Dead Poets’ Halloween Party

Day 14 of NaPoWriMo2020 is the midpoint of the month. It is not unnatural to flag when you are running in a marathon. Although when I did the 365 poem a day marathon from September 2018 until September 2019, it was July, when the end was in sight that I really felt I might stumble, fall down and not get up. This morning felt a bit like that moment. I was up way to late hand sewing face masks for friends (I have scrap fabric; my young friend who shops for us sourced elastic in Carrick on Shannon.) My brain felt a little fragile. I didn’t want a really big challenge, or any challenge really.

I challenge you today to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems. These could be poems/poets/poepl that you strive to be like, or even poems, poets, and people that you strive not to be like. There are as many ways to go with this prompt as there are ways to be inspired.

In the end I did do something I do not ordinarily do. I decided to tackle the task as a prose poem. Whether it works or not I have no clue. But I did have some fun with it. And that was really what I needed this morning, when I slept late while the sun shined.

Dead Poets’ Halloween Party

Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton have their heads together over vodka stingers, there in that dark corner.  No one wants to interrupt. Because. You know!  collective eye roll) it didn’t end very well for both.  They suffered for their art. Bless their wounded hearts! Men disappointed them. Dorothy Parker could have told them so.  She was sad, too. Oh! There’s little Emily Dickinson. Even she is living her life over in that solitary corner like it is a loaded gun while she sedately sips her sherry. I wonder if you sauntered closer if her eyes really are the colour of fortified wine?  They do seem to unnaturally glitter and shine. Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry have only just recently entered the room. He has come as The Green Man.   Mary is Mother Goose this year, leading a posse of her late, much lamented dogs into the party. They are chowing down on cocktail sausages put down on the floor by the bartender. Good Lord! The bartender is Frank O’Hara!  Meanwhile, some Imagists are striking a tableau over to one side. An absurdist is pouring concrete onto their feet to make them a plinth. What poet does not want to be an edifice? If this bar stocked saki, I bet the top banana himself, old Basho, would grace this party. Him standing amidst the fray in his shabby kimono. It might potentially offer an amusing Zen moment, everyone’s poetic lack of permanencewhen all we strive for is eternity.

Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Apologies for the weird formatting. WordPress does not seem to be able to easily accommodate the wildness of prose poetry line breaks. If anyone can suggest a solution, please comment!

Simultaneously One Summer

Day 10 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo and yesterday’s poem is still rattling around my head.  Today’s prompt reads thus:

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of simultaneity – in which multiple things are happing at once.

And what is emerging from my draft is another unconventional love poem.  Because there is an element of story I am opting for prose poem form for it. Some say prose is writing within margins, poetry defies margins. Merriam -Webster defines a prose poem as “a composition in prose with elements of a poem.”

The Summer of 1968

The cities began to burn like brushfire.

My family drove the Jersey Pike to visit my Grandmother in the Lutheran Home.           She had had a stroke, lying speechless in her bed, slowly dying.

We had passed Atlantic City on the way, but my mother couldn’t be persuaded to take a turn off extra dividend. She said ‘no’ in hushed tones, which made the city seem full of sin.

Or maybe it was because her ill-starred, unhappy parents had eloped there and so began the whole sad unravelling.

We drove back to my aunt’s, quiet in the car.

Meanwhile, your eighteen-year old self was there on a J1 visa having your Big American Adventure with your twin,

picking up and dropping down jobs like the pizzas you twirled on the Boardwalk. You snoozed in unoccupied hotel rooms, snuck in by Housekeeping. Down to your last dimes, you and your brother ate plums and milk on the beach watching the sun come up.

And we never met, even as I was  feeling a tidal tug towards you, asking my mom to turn off there to have a look.

Double my lifetime from that day.

We had gone our separate ways.

We travelled continents in opposite directions.

We crossed decades.

But finally

you saw me.

I saw you.

And we knew.


© 2018 Bee Smith




Featured image is a photo of the Atlantic City elephant circa 1970s found on