Uninvited Feeling — (NaPoWriMo / Day 29)

So it comes, unexpected — no, sometimes quite expected.
It comes when I’m sitting, relaxed on my couch, like the old Romantic,
and it comes when I’m draining the spaghetti,
also when I water my geraniums, which are mine now,
but it comes when I’m active, too, skiing for example,
or when I’m hiking in the mountains.

Expected or unexpected, it comes uninvited.
I never asked it to stay around, I wanted it gone,
I sorted all the old photographs and hid them in boxes,
I threw loads of old things away — well, almost all,
and the house is a new house, in a new place,
my life was meant to be a new life.

Yet it comes, powerful and devastating it comes,
this void that gradually at first, then faster and faster
devoured a family, leaving only memories I’d rather not keep,
reminding me where I came from, who I came from,
reminding me all I have now is a new family, all mine,
but never theirs, never again with them.

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net suggested “producing a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.”

Seventy-Three Point Two — (NaPoWriMo / Day 27)

That window full of cakes we would behold
When festive decorations used to hang
Upon each gate and door, no longer cold,
Bare or grey, and then we danced, and we sang.

In those times we found every single day
As good as anything from east to west,
Which explains how we let it slip away,
Death’s dreadful scheme soon giving us no rest.

In no time we’d set all our world on fire
That year when every word would seem a lie,
As everything we’had started to expire,
Consumed and lost, forgotten by and by.

This love — in spite of all — remained so strong,
To last for what is left us, short or long.

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “remix one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.” I chose Sonnet LXXIII, That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold, leaving the first and last word of each line. It was a fun exercise, but I agree, the original sonnet is still uncomparably better!

How to Strangle a Priest — (NaPoWriMo / Day 26)

In a city full of priests,
no wonder some may be wanted dead.
Knowing how priests love their food,
no problem finding how to kill one.

Choke him with pasta,
choke him with bacon,
choke him with sheep’s cheese
and pepper at will!

Not I, I would never kill
any priest, nor anyone at that,
though I used to hate our own
family’s priest always arriving

right in time for lunch,
right at dinner time,
right in time to choose
what we all would eat.

Anyway, here’s how to make
noodles that will choke the toughest priest—
not literally, in the sense
that he’ll choke with delight and want more:

Slice the dough and cut four stripes,
roll each stripe and make it thin,
snap in two, then three, then four…
Repeat: slice, cut, roll and snap!
Repeat: slice, cut, roll and snap!
Repeat: slice, cut, roll and snap…

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net suggested using repetition. The inspiration for this piece came from dining at a typical Roman osteria in full view of a young cook making strozzapreti, i.e. “priest stranglers,” homemade pasta, with his hands, repeating the same gestures over and over.

Shades of Green — (NaPoWriMo / Day 25)

Late spring is
neither spring nor summer:
scented, multicoloured
blossoms are fading and
their smell is too intense,
birds don’t care to sing now,
content with their full nests,
tall trees reach to a sky
too bright to be called blue,
families in the park,
fatigued more than relaxed,
converse about the heat
and strive to find a spot
in the shade of those trees,
in the cool evening breeze,
eventually merging
with the shapes around them—
a thousand shades of green.

O tell me, please: where are
the colours of autumn?

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “write a poem that: – Is specific to a season – Uses imagery that relates to all five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) – Includes a rhetorical question, (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”)”
The picture was taken earlier today, on a walk through the park of Villa Borghese in Rome.

R — (NaPoWriMo / Day 24)

Word of the day: writhe.
Sounds rather nice, doesn’t it?
Writhe… with a round,
rolling American R sound,
or writhe, with a light,
imperceptible English sound?
But give it a strong, dramatic,
Shakespearian R, even more,
a Scottish R, writhe, writhe—or,
why not? A rasping Portuguese R:
writhe, writhe, writhe!
Can you hear it now?
Can you hear the twists and turns?
Can you feel the pain?
Are you struggling to get it right?

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “write a poem […] inspired by a reference book.” I am not at home this week, so I opted for the Merriam-Webster mobile app, choosing to use today’s “word of the day.”

Living Things — (NaPoWriMo / Day 23)

You start your life without a name:
you merely live, we give you a name—

at times, we even feed you,
at times, we even treat you if you are sick,

at times, we make you the object of our art,
at times, indeed, we even love you.

Most times, we deem ourselves your makers,
and we unmake you—
yes, we take your life, and we change
your name, and we call you
food.

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “write about an animal.” I chose more than one, but also vegetables, to cater for vegetarian/vegan readers… (as a cook and foodie, I am a fan of vegan food, too, which I alternate to “traditional” food in my personal diet.) I am in Rome at the moment, and today I was inspired by the Roman mosaic in the picture, which I found at the Vatican Museums (Candelabra Gallery.)

I am not… — (NaPoWriMo / Day 22)

I am not a bookseller, I am a reader.
Well, I guess I would rather sell
books, but I do not: I buy them.
For instance, there are still places
selling the real things, printed
in real ink, on real paper—smelly, new
books; dusty, yellowing, crisp old books.
like the High Tide shop, hidden in a back calle,
off the crowded guided-tour routes.
I pass by coming from San Lorenzo,
formerly a church, never completed,
a high vaulted hall now hosting
an installation combining art and nature
by an environmentally-conscious
American performance artist.
Neither am I an artist, I go to exhibitions—or
a churchgoer, I go to churches for the art,
occasionally for the music played by an organist.
No, I am not a musician either, though
I might have been. The bookshop? Ah, yes.
I pass by, I was saying, coming
from San Lorenzo: I drop in.
“Sit down, have a drink,” she says.
I drink; we drink. I see a gondola
in the middle: “You have BOOKS in it.”
“Yes, I needed more space for them.”
“Right.” I go, the days go by and I
drop in again. The gondola is surrounded by
people browsing books, locals, tourists,
and I go, more days go by, I drop in.
The gondola is empty. “Where are the books?”
All that’s left is just a gondolier’s hat.
“It was too much,” she says, “flash sale, 2 for 1.”

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “write a poem that engages with another art form.” One of the models suggested was one of my favourite poems by Frank O’Hara, “Why I am not a painter,” so I played a big around the first section of that. The Acqua Alta bookshop in Venice served for the background.

Poets Do Not Dream — (NaPoWriMo / Day 21)

Poets do not sleep—no one, no one does.
Poets do not dream—no one, no one dreams.
They do not dream when on their couch they lie in pensive mood,
They do not dream in their fair house of Possibility,
They do not dream when they sit in an office, looking out of a window,
They do not dream when they meet up in a supermarket at night,
They do not dream when they look above and see the Infinite,
Nor do they dream when they listen to a nightingale or find a Greek urn.
Poets do not sleep—no, they do not, no one sleeps or dreams.

Poets walk along a lake and see daffodils, and
They have the sky for a roof, and limitless space, and
They wander through the streets of Guadalajara, and
They go shopping for meat and images with Whitman and Lorca,
And they they find the clef of the future by the Ocean, or on a hill in the Marches,
And they talk to birds, when not to marble men and women.
Poets have no time to sleep or dream, they live and give life.

NOTE: Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net was “write a poem that […] incorporates wild, surreal images,” with reference to Federico García Lorca’s “Ciudad sin sueño” (City that Does not Dream”.) The prompt eventually led me astray, or I simply chose the road not taken…