November Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week II

Here are my results from the second week of the Writer’s Digest’s PAD chapbook challenge.  Day 14 was interesting.

Day 8

Silently, she let her father
lead her between
walls of hieroglyphs,
mapping the paths to eternity,
The Book of the Dead
5,000 year old tombs
alabaster and amethyst
bodies, embalmed and eviscerated,
She paused before each sign and placard.
Her eyes bounced between the relics.

Who knows what
seismic shifts
and incremental cataclysms
move in the minds
of quiet children?

Day 9

“True Story”

An ex-hopeless case
shared with me
the seed of his miracle:
One teacher asked,
“Where is your topic sentence?”

Day 10

“No Story is Over”

No story is over.
No story is over.
The curtain closes.
The lights come on.
Now watch the crowd break
just like the dawn
into the city
to think and dream
we see the world with
all that we’ve seen.
No story is over.
No story is over.
Looking back now
it’s hard to believe
the broken histories
that interweave.
Oh to see the days
like dominos
all falling forward
tipped toward
hope.
No story is over.
No story is over.

Day 11

“I Disagree”

Pulling numbers out of thin air
Strong conclusions, he buried them
I was backing up a lot
Huh? What?
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
So far from the full reality
Very thin ice
What is the thesis?
How scary would that be if that was reality?
I disagree with the dichotomy
I was trying to establish his audience
Where does he pull that from?
Where does he pull THAT from?
What is he talking about?
This is how he starts a chapter…
You have said nothing for two complicated sentences
I thought he just made it up
It seemed like convenient math
He didn’t talk about love AT ALL!
This is in the genre of Gladwell, but not as well-written
He didn’t have as much to say about the morality of certain goods
What are you talking about?
Really?
Where were we?
I have two quick points to make…I forgot the second
And that would illustrate my point as to why I don’t like this book even more
That’s an easy point to make…now
Come on
Yes, the second point was LOST…it’s gone
Can anything be lost in the universe?
I didn’t finish the book
Does he ever say what to do with, I don’t know, the first 250 pages of it?
What does that even mean?
It’s statistically insufficient
I couldn’t take that seriously
This is what you are going to hang your hat on? Something you just made up?
I thought it was very paternalistic
It was rather arrogant
That’s what he seemed to be suggesting
It’s such a worn-out stereotype
He doesn’t make it very consistent
I was offended

Day 12

“Fisher of Men”

The serene sea
of unmoved faces
defines for the speaker
his immediate vocation.
He walks off
into a shadowed corner of the stage
stalking down the steps
confronting the front row.

Scratching the back of his neck,
contemplating his next gesture,
he explains, “They cannot hear him because he is familiar.”

He swerves to edge of the crowd
pacing up the side aisle,
casting out story after story
into rippling a wave
of shoulders adjusting
to his nearness.

Even as he passes behind them,
they stare blankly ahead,
his single-sided interrogations
skipping over rows of backs of heads.
He persists, untroubled
by the shimmering stillness of the surface;
he is calling out
to mute, unknown creatures
stirring beneath.

With a shout he raises an emphatic hand,
then glances down
as if startled by the tail
of a great white whale.

Day 13

“Nothing Too Serious”

I don my thick coat
for the icy current, while
the trees get naked.

Maybe there’s something to that old haiku
that I just made up.
Nevermind.

Wait.
Have you ever felt
your most absurd,
unfiltered ruminations
might be worth keeping?
Nope?
Me neither.

Well, my hands are clean,
which is unfortunate
because now I can’t make out
that important impromptu reminder
inked on my palm.

Probably nothing serious.

In the words of the unpitied
e.e. cummings
let’s go

Day 14

“I Love Walk-in Clinics”

I love walk-in clinics.
I love to wait for hours
upon hours
and hours.
Finally, I am still.

It breeds within me
a certain surety of identity
to have to write my name,
birthdate, telephone number,
social security number,
and insurance information
on ten different sheets of paper:
It reminds me of who I am.

All of my coughing comrades
in the common community
of the waiting room
let me know that I too
am part of earth’s neighborhood.
Our tiny germs link elbows
in celebration.
Hooray.

Finally, I get my own cell
in their labyrinthine abbey
and am blessed with
one more contemplative hour.
On the paper bed, my fever keeps me toasty.
Windowless walls beckon me
to search inwardly,
while a picturesque poster
of a sunset and a lighthouse at sea
reminds me of the true definition of “Determination”.
I am inspired.

Enter the funny doctor.
He is so funny.
“Elbow bump!” he begins.
“What?” I ask.
“I’m not touching you because you’re sick!”
he laughs.

After his nurse swabs my sinus,
in a gesture much like an ancient mummification ritual
(I feel just like an Egyptian king!),
he returns with jubilant results

and a thumbs up, “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!”
“You’re my first catch of the season!” he chortles.
“Here’s some meds so you don’t get
in the doghouse with your wife,” he teases.
“Do you remember the seven deaths from this a few years ago?
Don’t want that to happen again now do we?” he reminisces.
“The seven deaths,” he smiles again.
“A real Typhoid Mary you are,” he quips.
Such a funny doctor.

I give a satisfactory sigh and grow nostalgic
about my previous visit here –
that time when I accidentally stabbed the sole of my foot
with a pair of scissors and the red blood globbed out on the carpet
and I hobbled around for weeks.
Good times.

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