NaPoWriMo 6 – Song of the City

National Poetry Writing Month continues….

The sixth challenge of the month is to simply look out the window, write down the things you see (nouns), the colors you see (adjectives), and the things you see happening (verbs). Then mix and match the nouns, adjectives and verbs as you write your poem.

As I wrote down what I saw, I filled the page with columns of words. But it wasn’t what I saw that impressed me. What had the greatest impact was what I heard. The usual sounds of early spring are particularly lovely after such a frigid winter, both the sounds of nature and the sounds of actual human beings enjoying the outdoors for the first time in months. Also, I live near a train station, so that’s pretty noisy! My neighbor is doing some work on the house, which adds hammering, scraping, talking, occasionally shouting and a variety of energetic music.

All of these wonderful sounds prompted me to adjust the challenge a bit. Here is the result:

Song of the City

by Jan Brown

in the urban landscape

life teems

in the crevice

like grass peeking through the sidewalk

color spills

over the surface

like graffiti on the side of a train

smells waft

from the edges

like hot dogs at a baseball game

but sound crashes

in the center

demanding attention

permeates the air

reaches up

and touches the sky

reaches down

and touches our souls

the roar of machinery

the strike of the hammer

the squealing of brakes

the chatter of squirrels

the song of the sparrow

the whine of the train

the voice of the rapper

the joy of the dancer

the chant of the cheerleader

the beat of the music

the melody of laughter

the crunch of the gravel

the soft moan of lovers

the song of the city

the music of life



NaPoWriMo 5 – Recurring Dream

National Poetry Writing Month continues….

The fifth challenge is to write a “golden shovel,” a poem that is based on an existing poem. Each word of the existing poem becomes the last word of the corresponding line in the new poem.

I chose one of Basho’s haiku:

falling sick on a journey
my dream goes wandering
over a field of dried grass

– Basho

 Recurring Dream

by Jan Brown

I am free falling
nauseous and heartsick
seeking a cushion to fall on
inwardly sputtering, screaming a
curse, begging God to end the journey

I am living the nightmare–my
brain usually jerks awake from this  dream
my shaken soul then goes
home to begin further pointless wandering

but tonight, it’s over
I make a final spiral downward to a
lifeless, frozen field
a frigid nothingness whereof
I made my own sorrows, dried
my tears on brittle blades of grass


NaPoWriMo 4 – Lune

National Poetry Writing Month continues….

The fourth challenge of the month is to write a lune. A lune is a simple, short form poem similar to a haiku. It may have just one or several stanzas; each stanza consists of three lines, with three words in the first line, five words in the second, and three words in the last line.

This lune is a somewhat comical remembrance of a wonderful old pub on Lake Michigan, in my favorite state of Wisconsin. Enjoy!

bluegrass band nights
fade to bloody mary breakfasts
resilience of youth
beer and whiskey
scents etched in my memory
whiff of cigarette
the wee hours
firm bed to sleep upon
or just floor

NaPoWriMo 3 – A Charm Against Arthritis

National Poetry Writing Month continues….

The third challenge is to write a rhyming charm, a recipe for a magical potion to make something happen–or, as in my case, to keep something from happening!


A Charm Against Arthritis

by Jan Brown

The jawbone of an ass
But not a politician
A bit of sassafras
The cane of a magician
The ribbon of my best friend’s hat
To remind me of her love
A photo of my sweet black cat
A blessing from above
The sparkle of a topaz
To fight away the pain
A few fine notes of cool jazz
To soothe and keep me sane
Olive oil to grease the joints
A rabbit’s foot for luck
A carrot just for counterpoint
A grimace when I say, “Oh, f*ck!”
A hundred Advil, two by two
Some fairy dust would help
A thousand steps and stretches too
Don’t worry if I scream and yelp
Just add the final touch
A pinch of peppery spice
Some alcohol, but not too much
Vodka would be nice
Shall I imbibe, or use as lotion?
Not sure, but either way
Heaven bless this mighty potion
And keep the demons of pain at bay

NaPoWriMo 2 – It’s Not the Day

National Poetry Writing Month continues….

The second NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem based on a random quote from literature provided by The Bibliomancy Oracle.  The “oracle” provided me with the following gem:

it is a lack of faith makes the days

(those joyed and those


so very long and waiting.


from “Radio” by Stephanie Barber


As I thought about this quote, I had a very strong response. I realized that it’s not my faith that is lacking, and it’s not my days that are  “so very long and waiting.”


It’s Not the Day

by Jan Brown

it’s not the morning

that is agonizing

it’s not the noonday sun

that sears me

it’s not the rainy afternoon

nor the prescient dusk

not even the chilly evening

with frozen diet dinner and wine

it’s not the day

that steals my joy

it’s the night

the screaming night

it’s the pain

winding through the bedroom

like a hunger

seeking to be sated

it’s the heavy lidded eyes

not allowed to close

it’s the medicated brain

separated from its bliss

it’s not the day

that steals my joy

it’s the night

the too long night


April is also Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). One of the things that can shorten a long night of sleeplessness and pain is the right music, and for me, that music is usually jazz. “Joy and Pain” is an upbeat song and one of my favorites–performed by Simply Red at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  There is also a quieter, instrumental version on the Smooth Jazz All Stars album that is perfect for bedtime 🙂


National Poetry Writing Month

April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo)!!!

The goal of the project is to write 30 poems in 30 days. National Poetry Writing Month started on Tuesday and I, being perennially late, started writing on Thursday. Now I am finally caught up! I will be posting to the blog as time permits.

To learn how to participate, or to read the poetry of other participants, visit the official website by clicking the NaPoWriMo 2014 button in the sidebar to the right.

For the first few days, I have followed the prompts as given and found them both enlightening and enjoyable. I learned something new from each one. The first challenge was to write a poem about a myth or legend, the only stipulation being that it not relate to Greek or Roman mythology, because so much has already been written on those subjects. For my subject, I chose an ancient Japanese goddess, Amaterasu.

Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun

by Jan Brown

she paints the heavens

with her siblings

shines her light

on nieces and nephews

bringing life to these islands

the wide span

of our floating world

she warms the earth

with her effervescence

sparkling rays of light

long tendrils touching

tiny hands and hearts

the gentle waves

of our floating world

she reaches the depths

of the ocean floor

in dwindling light

in deepest water

nourishing and dazzling

the teeming life

of our floating world