Commencing April 1st will be NaPoWriMo, the aim of which is to write a poem a day for the entire month of April.
Last year I attempted this for the first time, and was quite surprised at its usefulness. If you accept that most of what you write will be raw and ugly, you can use it as a tool to churn out all the old ghosts of ideas that’ve been bothering you for however many weeks/ months/ years. By the time you come to the end of the month you’ll probably think most of what you wrote was rubbish (I found this to be the case), but also that you’ve unearthed the starting points for things that will ultimately become good poems.
It’s not about creating 30 perfect poems, but just about writing, getting things down on paper, kicking into action and putting a temporary end to laziness.
Like last year, I’ll be posting my efforts in the specially designated NaPoWriMo thread at the Poetry Free For All forums. This is where others can comment on your work, and you can comment on the work of others, and it all helps to keep you motivated. I recommend it as a fun experiment!
My first published poem of the new year is now live. Poems in this zine take the starting point “Poem in which…” and go from there. Many thanks to editors Amy Key and Nia Davies. You can read my effort here.
Forget pistols, batons and sharp sticks,
forget shotguns, sawn-off or otherwise,
forget hand grenades and hacksaws,
forget rocket launchers,
forget nunchucks and dybbuks
spooled fresh from a clay jar,
forget tasers, lasers and ball-breakers,
forget crossbows, however sweet.
To marines, intrepid explorers,
to blood-thirsty bombardiers,
to bison-backed, dungeon-wading femme-fatales,
this is without doubt your greatest ally.
This peppery gunpowder stick,
this shoulder-mounted, grinning, cigarette-rolled shark,
this heartburn tube, this blood toothpaste freshly squeezed,
this hissing, lazuli-eyed arsonist.
Whether for beast, zombie or final boss,
nothing beats the blanket heat,
the scatter-and-blast exploding citrus,
the raspberry cube shower,
the creamy eclipse of a dead star,
the all-out carnage, the furnace milkshake,
the glycerine shimmer-quiver of air,
this luminous braid from a sun god’s mane.
It was a hole in my face,
for sure, but the mashed potato globlets
I deposited into the ready box
left no feel upon the viscous walls
of the vacuum funnel, the salami coloured
head pipe, the slick, oozy viaduct;
in effect my mouth and its apparatus
was entirely, jaw-wobblingly, numb,
was in truth more like the doll’s mouth a young child
willfully spoons tepid porridge into,
the lack of an actual cavity
meaning the porridge ends up shmushed against
the mildly perfumed, fuchsia rubber
that mimics the gullet hole,
but is the puckered mouth’s own fakery.
It then seemed possible that my own mouth
might be faking, might be a thin lie
producing synthetic spittle,
polluting itself with an ulcer or two,
regurgitating rehearsed platitudes
in the voice of a listless secretary.
It may wish to unhook itself from the lips
that would bind it, to search for other mouths
into which it might push its pretend tongue,
its tongue bloated with lies and generalities,
because it knows that we are all just things
into which other things may enter
and out of which other things may pass;
and the face’s blackened coin slot resisting
is the telltale sign we’ve malfunctioned.
It is true that when your parents invented you
they were half-mad, drugged up on each other’s glutinous faces.
Your mother, she rolled the day’s honeycomb,
thus forming the flue down which you’d shoot
nine months on. Your father, with his glass ant body,
snowballed his tart and lucrative juice
round the flue’s lip, dropping your possible pinball
into the pint-sized barrow, mother’s soup,
coagulated and coconut-white
as the far-off lake on a winter’s morn.
Now when you were born your body was quite cylindrical
and they chipped you, tooth and nail, from the ice;
there you stood, syrup-stuffed and bare arsed to the world.
Of all the other pinballs pinged about, you wanted it most.
God knows how he got inside, perhaps slid
down the slide my ear’s trumpet makes,
but now he’s built a sort of wendy house
using my splintered bones as struts
and any honeyed tissue
as drapes for the living room.
Though usually fastidious,
verging on the compulsive,
today the kitchen heaves with mess.
He’s cooking on my blood cell hobs.
The smell goes up this chimney of me.
My heart sweats saliva.
It was easy enough to miss, there in the deer enclosure,
tucked, innocuously, beneath a maple leaf.
I heard the deer here excrete tiny black castles, you said
and I stooped to pinch the oddment between
thumb and forefinger.
Unlike a wasp nest, it did not dissolve to brown jewels
and weighed virtually nothing in my shirt pocket.
The towers and ramparts were no bigger than matchsticks;
a hairgrip too big for the filigree
padlock of the drawbridge.
I lay awake, struck by the weight this thing
held for us; already, like a new baby tooth,
it had taken root on the bedside table, a moth’s skull
glinting, grinning in the lamp light.
I slept facing the wall.
A curlicue of smoke would coil
from a microscopic chimney, while gold flickered
in windows shaped like pomegranate pips.
We could discern beyond the glass the shapes
of many dancing figures.
We constructed a tiny atmosphere for the kingdom’s people.
Was anything as pleasurable as snow
shook from a talc bottle; watching
them string up their fairy lights,
believing it Christmas?
But kindness wore thin, a new urge was born.
One night in the garden, among the opera houses of snails,
I submerged the castle,
its people, in a footprint-deep puddle.
I flooded their whole world.