The Whether Here



Catching Up: NaPoWriMo Day's 4, 5 & 6

The boys are home for Spring Break, which means: a.) We're having some stress-free together time; & b.) I'm having less alone-time than I usually require to get any writing done. I tried on Monday to do a little writing but just couldn't produce, so instead I gave up and we went to the nursery and picked up our free shade tree (a heavy-producing nectarine that already has some small fruit forming -- can you say yum?) as well as organic soil, mulch, and a bunch of vegetable plants. Yesterday the boys both got haircuts, plus we went to the movies. This morning, though, because it's a bit overcast and we have nothing in particular on the agenda (other than bills & taxes), I have been playing catch-up. So, here are my rough attempts at Day 4 (describe a type of person, or in this case, cat), Day 5 (write a silly or a serious poem; mine could be read as either, so you decide which you think it is) and Day 6 ("Don't [blank], [blank]").

After procrastinating with poems, I suppose I should get back to those bills & taxes.

Day 4: Singular in Her Attraction

The one-eyed calico shifts
in her position on the lawn.

She scans the perimeter
to make certain the tom is gone.

The barking of the neighboring dogs:
She does not fear them.

Her dead-eye’s the ghost
of a darkening jewel.

Her coat is the finest
she has ever owned.


Day 5: This Cat, That Cat: A Tutorial

This cat is at the window, looking in.
That cat is at the window, looking out.

This cat is drooling on the sill.
That cat is drooling in the dish.

This cat is that cat’s brother, a fact.
That cat was the lucky duck, kitten unstuck.

[C]hance = [O]pportunity + [T]iming.

Apply what you’ve learned:
Jam your head beneath the fence;


Pick one:
a.) thriving (alive)
b.) starving (dead)


Day 6: Don’t Cry, Sing

Don’t cry, slather butter on your lover and make it up.
Wouldn’t you rather swing from the canopy than sling hash as a short-order cook
     in your own kitchen?
Couldn’t the floor whiten into a gessoed canvas upon which the both of you would paint
     yourselves thickly?
It won’t kill you to avoid the mirror for once.
It might break you if you should dare to look.


Back to Crestline today, plus NaPoWriMo day 3

Yesterday we drove up to Crestline to work on the cabin that my father-in-law purchased as a family property. We've been doing this now nearly every Saturday since January, with the intention of getting the cabin weekend-stay ready before this summer.

We're nearly there. Yesterday we installed a tire swing over a flattish, leaf-covered area down the embankment near the stream. We've also been working on "excluding" (read: evicting) all of the small creatures that make their home under the house. We have already extracted mountains of raccoon poop, plus we've been covering the holes in the siding created by the flying squirrels that had previously made a home in our attic. Aside from my climbing an extension ladder precariously leaned up next to a tree (and nearly falling down the hillside in the process) I just focused on cleaning up the inside so it looks less like a construction zone. Also, we made another trip into town to stop at the hardware store and to go by the bookstore to check on my consignment. I now have three copies of Seven Floors Up there, and a reading scheduled for August 6 during their monthly Art-Tique Wine Walks. Booths of artists, crafters, and what-nots will be out up and down the main thoroughfare, Lake Drive, the first Saturday of every warm month for the remainder of the year. I'm looking forward to reading there, and to meeting more of the local artist-folk. Crestline doesn't have the same arts vibe that Idyllwild does, but my impression so far is that it's very much there, just not quite as visible.

Taken with my phone looking down from the upper deck. That's Jacob on the tire swing. Bradley is sitting on top of the sewer access (I know, yuck, but it's completely sealed), smashing rocks.

Last night upon returning home, exhausted, we discovered that my hubby had left his wallet and cell phone at the cabin. Crud. But we managed to make a day of it today, forgoing the plant sale at UCR's Botanic Gardens and instead driving back up, me behind the wheel this time. I don't really care for mountain driving, especially during inclement weather, but it was a nice day and I need to get used to the drive. I suspect we'll be spending a lot of time there this summer. Today we had lunch at a cute family restaurant called Billy Bear's that the boys love. We also stopped back by the bookstore where I donated my National Poetry Month poster with Elizabeth Bishop's quote, newly arrived from the Academy of American Poets. They had no idea that it's NaPoMo, nor the trouble that a lot of us are going to to celebrate it. As I had nowhere to hang the poster, I figured it would be a better fit, enlightening patrons at the bookstore, and hopefully encouraging some of them to pick up a book of poetry.

Now that we're home I have been enjoying a Smithwicks ale and attempting to fulfill my NaPoWriMo challenge for the day. Can't say that it's anything amazing, but at least I'm keeping up!

Today's prompt was to write a poem that imagines a world without you in it.

The cats have come
for their dinner
but I am not
here. There is no
bowl to pout over
or hiss at --
there is nothing
frisky about
this silence that
now alights the way
a small bird might,
unseen among
the tinseled green
boughs. Doused by some
strange nuisance, some fist
has closed over
the flame. What was
once has now never
been, & the cats
are crying. But
they don’t know.
They don’t know
what they are crying for.


Happy Day Two of NaPoWriMo

Well, it's day two, and I am on the road to the mountains today, attempting to post from my mobile phone. Before we left my mom and my kids and I were taking inventory of the cats. Thanks for chiming in yesterday - will have to see If this cat theme sticks as the month progresses.

On Poetic Asides, today's prompt is to write a postcard poem.

This will likely need revision as I am writing it on the fly, but here goes:

Dear Momma,

The weather is fine here. The winter trees allow me to see the birds through their knuckled branches, if I look closely enough. I have found a warm spot to lay between the knees of the animal that scooped me up. I do not know how long she will keep me but I wait at the screen, watching for your return, day into night into day. I occasionally catch your scent, mingling with hers. I can hardly remember, though, which is which.

Your little nameless grey one

Big Poetry Book Giveaway!

Yep, I am participating in Kelli Russell Agodon's Big Poetry Book Giveaway again this year. Yay!! Up for grabs, the winner may choose either my chapbook, (al)most delicious, or my full-length book, Seven Floors Up.

(Check out the books tab, above.) Also, I want to share my love of Matthea Harvey. The first book of hers that I read, on the recommendation of a mentor in my MFA program, was Sad Little Breathing Machine.

I absolutely loved it. It sent me off on a journey to explore new ways of tweaking the English language, and I still haven't run out of steam. So if you're into: a.) sci fi poetry b.) surrealist poetry c.) experiment as a form of instructive/constructive play, then Harvey will float your bloat. Her most recent collection, Modern Life, won the Kingsley Tufts award, and I love that one, too, but this is the one that got me started.

So, comment away!

P.S. Also stop by Poemeleon's blog for more chances to win LOTS of books-- by Luisa Igloria, Sarah Maclay, Judith Terzi, Jules Gibbs, and editors Maureen Alsop, Tom C. Hunley, Ren Powell, and Cati Porter!


Happy Day 1 of NaPoWriMo!

I'm trying it again. This whole poem-a-day craziness. Last year I couldn't keep it up, but the year before I wrote one every day, and some days even more than one. That resulted in my chapbook what Desire makes of us.

So, I'm going to try the prompts on the Poetic Asides blog, because they've worked for me before, and I have some rough idea of what I want to accomplish this month: another chapbook-length series, this time on cats.

Yes, cats. No, like Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, but undoubtedly influenced by that, and from watching The Aristocats one-too-many times.

We have three indoor cats, two of which we adopted from the backyard. I've been watching our backyard cats now for several years. We feed a local colony, and it's been fascinating watching their social behavior, which one's have bonded, which don't get along. The litters of kittens that I know are being born that keep disappearing. (So sad, but I am grateful in a bittersweet way.)

So, here is my poem for the day. It's untitled. That will have to come later, as I still have one other post to make today -- about the Poetry Book Giveaway! Yay!

Nothin’ but fur and feline gumption scrapped
this flea-strapped rat-trap backdoor cat.
T’ain’t the first time anyone’s been ‘tracted
to this old hat. I’m gon’ get me a funny-eyed
maiden calico and she gon’ gimme summa that.

He wants to get him ‘some of that’? Forget it,
Lame-O Romeo. You ain’t all that. And I am.
The sun is out and I’m going to lay like a rug
while you strut your mug all over this yard.
You’re not my kind. I haven’t lost my mind.

How many noes does it take it to change
someone’s line? That little girl is mine. Who
knows where the wind goes when it whines
past. She’s a pussycat. How’s that? Change’s
just a breeze away. Then I’ll have my day.

What brings you to the neighborhood, Scat?
I dunno. These four paws. This nose. This n’ that.

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