Napo 30

I made it! Pandemics seem like a good time to write, and I'm glad I muddled through, even and especially when I felt the malaise hit. The malaise hits today, but I wrote in response to a prompt anyway and told myself to work on this for at least an hour. I have the time. I have this gift. I will not always have such a precious thing as time.

Today's prompt was to write about something that returns. Fireflies return each summer. But maybe not so much. We can't take beauty and love and goodness for granted. Another thing I'm thinking about is periods. I might, instead of using the fireflies as a metaphor for love, use them as a metaphor for menstruation in future drafts or in a different poem.

Of Love and Fireflies

Once, I loved you like a firefly— Remember how they used to make the fields
Effulgent like the midnight sky once was? When this was orange fields and the heart
Grew wild like the monte? Remember how Each year those lightning bugs returned?
Like clockwork. Like…

Napo 29

Eve During Quarantine

Is this how she felt millennia Ago, sheltered in Eden’s refuge? A cupboard always full Of everything she needed— Garbanzo beans and quinoa, Organic mac and cheese, Jars and jars of marinara sauce So red and blushing. A freezer full of chicken, Ground beef, loins of pork. A bed, rendering pleasure. A home, a foundry of succor. Here, I want for nothing Save the sunset, red like an apple Or a pomegranate or a cherry, Setting on a backdrop of a dead city. Standing in her garden, Naked, did Eve gaze beyond The walls of her garden Like me, standing at my window, Smudging it with her palms, And weep? This fragile body Be damned. Mortality Be damned. Life be damned. Did she ache to return to the work of the living?

Napo 28

I have to admit, I'm getting some fatigue. I guess that's to be expected during normal times, and I suppose during a pandemic too. Most days I'm totally fine, but I find myself just not wanting to do things anymore. Ritual and routine are vital to me, so follow them, go through the motions. Morning writing is one of those rituals. So is daily tidying of the house. 
I want to write more and with more depth and complexity and urgency and passion, but I don't know, I'm having trouble channeling that. Maybe once the semester is through and I'm staring at a long, glorious summer ahead. I need to find a new project to get fired up about. Napo has been a nice distraction. But I need direction. I'll find it, soon. 
Until then:

Tidying During COVID-19
This morning smells of bleach And lavender soap. I make it so: I wash the sheets each morning After waking, a ritual to keep this Eden clean. I snap the wrinkles from the sheet and lay it on the bed—it’s bright whit…

Napo 27

Review of 2020
Ramen noodles in a plastic cup. Mac and cheese from a box In a ceramic bowl. Tuna from a can. This is what the year served us, Set for us on our tables with a smile And told us to dig in. It’s the cuisine Of hard times, of survival, of uncertainty.
Located on the corner of life and death, Of boom and bust, of breath and breathlessness, 2020 is a self-proclaimed hole-in-the-wall. Its ambiance is doom and hope at once. Its windows open to sunlight; Its curtains wear a veil of dust. All its tables are set for one and one alone. It’s the kind of environment one expects For the story of our lives to unfold, Where survival is served on a chipped plate And tastes like heaven, or hell, or music.
That year, I ate boxed mac and cheese And cried because it tasted like the past, Like better days, like my father at the stove Adding weenies to the dish and shakes of pepper. That year, I ate the perfect loaf of bread From my own oven, misshapen, hard, But it tasted like life, li…

Napo 26

What I Will Tell My Great-Grand Children About the Plague
The sun still rose each morning. The lovegrass swayed in the wind. And, if you drove and drove and drove Into the countryside, you could breathe And close your eyes and smell citrus, Like it was any spring day in south Texas.
Our house smelled of coffee and love. My cat, Rascal, perched on my lap. Grass snakes and blind snakes and corn snakes Didn’t know or care. And the snappers off the coast Had a moment of reprieve since the fishermen Were afraid of each other for once.
I still had dreams—being lost in a forest, And there were forests to be lost in, still. A dirty penny was a thing to fear. The oranges still tasted sweet, But I wondered who picked them In times like these, who braved The fields to bring a bit of sweetness. And you have to bless a heart like that.
The president told us all to drink bleach. Can you believe that? No one listened. I was in love with a man who brought me coffee In the afternoons, who fixed …

Napo 25

Today's prompt was to free write after Schuyler's "Hymn to Life." The poem is winding and long and reminds me a lot of Whitman. There's something magical almost about poems like this, and it's a magic I must admit I don't quite grasp. But here's my free write for today.

Free write Hymn to Life
The wind blows in off the gulf this morning. It’s warm, too warm, and it makes me feel suspicious of its intentions. I’ve grown accustomed to winter and here it is, spring, and it’s hot. The summer marches in, gets the floor muddy with its boots, and plops itself on the sofa like an unwelcome houseguest that I know isn’t going anywhere. The cat sleeps in my lap and warms my thighs. Love is warmth and heat and the quickness of breath. And sometimes love is letting things happen. “You let the light inside the body,” the president said, The UV light, the sunlight, and in a way he’s right, You have to let the light in the body to show what’s wrong, For self-reflecti…

Napo 24

Dear K—
Dear knells, dear kegs, Dear kazoos, here is another day I am far away from home, The small town of Kiel, Wisconsin. I write a friend from Odessa, Not in Ukraine, but in Texas. She is afraid of the countryside. I am afraid of the city centers. And fear, yes fear, keeps us apart, Though there is a kinship between us. I think of all the oil well there And how they pump the blackness From the softness of the earth, The klack klack klack of fracking. Where does a city end? When it dips into the openness Of west Texas? When it turns Into the rural roads, when fear Changes from urban to emptiness— Where the color of the skin of the people Change, too. The sun can do that. The blood can do that. Gerrymandering Can do that, too. Once, walking In a city, Baytown, another oil town That does not begin with K, Like my name, like my hometown, Or Kafkaesque, which is how I felt, When a black man asked me for directions And my first response was to run And my second response was shame And…