Napo 9: Pandemic Poetry

Today's prompt was to write concrete poetry. I'm going to be completely honest here and say that I hate concrete poetry. I think most concrete poems are gimmicks. A poem should be able to stand on its own without fancy textual effects. If a poem can do that, then I suppose you can play with the arrangement, but if poetry is an oral art, you wouldn't be able to "hear" the arrangement. So meh. But maybe poetry is becoming less of an oral art and more of a visual one. I also suppose I'm contradicting myself because lately, I've been experimenting with creating little poetry graphics, as you've probably noticed.

At any rate, I didn't write a concrete poem today. Instead, I read Halpern's poem "Pandemania" from the Poetry Foundation's poem of the day, and it felt strangely resonant. I decided today would be a good day to write my virus-as-a-spring-flower poem that I've been mulling over, and I used Halpern's poem as a kind of inspiration. So, here it is:

              April 2020

Your body was a garden all along—
And in these plague years, you feel it
In the soil of your skin, how fertile
The sweat that blooms from the pores
Can be, how the moisture of the self,
What’s deep in the throat, reminds you
Of the rich earth you sink you sink you finger into
Every spring and feel its damp coolness.
You are the perfect place for nestling
This dark seed. You were made for this.

It’s spring. It’s wildflower season.
Your body is a fallow bed awaiting
The inevitable breaking of the soil,
Breaking into fever, into sweat
like sweet drops of morning dew.
This thing spreads as contagious
As joy, as laughter, as a shiver
Feathering across the body.

So you hold back your hands,
Resist the urge to place your lips on lips
And spread the pollen of yourself
Into the sky as you heave a contented sigh.
You try not to water the ground of yourself.
You try to stay out of the sun,
Though it streams through the window
Calling your name like a paramour
To the dance of life and death.
And the afternoon raindrops tap
Like stones against the glass.
It calls you outside, it calls you home
To the fresh air and the warmth
Of his embrace. You gaze outside—

The grass has already given in
To the reality of so much green,
Has spread the confetti of spring
In bursts of asters, buttercups, primrose.

Inside, you wash your hands again,
Wear the scent of lavender soap
And bleach and hope against all hope
That spring, with its blooming corona,
Will leave the fallow garden of your flesh alone.

In other news, I made a Youtube video! You can find a video of me reading my poem, "My Husband Washing His Old Mustang" here:

 As a writer, I've been feeling a little isolated lately, as I'm sure we all are. So, when my friends from The Sphere started a Youtube channel for formalist poetry, I thought I'd contribute to their virtual poetry reading of sorts. Who knows when we poets will be able to go to another actual poetry reading? Hopefully soon. It's one of the things I miss most about social distancing.