Tag Archives: NaPoWriMo2021

A temple without worshippers

My body
a temple without worshippers
a reliquary with no relics
an idol without fans

My brain
a pantheon
home to many gods
always room for one more

My bodymind
temple with many gods
a home for reliquaries
always room for one more relic

My ego
a relic
a worshipper
an idol
a god

a body
a brain
an ego
a human
The Singer of Amun Nany’s Funerary Papyrus, ca. 1050 B.C. Egyptian; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Third Intermediate Period Papyrus, paint; l. 521.5 cm (206 5/16 in); h. 35 cm (13 3/4 in) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.31) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/548344

The last day of #NaPoWriMo! The month went by really fast this year. Our prompt for today at napowrimo.net was “to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.””

The Egyptian book of the dead describes how to get to the eternal afterlife. Your heart will be weighed against Maat, embodiment of cosmic order and ethical behavior. Your heart has to be judged “an accurate witness” for the weighing to be valid. Mine is a crude summary – the scroll is over 17 feet or 5 meters long!

The poem was written before I found the art, and before I read the prompt today. I guess you can say it’s about finding yourself. If it gives any direction at all, it’s towards self-examination.

This has been a fabulous National Poetry Writing Month! I enjoyed the community, the prompts, the reading, the writing, the searching for art, all of it. I can’t even imagine how much reading Maureen must have done to come up with her daily choice of featured participants!

I hope to catch up with reading and listening to more of your poems in May. I’m behind with reading a number of you who I try to not miss out on. It’s fair to say that my voluntarily added challenge of picking a work of art from The Met everyday cost a lot of time too.

Ever before



Just be – Marry me

Veit Langenbucher (1587–1631) Musical Clock with Spinet and Organ, ca. 1625 Ebony, various wood and metals, wire, parchment and leather; Overall: 78.1 x 32 x 50 cm (30 3/4 x 12 5/8 x 19 11/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 2002 (2002.323 a-f) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/503530
Veit Langenbucher (1587–1631) Musical Clock with Spinet and Organ, ca. 1625 Ebony, various wood and metals, wire, parchment and leather; Overall: 78.1 x 32 x 50 cm (30 3/4 x 12 5/8 x 19 11/16 in.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 2002 (2002.323 a-f) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/503530

Our prompt at napowrimo.net today: “And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one is called “in the window.” Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be your childhood neighbor’s workshop, or a window looking into an alien spaceship. Maybe a window looking into a witch’s gingerbread cottage, or Lord Nelson’s cabin aboard the H.M.S. Victory. What do you see? What’s going on?”

I think the art from The Met is on prompt. Not sure about my poem, but this is what I have for today.


Should I stay – closer
Should I go – closer

To me?
To you?

Should I come – nearer
Should I leave – nearer

To you?
To me?

I will draw – a line
I will paint – a portrait

and you
Title: Approaching Thunder Storm
Artist: Martin Johnson Heade (1819–1904)
Date: 1859, Culture: American
Medium: Oil on canvas, Dimensions: 28 x 44in. (71.1 x 111.8cm)
Framed: 42 1/2 × 58 3/8 × 5 in. (108 × 148.3 × 12.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Erving Wolf, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1975
Accession Number: 1975.160

“Our prompt today (optional, as always), is to write a poem that poses a series of questions.” Thus wrote napowrimo.net. Art found on The Met.

Occhiolism, a professional observer’s opinion

Ahumans are  impractical  unethical  cost-prohibitive  inefficient
to fit  to completely control  to randomly assign
Several  Ahumans  consistently  give  wrong  results

For  Ahumans  to  be  valid  the  experimenter  must  account confounding  factors
Ahumans  are  limited  because  they  lack  statistical  properties
Ahumans  suffer from the possibility of contamination
Ahumans  may  produce  illusory  correlations 
Ahumans  consistently  give  wrong  results
Ahumans  are  prone  to  selection  bias
Ahumans  lack  external  validity

conduct  medical  trials 
provide  a  substandard  treatment
inferences  from  subjective  models  are  unreliable
outcomes  are  observed 
results  are  not  meaningful

conduct  randomized  experiments
produce  ethical  concerns
analyze  the  data  in  light  of  them
present  a positive  result 

By  definition  non-Ahumans  are  quantified,  more  objective  and  therefore,  more  convincing
Title: Eye idol, Period: Middle Uruk
Date: ca. 3700–3500 B.C., Geography: Syria, Tell Brak
Medium: Gypsum alabaster, Dimensions: 2 1/2 x 1 5/8 x 1/4 in. (6.5 x 4.2 x 0.6 cm)
Classification: Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line: Gift of The Institute of Archaeology, The University of London, 1951
Accession Number: 51.59.11
Title: Proto-Cuneiform tablet with seal impressions: administrative account of barley distribution with cylinder seal impression of a male figure, hunting dogs, and boars
Period: Jemdet Nasr, Date: ca. 3100–2900 B.C.
Geography: Mesopotamia, probably from Uruk (modern Warka)
Culture: Sumerian, Medium: Clay
Dimensions: 2 1/8 × 2 3/8 × 1 5/8 in. (5.4 × 6 × 4.1 cm)
Classification: Clay-Tablets-Inscribed-Seal Impressions
Credit Line: Purchase, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gift, 1988
Accession Number: 1988.433.1

The prompt today at napowrimo.net was to “write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” I was fascinated by this entry:


n. the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.

I didn’t have the time to write a poem though, I was too busy translating this tablet sent to me by a secret messenger carrying the eye idol. #NaPoWriMo day 27 gets my translation of what seems to be a scientific report as my entry today.

Do stop me now

Tonight I'm gonna have myself 
 a real good time
  I feel alive
   and the world 
    I'll turn it inside out
     floating around in gentle bliss

     slow yourself down
    and join me in my good time
   I'm having a ball
  slow yourself down
 if you want to have good time,
just give me a call

I slowed myself down
 'now I'm having a good time
  I slowed myself down
 yes I'm havin' a good time
I don't want to stop at all

Do slow down
        slow down


Do slow down
			slow down
							I like it
have a good time
 good time
  do slow down
	slow down

	don't stop me now
	 I'm having such a good time
	  I'm having a ball
	   don't stop me now
	    if you wanna have a good time
	     just give me a call
	      don't stop me now
	     'cause I'm having a good time
            do slow me down
           yes I'm havin' a good time
         I don't want to stop at all

西漢 彩繪陶舞俑

Title: Female Dancer
Period: Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)
Date: 2nd century B.C., Culture: China
Medium: Earthenware with slip and pigment
Dimensions: H. 21 in. (53.3 cm); W. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm); D. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Classification: Tomb Pottery
Credit Line: Charlotte C. and John C. Weber Collection, Gift of Charlotte C. and John C. Weber, 1992
Accession Number: 1992.165.19

“Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a parody” was our prompt at napowrimo.net. I wanted to use this beautiful piece of art I found on The Met, so I took that as a starting point. But how to find a poem or song to use as the base for my parody? I realised how beautifully this sculpture expresses concentration, subtleness, balance. So I looked for a song on speed that I could work with.

I thank Queen for their beautiful song Don’t stop me now, which is a wonderful expression of excitement. My best life would have both queen and this dancer.

Can I?

Service notice: this is the last day of my book being free.

Can I be born in a poem? Can I die in a poem?
Can I fornicate and throw up? 
Can I kill something and get away with it?

Can I be a god in a poem? Can I cannabalise a poem?
Can I strike a pose and be smitten?
Can I maim someone and get away with it?

Can I reproduce in a poem? Can I arrest said poem? 
Can I call you Al and kick ass? 
Can I bake your cake and get away with it?

Can I be born in your poem? 
Can I stay in your poem?
Can I dance and breathe and laugh out loud?

I like your style and I want to get away with it.

Title: Animal pendant, Date: A.D. 1–1000
Geography: Central American Isthmus
Culture: Central American Isthmus
Medium: Gold, Dimensions: H. 1 in. (2.5 cm)
Classification: Metal-Ornaments
Credit Line: Gift and Bequest of Alice K. Bache, 1974, 1977
Accession Number: 1974.271.16

I didn’t really use the prompt on repetitive lines that napowrimo.net provided on day something, but today it creeped in. Which makes me off prompt for today, when we are suggested to write “a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion.”

I’ve spent almost an hour today looking for this picture on The Met. I have wanted to use it since the beginning of this month, but could never find or write a poem that went with it. I’ve combined it with today’s poem to celebrate the occasion that I DID find it, after I’d given up already.

Politicians – classified

Scientific Name: Ovis oratoris

Classification: mammal

Diet: words

Habitat: Politicians are found almost everwhere, even where they are not native species.

Description: Many are horned, while others are polled.

Reproduction: In 2001, a politician was cloned successfully and lived over seven months. Though somewhat controversial, this could prove to be an effective tool in the future. If the cloning of politicians can proceed successfully, it has the potential to reduce strain on the number of living specimens.

Collective behaviour: Politicians have a strict dominance hierarchy. They fight one another to obtain dominance and win an opportunity to talk. Before election season they try to determine access to voters.

Title: Reclining mouflon, Period: Mature Harappan
Date: ca. 2600–1900 B.C., Geography: Indus Valley
Culture: Indus, Medium: Marble
Dimensions: L. 28 cm, Classification: Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift and Rogers Fund, 1978
Accession Number: 1978.58

Today’s prompt was to find a text about an animal and replace the word of the animal with a very different word or phrase. What a great opportunity to work with this animal sculpture from the Harappan-period at the site of Mohenjo Daro in the lower reaches of the Indus River. (Yes, I copied that information from The Met and don’t know what I’m talking about.)

The accompanying audio fragment on the page is very interesting, I recommend it. Apparently, we don’t know how these people were ruled because temples and palaces were not found. Their writing system was unique and their language has never been deciphered.

I’ve made my book Sampled, Sealed, Delivered free for two days again, for all of you who missed it earlier this month.

It’s a present, but if you happen to like writing reviews: it has none yet on Amazon, and it could do with some!

Common sense wisdom

Listen well to this point:
If you do not understand, others do. 

To argue with a poet is like making requests in the presence of kings
– if you take purgatives they will work excellently.

Do not weaken yourself with toil
use wiles against your enemies

Argue with poets
– there is a ban on bleeding.

Today’s prompt at napowrimo.net was “to write a poem that responds, in some way, to another. This could be as simple as using a line or image from another poem as a jumping-off point, or it could be a more formal poetic response to the argument or ideas raised in another poem. You might use a favorite (or least favorite poem) as the source for your response.

I searched on The Met and found folios from a compilation of poems assembled by the Persian intellectual and poet Muhammad ibn Badr al-Din Jajarmi, titled Mu’nis al-ahrar fi daqa’iq al-ash‘ar (Free Man’s Companion to the Subtleties of Poems).

I couldn’t find much about the poems when I searched the net, but luckily The Met gave extra info in their catalogue description. I’ve added the translation of the poems beneath the pictures.

Title: Folio from a Mu'nis al-ahrar fi daqa'iq al-ash'ar (The Free Man's Companion to the Subtleties of Poems) of Jajarmi
Author: Muhammad ibn Badr al-Din Jajarmi (Iranian, active 1340s)
Date: dated A.H. 741 / A.D. 1340–41
Geography: Made in Iran, Isfahan
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Accession Number: 19.68.1 and 57.51.25

The text in Persian reads:

“O lofty in origin, if you wish to know clearly
In which of the signs of zodiac the Moon is,
Know first that every month the Sun enters a new sign.
For instance, if the Sun should be in the month of Aries,
And if the Moon is ten days old, add ten more to that.
When the doubling has been done, then add five more.
Listen well to this point: allow one sign for each five.
Begin from the sign in which the illustrious Sun is:
The Moon is in Virgo, if the calculation is done right.
Look well at this example I have given;
In whichever sign the Sun is, make this calculation,
And if you do not understand, others do. I make it brief.”

“If the Moon should be in Aries, put on new clothes,
exert yourself in being bled, hunting, enjoyment, and war.
Refrain from marriage and taking medicine.
Drink the cup of joy with military men.”

“With the Moon in Taurus, know that companionship is good.
It is good for you to start seeing women.
Construction goes well, and the making of compacts,
Making marriages, and entertainments for guests.”

“With the Moon in Gemini, partnerships, making marriages and journeys
Are good, if you do them, O you mine of jewels.
Have clothing cut, make your requests from men of the pen.
Do not take medicine and be sure to shun bleeding.”

“With the Moon in Cancer, it is proper to have clothes cut,
And if you take purgatives they will work excellently.
Buy jewels, travel on water, for that is good.
Send messengers wherever you need to.”

“The Moon is in Leo. Work with fire is good.
Make your requests in the presence of kings.
Lay foundations, be bled, and make compacts
And avoid sewing and wearing new clothes.”

“With the Moon in Virgo, writing and teaching are good,
Seeing scribes and astrological calculations.
Bleeding and travel and building are good.

“Make marriages, wear new clothes,” the wise man said.

“With the Moon in Libra, making marriages is good, and journeys,
The seeing of women and noble servants.
Donning new clothes and merriment are good,
And it is better to shun the making of pacts.”

“With the Moon in Scorpio, taking medicine is good,
To make war and use wiles against one’s enemies.
Stay at home. Do not travel. Do not put on new clothes.
It is good to plant new trees.”

“When the Moon comes to the sign of Sagittarius
Make your requests from judges and men of learning.
Buy slaves, make marriages, and visit the bath.
Do not take medicine or weaken yourself with toil.”

“When the Moon has come to Capricorn, hold entertainments.
Dig qanats and canals, if you are able.
Buy slaves and animals, if you have the money.
Toil to acquire learning; do not behave ignorantly.”

“With the Moon in Aquarius, if you have money,
Buy furnishings and goods and Indian slaves.
To see agents and sheikhs is good.
There is a ban on bleeding, hunting, marriage making and travel.”

(Translated by A. H. Morton in Swietochowski and Carboni, “Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images”. New York, 1994)


When I find myself

In troubled times

Mother Mary comes to me

She speaks words of wisdom

Let it bleed

Our prompt today at NaPoWriMo.net: “I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that invokes a specific object as a symbol of a particular time, era, or place.” In my chaotic brain this little poem has at least three layers of meaning, maybe more.

To me reading it wrings, it grates, it’s clumsy writing – but I’ll let it be.

Title: Manuscript Leaf with the Crucifixion, from a Missal
Date: ca. 1270–80
Geography: Made in Paris, France
Culture: French
Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment
Dimensions: Overall (folio): 8 3/4 x 5 7/8in. (22.2 x 14.9cm)
Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 3/16 in. (48.9 x 36.1 cm)
Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations
Credit Line: Purchase, Bequest of Thomas W. Lamont, by exchange, 1981
Accession Number: 1981.322

Art found on The Met.


When I find myself
haunted by thoughts
I hit
the mute button

The mute button
hits back

The prompt at napowrimo.net: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses lines that have a repetitive set-up.

Title: Armor
Artist: Odilon Redon (French, Bordeaux 1840–1916 Paris)

Date: 1891
Medium: Charcoal and conté crayon
Dimensions: 20 x 14 1/2 in. (50.7 x 36.8 cm)
Classification: Drawings
Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948
Accession Number: 48.10.1

Art found on The Met.