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NaPoWriMo 23 – Conversing in Senescence

April 23, 2014

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to perform a homophonic “translation”  of a poem (or part of a poem) written in a language you don’t know. In other words, write a poem that mirrors the original in sound–or what you imagine to be the sound of the original words.

I have chosen to “translate” part of a poem by Ana Cristina César. She was a well-known poet of Brazil and has been compared to Sylvia Plath. Like Plath, she took her own life. I do not wish to diminish her poetry in any way, so I hope this homophonic “translation” captures not only the sounds but also the beauty and emotion I would expect to find in her work.

This is her poem (or part of it), followed by my non-translation.


Nao preciso nem casar
Tiro dele tudo o que preciso
Nao saio mais daqui
Duvido muito
Esse assunto de mulher ja terminou
O gato comeu e regalou-se
Ele danca que nem um realejo
Escrior nao existe mais
Mas tambem nao precisa virar deus
Tem alguem na casa
Voce acha que ele aguenta?


Memory is never precise
Time may dull the truth
Just as this daiquiri
Dulls my senses, or even more
Pulling asunder the threads of reality
Entering the gates of fantasy-land
And dancing until our feet are numb
The escape route no longer exists
By which we can tap dance to freedom
Our ascent is no longer possible
Have our voices been silenced as well?

NaPoWriMo 22 – Just Can’t Wait for Summer

April 23, 2014

The NaPoWriMo challenge for April 22nd was to write a children’s poem.

This isn’t a poem written to entertain children, but rather a poem written in a child’s voice. I envision the narrator as a precocious pre-teen experiencing all the goofy angst that comes with that stage of life between childhood and adolescence.

Just Can’t Wait for Summer

by Jan Brown

The grass is finally green again!
I’m so glad that it is
Except for that one corner of the yard
Where Snuffles always takes a whiz

Now that we can play outside
I’m gonna paint my bike hot pink
And throw my math book in the pond
So I can watch it sink

I’ll cut my hair short like Miley’s
And make my mother yell
She’ll swear just like my father
“What the bloody hell!”

I’ll use lemon juice to make it blond(er)
And spike it up with gel
Then cool boys will pay attention
To the things I do so well

Like dance and rap and race my bike
Play games like Guild Wars 2
Jimmy’s avatar is wicked hot
Do you think he likes me too?

If I’m on the computer for very long
Mom says to go play outside
“Play hide ‘n’ seek with your little friends!”
Yeesh! Maybe I’ll just hide….

Mom sits on the deck with her laptop
Maybe I will too
Then she can’t tell me to “go outside”
Cuz I’m already there! Woohoo!

I just can’t wait for summer
No more teachers being mean
I really wish that school was out
Now the grass is finally green

NaPoWriMo 21 – 2:08:37

April 21, 2014

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a  New York School poem. The poets who originated this style of poetry referenced specific NYC events, locales and celebrities in their poetry. Soooo…perhaps my poem should be described as “Boston School” or simply “American School.” You decide.


by Jan Brown

Thirty-six thousand ran today
They ran because…
Because they can
Because others cannot
They ran because two bombers did
Because the world is too screwed up to stay at home

The announcer said, “Take back that finish line!”
And they did
They took it back from Tsarnaev
Who sits, mocking, at the feds’ Devens lockup
Who visits with his family
While the victims: Krystle, Ling, Martin and Sean
Cannot. Ever. See. Family. Again.
While his brother is tormented by Allah for eternity
No “full-breasted maidens” were waiting for Tamerlan in Paradise
The vastness of God’s love cannot be diminished by a bat-crap crazy prick
Can he possibly be forgiven in death for perverting faith in life?

Lee Ann Yanni was one of their victims
Devastated on Boylston street one year ago
With more than 260 others
Bloody damn chaos
April 15, 2013: Tax Day
She paid more than taxes
She paid dues
And then some
For 370 days she limped, walked, ran
Lee Ann, you’re right
You don’t “run pretty” anymore
Damn, girl, you run beautiful!

Meb Keflizighi took back the finish line at 2:08:37
The names of the victims on his bib in memoriam
@runmeb didn’t tweet his official winning time
But America did!
“A healing victory”
“We still get chills”
“That’s freakin’ awesome”
Man, you showed us what faith really looks like
And how fast it runs
You can’t wrap faith inside hate in a backpack with shrapnel
You gotta share it with exuberance and joy
And maybe a fair amount of sweat and tears
Meb wrapped it–and himself–in the flag at the finish line
Like a warm-up jacket for the entire country
God ♥ you, Meb
And so do we!

NaPoWriMo 20 – Who Followed Me

April 21, 2014

I’ve been under the weather, so this post is late. The NaPoWriMo challenge for April 20th was to write a poem in the voice of a close relative. I hope this captures the voice–and experience–of my father.

Who Followed Me

by Jan Brown

mourning doves and blue jays
found my new feeders
when I moved four blocks
down the street

blackbirds and goldfinches
followed me
so did the squirrels, dammit
and the cancer cells

happiness is fleeting
a bird flushed by a predator
taking off with a whoosh
a whistle of wings

it could be the sound of fear
a fruitless escape attempt
endless flitting
accomplishing nothing

it could be the sound of mourning
longing for what was
hoping for a do-over
grieving in advance

or it could be the sound of hope
faith in what will be
and what always has been
since the beginning of time

it was the Dove of peace
who followed me
in His steadfast patience
and carried me Home at last


NaPoWriMo 19 – Sparse Doves

April 19, 2014
Wikimedia Commons - Photo by Kazvorpal - CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0


sparse doves in winter

husband stays behind

to stand guard


Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to compose a poem inspired by the name of a sea shell.  Yes, there is a sea shell called “sparse dove,” and that made me think of the sparse population of mourning doves during our frigid winter.  In the fall, mourning doves begin to migrate: first the young birds born that spring/summer, then the adult females, then the males. However, some males choose to stay behind to protect their territory in order to re-establish nests the following spring in the same area. I admire their bravery; they stay in the colder climate despite the shrinking food sources and the possibility of frostbitten toes. This is because the female chose the nesting spot during courtship. Mourning doves are monogamous, so the brave male, like any good husband, will try to give her what she wants!

I’m also fond of the male mourning dove’s attitude toward equal parenting. He forages for nest-building supplies and brings them to the female, once she has chosen the spot. She then weaves the twigs into a loose circle around herself. The partnership is not consummated until the nest is built. The parents share brooding responsibilities equally, and once the newborns arrive, both mother and father produce crop milk and share feeding responsibilities.

Finally, there is no more endearing trait of the male mourning dove than his call, a yearning, melancholy cooing sound that is the reason for the species’ name. I love a man who sings to me. I really do.

NaPoWriMo 18 – Rubaiyat Noir

April 18, 2014

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a ruba’i, a Persian form of poetry using a four-line stanza with the rhyme sequence AABA. Multiple stanzas form a rubaiyat. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which you may have read, has 101 stanzas. Mine is, um, somewhat less profound with only three.

I also incorporated today’s #heartsoup prompt (“one silk scarf”), provided on Twitter by @HeartSoupPoems.

Hope you enjoy the dark side….

Rubaiyat Noir

by Jan Brown

A wife’s true love, its memory spilled
With his birthday gift, her breath was stilled
With blackest heart, he stole it back
The one silk scarf with which he killed

His new love turned away from him
Could not abide his violent whim
Terrified that she would talk
Her fate was sealed; he did her in

So now the monster is bereft
His first love and his last love left
This earthly plane for higher bliss
And he in chains, this world and next

NaPoWriMo 17 – Morning Song

April 17, 2014

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem that provides a detailed description of something using at least three of the five senses. It’s recommended that we describe something we encountered or experienced today.

Morning Song

by Jan Brown

morning feels like the aftermath of an assault
surely someone had attacked her knees and hips
while she fitfully slept
perhaps an angry debt collector
a sour-faced enforcer or
a fundraiser for the arthritis foundation
wielding a baseball bat

the acrid odor of stale sweat
another reminder of the night’s
pain and thrashing
gives way to the sweetness
of lavender body wash
doesn’t smell at all like lavender
still it’s delicate and flowery
giving purpose to the wisps of steam
that reorganize the kinks in her tendons

taste buds waken against their will
to the dry minty medication
that melts in her mouth
as advertised
a dozen more pills
to wash down with breakfast
she gives thanks to whichever greek god
created fat-free yogurt
and all the tiny morsels of mango
that lurk at the bottom of the plastic cup

she greets the world outside her window
seasonal colors waiting to be seen
but doesn’t come alive
until she hears the morning’s song
a harmonious cacophony of birds
going about the business of a warm spring day
the rhythm of lawn mowers and leaf blowers
the whistle of the train
the soulful latin jazz refrain
morning’s almost gone
but her song remains




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