Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo

Morning Pages

26 Apr

Writing morning pages
is cream skimmed off the top of
my thoughts, or pond scum.

Writing morning pages
is the pool boy, whose long net
catches leaves and dead bugs.

Writing morning pages
is your hands cupping my face
your eyes deep in mine.

Writing morning pages
is the clack clack of these thoughts
Ding! then hard return.

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A flock of haiku for the home stretch of National Poetry Month.

La Muchacha

15 Apr

Gisela la muchacha
called me Niña Lupita
though she was only
two years older than I

While she cooked and cleaned
I watched TV, after school
learning Spanish from telenovelas
Gisela, watching from the kitchen

Two teenaged girls, learning about life
the haves and the have nots
campesinas longing for joy in the big city
poor girl in love with the patrón, or his son

No one wants to explain
to a 13 year old gringa
why she’s not supposed to befriend
the 15 year-old maid

I knew Gisela had dreams
and they weren’t my laundry
she had no skills, and no money
her prospects were grim

How can you tell a girl like Gisela
get an education, when there’s none to be had?
And grow up in front of them
with a life laid before you?

I still remember Gisela’s shy smile
she’d hide it behind her hand
and after she left,
I tried to understand

to this day I still struggle
with the unfairness of it all
and it’s still hard to not be friendly
with the muchachas

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Guayaquil, a city of over a million people in Ecuador.

Ode to Sr. Mosto

14 Apr

My Algebra teacher
is 84 now, he lives alone
in the house downtown that he grew up in,
his mother and sister long gone

I’d love to sit with him in his parlor
hear him talk about his life
how 50 years of math
brought him purpose and joy

I would rejoice at recalling
his famous sayings, his
booming voice, weaker now
but still full of encouraging authority

And secretly I would hope for a pop quiz,
to prove that, despite years gone by
I still remember his exacting lessons
on how to make sense out of x and y

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My Algebra teacher, Sr. Mosto, with me (in the sweater) and tow of my best friends in 1987.

32 years ago, my Dad informed our family that we were moving to Ecuador for two years. He had been recently hired to be the new Director General of the American School of Guayaquil. I had mixed feelings about going, and leaving my Jersey shore world, but then again, I was 12. I asked him what it was going to be like, going to a new school, with all my classes in Spanish. He said, “You are going to have Mr. Mosto as your math teacher. He is an excellent math teacher.” Honestly, at the time, those words didn’t exactly excite me 😉

He was absolutely right, though. Sr. Mosto had a very clear way of explaining math. I still remember the way he formed his numbers in chalk on the board. He had flair, he had presence, discipline, exactitude, authority, efficiency, and an absolute command of algebra. He rarely got angry, and could handle a classroom full of 50 junior high students (yes, 50) AND give them an excellent base in mathematics without ever having to raise his voice. He simply and kindly commanded respect. Although he never received any formal training in teaching, he was one of those people that were born to teach. He taught at the Colegio Americano for well over 40 years, only recently retiring in 2008.

Mr. Mosto never married, and lived with his mother until her death. Now he lives alone, and at the age of 84 has medical issues, but remains alert and lucid. He pretty much has everything taken care of as far as his physical needs go. I know this because just last week, a fellow ex-alum, Tzely Shalev, got in touch with him. As he spends most of his days alone, with a godson helping him around the house, Mr. Mosto told her that he would love to hear from his students, and maybe some could even come visit him. So, she started a Facebook group and within a day had 1,700 members. Barely a week has gone by and now the group has about 2,600 former students, just from our school alone (he also taught evenings at a few other private and public schools).

Mr. Mosto has received hundreds of messages- and best of all- visits from students! On Wednesday a group of friends from my graduating class visited him and even gave him a tablet with data service so he could see all of the messages we had posted on his Facebook group, and set him up with a Facebook account.

When I look back at the teachers I have had that truly formed my intellect and gave me time-tested tools, Mr. Mosto holds one of, if not THE highest spot.

The outpouring of love and sincere desires to help from so many of my fellow alums is absolutely beautiful. What I am most grateful for is that the opportunity to do this has happened while he is still with us, when he truly needs it the most. All of this has filled my heart with indescribable joy.

La Gringa

13 Apr

Mirame a los ojos y dime de donde vengo
quienes son mis padres y cual es mi nombre

Lupita Maria, me dices, bella como tu madre
pero disculpame, como diablo se pronuncia

el apellido de tu padre? y cuando
abres la boca nadie te entiende

People look at me and ask
where do you come from?

and I know there will never be
a simple answer to that question

my face does not match
my name does not match

my voice does not match
it’s a trifecta of confusion

you must be Native American
I say I am of the tribe of New Jersey

But you don’t have an accent,
what exit? they smirk

105 and 109, I reply
with authority and pride

So where did Lupe come from?
It’s my mother’s name

Is she Mexican?
No, she is Ecuadorean

Oh, that explains it
the Incan connection

your English is so good
I’ve been speaking it since birth

but their eyes have glazed over
and they will never really know

who I am, and most importantly
where I come from

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Nazca

12 Apr

En tus ojos nacen cielos
nos miras desde arriba

con tu dedo largo
dibujas sobre la tierra

trazas lineas vagas, garabatos
dando forma a tus ideas,

el desierto tu papel periodico
esta tierra tu cuaderno borrador

Y si al final estas satisfecho
solo basta una palabra: Nazca!

 

Líneas de Nazca, Nazca, Perú, 2015-07-29, DD 52

In your eyes skies are born
you watch us from above

with your long finger
you doodle on the earth

tracing haphazard lines, scribbles
giving form to your ideas

the desert is your newsprint
this land your sketch book

and if at last you are satisfied
only one word is necessary: Be born!

Sevenling: Dances with words

10 Apr

I love the way you rub
parts of words together, the friction
of a tango, a waltz, a samba

It’s not so much
about the vowels, or the consonants,
but the implications in between

You spin me right round, baby, right round.

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A Sevenling poem for Dverse. Just something new.

 

Legacy

7 Apr

At twelve
my teacher said
“Your story has promise.”
I never forgot, her words fueled
my dream.

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A cinquain that I wrote yesterday at a workshop with Yvette Hyater-Adams in Jacksonville, FL during the Jax Poetry Fest. This form is really interesting in that it uses 5 lines, with each line having a different syllable count. Generally, the form, which was devised by Adelaide Crapsey, encompasses a story arc, where the first line talks about beginnings, the second line is about pursuit of aspiration, the third line has a twist or a conflict, the fourth a resolution, and the fifth provides insight.

Anti-Feminist

31 Mar

The crowd disapproves
when I tell them
I am not a feminist anymore

I can feel their
removal of support
thickening in the air

I am for equality
I declare, because
I have been afforded the luxury

Afterwards, 5 or 6
friendly feminists come up,
they have come to set me straight

Feminists are for equality
they admonish, urging me
to feel comfortable again with their terms

I think of the inequalities
I have suffered at the hands
of their doctrine

I smile, and listen politely
They are entitled
to their opinion

But they sharpen
their knives
to silence my voice

Though, by their own precepts
my experience is equal
as valid as anyone else’s.

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I think this poem is quite a propos for the last day of March. NaPoWriMo is tomorrow!

“If a poem holds only what we already understand and are comfortable with, we wouldn’t need the poem.” -Jane Hirschfield

Amaneció / Day Broke

6 Apr

(English quasi-translation below)

Llegó el alba
tocándonos el hombro y
como cuando jóvenes ignoramos
la vieja chaperona
del amanecer

sentí tus caricias
tus manos en mi pelo
mientras tus labios piadosos
devolvieron mi aliento, poco a poco
regresándome al presente

fueron los pájaros
quienes nos delataron
sonando la alarma
mi cabeza en tu pecho
el sol amenazándonos a través de la persiana

llegó el alba
desvaneciendo mi sueño
pero aún siento
el sabor exquisito
de tu boca.

Sunrise on the south end of Pawleys Island

Sunrise on the south end of Pawleys Island

I woke up in the most tantalizing way this morning, and that blissful dream is the basis for my poem today. I am writing it in response to the prompt for Day Six for NaPoWriMo, which is to write an Aubade, or a poem about the morning. Mornings are special to me, I love their freshness, their promise, and the newness of day. I love experiencing the morning with the birds singing brightly, and a stillness that is almost palpable as the trees wake up to start their day.

I wrote it in Spanish originally and the quasi-translation is below. I call it a quasi-translation because there is an extra line and some variations that I think work better in the English than in the original Spanish. This is another example of how the English counterpart of  verses originally composed in Spanish complements and completes the poem. In a true translation, I would never do this and just keep the lines as close to the original as possible. [Last edited June 13, 2017]

 

Day Broke

First light arrived
tapping us on the shoulder
and like teenagers we ignored
the elderly chaperone of dawn.

I felt your caresses
your hands in my hair
as your merciful lips
restored my breath, bit by bit
returning me to the present

It was the birds
who sounded the alarm
my head on your chest
sunlight slicing through the blinds

Dawn broke through
it scattered my dream
yet, alone on this bed
I can still sense the exquisite taste
of your mouth.

Down with the Sails

5 Apr

Wild nights Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Down would come the sails
Naked in the moonbeams we
As our Wild nights should be
Our secret luxury!

Futile the calling winds
My Heart seduced in your port
Done with the Compass
Done with the Chart!
My Q flag a flying
My wheel lashed up short.

Rowing in a blissful Eden
Ah rocking in time with the Sea!
My heart tugs at the anchor
Open your arms to harbor me
Might I but moor tonight
Dear sir, In thee!

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It’s a poetic arts & crafts project for day five of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompt is to choose a poem by Emily Dickinson, then deconstruct and reconstruct it. I chose Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (no surprise there). I incorporated a little bit more of the ‘sailboat in port’ metaphors. I was never fully satisfied with her original poem to begin with, so this was a nice chance to doctor it up a bit.

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