November Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week III

Back in November, I remembered to post these poems on my social media feeds as I wrote them, but I neglected to keep collecting them here. Better later than never. Here are the results from Week III. Looking back, it is funny to see how clear it is which days I was really pushing it just to churn something out.

Day 15

There once was a man with the flu
who feared that he smelled like a zoo
so he took a shower
at least every hour
until he ran out of shampoo

There once was a man with the flu
who was chased by an over-sized shrew
he woke with a scream
from this mad fever dream
and hoped not to have deja vu

There once was a man with the flu
who kidnapped a kind kangaroo
but since he was ailing
the court says his bailing
is under judicial review

There once was a man with the flu
Who craved a great pot of beef stew
but since in his fridge
he found not a smidge
he settled for cheesy fondue

There once was a man with the flu
who rode in a shiny canoe
but when it caught fire
his fever grew higher
until the thermometer spewed

Day 16


So many unprescribed remedies
have stirred me
from my long, dark,
shivering sleep:

The icy drizzle that prodded us
back into our own home.

The shouts of my children
fighting boredom with flashlights,
dismantled couch cushions,
and piles of rainbow rice.

The random recitations
of my wife explaining
the power of passages
of a novel on a Florida farm.

Some patients
heal with humidifiers,
but today I have preferred
our oven’s exhalations,
as varied as the wind,
cycling through
seasons of scents:
baking banana bread,
maple syrup melting into cream of wheat,
simmering garlic chicken,
rising whole wheat loaves,
bubbling beef stew,
and steaming molten brownies.

In this slow day of waking,
I have wondered how ill
I must have been before
I came down with this sickness.

Day 17

“Two Questions”

A good question:
How do I write a poem on a Monday
when I am still behind in needing
to fix the lawn mower, clean the carpets,
scrub the dishes, declutter the garage, budget our expenses,
calculate grades, grade essays, help
Lyndsay find a part time job, finish painting
the kitchen, hire an electrician for the fan, e-mail
our contacts in California, follow-up with
the lyric video animator, finish writing
all my half-written blogs, research
Christmas presents, repair the chainsaw,
pressure wash the stonewall, take Eric’s
sound equipment back to him, raise money
to get the tires changed, sell Kathaleen my
violin, contact January house shows, learn
a new Christmas song, sleep?

A better question:

When will I not have
a list of reasons not to
practice poetry?

Day 18

When I am
surrounded by
so many millions
of aimless,
easily distracted
children of the sky,
watching one
after another,
blown off
course, witnessing
such utter lack of
collective accomplishment, such
dizzyingly beautiful failed
attempts to change
the world,

I stand in
empty-handed joy
in my own inability
to define success
for a winter cloud.

I’ll take a half-hearted
any day over
cold relentless rain.

Day 19

your married youth pastor
romancing your best friend,
your blameless brother
justly uninvited from the wedding,
your sitcom dad
caught unhumorously red-handed,
your lilywhite sunday school teacher
presiding over a witches’ sabbath,

your own secret feet
leading you to meet
the serpent staffed stranger
at a lightning licked crossroads.

the miraculous possibility
of empty hands.

Day 20

“Paying Attention”

You might be surprised to know that
I have the gift of useless prophecy.
I dream about meeting a friend at a sink.
The next day, I meet that friend at a sink.

I dream about a train whistling in the distance
while a bird lands on a car.
The next day, a train whistles in the distance
and my son throws a paper airplane at the van.

I dream about an obscure street name.
The next day a friend is listening to song
I’ve never heard
named after the same street.

I dream of that one student
up in a tree, but I can’t help
because I need to go home to my family.
The next day, the same student
asks for help on an essay
as I am packing my shoulder bag.

I am beginning to wonder
if there is any way to know
what is significant.

Though I fail to see reason
in such supernatural interventions
now I am
paying attention.

Day 21

Just a fence-hop away from some world’s fair ruins,
lives an optimistic prisoner of the present.
He is haunted by the promise of an old-fashioned future
and today seems unremarkably unpleasant.

Is the sun we set our sights on
just a counterfeit horizon
we follow to find
we’re back again?

When our beautiful tomorrow
brings the same old sorrow
will the carousel of progress
never end?

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