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Napo 16

I think there's a seed of a poem somewhere in this. The prompt today was to write about the moon. I was reading Joseph Millar's "Venetian Siesta" on Poem-a-Day, and like the poem's meditation on sleep as something we're taught to feel guilty about. But the poem felt a little indulgent in an age of suffering and unrest--pandemia and protest and climate change, and here's a guy feeling guilty about sleeping on a sofa in Venice because he's not able to soak up the sights. Hmph. Of all the things to feel guilty about? Anyway, it made me think about the shared humanity of guilt. How it's something we all carry, collectively. And sleep is a moment where we can slough it off. I'm guilty of feeling guilty about trivial things, too. In my case, it's usually related to what I'm eating or not eating, and how much exercise I'm doing or not doing. Yesterday afternoon, during my own slothy nap, I dreamt of ice cream. An indulgence only in my drea

Napo 16: Early Morning Run in America

I can't stop thinking about this moment, a few years ago, when I lived in Baytown, not exactly a safe town to the east of Houston. I'm a runner, and Baytown is more of a lunch bucket kind of city. No trails, no running club, a good bit of homelessness and crime. I lived on the "good side" of Baytown, whatever that means--an overpriced apartment complex filled with skilled refinery workers and some teachers, who were also well-paid in Baytown thanks to funding from Exxon.  At any rate, I'm a runner, and I wanted to get my runs out of the way early in the mornings while B was still working, though it made me feel a little on-edge. And I never went too far from home, either, which was frustrating because I was training for a marathon and loved big open long stretches of trail or sidewalk. I digress. One morning, I was finishing my run, and a Black man is walking my way. Immediately, I felt afraid. I couldn't really tell in the darkness, but he was dressed in runn

Napo 15: My Mom

  Becoming My Mother’s Daughter   My mother: Zeus. My mother: the god of our house, Ruling with a mixture of love and ferocity. My mother, a thunderclap headache Lying on the sofa. My mother, holding Her head in her hands in helplessness. My mother, screaming out in pain Some Saturday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, Sundays, her Olympus ruled By the whims of these rainstorms That rolling in off her skull.   My mother, shaking the earth In my bones. My mother, one eye Drooping. My mother, a grimace On her face. My mother, grinning And bearing it. My mother, the bolt Of her gaze at any peep or light Filling the living room, opening Her pain like a raincloud. My mother, Begging for a wedge, a hammer, The splitting open.   I am my mother’s daughter, now— I sprung forth from this, her wisdom. I realize this, supine on the sofa, My own Olympus awash in the aura Of another hemiplegic afternoon.

Napo 14: My Dad

    Every weekend, you’d wake early, Make sure there was coffee in the pot And something sweet on the table Before lacing up your shoes And heading out to the open road.   Where were you running, dad? I’d wonder that, watching you From my bedroom window, Your spider legs carrying you Down the street, then out of my sight. When you’d return, hour later, Drenched in sweat and bringing The scent of the road and the sunshine With you, the day would begin.   Dad, now my own legs, thin and long In a pair of compression tights Carry me miles and miles and miles. And I know where I’m running— In your footprints, your shadow, Your sunshine. Some mornings, We are blessed to run together, Side by side, counting miles And laughing at ourselves, The ridiculousness of this endeavor, To count the miles these feet Have traveled. I know I’m your daughter, Always running, always moving.

Napo 13: Writing About Flowers

I'd like to think about this idea a little further. I don't want to appropriate Abdurraqib's powerful poem. But I also don't want to just write poems about flowers and beautiful things as the world around me reels in pain and suffering.  How Can White People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This?   After Hanif Abdurraqib   I want to imagine each flower a fist, rising in unison. I want to say that flowers matter, every dandelion With its head blown off, every bluebonnet snuffed Beneath the knee, every glorious aster mistaken For a weed because it fit the description, each one Deserves all the sun and the soil and the raindrops Like any living thing. I want to write about all things Beautiful—the different shades of flowers blooming In the garden of this nation. But I will never understand What it feels like to be plucked from the root. And how many times have I enjoyed the beauty Of a daisy, its mother generations ago pulled From the fer

Napo 12: To Juliet

 Spending some time this morning getting caught up! This was the prompt from Sunday.  To Juliet   Juliet, did you know, generations later, That your teenaged love and angst Would still inspire generations?   I mean, I remember that feeling, That end of the world feeling In my own heart if I couldn’t be   With HIM, who now that I’m older, I hardly remember. The boy I loved At fourteen. Goodness, girl.   I remember that feeling, that Eclipsing feeling of young love, That force of gravity, that gravity   That takes you by your ankles And pulls you into the depths Of yourself. I remember that.   I remember that, Juliet. For me, a boy with a basketball, He dribbled across the court.   My own world, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. As a million high school girls Read your story, and Romeo’s, too,   They can see their faces Their hearts beating back at them, And know they’re not alone.   Juliet, if love is a force like gravity

Napo 11

 Working with an interesting "what if" this morning, inspired by Mark Wunderlich's poem "The Corn Baby." What if it were that easy, to just go out into the corn field and pull a baby from the stalk? How different life would be! If Babies Started Growing as Readily as Ears of Corn     If only it were as easy as growing a field of corn In these open Nebraska fields: the earth in spring,   The body with its rows, the stalks erect like gooseflesh As last of winter’s wind blows through. What if these stalks   Started carrying more than corn? Felt the first fluttering Of flesh deep in the buds, could carry this burden for us,   Through the heat of summer, soaking up the sun? What if it were as easy as walking out into a field   in the stubble of September, to touch the silken tops like a newborn’s hair against the palm, the scent of earth   arising as the morning dew becomes mist? What if birth was as easy as harvesting—   she