(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

So many months at home. So many postcards. So many poems going out in the mailbox and quite a number coming into my mailbox too! Here’s the two groups of cards (two “groups” or “months” worth) that I have received to date.

I started the festival early this year, in April. I had misgivings because April is not August but it is Poetry Month and I had committed to writing a poem every day as I usually do in April for NaPoWriMo. I laid this down as my caveat for starting early, because I post those publicly each day. But I figured, the recipients of these cards may not be expecting a card in April and well, no one really looks at my blog. I figured it would all be good.

So I started writing. I’d been home since March 4, the first couple weeks of that with some illness. In April there wasn’t much to do except online work “stuff” and sitting outside to paint and watch the world. I started carrying a pocket sized notebook and actually writing down phrases or ideas that came to me although normally I compose on the computer. I have often jotted a digital note or done a voice recording of an idea on my phone but there was something nice about scribbling down an idea. I quickly realized that the process was much better if I at least tried to be legible in my scribbling.

In the past I have written in a form or with a theme for NaPoWriMo or Poetry Postcards. This year I had no set ideas along those lines. What developed really surprised me. My poems developed a trend of being double sonnets. Like, I could not fit a great number of these daily poems onto the back of a postcard at all. I started using blank postcards, perhaps with a little watercolor swirling on the front, and putting the start of the poem on the front and continuing it on the back. For someone who tends to sonnet length and haiku, this was amazing. One was even three sonnet-lengths long, two being all 5 syllable lines and one being all 7 syllable lines! Where the heck do these things come from?

Now, we are encouraged in Poetry Postcard Fest to write “spontaneously” on each card – to write that day’s poem directly on the card. I confess, I have never done this. I write directly into BBEdit on the computer, in a file for that month’s poems. No more editing than one might do scratching out a word as you’ve just written it. No later fussing. This gets backed up a couple ways. I copy it directly onto the card. No edits. The address gets put on the card. A stamp. I wander downstairs, scan the front and back of the card and carry it out to the waiting mailbox.

Rarely, perhaps a couple times in any postcard/poetry month I might write something I think is a little too personal or one I feel uncomfortable sharing. Usually I can put it aside and write out something else in a short while. Or I will write a second poem or set of haiku using something about the first one.

I look forward to the daily ritual of writing, copying it out onto a card, making a digital copy and then bringing it out to the mailbox. I love going outside late at night and this is a wonderful excuse to go out – to mail off a handwritten poem to someone who doesn’t expect to get this particular poem. Oh yes, I know they hope to get something in their mailbox! Who doesn’t?

I wrote daily in April, most of May, a part of June and then it seemed I needed a break. I waited for August and it was hard to pick up the pieces of the process because that excitement had been in April. It was all right and will be again. I chatted with the other poets and sent a few cards and got close to the actual place where I was on the second list of names. And so I started writing again with the sense of deadline and someone waiting. And I started getting more cards in my own mailbox as people started their August Month of Poetry Postcards which lingers on into September. We were all needing some support and strength and it was good to talk about our lives and the world.

I have a tradition of writing a special poem for August 31 and sending it to everyone in my group. Day 31 still gets their own poem though! I used part of my free time in August to think about that and work on it. After I’d addressed all those cards I thought about all the different people in all the different places they were going. I hoped that my first cards had made it to them safely, maybe even that they’d been enjoyed along the way as well as by the recipient. I send a card to my two local postmasters as thanks for their help and to some bonus folks out of PoPo. That is something I really enjoy doing.

In September I took a rather intensive online watercolor class which sort of kicked my butt and head for two weeks about painting with intention. In theory, this is hard when you start and then should get easier. As the class was ending I realized there was a poetry class available about spontaneous writing and that seemed to fit into the deep thinking I was doing about intentionality and flow so I took the leap and signed up for that. I’m not sure what will become of me but I will carry on and have already signed up for August Poetry Postcard Fest 2021.

Signing up for the future is like planting bulbs – a pure sign of hope in the world!

(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty

Today was a day about the day job. Felt strange and in a weird way lonelier than the past month and a half. But we trudge on folks, we trudge on. (And a hat tip to my Mom, Betty Frezon for a line in her chat tonight that ended up in this poem!)

I refilled the coffee grinder today
where it hangs ready to churn my
morning beans into a small jar.
I looked at the bigger jar with
its inch of oatmeal remaining.
I threw away the cheese wrapper
and rinsed the empty milk carton.
Took the trash out, bin rumbling
put some boxes in recycling too
gave coffee grounds to the garden.
The evening light shone out of
daffodils so delightfully happy
whatever time had been measured
was paused and pressed in amber.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty

NaPoWriMo – Day Four

Had a nice dinner with Mom. Beautiful sunset which I watched with a police car watching me. One other person stopped by for a few minutes to snap a few photos. I kept waiting to be told to ‘move along’ but I think the officer was probably watching what I was watching. Here, have a sonnet-ish thing. Sunset photos in the next post!

In My Pocketsies

Even though, it turns out I’m not going
anywhere today. Again. Staying home
because that’s the thing we’re all doing. Uh.
So, even though I’m staying home again.
I get up, do all the things, put on clothes.
comb my hair and then — this is the surprise:
I put things in my pockets like normal.
Well, normal is such a slippery word.
I thought about this today, my pockets,
more specifically the fact I carry
three pens with me, and a small notebook too.
Two in a pocket, one on my neckline,
I’m ready to snare whatever words are
trying to sneak by. Oh — I am ready!

NaPoWriMo – Day Four

NaPoWriMo, Day Thirty, the end…

Always a bittersweet moment when the end of NaPoWriMo comes, but stay tuned for more and thanks for coming by this month to check out the poetry and painting!

Waiting for May

The last of April has come once more
a flirtatious whirl of sun and green
uncertain moments, pleasure’s relaxation
after many rounds of shaky romance
the pleasure of sitting on brown earth
does not recede, nor is it softer but
still it’s that april-spring moment, yearly
unlooked for, unplanned, not so recognized
but unconsciously celebrated for
what it is – that moment when the earth turns
the air softens, the world holds out its arms
and again whispers come sit with me
and the body, having marked time’s passing
says, hello, don’t mind if I do. Thank you.

NaPoWriMo, Day Twenty-nine

There was a lot of this “No one could have known…” floating around yesterday as a meme, but mine took a different path.

No one could have known that a childhood and
all could have landed past middle-age in
a red-hot moment and without any fuss.
No one could have known that after romance
and the pain and the trying to make it work
that love can end and life goes on anyway
No one could have known that regret is real
regret is real and forgiveness so hard
to forgive the past harder, to let go
No one could have known that forgiveness
is sometimes just accepting the facts
and cutting loose the pain, being free
No one could have known that all lessons done
leave plenty of room for more lessons to come.

NaPoWriMo Day Twenty-six

Daffodils slowly extinguishing
hope released, now fading
the forsythia have bloomed
sturdy and sunny and
along the house shy Fairy Wings –
paler yellow, briefly flowers
until its leaves fill
the side garden with hearts.
The one clump of bluebells
pale blue and pink cups is
finally taller than the
daffodil spikes but they’ll both
go down to hostas and day lilies
so turns the garden’s year./blockquote>

NaPoWriMo, Day Nineteen

Had this notion on the way to work about the color of the world seeping up toward the sky in spring but on the way home I saw my first of the wonderful white flowering shrubs that to me really speak to Spring’s official arrival.

After four, maybe five months of the sky
throwing down sifts and squalls and bucket loads
of snow and more snow and piling it up
in the normal fashion of New England
And it seems to many deeper and more
snow than it has to be to make a point.
Miraculously it all vanishes
but the woods stand brown and empty awhile.
The earth at last yields color to the world –
the new grasses shining in golden light
treetops pink and impossibly yellow
waiting for leaves to burst summery.
Shrub rows of white petals wind-tossed laughing
spring flecks falling across the joyous sky.

NaPoWriMo, Day Eleven

Today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo was to write a Bop: “The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song. Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar.”

I have to say that it was a beautiful day. I fixed two plumbing issues. I stripped the bed and did laundry. I finished a landscape which was sort of meh, and did a quick little still life of my favorite brushes. I looked at two watercolor-related books. I shook my head over the news. I watched the daffodils start to yellow up. I opened the bedroom window. But the words… been a hard few days.

A Reminder of Ideas, Just in Case

Before the month started I wrote down this:
A reminder of ideas, just in case –
For those days when words didn’t flow from me
When there’s fresh laundry that needs my folding
and everything looks better than the page.
the list of ideas that might be useful.

Oh spirit of writing, where have you gone?

Practice, perseverance, daily commute
The work of dailyness, the clouds and sky
sonnets and haiku and some limericks
Taking time to look, A box full of paint
No ideas but in things. Just do the work.
Beauty. Coming home. Walls full of paintings.
A wall full of my paintings. Hold to joy.
The color of a lake. The length of days.

Oh spirit of writing, where have you gone?

Tonight this list is a whole universe
tonight the words are somewhere in between
Today I painted, I’d say with success
a still life of my brushes. And I fixed
the washer so it works. I folded sheets.
I reviewed the reminder of ideas.

NaPoWriMo Day Seven

Because I think we’re all here.

And here’s what I did before work today:

Life in 2017

The constant, low-level adrenaline
pushed out all my thoughts
made your fingers twitch
interrupted any conversation
made your stomach hurt. made my temples throb.
How to soothe this inner shivering mess
in the words of the wise: make art, breathe deep,
string words together into poetry
write tales to bind up the ragged edges
while you’re making and thinking and writing
and looking around at the world at hand
the world as it really is, beautiful
and whole, filled with light and darkness and birds
all thoughts belong to me and you alone.

NaPoWriMo Day Five

This was a stretch and I know, before the editing is done, there will be even more alternate ending couplets than I have already….

Clean out the closet, the drawer-fuls of things
making room, space, to welcome in the new
Throw out the ratty, the tattered and worn
the last decade’s style, the no-longer-fits.
Perhaps these can be re-purposed, perhaps
they can be donated, gifted, elsewhere
but it’s as likely that they must go out,
out in big black bags, or some old boxes
to a donation bin, or a thrift shop
maybe to the annual rummage sale.
The same is true of words, writing poems,
words and fashions come and go, like seasons
I’ll put on my own clothes, comfortably
and use my own words to write a sonnet