Poetry Prompts: Dec 31, 2017 - Jan 6, 2018

Week 2 using the daily poems I receive from poetry.org as prompts for shooting that day. All images this week shot in San Miguel de Allende. 

December 31: "Gitanjali 35"
by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.



January 1: "Enlightenment" 
by Vijay Seshadri

“It’s all empty, empty,”
he said to himself.
“The sex and drugs. The violence, especially.”
So he went down into the world to exercise his virtue,

thinking maybe that would help.
He taught a little kid to build a kite.
He found a cure,
and then he found a cure

for his cure.
He gave a woman at the mercy of the weather
his umbrella, even though
icy rain fell and he had pneumonia.
He settled a revolution in Spain.

Nothing worked.
The world happens, the world changes,
the world, it is written here,
in the next line,
is only its own membrane—

and, oh yes, your compassionate nature,
your compassion for our kind.



January 2: "And Now Upon My Head the Crown"
by Phillip B. Williams

               In the first place—I wanted him and said so
when I had only meant to say. His eyes
opened beyond open as if such force would unlock me
to the other side where daylight gave reason
for him to redress.

                                             When he put on his shirt,
after I asked him to keep it off, to keep putting off
the night’s usual end, his face changed beneath
the shirt: surprise to grin, to how even the body
of another’s desire can be a cloak behind which
to change one’s power, to find it.

                                                              In the first place
he slept, he opened the tight heat of me that had been
the only haven he thought to give a name:

Is-it-mine? Why-you-running? Don’t-run-from-it—as though
through questions doubt would find its way away from me,
as though telling me what to do told me who I was.


January 3: "There, There, Grieving"
by Zeina Hashem Beck

             Where are you from?

             Where are you headed?

             What are you doing?

                                           —Rabia Al-Adawiyya

Little brother, we are all grieving
& galaxy & goodbye. Once, I climbed inside
the old clock tower of my hometown
& found a dead bird, bathed in broken light,
like a little christ.

Little christ of our hearts, I know
planets light-years away
are under our tongues. We’ve tasted them.
We’ve climbed the staircases saying, There, there.

Little brother, we are all praying. Every morning,
I read out loud but not loud enough
to alarm anyone. Once, my love said, Please
open the door. I can hear you talk. Open the door.

Little christ of our hearts, tell anyone
you’ve been talking to god & see
what happens. Every day,
I open the door. I do it by looking
at my daughter on a swing—
eyes closed & crinkled, teeth bare.
I say, Good morning good morning you
little beating thing.

Little brother, we are all humming.
More & more, as I read, I sound
like my father with his book of prayers,
turning pages in his bed—a hymn
for each day of the week, a gift
from his mother, who taught me
the ten of diamonds is a win, left me
her loose prayer clothes. Bismillah.

Little christ of our hearts, forgive me,
for I loved eating the birds with lemon,
& the sound of their tiny bones. But I couldn’t
stomach the eyes of the fried fish.

Little brother, we are always hungry.
Here, this watermelon. Here, some salt
for the tomatoes. Here, this song
for the dead birds in time boxes,
& the living. That day in the clock tower,
I saw the city too, below—

             the merchants who call, the blue awnings,
             the corn carts, the clotheslines, the heat,
             the gears that turn, & the remembering.


January 4: "Killdeer"
by Nick Flynn

You know how it pretends
to have a broken wing to
lure predators away from its
nest, how it staggers just out
of reach . . . if, at this moment,
you’re feeling metaphorical,
nest can be the whatever
inside us that we think needs
protection, the whatever that is
small & hasn’t yet found its
way. Like us it has lived so long
on scraps, on what others have
left behind, it thinks it could live
on air, on words, forever almost,
it thinks it would be better to let
the predator kill it than to turn
its back on that child again,
forgetting that one lives inside
the other.


January 5: "Quarantine"
by Franny Choi

Because I did not have to smell the cow’s fear,
because I did not have to pin the man, watch his eyes
go feral, because I did not have to drag the stones
that formed in the child’s body, because I did not sheathe
my hands in dank soil, or skirt the machine’s battering, the needles
knitting my lower back, because when the factory collapsed
I smelled no smoke, and no one made me kneel at the cop’s boots
and count the pulse slowing beside me as every sound
soured, because my hands have never had to resist being comforted
by the warmth of blood, because the plastic-
wrapped meat and the mousetraps, because my job
was to stay clean and thankful and mostly imaginary, I have been stealing
what little I can:
                              onions.  sandpaper.  handfuls of skin.
the dumpster’s metal groan.  hurried breath.  hot knives.


January 6 (Three Kings' Day): "A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death" - excerpt
by Jupiter Hammon

Little children they may die,
     Turn to their native dust,
Their souls shall leap beyond the skies,
     And live among the just.

Like little worms they turn and crawl,
     and gasp for every breath,
The blessed Jesus sends his call,
     and takes them to his rest.

Thus the youth are born to die,
     The time is hastening on,
The Blessed Jesus rends the sky,
     and makes his power known.
                                                              Psalm ciii. 15.