National Poetry Month

It’s that wonderful time of year again! The whole month in which I am proud to say that I’m a poet!

I’ve been a writer since I started putting down phonetically scrawled stories at four years old. (My mom has a collection… it’s very interesting to see what our language looks like when it’s broken down to sound… written in fat crayon… ) But I have never been motivated by novel-length narrative, nor even prose, when it comes to that. I’ve never ‘wanted to write a novel’. I’ve always wanted to tell my stories in lyrical language, dense meaning, words that want to be spoken and savored. I think in metaphors and brevity, rhythm and song. And quite often quirky humor.

This is apparently not normal…

When I tell folks, even other writers (maybe especially other writers), that I write, the first question is always centered on novel-writing. What have I written? What am I working on? What’s it about? It’s hard to answer these questions, but it’s even harder to see the blank look that falls on faces. What I am working on is generally A Word that will convey my meaning perfectly and feel right in the mouth, flowing and harmonizing with yesterday’s A Word. But this doesn’t sound much like work to most people. ‘What have I written’ is a trick question. I’ve written hundreds, perhaps thousands of poems (I’ve never counted), but all of them together probably wouldn’t fill the ‘Great American Novel’ that writers are supposed to carry around in their bellies and labor long and hard to extrude. Some of my works are no more than a dozen words. (I had a haiku fascination in my youthful Buddhist days…) But I’ve only published a small fraction of them, and that’s the question that wants answering. Or perhaps it’s more about what of my work the questioner might be familiar with, and the answer is nothing…

And what’s it about? Same answer. Nothing. But also everything. I write words that emanate from life. What’s life about? That fills many books with vast nothingness…

It’s difficult to talk about poetry. Best just let the poems speak. And in April, I can do that with no explanations needed.

This year I am challenging myself to a poem a day. So I shall not be writing anything else. Well, I do have a handful of poetry book reviews on my writing calendar. We’ll see if that happens.

Because I will be writing a new poem each day, I’ll also be changing the publishing time on these posts to the end of my day. So look for things from here later in the evening. I actually might make that permanent because it seems that’s when people are reading… now that we’re largely ‘back to work’ after the plague freedoms turned out to be evanescent…

The April Fool

The April Fool
awoke at dawn
with nothing in his head,
and with a smile
and lusty cry
he sprang up from his bed.

He donned his cap
and grabbed his sack
to see what was about,
and into April’s
chilly morn
he boldly ventured out.

To market fair
he turned his feet,
but ‘ere he had gone long,
saw neighbor
looking doleful
and stopped to ask what’s wrong.

Said neighbor 
to the April Fool
“I’ve task I can’t fulfill —
a message 
of importance
delivered o’er the hill.

But I have other
pressing needs
and so am torn in two.”
Then said the Fool,
“I’m not engaged.
I’ll take your note for you.”

The neighbor grinned
and said, “That’s fine!” —
and clapped him on the back.
“Just o’er the hill,
you’ll see the place.
Just there beside the track.”

The Fool, he went
and found the place
and knocked upon the door.
And when the yeoman
read the note, to Fool
he said, “There’s more.”

The yeoman said
“I can’t comply.
I’ve naught for this request. 
Please, go along
to yonder house
and give them this behest.”

So pliant Fool
did as was asked,
took note from door to door.
And yet each time
the note was read,
was sent to yet one more.

The morning waned,
the hours grew long,
yet task remained undone.
He trudged along
with weary feet
‘neath balmy springtide sun.

Just when he thought
it’d never end
— he’d started seeing double — 
a man looked up
from missive read
and thanked him for his trouble.

Now tired Fool
turned aching feet
back to his own front door.
All morning thoughts
of wandering
tempted him no more.

He dropped his sack
and tossed his cap
and, rubbing throbbing head,
— though noontide sun
still brightly shone —
the Fool went back to bed.

©Elizabeth Anker 2022