Climate Crisis

My poem, Reparations, has found a home on the  Extinction Rebellion Creative Hub! They publish fiction and poetry exclusively about climate change. B. Barker’s poem Lost Worlds also went live today (a good read) which is why “write a climate crisis poem” was this week’s LP Monday poetry prompt..

Technically I’ve already done mine, but, what the heck. I wrote another one.

There’s a temperature war
going on at home.
She’s hot. He’s cold.
He’s cold. She’s hot.
The spinning dial makes us dizzy
The planet is in a climate tizzy.

There’s a temperature war
going on at home.
Overconsumption
leads to deprivation.
The Haves are spoiling
The Have-Nots are broiling.

There’s a temperature war
going on at home.
Garbage and gases, islands of plastic
poison the planet’s global conveyor belt.
This is a war no one can win.
Close the lid on Gaia’s coffin.

OPA!

If you are a fan of the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (and really, who isn’t?) then you are thinking of the common exclamatory expression in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.

But no Dear Reader. Today I am talking about OPA, Our Poetry Archive. OPA is an international online journal. In addition to posts on their website, https://opainternational.wordpress.com/, they publish an annual themed anthology.

This year the theme was Midnight. If you know me, you know I’m a night owl. Actually, a doctor once told me that I probably have circadian rhythm disorder. Sounds fancy. Might be true. Of course I do have to be awake and available during the day to interact with the world, but I am basically permanently on the wrong side of the clock. But I digress. This theme was made for me. I even wrote a poem titled “Midnight” years ago. To my delight, they published all three of the poems I submitted.

The full anthology is published here. https://opaanthologymidnightmoments.blogspot.com/. Yes, I shamelessly stole their banner image. To find mine, you can click my name in the list. Poets are in alpha order by first name. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the direct link to my poems. Note: If I had known that the picture they asked me to submit would have been so big on the page… Oy! https://opaanthologymidnightmoments.blogspot.com/search/label/JeanMarie%20Olivieri. At the bottom of each poet’s page is the full list of poets so you can easily browse the pages without the back button.

By the way, I knew opa was Greek but wanted to know more. In tonight’s linguist landslide of multiple websites (for verification and cross checking) I learned…

Opa is a common Mediterranean emotional expression. It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing. The word is flexible and has taken on many new meanings. It can also be used to express enthusiasm, shock or surprise. The actual meaning of “opa!” is more like “Oops” or “Whoops!” It’s used as an expression of shock and surprise, or just a way of getting someone’s attention, similar to “Hey” in English. Opa also appears in Brazil and Portugal, Albania, and other Slavic nations. Even modern Arabic speakers have borrowed it as an exclamation. They may pronounce it as “obah” because there is no letter ‘p’ in Arabic.

Who knew that one word could mean so much? Um… Duh…

Aloha
How can one word do double duty
for hello and goodbye and
and anything in between?
Perhaps it’s because the word
makes us feel the warmth of connection.
Perhaps it’s the same reason why LOVE
is the biggest word in the universe.

Monku: Sparkle

Today’s poem is my Haiku response to Living Poetry’s July Visual Prompt.

I feel dull today
Fireworks were yesterday
No sparkle for me.

When B started posting blogs titled “Fraiku: title” it took me two beats too long to figure out what that was. It’s not a new form of poetry. It’s a portmanteau. Fraiku = Friday + Haiku. Today I wrote a Haiku to the LP Monday prompt and decided to call it a Monku. Actually I put a lot of thought into this. Possibly too much!

What about the rest of the week? What are the grammar rules for this? For example: When a word ends in y, to make it plural, change the y to i and add es. A singular pest is a fly. More than one of these pests are flies. There should be a system for this. Pardon me if this has been done before. Here’s what I did.

If the first syllable of the first word ends in a vowel, cut that word just before that vowel. If the first syllable has a vowel and ends in a consonant, cut the first word at the consonant and drop the first syllable of Haiku. Pronunciation is a bit subjective here, so I took at swing at that too. What follows is your guide:

Monday + Haiku = Monku – pronounced ‘muhn-ku’ of ‘monk-oo’
Tuesday + Haiku = Tueku pronounced ‘ ‘too-koo’ or Taiku pronounced ‘tie-koo’
Wednesday + Haiku = Waiku – pronounced ‘way-koo’ The ‘d’ is silent!
Thursday = Haiku = Thaiku – pronounced ‘thigh-koo’
Friday + Haiku = Fraiku – pronounced ‘fray-koo’ or ‘fry-koo’
Saturday + Haiku = Satku – pronounced ‘sat-koo’
Sunday + Haiku = Sunku – pronounced ‘sun-koo’

You’re welcome. Readers are encouraged to weigh in, below in comments.

Postcards!

I love postcards and have been collecting them since I was a kid. It was the one thing my mother would let me buy when we went places, and the picture was always better than anything I could have taken with my crappy flashbulb camera. Even now, I prefer to just enjoy the scenery when I go someplace and let the professionals document the place for me. I’m not shy about asking family and friends to bring me a postcard when they travel. For years I was in an informal postcard exchange program with a couple of my coworkers. We would bring each other postcards when we traveled so each of us had cubicle walls decorated with other people’s vacations. A few years ago, I decided to cull my collection. The boxes were too heavy and I was going to move, again! I had duplicates and multiples from several popular vacation spots. So I kept the best and mailed them to everyone I knew who lived in another city.

Top 10 Reasons to Love Postcards
  1. Inexpensive — a cheap thrill
  2. Lightweight and will fit in any overstuffed suitcase
  3. Durable and will last longer than the relationship
  4. Satisfying to hold (unlike texts)
  5. They will never cause a problem getting through customs.
  6. Better photography than most people can take
  7. More fun in the mailbox then sales flyers
  8. Great bookmarks
  9. Small writing area makes it easy to lie
  10. Great way to provide an alibi

Note: For more fun facts about Kansas, see: Eisenhower’s Grave and The World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Just for fun – As seen online:

The Backyard

I always check the Living Poetry Monday Poetry Prompt to see if it inspires something. The prompts are always accompanied by a picture. I really liked the picture this week, even more so than the actual prompt (write a backyard poem.). The odd thing, however, is that the backyard in the poem is not the backyard in the picture. Weird right? Welcome to ekphrastic poetry. where a poem can be a description or about the deeper meanings of a piece of art. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, or stories or poems.

Backyard

Sometimes
when the light was right
she could see the future.
There was a world beyond
the fence,
the dirt,
the beer cans
and rusted parts
from a dozen iron horses.
Her small hands
clenched into fists,
holding a promise.
when she left
someday
she would never look back.

.


The Award Winner

In my March 8th post, Poetry News and Notes, I mentioned that I took second place in the NCPS annual competition, Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness category (current events). Now that the annual anthology of winning poems, Pinesong, has been published, I am free to share the poem here on my blog.

Assume the Position

First position: stand in line
Learn this in kindergarten. Do it to death.
Try not to do it in a police station.

Second position: hands in the air
Use one hand if you’re a student.
Use two if you’re in front of a gun.

Third position: head between your knees
Essential for turbulent flights and hangovers.
It may also be necessary in hostage crises.

Fourth position: kneel
Do this to propose, or protest police brutality.
Do not do this on someone’s neck.

Fifth position: bend over
Touch your toes for a light stretch.
Take a deep breath for the strip search.

Microsoft is changing the default Office font and wants your help to pick a new one

I notice fonts. Do you? I’ve done my share of newsletter design and layout, and I stare at MS Word everyday so this is a big deal. Click the link above to see how you can give Microsoft your 2 cents.

Let’s End with a Bang!

It’s the last day of National Poetry Month and the last day of the Poem-a-Day Challenge. I didn’t write 30 poems, but I wrote more than 15. I read tons of poetry online, mostly from contemporary poets, but I did read some classic poetry as I claimed I would. I read John Donne (Metaphysical Poet from the late 1500’s). I also read the analysis which I needed!. As to other poetry tasks, I read my poetry at two online events, by invitation and I pursued publication by submitting to four journals. No responses yet. Whew!

And now I have two (2!) new poems for you. These are both to Robert Brewer’s April 28 prompt: For today’s prompt, write a remix poem. This has become one of my favorite prompts, because it asks us to look over what we’ve written this month and pick something (or many somethings) to poem out in a new way. Maybe your free verse becomes a sonnet or your sestina transforms into haiku. Or take a line or phrase from each of your poems this month and work it into a cohesive new creation.

But how can I do that if I don’t have 29 poems to pull from? Use someone else’s work of course! They say it’s better to ask forgiveness than ask for permission. So I took lines from two different poet bloggers I follow and assembled two poems – one for each of them. I added a bit of original material to the first one to hang her lines together, but the second poem is almost entirely his lines. Be sure to click the URL for each of them so you can go to their blog and read their original work.

Traveling
When was the last time you opened a map?
Who determines our path:
us or the wind or fate?
It’s the voice that seldom leaves us alone
that pushes us out the door.

Don’t listen to words spoken
from the lip of the bottle.
Listen instead for
lighthearted laughter
as soft as lamb’s wool clouds.

Home is not the appropriate place
to find fresh winds blowing.
I begin with rivulets
and follow to where they merge
with creeks flowing into rivers.
Finally I will reach the ocean,
stand and watch each wave
as it approaches, swells, explodes, and then recedes ̶
the tide’s lap dance with the shore.

It will stay at the Ordinary Inns
favored by poets, preachers and just plain sinners
that mark the thin places
where different worlds meet.

Now is not the time for caution.

Speculative Dreaming

Cancel my appointments
I think too much

This poem is
the scab forming over a trauma
and I can’t stop picking at it

I want to drink life straight from the bowl
and sing praises to the moon
every chance I get

Whose bones are these?
I just know I want one.
Like a dog chasing a car

All that pent up tension
I won’t be keeping a social distance
Shape is trivial
Nothing will come between our lips

I will just put one word in front of the other
until I cross the finish line.

Some vessels are best left unopened
but were archaeologists to steal my computer
they’ll know where I’ve been.

Inspired by a moonless sky
I leave this poem as an apology to the future
of our relationship.

Poetry and Math and Friendship

I have writer friends and non-writer friends. No surprise there. Life would be a bit dull if all of my friends were exactly like me. Some (many) of my friends are not big poetry fans. When people tell me they don’t like poetry, they usually rush to add, “But I like yours.” It makes me laugh. I’m always happy when someone tells me they like my poetry, but it’s certainly not a requirement to be friends with me. I also hear people tell me that while they like some poetry they could never write it. Meh. I don’t agree. I think anyone can write.

Math, however, is another story. Math is hard. Math gives me agita. So when I’m asked to combine math and poetry, I sweat a bit. Yet, I did write this one to Robert Brewer’s April 11 PAD prompt: Write a prime number poem

Oh god not another math poem!

I never worry or balk at my age.
More birthdays. More cake.
But I think I will stop at 59.
Instead of years
I will Level Up.
This way every trip around the sun
will be a victory lap
towards Mastery of my life.

Speaking of Math and Poetry, I have two very dear friends who are “Math People.” One of them, Bartholomew Barker, is the rare Math Person who also writes poetry after working his day job as a programmer. (Click his name to read some of his work.) My other Math Friend, Tess Fisher, just so happens to be an extraordinarily gifted sewist. She can sew anything from underwear to formal wear and anything in between. She sews for people of all sizes and shapes and even pets. She also makes wonderful costumes and turned herself in to Fawkes from the Harry Potter series last fall. I’m amazed by her talent. She is also one of my “poetry is not for me” friends. But as it turns out, despite her claims, she can indeed write a poem. With her permission:

If I Had a Pen, by Tess Fisher

If I had a pen,
Would I write a poem?

Or would I sketch a design,
Do some math,
Or twirl it like a baton?

If I had a pen…
I would,
Anything…but write a poem.

Can’t get enough poetry? Need something to do next Monday, April 26, 2021? Join me and 9 other poets who will be reading some poems and discussing their work at the annual Poetry on Your Plate events sponsored by the town of Carrboro, Parks & Recreation. It’s normally held in person but since Covid is still around, it’s virtual. Anyone can attend. It goes from 6pm to 8pm EDT. on Zoom.

https://townofcarrboro.zoom.us/j/99905369763?pwd=em5ab3BGdXhmdEJjcUhSMGxJUFBqZz09
Meeting ID: 999 0536 9763
Passcode: 918850

April 12, 21





In a poem a word is not equal to its meaning as it is defined in a dictionary, because either the meaning in a poem is totally different, or it is the same but a thousand times more precise. ~ Heaven Is Not Verbose: A Notebook, by Vera Pavlova, translated by Steven Seymour.

Poetry month is almost half over. I said I would write a poem a day to the challenge, if I was inspired, or I had time, or I felt like it. I’m right on track. It’s Day 12 and I’ve written 6 poems, 2 haiku and some scraps, which may or may not work their way into a poem. I also said I was going to read some of the classic poets. I started off with Blake and then got distracted. But today I was introduced to Vera Pavlova, quoted above, .

Written in 2012, this lovely piece is a multi-pager series of notes and observations about poetry, life, and writing. It’s filled with quotable lines such as this: “Went to bed with an unfinished poem in my mouth and could not kiss.”

And this one, “I live my life moving forward on rails that I lay myself. Where do I get the rails? I dismantle the ones I have gone over.”

I encourage you to click the bold title above and read this wonderful poem and find a few lines that speak to you.

Can’t get enough poetry on zoom?

Two of my poems were selected for the Heart Beats Poetry Anthology published by Lisa Tomey of The Prolific Pulse, the busiest poet I know. The book has been launched and celebrated with two readings by contributing poets which are available here on her blog. All the poetry is great but if you just want to see what I look like and how I sound (hint: like Minnie Mouse) check out the evening session and drag on over to minute 29. Better yet, listen to all of the poetry. And buy a book! And definitely follow her blog and join her for poetry, open mic events for Mondays in April, Poet’s Coffee Table Talks and book reviews.

Need more?
Check out the poem I wrote to the astronomy prompt on Living Poetry’s Monday Prompt: Yuri’s Night.

The Cruelest Month

It’s April again. This is National Poetry Month. I read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland with a group of poets a couple of years ago. I enjoyed learning about the poem but I don’t remember what we decided he meant by April being the cruelest month. Except for the last decade (or more), April has become the month to inspire poets to write a new poem everyday. I’ve done it. It’s tough but does provide a nice stockpile of work to bring to critique workshops. But these days I’m just not into working that hard.

My motto for National Poetry Month: Enjoy poetry! There are lots of online poetry readings. I will be attending the book launch of the Heart Beats poetry anthology. published by Lisa Tomey, Prolific Pulse. (PS. I’m very proud to say that I have two poems in this book.). I will also be one of the poets featured at Poetry On Your Plate, hosted by the Carrboro Parks and Recreation department on April 26. (Living Poetry Meetup for the event.)

Of course I’ll write poetry. I’ll check the daily prompts on Robert Brewer’s “Write Better Poetry” daily April Challenge (formerly Poetic Asides). But not everyday! And I plan on reading poems from well-known poets. I read a lot of poetry from my contemporaries, but I think I could use some more grounding in the classics.

What do you plan to do for National Poetry Month?

Have You Met Me?

“Get out there and enjoy this beautiful day!”
Have you met me? I am indoorsy
I prefer Nature through a window.

“Have a fabulous day!”
How long have you know me?
Keep your uber enthusiasm to yourself.

“You should wear…
do … to your hair”
How dare you tell me
what I should care about.
Don’t give me diet advice.
Don’t talk to me before coffee.

“It’s April. Write a Poem every day!”
You can’t make me.
My inner child is strong.
Except I will write this one.