It’s National Poetry Month! Every April I like to challenge myself to write a poem a day for 30 days. So far I have “The Errant Corgi,” “God of the Canopy of Trees,” “Unkissed,” and “My Backyard Neighbor Miss Betty.” When I find a word or phrase I like I park it for later. I don’t force poems; they take root or they don’t. At the end of the month I might have three or four worth revising and sharing with my critique group for feedback, reading at an open mic or sending out. I keep all of them in a file, and visit them from time to time to see if one is ready to grow. Here’s my rough first poem:
The loaf-shaped dog on short legs slipped from its leash
And trotted away from an elderly woman’s yard.
“Bagel,” she called, squeezing a squeak toy.
The dog circled a tombstone in the small family graveyard
Squatted to relieve herself in the wiry grass.
“Bagel!” the owner called again. As she neared,
the corgi ran the fence line toward the alley
Drunken with unfettered freedom.
The owner met her head on
At the alley’s other end, cornering her there.
“There you are,” she said, kneeling stiffly,
Slipping the red leash over her head
“You don’t want to miss your treat.”
Regaining her balance, the owner felt
The corgi nose her calf, then led the pair home.
I’m sure I will make many changes when I come back to this poem at the end of the month. I want to go much deeper than the surface description of the woman, the dog, the cemetery. The important thing is to get a rough draft down. Like a skeleton, I can flesh it out later.
To me, writing a poem is immediate gratification. It relieves me of the tension I experience when working on longer manuscripts. I have two manuscripts right now that are haunting me. What a relief to go trotting off like a leashless corgi, to enjoy writing a poem!
I encourage you to challenge yourself, too! Here’s a place for prompts: https://www.napowrimo.net/ or other suggestions https://poets.org/national-poetry-month. In North Carolina, check out https://www.ncpoetrysociety.org/. In Selma North Carolina, there is a Selma Open Mic on Friday, April 22 at 6 pm at Old Fashioned Ice Cream, 124 N Raiford St. downtown. Bring your best poem and join us!