April Poem-A-Day Challenge 2011

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am attempting to write an original poem for each day in April.

Guiding my work is the Poetic Asides blog over at Writer’s Digest.  If I write it on time, the poems will also be posted in the comments section of that blog, in addition to being posted here.  I suggest that each of you check it out and follow along!  Keep in mind that, since I am writing a new poem each day based on the prescribed prompts, these are drafts.  Hope you enjoy and feel inspired to write your own poems in honor of National Poetry Month!  The most recent poem will be featured at the top.  Feel free to comment, but don’t forget to be kind.

*** So, I haven’t been fantastic at keeping up a poem-a-day.  Let’s make a deal.  Can I go for thirty poems for April instead?  I think this is a good revised goal.  Daily prompts will still match Poetic Asides, but they just may not be composed on the actual day indicated.***

Day Thirty

Prompt: Write a poem on the theme of “After Leaving Here”

“To My Students Upon Graduation”

After leaving here,
will you remember
the seeds I have planted,
the stories we shared,
the lessons learned?

After leaving here,
will you understand
why I cared so much,
why it all mattered,
what I was trying to say?

After leaving here,
what will you carry
from our time together
into your next adventure
to make your own difference.

Day Twenty-Nine

Prompt: Write an ode or poem of praise.

“Ode to Second Hand Books”

Opening the gates,
dust rises and I smile
at my sudden need to
sneeze, scrunching up my face.

For a moment, I lie and revel
on the title page, pondering
the meaning and pretending
the inscription’s meant for me.

Waving at the author in the calm
fields of peace before the storm,
before the beauty, I climb to the
far corner and pull back page one.

And I am lost. Lost in a land
that has played host to many
a hopeless wonderer, knowing
just how to guide them through.

At journey’s end I add my name
to those who came before, and stand
once more to haul, exhausted and
grateful, the great gate closed.

Day Twenty-Eight

Prompt: Write a “world without ___” poem

“Ambrosia”

I know my world used to exist
without even the thought of it.
Even in high school, the sun
rose and set, the world
turned without. Yet now,
each morning, the world
clicks on at five forty-five.
From my slumber, I hear
the earth wake, groaning,
gurgling. My mind registers,
rather fuzzily, that it is my time,
too, for waking and working and wondering.
In the still dark kitchen, life is poured,
a steaming cup of motivation, movement,
blissfully bitter and dark, the day is lifted
from the night on the rising steam.

Day Twenty-Seven

Prompt: Write a poem fitting the following title with the blanks filled in “In the ____________ of ____________”

“In the depth of the story”

Plum through the thickets and foliage (or folly)
plucking for your journey those perfect phrases,
delicately turned and impeccably placed,
nourishing for the soul.

Join in companionably, or even in opposition,
with those you meet along the way,
be they natives of the narrative, ghosts,
or fellow travelers.

Swelter under the heat of conflict,
or danger or passion or desire,
for the heat is necessary for
the story’s refining fire.

The trees will be thick and tall,
at turns beautiful and fearsome,
and, hopefully, sometimes
both awe-full and some simultaneously.

Forget not to peer carefully through
life and limb to glimpse the sky
reigning over all the forest,
and sea, which may have gone unmentioned.

Day Twenty-Six

Prompt: Write a poem about leading or following – or both!

“If”

If one stops to pick
up trash, the slack, others, you
and no one’s around to see,
are they a leader?

If one doesn’t let
their right hand know the secret
how their left hand is helping,
are they a leader?

If one does not give
a press release of all their
good works, ideas, and success,
are they a leader?

If one refuses
the tempting pressures of man,
expectations of others,
are they a leader?

Surely they must be.
Otherwise, how would you tell
true leaders from followers
of recognition.

Day Twenty-Five

Prompt: Write a poem on the theme of falling

“Alice and I”

I have this semi-unintentional habit
of accidently falling, quite fatefully.
Like Alice running, tripping, stumbling
away from what she knew she did not
want and into what she only imagined.

Running from or towards, I’m not
quite sure. I see the hole just moments
before I fall, slip, dive into it, but perhaps
it has already haunted my dreams? Threads
already planted into my tapestry, hazy, but sure.

Fighting the false fates surrounding us,
Alice and I, our adventures lie in accidents.
We must falter, plummet, tumble, away
from the path and into the bush where
a new journey is ready, waiting, needing us.

Day Twenty-Four

Prompt: Write a prayer poem

“Thank God”

Even in schoolhouses where
we cannot speak His name,
He is Risen.
Even when justice is
difficult to find, believe,
He is Risen.
Even when the rich grow richer,
and the poor grow poorer
He is Risen.

Even in red clay,
deep and thick,
He is Risen.
Even from the entrapment
of creeping Kudzu vines,
He is Risen.
Even in this homeland that
is only one small corner of the world
He is Risen.

Even when I turn my head,
or refuse to turn it, too,
Even as I look only inward,
and revel in blindness,
Even as I fill my calendar
with everything but Him,
He is Risen

Day Twenty -Three

Prompt: Write a “Quit what you’re doing” poem

“Tell Me What to Say”

Tell me. If I write and say
“Quite what you are doing,”
would you really stop? Is that
all it would take: I have doubts.

I don’t want to write/preach
and say “Be Strong!” or
“It will get better!” or
“Pull yourself together!”
I know you are probably hearing
plenty of that. I don’t know
what will happen next. Right now,
yeah, things suck. I hope and pray
that they will get better.
The only thing I know for sure is
there are only two things in our control
in this world: our actions
and our reactions. Beyond that, it’s up
to the Big Guy. But then again, you
have a fair amount of people
petitioning Him on your behalf.
Know you are loved, and tell me,

If I told you to quit, would you?
Are their magic words? I love you.
We love you. He loves you.
You are worth more than that

Day Twenty-Two

Prompt, write an “only one in the world” poem. 

“Athens, GA”

To travel with such sweet nostalgia
down the Streets of Broad and
College Ave – named only
somewhat eponymously.
Welcome, these streets call,
to The Classic City – as if
there were no other.
Really there are many, and,
stick with me here, that is
what makes it the only one in the world

I passed through those great stone arches-
Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation,
(although that last pillar is not always given its due)
and knew the city was not the same as
the collegiate town of my own four-year habitation,
nor was it the fertile musical fields of the REM or B52s homeland.
It won’t be the same for my brother, graduating in
May, and it won’t be the same the next time I visit for
a game between the hedges, and it won’t be the same
tomorrow, just another Saturday in April.

The Athens I stood in today was
the only one of its kind. And even then
slowly changing.  All the other Athens,
too, all added and stirred together make
a city like no other, yet classic all the same.
You won’t find it in Greece, or Atlanta,
or Chapel Hill.  You can’t visit the town
of yesterday, or find today’s tomorrow, but
somehow, it remains classic,
familiar, yours and mine.

Day Twenty-One

Prompt: Write about second thoughts

“Seventeen”

Maybe I didn’t know it all.
Or myself. The adults did not.
That I knew with all certainty.
They knew certainly nots,
not truths. Well maybe
some half-truths, but I
was never really sure – certain
only of my own infallibility,
invincibility, convincibility.
Now I am one of those without
answers. Did I drop them along
the way? My truths also
lost by half? Maybe I didn’t
know it all, but, if I did, I can’t
help but wonder: Where did it go?

Day Twenty
Prompt: Write a Message in a Bottle Poem
“Between Chair Cushions”
Should you find this note tied up
and nestled in the coffee cup by the chair.
It means it finally happened.
A book has swallowed me whole.
Dig between the cushions, you’ll probably find
a spine, maybe of poetry, probably a novel –
some story world of which I can’t find my way out.
Call to me through the pages, or sing some sort of tune.
If I can hum along, I may realize I’ve found my way back.
Try baking cookies, or, even better, refilling this cup with
a fresh smelling brew. I’m likely to follow that heavenly
steam back into to this world we both belong to.

*** Earlier today comments and poems mysteriously disappeared from the Poetic Asides blog!  I wrote a second “Message in a Bottle” Poem in response.  Here it is:

“Interwoven Nets”

Dear Cyberspace,
Hopefully the interwoven
nets can bring this note
to you in its metaphorical
bottle. Somewhere in your
far reaches is another such
bottle. It probably looks
much like this one and is
filled with the poems of my
fellow travelling companions
and myself. Please send them back
through the afore mentioned nets to
Captain Brewer, who is keeping
a log of such web-like activity

Day Nineteen

Prompt: Write a Love or Anti-Love Poem

Note: I really found a love note in my middle school classroom like the one in stanza four yesterday – including the line about the gerbil!

“Love is a Battlefield”

Sifting through old tests abandoned
For soccer balls and cleats, digging
Through the forgotten water bottles
And the homework the dog ate.

Like a field after battle in the
War for attention, begging to be
cleared so we can stand
to fight again tomorrow.

Found amongst the rubble a page
torn and taped, folded and
folded again, stashed between
two books on history repeating.

Dear Beautiful, your eyes are like
the stars; your hair is like
the sunset; your eyelashes are like
a gerbil’s, long and full.

A slight tug and another remembrance
pulled from the wreckage. Dear Fabulous,
Did you see? Her hair was, like,
electrified; Her clothes, like, secondhand.

I discard the bullets and keep
the salve, in case of emergency.
The field is cleared and ready
for the battle to start again.

Day Eighteen
Prompt: fill in the blank: “Like _____________”
“Like It’s Gameday”

Somewhere an air
guitar string has been
plucked and invisible
energy fills the crowd.

Normal inhibitions are
foregone and unbridled
enthusiasm is
acceptable and expected.

Imagine it’s always
like gameday and we painted
our faces and the right upbeat
song could solve any problem.


Day Seventeen

Prompt: a big picture poem. 

800 square feet in a tiny
corner of a building that only seems
big in an average suburb in the center
of one state in the southern corner
of a country, that contrary
to popular belief, is not the center
of the world.

I throw my weight, my whole
energy against the walls
to knock them down.  I’d
settle for even a hole, though,
it could not come large enough
to show all that matters
in the world.

I try instead planting seeds
of hope, of tolerance
of powerful knowledge, of understanding.
and feed the vines through
the holes I’ve made and hope
they will spread like kudzu exploring
all the world.

Day Sixteen

Prompt: a snapshot poem. 

In one cup of coffee I hear
eight conversations
three languages
mild traffic
a low flying plane.

In one cup of coffee I see
six high rises
two games of chess
a few just sitting
and some anything but.

How many lives
pass before me
in one cup of coffee?

Day Fifteen

Prompt:  Write a social media profile poem

A cursor blinks in
an about me box.
waiting patiently
for something pithy,
true, and insightful.

To explain a life –
Start with religion?
reason for being?
or occupation-
how being is spent?

relationships, too,
make an appearance.
those that along with
experiences
constantly shape us.

Follower of Christ
a teacher of youth
Friend, sister, daughter
love reading, writing,
traveling, and dogs.

Twenty-five years
crammed into a box
click save and explore
in minutes the years
a hundred others.

Day Fourteen

For today’s prompt, write an “ain’t none of my business” poem. This poem could be about something that is none of your business. Or a poem about something with which no one else should be concerned. It could be a poem about someone ignoring something that maybe they shouldn’t.

THIS ONE HAS ME STUMPED!  STILL LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION, CHECK BACK LATER.

Day Thirteen

For today’s prompt, write a poem that remembers an old relationship. This relationship does not have to be romantic. It could be a departed (or estranged) family member, old friend, former teacher, or even just someone you briefly encountered

All it took was
a push on the swing set,
a good trade at lunch,
note passed in class,
or seat shared on bus,
a simple declaration to be
best friends at age six.

Day Twelve

Prompt: write a form poem.

I’ve chosen to write two lunes. One based on the form originated by Robert Kelly, the other based on the form of Jack Collom.  Read up on these poetic forms here.

Kelly Lune:

Heavy thumping tail
roving nose
ready at my heel

Collom Lune:

Change, it comes.
Sometimes a choice, often unbidden.
Regardless, it comes.


Day Eleven

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Maybe (blank);” 


“Maybe Yesterday”

It’s procrastinator’s remorse
to call on: Maybe Yesterday.
the check that should’ve been mailed,
the promise kept.

Yet Maybe Tomorrow stands as
soul sister, blood brother, bound witness
to stacks of unanswered mail,
errands forgotten.

Maybe Today sitting alone,
Hear them whisper about her deeds.
The stuff of legends sparking
half jealousies.

Day Ten

For today’s prompt, write a never again poem. 

Mine was written during a “Worship and Prayer Night” at my church.

“Leaning In”

I stand up straighter
wanting to be worthy of being
seen with You, worthy of You.
I know I can’t really be
but You act like I already am.

I sway and rock, we are
dancing together, They will see
me and know You are here, too.
I hum and sing to You
and with You and You are

here next to You, I try
to remember my fears,
but they have faded away.
not that their contents are lost.
they are just no longer feared.

What was it? Loneliness.
Though some may see only
me. I lean into You.
Feel You at my side as
I stand taller, straighter.

Never again will I
turn away. I know I will,
but whether I reach
or fall back does not
change You beside me.

Day Nine

Prompt: write a time of day poem.    

“Saturday 7:45 … AM”

No alarm buzzes yet
my eyes pop open to
sunlight streaming
in, bathing the room
in stripes. A rustling,
a shake, a pink
tongue and cold nose
coaxing me up and out.

Day Eight

Prompt: For today’s prompt, write a ready to celebrate poem.

“Bittersweet”

Laces frayed and dragging
the ground. Soles worn from all
the paths already crossed.

Tired and worn, but comfortable.
Stuck in one place like
the gum cemented to the heel.

Stride stretches to reach with one
foot planted firmly in what is
known, the other swings forward.

Laces tied tight and straight.
Fresh click and clack set pace
down new, uncharted paths.


Day Seven

For today’s prompt, write a “what if” poem.  It could be a “what if” from the past, present or future.  For instance, what if no one discovered electricity?  (How would we do this challenge?)

Last month, inspired by LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day, I spent time with my students discussing the importance of literacy,and we pondered what it would be like if we couldn’t read or write. Today’s prompt took my thoughts back to those conversations, and this is what I came up with:

What if the words left?
I can still hear them
in my mother’s voice, but
they are walking off the page
on their spindly legs that no longer
hold any meaning.

My thoughts are jumbled,
backlogged in my mind.
Try speaking them out loud,
but they are maybe
heard then lost, instead of
kept hoarded in my mind.

Day Six

Prompt: “Don’t ________, _________”

I actually wrote two for today and neither one is what I set out to write this morning.  Funny how poetry sometimes seems to decide on its own what it wants to do.

#1

“Don’t avoid, start!”

I have been dreaming of my book.
It comes towards me slowly.
Green cover,
navy spine,
pages blank.

A sketch begins to fade into view.
Gradual shading takes place.
A nameless woman,
hair short and curly,
mischievous eyes.

A path forms in front of her.
At turns in scorching heat,
then shady or dark.
clear or foggy,
in unequal parts.

I pull away like a nervous
significant other, fearful of the
proximity. I outline.
I character sketch; I poem.
I do not start typing.

#2

“Don’t just plan, write!”

Black hard-covered notebook
sized her hand and a half,
elastic to bind closed,
expandable pocket in back.

Sticky notes, four sizes,
seven colors lined up ROY G BIV.
an absent minded rhythmic slap
as they’re thumbed methodically.

Two pens, black and blue,
A highlighter, green,
A sharp yellow pencil spinning
artfully through her fingers.

Totally prepared
and the words won’t come.

Day Five

For today’s prompt, do one of the following:

  1. Write a goofy poem.
  2. Write a serious poem.

I chose to write a goofy poem.

“Alternative Universe Found!” or “I May Be Having Deja Vu”

I teach middle school.

Say what?

Middle school English I teach.

Come again?

Sixth through eighth grade students.
Reading, writing, speaking … and listening.

I don’t understand.

In a classroom. Eleven through Fourteen-year-olds.
We read. We write. We talk.

You do what, now? With whom?

Come on, I’ll show you. It’ll be fun.
(Feet patter quickly in opposite direction.)


Day Four

Prompt: pick a type of person and write a poem about him or her.

Tune in for mysterious love lives of the 7th grader, revealed each day at 8:00 A.M. EST

The ringing bell
a universal signal
to act cool and no one can tell
that you don’t really know it all.

Notice the response to the call.
The male leans in, uneasily shifting.
stolen glances up and down the hall,
one eyebrow carefully lifting.

The females feign not noticing him,
furiously adjusting their ponytail plumes.
Whispering, wondering if their hearts he’ll win
and coyly hiding in the girls’ restroom.

Spitball thrown.
Love hits home.

Day Three

Today’s prompt is to write a poem in which you imagine the world without you. Anyway, it’s interesting to contemplate our individual contributions to this planet in ways small and large.

As someone who encounters those who may consider the idea of a world without them a little too closely, I have written my poem to those who may need a reminder how important they are.

Feet Planted

You watch yourself fade away,
Slowly being washed of any color,
edges becoming blurred.

Pop! and sizzle.
Like a firework, you
bring a surge of fearsome
energy into your being.
Only to watch yourself fall
and fade again.

Your feet are making footprints.
Plant yourself firmly in them.
As waves crash upon the shore,
they will not fade away.  Instead
they will deepen as you
hold your ground.


Day Two:

For today’s prompt, write a postcard poem. Make it brief and communicate what it is like where you are. Also, make it personal.

Dear Summer

Dear Summer,
Wish you were here.
Spring is such a tease,
and I fall for his games every time.

But you, with your honeyed drawl,
Summer  you I know to be true.
Do not be discouraged come August
When some curse your name
under the hot Georgia sky.

You are constant and honest.
You are summer. You are loved.

Day One:

Prompt: Write a “what got you here” poem.

Taking your Eyes off the Road

I don’t count the steps.
I don’t measure the days.
I tried that once.
It doesn’t work.

But I keep my eyes open and only
mostly focused I feel that I take in more
that way learning from what is behind
keeping an eye on what is ahead
and dipping my hands in the currents
of the scenes slipping by like a dog
with ear-blown ears, eyes, tongue, nose.

Faithfully the path appears,
ever two steps ahead of my own.
It is not always safe, predictable, or calm.
but it is solid and true.
It gets me where I’m going
and will follow me home.


Creative Commons License
This work by Katie Dixon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

2 responses to “April Poem-A-Day Challenge 2011

  1. Pingback: Poem-A-Day Challenge Updated « teachernextdoor

  2. Ashley April 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I LOVE your poems…only had time to read the first couple right now (the one about the story swallowing you {ok, the speaker} was great and very clever!), but I’ll def come back and finish them later.

    Like

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