30 April 2008

Poem #30

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. The final prompt for this month is to write about an ending. That is something I should know quite a bit about.... there are a lot of things ending or closing in my life right now. My job ends May 30th, my lease is up May 31st, Sara and I stopped being roommates a few weeks ago, other relationships are ebbing and flowing... But I still find this poem hard to write. Even going back to earlier closures don't seem to help. I would skip it except it is the last prompt and I haven't been too faithful as it is. So here is my attempt:

The end

Turning the last page
Emptiness knocks me down
Like that huge wave in the
Bahamas--turned topsy-turvy
My sunglasses and contacts
ripped from my face
left me blind and vulnerable
on a foreign beach. The epilogue
completed--not a single word left
leaves me hollow and floundering
reaching for a life preserver in
the waves of loss and confusion.
She sucked me in--tossed me
into an articulate oblivion of
personality, philosophy and beauty
to no end.
My gluttonous reading has left me
gorged and unsatisfied
The End cut off all hope of escape.

28 April 2008

Grad School (and life) Update

There has not been much on this blog lately besides my often ineffectual attempts at poetry. However, I do need to update on the grad school situation. As of right now I have gotten into all the programs to which I applied. This is an exciting development considering that I got into NONE of them last year. My preferred program is DePaul's Masters in Liberal Studies. It would allow me to take courses in a variety of disciplines and explore many interests while still doing a literary thesis in preparation for a PhD program.

The only problem is that DePaul's tuition is a bit pricey. I think I mentioned earlier that I was hoping to get a job there in order to have my tuition waived. Well, I just found out today that I am not being considered for the position that I felt most confident about--Administrative Assistant to a law professor. That was disappointing in the extreme. There are still 3 more jobs that I might still be considered for. I am also on a waiting list for an English TA position. The way I see it now, I need a job at DePaul, a job with tuition reimbursement or a job that pays me about $10,000 more per year than I originally decided that I needed. I have submitted resumes for jobs that pay that much... It is really just a waiting game.

On the job front, I have submitted resumes for every job that I can find and I am going to try and look for more this week. That is about 30-40 resumes floating in cyberspace waiting to be read and considered. Thank God that I believe he is sovereign in these things because I don't know how I would arrange things if I had to figure it all out.

On the apartment front I picked up keys from Beth this weekend and started looking at paint colors for the living room and bedroom. Beth is having a graduation party this weekend, but after that I am going to break out the paint and get going. I am excited about moving... but not about the 3 flights of stairs all my worldly goods have to be carried up!

27 April 2008

Poem #22

This prompt was for Earth Day and as with other Tuesdays there was the choice between two prompts: write an industrial poem or write a nature poem. One day a few weeks back I decided to take pictures all the way back from the school where I tutor to my apartment. That takes me through some rather sketchy industrial areas, Chinatown and the fringes of South Loop gentrification. I was going to include a couple of the pics in this post to more artistically illustrate it, but I can't find the cord to my digital camera, so this will be up to your imagination.


Crumbled factories, Ayn Rand
Facades in empty lots: 45,000
Square feet for rent lie only blocks
From the newest highrise on south
Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Rusted ironworks bridging the brown
Sluggish river no longer dyed green
Testament to languishing industrial
Glories now lead to former tenements
Cum studios for the poor intelligentsia
Paving paths for the bourgeoisie
To invade the ethnic enclaves
Urban is chic and concrete pours
For Eco-Friendly Resort-Style Living
Where formally public housing stood
The sprawl has turned upon itself
Rushing home from the suburbs
To refurbished brownstones and the hope
That their righteous urbanity will restore
Life to the fretful deities of mangled nature

Poem #23

You know, this non-linear numbering is growing on me. When I finally meet up where I left off and have to go back to normal chronology it will be a bit sad.

That said, the prompt for the 23rd was to write about age... how wonderful your age is now, the age when you thought you were in your prime, etc. I think about age a lot. When I was about 11 I told my grandmother that I wanted to be 80, that I was pretty sure that was the best age of all. She was appalled, and probably rightly so. I just thought being a grandma would be the best thing. I had no desire to be a teenager, or middle aged. I didn't want children, just grandchildren. But I digress.

Now I am facing turning 30 in just about 6 months. Several of my friends recently beat me to it, and several more will hit the mark before I get there (the joy of having a November birthday LOL). The reality is, I can say unequivocally that this is definitely the stage in life when I most shine. Maybe it is the urban living. Maybe it is the great new haircut. Maybe it is just being so in love with life and the God who has given it to me. Maybe it is having a boyfriend for the first time ever;-) Whatever it is, I am grateful. So I think this could be the best topic for my poem.

Thirty and flirty?

Sex in the City says now is the time
To grab what you can get with all
The gusto you can muster.

But like a dark storm brewing on the horizon
My friends cower in cubicles and at desks
Waiting with foreboding for their 3rd decade.

I, on the other hand, have come into my
own at last. No more hiding behind
shapeless "artistic" clothing

No more wishing that my intellect would
Dull to the common mental brilliance
No more squinting at the fine print

I dance in red fishnets and black high heels
Whirling to the rhythm of salsa and swing
Laughing at partners in wingtips and fedoras

I stand tall in black wool sweaters and
striped trousers before students who
shout "Hey Ms. WB!" down crowded halls.

Greeting newcomers by name in the atrium
Of a music school cum sanctuary, welcoming
Diversity into an urban, ancient worship.

Like the wise woman of Proverbs this age
Does not scare me and 30 means I am just
Beginning... I can laugh at the days to come.

Welcome home! My soul has found its rest
In a size 14/16, with Ashley's best bob swinging,
Eyes flashing, wit sparkling, and poetry falling from
My fingertips.

Poem #27

The month is drawing to a close... sigh... and I have been a very negligent poet. There has been much on my mind in the last few weeks and some days it seems like there is no poetry in my fingertips or my mind. Today's prompt is to write a poem that is one half of a conversation. I usually like that sort of thing, and did a bit of that in my job poem. I will, however, try again.

I can't hear you.
Is that static on the line?

What? I thought you said
Ryan but that was Brian, right?

I don't believe it, that's not like

You always say I am naive.
But really, you can't mean it...

How far along? NO WAY!
Does her grandfather know?

I would say--
Don't you think---

I can't listen to this anymore.
She is my sister, after all.
I might call tomorrow, or Thursday
Bye. No I mean it. Don't call.

26 April 2008

Poem #24

This prompt was to write a poem based on a photograph. I decided it had to be a digital image so I could include it in this post. Let me know what you think.
Who would have guessed
as we slept on that couch that
the seeds of a new family
were being sown.

Who would have guessed
as we dreamed or slept
dreamlessly that two who
are so different would joyfully
become one

Who would have guessed
that me, smack in the middle,
would not be the arrangement
for life.

Who would have guessed
that a snooze in January
2006 would become
Mr and Mrs Gambill
April 2008?

Poem #25

Going back, step by step. This prompt was to write an occupational poem. Now, I have been writing about my students quite a bit lately, so I am thinking about writing about another occupational stint. Here it is:

At the Department of Vital Records

"Matthew Simon Nolan Tupac
Roddie Lorenzo Butch Darnell
Stu Emmit William Solomon
Aaron Donald Mickey Antoine
"Are you sure that is it?"

"Ma'am if you do not have it
in the correct order or have all
the names spelled correctly
we will be unable to release
the birth certificate."

Wouldn't a DNA test be a simpler
way to find out your baby's daddy?
Naming him after every possible
father means subjecting him to
YEARS of paperwork hassles
and you know everyone will
call him "Sonny" or "Big Daddy"
But I am just microfilming and this
has nothing to do with me.

Poem #26

No, you are not missing anything. I just got so far behind that I decided to jump to today's prompt and write backwards. That's what you get when you don't actually set aside a time each day to write your poem-of-the-day;-) But those who know me and love me realize that being random is just part of who I am. So, today's poem is supposed to be titled "I am so over _________". Here is my version.

I am so over teenagers

You look at me with jaded eyes
"Do we have to read more poetry?"
The whine is killing me.


Poetry today, and poetry tomorrow.
We will read it, write it, comment on it.
Alliteration animates all the asinine
verbiage the rappers throw at you.
Why can't you just try to enjoy a little
Dickinson or William Carlos Williams?

Your hormonally fired synapses
produce the most flagrant abuses
of language. But I accept the
beating if only you will listen
to the Beats or at least The Beatles.

But alas, you are in that most
narcissistic of ages and places.
Perhaps I am asking too much and
should just accept the occasional
gift: "That was hyperbole!"

22 April 2008

Poem #19

This prompt was to write about a memory of yourself that you do not remember. Without being able to go back to my family, I chose one of the family stand-bys.

A New Sister

When the small bundle
arrived in my mother's
arms I was not concerned.
When she cried and wailed
and my mother gave her breast
there was nothing to fear.
When she was laid in the
bassinet to sleep
I watched in fascination.
When they told me she was
staying, I said,
She can go home now....
Take her back to the hospital.

Poem #18

This prompt required you to include the line "There is no connection." Being at school means that students fall prey to the muse once again.

Teaching Poetry

Adolescents in heat stare at me
glassy-eyed, slack-jawed.

There is no connection.

"What does this haf to do wit us?
Sandberg's confusin'"

There is no connection.

"How can I Listen Actively
if I am reading a book?"

There is no connection.

Impassivity like a dial-tone
droning in my ear.

There is no connection.

Poem #17

This prompt was to write a poem entirely in 3rd person... to take yourself out of it. This one came from my writing today with my students.

They sit in a semi-circle
scribbling away on faded brown
clipboards, the wind playfully
grabbing stray hairs, loose papers,
and untucked shirt tails.

Rounded cheeks, unspotted skin
flaky, chapped lips betray their
concentration while flat chests,
thin limbs proclaim their youth

They write poetry with an intensisty
that comes from a simple place--
"When I am annoyed I am like a
sleeping volcano being interrupted."
"I am IceBerg that dances on water
when the wind puches me."
"Busy as a bee/ who am I supposed to
be, myself or somebody else."

Catching up on the poetry

So, this poem-a-day thing has become more like a "pile of poems-every-few-days" sort of experience. Today I decided to get caught up, writing my poems long-hand in my poetry journal while my students wrote poems of their own. I think it worked. Here they are, with their corresponding prompts.

16 April 2008

Poem #16

This prompt was to write a poem with a twist at the end. Quite a challenge... This poem is based on a text message from my friend Aaron.

Kyle read his message out loud to us
Totally forgot! Stink.
Of course he feels bad
Thursday night belongs to us.
Herb usually calls. Lol.
Probably has a lot on his mind.
Anyway, i am super tired.
I can see it... house music blaring...
DJing keeps him up so late.

I went out with my mom last night.

15 April 2008

Poem #15

Today's prompt was to write either an insult poem or one about taxes/deadlines. Neither seems very inspiring to me. Here is my best attempt:


O the glories of IRS

Forms with numbers this word

Worker can never recall!

Long before I owed I wished

Away all income—pining

For a land where money

Was no more important than paper

Instead, the computer keys

Keep clicking and the futile

Search for old returns

Plummets me yet again

To the depths of green Rubbermaids

When will the ceaseless toil

Find its reward in a fattened

Billfold or Ledger?

Only when assets are not greater

Than expenditures

When income and outflow

Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security

Have gorged themselves

Unless I can deduct for the bib

I gave Lucille and the wine

Donated to the writers’ circle

Poem #14

This prompt was a bit fun. Time to write a poem about writing... The prompt was to write a poem titled "how (fill in the blank) behaves." I chose to write about my pen:-)

How my pen behaves

Pouring forth indigo goodness

Script ripples across alabaster

Pages tied by thought

And fragile threads

Winsome words weaving wonders

Scarlet gel slips and slides

Consonants and vowels

Pulled into a black and white

Gridded marvel

Vocabulary explosions

But then puddles of violet

Soak futile linen

Doodles replace eloquence

Scratching, no longer gliding

Ripping raw syllables

A tool, a toy, a torture

This is how my pen behaves

13 April 2008

Interesting post on Boundless

I am a woman of diverse interest and I am surrounded by friends and family members who are also excellent and/or interested in a wide variety of pursuits. Boundless posted on their blog about this and I wanted to include the link here so that I could easily recommend it to ya'll.

Poem #13

Finally, today's prompt! To write a poem based on a song lyric. Well, the lyric is compliments of Corinne Bailey Rae and the poem is compliments of many years' experience:-) Here it is:


“It’s late and I’m feeling so tired/ Having trouble sleeping/ This constant compromise/ Between thinking and breathing” Trouble Sleeping, Corinne Bailey Rae

The hot pillow no longer
Caresses my cheek as racing
Images explode my exhausted
Neural transmitters
Prompted always by a restless thought
Undisciplined monkey mind
Needs training like a recalcitrant puppy

Sleep keeps no company
With manic mental gymnastics

Poem #12

This prompt is for an apology poem. This one takes more thought than the others. I ended up with a tribute to Sara and a real remembrance of all of Ewa's photo taking glory:-)

Wedding Photos

So sorry the sunscreen
Missed that quarter-sized
Circle at your elbow
That your clavicle is now
That your toes are redder
Than “I’m Not Really A Waitress”
This maid of dishonor is only
Lessened by the fact that
Half of my neck vies
With your should blades
For crimson glow

Poem #11

This prompt is to write a poem about something overlooked or the fascinates you. Here is mine.


A philodendron so magnificent
It bears a name full of drama
And intrigue.

Ubiquitous house plant
The invincible slain
By the snowy north wind

Frozen in greatness you
Bled out your chlorophyll
On Gen’s kitchen linoleum

Resurrected by miracle grow
Loving care and a warm window
Your dormancy sprouted palely

Gracing the cupboard yet again
Beloved greenery with a history
Longer than mine

Poem #10

This prompt was to write a location poem. There were some beautiful images floating through my head after we arrived here at 1:00 am! Enjoy!


Heavy velvet winds
Push through the sliding doors
The giant peach moon
Waning into a delicious slice
Hangs portentously on the horizon

Poem #9

Been in GA for Jud and Sara's wedding but now I have a few moments to catch you up on the poem-a-day adventure. This prompt was a fun one--write about a word. Many of you know that prestidigitator is one of my favorite words. Here is my poem:


Fast fingers flying past my
Bedazzled eyes and uncomprehending

Making the impossible probable
The improbable believable
The unbelievable commonplace

Presto, chango
What was is no more and what
Could be is lying in front of me

Ropes cut and join
Rings collapse into each other
Animals grow from latex

Digits of numberless skill
Pull roses from an old woman’s ear
Silk scarves from a baby’s smile

Prestidigitator agitating thought
Keeping truth at bay
Fast fingers hiding crying eyes

08 April 2008

Poem #8

Today's prompt was a little different. We had to write from an image. There were two choices, but I definitely preferred this one:

Here is my literary interpretation.


“Light bright yellow green…

It’s the most common color

In nature” he said.

But Giorgio, dear, I don’t

Think he meant it quite like that.

One-point perspective plunges

Into the jaundiced horizon.

Pennants snap in the wind

But the men have no need to hold

Their fedoras—business as usual.

The square eerily silent while a train

Whistle blows, puffing virginal

Clouds to join the polluted haze.

Empty doors, empty windows

Art for art’s sake?

Poem #7

My friend Anna from work wants me to write a poem about dreadlocks. Now, up until this time there did not seem to be a good prompt for that subject. While she waited she regaled me with stories of her own "locking" experience. Then I came to today's prompt: write a rambling poem. It seemed like a good time for locks. Here is my poem for Anna:


Anna wants a poem about locks but how

does a white girl write about locks? She

writes other peoples’ stories as they

come. Vera cultivates a mountain out of

her Lilliputian head, forcing the power

of her personality through years of

knotting. When shearing time comes,

the cropped mane rests at shrines and

sacred spaces across a yellow land.

Anna’s hair au natural voices bold

identity. Building a new do from

a heartfelt afro—twisting, beading,

breaking, building. Understanding anew

hair with its own attitude. Sheldon is

tired of low. Twists just beginning to

grow, hair like relationships, unformed

and anticipating a new look, a new love

dread and dreads morphing in unison.

Locks. Anna, this poem is for you.

Poem #6

I am a bit behind in posting these, but they will all get out eventually. Maybe by the end of this I'll have enough to consider another chapbook:-) Today's prompt was to write a poem loosely based on the events of the day. Here it is.


Rising, stretching, sun shining in

Morning rises inexorably

Meeting, greeting, voices tangle

Clarion call to urban revival

Waiting, wishing, sweater pulled close

“I am satisfied”

Laughing, touching, hold me tight

Careful someone’s watching

Singing, listening, worship together

Intimacy grows in community

Cracking, dipping, pull it all apart

Getting your money’s worth

Thinking, dreaming, sleep comes slowly

Much to contemplate

05 April 2008

Poem #5

Today's prompt is to write a worry poem. I have to say that sometimes these prompts throw me for a loop! This one was not easy either...

He’s Here

Impatient at the corner

But now the car is stopping

A table for two was

The obvious choice.

Voices crossing wires

Without a glance behind

Seemed simple.

Picking imaginary lint

From creased trousers

Settling purple plastic

Frames more firmly

On my nose.

Did I laugh too


Will he call tomorrow?

04 April 2008

Poem #4

Well, this is definitely a good discipline, with the emphasis on discipline. Writing a poem everyday is far more work than I realized. Mostly because life interrupts and finding the time to write can be difficult. So, today's prompt is to write a thankful/tribute poem. I want to do something creative, so it may take more thought and effort than the earlier poems. And this one has to be better than that horrible haiku!

Mad Madam Mem

Mad Madam Mem

Marvelous in your

Wild uninhibited

Third-born baby way.

Voices bellowing from

Wide-open windows

Pedal to the metal

Hills and switchbacks

Rushing past us.

Laughing to tears

Stomach pains

Doubled-over in joy

At our sisterly, womanly

Bond of love.

Poem #3

Yesterday's prompt was to write a haiku. It should be easy... just three lines. However, I find this to be one of the most difficult forms for me to write in. Here is my attempt.

soft winds blow
new dampness caresses
fragrance of dirt

02 April 2008

Poem #2

You can check out today's prompt here: write a poem as if you are someone or something else from his/her/it perspective. Here is my newest attempt prompted by my visit to the Skydeck today with the lovely Gardner family.


Stretching from the marshland

I am strong

Landmark to Midwestern

Gumption and go-to

1,450 feet and 110 stories

Filled with more stories

Than anyone can imagine

I was Tsar

Of the Skyline

Conquered by a cornice

And the death of an empire

01 April 2008

Poem #1

This poem is following the prompt from Poetic Asides. They suggested writing a poem about a first. Here it is, completely unedited:-)

First Kiss

Michigan Ave is busy

Traffic passing by

One hand around his

Neck, the other on my

Bag (full of children’s stories)

And then (they are on their own)

There is nothing better than

Risking life and limb

For a (new pleasure)

First (from him)