Wednesday, April 08, 2009

poem a day: 1 through 8

The "Poem a Day" challenge is on for the month of April, and like last year I intend to make it through the month and post my daily poems here, along with the prompts. So here are the first eight, in reverse order, with a couple of pictures thrown in:

April 8: poem about a routine

Feeding the Cats

Once it was easy:
keep the kibble bowls full.
That was before the onset
of Buddy’s diabetes.

Now five gather at 6 am,
arrange themselves near empty bowls
before my morning coffee.
I dole out kibble in quarter cups
because the diabetic one must eat
only high-protein food, which costs
more than a pair of sneakers.

Used to grazing,
they eat like they’ve been fasting for weeks
as though kibble might disappear
from the universe two minutes hence.

Except for the one
who takes three bites and goes outside
while the rest clean their bowls, then returns
ready to eat now, thank you,
and the one who will not eat
while being watched
by those whose bowls are empty
who are ready to do clean up
the minute she walks away.

April 7: clean or dirty poem

My mother always said
if you make the bed and wash the dishes
people will think your house is clean.

I can go one better:
if you leave the vacuum near the front door
people will think you are planning to clean.

April 6: poem about something lost


It seems absurd to hang on to one
lone sock when its mate is lost.
In the odd chance it's stuck
to some item of clothing
unworn for the last two years,
I keep it folded neatly in a corner
among mated pairs.

April 5: poem about a landmark

Golden Gate Bridge

From 19th Avenue, somewhere
in the middle of the alphabetical streets,
I can see the tips of the towers
rise above the fog;
red-orange rectangles beckon me
to come closer.

Just before the Marina turnoff,
looking at Marin across the Golden Gate,
it is not possible to forget about
the men who died during construction, or
to ignore the wild swinging of the roadway
in slow-motion documentaries.

I drive onto the span
guide my car to the middle lane
and take in every detail:
art-deco towers, waist-thick cables,
a gap between road and sidewalk
through which a young child can slip
if she falls just so.

April 4: a poem about an animal


Half Pit bull, half Shar Pei,
she channels gazelles and kangaroos
leaps from sofa to chair to sofa
over humans watching television.
She fetches as long as they are willing
slides down hallways at breakneck speed
returns and drops her spit-covered ball
on the closest lap, stares with wrinkled brow
and one cocked ear proclaiming cuteness
to keep her humans engaged.
She is totally on or totally off,
doesn't stop her breakneck speed
until she drops, exhausted,
on her Ikea doggie bed.

April 3 - “the problem with .____ “

The Problem With Socks

They don't make them the way they used to
the heels sag or slip
or creep out the back of my shoe
but it is the bump
over the fourth toe on my right foot
the one that doesn't make itself known
until I am halfway to work
that overshadows every moment of the day
permeates every vital or idle thought
and makes me wonder why
if we can put a man on the moon
somebody can't make a sock
without bumps over the toes.

April 2 - an outsider poem


She walks into her Kindergarten classroom
on the first day of school, slightly reticent
but willing to give it a try.

She likes to watch before doing,
doesn't like to be forced, digs her heels in
when asked to stand to salute the flag,
would rather sit on the rug
while nineteen other children sing
the alphabet song.

She is quickly recognized, a square peg
unfitting for this round hole. She daydreams
while others trace their names,
hums while drawing rainbows in her workbook.

April 1 - an origin poem

Unknown Origins

Where do they come from,
these black widow spiders
who weave their Jackson Pollock webs

on fence post corners, under the deck
and in the basket next to the television
where cats like to sleep?

How do they survive winter snow
and blistering summer heat, when
the exterminator comes every month

when we smash the egg sacs
with trowels, with shovels,
and pressure wash every dark corner?

They are like the cockroaches
we are told will survive nuclear war.
Where do they come from?

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