I stare down at these guilty hands,
these broken, weary, rough, work hands
and suddenly remember
it is I who built this tower —

I who mixed the mortar.
I who plumbed the line;
I who placed each brick upon his brother.

And I weep in remorse.


Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who try at all.






Day 24

Today’s assignment was to write a poem that features walls, bricks, stones, arches, or the like. Check out Masonry Design for amazing poems about, you guessed it: MASONRY!  🙂

I started with a good description of an actual building, but the poem started morphing into the poem you see above, and I let it go wandering. 


Now the Day is Full of Song

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Now the day is full of song
Yes, now that Vincente’s come
We have begged for o, so long
The strings his hand to strum.
Pluck, pluck the guitar string.
Pluck, pluck the hen.
Pluck, pluck the flowers.

Energy of golden light
Through the cold, hard year.
We find the birds fat and ripe
And dinner time is near.
Pluck, pluck the guitar string.
Pluck, pluck the hen.
Pluck, pluck the flowers.

Now view the silken stalks
Of brilliant summer beams.
When some enjoy to walk,
Hunting signs of dreams.
Pluck, pluck the guitar string.
Pluck, pluck the hen.
Pluck, pluck the flowers.

Rest now with full minds
And inside nourishment.
Shutters catch the flora
To gladden some bereavement.
Pluck, pluck the guitar string.
Pluck, pluck the hen.
Pluck, pluck the flowers.







Day 23

Today’s prompt is a homophonic translation.
Find a poem in a language you don’t know, and translate it into English based on the look of the words and their sounds.
It may not make a lot of sense, but it does give me some new words and ideas to play with.

Here is the original poem I chose written by Jeppe Aakjaer, a famous and quite brilliant Danish writer:

Nu er dagen fuld af sang

Nu er dagen fuld af sang,
og nu er viben kommen,
bekkasinen natten lang
håndterer elskovstrommen.
Plukke, plukke dugget strå,
plukke, plukke siv ved å,
plukke, plukke blomster.

Engen er nu gyldengul
af tunge kabbelejer,
søndenvinden byder op,
og dueurten nejer.
Plukke, plukke dugget strå,
plukke, plukke siv ved å,
plukke, plukke blomster.

Nu vil mø med silkestik
på brudelinet sømme.
Den, som ingen bejler fik,
hun ta’r sig én i drømme.
Plukke, plukke dugget strå,
plukke, plukke siv ved å,
plukke, plukke blomster.

Ræk mig en forglemmigej
og sidst en krusemynte,
sådan slutter vi vor leg så glad,
som den begyndte.
Plukke, plukke dugget strå,
plukke, plukke siv ved å,
plukke, plukke blomster.

I like bugs


I like bugs, all of these:
Spiders, crickets, beetles, bees,
Butterpillar, caterfly,
Ants and aphids that scurry by.

Honeyroaches, cockabees,
Cutwings, laceworms on my trees,
Ladydids and katybirds,
Cicadas, moths and, oh, my word,

Swallowbugs and spittletails,
Grasshoppers and slimy snails.
I think bugs are pretty cool.
But  STAY  OUTSIDE!  is the bug rule.







Day 22

Today’s optional prompt:  write a poem for children.
I had fun.  🙂


To the woman at Melrose Coffee Shop

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To the woman at Melrose Coffee Shop on Geary near Union Square.
You know who you are.  Little on the OCD side, aren’t we?
I know you think you have me all figured out.
You think I’m some uptown brat, silver spoon and all that.
I grew out of The Projects, dear.  I know what I am.
It makes me strong, fierce, like a caged cougar.
One wrong move and the claws come out of the velvet.
I told Ronnie not to push me.
I told that boy I wasn’t anybody’s baby.
I told him to mind his Pees and Cues.
Hardly my fault then that he was found face down in Bayview mud.
No one cried for Ronnie, even though most of the girls said
that if you squinted real hard he looked like Will Smith.
That made me snort.
I met Mr Will Smith in person, and Ronnie just did not look like him.
Met Mr Smith when he was filming that Happyness movie in the City.
I borrowed me an EXTRAs ID and walked right up to him and said hello.
He was nice, but busy.
Then I met Mr Chris Gardner.  Mr Chris Gardner.
Now, he is THE MAN.
He is the zero to hero.
He is the penniless itinerant who became a multi-millionaire.
So don’t you patronise me, Miss Melrose Coffee Shop.
Don’t talk to me like you’re my mother.
Straighten my placemat, put my fork on the right (left) side of the plate.
I am somebody, dear, because I made myself somebody.
And next time (if there is a next time)
If I ask for apple Danish — I want apple Danish!





Day 21

Today’s prompt is to write a “New York School” poem. The New York School is the name by which a group of poets that all lived in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The most well-known members are Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch. Their poems are actually very different from one another, but many “New York School” poems display a sort of conversational tone, references to friends and to places in and around New York, humour, inclusion of pop culture, and a sense of the importance of art (visual, poetic, and otherwise).

I am not sure I actually captured the New York School style, but I enjoyed trying and reading various NewYorkSchool poets along the way.  If you are interested, you can read Frank O’Hara or Kenneth Koch or John Ashbery.

Elusive Prey

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I’m too long in civilisation.
My feet are itchy, my finger trigger-happy.
The platteland calls me

and I go.

There’s a glorious solitude
that infiltrates my soul
in the veld
and a boyish anticipation:
I could see anything today
or nothing.

I half-pray “Let it be leopards,”
and then start the adventure.

The day grows dusty and disappointing.
I begin to lose the round-the-next-bend hope.
At the six hour mark I turn toward home,
rationalising — the peace has done me good.

And that is when I find her, Panthera pardus,
lazily lounging on a marula branch.
She is close enough to get a good shot
and I whisper a prayer of thanks.

Reflecting on the day as the sun slowly sinks behind the hills,
I smile thinking of the hours of editing that lie ahead.

Maybe, just maybe,
I captured the image of a lifetime.






Day 20

Today’s challenge is to write a poem in the voice of a member of your family.  Anyone who knows our family will know this voice.  🙂

Striped Enigma

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I gave you a gift,
something you admired
and expressed an interest in having.

It was of little consequence,
no value in the eyes of man.
A stone it was —
an incised moon-shaped beauty
of dappled rust and strawberry top.

And though I’d discovered it
and envisioned it nestled
amongst the coloured glass and slipper shells
on my bathroom windowsill,
I gave it to you.

Later that same day
you dismissively told me
that you left it on a table
in some West End restaurant.

I have no claim to that stone,
that small piece of barred earth.
And though I bore it for just a moment in time,
it captured a place in my heart.

I was sad to learn of its loss.

And sadder still to learn how lightly you held it.






Day 19

Today’s challenge is to use one or more of the actual sea shell names below to write a poem. The poem doesn’t have to be about sea shells at all — just inspired by one or more of the names.

Peruvian Hat     Snout Otter Clam     Strawberry Top     Incised Moon
Sparse Dove     False Cup-and-Saucer     Leather Donax     Shuttlecock Volva
Striped Engina     Tricolor Niso     Triangular Nutmeg     Shoulderblade Sea Cat
Woody Canoebubble     Ghastly Miter     Heavy Bonnet     Tuberculate Emarginula
Lazarus Jewel Box     Unequal Bittersweet     Atlantic Turkey Wing

Good Friday

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“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is TRUTH?” we sneer.
“Truth is relative, ” we proclaim
with arrogant, earth-bound knowledge.

Oh, tiny, insignificant man.
The heavens gaze at you in stupefied wonder —
your pride deceives you,
makes the universe revolve around you.

You face your Creator
and pronounce him guilty.
(His very presense testifies to your insignificance —
making you squirm.)
“Crucify him,” you scream into infinity
and in doing so, reveal your face.

Angels weep to see Majesty surrender to folly.

But God is patient.
Truth is absolute and cannot be killed.






Day 18


Today I elected not to follow the prompt (although it looks quite fun and I want to try it sometime).
Today I was struck by man’s audacity.
And God’s grace.

A Java Affair

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How I have loved you
(long before it was fashion),

O fat, frothy friar
strong and dark
beneath a creamy cowl.

Fondly caressing your smooth, curved cup,
I thaw icy fingers in your lambent gates.

You coyly tickle the olfactories
with warm seductive aromas,
mingling tastes of bitter bean
with comforting butterfat.

How the masses have adulterated you,
Splashing floral art
and funky hearts across your face.

But I will remain true,
O, beauteous Capuchin.

How I love you!





Day 17

Today the challenge is to write a poem in which you very specifically describe something in terms of at least three of the five senses. So, for example, your poem could carefully describe the smell of something, the taste of something, and the sound of something. It might be helpful to pick things you have actually encountered during your day: a cup of coffee at the office (“burnt, flat, and joylessly acrid”), or a hyacinth in the neighobr’s yard (“riotously curled petals shading violet-lavender-white, against the dark-green glossy-smooth leaves”).


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Shadows are made of black liquorice.
Water’s wet ’cause it gives a sloppy kiss.
The sky starts and ends in the ocean.
The dinosaurs live with the Swiss.

Thoughts are blown into our heads
like poison darts by invisible men.
To touch the sky you have to sit still
And angels crack jokes now and then.

People fade like old clothing,
that’s why my hair is going grey.
But even though my body goes
with you, my heart will stay.






Day 16


Today’s prompt is from Daisy Fried, and the basic idea is to write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.
The lies could be silly, complicated, tricky, or obvious.

I decided to have fun and try answering some of the questions from Day 14.  🙂


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Alter my consciousness, give me a by.

Set me to siesta on a starry sea.

Wink forty times and shut my eye.


Hypno-somn me, into La-la-land slip.

Power down my processor, turn out my light

Take me to Morpheus; crash, snooze, kip.


Just let me sleep through the night.






Day 15

Today’s prompt is to write a poem in terza rima. This form was invented by Dante, and used in The Divine Comedy. It consists of three-line stanzas, with a “chained” rhyme scheme. The first stanza is ABA, the second is BCB, the third is CDC, and so on. No particular meter is necessary, but English poets have tended to default to iambic pentameter (iambic pentameter is like the Microsoft Windows of English poetry). One common way of ending a terza rima poem is with a single line standing on its own, rhyming with the middle line of the preceding three-line stanza.

I am actually too sleepy to do this poem justice.  Another work in process.  🙂



crash, zizz, kip

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