(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 – April Thirtieth Already

Lots of wind, my first growler (go ahead, you can laugh, I live to entertain), and other things. What an April it has been and now onto May. You may continue to see some poems here for awhile until the pandemic winds change things around again. I’ve blended this year’s NaPoWriMo into some early cards for August PoPo so more to come.

Or until the DSL lines come crashing down altogether.

The end of April. Long month of grey days
with golden double lines – stay where you are
it warns as it dips and winds around town.
Wind is pummeling the house. Isn’t that
more like March with its half-remembered kites?
And yet, here we are, blown around like
teenagers with an abundance of so
much everything but no experience
to hang it all on, flailing, some flying
lightly, scooping the sky, slurping up
the tough cord, stringing it as clothesline
doing a windy tango of its own
How’s the weather up there, the cord-paying
hand telegraphs, hoping for a tugged reply.

NaPoWriMo – April Thirtieth Already

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Nine

The penultimate day of April and so the almost-last poem of NaPoWriMo. Hopefully it’s been a good month for you all too wherever you’ve been laying low and waiting for COVID-19 to pass over. I was out and around looking at things and painting and took some photos of what I saw and one of my helpful co-workers and myself, trying to work and of course, some clouds.

April is almost over. This morning
I went out with my first coffee, wondering
has there ever been a better time
for daffodils than this year?
We suddenly have time, and reason,
to look and look again. To see
the no-color brown-grey hillside
fill up with frothy green brush.
One day, the pond has a haughty goose.
A week later, several yellow goslings
hurrying to line up behind two strict
but apparently caring parents.
We had several rounds of snow this April,
but nothing stayed the hand of spring.
We were there when the maples bloomed,
watched as peonies leapt out of the ground,
four, six inches at a time from nothing.
When the peepers sang, we stopped to listen
and knew another checkbox had been ticked.
Every day the hand of April is seen
in places you’ve looked before, suddenly,
throwing a fistful of green, now pouring it
along roadways, sneaking out of hedgerows,
following the farmer turning the fields,
that telltale green waiting til he heads home,
jumping up out of the surprised earth
No one cares if it’s weed or timothy
Only that April came and now comes May.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Nine

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-eight

A day with work and sun and clouds and a tasty lunch and dinner. Breakfast wasn’t bad either.

You seem concerned and ask if I’m all right
But see, we don’t really know each other
And if we did, we probably would not.
So I nod and say I’m good as do you
and we turn to work which is what we share
People talk of their feelings all the time
I wasn’t raised that way, but to get through
Never let them see you cry, be polite,
be respectful and work hard to get ahead
All the things that make a civil world,
a smooth landscape where nothing sticks out.
And so I’ve kept myself to myself a lot.
Perhaps we could start by saying who we are
But if we did, we wouldn’t choose to know.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-eight

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Seven

LOL. It snowed! It rained! The delivery guys came! I had online meetings with work! I had a tuna sandwich for lunch! It was, my friends, quite the Monday.

Pandemonium

According to my believable source*,
this word was coined by Milton
combining the pan- of everywhere with
the -demon-ium that can only mean trouble
Imagine hearing this new word whiz by
in a crowded market place one morning
your brain perking up to parse it as
‘everywhere demons’ while your eyes
were talking to your feet about
where the closest exit was and your
hands were scooping up some extra garlic,
as you started suddenly for home,
your mouth tasting the pure dryness of ‘oh’
Or maybe it was more a tang of ‘oh oh’.

First: my lunch today, inspired by some wonderful celery:

and even though it had snowed before I got up, it poured during my lunchtime park on Darrow Rd.

I was just admiring some twelve over twelve light windows in the Shaker settlement buildings along Darrow Rd when I saw this:

I always admire this little building along Rte 20 near the school.

The UPS Man came just as I was coming back, with two packages: Watercolor paper, a new wool sweater and a car organizer for the front seat.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Seven

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Six

Grey and rainy. Well, beyond rainy: hosing down rain and grapple and hail. Went to Hand Hollow and caught a glimpse of the same bit of heron head in the nest. It is hunkered down probably wishing it had a roof! Had to rummage some for a poem idea. I think we’re all about here now. I did manage to slap some Krazy Glue on my computer glasses this morning. And I did mess around with gouache while watching for the heron. It worked ok, but I didn’t have much of a plan going so the contrast and spacing isn’t all there. But hey, that’s what a sketchbook’s for right? trying things out? capturing things? OK here’s a poem.

Things I could have done
Should have done, must do
even those I’d like to do, well,
I stand in the quiet house
and they gather all around me
follow me down the hall
but I’m out the door
and down the steps before
any of them can grab me
not by the wrist or ankle or hem
I’m gone to who knows where
I sure don’t know or why but
today it is just not any of that.
And likely to be nothing at all.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Six

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Five

I laughed at myself for writing out a postcard with this and then realizing tomorrow’s Sunday so of course no mail, but then I almost forgot that the interwebs is still open for business as normal. It was a beautiful day here and so I went out and painted, gradually reducing the layers I was wearing. Then I had a grocery pickup and discovered I had a cotton shirt in my car so I changed when I got to Mom’s with the shopping.

The daffodils have risen
up to the bird feeder
as May approaches;
the sky is full
of yellow fluttering.
A theory of them
being there year-round
and leaping up
to meet the spring
so elegant and yet
each year met with
my joyful surprise.

Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-Five

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

It was another rainy cold day and again the sun came out again at sunset time. No big sunset or anything, just sun and not much time to enjoy it. Well perhaps it’s part of the plan to keep us home and self-isolating.

Truth be told, this poem was twice as long as I wrote it and sent it off, but I remain unconvinced about the second half but felt pretty good about this half so here you go. Afterwards a few photos, one from yesterday and three from today.

I imagined a survey asking how I felt:
politically hopeless
but my painting is going well.
Because, frankly, we’re messy
all of us and all of this
so if I’m speaking honestly
if not to you then to myself
(that is what you’re wanting, right?)
I can truthfully admit
yes, I was dressed for that
online meeting but my hair
was uncombed and I
wanted to finish my oatmeal
so I kept it audio-only.

We become what we think about all day long. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

NaPoWriMo – Day 24

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-three

Windy, cold, sunny, cloudy – just another late April Day in the shadow of the Berkshires.

Something about sitting in the car
apple and cheese slices and some
peanut butter crackers on the dash
with a cup of warmed-over coffee,
window open to let the clouds in,
someone else is talking somewhere
else about everything else
about all this stuff while
the sky is blue streaked
and grey in turns with birds
that fit the curvatures above
while I am perched here below
mere mortal, lunch arrayed before me
I should be working but I forgot.

The best way out is always through. — Robert Frost

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-three

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-two

Wow – a week to go? how did that happen? How was your April? How was your day?

Woke up to snow and January cold.
There was no mail in the box —
I stood looking at the daffodils
crushed down by a cruel spring night.
From there, things went on —
web pages just hung and didn’t load,
the pounding surf of the web reduced to
ebbs and flows of bandwidth.
It was warmer in the car at
lunchtime than inside the house,
and my cats looked woeful but
glad to get rid of me for an hour.
The daffodils were up when I returned
disregarding metaphors or forecasts.

My pen scratched and sputtered and
I realized finally – it had run dry.
I laughed at myself for having
muttered myself over this all day.
I cleaned it at the bathroom sink
flushing it with water til clear
then carefully filled it and – imagine –
only got one tip of a finger blue.
As I stood and scrubbed away the ink
the sky was orange at the horizon
and the sun a diamond in the
branches of trees somewhere near
I bowed my head to my task again,
the story of the day within.

NaPoWriMo – Day Twenty-two