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July 5, 2016

According to record, they

Knew how to party. Women

In bobbed hair and fringed

Dresses, heals. Martinis

Champagne, and the looming

Stock market crash. 

Everything’s always better

When the end of things is

Inevitable. (Death comes

eventually, but we fail

to let it spur us on

most days) Glitter falls

From the chandelier and roses – 

Well, we know the cliche –

Love, hell, that’s always 

Trying to burn itself

To the ground. Fuck,

Gatsby, you thought

You’d have it all in

Your mansion with a view

Of the future you’d reclaimed

For a moment. Dead 

In the pool, however, was

All it ever could be. 

Rosecliff_ballroom_Ira_Kerns__de3ff89e-1ea4-4b2c-862f-68e0fa899835

This is Poem #113 from the  Poem (almost) Everyday Project. Starting in mid-January 2016, I challenged myself to spend a year in which I’d wake most mornings and write a poem before my first cup of coffee. By the end of the year,  I had written 241 poems.  Here, I have published second drafts of  those pieces copied directly from my journal with minimal editing from their “vomit draft” state.

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On January 11, 2016 the world learned that David Bowie had died at age 69 of cancer. Heartbroken, I turned to poetry, and wrote “#DavidBowieReal” and thus began a year-long project that I called something like a “Poem-a-Day (for-everyday-that-I’m-not-teaching.) This was inspired, I believe, by a Robert Bly and Donald Hall poetry reading I’d attended several years earlier after Bly had published his collection, Morning Poems. Bly discussed how he’d embarked on the year-long project of writing a poem a day each morning before he even got out of bed. Later, he edited and collected the best of these into one of his acclaimed collections of work.

My approach was a little different. I wrote on my couch with my first cup of coffee near by, and decided that on the days that I need to be out of the house by 6:45 am, I would not require the writing. Hence, the total of 241 poems rather than 365. (In the end, Bly’s deemed 82 of his worthy to make it into his book.)

I posted a few here as I was immersed in the project, but most of them have sat dormant in my writing journals for over a year and a half.

2016 was a good year to have such a project going. It was a terrible year filled with significant celebrity deaths – after Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds – and that “election” we endured . . .  As well as personal trials and tribulations, and I’ve always intended to go back and “do something” with the work.

Now, after reading Maggie Millner’s article “Instapoets Prove Powerful in Print” in the latest issue of  Poets & Writers , fretting over the fact that I’ve not written much poetry since January of 2017, and missing the virtual artist communities of TGAP and the Myspace Poetry Society,  I’ve decided to publish all (or maybe most) of the poems from this project here in their unedited glory, in order, one a day.

I hope you’ll join me for this literary adventure.

 

 

 

a Valentine’s Day poem for Ruth Coker Burks

 

Flowers photographed

And posted on Instagram;

A selfie with

Heart-shaped hands.

 

Write love on your arms

To remember. She

Buried the young men,

Skeletons of their former

lives with love and sex

 

Dinner parties and

Dancing parades-

When their families

Would not face

 

Who the boys they’d

Raised were. She was

More than a marble

Spectre in Arkansas.

 

No real nurse’s training,

Just what she’d watched

From a vinyl, hospital

Chair. But she knew

 

How to take that

And mop a forehead

Or change a bed pan.

 

How to use her own

Savings at the crematorium

And to find cracked cookie jars.

How to transform a plot bought

 

Out of spite

Into the grave for 43

Dead men, abandoned

 

by judgement and health.

 

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