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Showing posts from April, 2017

Napo 30

I did it! 30 poems in 30 days. It wasn't too hard, to be honest. I just had to let go of the idea of perfection. None of these poems are perfect, and not all of them are even really worth developing further and working on. BUT! I do have a handful of promising pieces that I can't wait to work on during the month of May. It's been a great Napowrimo. I spent the month proving to myself that I can write everyday. It's been a good habit to form, and one I hope to continue throughout the summer. 
Today's prompt was to write about something that repeats itself. Well, yesterday I went to a play about Cicadas, "Bug Joy," at my university. It was a sweet play, and I loved the message at the end. What I was trying to go for in this poem is the simple message that the only constant in life is change, and that you have to learn to embrace that change. My life is about to change, too, and I'm anxious and excited to embrace this new chapter of my life, like a cicad…

Napo 29

I really liked today's prompt. It's one I'm going to keep in my pocket for later to return to when I've got a bad case of the writer's block. Here's what it was:

I’d like to challenge you to take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

I think this is even something I can do in my creative writing classroom to teach the power of freewriting, as it worked particularly well for me this morning, too. I can have students read a poem, choose a concrete noun from it, and then do the activity, or I can even assign concrete nouns by having them choose one out of a hat. 
I can have t…

Napo 28

I ignored today's napo writing prompt because something's been on my mind lately. A few weeks ago, B was driving across the country alone, and he came home with the wildest of ghost stories. I'm not one to believe ghost stories; in fact, they don't scare me in the slightest because I don't believe in ghosts, demons, or anything of the sort. I just firmly don't and I've always been that way. This story, though, was scary, but for a different reason.
I want to develop this poem a little more -- interweave more of the theme of the fear of loneliness into the poem throughout to make the ending punch more. I like this idea, so I'll come back to this later and hopefully develop it into a poem.

Ghost Story
My husband tells me a ghost story Over breakfast: last night, he says, He drove through the thickest fog In the deadest part of Texas. Even the gold from his headlights wasn’t enough to illuminate the winding road before him.
No town for twenty miles east…

Napo 27

Today's prompt was to write about taste. I like to eat. So it wasn't too hard :)

Bitter Coffee
I’m four years old. I’m sitting at the foot Of my mother’s bed. The sun streams Through the dusty curtains as she takes a sip Of coffee from her cup. Her eyes flutter shut In pleasure, a pleasure I don’t understand. That day, I get my first taste of bitterness As she rises from the bed and holds her head In her hands. I’ll drink in her pain as I steal A sip from her lukewarm mug of darkness.
Saturday morning sugar cereal. Skittles rainbows. Ice cream the color of the August Texas sky, Starbursts bursting in the mouth with joy, Raspas dulcet on the summer tongue. If only the palette remained so simple, A Pollyanna only craving sweetness, beating heart like a hummingbird’s, pure and furious, wide-eyed always with wonder and fear. But soon, I’ll emerge from this Eden of childhood, Eager to wrap my lips around the flavors Of pain, of puckering, of bitterness: The sour tang of lem…

Napo 26

I had fun with this assignment. The prompt was to pick an object and imagine archeologists discovering it way in the future. What would they think of us? Well, I imagined some future aliens finding my purse.


In the Future, Aliens Stumble Upon My Purse

What kind of magic being would own
Such a thing? A sack, slung over the shoulder,
Equipped with every tool for living,
Creating, shaping and reshaping this world –
A warrior of his time. Look here, unzip
and let’s examine these ancient contents
to learn a little about ancient man:

First, notice this – a little stick with red
Perhaps to paint his face the shade
That would inspire the most fear.
I imagine these lines went under his eyes.
I imagine he made this with the blood
Of his enemies. How else would it blush
So bright? Here, now look at this:
A strange contraption indeed. Brush off
The rust and see this crimping tool,
Made of metal, imagine these teeth
Coming at you, plucking out the eye.
And then there are these, a plastic con…

Napo 25

Today's prompt was to write about a small, defined space. I chose my closet, but then I thought that maybe the word closet has some connotations that I probably don't have the right to play with, so I switched closet to wardrobe. Anyway, I used to have a wardrobe as a kid, so it works. The end of the poem surprised ME. I wasn't thinking of Eve, but at the end, it kind of made sense. Later on, I'll come back to this poem and work her in throughout, though I like the surprise at the end so I'll just leave some breadcrumb hints. 
Her Wardrobe
Wardrobe, the wooden cave Where she keeps her arsenal Of identities. Some hidden, shoved To the back, a go-go skirt Decades out of style, Inches too short for the legs That move her through the world today. Some, out front, the faded black dress, Understated, demure, but cinched In at the waist just right. Tennis shoes, beat up, rest Underneath old t-shirts, Some too big, some too small, some stained.
This is who she is: each…

Napo 24

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An interesting prompt today! Write a poem inspired by medieval marginalia. Google it and you'll find some really interesting stuff. Here's mine: Javalina in a Hat She wants to know what beauty feels like, A bee slipping between the petals of flesh, The brush of a monarch’s flapping wings On her skin, the warmth of a breathless gaze As someone spots her from across the monte. Caliche-caked, she sits pretty in the field Of wild sunflowers, lets the South Texas sun Brush the bristles on her back. This hide, A husk of who she is, defines her – a tank, Built for survival when survival is all This tough landscape can muster. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. What must a she-hog give up in pursuit Of such perfection? Her tusks for rooting, The cool mud on her skin on a hot afternoon, the bristles on her back that sway and dance, stand up at the slightest bit of danger? The javalina studies her reflection in the mirror, Preens and smiles. This landscape frames Her body well. S…

Napo 23

Today's prompt was to write two elevenies. I wrote four because I'm an over-achiever. Whatever.
Anyway, these short forms are a challenge for me, so it was good poetic practice. I wrote four about the different south Texas seasons.

Spring, Green, a beginning dangling huisache flowers emerge, a child’s laughter, hope.
Summer, Hot The sun Looming, scorching, loving. It’s all too much, Love.
Fall Respite, Heavy sigh Encinos release acorns Parakeets return to paradise, Content.
Winter, Quiet And gentle, A cold front Wafts in, a welcome
End.

Napo 22

It's Earth Day! Today's prompt was to write a georgic, or a poem about how to grow a plant that can perhaps be a bit political.
I tried doing that, but I think my poem morphed a bit into something more personal. The personal is political? Hmph. Whatever. Either way, I like this. More promise!

The Care and Keeping of Grapes
To grow a grape vine, you must Have both patience and hunger In equal measures. You must believe There’s something sacred in the sweetness Of the earth, the way the sun warms The soil, the way drops sail down From the clouds, clean and perfect. You must believe this without proof, The definition of faith. It will outlive you, bearing your fruit For generations to enjoy, the vines Hardening to wood. A lifetime isn’t enough To savor everything this grapevine has to offer. Unless a bulldozer has its way, Or the oceans swallows everything again, Or the world explodes in an inferno. You must consider this as you shovel soil, Reshape the earth to make way for it…

Napo 21

I gotta say, I've been really enjoying this Napowrimo daily writing thing. The prompts have been pushing me beyond my comfort zone. Having to write daily has helped me to let go of the idea of a perfect poem, too. I've enjoyed making these messy poems. Come May, I'll enjoy cleaning them up.

Which brings me to my NAPO 21!
Today's prompt was to write a poem inspired by something you overheard. Well, yesterday, a certain professor was enjoying a snack in the classroom, and he left his trash behind. Que cochino! My friend remarked as we were all leaving, and pointed to the mess.
Que cochino indeed.
It made me think about the kind of guts it takes to leave a mess, expecting someone else to clean it up.
And maybe we do that, collectively, on a larger scale, too.

Napowrimo Poem 21
Cochinos Cochino, the busboy whispers
Under his breath as he clears the table.
The beer glasses emptied, the food devoured,
The plates all smudged and stained, what else
Remains but the task of setting r…

Napo 20

Today's prompt was to write using the vocabulary of a sport. I chose chess. And then I wondered how Helen of Troy would play chess? Lately, she's my muse.


Helen of Troy Plays Chess
Helen knows the real object of this game: Protect the king no matter the cost. She plays the queen. The most valuable Piece on the board. She loves the way She can wrap her fingers around its waist, Move it wistfully across the board As if it were a frothing sea. But Helen Knows that every move has consequences, Every smile, every flick of her golden hair, Every bat of her lashes. One wrong move And the balance turns. Suddenly, the bishop’s Sliding into place. Suddenly, the castle is your prison. Suddenly, even a pawn can swallow the mighty queen.
She knows what it’s like to have a hand From the sky sweep in, capture her, Into the oblivion of the sidelines. She’s felt the pressure of the tongue Flinging the word “check” into her ear As she slides away to save the day again. Though no one will admi…

The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue Coming Soon!

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Hooray! My next poetry collection, The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue, will be released this fall from Angelina River Press! I'm over-the-moon excited to share this lovely with the world. Publisher sent me the cover design and the book is now officially in the works. I can't wait to hold it in my hands. 
The book revisions three Texas legends, the eponymous one, Slue Foot Sue, is Pecos Bill's lesser known girlfriend and partner in crime. The poems tell her narrative as the focus. She's just as wild as he is, maybe more, and totally larger than life. The other narratives include Lobo Girl, a feral child case from the 1830's in Del Rio, and La Sirena, a Native American legend about a woman who morphed into a mermaid after kissing a catfish. It's a collection of feminist revisionist myth, but of course, revisionist myth is my thing.
Publisher had this to say:
Award-winning poet Katherine Hoerth's The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue opens with a poem present…

Napo 19

Today' prompt was to write about the creation myth. So, I did! In my own way :)

Creation
On the first day, she let the light in Her body radiant with life and bathed In sweat. On the second day, she traced The borderline between the earth and sky, Looked out into the horizon, and knew Her life would never be the same. On the third day, she willed the forming Of a world within herself, continents Of cells awash within the ocean of love. On the fourth day, she gave that world A heart, a burning, eternal sun, a moon For balance, confetti stars like dreams To light the night. On the fifth day, The world teamed at the snap Of her finger within the depths of her, The belly an ocean filled with life That multiples, expands, and fills the emptiness. On the sixth day, the greatest day of all, She created, in the image of herself, An embryo the size of a pin within, Commands it to multiply, to grow Beyond the confines of herself, To burst through the door of the world. On the seventh day,…

Napo 18

I disregarded the prompt today, which was to make up words.
Instead, I wrote about a chamoy lollipop. I used to hate these things as a kid. I thought they were some cruel joke my friends liked to play on me. I mean, candy that's hot and sour? Gross. But underneath that, mmmmmmm the core is the sweetest, tastiest watermelon candy you've ever had, perhaps even yummier because of the trouble it takes to get to it.
Love's maybe like that, too.

Chamoy Lollipop
To love you is to take you whole Into my mouth, knowing the taste Of you will burn my tongue, my lips, Make my mouth flood with saliva.
To love you is to let you sizzle, To feel the prang and pang And still, go in for another lick. Underneath this skin of sandpaper,
I know there’s sweetness, the dulcet Of watermelon. Yes, there has to be, And once you break through the rough Exterior, you taste it, sweeter than ever
Against the fire of what you were,
Dissolved by my persistent mouth.

Napo 17

I loved today's prompt, though I didn't realize I loved it at first. Write a nocturne, it said. But it's so bright out, and I really am a morning person, I thought to myself. But, I guess inspired a bit by Easter yesterday, and also my brief cleaning spree, I came up with this nifty little thing. I want to come back to this one and shape it, develop it some more. This one's got a little promise. 
Nocturne for Mopping the Floor
You know, come morning, the sun Will be back. This daily miracle
Streaming in through the dirty window, Illuminating everything fingertip smudge,
Every baseboard still needing scrubbing, Every crevice of grout discolored.
And so you mop. Your faith is greater Than your exhaustion. Nothing
Is so dirty that can’t be scrubbed clean Again, even the tiles marred by the mud
Of your own boots. In this world, there’s always more dirt than bleach.
The lavender scent of soap can only cover up so much.
The mop loses its threads to this good fight Of y…

Napo 16

It' a gorgeous Easter Sunday here in south Texas. I'm enjoying some respite this leisurely morning.

Today's napo was to write a letter. In the spirit of the holiday, I wrote one to Mary Magdalene.

Letter to Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday
Today, on this holy day of resurrection, A preacher says your name, calls you a whore
As lilies bloom around his feet, as the stained glass Shimmers with strength of Texas sun.
The word bristles against my heart. I finger the Bible’s pages in my lap
And bit into my tongue. Even a whore Can be forgiven, can be chosen, he says,
Then continues his story of faith And miracles, of sunrises and eternity.
I think of the woman, two-thousand years ago, Who kissed the feet of the fading, felt the warmth
Of blood on her trembling hands, who anointed A lifeless body with spice and love, who saw
An empty tomb and wept at first in disbelief. Isn’t that enough to be remembered as a saint?
You were beautiful but flawed, like everyone Sitting in these pew…

Napo 15

Today's prompt was to think about being halfway. I don't know why, but I keep thinking about roadtrips. Maybe it's because, lately, I've been doing so many of them. Journeys. They're such a compelling metaphor for so much of what we do in life.
Anyway, here's my rough freewrite. I want to come back and play with this poem a little more and think about the journey as a metaphor for life, the rest stop like a philosophical fork in the road, where you can turn around and retreat back home, or punch the gas full speed towards your destination, goal, whatever.

Rest Stop
We’re halfway through this journey Up the state of Texas and my husband
Says he has to stop and piss. We pull off Into a rest stop, and on the roadside
There blooms an abundance of wildflowers An embarrassment of colors, petals blushing
As numerous as stars on a clear night – Winecups like puckered lips, Indian
Paintbrushes like wisps of blood, Bluebonnets reflecting heaven, at once
So far away and a…

Napo 14

I went looking for the missed prompts from Napowrimo and I missed one about repetition. That's pretty easy. Obsession.

Inferno
It was so damn hot in August in South Texas. It was so damn hot the air-conditioner gave up, So damn hot it sputtered smoke and coughed.
It was so damn hot. She put her hair up in a bun, Let her damn hot shoulders feel the breeze, That was also so damn hot. The gulf swirled
With damn hot winds, like grandma making cocoa so damn hot regardless of the season, So damn it burns her lips but still she sips.
It was so damn hot even in mesquite shade. It was so damn hot the mockingbirds took siesta. It was so damn hot the cacti turned the color of a penny.
It was so damn hot and the ice cream truck Came down the damn hot streets and sang A damn hot song of sweet redemption,
and the damn hot children barreled from their houses, damn hot screen doors slapping their butts, damn hot pavement hissing at bare feet.
It was so damn hot even the raspas morphed to ocean…

Napo 13

A nine liner!

Nine Lines for the Ruby Throated Hummer
How does your little heart carry you across emptiness of the gulf, to end up Here, sipping from a hibiscus, so red
It pales the sunrise? Your blood, furious To make the most of this day, pumps Through your tiny wings, your brain,
Your flicking tongue. I watch you From the window, your brief existence
Proof of what I’ll never understand.  

I want to rework the last stanza to open up the poem more. I might expand this beyond nine lines to really explore the idea of the ennui and miraculous all at once. Hm...

Napo 12

Today's prompt was to write a Clerihew. It's a little four line poem in AABB rhyme that talks about a famous person. Well. Trump sure is easy to rhyme. So... how could I resist? :)
Napo 12
A Clerihew for Trump

If only Donald Trump Would crawl out of his dump Of gold and visit the borderlands, Touch the magic with his tiny hands.

That was too easy. I'm going back in for seconds to try and get caught up! 


Napo 11

Today's task was to write a ghazal. I don't really like writing ghazals, but I thought I'd give it a try. I wrote about some of my favorite trees in the valley. This could use a bit more development. I want to work in how the palm trees have become a part of the landscape now, and the valley is synonymous with them.

South Texas Tree Ghazal
These palm trees came as immigrants to the Rio Grande Valley, Like me, and sunk their roots into the fertile soil of a valley
Already brimming with trees: mesquites, tough with thorns, But sweet with sunny catkins, huisaches, ushering in the valley’s
Spring in January with the opening of blossoms, ebony Along the river, welcoming the breeze that moves this valley
Into bloom. The live oaks cast a merciful shadow, house The mockingbirds and feed the javalinas passing through the valley
On their way through the brush, a place of respite from the heat To sip sweet tea or aguas frescas after another hot valley
Afternoon. The acacua flowers co…

Napo 10

A little messy today, but I found some time in my day to at least get something down. Today's prompt was to write with alliteration. I tried to include some in every line without overdoing it. 
Bluebonnet Smile
Smile, he tells you as you’re struggling To keep your head up, hair in your face, Eyes on sparkling cement at your feet.
This stranger simply wants to see you Bloom like a field bluebonnets, Your lips lulled open by his presence
As though his words were spring, His tongue the month of March, His wafting breath the wind.
But your books tell you your body Is not a coppice in spring, created to always be beautiful. But if it was,
too, you’re allowed russet sometimes like that same grove in August, giving up and letting the drought dictate
the color of your Monday mood, a frown forever draped in brown. Your face tumbleweeds in trepidation
As you bite your tongue, taste the bitter summer dust of blood. The world will come, take selfies
of the waves of wildflowers, display t…

Napo 9

Today's prompt was to write a bop!
I'd never read or heard of a bop before, though after reading a few examples, I figured it out.
My mind was still very much on the road through Texas. That roadtrip. So. Long.

Bop for the Long Drive Across Texas
When you drive across the state of Texas, You learn to see the world a blur Of countryside overflowing with wildflowers, Sprawling ranchland dotted with longhorns, Rusted out towns that’ve seen better days. You put your foot on the gas and go --
Time barrels down this highway like a sports car
And always you’ve somewhere else to go. This roadtrip is life. You’ve long ago realized You’ll whirr past the most beautiful moments, An embarrassment of bluebonnets crowned in gold At dawn, a congregation of clouds reminiscent Of heaven, some glorious old man on the roadside, His thumb in the air, his blue eyes, a clear sky On you. You punch the gas. You’ve places to go.
Time barrels down this highway like a sports car.
You sit up straight.…

Napo 8

I'm falling behind! Will I be able to catch up?
Two poems a day is brutal, but I'll try.
Here's my poem #8, inspired by my run yesterday with my pops.





Sunday Run with Dad
I remember as a child, watching as you’d set out For another morning run, wishing my legs
Would sprout like beanstalks so I could follow You into that jungle of streets and country roads,
That place you go to disappear into yourself. And now I can. Running shoes on my feet,
Hair in a ponytail, my legs always in motion Like yours. Today, I’m just one step behind.
We’re a pair of shadows separated by a generation, You with a stoic fatherly silence that fades
To conversation as we pass these miles, The hours we spend together on the road,
And me, with a heart that can never drink Enough of you, that knows our time is finite.
Today, we set out for six miles into the sun That promises to swelter, to turn the distance
Into a shimmering lake, to drown us both In south Texas heat. You weather everything
With lea…

Napo 6 and 7

Howdy from Ada, Oklahoma!

I'm here for the Scissortail Creative Writing festival at East Central University. What a fantastic way to celebrate National Poetry Month. I've met some amazing poets today and had just a marvelous time. The only down side is that this place is a ridiculous drive from home, which means tomorrow, like yesterday, is going to be exhausting.

So, have I been writing? Actually, yes.
Yesterday, I spent the day on the road and didn't really write anything, though as I was driving I worked a poem out in my head! So that counts, right? I wrote it out today during a lull in the conference. My Napo 6 is about having a religious experience looking for tampons at Buck-ee's truck stop. Yes, true story, unfortunately. I actually REALLY like what I wrote today, and for that reason, I'm not going to post it on my blog. I don't think it needs terribly much revision before I start submitting, so we'll leave that poem private. But rest assured, I did …

Napo 5

Ugh.
I'm pretty beat today. I didn't get very good sleep last night because B came home from a trip at 3am and woke me up. And then I couldn't get back to sleep. I had appointments to meet with students one-to-one in my office from 8am-5:45pm today to go over their research papers. And, to top it all off, I had to observe a colleague's poetry class from 6-7pm.
Upon getting home, I had a bunch of housework to do in preparation for my trip to Scissortail, plus packing and now I'm just exhausted.

However, I was able to sneak away for a bit and write a little. Today's prompt was to write about a plant, animal or landscape that's familiar to you, kind of in the style of Mary Oliver. I found myself writing on campus at UTRGV under an oak tree near my old dorm room. And I was thinking, damn, this tree has seen me through so many chapters of my life. I was such different person then. And the tree? Well, it's probably gotten a lot bigger, shadier, and leafier. A…

Napo #4

Today's prompt was to write an enigma poem. I decided to describe a PLACE without saying where exactly it is. Here, I'm describing Sal del Rey, the salt lake here. I remember visiting it a few years ago. It's an eerie sort of place. In my poem, I'd like to work the idea of Lot's wife in a little more. I kind of allude to her at the end, though I'd like to draw more parallels throughout.

Anyway, here it is!

Salt
Centuries ago they came for the salt, Mined this place but not to death. Today, it sits alone in the middle of the monte, Crowned by a thicket of mesquite That wants to keep this place its secret.
If you come, A snake will glide across your path. An omen. Let your curiosity be greater Than your fear. Let it lead you Into a different kind of Eden –
A landscape where even the muck gleams Underneath a covering like ice In the middle of South Texas summer, A layer like a glaze of sugar on pan dulce ready to be licked clean.
Here, the birds take refuge. Her…

Napo #3

Today was a nice surprise -- it was the first meeting of Circulo de Poetas, a poetry collective that I hope will blossom and thrive in the coming months. There were poets from the university, poets from the community, students, new faces and old friends. We laughed, wrote, organized, ate and drank. All good things. 
So, for today's Napowrimo poem, I'll share a freewrite inspired by these lovely poets.
Love Poem to El Valle
I will miss you when I'm gone -- uprooted from this soil my toes will always thirst for.
You've spoiled me with mild winters the soft, warm breath of your January love, your frothing ocean washing clean my toes, the air thick with your citrus blossom perfume.
I've grown accustomed to your stern hand of heat and the prick of your thorns, the arid taste of your cloudless sky sticking to my tongue in August.
You are my place of comfort and my prison, the walls of Eden closing in hugging me tight. You are the place I'll come back to when I close …

Napo 2

Today's prompt was to write a recipe poem. Since I'm thinking a lot about Helen lately, I decided to write a bit about her and her recipe for omelets.

Helen of Troy’s Recipe for Omelets
First you gather everything you need: A swan’s egg, perfect, round, and cold To the touch. Olive oil, slick like skin. A whisk. A sizzling pan. Some salt and pepper.
The perfect thing about omelets  is that everyone has their own desires  to be fulfilled. You can please them all With just this simple egg. Denver. Southwestern. Greek. All men share a hunger With subtle differences You can learn to please.
Tell him you created this Just for him and wink As you crack the egg With your hand.
Let the white wash your palms, Let the yolk burst into a sunrise Of gold. Use only the freshest herbs That always taste of spring. Whisk until it starts to foam.
Use a low heat. Listen for the kiss Of oil on egg. Don’t fuss too much Or it won’t look effortless. It must be effortless, This creation of perfecti…