Welcome to the final day of April, which also happened to be National Poetry Month (go me for not mentioning that until the end of the month). The end of the month is marked by Poem in Your Pocket Day, which is a very cool idea. That I did not end up doing. Maybe next year, should I be working with people I know a little better.
Anyway, today's starter is: for the love of poetry.
Also, with round two of the NHL playoffs starting tonight, I return to saying: go Canucks go.
Words dancing together,
Side by side forever;
Some will be forgotten
(As they are quite rotten),
But others have magic,
Be they glad or tragic;
They echo across time,
In their eternal rhyme.
Today's starter: one man, one dog, one motorcycle.
I happened to glance out the front window while we were putting dinner together and I saw the man across the street with his little, mid-shin high dog walking to his motorcycle. My first thought when I saw this, and I'm not making this up at all, was simply: this has the potential to be awesome.
I had to go back in the kitchen to check on the chicken, but came hurrying back as soon as I could. I looked down to see the dog being secured in the basket on the back of the motorcycle by the now leather jacket clad man.
"Hell yes," I said to myself.
Then he stepped aside to grab his helmet from the handlebars to reveal that his dog was wearing white rimmed, black bike goggles. I about died.
I stood there watching until the motorcycle roared to life and he pulled away from the curb, the dog on the back looking side to side with this... just utterly calm expression. It was like he was thinking, "this could not be more normal."
This totally made my night and I had to share.
Spring has arrived with such force in Vancouver that it's tempting to say that Summer has come early. This is being gratefully received and I'm enjoying biking to and from work every day, as well as the return of ultimate season.
So today's starter is: seasons.
Spring makes the robins sing,
Blue skies watch over you,
Sun warms skin while you run.
Summer is no bummer,
Reach for the sunny beach,
Dine under stars with wine.
Seasons have their reasons,
They give and take away,
Stop and savor each drop.
I'm feeling a bit tired tonight and I have other writing I'd like to get to, so we're going to write some haiku. What shall the topic be, I hear you asking.
It shall be: unanswered.
Why is my question
So difficult to answer?
It is hard to say.
* * *
Why did you do that?
What on Earth were you thinking?
The baby just smiles.
I guess writing only four lines on pirates just wasn't enough for me - I had to go start a pirate story too. I think it's out of me system... my system now.
Today's starter: the lemon tree.
Watching over the land from atop its hill,
The lemon tree sways in winds awash in dill;
It offers its golden wares to one and all,
And spares not a thought for the onset of Fall.
It is proud to know that its children will be
Lemonade and garnish and soothing cool tea;
And when the day arrives that it is blown down,
That hill won't be the same without its soft crown.
Today's four line poem topic: pirates.
Mostly because Kat and I saw a man crossing the street with a parrot on his hand this morning. Or did we see a parrot crossing the street with a man in its claws?
Also because, seriously: why the hell not?
Well shiver me timbers!
I be good and limber.
Shall we go to the bar?
The only answer's: Yar!
Def Poetry Jam would like to introduce you to The Last Poets and their performance of Take Your Time.
I can't stop watching this one - I'm completely mesmerized. By the rhythm of the drums, the hypnotizing background chant, the gripping oration. Each lull in the performance is just so perfectly placed and timed.
"She cannot hold us with arms burdened by exploitation" is such a powerful line. It just stands out from the rest of the piece every time I listen to it. The other one that catches my ear each time I hear it is: "Hoping and praying we can remember when we learned to become human."
With such fine godfathers, you can't help but wonder whatever went wrong with rap.
Here are The Last Poets performing on Common's single The Corner. Common is one godson who turned out just fine.
Today's prompt, inspired by a book I'm currently reading, is: the inheritance.
The signature at the bottom of the will was almost unrecognizable; if I hadn't been there when Terry had attached his name to his final desires five days ago I would never have believed it was his name.
He hated it when I called him Terry; he tried again and again to get me to call him Dad but there was no chance of that happening. Dad's don't abandon their little girl on her third birthday. Dad's don't come stumbling back into their daughter's life thirty years later with a mumbled apology. No, that sounds more like a Terry sort of thing to do.
Though it bore only five lines, I read that piece of paper at least ten times before putting it back on the table. He had left everything to me - his mid-life crisis car; the antique pipe; the hundred-strong album collection; and the brand new handgun. And of course, typical Terry, he left a mess for me to clean up.
I picked up the phone to call the ambulance, no tears staining my face, and turned my back on his body slumped in the kitchen chair. On the will on the table. On my inherited handgun and the mess he had left behind.
But I would never escape the mess he left inside my head.
It was some kind of windy today in Vancouver. I'm tempted to follow up yesterday's prompt with 'blown away'.
Ah, screw it - I'm not feeling very imaginative at the moment, so we're using it.
Riding a bike uphill on weary legs is one thing,
Doing so straight into the wind is quite another;
Gasping for air while abandoned plastic bags take wing,
Wishing my progress could be like those soaring others.
I will not stop and walk, though my legs beg for respite -
I am far too stubborn to suffer such public shame;
Though every breath is one step closer to the light,
This bike, this hill, this wind, and this life I will tame.
Today's prompt is: swept away.
In completely unrelated news *cough* I'd like to say again: go Canucks go.
Straw bristles rush across the floor,
A cheerful tune goes with the chore;
The baker greets the rising sun
With a cloud of dust and fresh buns.
His steaming wares all in a row,
Proudly arranged in the window;
While he's out back feeding a stray,
His precious buns are swept away.
T'was a beautiful spring day here in Vancouver and Kat and I were able to eat at one of our very favorite places to eat in the city - our balcony. With a view of the North Shore Mountains, bird song in our ears, and only steps from our kitchen, it really can't be beat.
Plus Kat makes better food than any restaurant in the city.
So today's prompt: dining alfresco.
The waiter's face has been made dark by the sun,
He tells us with a smile dinner's nearly done;
We laugh easily and say there is no rush,
Return to our study of the evening hush.
The pigeons gather in the pink cobble square,
Giving the solemn bronzed soldier white nightmares;
We sip cloudless wine and watch the promenade,
Of charming men with their girls proudly displayed.
We smell the food long before we can see it,
But first our tea candles are gracefully lit;
With anticipation at its very peak,
Steaming platters arrive and we cease to speak.
Each bite is savored like a fresh ocean breeze,
Fingers come together for a stolen squeeze;
Too soon the food is gone and eyes fill with hurt,
But the night is young and there is still dessert!
Today's prompt: a first time purchase.
Also: go Canucks go.
My tax return this year was a nice little amount, thanks mostly to my living under the poverty line last year. So when the cheque came in the mail, I tossed more than half into savings and decided to do some shopping with the rest.
The first item on my list: a brand new bike. I've never owned a new bike, to the best of my knowledge. From what I can recall my last three bikes were: a hand me down from my sister Nicky; a hand me down from my sister Sue; and a 'well he's not using it anyway' from Kat's brother Adam.
Kat and I checked out a few bike shops today, with me under the impression that I was just comparing prices on bikes that caught my eye. Then I walked into Rain City Bikes and it was game over.
This bad boy was even on sale too.
I took it for a quick test ride and Kat knew from the stupid grin on my face that it was coming home with us.
I don't really spend much money on myself, I've always been a saver. So on the rare occasions that I blow some money on something just for me... it tends to feel really good.
I haven't settled on what to do with the money that's left over quite yet but I'll probably let you know about it here when I do.
Kat and I did the Bike the Blossoms today and I snapped a few pictures along the way. I think this one is my favorite at the moment:
So today's four line poem topic is: cherry blossoms. Mine is inspired by a scene we biked past this morning. It turned out sort of like a four line haiku, haha.
A loving father
Raining down blossoms
On his laughing child.
Def Poetry Jam Friday would like you to have a look at In Front Of The Class by Bonafide Rojas.
Also: go Canucks go.
What a great story. Just beautiful.
The "let the page be..." section was truly amazing, only topped by the ending. That was real emotion and it just hammered the final nail in the coffin on a wonderful performance. That's the kind of spoken word that sticks with you for a long time.
I wish I could have seen it in person.
I think it's well past time to bust out one of my favorite exercises (I was going to write my absolute favorite when I realized I've got a small collection of them now. Funny what happens after more than 300 days of writing practice).
So here's the deal: grab a collection of CDs, your iPod, or just wander over to YouTube. Pick a song at random, or surf through a couple until you find something that works for you.
Now take the first one or two lines from that song and use them as the first line(s) of your poetry or prose. As demonstrated by mine, you just never know where it will take you until you get there.
Bright Eyes - First Day of my Life
This is the first day of my life -
I swear I was born right in the doorway.
All that came before this moment
Was swept away by your fragile bouquet;
I know with each step that you take
That our love will never wilt or decay.
With sweet peace in our hearts and souls,
We stand side by side with nothing to fear;
There is no need to look around,
We know that all our dearest friends are here.
With two rings we are united,
Eyes shed only the happiest of tears.
I took this picture during our hike over the weekend in Squamish:
I have no idea what I'm about to write, but we're all going to use it as our prompt anyway. Mainly because I really like how it turned out - it's my new desktop background. Feel free to make it yours if the urge strikes you.
Also: go Canucks go.
Sunshine rests on water and moss,
Worried not by profit or loss;
Content to just listen and stay,
Watching the stream gambol and play.
Aging birch trees twisted and lean,
Stalwart they stand, ponder the scene;
Nothing has passed unseen down here,
Vigil can't be broken by years.
Water won't stop rushing past stones,
Dismiss trees as lazy old bones;
Sunlight moves too slowly by far,
Cannot stop from raising the bar.
Stealing an idea from a teacher of the marvelous Archi Teuthis, go have a look at some of National Geographic's photos of the day. Choose one and write a poem or some prose inspired by it, and include a link to the one you chose to use.
April 13th - Hanging laundry
The wind makes the sheets snap,
A gentle country rap
Of cotton against air,
Backed by blonde whirling hair
Freed from its Sunday cap.
She could become a pair
With the silken red square
That's broken from this trap,
Now flying with no map...
If only she would dare.
Today's prompt comes from my Schott's Miscellany 2009 calendar: ely.
I can't actually find an online reference to the definition shown on the calendar, so here's the definition for you - to fall away one by one.
The group of six men moved through the woods in single file, each alone with his own thoughts. The sun had set many hours before and the shadows watched their steady progress with hungry eyes.
So preoccupied were they with their own troubles, none noticed the disturbance at the back of the group which trimmed their numbers to five. Likewise the reduction to four went unheeded.
By the time the moonlit meadow appeared over the crest of a hill they were only three in number, and none the wiser. However when the man leading the way disappeared in a rush of shadows, the final two looked up in alarm.
"Where did everyone go?" the second man asked in a nervous whisper as he looked over his shoulder. Hearing no reply, his head swiveled back toward their destination only to find that he was wholly alone.
And then, with a final silent swoop of shadows, the path was emptied of trespassers. And the woods were once again content.
Today's prompt comes from a random observation on the way home from the bus station this afternoon: an abandoned flower in the rain.
The rain batters the petals,
Slide to the ground and settle,
Become a rippling mirror -
The answers are no nearer.
He will never understand
Why she turned from helping hands,
Why she must be on her own,
Why she left him on this stone.
His heart exposed to her pain
Like a flower in the rain.
Quick update on the European donation issue - apparently the only thing to be done at this point is to mail a cheque. So if you happen to be over on that side of the pond and are hell bent on donating, get in touch with me either through email, Facebook, or the 'Contact Author' button on my Protagonize profile, and I'll get you my address. The cheque should be made out to JDRF.
If you don't want to go through that hassle, I fully understand. Donating online would have been a whole hell of a lot easier. Sorry it didn't work the way it should have, and thank you for your desire to help out.
Update: to anyone willing to go through the effort of mailing me a donation because the online form doesn't work for you - you get a 1,000 word story based on any three words of your choosing. I don't care if it's two bucks or twenty. I think it's the least I can do in return.
With that out of the way, the topic for today's four line poem is: the workaround.
When the simple path
Won't get the job done,
Forget the rules and
Polish up your gun.
Kat and I are up in Squamish to spend the long weekend with my sister and her husband. We had a lovely drive up the coast yesterday and went for a great hike this morning before the clouds arrived.
Def Poetry Jam Friday is taking the day off this week - mostly because I don't feel like spending the time to find a performance to feature. I'm on holiday, after all.
So today we're going to write some holiday haiku.
Purple Easter eggs -
Hiding in the waving grass,
Hatching white rabbits.
The first long weekend
Since New Year's means just one thing:
Time to get some sleep.
Hurray I got into my hotmail account. Which is good because that's where my list response to Kim is.
So today's exercise is to tell me a few things about yourself - however many things that ends up being.
1. My full first name is Marc-Andre – I used to despise it and would never have dreamed of the day I’d share it willingly.
2. I have two older sisters – one in Boston, one in Squamish (it’s near Whistler).
3. My mother is originally from Jamaica – I’ve visited once but I was too young to appreciate it and I desperately want to go back.
4. My father’s family is French-Canadian, going back many generations – his first language is French but you’d never guess it.
5. My girlfriend of nearly four years, Katherine, teaches high school French.
6. I can’t speak French.
7. After graduating from university I spent six months backpacking through Europe.
8. After I returned from Europe and saved up some money, I went backpacking all over New Zealand for six months.
9. I don’t regret the financial sacrifice and lack of career progression resulting from #7 and #8. Not one bit.
10. I have gone skydiving in New Zealand twice – first at the cheapest place available, then again at one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
11. I hitch-hiked around the south of Ireland and met many wonderful people that way. The Irish are lovely and I dream of going back there.
12. My favourite feature is my eyes – this was true even when my self-esteem was at its lowest. And it got pretty low.
13. I’m beyond ready to move out of the city – it’s too noisy and crowded here.
14. The enjoyment and satisfaction I have derived from growing our vegetables the last few years has been a surprise for me.
15. I’ve been told I have a very calming influence on those around me.
16. I was once told by an Englishman who I met in a hostel in New Zealand that I had the driest humour of any non-Englishman he’d ever met. I was very pleased by this.
17. I once spent part of a night sleeping on my feet inside a photo booth at a train station in Germany because it was the only heated area in the whole place. I still don’t know why it was, but I’ll always be grateful.
18. I once spent the night in an ATM enclosure in Switzerland because it was heated. I don’t recall falling asleep though.
19. I got drunk for the very first time in my life in Cork, Ireland, at the age of 23. Let’s just say I made up for lost time. And yes, Guinness was involved.
20. I spent a week in Amsterdam and never smoked pot. In fact, I’ve never smoked anything.
21. Speaking of which – I think that smoking cigarettes is a disgusting habit. Please don’t do it within five miles of me. Thank you.
22. I was born on Vancouver Island, which is not in Vancouver. It’s that big honking island just off the coast of the Lower Mainland.
23. I used to think I wasn’t a very interesting person. I no longer feel that way.
24. My favourite meal growing up was my mom’s BBQ chicken.
25. My current favourite meal is my girlfriend’s carrot soup (sorry mom).
26. I don’t know how to swim; in fact I’ve almost drowned twice. My dad saved me both times - he’s a handy guy to have around.
27. When I was little I wanted to grow up to play second base for the Toronto Blue Jays.
28. Now I just want to be a writer.
29. Over the course of my life I have been mistaken for Spanish, Mexican, French, Italian, Iranian, and Mauri.
30. Canada is the only country I want to live in.
They're filming part of the new Twilight movie at the high school my girlfriend teaches at - I personally could not possibly care less, but it appears a whole lot of people are rather excited about the whole thing.
It was fun watching the news tonight with Kat since the reporter was interviewing several students she has taught. I found it particularly amusing that so many of them proudly proclaimed, on local TV, that they were skipping class to try to spot some of the actors.
Anyway, that's why today's starter is: new moon.
Oh, before I forget - Monday's offer is still good until the end of the long weekend. I've heard back from one of the organizers and she said that all credit cards are accepted for online donations, but not debit cards. So if you tried before but it didn't go through, please give it one more try. If it's still no good, please let me know and I'll yell at them some more. Thanks!
The moon has left the sky,
I wish that I knew why;
The stars still light my way,
But it all feels so gray.
I miss the shining light,
From that circle of white;
The night huddles too near,
The black heightens my fear.
We had a potluck lunch today at work and there was plenty of yum to go around. So today's starter, ever so shockingly, is: potluck.
I set out on a wander one Summer day,
Not long after the rain had gone away;
When a rainbow these brown eyes did behold,
Which I followed with dreams of pots of gold.
I climbed over hills, I strolled through valleys,
I searched on rooftops, I combed back alleys;
When in a field of mud I did get stuck,
I had to admit I was out of luck.
Summer time... and the living is easy...
What's that, Mr. Weatherman? Rain on Wednesday? I can't heaaaar yoooouuu...
Today's starter: the papyrus document. Inspired by ancient papers filed away at work. It was either going to be 'papyrus' or 'cave drawings' - I flipped a coin.
As gentle as my touch was, the words still threatened to crumble to dust. There was no way to move the document without destroying it and my camera was charging in my hotel room two miles west and a hundred meters up.
I wanted to scream but didn't dare to. Would it still be there in the hour it would take to retrieve my camera? My discovery could be stolen from me by David or Michael or, worst of all, Thomas. But there was no way to conceal it during my absence - my jacket would have surely ruined it and using sand would have been madness.
I had no choice. There could be no other way - I had to leave it there, in the open, plain to see for any eyes that happened upon it. With my heart in my throat, I left that room with my torch extinguished to avoid attention. If I knew then that I would never return, would I have done anything differently?
I wish I could say.
Today's starter: bacon.
Blame Greg. And my endless appetite for bacon.
Wake up in the morning,
Need me some bacon;
Give a growl of warning,
There ain't no fakin'.
There gonna be hell to pay
If my bacon's gone away.
Love that fat, love that grease,
No amount will do;
Let's try to keep the peace -
There is none for you.
So accept that with good grace
And I will not break your face.
Welcome to the 300th day of Daily Writing Practice - no days missed since the day it all began, June 9th, 2008!
It's Saturday, which means it's four line poem day. You can write a measly four lines of poetry, can't you? Of course you can - it doesn't even have to rhyme. So stop lurking and share your poetry in the comments today.
Your topic, should you choose to accept it, is: gratitude.
To all the friends that I've made,
To the trees that gave me shade,
For the One we formed from Two -
I'd just like to say Thank You.
Two more things today. Numero uno: tomorrow shall be the 300th day in a row of Daily Writing Practice. I consider that quite the accomplishment. I'd like to say I have something super awesome planned for it... but I don't.
Numero dos: so apparently there's some difficulty with European donations for the fund raising walk. I'm going to get in touch with the organizers and see if there is anything that can be done about that, but until then - thank you so much for the desire to contribute. I hope something can be worked out.
Okay then. Def Poetry Jam Friday wants you to admire Flaco Navaja's Dimple.
I think this might be my new definition of romantic machismo. Because I totally had an old one.
Anyway. This is a real, honest, sweet performance that reminds us that love can come in so many more forms than we'll ever see on TV or the big screen.
That ending makes me smile every time too.
Here's some more Flaco for you.
Just a quick reminder before we get started that Monday's offer is still open and that donations of all sizes are deeply appreciated.
With that out of the way, today's starter is: seesaw.
Up and down,
Back and forth,
Laughing like crazy clowns.
Wind in hair,
Sun on cheeks,
Launching with lazy care.
Too much force,
Too small hands,
Landing on gravel coarse.
Tears are shed,
Scrapes are kissed,
Lacking skin quickly shed.
Run and play,
Leave the pain,
Lasses are that-a-way.
Welcome to the most pointless day of the year, April Fools' Day. While I can honestly say that I can't remember ever pranking someone on this day, I'll nevertheless use it as the starter.
So go write about: fools.
The king sits atop his throne,
Which protests with a low moan -
For the king has abandoned
His diet ere it's begun!
The jester arrives in style
And somersaults down the aisle;
He sings and smashes his cup,
And the king gobbles him up!