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napowrimo #16

April 16, 2010

We’ve passed the half-way mark of NaPoWriMo! Yay! And I’m trying to get back to writing a poem each day before I do anything else. I didn’t like that feeling yesterday and the day before of it looming over me. Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is write a death poem.

Conveniently, death’s been on my mind, so I’m going for it. I’ve been trying to figure out how I should spend the anniversary of my mom’s death (which will be the 18th). I’m of two minds about it: have a quiet day alone or plan something meaningful. I’d hate to be forced into the “do nothing” option by default (lack of planning) but I’d also hate to do something commemorative just for the sake of doing something. What I think I’ve decided is that it’s just a day, and I can do something commemorative any time I want. No reason to impose something artificially on account of the calendar. (Of course, the second mind kicks in and says, “Yes, but you are aware of the calendar, woman.”)

One thing writers and artists can do in such a situation is imagine something to do. I wrote this note in my journal the other day: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many crows.” For today’s poem, I’m going to try to count them. And mark the occasion of death. Bear with me: I don’t know if it’s going to work.




It occurred to me as I was writing this that the repetitive quality of the counting and even the concept would be well-suited to a sestina or a pantoum. But I also like the scattering of it on the page. A hybrid, perhaps, upon revision. Either way, this is a strange bit of writing for me. To say the least.

Tally: 18 = 7.0 RWP + 9.5 PAD + 1.5 Book of Kells. (Target is now 32.)

  1. April 16, 2010 10:40 am

    This is really good.

    & hugs

  2. April 16, 2010 10:47 am

    I really like this. I’m tinkering with something to combine this prompt with the rwp one using scent, but it’s still at the “?” stage.

  3. April 16, 2010 11:14 am

    Oh, this is tremendous. Painful and bittersweet and oh, so tender…

    I hadn’t read the Poetic Asides prompt yet… and Death being oddly enough, one of my favored subjects, I think I will write as I drive… my two daughters to San Francisco, shopping for the eldest yet her elder sister, the one who died, is always present for me on these monumental expeditions.

    Damn it and thank you.

  4. April 16, 2010 1:24 pm

    Hands down 100% perfection!

  5. April 16, 2010 2:35 pm

    I agree with you about the repetition vs. spilling out on the page part; the way it’s set up reminds me of that yellow paint getting all over the place. This is probably the best way to spend the anniversary: doing something meaningless and meaningful with your loved one absent and present at the same time.

    IV and V are my favorite. Crow-colored humor mixed into the whole.

  6. joannejohns permalink
    April 16, 2010 4:43 pm

    Just the right amount of crazy. I love it 🙂

  7. April 16, 2010 5:07 pm

    I love “I arrange my murder in groups of 10.”

    It really works all spread on the screen, especially “except” over there by itself like a crow you might have forgetten to count.

    I imagine the crows moving and remember a similar challenge trying to count grackles for project feederwatch.

  8. April 16, 2010 6:53 pm

    Both beautiful and slightly macabre 🙂 (33 years since my mother died and I haven’t quite nailed that death poem yet)

  9. April 16, 2010 7:40 pm

    Beautiful and slightly disturbing — as a poem should be. An authentic voice — so hard to capture.

  10. April 16, 2010 8:22 pm

    Carolee – this impacted me greatly. Having done some strange rituals to commemorate loss, I’ve stopped being judgemental. Love the symbolism of the crows, and the title is spot on.

  11. April 16, 2010 9:36 pm

    Carolee, I am not surprised you are counting crows the day you want to remember your mother. In Hindu culture we believe that crows are our ancestors, tell me why would they sit at our windows and call us otherwise. We offer a ball of rice and lentils to the crows everyday before we eat. Your mother is visiting you Carolee. My love to you.

  12. April 16, 2010 11:42 pm

    You can take “DRAFT/” off this one.

  13. April 17, 2010 9:08 am

    i agree with the chorus. this is beyond awesome.

  14. April 17, 2010 10:03 am

    wow, everyone! your feedback on this is much appreciated. (uma — thank you for sharing that. it’s wonderful to know.) i’m very unsure about the poem (its craft; i do like the concept of the ritual), but your confidence in it will make me settle in with it and figure out what it is i’m asking of it.

    today, 24 hours after writing it, there’s more i like about it than yesterday, so i think that’s a start. thanks for pointing it toward the “keeper” pile!

  15. April 27, 2010 4:11 pm

    Aww, you killed the crows. I had grown fond of them with yellow paint.

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